The Book of Job

(709 Posts)
Machadaynu Sun 30-Sep-12 20:20:50

I mentioned my thoughts on The Book of Job in the 'Back to Church' thread, and it was suggested that I start a new thread about it. So here it is.

The story of the book of Job is (to quote myself from the other thread):

God is chatting to Satan and mentions how Job is his best follower and would never lose faith. Satan essentially has a bet with God that Job would turn on God if his life wasn't so great. God, for some reason, accepts this deal with the proviso that Satan doesn't kill Job. It's not explained why God is chewing the fat with Satan rather than, say, destroying him completely, what with God being omnipotent and Satan being pure evil.

Anyway, Satan sends all sorts of illness to Job, kills all his animals, destroys his farm and kills his entire family. God, being omniscient, knew this would happen when he took on the bet - he knew Job would suffer, and he knew Job would remain true to him. Quite why he needed to prove this to Satan (pure evil, remember) is something of a mystery.

In the end God gives Job twice as many animals as before, and 10 new children, including 3 daughters that were prettier than the ones God allowed Satan to kill.

Christians see this as a story of how faith is rewarded (even if you're only suffering because God is trying to prove a point to Satan) I see it as a story of how God will use us as he sees fit, is insecure and vain and is apparently either unable, or unwilling, to resist being influenced by Satan.

I contrast God's treatment of Job, his wife and children - all "God's children" used as pawns in a game, and suffering terribly for it - and wonder what we'd make of a human father treating his children in such a way. I expect the MN opinion would be rather damning to say the least. Yet when God does it, it becomes an inspiring story, and God is love, apparently.

Christians, I am told, see the book as a lesson in why the righteous suffer. The answer, it seems, is that their all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent holy father is sometimes prone to abandoning people to the worst excesses of Satan to try and prove some kind of point to God knows who.

Seems odd to me. God does not show love in that story. God shows himself to be deeply unpleasant. Or not God.

What are your views on Job?

amillionyears Sun 30-Sep-12 21:30:39

Hi,Machadaynu
To me,the book says several things.
Yes,God can do what he likes with us.
Also God is in charge of everyone and everything.God will destroy the evil one in his time.
The book also reminds Christians that yes,some Christians will suffer for their faith. To me,one of the worst examples is John The Baptist.He had his head cut off.
The book is really talking to all Christians down through the ages.And yes,Job was used as a pawn.
What I found amusing,if that is the right word,is that God kept Job's wife alive,and from what I can remember,Job wasnt overly fond of her.

nightlurker Sun 30-Sep-12 21:39:29

I don't believe that God makes deals with the devil to prove a point, so I am very reluctant to say the story is strictly factual. Additionally, how would the writer know such a thing?

I do believe there was a man who had a horrible stroke of luck, but never abandoned God, and then was rewarded with far more than he lost. The book of Job was probably based on his true story, but the writer took several creative liberties in recreating it. I suspect it was meant to demonstrate two things. One, that a hard life doesn't mean God is unhappy with you, and two, that there will be a reward for doing what's right (even if it's not in this life).

amillionyears Sun 30-Sep-12 21:42:10

The bible is inspired by God.
There are a few places,which dont make gramatical sense because there are a few words missing here and there,but apart from that,I believe it.

mummysmellsofsick Sun 30-Sep-12 21:43:01

Marking place. Don't know it well enough to comment but answer to Job is right here next to me on my to read pile.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 00:44:52

amillionyears you agree that God can do what he likes with us. What this story shows that sometimes "what he likes" is to abandon us to an unpleasant situation for reasons that are - at best - very vague indeed. I still don't know what the benefit of allowing Job to suffer was - and don't just think of it from Job's perspective - imagine being one of his kids or servants killed as part of this lesson for Job.

If this story is true, then God's later claim to love us all equally with a perfect love cannot be true. No loving parent would allow this.

You also say God will "destroy the evil one in his time" (incidentally Job Ch 1 implies that Satan is one of several sons God has. Oh, and that Job is perfect, despite the whole 'tree of knowledge' incident in Eden that apparently made us all imperfect.)

I wonder why he hasn't done so yet? Why, if you are going to create one perfect world for your perfect creation to live in, allow it to be ruined (to the extent that soon after making it you get fed up and drown everything, and then for some reason you have to murder your own son ) from almost day one until the end of life on earth, if you have the power to destroy evil and make it all perfect as you intended?

nightlurker I like that you are applying your own morals to God and finding that his actions as described in his own Holy Book do not fit what one would expect of a God. If you do that to the rest of the book, you won't have much left that isn't some variation of 'be excellent to each other' (to quote Bill and Ted)

What I find interesting is that you are seemingly happy to ascribe the whole death/illness/starvation thing to 'bad luck', but that when he recovered from all this and got more things, it was as "a reward" That seems a very one-sided view of God; that bad things happen because of luck, or otherwise, but good things are from God. If he has the power to do good things, does he not also have the power to stop bad things - and is it loving not to use that power?

If God is there to do the good, he also there to stop the bad. Why doesn't he,if he loves us all and is omnipotent?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 07:48:26

One of the "benefits" of allowing Job to suffer,was to teach the rest of us.We are still talking about him,approx 2000 years later.I doubt anyone will be talking about anyone on MN 150 years later,but we never know I suppose.

I dont agree that God loves us all equally.

Job wasnt perfect,he was the best person of that time.

The bible says God is waiting for a certain amount of Chrisitians,before he does all the end of time stuff.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 08:36:31

amillionyears

Bullet points as I'm in a rush - sorry!

God says he does love us all equally (although his actions don't back this up)

Job 1 vers 1 says "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one who feared God and eschewed evil." The bible says Job was perfect.

The benefit of Job suffering only works as a concept if we do learn stuff from it, but what we a re supposed to learn isn't clear at all - hence the thread. It just teaches me that God is either not omnipotent, not pleasant, or both. And it wasn't just Job who suffered - his kids burned to death!

Juule Mon 01-Oct-12 08:37:15

"I dont agree that God loves us all equally"

Really? I've not heard that before. So he has his favourites?
This is not getting better is it?

I think that it's correct to say that we are still talking about Job thousands of years later but I'm not sure that's a good thing for religion as I think there might be more people like op who begin to look at the idea of god as being very unpleasant.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 09:13:04

Machadaynu,where in the bible does it say that God loves us all equally?

The bible says Job was blameless,so I suppose that could be intrepretted as perfect? Not sure,because he hadnt lived the rest of his life at that point,but he did probably live the rest of his life blameless.
God is omnipotent.

The disciple John is described as "the disciple that Jesus loved".

I think most Christians would say there are parts of the bible where God does things we dont like.

God is slow to anger,but when he does act,yes he does act.
And it can be very destructive indeed.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 10:26:42

amillionyears The OT states that GOd created each of us in his own image - this implies that we are equal. Further than that, 1 John 4 says:

9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The bible is quite clear that God's loving act (arranging for his perfect son to be murdered) was done for all us of, because he loves all of us. God's love is described in detail in the bit of 1 Corinthians 13 that seems to be read at every wedding:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

You cannot say you love everyone, define love like that, and then claim to love people unequally.

Different translations of the bible describe Job as 'blameless' and 'perfect' If he was indeed perfect, one wonders why God didn't just kill him instead of Jesus?

I sense that you are moving toward saying that God's anger is justified (although I wonder why he doesn't claim the credit for killing people any more?) but I don't think it can ever be justified.

Remember that God is omniscient - he knows everything.

Then imagine you had a child who, like most children, likes sweets, and you live next door to a sweet shop. The sweet shop owner, being eccentric, gives your child unrestrained, free access to all the sweets, meaning your child has rotten teeth, never eats a proper meal and is frequently sick. Would you

a) have a word with the shop keeper and tell them they are not allowed to give your child sweets
b) monitor, mentor, distract your child more closely so they weren't constantly tempted by the free sweets
c) get angry with the child and punish them severely for eating the sweets, claim you cannot bear the sight of them when they have been eating sweets, and, ultimately, condemn them to eternal torment if they don't stop eating them on the grounds that choosing not to eat sweets is an opportunity for the child to show how much they love you, and the punishment they will otherwise receive is an opportunity for others to learn?

I would like to think that a loving parent would chose a combination of A and B. God chooses C. Is his anger justified, when he has always known what will happen and can easily remove the temptation?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 10:42:33

When God created us in his own image,I take that to mean a physical likeness.
No human being comes close to God in an ability sense,except Jesus.
The love bits,points 4-8,is what our love should be like.

God is very big on timing.
Jesus is not Job.Jesus is Gods son.Jesus was raised from the dead.

As Christians,we are supposed to become mature and complete,lacking in nothing.
God never tempts anyone.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 10:53:07

So are you suggesting that God has higher demands of us that he himself manages? That we should love like that, but God doesn't?

That gives a whole new meaning to John 13:34

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

God tempted Abraham in Genesis 22:

1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

He also allows us to be tempted (which is why we have to ask not to be lead in temptation in the prayer Jesus gave us) but seemingly this part of the prayer, prayed by millions of Christians daily has rarely been answered.

Allowing temptation to take place when you can stop it because you're omnipotent, and when the person being tempted has asked you to stop it is not loving. Again, let's look at a human example - if your child was overweight but had no self-control, so instead asked you to stop leaving cakes and biscuits in cupboards (s)he could easily get to, and you ignored that request, would that be considered good parenting? God goes further than no removing the temptation - he punishes us for succumbing to it. Loving?

Juule Mon 01-Oct-12 11:02:13

The parent in machadaynu's example wasn't tempting the child. Just standing back and doing nothing to help and then punishing. Not very loving.
Reminds me of the quote :
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." ( Edmund Burke)
Or are gods exempt?

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 11:11:12

In Islam we believe god tests those he loves the most. We belive that every suffering and hurt is the removal of sins from us in this world, so we have less to account for in the next. So there is good in our suffering.

For us life is a test, we are not automatically given perfection but if we remain steadfast and strive and have the right intentions then we will be given perfection in the next life.

I am not that familiar with the islamic version regarding the prophet Ayub as, so cannot comment.

In the Quran shaytaan refuses to bow before Adam as and says he is better then him. He goes against gods command. He asks why he should bow to a creature that will be ungrateful and cause chaos. God replies that his faithful servants are better then shaytaan, so shaytaan promises to hide on the path of people and show they are worthless.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 11:13:47

The temptations are shaytaan. You forgot the bit where he rewards us for not giving in to temptation. In Islam we believe if you have an intention to do a.good.action but.you don't do it you are still rewarded, and if you have an intention to do a bad action but don't do it you are rewarded for not going through with it.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 11:19:31

nailik by "God tests those he loves most" do you mean

a) your God loves some people more than others and
b) he chooses to make the lives of those whom he prefers miserable?

Does he do that to all of the ones he likes best, or just some of them? If your life is comfortable and enjoyable, does that indicate that God doesn't like you much?

Why would a loving, all-powerful God choose to remove 'sin' by making peeople miserable when he could remove it by sneezing, or whatever way he chooses?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 11:28:26

Machadaynu,God loves higher than we can ever manage.

'No one,when temped,should say "I am being tempted by God";for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one.But one is tempted by ones own desire,being lured and enticed by it;'

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 11:31:32

amillionyears

If God "loves us higher than wee can ever manage" then why does his 'love' look rather more like what we would call 'neglect' if a human behaved in the same way?

What is loving about murdering people? What is loving about telling someone they have to kill their own son - especially if you don't mean it? What is loving about drowning almost everyone - especially when you knew you'd regret it and did it anyway? What is loving about allowing those you claim to love to suffer eternal torment if they don't do as you ask?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 11:41:26

I dont think you can call what God does neglect of his people.

He does do justice.His justice.There are punishments in the bible.Great big ones for some of the people who had repeatedly be warned and carried on sinning time and time again.
I do think the teaching of the bible has been watered down in the last few decades,
Mentioning Hell,Devil,etc has somewhat gone out of fashion,and I dont think it does the public any favours.
They exist and have always existed.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 11:42:34

You keep comparing God to humans.It doesnt work.
God is not a human.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 11:49:05

Of course you can compare God to humans - we're superficially similar - we both (I think) have a sense of justice, of love, of logic, of fairness ... We are in his image.

I can compare a Formula 1 car to a scooter in the same way. Sure, one is much faster, expensive and complicated than the other, but they are both wheeled devices that make moving easier.

How are we supposed to have a relationship with God if his ways are so alien to us - so different from our own experience, which is all we have , that wer cannot make any sort of comparison?

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 11:50:27

With regard to God warning people and then punishing them, do you think he does that now? Can you tell me of one example of an event in the last 50 years where you think God punished people?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 12:10:17

Machadaynu,humans cannot turn seeds into plants and flowers.
We cannot make new stars,or do virtually anything to do with the sky,planets etc.

To get a relationship with God you need to seek him.Seek and you will find.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 12:16:03

The next bit I may well get flamed for.

Boscastle floods.
Happened approx 7 years ago,in an August I think.
Myself and another person happened to visit Boscastle,Cornwall 12 months the previous August.
When we got out of the car in the car park,we felt a weird feeling.We both felt it.We paid our pay and display and started to walk into the village/town.
We still felt weird.We then began to notice about 4 different shops selling pagan? things. We carried on walking intending to walk out to the harbour/sea. But we stopped.We both felt uncomfortable and turned back.
12 months later,the village was flooded. I dont think anyone died as far as I can remember.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 12:16:37

I planted some seeds this year. I got carrots.

I guess you will argue that the soil and so on made the plants, and God made that? I would simply ask what your evidence is.

You argument now seems to be 'there are laws of physics ergo there is a God'

That seems a very bold conclusion to leap to based on the evidence available. Surely an extraordinary conclusion requires extraordinary evidence?

Juule Mon 01-Oct-12 12:21:57

You may well get flamed for your opinion of Boscastle floods and imo deservedly so.

My dad went to Boscastle the year before the floods and had nothing but good things to say about the place and the people there. He stayed at the youth Hostel there. Absolutely loved the place and was very upset when seeing pictures of the floods on the tv.
So why was his feelings and impression of the place different from yours and your friends? Could it be that he doesn't fear pagan artifacts etc. And while having his own faith doesn't feel slighted or unnerved by the faiths (or none-faith) of others.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 12:29:25

quote amillionyears

"The next bit I may well get flamed for.

Boscastle floods.
Happened approx 7 years ago,in an August I think.
Myself and another person happened to visit Boscastle,Cornwall 12 months the previous August.
When we got out of the car in the car park,we felt a weird feeling.We both felt it.We paid our pay and display and started to walk into the village/town.
We still felt weird.We then began to notice about 4 different shops selling pagan? things. We carried on walking intending to walk out to the harbour/sea. But we stopped.We both felt uncomfortable and turned back.
12 months later,the village was flooded. I dont think anyone died as far as I can remember. "

Interesting. So you think God's punishment is unfair? There were lots of shops in Bocastle that were not Pagan, I presume? And there is certainly a church, which was flooded to a depth of 6 metres. Why was he so random in his approach?

I also find that response of God puzzling because I am certain there are 'worse' things going on in the world that a couple of shops in a little village "selling pagan things" I understand that there are upwards of a billion people starving in the world. Why do you think God was busy taking a scatter-gun approach to a few shops selling pagan stuff rather than helping the starving, for example?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 12:33:54

Faith is believing in something that cannot be proved.

You personally did not turn the seeds into carrots.How did you make it go orange for example.And did you make the leaves.

Some of the poeple at Boscastle would probably have had nothing to do with what happened. They may well have been non Christian, and were innocent as to what happened,in that regard.
The person and I got the feelings in the car park and onwards before we saw the shops.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 12:36:48

The worship of other gods is high up on Gods no no list.

I cannot speak on behalf of God,only comment on what I see,and on what I read from the entire bible.
I do not argue with God. I fear God.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 12:46:40

Ok - as I said, you have pointed out that I didn't personally create the carrots.

However, I did create the correct conditons for them to grow, and gave them the right things (fertilizer, sun light and water) Photosynthesis within the leaves took care of the rest.

Not understanding how something happens is not sufficient grounds in my opinion to assume there must be a God, who is by definition much more complicated than a carrot.

With regard to Bocastle, the city I live in also flooded a few years back, and some people did die. Do you think God caused that flood, or simply allowed it to happen without causing it himself? Is it possible God punished my city for the sins of those who drowned? Including the children?

madhairday Mon 01-Oct-12 13:06:03

Oh Machadaynu I wish I had more time but I'm off on a conference, but didn't want to ignore you, as I was the one suggesting you post here - so hello smile

Just a quick vehement disagreement with amillion over both God not loving equally (what?) and the Boscastle floods. Sorry. I'm with machadaynu on the starving millions comparison there.

Can't stop...but will be back on wednesday! Will ponder in that time.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:09:53

Re: the flood - I thought God had promised not to flood people again after he did it the first time?

Genesis 9 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Seems odd to pick on a little village six thousand years later?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 13:10:14

Yes,we can help God with things,but we are never in full control of anything.

God sends the rain,and all weather come to that.

Your last paragraph is causing me to think.

God would have let the rain fall.
It is doubtful whether God punished the city for the sins of those who drowned. He may have punished for the sins of some of the inhabitants,including some who died.I dont know.
It wont be because of the children.I think I am right in saying that they are not classed as adults until 13 years old.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:10:44

helllo madhairday Enjoy the conference smile

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 13:13:17

"a flood to destroy all flesh".
He meant he wouldnt destroy all humankind by floods.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:14:42

Ah well, the child who drowned in 'our' flood was 14. There is a monument for him in the park where I take the kid sometimes; it's very poignant to see something to commemorate the life of a child lost in a flood when you kid is playing on the slide next to it, and the stream that turned into a torrent that engulfed the whole park is babbling along behind.

So could God have wanted to kill him for his sins? What could he possibly have done to anger God so much when, say, Pol Pot lived to be 73?

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:18:05

Ah right, so GOd won't send a flood to kill all of us again?

He's fine with killing some people with floods, though? Floods seem such an imprecise method, don't they - for someone who is omnipotent? Why not make those who displease him get a deadly disease, and perhaps get blisters that spell out "Don't mess with God" on their foreheads rather than destroy whole towns because some shops sell pagan stuff? If I hadn't come on here, I'd never even have known there were shops selling pagan stuff in Bocastle - I bet most people still don't know. How is God's vengeance supposed to educate people if they don't know why he did it?

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:21:46

Off topic - the current wikipedia entry for Pol Pot (was checking spelling) is reproduced below, in it's entirety. Who knew wikipedia wasn't always reliable?

"Pol Pot was a Cambodian Drug dealer. He loved to ride around in a pink tractor. he also loved butt sex."

Snorbs Mon 01-Oct-12 13:30:59

There are punishments in the bible.Great big ones for some of the people who had repeatedly be warned and carried on sinning time and time again.

True enough, although I think Lot's wife got quite a rough deal for what was a ultimately a very minor transgression.

habbibu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:35:33

York must be a bedrock of sin. Or perhaps just on a floodplain?

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:37:44

You think Lott's wife got a raw deal, *Snorbs"?

What about the guys in Genesis? In chapter 9, Noah gets drunk and his son Ham happens to see him in his tent, naked. As punishment for this heinous crime, Ham doesn't personally get punished, but his son Canaan and all his descendants became slaves.

In Judaism, Satan isn't a pure evil enemy of God but his agent, an angel with a God given purpose to test us, tempt us, and to prosecute us along with our bad deeds during our judgement. Job's story has interesting philosophical as well as daily life points -- friends are all saying he must be being punished for something until Elihu and later God tell them they're arguments are rubbish fit nicely into today with the common rhetoric to blame people for their own misfortune.

British floods today are more about bad planning and funding for flood defenses. We have the means to protect people but getting the will to do so is often lacking, but as many of the problems around the world.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 14:13:56

GoodPariseeofDerby the book of Job rather suggests that Satan is God's son.

It seems a little insecure of God to create an angel just to test and tempt us so we can be punished. That sort of 'honeytrap' evidence is not admissible in court precisely because it's not fair nor necessarily an indication of how someone would normally behave.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 14:16:44

Where in Job does it say that Satan is Gods son?

Satan is a fallen angel,but he is the enemy of God.
God tempts no one,or uses anyone to tempt us.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 14:18:34

I said it implies that Satan is God's son - it's in chapter 1.

1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

There is no mention of any of the other sons again, just Satan.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 14:21:42

also, if Satan is "the enemy of God" why does God seem quite happy to have a bit if a friendly natter with him in Job 1? God initiates the conversation even. It also seems apparent that God is happy to let Satan try and tempt Job away from God - indeed that's the key premise of the conversation - God facilitating Job being tempted:

1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

MoominmammasHandbag Mon 01-Oct-12 14:35:47

But all this is Old Testament stuff isn't it? To me that has very little to do with Christianity, which is the actual teachings of Jesus as set out in the Gospels.
God became human as Jesus Christ to show us his true nature, to show us how we should behave. Jesus/God was gentle and just and full of love. That has nothing to do with some old stories from the Old Testament.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 14:39:50

MoominmammasHandbag well - God is eternal, so it's the same God ion both books. Unless there is a missing book where God says "Do you know what, I messed up for those few thousand years - ignore all that" then I think it's fair to look at those books to see what God is like as much as any other. I don' think you can justifiably say Jesus - the son of GOd prophecised about in the OT - is nothing to do with it.

Of course if God did mess up in the OT then it rather calls his judgement into question ....

Why do you think he didn't show his "true nature" and how to behave earlier?

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 14:46:29

"nailik by "God tests those he loves most" do you mean

a) your God loves some people more than others and
b) he chooses to make the lives of those whom he prefers miserable?

Does he do that to all of the ones he likes best, or just some of them? If your life is comfortable and enjoyable, does that indicate that God doesn't like you much?

Why would a loving, all-powerful God choose to remove 'sin' by making peeople miserable when he could remove it by sneezing, or whatever way he chooses?"

Yes he loves some people more then others, he loves those who strive for him, as in he loves their actions and their thoughts more, the same way if a child is doing good actions you love those actions more then a child who is doing bad actions, but you still love the children equally.

even if your life is comfortable we all have our tests, and some tests may seem small to others but to us it is a big deal. So we cant really say your test is worse so god loves you more, it is about how difficult that test is to you, even if we have comfortable life we all face illness, death of relatives, children paying up, PND, mental health issues, marriage problems and issues, friendship issues, etc

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 14:49:21

"Of course you can compare God to humans - we're superficially similar - we both (I think) have a sense of justice, of love, of logic, of fairness ... We are in his image."

This is where Islam differs from christianity. In Islam you cannot compare God to humans, he is out of our comprehension, we use metaphors to help us understand that which is relevant to us, but he is not like us, he speaks without needing to move the air to make vibrations, he listens without ears, he is not comparable to us, he has no direction, he is out of time and space, he is not matter like us.

MoominmammasHandbag Mon 01-Oct-12 14:49:22

I just think he was...I don't know....misreported, misinterpreted, wrongly portrayed by a lot of people who were trying to justify their own power as kings or judges or priests or whatever. I think that's why he came as Jesus and lived as an ordainary humble man to show us his true character. Jesus never wanted us to be frightened of him. He never punished anyone. He saw the best in everyone.
Don't get me wrong, I think a lot of the Old Testament is very beautiful, but I don't believe much of it has anything to do with God.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 14:50:44

"With regard to God warning people and then punishing them, do you think he does that now? Can you tell me of one example of an event in the last 50 years where you think God punished people?"

God warned us by sending his books and his messengers as.

I cannot comment on an event when God punished people, as it is out of my certainty. I cannot know for sure.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 14:53:58

God let satan tempt all of us, not just job/ayub as.

In Islam Shaytaan is not a fallen angel btw. Angels dont have free will.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 14:54:27

nailak by saying that God is not like us and explaining why, you make a comparison. That's my point - we see everything via the lens of being human, even things that aren't human. 'Human' is a reference point, even if you use it just to say 'it's nothing like that'

The 'tests' things doesn't make sense. We all suffer some things of course - we all have relative die, as you say. However, some nice people have horrible lives and their parents die, and some horrible people have comfortable lives and their parents die. Why do some people just have the 'test' of their relatives dying, and others have other tests on top?

I'm not sure if you are saying God loves some people more than others, or he loves us all the same but loves the actions of some more?

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 14:58:55

i am saying he loves the actions of some more.

I am saying two people when faced with the same situation it will be harder for one then the other.

I agree being human is the reference point. and I agree we use human analogies to try and explain God, however this is just an attempt, He is not like us.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 15:01:52

So are you saying that if someone had a really nice life - born in sanitary conditions, always having a roof over their head, never hungry or scared etc, then they will have more turmoil caused by other things that occur to them in life than will someone born and raised in a slum?

So for example, the former might get lots of angst when choosing where to take their third holiday of the year, but the latter will not have to cope with that?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 15:07:44

My Job 1:6 says the heavenly beings came to present themselves,...
which I take to mean the angels,
and mine says "and Satan also came among them"
Satan is not a son of God.

God can use anybody for his purpose,presumably he has the ability to also use Satan.Not sure.

To me,the bible has a beginning,a middle ,and an end.
The middle part being the Jesus part,and the end part being the end of times.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 15:14:22

If God is omnipotent he can use Satan, yes.

I thought you said he didn't use anyone or anything to tempt people, though?

"God tempts no one,or uses anyone to tempt us. "

So he can't have been using Satan - he just gave him free-reign.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 15:33:11

God tempts no one.

God gave Satan free reign up to the point of not killing Job.Satan was not allowed to kill Job.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 15:45:35

Satan was not allowed to kill Job, no.

But he was allowed to kill his children and servants. DO they not matter?

He was also - very clearly - trying to tempt Job into renouncing his faith. That was the whole point of the deal with God: God was complicit in Job being tempted.

nightlurker Mon 01-Oct-12 15:58:18

The topic on God's love makes me think of this youtube video.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 16:00:27

Yes they matter,but God allowed it.
God can do whatever he wants to.

No,Job was not being tempted to renounce his faith.
The point of the book is to say that as Christians,no matter how well behaved we are, we may well have to suffer to the point of losing our blood.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:13:31

It's pretty clear to me that God allows Satan to tempt Job to renounce his faith.

Have you read Job 2?

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[b] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 16:14:43

Shaytaan has free will.

Like humans have free will.

Meaning we are accountable for our actions to the extent which we perceive choice.

Muslims believe that shaytaan does tempt us. That he has been tempting humans since her tempted Adam and Hawwa as. We are told in Quran that he will be tempting us.

as for killing people, death does not mean someone does not matter. Like I said Idon't know the story, however there is life after death, so when you dont view death as the end you can see how letting someone die does not equate to that person does not matter.

"He [Satan] said: Give me respite until the day they are raised up. [Allah] said: You are among those allowed respite. He [Satan]said: Because You have thrown me out (Of the Way), lo !, I will sit waiting for them, on Your straight path, then I will come in from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left and you will not find most of them Gratitude (for Your Mercies)

shaytaan was ungrateful as he was jealous of the position that God had given Adam as, and he did not want to bow to him, as he felt man was not worthy. Allah said test them and you will see the faithful are worthy.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 16:17:35

I am going to have to agree to differ with you,Machadaynu on that point.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:21:24

Me and the bible saying God does allow the devil to tempt us, and you saying he doesn't? smile

Don't forget the serpent in the garden of Eden tempted Eve, or the very specific claim that Jesus (fully human apparently) went in to the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by Satan who even took him up a hill to show him all the lands that he would give him if he worshipped him.

God allows and encourages temptation. To claim otherwise is to reject the bible.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 16:22:56

"So for example, the former might get lots of angst when choosing where to take their third holiday of the year, but the latter will not have to cope with that?" I dont believe that will be anyones hardest problem, like i said everyone has deaths, illness, relationship issues, issues with kids etc.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:27:16

Quite - I questioned this further though. We all have those sorts of problems from time to time - but some people have them whilst living a life of luxury, and others have them living with a crippling illness in a shanty town.

You seem to be suggesting that the sum total of their 'suffering' is about the same though because some people find stuff harder to deal with than others.

This doesn't seem to be my experience of life so far, though.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 16:32:10

My post 11.28am
The bible reference ,if you want to read it in full ,is from James 1 versus 12-16

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation.Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those that love him. No one,when tempted,should say, "I am being tempted by God;for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one's own desire,being lured and enticed by it;then,when that desire has conceived,it gives birth to sin,and that sin,when it is fully grown,gives birth to death. Do not be deceived,my beloved.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:36:19

That says God doesn't tempt anyone - not that he doesn't allow and facilitate others to tempt people, which is what you have been claiming.

Genesis 22:1 states though that God tempted Abraham
"And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am."

as does 2 Samuel 24:1
"Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”"

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 16:36:23

op,have you been tempted and succumbed to something in the past.
You dont have to answer that if you dont want to.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:39:52

amillionyears of course I have. I was tempted to have some cake I didn't need last night. I was tempted to pocket the pound note I found in a deserted aisle of WH Smith when I was 8. I was tempted to have a one-night stand with the attractive friend of a friend's gf (I was single). I need to get loo roll on the way home, and I may be tempted to get some beer too. If I have a bath later, I will certainly be tempted to take a long time over it.

We're all tempted all the time, and we all succumb to it. We normally call it 'making decisions' though, don't we?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 16:41:07

Genesis 22:1
Ah,I get where you are coming from now.
My version says,
"After these things,God tested Abraham"

Yes God does test us.
That is a different thing entirely to temptation,though I can understand why you may get the 2 things confused. I myself used to as well.

The bible I use is an NRSV bible,because I found it was the best for me to understand and learn from.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:45:12

Ooh now that is a fine line you are drawing.

So God tests us. Ok.

How does he do that? I'd suggest it's by offering us choices, to see which one we choose - eat the apple or don't eat the apple. Kill your son, don't kill your son.

Obviously if there is no temptation to choose the other option, there is no test as such.

God wouldn't 'test' someone by saying 'If you are really loyal to me and love me you will never ever eat a pound of warm donkey poo' would he? - there is no temptation to do that anyway.

In order for God to test us in a meaningful way, he has to offer us a tempting choice, surely?

Interesting translation differences. Our traditional translation says in Job 1:6: "Now the day came about, and the angels of God came to stand beside the Lord, and the Adversary, too, came among them."

nailak - I find it interesting how similar Judaism and Islam treat Satan and temptation, particularly compared to how very different most Christian groups seem to have done.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 16:53:22

God tests Christians,definitely yes.
He does not give us more than we can cope with.
The testing is about seeing if we can manage a few more steps in our personal Christian journey towards trying to become "mature and complete,lacking in nothing".

crescentmoon Mon 01-Oct-12 16:58:39

In the Islamic tradition Job is commemorated because the tricks of Satan were not able to swerve him from his love of remembrance of God though Satan had tricked Adam to eat the fruit from the tree.

"And (remember) Job when he cried to his Lord: Verily, distress has seized me and you are the Most Merciful of all who show mercy.
"So We answered his call, and We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his family to him (that he had lost), and the like thereof along with them, as a mercy from Ourselves and a Reminder for all those who worship us." [Quraan:21:83-84]

"Commemorate Our servant Job behold he cried to his Lord: "The Evil One has afflicted me with distress and suffering"! (The command was givensmile "Strike with thy foot: here is (water) wherein to wash cool and refreshing and (water) to drink." And We gave him (back) his people and doubled their number as a Grace from Ourselves and a thing for commemoration for all who have Understanding." [Quran 38:41-43]

In the Qur'anic story, all of what he had lost was restored to him, and he was blessed with more besides, and we were also to look to his story whenever we had anything of trials in our lives.

"And surely We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to the steadfast, Who say, when a misfortune striketh them: Lo! we are Allah's and lo! unto Him we are returning. Such are they on whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy. Such are the rightly guided. (chapter 2, verse 155-157)

"Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion, and He is Able to do all things.
Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving;" (Chapter 67, verse 1-2)

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:58:55

amillionyears you said "God tempts no one,or uses anyone to tempt us. " at 15:14

at 16:53 you are now saying "God tests Christians,definitely yes."

So how does he test us, if it isn't to give us challenges which it might be easier (tempting) to avoid confronting?

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 16:59:18

good how do you mean? like genuinely what are the differences?

I agree with amillion in the Quran its says god "does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear"

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 17:02:57

crescentmoon I do find it fascinating how similar the Abrahamic faiths are.

When you say "all of what he had lost was restored to him, and he was blessed with more beside" I wonder if the Qur'anic story is the same as the bible too, in that he got more livestock and so on - and new children to replace the slain ones, but this time with prettier daughters?

"So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch.And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. "

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 17:08:53

God does not tempt us.

He tests us in order to strengthen us,for us to find out our own gaps,faith wise.And for us to hopefully do something about it.That may involve changing our thoughts or changing our actions or both.

As Christians,we have to try to love our neighbour,be gentle,be kind,be helpful etc etc.
So God may for example,send us a neighbour that is difficult for us to live beside.
There is no temptation involved,but this may involve a series of tests for us to try and overcome in a Christian loving way.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 17:11:24

but you are tempted to be rude to your bad neighbour, or to ignore them - that's the test, isn't it? Will you be nice to them even though they are difficult, or will you be tempted to take the easier route?

The temptation to do the 'wrong' thing is the test, isn't it?

nightlurker Mon 01-Oct-12 17:12:02

I believe in an inspired Bible, but that doesn't mean that I believe the translations are always correct. Job is an inspired book, which means to me that teaches an inspired lesson. Whether it is more of a parable, based on a true story, or strict fact, I can't say for sure, and it doesn't really matter either way to me, because it is still a book with a sound moral purpose.

I am Mormon. We believe Christ was God's firstborn. Everyone is a literal spirit child of God, and he gave us agency (freedom of choice) before we were born. Every person on earth is here because we made the choice to be. Our time here is our passage into spiritual adulthood. God whispers to us and guides our way, but he mostly leaves things up to us because the purpose is to learn the difference between good and evil, happiness and misery. If he made life perfect for everyone and allowed no evil, it wouldn't be nearly as beneficial to us. How can we oppose evil if he allows none? This life is unequal and unfair, but everything will be made right in the next.

We have unique views on Satan, including the belief that he is a fallen child of God, and actually our brother. He was cast out of heaven because he wanted to destroy the agency of the children of God, and exercise compulsion over them, which was strictly against the will of God.

Nailak I was just noticing the differences and similarities in the comments you and I make compared to amillionyears.

In Christianity, Satan is a fallen rebelling angel who seems to have become pure evil, drawing people away from God, it seems a very dualistic of God v Satan.

Whereas in Judaism and Islam, nothing could be beyond God's control and angels have no free will (so can't rebel), Satan is an agent of temptation. In Judaism he is the Adversary/Prosecutor who, along with our bad deeds, will prosecute against us in our final judgment.

Lately, I've been finding the similarities and differences interesting. I was talking the other day with someone on the similarities, particularly how Judaism considers Islam a Noahide faith whereas most Christian faiths are not mostly due to the dualistic nature (and obvious added divinity) within it.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 17:15:06

In Islam shaytaan is a jinn btw.

I was always taught there is nothing in the Jewish scriptures about shaytaan/iblees is this wrong?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 17:15:49

Do you think you understand the dictionary definition of temptation
and the dictionary definition of testing?
They are 2 different things and have 2 distinct meanings.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 17:17:16

God tests.
God does not tempt.

crescentmoon Mon 01-Oct-12 17:17:25

i don't know where that smiley face came from, very random. and there is no verse about the daughters either OP.

but generally we look to the prophets to remind ourselves that they suffered all that we suffered and even more, but that did not turn them away from worshipping God.

"Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested? And We indeed tested those who were before them. And God will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars"(Chapter 29:verse 2-3)

"Do you think that you will enter Paradise without God knowing those of you who fought (in His cause) and knowing those who are the patient?" (Chapter 3, verse 142)

"Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, "When (will come) the Help of God?" Yes! Certainly, the Help of God is near!" (Chapter 2, verse 214)

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 17:18:09

so can you explain it then?

God tests us, so if someone is rude we may be tempted to be rude back

he gives us time we may be tempted to sit on mumsnet rather then do our work

etc

what test doesnt involve temptation?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 17:19:49

As Christians if we fail at testing,we fail,but that is not a sin.
If we fail at temptation that can be a sin.If we eat a piece of cake,that is not a sin.If we sleep with our best friends girlfriend,that is a sin.

nightlurker Mon 01-Oct-12 17:23:54

Very happy to have found this thread. I love hearing the views of people of a wide variety of beliefs.

Perhaps the test is to give us freedom of choice, and the temptation is the desire to pursue the wrong thing?

crescentmoon Mon 01-Oct-12 17:23:57

it is important to remember the trials of Job and other good people who have problems otherwise we fall into being preoccupied with wealth and status. and use that as a measure to value others, so that one who is living comfortably is seen as having value and deserving it and the one is facing difficulty and low wealth has low value and deserves it.

As for man, when his Lord tries him by giving him honour and bounties, then he says "My Lord has honoured me." But when He tries him, by straitening his means of life, he says: "My Lord has humiliated me!" (Chapter 89, verse 15-16)

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 17:25:37

amillionyears you keep saying God tests but doesn't tempt.

What I am trying to establish is how he tests if it is not to give us a choice of things to do, one of which is the 'correct' thing and one of which is 'wrong' but nevertheless tempting.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 17:28:34

The answer is in the verses I quoted from James.
One is tempted by ones own desires.

The burden and buck stops with us on this one.
He gives us the choices,but we are tempted by our own desires.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 17:30:25

We have responsibilities whivh we cannot escape,unless we are very young,or mentally incapable in some way.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 17:44:00

So we are tempted by our own desires (which God knows about, even if they stem from him letting the serpent into Eden and not directly from him)

Right.

So God gives us choices to test us, and we are tempted by our own desires, which God knows about because he's God.

So by giving us choices God knows we will be tempted to choose the 'wrong' one - so by giving us tests, God is placing us in the way of temptation. Even the Lord's prayer - given to us by Jesus - acknowledges that God has the power to lead us in to temptation and often does, so we have to ask him not to.

At what age do you think God holds us accountable, do you think? And what happens to someone who lives half their life as a God-hating, despicable villain, and then has an accident making them mentally incapable in some way? Do they get away with all the sins of the first half of their life because they are no longer mentally capable of asking for forgiveness?

crescentmoon Mon 01-Oct-12 17:45:35

I 'get' Judaism in alot of ways - and I'm not the only muslim who trusts kosher chicken over halal chicken lol

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 17:49:05

Can I just clarify that when I said I was tempted to have a fling with "the attractive friend of a friend's gf" I meant that she was the friend of my friends GF - that's how I met her: I went for a drink with him and he met up with his GF who had gone for a drink with her friend. I did not have a fling with the GF of the friend of a friend! Punctuation eh?

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 17:50:35

I think mayne amillion means shaytaan puts the thoughts in our head but we make the decision

At the time of Bani Israel, there was a man in a small village, called Barsisa. He was, what you call, a monk. But he was a true Christian. He believed in Tawheed and believed Isa (peace be upon him) was a messenger of Allah. One day three brothers decided to go for Jihad. But they had a sister and they did not want to leave her alone. So they went looking for someone to take care of her. The town people suggested to leave her with Barsisa, because of his piety.
So they went to him and when they asked him, he said, “I seek refuge from the cursed Shaytan” and said No! This was because he was scared of falling into sin ( due to the potential fitnah it may cause).
Then Shaytan came to Barsisa in the form of Waswasah (Whisperings). Shaytan is very smart and knew Barsisa had a soft heart. So he told Barsisa, “What if they can’t find someone good and leave her with someone bad, wouldn’t that be your fault?” Now Barsisa did not realise this was Shaytan whispering in his heart, and because of his compassion for others, he decided to accept their request and help the woman.
He let her stay in a house opposite the church. He did this so that it would be easy for him to leave her her food outside the church and she could come get it herself. But after sometime, shaytan returned. This time he told Barsisa, “Why don’t you leave the food closer for her, so that people don’t see her moving back and forth alone!” Barsisa agreed and started leaving the food outside the house. But shaytan wasn’t happy with this either, so sometime later, he returned and ask Barsisa, “Why don’t you go in and leave it on the table, so that no one sees her coming out and going in alone all the time!” Again, Barsisa agreed and he started leaving the food on the table.
Then as time went by, Shaytan returned and said to him, “Why don’t you talk to her, she is all alone and has no one to talk to!” Barsisa agreed and started talking to her from behind a door (so as to screen himself). But this would lead them to almost shouting to each other to here themselves. Shaytan asked Barsisa to just go in and talk to her, and finally, he (Shaytan) had got the alone in a room.
Shaytan had completed the difficult part. It wasn’t after Barsisa and the woman committed fornication. And to make things worse, she also became pregnant.
As soon as the baby was born, Shaytan returned, and said to Barsisa, “What have you done? Look at the result of your evil (ie the child), get ride of the evidence otherwise the brothers will kill you!”
Barsisa killed the baby and buried it in the same room the woman was in. Shaytan then told Barsisa, “Do you think you can kill the child of a woman and expect her not to tell anyone?!” and So Barsisa killed her and buried her along side the baby! He then made a fake grace outside and when her brothers returned, he informed them that she died of illness. After seeing the grave and make dua for her, they returned home and accepted Allah’s decree.
Later that night, Shaytan came to them in their dream and informed them about what Barsisa had done and where the child and their sister could be found. The brother got up upset and confused, and informed his brothers of the dream, and they both said they had the same dream.
So they believed that it must be true, and when and dug up the fake grave and found it empty. They then dug the placed shaytan showed them in the dream and found the child and woman!
Furious, the brothers took Barsisa to the Leader to get his punishment. Barsisa knew that he would be given the death penalty. Shaytan came to Barsisa again, for the final time this time.
This time he revealed himself and told him he was the one whispering the thoughts to him. And he said that he could save Barsisa, and as long as Barsisa makes sujood to him! Barsisa, out of desperation made Sujood to him , this confirmed his Kufr (disbelief) and Shaytan said to him “I am free of you, I fear Allâh, the Lord of the ‘Alamîn (mankind, jinns and all that exists)!” and left Barsisa was stonned to death and on the day of judgement he will be resurrected making Sujood to Shaytan!
So look how shaytan tricked him. He came to him as a friend, but was infact his biggest enemy!
(Their allies deceived them) like Shaitân (Satan), when he says to man:
“Disbelieve in Allâh.” But when (man) disbelieves in Allâh, Shaitân (Satan) says: “I am free of you, I fear Allâh, the Lord of the ‘Alamîn (mankind, jinns and all that exists)!” (Al-Hashr 59:16)
Shaytan will never make you sin directly, he will always trick you using Waswasah and he is more patient than any of us. So we should always seek refuge in Allah from Shayatn. Never think you have enough knowledge or are strong enough to take on Shaytan.
This is why the Scholars of Islam are the ones with the most Taqwa, fear of Allah. So reflect on the story, if Shaytan told Barsisa to make sujood in the beginning, Barsisa would have said no staright away, but Shaytan has a plan in hand it was a step by step policy that made Barsisa finally breakdown and commit Kufr.
Reference for above story: Stories in the Quran – Ibn Kathir – 110

crescentmoon Mon 01-Oct-12 17:50:58

And night lurker I found your explanation of Mormonism in another thread very interesting- I had only known about it from highly faith skeptical - by that I mean writers skeptical of any faiths - articles. Are you Unitarians or trinitarians?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 17:52:45

Tempted by our own desires,yes.
God gives us hurdles.

Tests are not temptations.
I dont feel I can carry on with these posts,unless I am clear you understand the different definitions,dictionary wise.

I think he holds us accountable at 13 years old,purely on the basis of the things that happened to Jesus when he was 12 years old.

No,I dont think that person would get away with their sins.
And that is a huge danger for non Christians.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 17:57:41

In Islam God may choose to forgive all sins, the one sin he will not forgive is shirk, or ascribing partners to Him.

Which is the huge danger for trinitarians

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 19:28:09

op,I am not sure if you misunderstood my last post.
I am happy to keep posting on here,but not about the testing/tempting bit.
In one of your posts on another thread you use the word test in its right context,so I think that in time,you will able to work out the difference if you are still personally unsure.

I see that you have started another thread about Jesus.
I could comment on here about that if you wanted me too.

On the back to sunday thread you are saying about making contact with a church,so I hope you have a nice time there.

nightlurker Mon 01-Oct-12 20:31:37

Machadaynu, age of accountability, in Mormonism, is 8, which is when a person can be baptized. As with all cases, God is judge, so I leave it to him to worry about specific cases. We believe repentance requires change and true sorrow for sin. We believe this can happen after death and before the time of our resurrection, but a person can lose significant opportunity by procrastinating repentance.

Crescent, I don't consider myself Trinitarian. We believe in God the Father, who is the father of all of us. We believe Christ is the Son of God, and our eldest brother. We believe in the Holy Ghost, who is a spirit that touches our hearts and teaches us truth. We believe they are three distinct beings, but they are one in purpose (to bring exaltation to the children of God). We pray to God the Father in the name of Christ, and do some things (like baptism) in the name of all three. We believe Christ was the only one to lead a sinless life, and the one who atoned for our sins. We believe Jesus was Jehovah of the Old Testament who spoke to Abraham, Moses and many of other other ancient prophets. In the pre-mortal life, we believe Christ was the most righteous child of God, and he put forward a plan to allow all the children of God to become like God. He offered all of the glory to God the Father, and agreed to endure the pains, sorrows, and sins of all mankind. I don't know if that fully answers your question, but hopefully it gives you a feel for what we believe.

nailak, there is only one unpardonable sin in Mormonism, and it is to essentially see God and know of his goodness, then rebel against him and all that is good, and lead God's children astray (Satan and his followers). We believe everyone else can eventually be forgiven for their sins. The wicked will be in paradise, but their paradise will be far less than the paradise of the righteous. Murder is also especially grievous, and even with repentance, can exclude a person from the higher degrees of heaven.

(is derailing thread smile)

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 21:04:17

yes I understand what you describe.

You know on the thread where the little girl is saying jews are the one who have earnt the wrath of Allah, that is exactly what she is decribing, that Moses led them from pharoah, and then after knowing the goodness they rebeled and led others astray by worshipping the calf, and that is why the wrath was on them. It is not meaning hate all Jews or anything like that.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 22:44:18

amillionyears and nightlurker as your beliefs have the age of accountability at 13 and 8 respectively, I presume you see nothing wrong in the recent case of a teacher having a relationship with a 15 year-old pupil, as she is clearly way above the age at which you think your God thinks they are able to be held responsible for behaviour for all eternity?

nightlurker you believe Jesus attoned for mankind's sins. To whom was the atonement made, why did they require it, and why did it have to be a murder?

nailak in that video the little girl just says 'the Jews' have earned the wrath of Allah, Not that some Jews earned it, thousands of years ago, in the past.

Also, why will Allah not forgive one specific 'sin' - the sin of not really understanding God, when he is, after all, incomprehensible to the human mind. That seems very unfair.

amillionyears I know the difference between testing and tempting, but I cannot think of any meaningful test that would not involve one being tempted to do the wrong thing - they are, in this context, intertwined. As I said before, one of these is a test that is meanigful, and the other isn't:

Test 1
God says if you love me, give away all your possessions and follow me.

Test 2
God says if you love me, promise never to eat warm donkey poo.

In test 1, the temptation is to pretend not to have heard, or to try and get out of it, because the option of keeping all your stuff if a tempting one to choose. The outcome of this one might give God an indication of how seriously the person believed (although God knows that anyway, so I've no idea why he'd need to test it)

In test 2, there is no temptation to eat warm donkey poo anyway (for most people - not been to Heston's restaurant though) and without that, the result is meaningless. You can pass the test without any problems because there is no temptation to get out of it.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 22:47:38

In what way do you think the 15 year old has sinned?

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 23:02:54

I didn't say or imply that I did think the 15 year old has sinned.

However, the common view is that the relationship is unhealthy because of the large age gap and her youth - the thought seems to be that she is too young to be fully aware of the consequences of her actions and that she may be being manipulated by her teacher, especially given his position.

Her age is key to the discomfort most feel about it though. If she were a 25 year old undergraduate having an affair with her 50 year old lecturer I doubt the wider world would notice, but their relationship in terms of teacher/pupil and age gap would be the same - it's that she is so young that is seen as the problem.

However, you seem to think that at 13 one is fully responsible, so presumably you feel totally comfortable with the relationship as she has demonstrated that she has chosen to be in it? Or do you feel uncomfortable with it, which would indicate that you don't think people should be fully responsible for their decisions at 13 and over?

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 23:03:35

to add though that if they have slept with each other, she has of course sinned according to the bible as she isn't married to him, and he is married to someone else.

springydaffs Mon 01-Oct-12 23:12:21

How interesting to get the chance to sharpen my teeth on this. My life has very definite Job shades to it at the moment, with accompanying 'friends' who can't comprehend the breadth of the awful things that are going down and, in that simplistic way, assume I must have done something wrong. Though I have wondered, as Job wondered.

Back to Job. First off, God is good. It's a good place to start, very comforting and makes perfect sense of everything else (try it: stand and look at things from the lens that God is good - see? it's a good place). I don't know if all that stuff happened to Job but I do know that God is good. (I find the children dying and the wife being beside herself because she's lost her kids the most upsetting - but that's by the by. I have raged at God for similar, if I'm honest, and I know that I am totally accepted, and comforted, by him in my rage, so I don't really know what all that Job's wife stuff is about, not quite. I dont believe God would condemn her for her raw rage and agony, because he hasn't condemned me for similar.)

God suffers and if his spirit is in us (by invitation, he doesn't force), we will suffer too. I think it's the deal if you're serious about agreeing with God about wanting with all your heart for this to come to pass: 'to heal the broken-hearted, bind up their wounds, free the captive' etc ( Isaiah 61 ); wanting to see that unspeakable power pumping through this earth, doing precisely what it says on the tin. I think God has made it absurdly apparent that he wants that too. (Actually, it was him who wanted it first.) There is a positive and a negative force to power, but I'm not a scientist.

imo God works through people. We have the power to walk in a particular direction and for there to be consequences of that direction. The direction things go in on this earth is the direction people propel it. Floods? somebody somewhere has upset the balance. (sorry if that's simplistic). God doesn't do horrible things, he isn't like that.

I can't love my neighbour - are you joking?? - I can't even love God. It's not possible. I am wired looking in the entirely other direction. I don't even like God, much less love him - and I don't want to love him either. Not me in my flesh, so to speak - my flesh hates him because it's me I love and serve. If I love my neighbour it's because he is alive in me (by invitation, there's no other way, it doesn't happen by magic or a kind of oozing in my general direction - and I wasn't born with it, I was born loving myself) and it's him loving my neighbour through me. I want to love my neighbour because he does, but I can't do it myself (or want to, if I'm honest). In myself, I'm not interested to love him or love my neighbour, it's me I love and serve. So there's two things going on - the one who loves me, the one who loves him (I only love him because he is alive in me. invitation to all etc.). I want the latter to take precedence because that's the one with all the power.. to heal the broken-hearted etc. I can't heal the broken-hearted, he heals the broken-hearted through 'me', or anyone who is interested. He'll use anybody to get to his kids, all you have to do is tip up, make yourself available. [and please don't think you can do that incremental stuff eg learning this lesson and that lesson. That's just ridiculous - we can never please God by our own efforts and it's not a test to see how well we do. That would just be capricious on God's part - he knows it's not possible, so don't even go there. It's such a waste of time.]

Unless a seed is first crushed, it can't bear fruit. In myself, I can't bear fruit - or the only fruit I'll bear is loving myself fruit, which goes nowhere, has no power, is useless. Just as Jesus was crushed, so will I be - that part of me that gets in the way because it is so besotted with me. The suffering bit is not pleasant [understatement] but if that's the way of things then I'm willing just about . I'm willing because I want his power on this earth to 'heal the broken-hearted' etc. Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered - it should be no different for me. I don't enjoy the suffering (neither did Jesus) but if that's how it has to be then ok. Not a nano second more than necessary, mind. I don't exactly relish it, I loathe it. My flesh is so opposed to him on every possible level that, left to myself, there is no way his power could work through me (or anybody that tips up for his spirit to do his thing through them). I hate suffering and I hate him for letting me suffer. But I trust him.

So in that sense, we are vessels. The awesome catch is that, in the process of serving him (in his quest to heal the broken-hearted etc) we get set free too - yo! - from the relentless drive to serve and love ourselves (<< which is such a dead place to be and I#m up for being released from it). If the world can get 'healed etc' along with that then that's pretty neat. nn not messiah complex - he's the messiah, I'm not; he was the one who set this up; who wanted to work with us [wondrous!]. I'm just tipping up and I know he is good and he doesn't do horrible and weird things. He can be trusted.

So, Job. When everything he cherished was taken away, it was like a kind of circumcision - the outer skin was cut off (sorry if that's horrible imagery - it is biblical imagery and I'd like to say more about it but don't know enough). He was stripped right back, everything that defined him was stripped off, nothing left but the amoeba-like jelly that is us if everything is taken away. The selfish, self-centred, self-absorbed ameoba-like jelly. And in that pathetic state, Job put, or kept, his trust in God. Which was sensible, because God is the only thing to be trusted.

I may be projecting a perfect father onto God - yes, some of that, possibly - but that doesn't mean he isn't the perfect father. You say OP that we are defining God by our own standards but you are doing that too by saying that no father would 'do' to Job what God 'did' to him.

If you know the book of Job OP then you know how God finally answers after poor old Job has been mashed up by his 'friends'. I love that bit (the God bit, not the Job's friends bit).

springydaffs Mon 01-Oct-12 23:19:58

oh yes, I so should have edited that grin

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 23:22:53

in that video the girl just says a lot of things without going in depth explanations, if I ask someone who led the jews out of Egypt, you goinna say Moses, not Moses led some Jews out of Egypt thousands of years ago.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 23:25:47

with regards to the 15 year old, I do believe that it is possible for a 15 year old to consent, but obviously that is dependant on the particular 15 year old and their maturity.

nailak - There is writings on Satan as the adversary and on supernatural spirits, not so much in the Tanach, though they appear a few times (such as at the beginning of Job), but there is certainly writings on them in the Midrash, Talmud, and other Torah writings certainly. They aren't a principle of faith though so how much of the stories are literal or not is debateable.

I also agree on that video and thought it was very clear in the video and was confused by the ruckus it has caused. There are many groups within Judaism who would say that being in exile and the destruction of the Holy Temple is a continuous punishment and sign of wrath due to senseless hatred that can only be rectified by purposeful love or in the end by the Moshiach (may he come soon) so that wasn't much to disagree with and I certainly didn't see it as hateful speech as some were suggesting.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 23:38:18

supernatural spirits? as in jinn? or something else?

GrimmaTheNome Mon 01-Oct-12 23:38:54

>What are your views on Job?

Its an ancient piece of fiction. God and Satan are products of the human mind.
Fiction doesn't have to make sense, logical or ethical. You may learn more about the human mind by studying Job so please don't let this rationalist interjection derail the debate. grin

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 23:41:47

springydaffs I find it hard to respond to your post. It's hard to start from the position that 'God is good' when the largest section of his book describes him doing, causing or allowing awful things to happen.

I don't believe that you can describe God as good, given what he does, and the fact that he doesn't need to behave like that. God cannot suffer in any meaningful sense because he's God - he can change everything in an instant. I don't believe you can truly suffer if you have the power to end your suffering.

Or, in the words of Jarvis Cocker - "Rent a flat above a shop, cut your hair and get a job. Smoke some fags and play some pool, pretend you never went to school. But still you'll never get it right 'cos when you're laid in bed at night watching roaches climb the wall If you call your Dad he could stop it all.
You'll never live like common people You'll never do what common people do
You'll never fail like common people You'll never watch your life slide out of view"

God might want us to think he suffers, but he doesn't really - not if he is really God.

springydaffs Mon 01-Oct-12 23:48:55

So if your kids are hurt (excuse assumption) it doesn't hurt you? If your kids are snubbed by their friends, say, it hurts you. YOu could do something about it but you don't. But it hurts you. If it hurts you and me that babies die needlessly in some countries, that kids are kidnapped and used as sex slaves - and we don't even know them - then it hurts God. God suffers because love suffers, is essentially vulnerable.

(thank you for your polite response btw when my post was so hectic)

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 23:57:43

Of course it hurts me in an emotional sense if the kid is upset or injured. And the news upsets me so much I rarely watch it/

I'm not God though. If I was, I'd simply stop bad things from happening to my children.

Free will is a concept that is important in theology, but in real life we don't let our kids have it. I don't let her wander off out the house on her own (kid is 3 btw) I don't let her touch the pans to see how hot they are. I don't let her try and drive the car even though she really wants to. In short, she doesn't have free will. As a loving parent I step in to curtail it so that bad things don't happen to her. Of course I'm not perfect, so she's knocked herself out twice and we get through out fair share of plasters.

God is supposed to be perfect though, and he could stop us from suffering. I'd gladly give up the bit of my free will that allows mankind to do bad things in return, and then we'd all be happy - God too. I don't understand how letting your children suffer - often for things they didn't do and have no control over - is thought of as unavoidable and somehow worthy. It's like believers don't truly believe God to be that powerful.

nailak Tue 02-Oct-12 00:00:30

you know how we say people need to make their own decisions and own mistakes? when our kids are grown would we still stop them doing the things you mention.

but you are still coming from the point that suffering is bad. whereas those who believe in afterlife believe this world is fleeting and the suffering will be rewarded with something much better.

It would be easy to be please with your fate if only good things happen, but the whole point is the test.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 00:07:55

I will continue to curtail her free will for as long as I think I need to. If she is about to step out in front of traffic when she is 50, I'll try and stop her (I say try as I'll be v. old then!)

In short, if I know for a fact she is doing something that is 'bad' I will stop her. Obviously as she gets older it will be a case of allowing her to use her own judgement, because aside from things involving physical danger, such as not noticing traffic, I don't actually know for certain what will happen in most situations because I'm not God so most decisions are just a judgement call for us.

It's not like that for God though - he knows what the outcome of our choices will be even before we make them, and he can always intervene. He doesn't, though.

nailak Tue 02-Oct-12 00:09:36

its not a test if you are given all the right answers is it though?

the whole point is we have free will, and we are responsible for our decisions, thats what makes us humans

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 00:11:51

well, I don't really have my eye on the afterlife tbh. yy it'll be fab I'm sure, but right now, it's this life that interests me. There's enough here to be 'interested' in - like the kids sold into sex-slavery eg. I don't want that to carry on, I can hardly bear it. I'm not thinking about the by-and-by on that one, I'm thinking here and now.

don't mean to patronise OP but your kid is 3. When she's 13, come back and tell me about the things you stop happening to her so she'll be happy

<crows a bit> wink

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 00:11:57

Why does it need to be a test?

I don't test my kid, I just want her to be fulfilled and happy. I don't need to create choices - some of which are bad - to see which she will take, and I don't need her to prove she loves me by following lots of rules.

Why does God want us to be tested?

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 00:13:32

test? test? what is this blasted test??

life is testing enough without any 'tests' ffs. dear, dear. God must be very bored if he's throwing 'tests' our way.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 00:14:07

the point isspringydaff that I try and stop bad things happening to her - that is my instinct. I know I can't do it - the trips to A&E tell me that.

God can do it though- he can stop bad things happening to his children simply by removing all the bad choices. He just doesn't.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 00:15:59

I keep being told that God tests us, springdaffs That all the bad things are there so it's not too easy for us, or something. So God can filter us when we're dead, or something?

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 00:22:27

3 and 13 OP - see you in 10

<taps nose><points><looks over glasses>

sorry, don't sign up to the test theory. It ain't like that. Kids are dying (eg) - God doesn't have time for 'tests'. He wants somebody (anybody) to get out there and do something about those kids, instead of sitting in their cosy houses with their cosy cars parked outside saying aww.

(nothing wrong with cosy houses/cars btw)

nailak Tue 02-Oct-12 00:24:24

yes springy life is testing thats the point.

what us the purpose of our existence? why did God create us?

why are you asking all these questions?

I have explained,

2. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: "We believe," and will not be tested.

3. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test).

4. Or those who do evil deeds think that they can outstrip Us (i.e. escape Our Punishment)? Evil is that which they judge!

5. Whoever hopes for the Meeting with Allah, then Allah's Term is surely coming. and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.

6. And whosoever strives, he strives only for himself. Verily, Allah is free of all wants from the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns, and all that exists).

7. Those who believe and do righteous good deeds, surely, We shall remit from them their evil deeds and shall reward them according to the best of that which they used to do.

8. And We have enjoined on man to be good and dutiful to his parents, but if they strive to make you join with Me (in worship) anything (as a partner) of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not. Unto Me is your return, and I shall tell you what you used to do.

9. And for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, surely, We shall make them enter in (the enterance of) the righteous (i.e. in Paradise).

10. Of mankind are some who say: "We believe in Allah," but if they are made to suffer for the sake of Allah, they consider the trial of mankind as Allah's punishment, and if victory comes from your Lord, (the hypocrites) will say: "Verily! We were with you (helping you)." Is not Allah Best Aware of what is in the breast of the 'Alamin (mankind and jinns).

11. Verily, Allah knows those who believe, and verily, He knows the hypocrites [i.e. Allah will test the people with good and hard days to discriminate the good from the wicked (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test)].

12. And those who disbelieve say to those who believe: "Follow our way and we will verily bear your sins," never will they bear anything of their sins. Surely, they are liars.

13. And verily, they shall bear their own loads, and other loads besides their own, and verily, they shall be questioned on the Day of Resurrection about that which they used to fabricate.

14. And indeed We sent Nuh (Noah) to his people, and he stayed among them a thousand years less fifty years [inviting them to believe in the Oneness of Allah (Monotheism), and discard the false gods and other deities], and the Deluge overtook them while they were Zalimun (wrong-doers, polytheists, disbelievers, etc.).

15. Then We saved him and those with him in the ship, and made it (the ship) as an Ayah (a lesson, a warning, etc.) for the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).

16. And (remember) Ibrahim (Abraham) when he said to his people: "Worship Allah (Alone), and fear Him, that is better for you if you did but know.

17. "You worship besides Allah only idols, and you only invent falsehood. Verily, those whom you worship besides Allah have no power to give you provision, so seek your provision from Allah (Alone), and worship Him (Alone), and be grateful to Him. To Him (Alone) you will be brought back.

18. "And if you deny, then nations before you have denied (their Messengers). And the duty of the Messenger is only to convey (the Message) plainly."

19. See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it. Verily, that is easy for Allah.

20. Say: "Travel in the land and see how (Allah) originated creation, and then Allah will bring forth (resurrect) the creation of the Hereafter (i.e. resurrection after death). Verily, Allah is Able to do all things."

21. He punishes whom He will, and shows mercy to whom He will, and to Him you will be returned.

22. And you cannot escape in the earth or in the heaven. And besides Allah you have neither any Wali (Protector or Guardian) nor any Helper.

23. And those who disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah and the Meeting with Him, it is they who have no hope of My Mercy, and it is they who will (have) a painful torment.

24. So nothing was the answer of [Ibrahim's (Abraham)] people except that they said: "Kill him or burn him." Then Allah saved him from the fire. Verily, in this are indeed signs for a people who believe.

25. And [Ibrahim (Abraham)] said: "You have taken (for worship) idols instead of Allah, and the love between you is only in the life of this world, but on the Day of Resurrection, you shall disown each other, and curse each other, and your abode will be the Fire, and you shall have no helper."

26. So Lout (Lot) believed in him [Ibrahim's (Abraham) Message of Islamic Monotheism]. He [Ibrahim (Abraham)] said: "I will emigrate for the sake of my Lord. Verily, He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise."

27. And We bestowed on him [Ibrahim (Abraham)], Ishaque (Isaac) and Ya'qub (Jacob), and ordained among his offspring Prophethood and the Book [i.e. the Taurat (Torah) (to Musa - Moses), the Injeel (Gospel) (to 'Iesa - Jesus), the Qur'an (to Muhammad ), all from the offspring of Ibrahim (Abraham)], and We granted him his reward in this world, and verily, in the Hereafter he is indeed among the righteous.

28. And (remember) Lout (Lot), when he said to his people: "You commit Al-Fahishah (sodomy the worst sin) which none has preceded you in (committing) it in the 'Alamin (mankind and jinns)."

29. "Verily, you do sodomy with men, and rob the wayfarer (travellers, etc.)! And practise Al-Munkar (disbelief and polytheism and every kind of evil wicked deed) in your meetings." But his people gave no answer except, that they said: "Bring Allah's Torment upon us if you are one of the truthful."

30. He said: "My Lord! Give me victory over the people who are Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupts).

31. And when Our Messengers came to Ibrahim (Abraham) with the glad tidings they said: "Verily, we are going to destroy the people of this [Lout's (Lot's)] town (i.e. the town of Sodom in Palestine) truly, its people have been Zalimun [wrong-doers, polytheists and disobedient to Allah, and have also belied their Messenger Lout (Lot)]."

32. Ibrahim (Abraham) said: "But there is Lout (Lot) in it." They said:"We know better who is there, we will verily save him [Lout (Lot)] and his family, except his wife, she will be of those who remain behind (i.e. she will be destroyed along with those who will be destroyed from her folk)."

33. And when Our Messengers came to Lout (Lot), he was grieved because of them, and felt straitened on their account. They said: "Have no fear, and do not grieve! Truly, we shall save you and your family, except your wife, she will be of those who remain behind (i.e. she will be destroyed along with those who will be destroyed from her folk).

34. Verily, we are about to bring down on the people of this town a great torment from the sky, because they have been rebellious (against Allah's Command)."

35. And indeed We have left thereof an evident Ayah (a lesson and a warning and a sign the place where the Dead Sea is now in Palestine) for a folk who understand.

36. And to (the people of) Madyan (Midian), We sent their brother Shu'aib (Shuaib). He said: "O my people! Worship Allah, and hope for (the reward of good deeds by worshipping Allah Alone, on) the last Day, and commit no mischief on the earth as Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupts).

37. And they belied him [Shu'aib (Shuaib)], so the earthquake seized them, and they lay (dead), prostrate in their dwellings.

38. And 'Ad and Thamud (people)! And indeed (their destruction) is clearly apparent to you from their (ruined) dwellings. Shaitan (Satan) made their deeds fair-seeming to them, and turned them away from the (Right) Path, though they were intelligent.

39. And (We destroyed also) Qarun (Korah), Fir'aun (Pharaoh), and Haman. And indeed Musa (Moses) came to them with clear Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), but they were arrogant in the land, yet they could not outstrip Us (escape Our punishment).

40. So We punished each (of them) for his sins, of them were some on whom We sent Hasiban (a violent wind with shower of stones) [as the people of Lout (Lot)], and of them were some who were overtaken by As-Saihah [torment - awful cry, etc. (as Thamud or Shu'aib's people)], and of them were some whom We caused the earth to swallow [as Qarun (Korah)], and of them were some whom We drowned [as the people of Nuh (Noah), or Fir'aun (Pharaoh) and his people]. It was not Allah Who wronged them, but they wronged themselves.

41. The likeness of those who take Auliya' (protectors and helpers) other than Allah is as the likeness of a spider, who builds (for itself) a house, but verily, the frailest (weakest) of houses is the spider's house; if they but knew.

42. Verily, Allah knows what things they invoke instead of Him. He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.

43. And these similitudes We put forward for mankind, but none will understand them except those who have knowledge (of Allah and His Signs, etc.).

44. (Allah says to His Prophet Muhammad ): "Allah (Alone) created the heavens and the earth with truth (and none shared Him in their creation)." Verily! Therein is surely a sign for those who believe.

45. Recite (O Muhammad ) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur'an), and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat). Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha' (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.) and the remembering (praising, etc.) of (you by) Allah (in front of the angels) is greater indeed [than your remembering (praising, etc.) Allah in prayers, etc.]. And Allah knows what you do.

46. And argue not with the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and in good manner, inviting them to Islamic Monotheism with His Verses), except with such of them as do wrong, and say (to them): "We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our Ilah (God) and your Ilah (God) is One (i.e. Allah), and to Him we have submitted (as Muslims)."

47. And thus We have sent down the Book (i.e this Qur'an) to you (O Muhammad ), and those whom We gave the Scripture [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel) aforetime] believe therein as also do some of these (who are present with you now like 'Abdullah bin Salam) and none but the disbelievers reject Our Ayat [(proofs, si

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 00:24:31

I also think OP that you can have NO IDEA how much God protects us from. You do your utmost, your kid ends up in A&E. God too.

nailak Tue 02-Oct-12 00:25:14

yes springy daff I would agree he wants us to help each other, and that would be considered a righteous deed

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 00:25:49

springdaffs I don't claim to be perfect though. God does.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 00:26:47

that's a big old copy and paste nailak Where is it from?

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 00:30:16

from nailak's post

" Of mankind are some who say: "We believe in Allah," but if they are made to suffer for the sake of Allah ..."
Why would Allah make people suffer for his sake?

"Verily, Allah knows those who believe, and verily, He knows the hypocrites [i.e. Allah will test the people with good and hard days to discriminate the good from the wicked (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test)]."
What is the point of doing a test to discover something you already know?

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 00:30:23

a 'righteous deed'?? It's got a name?? confused

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 00:31:27

aw now come on OP, are you serious? or do you just want to chase this blighter around in circles?

just asking.

nailak Tue 02-Oct-12 00:34:36

its Quran innit

nailak Tue 02-Oct-12 00:34:56

right click and choose the search google option lol

nailak Tue 02-Oct-12 00:35:54

the answer is in the first 2 verses

2. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: "We believe," and will not be tested.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 00:35:55

I don't get you daffs?

I'm telling you I do my best to protect the kid
You told me that bad things happen to her anyway
I said that's because I'm not perfect, but God is, so he could stop bad things happening if he wanted to.

The question is why he doesn't stop bad things happening. Why is he waiting for someone to do something about people starving when he could do something, or indeed could have done something long ago to stop it ever happening?

Two phrases come to mind here:

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke

What God wants, God gets - God help us all - Roger Waters

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 00:38:08

nailak I don't understand why you wouldn't be left alone if God knew whether or not you believed any way, before you said anything, and without testing.

I really don't see the point. Being left alone rather than 'tested' to discover something that is already known seems perfectly sensible to me. Has God got nothing better to do ?

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 00:40:43

I'm sad that verse(?) 46 has the words "except with such of them as do wrong" in it.

"And argue not with the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and in good manner, inviting them to Islamic Monotheism with His Verses), except with such of them as do wrong, and say (to them): "We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our Ilah (God) and your Ilah (God) is One (i.e. Allah), and to Him we have submitted (as Muslims)"

Without those words, I'd like that bit to be in every Holy Book.

nailak Tue 02-Oct-12 00:40:52

is the test for him or is it for us? God doesnt need us? if something has never happened we can turn around and say this is hypothetical we have never done anything.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 00:42:03

I don't understand your last post at all nailak, sorry!

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 00:49:01

So, do you want to know him or do you want to talk/bitch about him? I can talk about him, if you like, but I'd rather you knew him then he could tell you himself where he's coming from. (I say 'he' but 'he's' genderless.)

That's a cop out (on my part) in a way. But in a way it's not. He makes it lavishly clear he wants to be known - in a personal sense, a relationship sense - so all the talking about him in the world isn't going to get you to know him. I could tell you about my mum but you wouldn't really 'get' her until you met her. Not really.

It's pretty awesome that he has set it up to work in relationship with us - to do what he wants, which is to 'save' the 'world' (or our bit anyway, and if everybody was doing it we'd have it covered). I think it comes down to power, which doesn't work in a vacuum. I expect the theologians could explain why power is needed - but then again, I think it's not that hard to see with the naked eye why power is needed.

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 01:01:11

38 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels[a] shouted for joy?

8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?

12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
15 The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.

16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.

19 “What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
20 Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
21 Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!

22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?

31 “Can you bind the chains[b] of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons[c]
or lead out the Bear[d] with its cubs?
33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s[e] dominion over the earth?

34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
36 Who gives the ibis wisdom[f]
or gives the rooster understanding?[g]
37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
38 when the dust becomes hard
and the clods of earth stick together?

39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions
40 when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?
41 Who provides food for the raven
when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?

39 “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?
2 Do you count the months till they bear?
Do you know the time they give birth?
3 They crouch down and bring forth their young;
their labor pains are ended.
4 Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds;
they leave and do not return.

5 “Who let the wild donkey go free?
Who untied its ropes?
6 I gave it the wasteland as its home,
the salt flats as its habitat.
7 It laughs at the commotion in the town;
it does not hear a driver’s shout.
8 It ranges the hills for its pasture
and searches for any green thing.

9 “Will the wild ox consent to serve you?
Will it stay by your manger at night?
10 Can you hold it to the furrow with a harness?
Will it till the valleys behind you?
11 Will you rely on it for its great strength?
Will you leave your heavy work to it?
12 Can you trust it to haul in your grain
and bring it to your threshing floor?

13 “The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,
though they cannot compare
with the wings and feathers of the stork.
14 She lays her eggs on the ground
and lets them warm in the sand,
15 unmindful that a foot may crush them,
that some wild animal may trample them.
16 She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;
she cares not that her labor was in vain,
17 for God did not endow her with wisdom
or give her a share of good sense.
18 Yet when she spreads her feathers to run,
she laughs at horse and rider.

19 “Do you give the horse its strength
or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?
20 Do you make it leap like a locust,
striking terror with its proud snorting?
21 It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength,
and charges into the fray.
22 It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;
it does not shy away from the sword.
23 The quiver rattles against its side,
along with the flashing spear and lance.
24 In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground;
it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.
25 At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’
It catches the scent of battle from afar,
the shout of commanders and the battle cry.

26 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom
and spread its wings toward the south?
27 Does the eagle soar at your command
and build its nest on high?
28 It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;
a rocky crag is its stronghold.
29 From there it looks for food;
its eyes detect it from afar.
30 Its young ones feast on blood,
and where the slain are, there it is.”

40 The Lord said to Job:

2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!”

nailak Tue 02-Oct-12 01:01:39

What is the benefit in doing our bit, and does it matter our intentions when doing it?

I would agree, in Islam our neighbours and our community has a right over us. There is another story when Allah tells the angels to destroy a town, and they go to the town and find a pious man there and all the other people were not nice, like cheaters, liars, didn't believe, hurt each other etc, and Allah told the angels to start the fire from that man's house, as his piety is nothing if he didn't do anything for those around him.

nailak Tue 02-Oct-12 01:02:44

That is a beautiful quote springy

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 01:03:47

<blatant scripture bombing>

nailak Tue 02-Oct-12 01:04:52

www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZG6ibK8mwo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Also watch this it is a sheykh saying how we are nothing and our worship is worthless if we don't help those around us, specifically women fleeing abuse,

crescentmoon Tue 02-Oct-12 04:12:11

Was just lurking whilst trying to get ds2 back to sleep but wanted to say those are Beautiful verses springydaffs. if that's from psalms I have read enough on philosophy section to go and read it!

nightlurker Tue 02-Oct-12 07:05:12

Machadaynu "amillionyears and nightlurker as your beliefs have the age of accountability at 13 and 8 respectively, I presume you see nothing wrong in the recent case of a teacher having a relationship with a 15 year-old pupil, as she is clearly way above the age at which you think your God thinks they are able to be held responsible for behaviour for all eternity?"
According to my understanding, age of accountability begins at 8 and your level of accountability increases as you mature. A 25 year old would typically be more accountable than a 15 year old, but both would have an appropriate level of responsibility for their own choices. God takes maturity into account, and the law should as well.

"nightlurker you believe Jesus attoned for mankind's sins. To whom was the atonement made, why did they require it, and why did it have to be a murder?"
It was made for everyone ever born or that will eventually be born on earth. It was required because it was part of the plan made when we were all in the spirit world before we were born. I'm sure we'd have a far more detailed understanding if we could remember what happened. I believe there were several reasons for it. We believe that Christ's primary payment for our sins was in the garden of Gethsemane, where he suffered for all of the sins and felt the sorrows of mankind. When Christ chose to suffer everything that humanity suffers, he learned first hand how to best comfort us when we are in need. When he felt the pain of our sins, he learned how to help us best overcome them. As for why he was killed in the way he was, I don't know, but many of God's most beloved prophets have died as martyrs, so it makes sense that Christ would as well.

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 07:18:40

Hi springydaffs,this is our week for meeting!
I love the piece of Job that you quoted.
God is a he. And Jesus,and the disciples,and many others.
I dont have trouble with the bible,I accept it,I love it,I love God,I love Jesus etc.
I try and love my neighbour,all of them,I try not to judge non Christians,I try to judge Christians carefully.

nightlurker Tue 02-Oct-12 07:20:15

For that matter, the atonement applies to anyone born anywhere, not just on earth.

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 07:24:43

Machadaynu,God is wating for the correct number of Christians,before he acts against Satan,to stop the suffering.
There are enormous things going on in Heaven all the time,but we are not privy to it all. We,as Christians,do get more glimpses of Gods awesomeness,power etc,but not that much more than non Christians.

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 07:53:33

springydaffs,dont worry about the testing.
You have been tested lots in your life already I would imagine.
It sounds like you still believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and you are still sorry for any sins you may have done[having read some of your posts yesterday,dont be concerned about this,any sins you may have done,will be way way lower than you think] [and by the way,any non Christians that are reading this,we dont have to list our sins to God,none of us could possibly recall them all].

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 07:57:47

re the 15 year old girl.
I do not judge her.
God will judge her appropriately for her behaviour and thoughts just like anyone else.

op,none of us can hide from God.
What we write,speak,think,act etc.
We have to be ready to give Jesus an account of it all at the end of times.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 08:50:05

springdaffs Re the "scripture bomb"

There are many questions in that piece to which we know the answer (the cause of lightning, the water cycle and so on.) There are also many questions which indicate that the person writing it perhaps did not know quite how things worked (Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?)

There are also some odd phrases used - "Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?" seems an odd thing to say if you created just the 3,000 visible galaxies, each containing over a hundred billion stars, let alone if you created all the estimated 500 billion galaxies and the billions of stars within each one. The earth is truly, truly insignificant.

That aside, I'm still not sure what the point is - are you saying that unless we can answer all those questions there must be a God? That knowing everything is a prerequisite of being God? That God can do all those things but still not create people who are 'nice'?

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 08:52:26

nightlurker you said " A 25 year old would typically be more accountable than a 15 year old, but both would have an appropriate level of responsibility for their own choices. God takes maturity into account, and the law should as well."

But you've also said that God holds people accountable from 8. I presumed you meant that by age 8 God holds you accountable for your sins, and therefore is prepared to send you to hell for all eternity should you sin sufficiently at age 8 and then die without asking for forgiveness.

How can you be "more accountable" than that? What else can you be held accountable for that is more than your eternal soul?

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 08:56:33

amillionyears you said "I try to judge Christians carefully. "

But two of the gospels have specific instructions from Jesus not to (Matthew 7, Luke 6) - Judge not, that ye be not judged - as well as James 4 (Who art thou that judgest another?) and Romans 14 (But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. )

You then say you don't judge the 15 year old who has been in the news. How do you know she isn't a Christian? How would you judge her if you knew she was a Christian? She is over the age of accountability you mentioned.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 08:58:21

nightlurker you said "We believe that Christ's primary payment for our sins was in the garden of Gethsemane, where he suffered for all of the sins and felt the sorrows of mankind. When Christ chose to suffer everything that humanity suffers, he learned first hand how to best comfort us when we are in need"

To whom was the "payment" made? Who required it?

Did God not know already exactly what it is to be human? Are there things he still does not know about his creation as he hasn't experienced then first hand?

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 09:06:21

hmmm, well I will 'worry about the suffering'. Because it hurts. A lot. If I didn't 'worry about it' it wouldn't be suffering, I could store it away in my head in a file marked 'theory' and tune out. Not that I'm snooty about my particular suffering, I'd far rather not have it and I don't embrace it like a friend - I'd be a nutcase if I did. Thank you for your kindness though million.

the scripture is from the Book of Job, at the end, after Job has suffered savagely (know the feeling) and Job's friends have blamed him for his suffering (know that one too). Then God speaks. That's the scripture I posted.

I get what you're saying OP about God could just wipe out all suffering and make everything glorious and wonderful and suffering-free. I'd like that but I wouldn't really be human if it happened. I have to choose, or I wouldn't be human. Novick's 1974 philosophical experiment offers a theoretical 'experience machine' in which you could programme in pleasurable experiences and 'live' them; have a break after two years in which you choose some more pleasurable experiences and then go off with those. etc. There are a number of reasons why that wouldn't, ultimately, be a pleasurable experience. (It's tempting though, I have to say). is that what you want for your kid? to programme in pleasurable experiences so she never has to choose?

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 09:14:01

True,the 15 year old may be a Christian.
But i'll say it again,what do we know she has done wrong?
I cannot comment on her as I have no idea of what she may have done wrong.

I have only skimmed the thread, and if I have time I will share my thoughts on some of the points raised, but I do want to go back to the comments about Boscastle and the flood.

1. People would have died if the alarm hadn't been raised early and the Coastguard mobilised by the man who owns the Witchcraft Museum and who is sympathetic towards pagans, who is himself a volunteer coastguard.

2. The only building that was damaged beyond all repair was the "Harbour Lights" tea room, run by Born Again Christians. They were helped to restart and rebuild by those terrible Boscastle pagans, and now have a new place just over the bridge.

3. The Witchcraft Museum has many ancient and fragile artifacts. None of these were lost to the flood, and in fact, many larger items managed to fall at just the right angle to protect smaller artifacts.

Of course, the Christians said it was just the devil looking after his own .....

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 09:20:13

You could also take apart love - romantic love, filial love, parental love - and reduce it to theory (and psychologists believe there is no such thing as love) but you wouldn't get the wonder of it. We may have reduced the universe to theory, explained it (up to a point!!) but the wonder is there nonetheless. The earth is also astonishingly beautiful (how lovely for those moonwalkers to see it in the sky like we see our moon) with an intimate, cherished beauty that no other planet has imo. I looked closely at a butterfly yesterday for about 5 minutes - the breathtaking, needless beauty of it. wow. It was only a bog-standard butterfly too.

Why do you want to talk about God OP? What are you looking for, what do you want?

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 09:20:48

Math 7 and Luke 6 are saying not to judge non Christians which I have already mentioned.
James 4,I cant see where that chaprter talks about judging.

Romans 14 is all about unclean food.
Dont judge a Christian about unclean food.
The subject is not really relevant to 21st century British christians currently.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 09:21:17

I am not a naïve sixth former. I understand that to appreciate the highs we need lows.

However I don't think I need people to starve to death or wars to be fought in order to be happy.

stressedHEmum Tue 02-Oct-12 09:23:16

I haven't read the whole thread so apologies if this has been said already.

The Book of Job is not meant to be taken literally. It is an allegory.

The message behind the Book of Job is that bad things happen to everybody even those who are good and righteous. Historically, it was believed that if you were prosperous then you must be very righteous and blessed by God because wealth and influence were seen as a mark of God's approval. The reverse was also believed - if very bad things happened to you then you must be paying for some kind of grievous sin.

The basis of the Book of Job is DOUBT. Job's advisers believe that he is being punished by God and refuse to believe that he hasn't done something very wrong, thus the call to "curse God and die", because that is the ultimate punishment. Job refuses to do this but his trials continue. When he does eventually question God, God basically puts him in his place. Job admits his mistake in blaming God and doubting Him, thus restoring his faith and remaining righteous. Job is then blessed all over again, showing that even whem bad things happen. faith reaps it's own rewards.

As for Satan, he is a Son of God i.e. an angel. In the OT, God created everything, both light and dark, prosperity and disaster (Is 45.7). Satan means adversary or stumbling block, so when bad things happened it was a stumbling block to faith and therefore Satan at work. The idea is that we need bad things to happen so that we can appreciate the good.

Satan in the NT, and in Christian thought, is seen as the embodiment of evil and, basically, the enemy of God trying to lead us astray. This understanding of Satan can't be applied to the Book of Job because it comes from a wholly Jewish perspective and, therefore, does not fit the Christian interpretation of Satan.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 09:34:33

stressedHEmum How do you know it's an allegory? It's full of 'God said ...' and 'God did ...' - it's not presented as an allegory.

If it's a story of what God could/would do, why did he not do it?

If it's a story containing things God wouldn't do, how can we learn anything from it?

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 09:42:11

I think the op knows that God exists.
He doesnt like it though,and does not want to bow down to God.
So he may be trying to find holes in God and holes in the bible,to justify not having to give in to God.
But he is not feeling comfortable about it.
Because God is not allowing him to feel comfortable about it.

He knows he has made mistakes up to now.
But we all have.

Am I guessing anywhere near right op?

stressedHEmum Tue 02-Oct-12 10:01:19

Because you have to take into account the historical context of the whole thing and try to understand the thinking behind it. It pretty much is presented as an allegory, to be honest. In Hebrew Job is written in classic poetry and is full of beautiful poetic and allegorical language. It's job was to convey important messages to people who would understand all the cultural and religious references it contains - i.e. the people of Israel. In that way, it's a bit like the Chronicles of Narnia. Not everything in the bible needs to be taken literally.

What we learn is that bad things happen to good people, as I said. Historically, it was believed that bad things happened to bad people. THere is much more to learn from the book of Job regarding things like redemption, revelation and relationship with God.

Accepted theology tells us that the story is an allegory. Job represents human beings trying to understand death, sin and why bad stuff happens Job's comforter's give is three different viewpoints - the materialistic, the philosophical and the standard "religious" - Elihu gives us GOd's answer. Job also represents the nation of Israel, it's trials and tribulations and it's function as a gateway to God. There is a great deal of writing that you could read on this if you want to understand better. it's 20 years since I did my degree and I'm very out of touch. I also have ME which makes it difficult for me to concentrate on formulating a cohesive explanation.

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 10:15:25

Please give your life to the Lord op.
It is time.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 02-Oct-12 10:47:36

Or, if you're pondering suffering, and notice that theists always tie themselves in knots, maybe you should take a look at Buddhism instead. (I'm not a Buddhist but they don't seem to get into such a logical bind). Of course it depends what you're looking for.

Snorbs Tue 02-Oct-12 11:46:59

So he may be trying to find holes in God and holes in the bible,to justify not having to give in to God.

Or maybe (s)he's finding it hard to believe in the God of the Bible due to the dubious moralities and frequent incoherences of the stories therein.

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 11:50:45

But does he want to (believe in God)? Or what?

Do you, Charles? to channel the vicar in 4 weddings. (superior references, me)

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 12:12:31

I dont think anyone particularly wants to believe in God.
It involves commitment.
But the upsides are wonderful.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 13:20:40

10 points to Snorbs smile

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 13:30:13

If you seek,you will find.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 13:32:42

Well it's been over 30 years of questions, amillionyears with no answers that make any sense to me.

Perhaps God made my brain in a way that makes faith impossible?

GrimmaTheNome Tue 02-Oct-12 13:34:07

>If you seek,you will find.

yes indeed. Of course some theists believe they've found The Truth and stop looking very hard.

Ditto to what snorbs said.

Maybe the OP is looking for God, just not amillionyears God?

Afterall, it's the God of the Bible who created evil in the first place, <switch to panto mode> oh no he didn't ..... oh yes he did ..... and so on and so on.

Sometimes bad stuff happens to good people, and good stuff happens to bad people, why look for God or reason in any of it?

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 13:49:59

What makes you still carry on looking Mach?

GrimmaTheNome Tue 02-Oct-12 13:54:40

If you've been brought up with the default assumption that there is a God, it can be quite difficult to take the leap to un-faith. Those who do so seem to find that many difficult questions simply evaporate and the world makes more sense.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 14:00:31

I have an open mind amillionyears - I don't rule anything out. A lot of people do have faith, and some of them I know seem to be otherwise quite level headed, so I occasionally re-visit my unbelief to check that it's still valid.

I'm not "looking" but I do like to question people with faith every now and again, on the off chance that one or both of us might learn something.

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 14:08:04

Do you want to find?

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 14:11:12

Do I want to find what?

I am ambivalent about what I find, to be honest, as long as what I find appears coherent and plausible - if that turns out to be the idea that we were sneezed out by The Great Green Arkleseizure then that's fine. I don't have a preference for any particular viewpoint, I just want to find one that is sustainable.

Do you think only people who want to find a God like yours can find a God like yours?

GrimmaTheNome Tue 02-Oct-12 14:12:43

Mach - yes, and some of the MN discussions can be a very good place to do that. And even if you don't have/regain faith, religions have something real to tell us about the human mind (not always what their adherents would think themselves) ... religions wouldn't have evolved if there was nothing useful in them.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 14:19:08

Useful and true are not the same thing, though, are they?

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 14:23:02

I was going to say you have to be serious about it, it can't be intellectual enquiry, but that's not true because C S Lewis became a christian precisely that way. On top of a bus, IIRR. (not actually on the bus, you understand...). Perhaps you could read some C S Lewis OP? The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe notwithstanding. I like Rowan Williams too, STBXArchbishop.

I became a christian because I 'saw' a miracle, which rocked my world a bit, to put it mildly. Before that I was totally uninterested, though I was brought up by christian parents (or is that because I was brought up by christian parents?)

GrimmaTheNome Tue 02-Oct-12 14:25:54

>Useful and true are not the same thing, though, are they?

Quite so.

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 14:36:49

Do you have a feeling deep down inside that wont quite go away. Ever.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 14:39:06

I don't think so, no. What sort of feeling?

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 14:47:17

Do you feel compelled to carry on asking questions?

Do you feel you may be blocking God in any way?

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 16:18:59

Asking questions and finding answers is one of the things that makes us human I think - it's what led us down from the trees in the first place, if you believe in evolution that is.

Are you trying to suggest that being inquisitive is some sort of 'sign'?

I feel like I am blocking God in the same way that I blocking the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 16:22:57

It is beginning to sound like you are not particularly seeking.

So you are treating the bible just like any other book.

Are their people who are close relatives in your life,who do believe in God?

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 16:34:04

I never said I was specifically seeking anything. You assumed I was and seem to have adopted your own assumption as true even though I told you I wasn't seeking God.

I treat the bible like any book in that I don't make assumptions about it - I don't read it assuming it to be true, or read it assuming God exists - I just read it and take it at face value. I guess the problems with it are more obvious if you do that?

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 16:38:10

I know that you didnt say you were specifically seeking,Mach.

I suppose what I find curious is that you have looked at the bible for 30 years,and been asking questions about it.That is a very long time.
Do you do that as part of your job?

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 16:41:52

Not 30 years continuously - just every now and again I ask these sorts of questions. The answers are always very vague.

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 16:49:40

Do you have close relatives who believe in God?

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 16:51:55

Why do you ask?

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 16:58:32

You may not be able to leave the issue of God alone,because people may be praying for you.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 17:12:09

That doesn't sound a very plausible explanation.

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 17:13:11

Oh yes it is!

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 17:18:36

Perhaps I regret the wasted years going to church, and remain baffled as to how anyone can actually believe the christian message, so spend some time, every now and again, asking people questions about how they can believe -for example - that the Book of Job shows a loving God. We never did get to the bottom of that one, did we?

GrimmaTheNome Tue 02-Oct-12 17:23:49

>Oh yes it is!

Oh no it isn't! grin

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 17:25:18

Is sounds to me like you want to believe.
Have you ever tried praying to God at home privately?

I am going out for the evening,and may not be back till late.
Just so you know why I wont be replying for a few hours.

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 17:25:55

Grimma grin

nightlurker Tue 02-Oct-12 21:28:59

Machadaynu But you've also said that God holds people accountable from 8. I presumed you meant that by age 8 God holds you accountable for your sins, and therefore is prepared to send you to hell for all eternity should you sin sufficiently at age 8 and then die without asking for forgiveness.
How can you be "more accountable" than that? What else can you be held accountable for that is more than your eternal soul?
There is a concept of eternal hell in my religion (Mormonism), but it is hard enough to get there that it isn't worth mentioning, and by virtue of you and I even being born on earth, it's most likely that we won't end up there (99.9%+ of humanity will eventually end up some form of paradise, in my opinion). We believe very strongly that God takes age, maturity, and situation fully into account and judges fairly.

As far as eternal reward is concerned, we believe in degrees of paradise. The wicked inherit a lower paradise than those who kept God's commandments and truly repented of their sins, but even the wicked live in a place far better than the earth as it is now. We usually refer to three kingdoms (Celestial for the most righteous, Terrestrial for the righteous, and Telestial for the wicked), but even within those groups there are breakdowns and differences. To us, it is a manifestation of God's love, that even many of the worst of sinners have an opportunity to live forever in happiness. It is a manifestation of the justice of God that the most righteous inherit a far greater paradise than the wicked. We also believe in a time after death and before the final judgment, where people can accept all the things needed to enter the highest paradise (such as baptism).

If there is anything that I hope to convey, it's that God's judgments are both fair and merciful, and the unfairness of this life will eventually be made right.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 21:59:57

What do you believe happens to people who never heard the Mormon message? Which level of paradise do they get assigned to? I'd imagine the top level is off limits to them?

nightlurker Tue 02-Oct-12 22:22:40

If they've never heard of it, they would get a level according to what they would have accepted had they heard it. I'm pretty sure everyone will hear it in the time between death and resurrection in the spirit, so it's likely a non-issue.

nightlurker Tue 02-Oct-12 22:23:06

in the spirit world*

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 22:45:08

so you're best off not hearing it then? Then you get to live this life without responsibilities, and paradise to follow.

nightlurker Tue 02-Oct-12 23:18:30

Personally, given the choice between never having heard it and hearing it and having more responsibility, I'd prefer to hear it. I believe I've been saved enough heartbreak as a result of being mormon to make the responsibility worth it in every way.

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 23:20:51

I thought we did get to the bottom of it - HEmum posted some very good stuff which put the book of Job in context, I thought.

But your main issue is suffering (you wouldn't be the first on that), so no, perhaps HEmum didn't specifically address that. What she basically said is that the book of Job is simply saying that shit happens, 'to the just and the unjust'. From where I'm standing, that is a comfort, but I appreciate that is a subjective view. I don't, for instance, adhere to the idea that christians are somehow 'protected' per se. I remember when my boy was about to have heart surgery and a christian said to me, I assume to comfort me: 'God won't let your boy die' - to which I wailed 'I can't know that!' She was offended. There are a lot of religious christians about.

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 23:21:01

So you remove that choice for everyone else that you tell about it? What about my free will?

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 23:25:50

my boy didn't die btw smile

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 23:34:06

op,if you were to become a Christian,Christians often start from a position of not necessarily knowing a great deal about the bible.
You already know heaps.
What was it that stopped you going to church. A particular Christian that you thought was behaving badly?

amillionyears Tue 02-Oct-12 23:36:01

If you get fed up of me posting or asking questions on your thread,feel free to tell me,I wont be offended.
I can be a bit much for some people.

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 23:37:34

I don't think anyone has a brain that makes faith possible. It is entirely contrary to our nature, we don't want to believe, have no interest to believe, would far, far rather serve ourselves. As I said in my very rambly post.

I suppose it is usually when people are in extremis that they, we, start to look at things differently, start the quest to find comfort/answers in some way. though i did hear of one couple who were so overjoyed at the birth of their perfect twins that they had an overriding desire to thank someone/thing, and it was this joy that led them to start enquiring about God seriously. They are seriously outnumbered though!

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 23:39:31

bless you million <3

springydaffs Tue 02-Oct-12 23:40:41

oop that sounds patronising! I meant you're great, million smile

Machadaynu Tue 02-Oct-12 23:45:31

maybe I know to much, amillionyears?

When I was first taken to church, it seemed plausible, the whole God thing. I was only a child though.

The more I read the bible though, the more it described a God who simply does not fit with my idea of how someone who wants to be worshipped just for being ought to behave.

And the more I thought that, the more all the platitudes about why a large proportion of people in the world have a tough time of it seemed to be false.

And then I learned about science and evolution and had to concede that both of the creation stories in Genesis were false, and then I realsied how large space is, and then no-one could ever provide a proper answer to my questions, and then I went on a confirmation course anyway and said all the right things, and wanted them to work, and nothing happened.

And still innocent children were starving to death even though God can and has provide food for people.

So I concluded that there is almost certainly no God, and if he is, he either isn't very nice, or isn't powerful enough.

amillionyears Wed 03-Oct-12 00:02:15

God is powerful,hugely immensely,out of this world powerful and then some.

"he isnt very nice"
Being a Christian is about us making ourselves and our thoughts fit him.Not the other way round.
It is about us succumbing.
It is about us submitting.

I'm very glad you wanted the confirmation classes to work,very glad indeed.

ok.I'm going to have to tell you something else personal to me.
When I seeked,sought God I felt for years that it was 2 steps forward 1 step back.
To the point where I got very fed up with it all.Then I realised that "if you seek,then you will find". So I said to God,right it is up to you now.
I knew that God times things.So I said to God the timing for when I became a Christian was up to Him.
And then I relaxed about it all.I figured I would become a Christian one day,and it would happen before i died.I was about 31 years old at that point.
So,nothing happened for 6 months.I was surprised.I had expected something,i didnt know what,to happen sooner,but it didnt.Nothing different at all.
I had carried on going to church most sundays during this time.Then one sunday,I couldnt go.For some reason I felt I would be a hypocrite if I went. I had never felt like this before.I had very young children at the time.I gave them to my husband,and said to him,I was going into our bedroom,and I was not coming out until I had become a Christian. 2 hours later I came out,and had given my life to God.

springydaffs Wed 03-Oct-12 00:32:06

That is a great story million smile

In the seeking there is usually an element of toil (except for the parents of the twins I mentioned earlier). I'm not sure you're toiling OP? Don't be offended, I am simply wondering where you are coming from, whether your enquiry is casual, or what. YOu seem to want to be convinced, but don't seem to be prepared to put the work in? Do you want the answer to be flopped on your plate while you do nothing, except post on an internet forum. That's easy. You're non-commital about eg who may or may not be praying for you when specifically asked; while believers line up, panting and eager, to lay jewels at your feet. It's a bit irritating of you OP, though I may have it wrong. Step up to the plate, do, if you're serious.

Himalaya Wed 03-Oct-12 07:16:09

Machadynu (or 'backswing' as my iPhone wants to call you confused)
good questions, interesting thread.

Grimma "... religions wouldn't have evolved if there was nothing useful in them"'.... Maybe, maybe not. Could be they are just memes running wild - good at getting themselves reproduced, but not necessarily good for the host organism. I agree though, why people believe is fascinating.

I'm with machadaynu the more I learn about Christianity and the God of the Bible, the less I like it or It.

As a Gnostic once told me, Jehovah (the God of the Bible) cannot be All Powerful, All Knowing and All Loving, but only two of those three.

My own particular hope springs from those moments when I meet people who realise, or are in the process of realising, that they can find ways to express their spiritual nature through channels other than Judaic War/thunder Gods.

I give thanks every day that Jehovah is most definitely not my God and never will be.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 03-Oct-12 08:29:53

I reckon amillion reads what mach writes and interprets it in the light of her own beliefs even if that contradicts what mach has stated.

Just as believers do with Job. They start from the assertion that God is Love, and then tie themselves in knots trying to make this story fit their belief. I doubt that anyone who doesn't have that preconception could read Job and come to the conclusion that there is a loving God. Believers typically don't read their scriptures as a historian or as a scientist would - this is why their explanations don't satisfy unbelievers.

amillionyears Wed 03-Oct-12 08:46:33

I feel compelled to write the following this morning.
So here goes.
Math 7 "Enter through the narrow gate;for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction,and there are many who take it.For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life,and there are few who find it".

Luke 13 "Someone asked him 'Lord,will only a few be saved?' He said to them "Strive to enter through the narrow door,for many,I tell you,will try to enter and not be able.When once the owner has got up and shut the door,and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door,saying,"Lord,open to us",then in reply he will say to you,"I do not know where you come from." Then you will begin to say, "We ate and drank with you and you taught in our streets." But he will say ,"I do not know where you come from;go away from me,all you evildoers!". There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God,and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west,from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed some are last who will be first,and some are first who will be last'.

amillionyears when I read that, all I see is some very clever propoganda explaining why people should remain poor and happy and downtrodden, rather than try and do anything to improve themselves. It's the beginning of the contrast between the Judaic view of wealth (i.e. a good thing which shows God's blessing) and the Christian view of wealth (i.e. give everything you have to the church and trust them to use it to help others rather than spending it on Rollers for the preachers or fancy buildings).

Machadaynu Wed 03-Oct-12 09:02:23

I do find it a bit strange that a thread about how anyone can read Job and think 'this God sounds lovely' - a question that hasn't been answered in a way that makes sense to someone who doesn't read it assuming God to be lovely - has turned into an attempt not to explain, but to convert the questioner.

amillionyears, I appreciate the thoughts, but what you seem to be saying is that because I am interested in how people can read Job and not be horrified, I must want to be able to read Job and not be horrified and therefore I must want to 'find' God. There are a few too many assumptions in there really.

And I still can't see any reason for God to allow the devil to torture Job and murder his family, or how doing so can be thought of as loving.

stressedHEmum Wed 03-Oct-12 09:28:08

OK, I'm having a bit f a bad spell and I'm not long out of bed, so this might not make much sense.

The Book of Job is not supposed to show that "GOd is Love". In fact, that is a particularly Christian representation of God and not really all that relevant to the story. In early Judaism, God did indeed love his people and was seen as benevolent towards them but he was most definitely a God of judgement, especially to those who displeased him/broke his commandments/didn't acknowledge him.

The view of suffering goes something like this, and forgive me if it's a bit incoherent. Suffering allows us to grow in faith and to grow closer to God. Divine Providence ensures that there is a reason for everything and that everything works towards the fulfilment of God's ultimate purpose for the Earth and its inhabitants. The idea would be that God brought everything into the world for a specific purpose and that he provides the environment to make that purpose happen. We have to take the long view, see past the present hardship to the bigger picture. It is a matter of trust in God that he has a purpose for what is happening. Remember the scriptures say that God created both good and bad and that one cannot exist without the other. Also that Satan in an adversary rather than an embodiment of evil.

What the Book fo Job is supposed to do is show all of this. It shows that yes, we suffer, even if we are "righteous". it shows that bad things happen to good people. it shows that, in the face of great suffering, our faith is severely tested. But it also shows that we have to take the long view and that, ultimately, things will work out according to God's plan, see the end of the book where God gives Job a lecture about how He created everything etc. and knows where things came from and where they are headed.

There is also much to learn about the nature of redemption and forgiveness from the Book of Job. Job's good fortune isn't restored, for instance, until he prays for his advisers - Job acts as a conduit for these people to come into God's good graces, just like the people of Israel were the conduit by which God was made manifest to the gentiles and the door by which they could access Him. God's forgiveness is available to those who show their repentance in an acceptable way and have an acceptable intermediary (Advisers should sacrifice and Job should pray for them.)

In some ways, Job looks towards the coming of Christ.

amillionyears Wed 03-Oct-12 09:44:14

I agree with much of what stressedHEmum has written.
I dont think there is much more that I can say about this,that I have not already said.
Very best wishes for the future,Machadaynu.

stressedHEmum Wed 03-Oct-12 09:48:25

I don't think that there is much more that I can say, either, million. I also don't really think that there is a great deal of point in saying much more, tbh.

Machadaynu Wed 03-Oct-12 10:24:05

'God is love' may be a "peculiarly Christian representation of God" - but it is nonetheless what Christians believe.

The bible defines love in 1 Corinthians 13 (not jealous, always endures, patient, keeps no record of wrongs etc) and says God loves us many times, for example in Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

People who are Christian have to reconcile their God being described as loving, and also being the God who drowned living thing, allowed Job to be tortured, and kills millions. Or they have to start saying that some bits of the bible aren't true, and they decide which bits are not true by judging God's actions according to their own morals.

Job shows we suffer - we know that though, just look around. What it says is that sometimes people suffer because God chooses for them to suffer to prove a point that didn't need proving.

All this about 'restoring Job' is ridiculous. Who here would be happy for their children to be killed so God could prove some sort of weird point because they'd get other kids later?

stressedHEmum Wed 03-Oct-12 10:40:06

I say again, the Book of Job is an allegory making points about faith, doubt, suffering, Divine Providence and redemption.

No-one would be happy to lose their children in any kind of circumstances, but it is not a true story, it's an allegorical, didactic poem that uses extremes to make its point.

Christians believe in a loving God, yes, but they also believe in a God who judges - see the apostles creed for one. Also the OT God is very different from the God of the NT because the focus of Judaism is different from that of Christianity. Stories like that of the Flood show us God's judgement on those who oppose/displease him. Stories like that of Abraham bargaining with Him over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, show us something of his mercy. The bible is full of references to God's judgement but also to the fact that He is slow to anger and that He allows plenty time for people to realise the error of their ways before He acts.

I think that you are determined to view the Book of Job, amongst other things, literally and to interpret it in that light. That's why there is not much else that I have to say on the subject. There are a lot of very good commentaries that can explain the allegory and the theology of Job much better than I ever could, perhaps you might like to read some of those.

Machadaynu Wed 03-Oct-12 10:46:49

So do you think a lot of the OT is allegory? Seems weird to say it's GOd doing things if it's an allegory. Jesus' method of talking about farmers and so on was much less confusing. Why would you want your Holy Book to confuse people if you were God?

I thought it was the same God throughout - are you saying ("the OT God is very different from the God of the NT") that God has changed personality (what was wrong with the old one, and why did he behave like that if it was wrong?) or that the old God died and we have a new one now?

The story of the Flood shows us that God makes mistakes, doesn't it? God regretted doing it, and the rainbow is his aide memoir not to do it again.

God isn't always slow to anger - he's sent bears to maul the children mocking Elishah for being bald within minutes, for example.

And why, why, why, would an omnipotent, omniscient being 'bargain' with a mere mortal? Surely he knows what he wants to do, and how best to do it?

The Book of Job seems to be written as something that is supposed to be taken as literal, that is why I take it as literal. Otherwise it's just a story about God behaving in a way he'd never actually behave, and I'm not sure there is much to be learned from that?

stressedHEmum Wed 03-Oct-12 11:05:41

The Book of Job isn't about the way God behaves at all, as I said above, it's about the struggle of the human condition and the difficulties of faith. But I don't know how to make that any clearer.

The God of the OT is presented differently to the God of the NT, not because He actually is much different, but because the focus of Judaism and Christianity is different. The focus of Christianity is love, redemption, how to live a life that pleases God, Jesus as the fulfilment of the Law so that Christians are, essentially, freed from the burden of all the hundreds of little laws, by the over arching principles of the Law as a whole. Judaism is much more legalistic and concerned with the minutiae and ritual of the Law and with the consequences of not keeping it. The OT is also, predominately a book about the relationship between God and his chosen people, which was turbulent to say the least.

The example that you give re Elisha does show God acting swiftly, but it is against individuals rather than whole nations/groups of people, as are the other examples that I can think of off hand of God enacting instant punishment. When David speaks of God being slow to anger, he is talking about it taking quite a lot to stir up God's wrath.

God was not bargaining with Abraham, Abraham was bargaining with God at God's invitation. This tells us as much about Abraham's compassion as anything else. GOd had already decided what he would do, but he allowed Abraham to act as an intercessor.

The flood doesn't show that God makes mistakes, it shows what happens when we take free will too far. Yes, God regretted having made people because most of them had gone astray, but he allowed for a fresh start in Noah and his family. The rainbow is a reminder for us not for Him.

I'm sorry, I can't do this any more. My ME is not great at the moment, my brain is scrambled and my typing is going to pot. I can't formulate any kind of decent sentence just now, so forgive me if I just point you again to more learned people than I. There are many good commentaries and theology books which could try to answer your questions in a much more coherent manner than most of us on here.

Finally, I don't actually think that any answer will satisfy you because you are actively looking for holes or contradictions and deliberately misinterpreting much of what people are saying to you.

Snorbs Wed 03-Oct-12 12:28:59

"Finally, I don't actually think that any answer will satisfy you because you are actively looking for holes or contradictions"

So shame on you Machadaynu for asking the wrong questions. You should be asking the right questions, like "So does Jesus really want me for a rainbow?" or "Just how much does God love me?"

HTH!

Machadaynu Wed 03-Oct-12 12:45:40

Genesis 9 makes it quite clear that the rainbow is created by God to remind him of his promise not to drown us all again: it's to remind him, not us.

"And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

If God has regrets, does that not imply he has done things he now wishes he hadn't done - or, in other words, made a mistake?

stressedHEmum Wed 03-Oct-12 13:54:23

Snorbs that was most definitely not what I was saying and it's incredibly patronising of you to suggest that it was. There are no wrong questions.

Mach, sorry, you'll have to wait till I'm feeling a bit better before I can come back to you. I'm about to fall over. However just because GOd says that He will remember stuff when the rainbow is there, doesn't mean that he forgets it at other times. The rainbow is a sign of that particular covenant, that's all.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 03-Oct-12 16:53:32

>Finally, I don't actually think that any answer will satisfy you because you are actively looking for holes or contradictions

Its what anyone versed in the scientific method does. But, the bible isn't a scientific document, so its not entirely fair to treat it as such. Of course there are some people - Creationists, fundamentalists - who think it is an accurate textbook; sensible people like stressed don't.

Machadaynu Wed 03-Oct-12 16:59:51

Do you think the bible should be able to stand up to scrutiny, Grimma?

GrimmaTheNome Wed 03-Oct-12 17:21:18

>Do you think the bible should be able to stand up to scrutiny, Grimma?

well, I don't think it does... personally there's no 'should' about it because I don't base my life on it.

Believers subject it to different levels of scrutiny... and of course the sad thing is that the extreme fervent 'bible-believing' christians really don't do much impartial examination. More rational believers understand that its a man-made (though some would say divinely inspired) book - starting with myths, working through semi-historical books etc. They won't read Job as something that actually happened (I mean, who witnessed God and Satan talking?). But still, their examination tends to be through the lens or filter of faith.

Thistledew Thu 04-Oct-12 09:39:51

Can I ask those people who perceive certain stories in the Bible to be allegorical, rather than actual truth, how you determine which parts are allegory and which have to be accepted at face value? As in the example discussed above, it seems that many people who identify as Christian consider the book of Job to be allegorical, even though it does not state that it is. What is the basis on which you decide it is an allegory if it is not stated to be by the Bible?

Are there certain parts of the Bible that have to be accepted as truth, or is it down to each individual to decide which parts are which? Do you believe that you have to believe certain aspects to be true in order to accrue come sort of benefit or favour in this life or next, or in order to lead a worthy and moral life?

In particular, if someone leads their life along the lines of the moral code set out in the New Testament, but chooses to see the concept of God as a Devine Being as nothing more than an allegory, are they doing anything 'wrong'? Do you believe that they are missing any point of understanding?

nightlurker Thu 04-Oct-12 17:04:15

We don't actually know which are allegory. Either way, it's the moral of the story of Job that's important. In a culture where "being blind was a result of sin" and "being rich was a result of righteousness", the book of Job was a very stern statement to the contrary.

Getting doctrine from the Bible is tricky because meaning gets lost over time and we can't ask the authors what they meant. You can support nearly any doctrine you want using the bible. It is clearly a commandment to love God, love your neighbor, not commit adultery or fornication, not steal, and so on so many morals are clear.

I believe that the way you live your life should come first. If you strive to keep the commandments and ask God for truth, with time and patience, you can gain the doctrinal wisdom you look for.

EugenesAxe Thu 04-Oct-12 17:17:02

I haven't read the bookof Job or much of this thread (good start hmm). However, I'd like to think that God doesn't 'need' to do this for his own ends and that he probably tests people because human are weak.

It's like the taunting on the cross 'If you are the Son of God, save yourself!'. Really, Jesus might liked to have said 'Thanks, but I'm busy dying to atone for everyone else's sins. Now's not a great time to be saving myself, but if it weren't for that, I'd be on it.'

I expect Satan planting ideas of God's crapness in the minds of human beings and them taunting him about it either directly, or by being sinful, happens a lot. Therefore I see it as necessary that occasionally God allows one of his faithful to have a hard time of it, before setting it all to rights in order to demonstrate to the unbelievers that he is actually all powerful and better than Satan.

Who the fuck are we to question God anyway? Just don't do it! Unless you are an atheist.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 04-Oct-12 17:34:34

>Who the fuck are we to question God anyway? Just don't do it!
If you believe in God, don't you believe that he made you with an inquiring, questioning mind?

EugenesAxe Thu 04-Oct-12 18:02:00

Yes... but preferably not of Him. Of course he forgave Thomas, but I just don't think people should make a habit of questioning why God made XYZ happen if they believe. I think that's what faith is about.

Himalaya Thu 04-Oct-12 18:05:42

How do you avoid yourself questioning why things happen?

Thistledew Thu 04-Oct-12 18:22:42

Is it not a rather strange moral stance to take to say that accepting that some things are the way they are 'just because' and not questioning them with any depth, is preferable to thinking carefully and deeply about why things might be? That one follows a higher moral code by accepting lessons that are actually not subject to reason, than one does by using one's own conscience and powers of reasoning to reach one's own moral view? That it is better to blindly accept some things that we cannot understand, than it is to question and rationalise? Does it not make you wonder what sort of a being demands this?

EugenesAxe Thu 04-Oct-12 18:35:48

I'm not saying my morals are higher than anyone else's. What you are saying Thistledew is rational, but personally I find it hard to follow God and be entirely rational. When it comes to really bad things happening, is it possible to reason why, beyond the practical that is?

I do think about why something has happened on a practical level, but trying to evaluate why that person deserved it over that person is virtually impossible. You just have to have faith.

I'm sorry - I can't really argue with you. I'm not theologically expert enough; you'll just have to accept that however horrible it seems God is and however irrational my arguments for trusting in him may seem to you, I just believe in him.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 04-Oct-12 18:42:39

>I just don't think people should make a habit of questioning why God made XYZ happen if they believe. I think that's what faith is about.

You're right thats what faith is about for some... and one of the reasons I think faith is a bad thing. It can lead people to accept (or in some cases, do) the unacceptable, if they believe it's Gods will.

>personally I find it hard to follow God and be entirely rational.
Thats honest anyway!

Thistledew Thu 04-Oct-12 18:43:03

Thanks for your response EugenesAxe. I do find it interesting that when I speak to people of faith on an one to one level, almost no-one claims that they hold a superior moral view, but that Religions as institutions do claim to hold 'the answers', that it would be better if more people converted to their beliefs, and that people who do not agree with their beliefs are lacking in a moral compass.

One thing that is liberating about not having a faith is that you don't even have to think about whether one person is more or less deserving than another of good/bad luck. It is easy to accept that good/bad things happen more or less at random, and that there is no hierarchy of 'deservingness' that determines it.

springyhope Thu 04-Oct-12 22:39:08

I don't really understand that last para thistle. Who thinks about whether someone 'deserves' good/bad luck or not? what sort of compass is there that would determine who does or doesn't 'deserve' good/bad luck? Nobody 'deserves' anything. Things happen. I have a faith and it doesn't occur to me to decide, or think about, who does and doesn't 'deserve' good/bad luck. If someone does good/bad things, there may be a childish desire for that person to get their 'reward' for what they've done but it's exactly that: childish. There isn't a points system going on anywhere.

Thistledew Fri 05-Oct-12 00:01:59

As I understand it, it is a fairly common Christian belief that God does a fair amount of smiting of those he feels deserve it. Someone up-thread mentioned the Boscastle floods in this context.

springyhope Fri 05-Oct-12 07:50:58

It wouldn't be 'smiting' because God doesn't do that. It would, if anything, be more along the lines of neglecting your body and eventually getting ill because of it ie a consequence. As has been illustrated, the casualties during the Boscastle floods were random. There are plenty of people who, if I let myself, I would like to reap a nasty consequence to things they have done but, at the end of the day, I can't know what went into the way they behaved - who they are, where they come from, what may have happened to them. Only God knows that and I don't want to be caught being their judge - self-preservation there, nothing to do with being good if I'm honest! My job is to take to God the things they have done that have either hurt me or hurt other people (we're talking the bad people here, or people who did bad things; same for the people who did good things) and have it out with him but ultimately leave the result, or consequences, up to him. I'm so glad I don't have to be judge and jury, I'd be crap at it and would probably be smiting left and right.

springyhope Fri 05-Oct-12 07:59:39

nb. I would also set boundaries around myself ie what I will and won't accept. Which has to do with me and not other people.

HolofernesesHead Fri 05-Oct-12 08:35:42

Marking place as I love Job and love talking about the Bible. smile

thistledew re Boscastle, I did post further down the thread explaining that the only people who were really smote in the Boscastle flood were some Christians.

Machadaynu Fri 05-Oct-12 08:49:38

springyhope - you say God doesn't do smiting? Well, he doesn't smite in the sense of killing with physical blows, but he does smite. For example, in 1 Samuel Ch5 verse 6, he smites the people of Ahsod with haemorrhoids
"But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof."

He also killed the entire population of the earth minus Noah and family only 6 chapters in to the book. In Genesis 19 he kills Lot's wife. In Ch 28 he kills Onan for "spilling his seed" - thankfully for the continuation of the human race he's more lenient now. Despite his regret after killing everyone in the flood, by chapter 41 he sends a seven year long worldwide famine. And that's just Genesis, and it isn't even all the killings.

In Exodus he carries on where he left off, soon killing all the firstborn males in Egypt.

So the word 'smite' might not be attached to God that often, but the bible certainly describes him killing people just as dead as if he's been a smiting.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 05-Oct-12 08:50:10

Ah, Holo - about time you showed up! smile

GrimmaTheNome Fri 05-Oct-12 09:03:50

Deuteronomy 7:20 ... he uses hornets too, apparently.

Deut 7 isn't presented as allegory, but as the way the OT god would behave. Quite explicitly blessing those who obey him and destroying others....though in an expedient gradual way so that his chosen ones didn't get overrun by animals instead. If an earthly ruler laid out a policy statement like this we'd be appalled. Don't question God? Read that and how can you not do so?

Machadaynu Fri 05-Oct-12 09:06:10

In Deuteronomy 2 he killed a race of giants too:

"That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims; A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD destroyed them before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead: "

eugenesAxe said I expect Satan planting ideas of God's crapness in the minds of human beings and them taunting him about it either directly, or by being sinful, happens a lot.

And right here is where those who like to discuss these things hit a big massive roadblock. Because the minute we start asking questions which are uncomfortable or difficult, certain breeds of Christian just shut their minds and say "you're only saying that because Satan has planted the seed in your mind" or "you've been given those words to say by Satan in order to tempt me". There is no way that we can have any kind of rational discussion, because the minute certain breeds of Christian start having perfectly rational doubts about the so-called "word of God", they can dismiss those doubts as just put there by Satan.

True religion/belief can stand up to rational discussion and exploration, even if the answer is sometimes "I don't know but it makes me a better person and that is okay".

Thistledew Fri 05-Oct-12 09:35:43

I was referring to the sorts of misfortunes that God apparently tests us with (as discussed earlier in this thread) not just to killing people dead.

If you believe that there are "results and consequences" from God as a result of your prayers, then unless you believe that your God is a capricious and arbitrary one, then you have to believe that those "results and consequences" are awarded along some kind of scale of 'just rewards'. How then can you escape the logic that some people are more deserving than others, even if you disavow responsibility for making that assessment by saying that God has?

nailak Fri 05-Oct-12 10:01:13

I dont think most people go around thinking about who has good/bad luck?

As far as I am concerned, someone may have bad luck, but that thing may be a means for them to get to paradise.

For example someone may loose their job and have little money but still give some of what they have to charity, and that action may be a means to go to paradise and worth more in the sight of God then one who has more money and gives more to charity.

One may have an illness or cancer, or may drown in a flood, or by falling masonry and it is not bad luck but good luck as due to it they may die with the status of a martyr.

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The martyrs are five: the one who dies of the plague, the one who dies of a stomach disease, the one who drowns, the one who is crushed beneath a falling wall, and the martyr who is killed for the sake of Allaah.”

So I dont think we can really say what is good or bad luck.

AS for who is deserving,there is a hadith whicj says something along the lines of "you may think someone is from the people of paradise but really they are from the people of the fire, and you may think someone is from the people of hel when really they are from the people of paradise"

also there is a hadith which demonstrates this
"Once a dog was going round the well and was about to die out of thirst. A prostitute of Banu Israel happened to see it. So she took off her leather sock and lowered it into the well. She drew out some water and gave the dog to drink. She was forgiven on account of her action".

So one may think a prostitute has low morals and is undeserving etc, but in fact Allah does not think she is undeserving of paradise.

springyhope Fri 05-Oct-12 10:12:12

If you believe that there are "results and consequences" from God as a result of your prayers

don't get the bold bit ?? When you pray, you're not scoring points, you're getting to know God relationally. That's the key reason for prayer.

nailak Fri 05-Oct-12 10:19:06

I believe ritual prayer is a commandment and is the thing which sets apart believers and non believers.

It is an obligation, and a source of reward.

There are also other sources of rewards, like good deeds, smiling at people, moving stuff out of the road, breastfeeding, having sex with your husband/wife, lots and lots of things.

Intention plays a big part. Only god knows what is in peoples hearts. two people may stand next to each other and do the same prayer, but one will be more focused and the others mind will wonder etc.

So we cannot really judge who is more deserving as we dont know.

Obviously prayer is also a way to become closer to god, to contemplate, etc

GrimmaTheNome Fri 05-Oct-12 10:26:15

There's a poem based on the story of the adultress and the dog here 'Mercys reward'.

Its the sort of ethic that works for religious and non-religious people - religious people will say, be merciful because Allah/God is merciful; atheists will say it because its natural justice. Not sure but maybe eastern religious will see it as part of karma.

Thistledew Fri 05-Oct-12 10:27:41

Nailak - can I ask, how does Islam view asking Allah for things in prayer? In my limited understanding it seems to me that prayer is more about worshiping Allah and remembering our place in the world rather than the Christian version which often seems to be about entering into some sort of dialogue with God. I read something once about one of the Sufi saints talking about the postures adopted in prayer, and how when one kneels and presses their forehead into the sand it is a reminder that we are no more significant in this world than is a single grain of sand in the desert.

nailak Fri 05-Oct-12 10:39:36

What you say is true. The ritual prayer is about worshipping Allah, and "saving our souls" so to speak, it is also a method for us to get closer to Him, feel connected to him.

As for asking for things in prayer, that is dua, which can be done anytime in any place, within the ritual prayer or out of it, there are duas in surahs which are recited in the ritual prayer (salaah), like in surah fatihah says guide me to the straight path etc, there is the dua of Musa as mentioned in Quran, that you can recite in prayers "(My Lord, I ask you to expand my breast, make my task easy, undo the knot in my tongue so that my speech will become comprehensible) (Moses’ prayer)" which is a good dua for if you have a meeting or speaking etc, there are a lot of things like that.

The dialogue with God you mention I think is more comparable to dua (supplication) that we do anytime and any place, then it is to salaah (ritual prayer)

Thistledew Fri 05-Oct-12 10:40:41

springyhope Fri 05-Oct-12 07:50:58
"My job is to take to God the things they have done that have either hurt me or hurt other people ... and have it out with him but ultimately leave the result, or consequences, up to him."

I read this as meaning that when you pray you expect that God will act in some way, and that those actions will have consequences outside of yourself. Do you believe that when you pray God will answer those prayers by making physical changes to the world, or by changing things for other people?

nailak Fri 05-Oct-12 10:43:31

I like the poem thistle

nailak Fri 05-Oct-12 10:47:11

When we make dua we believe there are a few options of consequences:
1) it is answered
2)it is answered later, as the time is not right
3)it is something you think is good for you but is not good for you, so Allah has something better for you.

nightlurker Fri 05-Oct-12 16:34:43

I believe in the same three possibilities.

HolofernesesHead Fri 05-Oct-12 18:52:20

Good thread! My contribution:

Job is a folk-story that goes back probably millennia. The version in the Bible was probably written to refute the belief that God is controllable by huamns. (Could expand on this greatly.) The satan is not the devil - it is 'the opponent' in the 'heavenly council' (God is portrayed as a kind of Prime Minister of a kind of heavenly government, and 'the opponent' is portrayed, as...well, the opposition.) Later developments about the idea of te devil had not yet taken shape at this point, so it's anachronistic to read 'the satan' as a devil with horns and a tail.

But the main point from my POV is that the version of Job we have in the Bible is a re-write of a very old folk story, and when it was written in this form, many people believed that if they believed, prayed, gave to the poor etc then God would have to bless them. This idea still exists today - it's called 'the prosperity Gospel' nowadays. So the story of Job is to say that no, God is not controllable by humans. Loads more I could say about this in its hitorical context - it's the most fascinating book and the most beautiful Hebrew in the Bible IMO.

nailak Fri 05-Oct-12 19:22:25

interesting, but aren't all the stories in Bible/ Quran/ Torah old folk stories? like they are not new to the people of that age, but were mostly around before?

From a religious pov if you say it is a real story then obviously it would of been handed down by word of mouth through the generations, as things generally were in those days.

In Islam there are things called Israeliats (sp?) which are folk tales, we say if they are confirmed by Quran they are true, and if they are not they may be true or false, but they are the stories of Arabia, history and previous wars and kings and holy men etc.

HolofernesesHead Fri 05-Oct-12 20:40:12

No, not really, Nailac. There's poetry, historiography, legal writings, novella, to name a few genres in the Bible....all sorts of writings really.

nailak Fri 05-Oct-12 20:41:19

but i mean werent they all around before?

springyhope Fri 05-Oct-12 20:42:43

It is an obligation. (re prayer) brrr that leaves me cold. I wouldn't feel 'obliged' to talk to my daughter; I specifically don't warm to being 'obligated' to talk to God.

erm do I expect God to change things physically? I've wracked my brains to think of the times I have asked God to change things physically. I'm not thinking physically tbh, more thinking I'm handing something over to the expert, for him to do what he does in the way he does it. I don't tend to aim for 'miracles' as I am more comfortable with God being workaday, ordinary; though there are, of course, certainly times when a miracle is required and longed for, sometimes desperately. I may hold out for 'miracles' within eg relationships, when things are going drastically wrong and there seems to be no hope. This, though, is the flavour of the relationship I have with God ie personal. Everyone's relationship with God is different I guess (though there will be similarities of course).

However, I became a christian as a result of seeing a miracle (a physical miracle which couldn't be explained) so perhaps I've lost sight of the miracle side of God. Maybe I'm being cowardly, playing safe, because it throws up huge issues along the lines of the unbearable pain of hope.

headinhands Fri 05-Oct-12 21:00:39

My ds had a dramatic illness when he was little. At the time I was a 'Christian' but I never did pray about my ds being ill. In hindsight I knew it was illogical. If I had prayed and ds recovered it would mean that those kids who didn't recover, or who went on to get worse, had been overlooked/ignored. And at the time I wasn't ready for that sort of self honesty.

springyhope Fri 05-Oct-12 21:01:14

I didn't word that very well. I don't tend to hold out for physical miracles but 'invisible' miracles, if you like eg healing relationships, comfort for the suffering etc. I pray eg that someone's bereavement will be steady - or as steady as it can be! - and not go wild (as bereavement can be a potentially freaky time). I focus more on the 'love' side of things I think?

though reading through my post I think I may have become a bit tame, bland and cosy in my relationship with God. I also ommitted the unbearable pain of disappointment , which is far more likely to be holding me back (not to mention looking like a complete nut). There was a guy around at the beginning of the last century called Smith Wigglesworth who prayed for and saw endless miracles - physical miracles - in his life and ministry (his wife's too). There is no question that these physical miracles took place as there are myriad accounts that attest to them over a long period of time. There is also a place in Wales called Ffald-y-Brenin where some astounding things are currently happening - physical miracles, many 'signs and wonders' - and have been for over 20 years.

nightlurker Fri 05-Oct-12 21:12:39

nailak Anything pre-Moses could have been passed down through oral history. Moses, presumably, would have selected passages and stories that he had been taught and include them in the record. Any person later referenced as a real person would be assumed to have been a real person, but the stories are certainly not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.

nightlurker Fri 05-Oct-12 21:15:05

Specifically, if someone saw an angel or a vision referencing Abraham or other prophet, it would be verification that they were real. Simple references to them may only reflect the understanding of the writer, and may not serve as verification of the existence of the person.

nailak Fri 05-Oct-12 21:19:18

springy are there no obligations in your religion? things you must do?

and yes another obligation we have is to our children,
and to our parents, and family and neighbours, and to the poor.

HolofernesesHead Fri 05-Oct-12 21:23:44

I'm okay with the idea of religious obligation. smile There's a line in our Anglican liturgy that says that worship is 'our duty and our joy.' I like that!

GrimmaTheNome Fri 05-Oct-12 21:24:45

I think 'obligation' is a term which doesn't tend to be used in Christianity in the same way it is in Islam.

headinhands Fri 05-Oct-12 21:31:12

springy there is no verifiable evidence of miracles relating to Wigglesworth or any other evangelist for that matter. If there had been do you not think there would be entire libraries dedicated to such incredible irrefutable phenomenon.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 05-Oct-12 21:39:24

I think the 'obligation' to neighbours, the poor etc is there in the NT but stated implicitly 'love god and love thy neighbour as thyself' ... 'I was poor, I was naked, were you there' etc A lot of Christians do try to fulfil these 'obligations' - but there are some who seem to get caught up in rather shallow self-serving worship that makes them feel good without being the slightest use to anyone else. ( I probably did some of that myself in my misspent CU youth).

HolofernesesHead Fri 05-Oct-12 21:44:09

Grimma, I think that's why Jesus lambasted the Pharisees so much - just that kind of attitude. smile I think that the word 'obligation' is used more in Catholic Christianity, like 'holy days of obligation.' less so in Protestantism.

headinhands Fri 05-Oct-12 22:08:01

But that 'obligation' is just community to non religious people. It's a sense of putting in and taking out. How come many non Christians feel that too?

GrimmaTheNome Fri 05-Oct-12 23:22:46

Because - like much of what's good in various religions - its a widespread human ethic.

springyhope Sat 06-Oct-12 01:02:46

the only obligations I can think of are disciplines that have a function - obligations for the sake of them are bewildering to me, an absurd waste of time and effort. So, I have an 'obligation' to forgive, it is a discipline - but only because it makes total sense, as the fallout from unforgiveness is too horrible to contemplate and I don't want it in my life (I'm not suggesting forgiveness is easy, it's a discipline - you don't have to feel it, or (horror) make yourself feel it. YOu don't have to do that to yourself). Obligation could be summed up that I am 'obliged' to live healthily but it's my choice. I am not obliged to do anything at all but I can choose to do things that work and are healthy.

springyhope Sat 06-Oct-12 01:14:30

though I am obliged to follow the (judicial) law, whether I feel like it or not, or whether I think it makes sense. but I am choosing to follow the law so I don't get into trouble - I could choose otherwise.

HolofernesesHead - that's why he blasted some pharisees about it along with some sadducees. A pharisee was only someone who believed the oral Torah and Rabbinical is as binding as the written Tanach, the forerunners of modern Orthodox Judaism. A Sadducee being someone who did not and became the forerunners of the Karaites (and many believe the early Christian sects as it fits with giving up of the oral Torah traditions though some think it belonged mroe to the radical groups of the time period). Some people in any group will be posturing, but there were nothing about their beliefs that made them exceptionally so.

EugenesAxe Sat 06-Oct-12 03:19:25

worldgonecrazy - I'm a bit confused; are you quoting me from the perspective of me being one of those 'breeds of Christian'?

I'm not. I'm actually not a very good Christian because I struggle with much of the Bible, and I don't think it's because Satan put the doubts there to tempt me. I think it's because it was written in an age when a) people didn't understand much b) mostly by men c) in a predominantly male centric society.

I believe in evolution. I am pro-homosexuality. I don't believe all those mental rules of the OT should be followed religiously (no pun intended). I have most trouble in this day and age with speaking in tongues and miracle working. I think miracles are possible, but I think it likely that when it is related to bodies and things, there is probably a physiological reason for it that we currently fail to understand. I know Christians that have seen people 'speaking in tongues' but I still think its dead easy to make up some weird language and be doing nothing profound. I always come back to interpreters... were any of them able to do it from birth with no coaching? In the Bible those guys were talking in each others' languages. Not just in some random language, yet to be discovered.

Ultimately, I do believe in God & the Trinity, and much of the Bible. Just not all.

HolofernesesHead Sat 06-Oct-12 07:55:14

Thanks GoodPharisee smile are you really a good Pharisee? Yes, I should have prefaced my post by saying 'In the Gospels...' Have you heard that some historical Jesus scholars think that Jesus may have been a Pharisee himself? All very interesting...

nailak Sat 06-Oct-12 15:33:49

springyhope Sat 06-Oct-12 01:02:46
the only obligations I can think of are disciplines that have a function

ritual prayer has a function, to bring us closer to God, to stop what we are doing and remember Him in all phases of the day, to remember his mioght and enormoty.

nailak Sat 06-Oct-12 15:36:12

headinhands Fri 05-Oct-12 22:08:01
But that 'obligation' is just community to non religious people. It's a sense of putting in and taking out. How come many non Christians feel that too?

its about intentions, non religious people obviously do that to, but when they do it, it MAY not be a form of worship as their intention is to make themselves feel better, or something instead of the intention being to please God.

Similarly a religious person may do an act and it has no benefit to them as the intention is not to please God.

nailak Sat 06-Oct-12 15:38:28

pharisee i am baffled

Eugenes what are the general issues you have with the teachings of Christianity?

springyhope Sat 06-Oct-12 18:46:28

We don't believe that Jesus was swopped at the cross by someone who looked like him because God couldn't bear for his son to go through the agony of the cross. The whole point was that he was willingly slaughtered, the perfect lamb; doing away, once and for all, with the ritual (ongoing) sacrifice of 'perfect lambs' to atone for sin. God died for us, a final and conclusive act to bridge the gap between us and God.

crescentmoon Sat 06-Oct-12 20:07:03

what do christians believe about the man who was on the cross with Jesus? does he feature in the christian story? we don't believe God has a son, but a miracle was performed for Jesus that wasnt performed for Muhammad (pbuh), and we revere him.

springyhope Sat 06-Oct-12 21:50:12

erm there was nobody on the cross with Jesus. Do you mean the two either side? There were 3 altogether.

springyhope Sun 07-Oct-12 10:56:34

well, I say 'either side' but I expect that was an artist's device that caught on iyswim.

What was the miracle performed for Jesus you mention crescent?

nailak Sun 07-Oct-12 17:51:25

we believe that God raised Jesus peace be upon him up and someone else was crucified in his place.

Also we believe Jesus pbuh will return.

nailak Sun 07-Oct-12 17:53:26

I dont get it, how does it bridge the gap?

Is there no concept in your religion of holy war, or fighting back someone who is hurting you?

What does he dies for our sins mean?

crescentmoon Sun 07-Oct-12 18:47:06

In te Islamic tradition the man who took the place of Jesus was offered the chance of eternal paradise and his sins being deleted and he accepted. But that is from Hadith not the Quran. All the Qur'an says is that the enemies of Jesus did not kill or crucify him but he was raised upto God Almighty Himself.

(chapter 4:156-159) "That they rejected Faith; That they uttered against Mary A grave false charge;  That they said (in boast):  'We killed Christ Jesus The son of Mary, The Messenger of God.'  But they killed him not, Nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.  Nay, God raised him up Unto Himself; and God Is Exalted in Power, Wise.  And there is none of the people of the book (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him  (Jesus) Before his death; And on the Day of Judgment He (Jesus) will be a witness Against them."

GrimmaTheNome Sun 07-Oct-12 21:18:03

>what do christians believe about the man who was on the cross with Jesus? does he feature in the christian story?
If you mean the two criminals crucified at the same time, see Luke23:39 and following '

The Islamic tradition concerning the crucifixion is utterly at odds with christianity - its really rather clever. While still honouring Jesus it totally refutes the core belief of christianity - that the sins of man could only be forgiven by the sacrifice of the Son of God.

>I dont get it, how does it bridge the gap?

Its an odd thing - if you're brought up as a Christian it seems to make sense. It doesn't really - if there was a gap between a God and his people, why was that the only thing that will do?

>Is there no concept in your religion of holy war, or fighting back someone who is hurting you?
Its not my religion any more, but no, not really. A key teaching of Jesus is in [[http://bible.cc/matthew/5-38.htm 5:38] and following 'turn the other cheek'...'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you' . So quite how 'christians' down the ages have justified the Crusades etc is somewhat baffling. Very few apart from Quakers have been pacifists.

>What does he dies for our sins mean?
Another of those things that doesn't make any sense viewed from the 'outside' of the faith. Someone who still believes had better try to explain that one.

nailak Sun 07-Oct-12 22:16:52

so do Christians believe that the laws of Jesus over write the laws in the previous books, ie an eye for an eye? and if so why do they include these books as part of their holy book?

amillionyears Sun 07-Oct-12 22:35:40

nailak,yes.
For me the bible is essentially in 3 parts. The Old Testament,which has God,the New Testament,which includes Jesus,and the end times.
To understand,and believe,you really need all of it.
Stuff in the New Testament is predicted in the Old Testament.

nailak Sun 07-Oct-12 23:25:00

Sorry, I don't get it, to understand the gospel, you need the psalms etc?

but the old testament has stuff which is contrary to the new testament?

but you are not supposed to ignore it as you cant understand the new testament without it?

GrimmaTheNome Sun 07-Oct-12 23:34:38

Christians believe the OT to be 'divinely inspired' - but just to complicate matters, different sects accept different books - see wiki for details.

I think the applicable phrase is 'continuing revelation' - the OT is the history and scriptures pertaining to the 'old covenant' between God and his chosen people; the NT is the 'New covenant' enabled by Christ. And then for Mormons there's still more.

nailak Sun 07-Oct-12 23:39:51

No Muslims believe the same thing, The Torat was sent to Musa (Moses), the Zabur was sent to Dawood (David), the Injil was sent to Isa (Jesus) peace be upon them all, and the Quran was revealed to Muhammad sas.

Each prophet had their own shariah (laws) which were for those people at that time, but the laws in the Quran were for all people for the rest of time.

However the difference is, we don't include the previous scriptures in our holy book, although it is a tenement of faith to believe in them. We believe that the scriptures have been corrupted and what is confirmed to be true by Quran and Hadith is true, what is confirmed to be false is false, and the rest we cannot be sure.

As I have mentioned before, the stories of the Jews, or Israleyats, are often used in explanations of Quran and hadith.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 08-Oct-12 00:02:09

Many christians do make a large distinction between the NT and OT - perhaps its unfortunate that the OT is included as 'scripture' rather than as supplementary material since there are fundamentalists who think they need to believe the whole lot hence creationism and treatment of homosexuals etc.

(I was also interested in the wiki to see Luther wanted Revelation out of the canon -some peoples interpretation of that can cause a deal of trouble. )

springyhope Mon 08-Oct-12 01:35:23

It's late so I hope I make sense here. The gap needs to be bridged because we can never make ourselves right with God. It's impossible, absurd to even try. We are born totally opposed to him, having no desire to know him or serve him, entirely divorced from him. It is by accepting his once-and-for-all sacrifice - when Jesus died on the cross (the perfect lamb; which cancelled out the need for ongoing sacrifice) - that we are accepted and made right with God. We stand before God claiming Jesus' sacrifice. It is not possible to stand as you are because you haven't been cleansed 'by the blood of the lamb'. Doing things to 'buy' your way to a relationship with God is fruitless and absurd. It's not possible to get there without the sacrifice.

so for muslims to say that Jesus was swapped, offered 'paradise' so he didn't have to go through that, is to snatch away the core of the gospel. Jesus willingly died - he could have got out of it, God could have got him out of it - but he knew that was what he was here for, to be the blood sacrifice that cleansed the world of sin.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 08-Oct-12 08:20:10

All of which presupposes you believe in (a) original sin and (b) that you buy into the notion of 'sacrifice' in a rather literal, Bronze-age manner.

Its a good explanation Springy, the fact it probably won't make much sense isn't your fault.

Have you ever read 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe', nailak? Its Deep Magic... but it beats me how it ever made sense to me other than as fiction. An omnipotent God surely didn't have to do it this way.

springyhope Mon 08-Oct-12 13:11:58

LOL I did realise I was setting myself up by saying I didn't know if I was going to make much sense!

No matter, it's good to get out there what the christian gospel is actually about - that it isn't about being 'good' because you can never be 'good' enough, even if you wanted to. The idea is that, once Jesus' sacrifice is accepted, personally, there is a transaction - you/we are immediately reconciled with God, the full relationship is opened up and available. That is, an actual relationship, in which his heart/spirit becomes yours, and you fellowship together, a 2-way relationship - which is what he wants and has laboured the point to facilitate. It must be so insulting and frustrating (understatement) to him when people think they can get there by their own efforts, when he has gone to extravagant lengths to facilitate a full and free relationship with him, which is entirely impossible to achieve by our own efforts, even if we're busting a gut.

crescentmoon Mon 08-Oct-12 13:24:10

i know christians who are very kind hearted and who love doing good for the sake of Jesus. but what in Christianity keeps the selfish, the tyrants or the wrongdoers in check? if the christian is taught that all the sins they would ever commit were ALREADY forgiven 2012 years ago, what is the purpose of life then? if you are an oppressor what makes you see your actions as sin if all of humanitys sins were already expiated by Jesus's sacrifice? if you are oppressed, how does 'turning the cheek' or 'Jesus meek and mild' help you when someone has their foot on your neck?

in islam we believe the purpose of life for the human being is to use their free will to worship God and perform good. the Qur'an says that God created us to test which of us were best in deeds. faith is not a passive thing in islam, it has to be confirmed and manifested in good deeds and good conduct whether in easy circumstances or difficult circumstances.

amillionyears Mon 08-Oct-12 13:43:19

crescentmoon, in a way that is a good question.
I hadnt realise some people would think like that,but I can see why.

Actually,alarmingly, I do know a few Christians who take that standpoint.
Basically they have become arrogant.
I am actually waiting to see what God does about them,and the situation they have got themselves into.
Hopefully they will say sorry to God. If they dont,I am not sure what will happen. I have seen it happen before,and basically their lives go very much downhill.
And if they do not repent for current sins before they die,they will still go to Hell.

Not sure If I am properly understanding and answering your question.

nailak Mon 08-Oct-12 13:45:54

"It's impossible, absurd to even try. We are born totally opposed to him, having no desire to know him or serve him, entirely divorced from him"

That is the opposite of Islam, in Islam we believe or nature is to worship god, we are born knowing him, and that babies are inherently good, and sinless.

We don't believe in original sin, we believe the sins of the fathers cannot be passed down to the son. Jehovas witnesses explained it to me like a bread tin with a dent in it or something, but I don't get it, if I commit a sin will it be passed down to my kids? if not how come it was passed down to Adam as's kids?

We also dont believe Eve as, was more culpable then Adam as.

nailak Mon 08-Oct-12 13:47:36

amillion the question is why do we have to be good, if Jesus already died for our sins? and if we believe in him and believe that to be true?

In christianity, what prevents anarchy?

springyhope Mon 08-Oct-12 13:52:27

faith is not a passive thing in islam, it has to be confirmed and manifested in good deeds and good conduct whether in easy circumstances or difficult circumstances.

the gospel would say that is what is called 'works' ie believing you can build a tower of 'goodness' to get you to God. NOt possible as far as the christian gospel is concerned.

In Christianity, the selfish, the tyrants and the wrongdoers are God's business to sort out. I do struggle with this, of course, because I want to get the bastards and make them pay. Vengeance is mine, he says, and sometimes we are in a position where there is nothing at all we can do about what is going down so, in that instance, it's cut and dried; most of the time it isn't and the impulse to take the lead is strong.

That's not to say we do nothing - on the contrary, we are required to do a great deal. There are boundaries, for instance, which we can keep around ourselves, on a personal level; and also boundaries we can fight for for those who are powerless and can't fight for themselves. There are any number of battles we can fight but it is usually on behalf of other people (thinks about this...). Even then, the result is up to God, he's the one who has the power to tip the balance and get the bastards.

In my own experience of putting everything I can in place without finishing the deed (not my job), I am then left with just God. whom I nag. As it's a relational relationship (can I say that?) there's a lot of to-ing and fro-ing on that.

springyhope Mon 08-Oct-12 13:57:27

YOu don't have to be good, nailak. Sorry if it sounds cheesey, but once his spirit links with yours, you start wanting to be; you change (how could you not?). Mind you, 'good' is a bit of a loaded word. I don't want to be good for the sake of it, I want to do what God wants. Which usually comes under the broad category of 'good'. Not soft or wet though, ime.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 08-Oct-12 14:07:48

You need James ch2 for this one - which spells out that christians are supposed to have work and faith - its not an either/or (although there are some 'christians' who seem to forget it):

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

amillionyears Mon 08-Oct-12 14:17:31

nailak,the thought of Hell keeps most of us on our toes!

And what springyhope and Grimma have said.

crescentmoon Mon 08-Oct-12 14:21:41

thanks for those verses from james, i am very pleasantly surprised, and they are verses i believe in.

if you are already without sin because Jesus died for your sins what do you mean that it is not about good because one can never be good enough springyhope? can not a selfish person say 'it is not about good because i have already been forgiven and i am going to be with God no matter what i do?'

crescentmoon Mon 08-Oct-12 14:29:35

i can understand a little how the christian thinks that 'Doing things to 'buy' your way to a relationship with God is fruitless and absurd'. the muslim approach might seem abit transactional, to me God is very close but to a person who reads the OT/NT the God of the Qur'an may seem impersonal, much less emotional.
i also wonder at the relationship between Christians and God, its very relational as you said. we bow our heads to the ground in humility and the Christian seems almost to remonstrate with God.

springyhope Mon 08-Oct-12 14:35:20

Yes, they can do that - hence why it was discussed in James. I haven't studied theology but, from what I can gather, some christians at the time were flopping about thinking they could do just as they pleased because Jesus had paid the price, they were sorted with God, so everything was done and they didnt need to do anything. You can choose not to do the 'works' you start to feel impelled to do. it's up to you. Same, same - it will always be the same.

I am not 'without sin' but, when I stand before God, it is Jesus God sees, or Jesus' atoning sacrifice. I am very much 'with sin' and will be until the day I die; but I don't want to be - purely because I love God and want to please him iyswim (because he's so gorgeous!) and also want to be used by him to do what he wants done in the world. If I'm up some side alley with an engrossing 'sin' then I'm useless to him, which would be such a waste, all round. Imo God wants people to get out there and do something about the hideous injustices that go on; literally, be his hands and feet.

nailak Mon 08-Oct-12 14:45:42

we had Muslims like that in Early Islam as well, Muslims who thought that they could do whatever as long as they believed in Allah etc, and on the oppossite side Muslims who believed that anyone who sinned was out of Islam.

WHy does God need people to be his hands and feet?

springyhope Mon 08-Oct-12 14:47:25

crescent, we do both ie we bow with our faces to the floor (though not ritually), we also remonstrate. I bow because I give my entire being in reverence to him - he is so great. I don't fear him as in tremble with self-disgust (iyswim - not saying muslims do) but I do fear his awesome might and power. I'd be an idiot not to fear that. But I am assured that, when it comes down to it, he uses his unspeakable might and power to crouch down to a ridiculously lowly height, get himself born into the world, then die for thankless humanity so we can have a relationship. He did it because we wouldn't. I don't think he has done it entirely to chew the cud with us relationally iyswim - there's more to it than that.

springyhope Mon 08-Oct-12 15:02:40

crescent, re: i have already been forgiven and i am going to be with God no matter what

the christian gospel isn't selfish ie yes, we want to get ourselves sorted with God and it is an exclusive dynamic between the individual and God; but the impulse isn't soley that we are ok. As God is a relational God, he wants relationships with all his kids. Not just to chew the cud, as I said, but also to be led and ignited by his spirit to go into the world and do what he wants done in it. hence his 'hands and feet'. He is very probably gagging for his own to get out into the world and start addressing the terrible things that happen. I don't just mean hideous 3rd world stuff - that too, of course - but all the injustices that go on all around, all the lives that are blighted by any number of things. People say God doesn't care, but he so does, and his vehicle to address suffering is through people (imo). though I accept that appears a tad simplistic. (imo he will also use anybody anywhere who is willing to address the suffering in the world - as would you if your kid was suffering.)

springyhope Mon 08-Oct-12 15:04:58

(don't mean to offend anyone with the 'he is probably gagging' statement. He's not my pal in my back pocket and I don't mean to imply he is doddery and kind of desperate and flailing)

springyhope Mon 08-Oct-12 15:17:57

the thought of hell doesn't keep me on my toes, million. Though, actually, the thought of the hell on earth that a lot of people around me in the world experience - yes, that keeps me on my toes.

I assume you're all quiet because you've gone to pick up your kids.. wink

<skates around in the free space>

nightlurker Mon 08-Oct-12 15:57:38

In Mormonism, faith is a principle of action. You need both works and faith. Without works, you arguably have no faith.

Like Islam, we believe that our gospel is the same as what Jesus taught, and what he gave to all of his other prophets. He gives different traditions to different groups, but it is the same God and part of his same plan.

The Bible is errant, which is why there are so many Christian sects, and so much confusion with regards to religious doctrine.

There is no original sin in Mormonism, but we believe there was a need for Christ. I've mulled over this a lot, because I've struggled to understand why it had to happen. Despite not admitting a full understanding, and wondering if it could have been another way, I still accept it.

nightlurker Mon 08-Oct-12 16:13:06

I found an interesting article about a woman who claims to be both Christian and Muslim.

seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2003751274_redding17m.html

nailak Mon 08-Oct-12 16:17:57

Does Mormonism have another book then? So does it have another Prophet?

GrimmaTheNome Mon 08-Oct-12 16:23:46

And of course, whether scriptures are errant or not, they are subject to human interpretation - Islam may claim perfect scriptures but its pretty obvious human interpretations are falliable.

(Of course, I don't believe in any of them...makes life a lot easier. Doesn't let me off the hook of living ethically of course ...there isn't anarchy without god because most people aren't actually built that way)

nightlurker Mon 08-Oct-12 16:24:43

We have the Book of Mormon, which was written between 2200 BC and about 400 AD, then translated in modern times by Joseph Smith, who we believe was a prophet. We believe in a series of prophets after Joseph.

nightlurker Mon 08-Oct-12 17:02:37

Even though I am not Muslim and don't believe everything taught in Islam, I, personally, have a great deal of respect for Muhammad and believe he had a special God-given mission in this life.

amillionyears Mon 08-Oct-12 18:21:14

The thought of hell does help to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Along with wanting to do right.
I think I have really wanted to do right most of my life.
I used to see what happened to anybody who did wrong,and couldnt see the point of it. What did anyone gain when they were younger except tellings off,punishments etc.Decided that wasnt for me at an early age of 10.

crescentmoon Mon 08-Oct-12 18:30:35

i am really enjoying reading your threads across the philosophy section about Mormonism nightlurker. its also very current right now because of the american election. i see the jesus christ for latter day saints people around where i live sometimes and i always think they look like morally upright people.

many christians do not believe in hell, and even then proclaim that believing in Jesus Christ as saviour will save one from hell. and i like the sound of it but i want to know what checks and balances are there against bad or evil conduct?otherwise it seems to give the wicked and bad hearted a blank cheque to behave the way they like without being accounted.

amillionyears Mon 08-Oct-12 18:39:27

If you are a non Christian you have got until the moment you die,to say sorry for your sins and believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. Then you can go to Heaven.

If you are a Christian,you have got until you die to try and remain a Christian,in order to go to Heaven.
If and when Chrisitians sin,they need to repent.So long as they remain believing that Jesus was raised form the dead,and stay being sorry for any sins they do,they will go to Heaven.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 08-Oct-12 18:47:18

That may be the spin Paul put on it; the gospels report Jesus as saying this, which strongly implies that you should have actively done good in your life whether you were knowingly doing it 'for jesus' or not (Matthew 25:31-46 ):

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

springyhope Wed 10-Oct-12 00:04:32

what, has nobody come back on this?

Had to take off from this thread because I was brought up by a mother who had an absolute terror of hell, which overshadowed all our (siblings) lives. It was a mammoth disorder - still is, actually. Not surprising when you read that, from the Man himself.

I don't know what to make of it tbh and was hoping that the likes of HEmummy would come along and shed some light. It seems unequivocal, seems to feed into the premise of the thread (or OP's original q) but I can't accept it's that cut and dried.

Call me a pick and chooser if you like, this does my head in.

amillionyears Wed 10-Oct-12 00:16:51

springyhope,there is another thread going in this same board about why Jesus had to die.
I found that I was commenting on both,and after a while didnt notice that all my posts were on the other one.
The op from this one seems to have long gone.

If the subject matter on here was triggering you,I think you were wise to leave it.

madhairday Wed 10-Oct-12 13:45:42

springy, great posts smile

crescentmoon, you say 'many christians do not believe in hell, and even then proclaim that believing in Jesus Christ as saviour will save one from hell. and i like the sound of it but i want to know what checks and balances are there against bad or evil conduct?otherwise it seems to give the wicked and bad hearted a blank cheque to behave the way they like without being accounted. '.

I think there is a danger in talking about christianity to make it sound like everyone is forgiven, it's ok, don't worry about your sin. When actually, we need to remember God is a holy and righteous God, and sin is serious. Yes, we believe Jesus died on the cross and redeemed us, made it possible for us to become right with God, as our sin separated us from God. But that in no way means we are free to merrily sin away grin thinking that it's fine, we're forgiven. Actually, I think it gives us less excuse to do so - knowing Jesus paid this price, if we carry on in such ways, it would be like hurting him over and over. We need to remember the severity of it all.

So I'd say that there was this once for all sacrifice, but we have responsibility to live in the light of that, to live as God expects, to make every effort to become like Jesus, ie to love God and others. If we get lazy about that then there will be consequences. One of the things I love about my faith is that I believe God is a God of justice, and that there will be a reckoning, all the evil in the world will not go unpunished, not go unforgotten. I don't know what hell is, I don't feel there is enough information, but do know God is just.

Hope this answers your question a little smile

As for the OP, and the book of Job...Job reminds me of two things: 1) that bad stuff happens to anyone, not just bad people, and that people saying that you must have sinned to get such a punishment <as some do, even now today, to me about my chronic illness> are basically talking bollocks, and 2) that we cannot know the mind of God, and that God is bigger and wilder and more amazing and mysterious than we can begin to imagine or grapple with. But that God is, ultimately, good.

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 12:26:26

Classic scenario but imagine a serial rapist rapes and murders an atheist woman. She goes to hell as she has rejected salvation. The man goes to prison and finds god after a life of serious crime, he goes to heaven. Some believers will use the 'god will judge the heart' in which case why did we need Jesus if there is a back door. And what about the fact that the serial rapist had a horribly abusive childhood and his 'heart' is beyond repair.

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 15:02:57

Is that actually a fair scenario? Would that be just, that a good person who found it impossible to believe in an invisible god was tortured for eternity because her brain couldn't accept it? Or maybe she was born into a different religion? And all the while her murderer is in heaven? I would like someone to explain how that would be fair.

madhairday Thu 11-Oct-12 15:38:39

No, that wouldn't be fair, headinhands. But I believe God is just, and therefore his justice encompasses all these situations, all these people, that he knows intimately by name. God does not want anyone to be away from him or 'in hell', here or in eternity. I fully believe heaven will surprise many people in who is and who is not there. Yes, God looks at the heart, and looks at the situation, and is just and fair. There will be justice for such a woman, but there is also grace for such a man, should he choose to accept it and change. It is difficult to make any assumptions about what will happen to whom. I prefer to concentrate on making this life better for as many as possible, and let God sort out eternal consequences grin

crescentmoon Thu 11-Oct-12 17:25:53

thanks madhairday for replying, iv had a few things going on in rl so im only having a chance to reply now.

you said "Yes, we believe Jesus died on the cross and redeemed us, made it possible for us to become right with God, as our sin separated us from God."

theres two things, what encourages the Christian to do good action? and what discourages the Christian from doing bad action?

earlier someone posted verses from the bible about faith and action, but to my small knowledge it is only the catholics who preach justification by works? why is that prevalent among the catholics and the protestants teach justification by faith? i get the 'grace' thing the protestants say, it is sinful to have an overreliance on one's deeds when they can never compare to even one of the gifts of the Most High. but as i understand, the sinner doesnt even need to repent, the individual already is taught that they were forgiven for all the sins they were destined to commit.

"So I'd say that there was this once for all sacrifice, but we have responsibility to live in the light of that, to live as God expects, to make every effort to become like Jesus, ie to love God and others."

where is that responsibility written, in the bible? is that as prevalent as the idea that Jesus atoned for all sins for all time for all mankind? what need of morality, keeping to the laws of God, if nothing is recorded of what you have done? the Qur'an says on the day of judgement that ...

"So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it,
And whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it."
(Chapter 99, verses 7-8)

we believe all of our deeds and words are recorded and the good of what we do will be weighed against the bad of what we do. and if we have more good than bad then it is paradise but if there are more bad deeds than good then it is hell that is the destination.

"One of the things I love about my faith is that I believe God is a God of justice"

i also believe that God is a God of justice, Muslims hold to that quite strongly,thats what makes it hard to accept the idea of one innocent man, Jesus, being killed to expiate the sins of billions.

"And no soul shall bear the burden of sin of another, and if a soul heavily laden with sin calls someone else to bear its sins, nothing of it will be lifted even though he be near of kin." (Quran Chapter 35, verse 18)

its not fair on Jesus, nor is it just that oppressors can gain God's love just through an affirmation of belief. i would expect at the minimum, a command to keep away from evil action even if one doesnt wish to perform good actions. where are those commands in christianity?

iv read that a few times on this thread that god will deal with evil people. but already we are told that God loves everyone even the sinner and that all that is needed to enter paradise is belief in Jesus as saviour. so what will a criminal or wrongdoer expect except paradise eternal?

i understand sacrifice, muslims believe life is a test, a race to do as many good deeds as possible before death. every year for Eid ul Adha we celebrate Abraham's obedience to God in being ready to sacrifice even his son to obey God, and we rejoice that when Abraham passed that test God changed the son he was about to sacrifice to a ram. like God restoring everything to job when he passed his 'test'. to the muslim the act we celebrate is that one man was ready to sacrifice even his son for God, not that God sacrificed his son for man.

nightlurker Thu 11-Oct-12 17:34:12

Agree with madhairday. God judges on a case by case basis, and he judges everyone according to what was available to them.

crescent I've also really enjoyed reading your posts and being familiarized with your beliefs. My understanding of grace is slightly different than most protestants, but what I believe that is that we could not be saved were it not for the goodness and grace of God. All of us make mistakes and fall short. However, God takes our effort into account, and rewards us according to our efforts, and shows leniency for our mistakes.

nightlurker Thu 11-Oct-12 17:41:30

I've also been confused by the traditional protestant doctrine of believe and be saved, where only belief is necessary. It seems simultaneously deny both the justice and mercy of God.

crescentmoon Thu 11-Oct-12 17:58:56

"what I believe that is that we could not be saved were it not for the goodness and grace of God"

yes i believe that ultimately. there is a narration of the Prophet (pbuh) but im not sure if it is Sahih - with a strong chain of transmission - or Da'if - with a weak chain of transmission, maybe naila or someone else knows its sources....

"There was once a man who had spent his whole life in piety. He came on the Day of Judgement with a mountain of good deeds, confident of his having earned his way to Jannah. The angels asked him whether he wanted to go Jannah by Allah's mercy or by virtue of his good deeds. Since he had spent his whole life doing good, he felt confident and said that he would like go to Jannah by virtue of his deeds. So the angels put his mountain of good deeds on one side of the scale and on the other side put his two eyes. The weight of his two eyes sent all his good deeds flying into the air."

even the prophet (pbuh) said i cannot enter paradise except by the mercy of God. when the Christian says 'grace' of God the muslim says the 'mercy' of God.

Thistledew Thu 11-Oct-12 18:14:55

Does the idea that God is more pleased by faith in him than any amount of good deeds carried out by someone with no faith not seem to impute God with one almighty Ego (no pun intended)?

That in effect he says to mortal beings "I don't care how much you loved your neighbours and tried to help them, or how much you have shown you are a good person, you didn't tell me that you loved me enough so we are not going to be friends and I am going to punish you".

TBH, someone like that does not sound like the sort of person I would want to be friends with in the first place.

madhairday Thu 11-Oct-12 18:30:52

That's interesting crescent moon, and a very apt comparison of mercy and grace, which are two similar concepts. Islam and Christianity have a lot in common smile

I think in answer to your points about grace and about it seeming unfair that people could get to heaven only by belief, I would re-iterate the seriousness of sin and the absolute contrast of God's saving grace. Basically, in Christian belief, no one can attain union with God by works, by good deeds, however good a life they have led, because God is too holy, and people go the wrong way all the time - for me, even if I think I'm doing a good work, there is often a double motive in it - a wanting to be praised, for example, or a desire to be at the front of something. I'm not saying we all go out and break the commandments every day, but all of us are pretty far from the perfection that is God. Many Christians would do well to remember this and not treat sin so lightly.

Grace is amazing, and can seem unfair, and injust. But look at it like this: If you had a child, who you loved with all your heart, as we all do our dc, and that child went off the rails - turned against you, hated you, went out and stole and did drugs and hurt others, even murdered someone - would you ever stop loving that child? Would you give that child another chance if you could, not dependent on their works but only on their repentance? Even if you felt you could not do that, God feels so fiercely loving about each one of us that he does this, extends this grace, and Christians believe that this is achieved through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus made it possible for us to be reconciled with a God far too holy to even see us in our sin, by somehow taking all that sin. I find it profound and it rocks my world.

I don't think that anyone could say that they should not keep repenting, though, that they are forgiven once for all so it's ok to keep sinning (Paul talks about this) - far from it. There should be confession and repentance for sin, the thing is that it is possible for us to do this and be forgiven, again and again and again. It's so freeing.

Grimma's post on monday quotes Matthew 25, showing that Jesus himself certainly doesn't expect his followers to get away with simply believing in him and sitting back happily for the remainder of their earthly lives. Christians should be out there doing this stuff, and if they are not, they are not following the spirit of what Jesus came to show and die for.

So yes Christianity does expect works as well as faith, but as James said 'faith without works is dead', and works without faith is also in vain, because faith enables grace. love it.

hth. Really interesting to read some more about Islam too. smile

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 18:32:07

If god will just look at our heart in the end why did we need a saviour. If we can be found to be acceptable without accepting Jesus as lord then you're using your own logic to make it acceptable to you.

It seems nonsensical to imagine a situation where god has two similar guys in front of him at the pearly gates, one just scrapes in by the skin of his teeth because he swore one time less than the other guy. And to your mind that would be fair?

Jesus didn't seem to think we didn't need a saviour. The great commission doesn't say 'go into all the world but not to worry if you don't because I'll judge them on a case by case basis'.

madhairday Thu 11-Oct-12 18:34:45

Thistledew - me neither, and I don't believe my God is like that. I think God is just and knows the heart and motives of each person and loves each person. But I also believe in salvation by grace. Contrary sod, aren't I grin

madhairday Thu 11-Oct-12 18:41:40

Nah, headinhands. A god that sent someone packing because of his swearing record wouldn't be a god I wanted to go near.

Thing is, I do believe we need a saviour, because I don't think all the good deeds in the world pass muster with a holy God. It comes down to that. But there is the tension and the mystery that God is just. Part of that is that God expects God's followers to do the great commission and not sit on their backsides enjoying 'grace'.

The God I know would not turn away anyone whose heart is towards God. And who are we to judge what that means, or who that entails?

You're right though, it could be easy to sit back and say 'well God is just, and will accept everyone, so there is no point in telling others or even bothering to follow God'. I think God takes it a lot more seriously than that, and somehow contains the tension...

<aware that cannot explain this in nice succint or even comprehensible manner. Another one of those annoying faith things> grin

nightlurker Thu 11-Oct-12 18:58:17

I don't think it works that way, headinhands. If we don't share what God gives us, it disadvantages us and the people we neglect to teach, even in this life.

I don't know that a person can be saved in the highest degree of heaven in ignorance. Just to be sure that I cover my bases, I believe the gospel is preached to people after death, in the spirit world, which is a place between life here and the resurrection. Anyone who would accept it and live it, I believe, will have it taught to them, either here on earth, or after death. I don't know everything, and definitely don't think I have the right to speak definitely for God about who and who will not be in heaven, but I do have faith that God is both just and merciful.

Enjoyed your post on faith and works, mhd, especially this:
"So yes Christianity does expect works as well as faith, but as James said 'faith without works is dead', and works without faith is also in vain, because faith enables grace. love it."

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 19:02:42

Okay nightlurker, you tell me one way I am actually disadvantaged by you not teaching me something about your faith?

Thistledew Thu 11-Oct-12 19:12:03

headinhands - no, it would not be fair to my mind that one person would get into heaven for saying one less swearword than another, but then to my mind there is no such thing as heaven, the pearly gates or even a god who makes judgments, so I don't have to tie myself up in knots trying to define how god is fair even though he doesn't appear to act so!

However, I am interested in how other people perform the mental logistics to reconcile the teachings of religion, and what lessons that teaches them about life.

Thistledew Thu 11-Oct-12 19:14:04

Pressed post too soon -

But I don't feel disadvantaged by not hearing about people's faith, or by not understanding how they reconcile inconsistencies.

crescentmoon Thu 11-Oct-12 19:16:04

It is based upon an individual's own ratio of good deeds to bad deeds. My actions are not judged against other people but my good actions are judged against my bad actions. And the prophet (pbuh) himself said it may only be one single good deed that allows one to scrape in.

nightlurker Thu 11-Oct-12 19:51:19

headinhands It reminds me of the parable of the sower in Mark 4. Many people were taught, but the only ones who benefit from the fruit are the one who accept it and live it.

Mark 4:14-20
14 The sower soweth the word.
15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.
18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

In short, teaching it does no good unless a person lives it. If a person lives it, it does them a lot of good. The reward greatly outdoes the sacrifice.

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 20:01:44

nightlurker, you need to actually be specific about it. What actual truth do you know that benefits you in life that I am denied in not believing? You don't need to quote scripture, I used to be a full on Christian.

nightlurker Thu 11-Oct-12 20:21:54

Ah, ok. I love that scripture and thought it made a good point.

Some of the things I consider benefits others could actually consider disadvantages. For example, I don't drink alcohol because of my religious beliefs. There are things I give up for not drinking, but simultaneously things I gain by abstaining. I consider the personal gain from abstinence greater than the temporary pleasure of drinking, and am glad I am part of a religion that forbids it.

Amongst other things, I believe life is a progression. The goal is to improve. The more you know, the more equipped you are to become more like God. Additionally, I've found that when I make special efforts to live God's commandments, he does actually guide my life. I know what things to change and I get help in my personal struggles. I enjoy the extra help and clarity that comes from it, and don't believe I could have it without him in my life.

Even more specifically, in my religion, we believe in baptism by water and by fire. Baptism by fire is to be given the holy ghost (which is done by laying on of hands by a person who has authority from God), which makes it easier to receive God's guidance in your life, as long as you remain worthy of it.

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 20:27:14

night where does it say in the bible you can't drink? Are non-believers unable to learn from life as they get older? When you say commandments do you mean the 10 commandments?

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 20:29:24

Also Any non believer who chooses not to drink could say the same things, cite the same benefits so that's not something particular to your religion.

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 20:33:56

I find it hard to believe that Christians believe they are being guided by the most intelligent being in the universe. You go to the shop like I have to, get ill like I do, have happy times and sad times etc. I don't see a group of people that stand out as having any divine hot link to a super mind. All the benefits you say you get, I get secularly.

nightlurker Thu 11-Oct-12 20:34:57

10 Commandments are some of the commandments, but they are by no means complete.

It doesn't say drinking is outright forbidden in the Bible, but it does condemn overuse. I am Mormon, and the complete ban comes from something called the Word of Wisdom, which forbids alcohol, tobacco, and hot drink (understood to mean coffee and tea from the tea plant). It was a revelation from God to Joseph Smith in the 1800s, and a law of health. Those who follow it have a significantly higher life expectancy and are less likely to die from cancer. It was originally given as a recommendation from God, but eventually became a law in the church.

amillionyears Thu 11-Oct-12 20:43:06

The New testament talks about drinking. The overuse of it is not ok.

headinhands,if you dont mind me asking,if you have been a full on Christian,what happened to cause you to change your mind? Have you now renounced it all,or just not doing too much about it at present.

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 21:01:10

night why would Jesus perform miracles using a substance he would later make a law about. Why not just ban it in the NT.? Lots of groups of people have statistically longer life spans. Sardinians have the longest life span in Europe. Does this mean god likes Sardinians, but not. say, Scots?

million it was a natural progression. Just a thought process over a number of years Nothing dreadful happened. Not angry with god or Christians. And my life is no less 'straight laced' than your average Christian from what I can fathom.

nightlurker Thu 11-Oct-12 21:06:28

We understand Biblical wine to also refer to non-alcoholic grape juice, and not necessarily just alcohol.

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 21:16:40

So god lacked the foresight to see how the bible would mislead millions of people, so had to pop down to correct it? But he only bothered to visit one branch of Christianity. He didn't think to give the update to the CofE etc? Hardly seems fair.

amillionyears Thu 11-Oct-12 21:21:55

headinhands ok,but have you completely renounced it all ? Because that is a different state of affairs from staying in a certain place with it,iyswim.

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 21:36:17

What do you mean by renounced? Do I believe their is a god who was ever interested in me or any other human? Not now. Just can't reconcile people who believe that with the reality of the world. Believers coming on here saying 'I feel god is directing me to attend a different church to my current one' while babies starve. That's just abhorrent to me. To think that I used to think this all powerful force was interested in the minutia of my life while
unspeakable things happen to swathes of people day in day out. I don't like to offend but I am disgusted with myself that I thought he gave a crap about me but not millions in the third world. Somehow I justified it. Don't know how. I think it's why I haunt these boards. I want to know how I thought it was okay that he was poking about in my life and giving me daily guidance while children are raped.

nightlurker Thu 11-Oct-12 22:32:40

Your reasons make sense, and I am not offended at your directness. It's never made me doubt the existence of a God, but it has led me to wonder why.

I believe we were presented with two ideas before the earth was created. The first, a fallen world. We would be free to choose, but so would others, and their misdeeds could hurt us. There was a promise for enduring such a life. The second plan, a "perfect" world, but we'd be forced to do the right thing and would live subservient. We chose the first, knowing healing was available, and believing the eternal reward to be better.

I do believe that God cares for those who are oppressed, and their prayers find their way to him faster than the prayers of others. He doesn't promise to end suffering immediately, but he does promise to end it eventually, and heal the oppressed.

The existence of a God, for me, is undeniable. My faith is that he deals justly in the end.

amillionyears Thu 11-Oct-12 22:43:34

You are not offending me.

I have been trying to find what I want to say in the bible but I cant find it for now.
Somewhere it says that after you have become a Christian, if you throw it away,you cannot reenter,as you have tasted the Heavenly Banquet or somesuch,and thrown it away. At least,that is how I read that particular passage. In short,if you say to God ,thanks but no thanks,that is it. But if you say,and even say for many years "hang on,I'm not so sure about x y and z,",that is ok.

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 22:53:13

But night I can see how nice it is to think what you think but there's no evidence. There's no evidence that god hears the prayers of people suffering any quicker than anyone else's. Is he a bit deaf? As I said there are many instances of people on here thanking god for answering their prayer about their kid sleeping well last night etc. So it seems god has no trouble seeing to the minor stuff. How come there are so many more people suffering real life and death stuff in poorer countries? If god had some hierarchy to the order of prayers he deals with why would the quality of life be so vastly disproportionate according to different countries etc?

headinhands Thu 11-Oct-12 22:55:36

But million what else is a barbaric, middle eastern, bronze aged religious text going to say? It's hardly going to advocate critical thinking is it!

headinhands you are doing a great job. I just wish I had the time and intellect to respond as thoughtfully as you have done.

I do believe in a divine energy behind the Universe, I just don't think it is particularly bothered by what we do. I do like the suggestion that we are the Divine exploring its own existence, and as a hedonist I quite enjoy that thought because it makes it okay to experience all the wonderful things that life offers.

Like you, I can't get my head around why a loving God would allow such suffering to exist. And don't any Christian pipe up with promises of an after-life because that just smacks of a regime that says "Put up with all this shit because it doesn't matter as you get Paradise when you die". What a great way to control the masses.

I also think the "kill lots of people but truly repend on your deathbed and you get into heaven" versus "did a lot of good in the world but never believed so is going to hell" is a crock of shit. I feel very sorry for those Christians who believe that everybody except their breed of Christianity is going to hell. What a sad way to live your life.

amillionyears Fri 12-Oct-12 09:34:45

There are several places in the bible that indicate that not all people are able to go to Heaven.

Chrisitians dont like the suffering of others any more,or even more than non Christians. It is awful. Some Christians would like to leave earth early.

amillionyears Fri 12-Oct-12 09:39:56

Do you think I want to be sat here doing this right now? No. Sometimes I do,but other times I dont. But I have an obligation. Christians are not allowed to judge non Christians, and we do not have much of an idea who might end up in Heaven and who wont. So we talk to all non Christians equally.

madhairday Fri 12-Oct-12 12:28:58

I get sickened by the whole suffering thing too, headinhands, and get cross at Christians (including myself) who often don't do anything about it. Part of Jesus' ministry and example was to look after the poor, and his followers should be taking this very, very seriously. Many do, and it's heartening to see the number of churches involved in alleviating this suffering.

Also, I understand your abhorrence to someone saying that God answered their prayer about a parking space or whatever, when there are babies dying in the third world. However, upon talking with people in the third world, many, many of them say that God answers their prayers in amazing ways, and that they firmly believe in a God of love and justice. So I feel kind of arrogant in a way if I say that God does not concern Godself about the small things, when in people's lives across history and in the most hellish of conditions their experience has been that God does. It's difficult...

I wish I had the answer to the suffering thing, here and now. This was on my mind the other night. I have lung disease and and had an attack, the pain was so very bad I wanted to be knocked out, I did not know what to do with myself, it was absolutely horrendous - very difficult to describe. I was crying and screaming at God, asking God to take it away and why God allows pain and suffering, while knowing my pain is so little compared to so much of the suffering in the world. A friend prayed with me and the pain disappeared, evaporated, while a warmth came over me, and a whisper, like it's ok, keep with it. It was a few minutes in the storm of a consciousness of God loving in the midst of it. Then the pain came back, and went on another 2 hours before I got some relief. What was that all about? Was it a God who'd cruelly ease pain then send it back, just for a giggle like, or was it a God giving a moments reassurance, that there is all this crap in the world, but God is there in it with us? I know this is all very subjective, and could be construed as coincidence, whatever else, but it is moments like this that Christians all over the world would testify to as a peace, a knowledge that God is there and is so, so concerned, and that little things do matter.

Not that I understand it all...but I find myself still so utterly compelled by it, so satisfied to the depths of who I am.

headinhands Fri 12-Oct-12 13:32:47

mad you can't change statistics. Someone further down said god does answer the more serious prayers quickly. Facts do no support that at all. If god is meddling in the lives of people in desperately poor countries why are the figures for infant mortality etc always so much lower than the west. To look at the statistics there is nothing supernatural going on. It looks like no god is involved. There's no evidence of miracles anywhere. That's the upshot. Believe in god by all means but don't claim he is a hands on one as there is not one shred of evidence.

Thistledew Fri 12-Oct-12 14:04:54

Maybe madhairday that your act of praying was a form of meditation which allowed your mind to combat the pain signals. There is a lot of pain research that shows the brain has a huge amount of power to reduce the pain signals it receives. Hypnobirthing for example.

I don't have any quibble with people using forms of prayer or meditation to help them to find the strength internally to deal with difficulties or suffering, or even little daily trifles, but the idea that some people get special favours doled out by some Devine being because they perform a certain ritual so that Devine being sees them as special and deserving, is something I find deeply unattractive.

Thistledew Fri 12-Oct-12 15:14:39

I also wonder how people of religion perceive god apparently granting prayers to people who don't believe in god?

I had a situation a few years ago where I had worked really hard for years to complete my professional qualification, and soon before I was due to complete it, I had a stroke of misfortune that threatened to mean I could never get it completed. Years of hope and hard work would have come to nothing. I put in a huge amount of physical effort (sending out dozens of letters and CV) and calling everyone I could possibly think of to ask for favours. I even sent a mental plea to my deceased grandfather who had worked in the same profession to ask for some help. Eventually, I got a break, and one organisation went outside their normal procedures to help me, and in the end it worked out better than what I had planned in the first place.

If I was religious, I would undoubtedly said that my prayers had been answered. As I am not, I reason that it mostly came good because I had done all that I needed to do to make it happen, perhaps with a stroke of good luck that there were people who were prepared to be generous and try to help me.

If you are religious, would you say that I had prayers that were answered? If so, why would God answer prayers of someone who has no belief? If it was just a case of my own efforts and good luck, then does that mean that non-religious people are just luckier than those who are religious, as people with religion need to have Devine interference to have good things happen, whereas good things just 'happen' to people who don't believe?

headinhands Fri 12-Oct-12 16:09:18

mad I'm glad you got some comfort from your prayer but how do you cope with the dissonance? That god was soothing your pain while simultaneously ignoring the pleas of a mother whose child is dying. I wouldn't want to love a god like that. Honestly, just tell me you look at that and think 'fair enough'?

madhairday Fri 12-Oct-12 16:41:02

I wouldn't really say I got comfort from it, more an inner kind of reassurance. I knew perfectly well I have a chronic illness that is degenerating. I find a peace in knowing God is with me; that doesn't mean I don't struggle with why stuff happens. People I know find the same in even the worst of circumstances. It's subjective and impossible to quantify, thus not a logical argument in and of itself. I do not think that I performed any kind of 'ritual' which released divine blessing, not at all, I know God is not like that, I can see that because of what Jesus is like. I wouldn't want to worship any god like that either, or one who soothes one pain while ignoring another. My own stance on it is that there is a tension, a now and not yet. That the complete perfection of how things are meant to be and will be, the end of suffering, the justice that encompasses all things, is glimpsed, echoes of what will be almost.

Aware this is all somewhat un pin downable... grin

That's it, though. Experience. For me, my faith is both intellectually rigorous and emotionally and spiritually satisfying at great depth.