Saturday, 5 October 2013

Q&A #1

I've titled this "#1" as I'm expecting in the future I'll have more questions asked of me and I'll want a post the answers on this blog.  As you have probably seen, I have answered some other questions in their own separate posts.  The questions I'll answer in this post generally have shorter and/or less consequential answers.

Some of these answers are quite old, and as I'm always growing and learning, my answers to these questions may be more informed as well.  If you aren't satisfied with my answer, or have more questions for me, I would like to hear from you.

Q:  If God is complete, why does he need our worship? Doesn't that show he's lacking something?

A:  The answer to this is incredibly simple.  God doesn't need our worship.  He existed just fine before he made us.  After all, God is without end OR beginning.

Q:  Why must the bible be taken literally?

A:  If one can't take the bible literally, it's no longer trustworthy.  If the bible isn't taking literally, there can be no solid foundation for Christianity. How are we supposed to know that Jesus actually died? Maybe the whole thing was just a metaphor for something really confusing and deep. The thing is, God's Word is meant to guide, and God wouldn't give us something to help guide us and not make it so that we could understand it. And the people who translate the bible into English translate it according to the literal meanings of the original words.

Let me use an example. If I were a father, and I wanted to leave a note to my kid so that he would clean his room, I would write, "clean your room," I wouldn't write something that would confuse my kid or something that would give him a any kind of choice.

I would also like to point out that the audience of the scripture today is much different than the audience back when it was written, so it's important to understand the culture back then to understand the meaning of a few things.  You may want to read My Hermeneutics.

Q:  Why did a loving God allow sin to come into the world?

A:  The answer is part of the question.  God is loving.  He wants to be in relationship with his creation.  In order for us to truly love God, we need to have the choice whether to love him or not.  If we were forced to love God then it wouldn't really be love.  When we choose not to love God, we are sinning.  We are the authors of sin, not God.

Q:  If God's love is unconditional, why would he send us to Hell, or allow us to go there? That sounds like a love that's very conditional.

A:  Love that is UNCONDITIONAL. Now, I've answered other people who ask how can a loving God allow people to go to Hell, but this word "unconditional" kinda messes me up a bit. I realize that this term is used numerous times, but I couldn't find that specific word when I did a search on the online bible... in a number of different translations. I found it in the Message, but that isn't really a translation, it's more a paraphrase, which I don't like to use too often. Neither the NIV, nor the NKJV had this term. But there are many occasions where "love" is paired up with the word "unfailing"... which may be where the word "unconditional” comes from.

For the MOST part, "unconditional" is true, but there IS one condition that I can think of... the condition that we are still alive...God is Love, and there is NO condition where that will change. But, Hell is COMPLETE separation from God, so how can God display love towards what he is separated from?

God IS Love - perfect Love.  Because God is perfect, he cannot be in the presence of imperfection - he can't be in the presence of those who have defiled themselves by disobeying Him, going astray from the rules that he has set forth.

So, is God's love unconditional? No, there's one condition. Is God's love unfailing? Well, if God let a sinful person be in his holy presence (ie. Heaven), then the answer would be no... think of how a shadow can make something no longer completely light. So God's love IS unfailing.

Q:  Just as there can only be light if there is darkness, there can only be good if there is evil.  True or False?

A:  False.  God knows all things.  He knew what light and darkness, evil and good were before he created anything.  This being said, God knew that he was good, darkness/evil didn't need to exist in order for God to be The Holy One.

Q:  Suffering is necessary for us to know joy.  True or False?

A:  False.  It's easiest for me to explain this using an illustration.  Imagine a calm lake during the evening, reflecting a brilliant sunset. Now, does one have to know what waves look like in order to appreciate the beauty of that scene?  Knowing how ominous dark and cresting waves look may amplify the beauty of a calm lake, but it doesn't create the actual beauty.  I'll try another one... when your are sick, you realize you didn't fully appreciate how good it was when you were healthy. That doesn't mean that you are any more healthy now that you know what sickness feels like.

Q:  Was the serpent in Genesis 3 actually the devil?

A:  Most scholars would agree that the serpent in Genesis 3 is indeed the devil.  From what I can tell, this is mostly derived from the passage:

Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
The first part of Genesis 3:1 (NIV) says "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made."   If "the serpent" was just referring to a snake, then the passage would read "now the serpent was more crafty than any of the OTHER wild animals..."
In addition to that, there is the curse from God to the serpent in Genesis 3:14-15 (NIV)
 14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,
       "Cursed are you above all the livestock
       and all the wild animals!
       You will crawl on your belly
       and you will eat dust
       all the days of your life.
 15 And I will put enmity
       between you and the woman,
       and between your offspring and hers;
       he will crush your head,
       and you will strike his heel."

The snake is not the only animal that is in conflict with human kind.  Why then does it specify in the curse "enmity between you and the woman"?

I can't forget the most obvious information that leads me to believe that the serpent was Satan and not just a snake.  It talked.  Now how did it talk if it's just a snake?  One may say as an argument that maybe all animals talked in the garden of Eden.  How so?  This is as ridiculous as saying that there are undetectable pink unicorns flying around during rainstorms.  As much as it would be incredibly fascinating, we don't exactly live in Narnia.

When God (through Moses) wrote the book of Genesis, he was trying to relate to an ancient people.  Would the ancient people sooner accept the story to mean that there was a talking snake, or that the serpent was Satan?  Being as no further Jewish writing depicts talking animals (without divine aid), I'd be willing to say that the serpent was indeed the devil.

Q:  If God is truly all-knowing, why did he create something that he knew he would eventually destroy with the flood?

A:  Everything that God does he does for the furthering of his glory.  Our purpose as image bearers of God is to reflect God's glory and worship him.  That is why he created us, to further display His glory.

As humans, we are a stupid race that get it wrong most of the time.  In the time of Noah, human kind was so self-absorbed that they turned their back on God.  At that point, the bible says that God was sad that he made humans.  One may want to argue that this grief shows regret.  But not so.  Regret means admitting a mistake, and God doesn't make mistakes.  Just as a parent may feel sorrow at times for having a child, and needing to discipline them, that doesn't mean they regret ever having the child.

How does creating something and then destroying it glorify God in any way?  First off, God is perfect and he doesn’t make mistakes, he doesn’t need to answer to us.  But to further attempt to come up with an explanation for this question, this is the way I see it.

The flood was a symbol for what God can and did do out of his just nature.  It was what we deserve.  This even should be set up as an example to us to see the extent God would do to rid the world of sin, but also as somewhat of an indicator of what level of patience and love he has by letting us live on.  God is to be glorified because he allows us, insignificant/disobedient humans a chance to live on.

Q:  Why are matters of the Occult wrong?

A:  I don't really think ALL matters of the Occult is wrong. Most cults have little seeds of truth here and there in them, but then they get warped. My answer to the question: the things pertaining to the Occult that are wrong are the things that contradict with what the bible says.

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