Children’s Book “God’s Design” and its Teachings on Homosexuality as a Distortion of God’s Design

God’s Design, Homosexuality, Complementarianism, John Piper & Wayne Grudem’s Influence

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-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the titles below are chapters in the book.

This week children, we will talk about homosexuality. This topic may potentially become heated. I ask that discussion please be civil and hope that we can acknowledge that as fellow Christians (better yet, as fellow human beings), we recognize that we may come to different conclusions. I ask that in our discussion we always maintain that it is the person that God created that is most valued and not our ideas or theology.

God’s Good Design Distorted

This chapter starts off by explaining that male and female elephants make baby elephants and it is against God’s design for an elephant and a camel to come together to make a baby. Well, that makes sense. I mean, can you imagine a camel trying to mate with an elephant?  But how do you explain how a mule is made? Sure, a horse and donkey are similar enough to mate, but they are not the same exact species.

Continuing, the authors talk about how it takes a married man and woman to make a baby. Well, unmarried men and women can make babies too, right? But, yes, it does take a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm to make a baby. And, if continuing the human population is all that sex is about, then I guess the book has made its point.

The authors define homosexuality as a girl loves a girl, and a boy loves a boy. Homosexuality is against God’s design and it “brings much sadness and pain.” Just like it is against nature for a camel to elephant to join together. Whispers have s.e.x. If we’re using animals as the example, homosexual courtship and sex is not uncommon in the animal kingdom. The most widely known animals to engage in homosexual activity are giraffes, killer whales, snails, flamingos and dolphins. Of course there’s also Stan and Olli, king penguins at the Berlin Zoo who have never shown interest in other female penguins. How is this part of nature explained to children?

God’s Design teaches children that people who are LGBTQ think they know what is right better than God: they are foolish, their thinking is “mixed up,” they don’t respect God, and they are sinful and sad. It is fully understandable when people do not agree or understand homosexuality. The problem is in the language of “you are foolish” or “you cannot change what God created” or “you are sinful.” This language causes too much heartache in the LGBTQ community as well as resulting suicide, shunning and homelessness.

At the end of this chapter, the authors recommend the book, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality by Joseph Nicolosi and Linda Ames Nicolosi, as if homosexuality can be prevented.

The following activity is also recommended:

With your family, list ten good things about being a boy and ten good things about being a girl. Fathers, do an activity with your son that affirms his manhood; mothers, do an activity with your daughter that affirms her womanhood. Thank God for His good design in your life.

What activities can you think of that affirm gender?

Recovering God’s Good Design

How does one change distorted views of manhood and womanhood? Trust. Trust and obey…for there’s no other way…

The rest of this chapter sets up the next six chapters of the book by explaining what it means to be a man and a woman. When it comes to being a man, the authors refer to John Piper and Wayne Grudem’s, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism. God wants a man to “lead, provide for and protect” his family. If you want to be a godly man, you must:

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16: 13, ESV)

Or, is it the NIV version?

Be on guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong (1 Corithians 16: 13)

Or, the ISV version?

Remain alert. Keep standing firm in your faith. Keep on being courageous and strong. (1 Corinthians 16: 13)

Or, better yet, The Message version?

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping. (1 Corinthians 16: 13)

As far as being a woman, again, the authors refer to Piper’s definition of true womanhood. God made women to “be content to support, accept and encourage strength and leadership in a man.” Women seem to have no autonomy but are defined solely by the men in their lives.

To become a godly woman, it is advised to follow:

Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3: 3 -4, ESV)

And with these, dear children,  we learn to trust Jesus and grow to become the people God designed us to be.

Your final activity from this chapter is:

Boys – talk with your dad about how you can start to practice leading, providing, and protecting your family. Take a practical step toward biblical manhood this week. Girls – talk with your mom about how you can start to practice supporting, encouraging, and helping. Take a practical step toward biblical womanhood this week.

Can you imagine the light bulb turning on for some little boy when he sees how much power he can have over his sister? If a little boy is practicing biblical manhood, does that mean mom has to submit to him? For girls practicing biblical womanhood, what is the line of submitting as a child and submitting as a woman/wife?

****

If you would like to read prior reviews on God’s Design, here are links in the order of the book chapters:

Know Thyself, Creature

Headship, Helper, and an Answer We Already Knew

Rebellion, a.k.a. It’s All Her Fault!

257 comments on “Children’s Book “God’s Design” and its Teachings on Homosexuality as a Distortion of God’s Design

  1. lydia00 wrote:
    Where is “original” sin taught?

    It has no explicit declaration in Scripture one way or the other.
    It’s derived from various proof texts which in turn are supposed to be the support beams and joists for the doctrine.

    After doing my own research on Scripture as an origin for what’s taught in Western Christianity, I categorically reject the doctrine of original sin along with, ‘spiritual death’, and ‘broken fellowship’ at the fall of humankind.

    I would no more declare my kids and grand kids ‘spiritually dead’ and ‘break fellowship’ with them after they were talked into a horrible mistake by someone who hates them and is jealous of them for their beauty and autonomy, than I would for myself.

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  2. Muff,

    As you well know, There is nothing in Hebrew thinking or Torah interpretation on such a concept as “original” sin. There is plenty on right and wrong, good and evil and the human capacity to know the difference and make the right choices. But as we know, easier said than done! But not impossible.

    Original sin leads to wrong understanding of Jesus Christ, The Cross and Resurrection.

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  3. Lydia, I would love to know your thoughts on death, salvation (in the OT and NT) and the consequence of rejecting Christ and God (and doing evil).

    It’s amazing when you come away from religious powerhouses and start to read the Bible -honestly- without assuming to know what it all means haha

    You start to see words differently and you ask questions you never did and you see expectations you didn’t realise were there.

    I like your comment Muff. I wouldn’t dare teach my child that if they don’t believe in God then he’ll torture them with fire FOREVER.

    How disgusting is that doctrine?

    But it’s the one doctrine uniting believers today.

    Because the wages of sin is eternal torture!

    🙈

    As Lydia said, right and wrong good and evil.

    It’s not rocket science for me… I just ask God to open my eyes to my bad behaviour so I can acknowledge it and move on.

    Guess that’s what differentiates us from those who JESUS said, “you profess me with your lips but your hearts are far from me”.

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  4. Salty,

    There is so much to it I don’t know where to begin. But you know, we can start with Jesus’ first teaching recorded as to what he was about. Repent and believe. Repent does not mean penance. In the 1st century, that audience would have heard: completely change your mind and direction. It means change from inside out. Jesus was assuming they could change their thinking and behavior! Think of it! Most believers today think we cant!

    The backdrop was not just Jewish religious leader oppression but zealotry because of the occupation. Still, Jesus focused mostly on the religious leaders of His own tribe.

    I don’t discount scary passages like Hebrews 10 or Matthew 7. Or the list of dont passages in Galatians, etc. Or that liars aren’t welcome as we read in Rev. I take into account they are written to people who know better and are serious warnings.

    I think our Lord takes ignorance into consideration as we see in 1 Tim 1. But if we know the truth and trample on it, we have chosen for ourselves. Not God. It’s not only what God in the flesh has done for us, it is our response to it. It’s not rocket science but many have turned it into something very complicated so you perpetually need someone to guide you. That is a lie. And it’s not about being door mats or fake nice either. It’s about being light in the world. True, trustworthy people who love both justice and mercy.

    You might be able to see why I view Calvinism and even some of basic Protestant doctrine as a scourge. (Same with Catholicism). These are man made religions in my view. I kept coming up on cognitive dissonance in practice. Yet, I think decent people seeking truth practice in them.

    The Cals accuse me of being man centered. Hee hee. So is God, btw. So was God in the Flesh as He walked here. It IS all about us. We are His Image. So the question becomes, what am I going to do about being His Image here and now?

    I am ranting now but oh how much time we waste! I was thinking youth group. They want them navel gazing and contemplating their sin all the time. How about encouragement and help to be light if the world kingdom people who go on to cure disease, invent new products, build things, restore things, etc, etc?

    You can imagine my shock in study when I found out the words “kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of heaven” meant here and now. It changes everything. The “kingdom” is within believers as our Lord dwells there-if we allow it. And why do we think struggling with God is so horrible? It is the normal! It is called wisdom. Ironically it’s what Israel means!

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  5. I could cry.

    “You can imagine my shock in study when I found out the words “kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of heaven” meant here and now. It changes everything. The “kingdom” is within believers as our Lord dwells there-if we allow it. And why do we think struggling with God is so horrible? It is the normal! It is called wisdom. Ironically it’s what Israel means!”

    Lydia. I get you.

    The Kingdom of God/Heaven topic was me 6 months ago.

    I completely agree with your conclusion.

    It starts here and now.

    It is not all about the ‘heaven party’.

    Jesus actually wants us to take care of the widows and orphans ha!

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  6. “It is not all about the ‘heaven party”

    Exactly! Love the way you put it. I have this image in my head when I hear people begging Jesus to come back. I hear Him saying, You want me to fix it all but what are YOU doing in your tiny corner of the world to fix it while you have me to lean on?

    I honestly feel like too many churches have become spiritual North Koreas and sadly, people like it.

    When Christians tell me what sinners they are, I now thank them for the warning. You see, horrible things were done to my family by Christians. Some of them pastors. I never had such things done to us by unbelievers. It is really quite shocking. So now, I take them at their word that they are still sinning all the time and protect myself and my family from them accordingly. If they still cannot do the right things, be honest and trustworthy and keep from harming others, they should be avoided.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Salty –

    “It starts here and now.

    “It is not all about the ‘heaven party’”

    lydia00 – “When Christians tell me what sinners they are, I now thank them for the warning.”

    Oh my goodness, both of you! Yes and Yes!!!

    When I hear people say “I am no worse a sinner” to something such as child abuse or rape or violence I want to come back with, “Really, you could rape someone too?! Thanks for letting me know.” It’s absurd talk that minimizes the abuse.

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  8. @ lydia00 :
    I know it well. I survived for almost 2 decades in the Calvary Chapel brand. Theirs is a kind of bible-cult in which the Bible is reduced to heavy black dots and bullet points all connected by heavy dark lines that have no wiggle room — unless of course said wiggle room will benefit their clergy and leadership structure. Much like what Wahhabi Islam has done with their Qur’an.

    I now believe that the Bible “teaches” just two things:

    1) Be a Mensch (Yiddish for good person and genuine human being)
    2) Don’t do the kinds of things to others that you wouldn’t want done to yourself.

    The rest is just commentary.

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  9. “I wouldn’t dare teach my child that if they don’t believe in God then he’ll torture them with fire FOREVER.”

    That however is a complete caricature of Christian teaching on judgment and God’s justice. With one exception I don’t believe any version uses the word ‘torture’ to describe the fate of the wicked.

    There are various metaphors used to illustrate the doctrine and sober reality of hell, almost all of it coming from the lips fo Jesus himself, as though God would not entrust the revelation of his judgment to anyone else.

    As I commented earlier, we seem to have lost all sense of the anger of God, and I reckon this must go a long way to explaining so much of what is going on in churches today that is being covered up.

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  10. I think that people mean very different things by “original sin”. To me, it simply means our children are only human, just like us. They will make some wrong choices, they will make mistakes, they will not live sinless lives of perfection any more than any of us do. The fact that Jesus is our redemption makes all of that a moot point.

    Kas- “With one exception I don’t believe any version uses the word ‘torture’ to describe the fate of the wicked.”

    Kas, have you ever been burned? Have you ever been badly burned?
    Can you imagine being fully trapped in a burning fire, endlessly, without relief, forever? What other word than torture would adequately describe that?

    I just can’t imagine feasting and partying in heaven knowing that countless souls are undergoing that suffering in hell. To me, it seems more like the Borgias, entertaining guests and feasting in their mansion while their enemies are being tortured in the dungeon below, than Jesus Christ.

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  11. Kas, “I’m not sure complementarianism has that much to do with it, does it? Unless egalitarianism does indeed lead down the road of rejecting a gender binary, and confusing male and female.”

    This has nothing to do with binaries or confusion, I just don’t see the point to excoriating and destroying human beings for something they have no control over. I don’t know of a single time it has been helpful to anyone to do so.

    “I think it is good to see a Christian organisation taking a stand on this issue when so many are starting to cave in.”

    The thing I find perplexing about this thought is that it assumes Christians are in some kind of advisory position of control. I’m not really sure what Christians expect to accomplish by “taking a stand” in this area? What is the end goal?

    Mark, “We assume that God is going to work on the biggest sin first (which we define as homosexuality), and when God doesn’t cure a converted person of homosexuality in a perceptibly short time, we then doubt that person’s faith and march them down the road to excommunication. But, maybe there are, in God’s eyes, more important things to work on.”

    This is an interesting thought when you realize we don’t have a single credible example of God curing any individual of homosexuality. Nor do we have any example of laws against it putting a stop to it, it has only led to secrecy and hypocrisy, and high levels of anguish and suicide. Maybe, indeed, in God’s eyes there are more important things?

    Just as an aside, has anyone noticed in the Romans account that homosexuality appears to be listed as one of the results of the curse, not the cause of it?

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  12. “I think that people mean very different things by “original sin”. To me, it simply means our children are only human, just like us. They will make some wrong choices, they will make mistakes, they will not live sinless lives of perfection any more than any of us do. The fact that Jesus is our redemption makes all of that a moot point.”

    This is just something to consider because I totally understand where you are coming from.

    Being human is supposed to be a wonderful thing. We were created in His image. When we do evil we are less human not more human.

    There is no expectation of sinless perfection. What does that even look like? Jesus got angry, tired, frustrated, etc. I am still trying to figure out where that thinking c omes from? A law/grace dichotomy? Our choice is not sinless perfection or saved sinners who just can’t stop sinning.

    Even the Jews knew they could keep the law but chose not to. Moses made that clear in Duet 24. So it’s not a mean God setting up impossible standards we can never attain. We tend to do that.

    Being human is good. It’s His Image. Doing evil is being less than human.

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  13. KAS, please provide these burning in fire verses from the mouth of Jesus.

    I’ve re- read those verses used to teach everlasting burning (torture) and honestly considered other perspectives (annihilation and universal redemption).

    The doctrine of an eternal flame fit features NOWHERE in Acts. Even at Mars Hill… No eternal flame party.

    IF it were a real place to fear you would imagine Paul might have used it in his gospel presentations in Acts. No?

    I believe God is just.

    But the God I know isn’t a monster.

    Jesus would never have tortured than woman brought to him caught in the act of adultery.

    Not my Jesus.

    Perish, destroy, consumed.

    Romans 9- clay destroyed by the potter.

    You might want to prayerfully reconsider the doctrine of ECT.

    Charge me with making God less scary.

    But you have to charge Paul also.

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  14. Salty, duh. Ha ha. I was thinking PSA. Penal Substitutionary Atonement. The Angry Big God punishing the lesser god because he needed an innocent outlet for his seething wrath. We are next if we were not chosen by this angry God before the he created humans.

    It sounds like angry Greek gods where the humans have no volition, doesn’t it?

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  15. I think Romans 5 is a good start. 6-8: “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

    12-14: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned – for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”

    18-19: “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.”

    Also, 1 Cor 15:20-22: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

    Also, Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.”

    Ezekiel 11:19-20: “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.”

    Ezekiel 36:25-28,31-32: “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. … Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. I am not doing this for your sake,” declares the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!”

    To summarize, when Adam sinned, he sinned on behalf of all of creation, and thus it was just for God to punish all of creation for Adam’s sin. Adam’s sin transferred creation from life under God to death under Satan, and those Adam bore were born into rebellion against God. In the same way, Jesus purchased the right in his death to redeem those who were naturally enemies of God back into the kingdom of life under God. Original sin is primarily the inability for us to choose to serve God, the heart of stone. It is the Pearlites and conservative Calvinists that have somehow twisted this doctrine (and likewise Total Depravity) into some idea that babies are manipulative sinners, and likewise, that everything non-Christians do is somehow totally wicked. That is not the point of original sin, the point is that we are born into enemy territory and we need to have our heart of stone replaced with a heart of flesh to choose and serve God.

    The Pearlite view was similar to the view the disciples had:

    Mark 10:13-16: “And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.”

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  16. Mark,the difference between us is I don’t read those passages through a determinist filter.

    I think 1 John lays it out better. We have all sinned yet we are to walk the light and if we keep on sinning (doing wrong/evil to others) then…..

    29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
    .
    Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

    7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

    Evidently, we can change. But I do think there is a lot of confusion on what is sin. To some, our very existence is sin.

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  17. “To summarize, when Adam sinned, he sinned on behalf of all of creation, and thus it was just for God to punish all of creation for Adam’s sin. Adam’s sin transferred creation from life under God to death under Satan, and those Adam bore were born into rebellion against God”

    Mark, I think you are taking pre enlightenment metaphorical/allegorical communication and running it through a post enlightenment literal translation device.

    For example, what would you think of grand parents who punished their grandson son for their daughters crimes? Yet, that is what you are describing of God.

    Adam is an archetype. Adam means human. You are actually claiming that everyone from Adam to Jesus Christ was punished for his eating from the tree. Or, his eating from the tree turned subsequent humans into robots who had no choice but to do evil until Jesus came back.

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  18. Lydia, I don’t think Paul talked about a figurative Adam, and I don’t think the genealogies of Christ were figurative.

    I don’t get to pick and choose what passages of scripture I consider to be the word of God. So, just because there are passages that seem to indicate choice and other passages that seem to indicate election and predestination, doesn’t mean I get to ignore one in favor of the other. The same truths can be taught from different perspectives that might seem on the surface to be contradictory. So, they show the same truths from different facets, and we must reconcile the object to understand why one facet or another that seems contradictory on the surface really isn’t.

    This is part of how I’ve struggled with complementarianism. There are passages that seem VERY complementarian, and I have to reconcile what they say with the effects I’ve seen from different interpretations. I read some pretty good papers that explain a lot of what Paul said, and I have a working theory that fills in some blanks, but it’s a struggle. And the struggle I’ve had is that I see a direct correlation between complementarian views and patriarchy.

    I have seen the doctrine of original sin and total depravity completely butchered in my old church, in a way that essentially makes it impossible to “help” non-Christians, but I don’t think of that as a logical conclusion.

    I’ve gotten in trouble here before because I believe that the Old Testament still is applicable. I’m not ready to take scissors to my Bible just so it says what I want it to say.

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  19. “Lydia, I don’t think Paul talked about a figurative Adam, and I don’t think the genealogies of Christ were figurative.

    I don’t get to pick and choose what passages of scripture I consider to be the word of God. ”

    But I do? How about I have another perspective?

    The genealogy made a bigger point for the Jews. Yet, Adam means human.

    Good decent Christ following people read Genesis as an Ancient Near East creation narrative. If you read other ones, you will see the similarities in style. In Genesis we see a good God who creates, loves and provides rescue for his creatures made in his image. Totally different from the pagan gods. Torah was Most likey written down from oral tradition during or after the Babylonian exile by Scribner’s.

    The “word of God” is Jesus Christ. Not scripture. Scripture is referred to as scripture or” it is written’ etc.

    Mark, we believe a lot of things that just aren’t so because someone taught it and we never checked it out. A horrible teaching is that the ancients communicated like we today. We discount literary devices very prevalent then such as hyperbole, allegory, etc. Example, do you really believe David was begging God to dash babies heads against rocks and God answered his request by doing it? Or, was it hyperbole used in a lament against those doing harm to the Jews? What part of the is literal?

    The inerrancy folks have ruined scripture for us and turned it into a club and code rule book for every situation in every era.
    .we will have to agree to disagree. When people tell me they can’t pick and choose Scripture (who was doing that? Romans is one of the worst for being cherry picked and used as a treatise on individual salvation when it is an explanation on the Jew/Gentile dichotomy in the body) It’s time to end the convo.

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  20. We discount literary devices very prevalent then such as hyperbole, allegory, etc.

    Puns. There is a book in the old testament that is chock full of puns you just don’t get in English.

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  21. I’m not opposed to passages being taken different ways. I don’t think Jesus was forbidding divorce when he used a rhetorical device to explain the OT sanctioning it, nor do I think he was saying that body parts can cause us to sin. Jesus used a lot of rhetorical techniques to wake his audience up to what he was saying, and many of those we understand. The Pharisees were not a literal “brood of vipers”. Jesus talked about the “leaven of the Pharisees”, and even the disciples didn’t get it at first.

    If we disagree, we disagree. Inerrancy is not, IMO, a fundamental belief that must be held by all Christians. But, I’m not going to be convinced by an argument that a priori requires me to ditch inerrancy.

    FYI: my wife corrected me. Pearl actually doesn’t believe in original sin. He also thinks that we can attain sinlessness in this life. So that puts his teachings in an entirely different light. The people I’ve read/watched that hold to the discipline style of Pearl are basing it on a misapplication of original sin and total depravity.

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  22. Shy1 wrote :

    “I just can’t imagine feasting and partying in heaven knowing that countless souls are undergoing that suffering in hell. To me, it seems more like the Borgias, entertaining guests and feasting in their mansion while their enemies are being tortured in the dungeon below, than Jesus Christ.”

    Nor can I go along with it. My conscience and moral compass as a human being will simply not let me. Why create and maintain a monument (hell) to the hatred and cruelty of the devil? Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, not continue them for all eternity.

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  23. Eternal death means eternal separation from the God who is life. Why would someone want to live forerver with a God they don’t want to be with now?

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  24. I’m a bit hesitant to be wading in here (or rather, diving in, since these seem to be fairly deep waters), but I have a few things to say.

    For my part, I believe that hell exists, that it is eternal, and that once someone’s in, there’s no way out. That’s what I understand of it, based on passages in the Bible, including Jesus’ own words. It’s a hard thing to think about, especially when I consider the possibility of people I know and love ending in that state. Still, the doctrine seems to have the support of scripture, and I’ve found that C.S. Lewis’ writings on the subject make sense to me. I hope no one will mind if I share a few of his thoughts, and mine.

    I just can’t imagine feasting and partying in heaven knowing that countless souls are undergoing that suffering in hell. To me, it seems more like the Borgias, entertaining guests and feasting in their mansion while their enemies are being tortured in the dungeon below, than Jesus Christ.

    Lewis addressed this objection, especially in “The Problem of Pain”. He noted that it’s based on the assumption that hell and heaven are somehow parallel to each other, in the same way that the histories of England and America are. He also made the point that this might not be accurate. Whenever the fate of the lost is mentioned in the Bible, it always sounds so… final. As though it’s the end of their story, not the beginning of a new story, to borrow Lewis’ words.

    This doesn’t negate the idea that hell is eternal, or that the sufferings of those in hell are continuous. But I believe that the redeemed can still rejoice forever with their Lord. It’s not because they’ve stopped caring about the lost, but because they know there’s nothing more to be done for them.

    I’m not particular about the images of fire and burning, though I think the notion of torment that they evoke is accurate enough. My own opinion is that the torments of hell are self-induced, brought on in part by the realization of what the wicked have lost, by cutting themselves off from the only source of blessing that there is.

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  25. “I now believe that the Bible “teaches” just two things:

    1) Be a Mensch (Yiddish for good person and genuine human being)
    2) Don’t do the kinds of things to others that you wouldn’t want done to yourself.

    The rest is just commentary.” – Muff Potter

    Amen!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Serving and Irene,

    If you look at passages which feature these words:

    Perish
    Destroy
    Destruction
    Consume
    and more…

    things get a bit confusing.

    If an apple perishes or is destroyed or is consumed then it’s gone.

    There are a few doctrines that evangelicals just assume are correct. Another is the immortality of ‘the soul’ (the person-breath of life).

    The gift of God is eternal life.

    Why does immortal person need to be gifted something if they already possess it?

    The word is in the Bible, definitely.

    But when you read the references to it with the OT in mind it seems to not mean what we have all been told it means.

    Please read Paul’s speeches in acts where he shares the gospel. You find no such ‘hell’ in his speeches. Ask yourself why this is?

    They feared death. They feared God’s wrath (death).

    God is not a monster. He would not torture a 16 yr old Afghani kid who has never heard of Jesus and been abused since a child.

    God is merciful.

    Romans 9. The clay and the potter.

    Read it 😊

    Like

  27. And I totally agree with Muff.

    You can be as religious as you want but if you treat people like 💩💩💩 then it’s in vain.

    I love God and cannot deny Him. I believe Jesus is the Saviour of the world.

    Now I try to ‘get on with it’.

    Jesus said to love God and others. Putting others before ourselves. For me this is a deliberate effort and choice to do and requires action and submission to God.

    For believers who rant on about being such a lowly sinner all day long I’d be tempted to say, “get up and get over it. It was dealt with 2000 years ago. Now go and love people and stop being an idiot”.

    Not 🚀 Science

    Like

  28. “Lydia, when you are making up stuff about everyone not having sin, be careful or you won’t need a savior either.”

    Is that what I communicated?

    Actually, I think people CHOOSE it.

    Like

  29. Irene, I fear my response sounds Flippant. This is a huge topic that goes against all ingrained thinking.

    The first humans chose to use ignore God. Then God provided rescue over and over. He even went to the trouble to come to earth to show us what being human was about. Even that has not been enough. What do we do with a fully human God in the flesh? We usually err on one side or the other. Do we grasp that sin brings death? Do we think it is so powerful that Jesus Christ has to keep providing rescue over and over to the same person for life. Yet many believe there are Christian molesters who had a weak moment. Or adulterers who are just human.

    I don’t think struggling with God is sin. I think it is life. Our flesh is corrupted as is the earth but Resurrection means new life and we have the indwelling power at our disposal to live new life. Not easy!

    We talk a lot about the cross but rarely about the meaning of the resurrection. They go together. Jesus is not the only young Jewish man to be crucified from that era. He was only guilty of defying the religious leaders. (That should make us think) The resurrection must go with the cross. We, as believers, are responsible to live a new life. Not revel in excuses for doing wrong. We must endeavor to walk in the light. If we, the followers, are not decent, honest, trust worthy people who love justice and mercy then what is the point? Fire insurance?

    Like

  30. “Lewis addressed this objection, especially in “The Problem of Pain”. He noted that it’s based on the assumption that hell and heaven are somehow parallel to each other, in the same way that the histories of England and America are. He also made the point that this might not be accurate. Whenever the fate of the lost is mentioned in the Bible, it always sounds so… final. As though it’s the end of their story, not the beginning of a new story, to borrow Lewis’ words.”

    Yeah, I don’t see a parallel, either, because I am not convinced we even get the concept of immediate heaven, redeemed earth, right.

    I just know that the more I looked into heaven/hell comparing OT mentions to NT, the more vague and confusing it became. Some references to what we define as hell are actual places. Like Gehenna. Which was a valley below Jerusalem where the Pagans made sacrifices to Molech. Metaphorical? Allegory? It explains the fire and sulphur reference.

    I find it all fascinating and interesting to discuss but the more I looked, the more I Thought our Lord was more focused on what we believe and do while here. .I also could not shake the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. New Life!

    Like

  31. Btw, lest anyone misunderstand. When I reference Gehenna and Molech, I don’t think it refers to God is making the sacrifice. It’s the evil One. We choose God. Or, not. We choose Life…..or not.

    Like

  32. I hate to comment so much but really appreciate the discussion. So many church people won’t discuss the hard stuff! And it becomes indoctrination not learning.

    One thing that kept unnerving me in seeking answers were the characteristics of evil which is why I think struggling with God is so important. Evil most often presents itself as right thinking, good, beautiful, caring, etc. It defines and redefines for us. An angel of light. Deceit are really lies. Deceit is not easy to spot. If only evil presented itself with horns and a pitchfork, we would not be so easily taken by it or those in it. I think this is why it is good to analyze, think, reason, and struggle with truth from God. It is good to question what we are taught. It is good to question interpretations, etc. It is good to sharpen iron.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. If an apple perishes or is destroyed or is consumed then it’s gone.

    Is it? I agree that it ceases to exist as an apple, but it likely becomes something else.

    Lewis broached this subject in the same chapter that I referenced above, using the example of burning a piece of wood. The wood isn’t simply annihilated — there are ashes and smoke left. To have been a log means now being those things.

    So even assuming that it is possible for a human soul to be “destroyed”, in some sense, the state of “to have been a human soul” might then be possible. And perhaps that state would be one description of hell.

    The gift of God is eternal life. Why does immortal person need to be gifted something if they already possess it?

    Perhaps the “eternal life” which God gives us through Jesus isn’t the opposite of death, but of eternal misery. Not just existence that lasts forever, but one that can truly be called “life”, and that we can enjoy forever, in contrast to the “second death”.

    God is not a monster. He would not torture a 16 yr old Afghani kid who has never heard of Jesus and been abused since a child.

    I agree with you, Salty — not because I don’t believe in hell, but because I trust that such a child still has the chance for eternal life. The idea that some people are condemned simply by accident of birth or circumstance is one that I can’t accept. It simply conflicts too much with what I believe about God’s mercy and justice.

    And yes, I agree that God is merciful. My acceptance of the doctrine of eternal hell isn’t due to doubting God’s mercy. I just question whether it’s possible for a soul to be utterly destroyed. And if it can’t be, what other alternative is there?

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  34. “We talk a lot about the cross but rarely about the meaning of the resurrection.”

    The resurrection is the whole point.

    It’s our hope!

    From what?

    (Death) 😝🙋🚀

    Everyone is still stuck on the cross hahaha like our ‘cousins’ in Rome.

    Homework: 1 Corinthians 15!

    Read it. Turn on cheesy music & dance 💃

    “Ohhhh victory, in Jeeeesus”

    Like

  35. Salty: KAS, please provide these burning in fire verses from the mouth of Jesus.

    If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.

    … it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.

    … thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

    So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.

    …while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth

    The fire that fell on Sodom was ‘eternal’. Some compromising evangelicals badly need to wake up to this fact.

    These sayings are from Jesus himself. They are symbolic, for example, hell is both unquenchable fire and outer darkness, the worm not dying speaks of an eternal grave. Although symbolic, symbolic of what?

    Surely the intention here is warn us in unmistakable language as to where sin, rebellion and evildoing will eventually take us. The book of Revelation, also coming direct from Jesus, also uses this imagery of fire a lot, of the eternal torment (not torture) of the wicked.

    It is a very sombre subject. It ought to make us fear God more.

    I agree with you that Acts does not mention hell, it does not use this as a means of evangelism – although judgement is mentioned. Acts also contains no reference to the love of God either – in fact apart from the cross, there is no verse anywhere that states that God ‘loves’ unbelievers. Experiencing the love of God is essentially something for believers only. If the whole world believed, the whole world would experience it!

    Hell will be created for the devil and his angels, it is not the intention of God that any human being should end up there, and he has spared nothing to provide salvation from this terrible fate.

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  36. KAS,

    I know these verses. Let’s go:

    “Salty: KAS, please provide these burning in fire verses from the mouth of Jesus.

    If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.”

    Salty – if you throw branches into a literal fire are they still burning 1 year later? How about 50 years?

    “… it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.”

    Salty – do we enter ‘life’ with our cut off earthly hands, do we?

    “… thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”

    Salty- what’s a worm? Interpreting this through your ECT lens.

    “So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”

    Salty- no eternal conscious torment here. I imagine if I were thrown into fire I’d likely weep and gnash teeth too.

    “…while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth”

    Salty- so what is it? Eternal fire or outer darkness? Is eternal fire now outer darkness?

    “The fire that fell on Sodom was ‘eternal’. Some compromising evangelicals badly need to wake up to this fact.”

    Salty- the fire that fell on Sodom isn’t still burning is it? No, it’s not.

    “These sayings are from Jesus himself. They are symbolic, for example, hell is both unquenchable fire and outer darkness, the worm not dying speaks of an eternal grave. Although symbolic, symbolic of what?”

    Salty- an eternal grave! Now you’re getting warmer. 🤔😊

    “Surely the intention here is warn us in unmistakable language as to where sin, rebellion and evildoing will eventually take us. The book of Revelation, also coming direct from Jesus, also uses this imagery of fire a lot, of the eternal torment (not torture) of the wicked.

    It is a very sombre subject. It ought to make us fear God more.

    I agree with you that Acts does not mention hell, it does not use this as a means of evangelism – although judgement is mentioned. Acts also contains no reference to the love of God either – in fact apart from the cross, there is no verse anywhere that states that God ‘loves’ unbelievers. Experiencing the love of God is essentially something for believers only. If the whole world believed, the whole world would experience it!”

    KAS, if eternal burning is what ‘hell’ is then there would be more said about it. The so called eternal conscious torment passages are really stretched.

    Employing use of the brain for just a minute:

    After reading Romans 9… do you come away thinking that after God has destroyed his piece of pottery clay he’s going to chuck it in an oven for 5 billion years?

    No.

    I don’t disagree that the end of the wicked isn’t pleasant. But I’m leaning more towards annihilation.

    I just cannot reconcile the Jesus I know which the doctrine of ECT.

    Is it possible KAS that God will simply not resurrect the evil to LIFE but will destroy them (darkness forever) ??

    Like

  37. “there is no verse anywhere that states that God ‘loves’ unbelievers. Experiencing the love of God is essentially something for believers only.”

    “21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

    23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10

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  38. “there is no verse anywhere that states that God ‘loves’ unbelievers. Experiencing the love of God is essentially something for believers only.”

    I am sure I will think of more as the day wears on. It is a great recall exercise.

    37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

    34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

    I think you are conflating concepts of love and relationship. To bring it to our level we might equate his love for his created beings with parental love. You will love a child who has turned away like the Prodigal while not forcing your will on them. That child chose to turn away but that does not diminish your love for the son or daughter. It does make a love “relationship” impossible.

    I cannot begin to tell you how many Neo Calvinist young men here are teaching what you stated here. I have dealt with this false concept for the last 15 years. It especially breaks my heart when it is taught to youth. It does great damage. Parents like this do great damage, too.

    People, with developed functioning brains, are responsible for their actions. God does not want any to perish but to have everlasting life. The punishment is real. But God does not choose it for us. It is a consequence of our choices. But we probably will disagree on what those consequences are and what causes them. For example, I don’t believe the little 6 year old girl forced to train as a Hindu temple prostitute will be be judged the same way an adult raised in truth but tramples it, will be. (Hebrew 10)

    Our Lord wants us to seek Him and grow in His wisdom. He is patient. He is HESED –translated from Hebrew as “loving kindness” which doesn’t even begin to cover the meaning.

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  39. “I agree with you that Acts does not mention hell, it does not use this as a means of evangelism – although judgement is mentioned. Acts also contains no reference to the love of God either – in fact apart from the cross, there is no verse anywhere that states that God ‘loves’ unbelievers. Experiencing the love of God is essentially something for believers only. If the whole world believed, the whole world would experience it!”

    Ananias and Sapphira were “believers” in the developing church.

    My point? This is a very tough subject. The Holy Spirit, as far as we know, is not perpetually striking down professing but deceptive “believers”.

    I hardly know what to make of it.

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  40. Salty – What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction, …

    When the clay is no use to the potter, then it is only fit for destruction. In the context of the potter in Jeremiah, the call of God was to choose to repent of evil, in which case God would re-fashion the pot for blessing. The clay gets to choose whether to be useful or not in that it represents Israel, people. So there is a freewill element in Romans 9!

    I referred earlier to the symbolic nature of the terminology Jesus uses to describe hell, and you seem to be wanting to take it literally, as in literal fire, literally chopping of hands. The metaphors contradict each other if taken literally; they are intended to describe differing aspects of the same thing.

    The punishment of hell is eternal, whether or not you believe consciously experienced or annihiliation is meant. The wicked miss out for ever on the blessings of the new heaven and new earth in which righteousness dwells.

    I have sometimes wondered if hell is a continuation of a fallen world, except there is no restraint of grace present. I don’t see it as God tormenting anyone, as being cruel, but perhaps hell is the ultimate example of God handing man over to the consequences of his own choices.

    I wonder if we ought to ditch the ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’ image from Wesley – he didn’t get that from the bible. Balance up the love and compassion with the Jesus of 1 Cor 11 or the letters to the churches in Revelation. A less comfortable Jesus perhaps, but more realistic.

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  41. “I wonder if we ought to ditch the ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’ image from Wesley – he didn’t get that from the bible. Balance up the love and compassion with the Jesus of 1 Cor 11 or the letters to the churches in Revelation. A less comfortable Jesus perhaps, but more realistic.”
    .
    He certainly was not gentle or weak with the religious leaders of His tribe!

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  42. 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them
    21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

    Nothing gentle about that!

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  43. That child chose to turn away but that does not diminish your love for the son or daughter. It does make a love “relationship” impossible. I cannot begin to tell you how many Neo Calvinist young men here are teaching what you stated here.

    You even see it in comp doctrine, as some men relate their wives submitting to them being able to love them! They won’t say it outright, but you catch them talking around the margins.

    I too like the prodigal son as an example of how God’s love works.

    He certainly was not gentle or weak with the religious leaders of His tribe!

    True! Maybe we should look at where Jesus was loving and where he was full of wrath and model more on that?

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  44. “True! Maybe we should look at where Jesus was loving and where he was full of wrath and model more on that?”..

    Bingo.

    Acts 20

    25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God,[a] which he bought with his own blood.[b] 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

    We were warned.
    .

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  45. 😂😂😂🙋 Lydia.

    Thanks KAS. I’m still thinking about this topic.

    God can do whatever he wishes. I’m all for warning people of God’s judgment but I’m not going to jump to an ECT conclusion and threaten or coerce people to love and follow God.

    What is it again that leads us to repentance?

    Was it God’s wrath?

    or his goodness?

    “Gentle Jesus meek and mild!” 👍

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  46. What is it again that leads us to repentance?

    Was it God’s wrath?

    or his goodness?

    God’s wrath gets us to concentrate our minds.

    His kindness leads us to repentance, that is, to change our minds!

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  47. Lydia00 – I think we are approaching this from opposite ends.

    Does God love homosexuals? Yes, in the Corinthian church ‘for such were some of you’. Not ‘are’. God’s love expressed in the cross had led to their justification and being made clean again. They could them receive the Holy Spirit whom the world cannot receive.

    The homosexuals on gay pride marches are a different story. Does God love them? Or the bankers and their unrestrained greed, or the adulterers and womanisers, New Agers, or abusers, alcoholics who get into a car …? To say yes is misleading, they need to come to repentance and faith before they will experience the love of God. Up to that point they are under his wrath, and his love of righteousness rather than people. He does, nevertheless, want everyone to be saved.

    I think the atonement is unlimited in its capacity to save, but is limited in that condtions are imposed for receiving forgiveness that men will choose to reject.

    Put it like this – God is not only love, but also light and holy and righteous – and a consuming fire. Playing with fire is dangerous! The modern unbeliever in the West despises a God of love, who is seen as a weak and sentimental grandmother. This might be because too many in the church are giving this impression, especially in the way sin is flirted with or unpopular pieces of apostolic teaching quietly or not so quietly ditched as though it doesn’t matter. How many evangelicals are trying to find a third way over homosexuality to try to avoid coming under pressure from secular society as being ‘haters’?

    The overall effect of this is presumption, presumption that God makes no real demands of us or that we don’t need to change our ways.

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  48. KAS,

    John the Baptist saw Jesus coming down to be baptised and he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.

    I often wonder why he didn’t add the words, “only for those who believe”.

    It bothers me.

    “Who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe”.

    Lots of puzzling passages for me.

    Back to my knitting 😂

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  49. KAS, how do you deal with David? David was a “man after God’s own heart”. That phrase is repeated throughout David’s life.

    Yet, David multiplied wives, collected cattle, committed adultery, then murdered to cover that up.

    Did he cease being saved only to then be restored, or was he a saved murderer?

    When we receive our heart of flesh, the rest of our flesh is still corrupted. The process of sanctification starts from where we are – a sinner with God’s spirit in us. If I’m a homosexual before being saved, I’m a homosexual after being saved. The difference is that I now have the desire to become more like Jesus by putting away that sin.

    The process of sanctification is where God convicts us of some sin in our lives, and gives us the desire to repent of that sin and work to remove it. We see that not all Christians become 100% perfect in this life, so it is a process that is only complete when we die and are glorified. Just because “Christians” label certain sins (e.g. homosexuality / drunkenness / murder) as the worst sins ever, that doesn’t mean that God won’t choose to work on different sins first. Paul, for example, centers on his covetousness. What if Paul was homosexual and covetous, and God worked on the covetousness first?

    I’m sure there are sins I have that I don’t even desire to change. There are other sins I never really struggled with and there are sins that God shoves in my face everyday. Does that mean I’m not saved because I have “unrepentant sin”?

    Salty, I think the clearer passages interpret the less clear. Jesus himself said: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

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  50. KAS, I read your comments over time here and think you know so little of human history and end up constantly moving goal posts to seek a win. This is not about winning a theological point. It’s not black and white, either. I don’t forget your earlier point that “God does not love unbelievers”. Everyone is an unbeliever until some are not. There are no grandchildren in this respect. Every single generation must seek truth. We could prepare them better, I think, by encouraging independent thinking and personal responsibility. Not conformity.

    I get you about dumbing down sin in the church. But it seems like you want to insist that people are not properly afraid of God and churches don’t teach sin. That is nothing new! Just different tactics and definitions of sin. When the church institutionalized, you could wipe out sins with forms of penance where a special human called a priest absolved you and that morphed into indulgences and caused a political Reformation. It couldn’t be anything else because of church state. Too much money going to fat cats in Rome feeding at the trough. Science was once a sin. Peasants reading scripture was a sin. In Geneva, criticizing Calvin was a sin with a punishment. The Puritans declared attempts to alleviate pain in childbirth as sin. The list is so long we could be here all week. And they all used twisted scripture to back them up. Probably reading Hebrews 13:17. :o)

    We tend to dismiss so much of evil church history as “the times” as if the Holy Spirit was AWOL for a thousand years. The irony of all these historical sin church definitions is that they did not include the arrogance of such religious leaders who thought them up and implemented them! None of it us new. But at least it is all voluntary for us now. Praise God!!!

    So let’s define sin. Can we even start with good/evil and right/wrong? Can we boil it down to 2 overarching themes? Or do we go into perpetuity sin sniffing one another even those who don’t profess Christ. If you want to meet more decent human beings who profess Christ, I can no longer recommend most churches.

    So what else is new, really? If you look at history, going back to the OT, it was the outliers who warned and changed things. The prophets were not in the in-group. Some were bizarre. JTB disdained the 2nd Temple set in Jerusalem and our Savior chose Nazareth, of all places, to grow up.

    I honestly don’t think church is where it is at anymore. Was it ever, really?

    Do I think homosexuality is God’s intention? No. But so what? They have the civil right to self government in our system. (I am not for special rights for any group including women) Do you want to change that? My guess is you would probably help one in need without condemning them. In some Islamic countries they kill them. But my question to you is how do you go about addressing homosexuals they are in sin? Do you think they don’t know many think that? How many charlatan pastors don’t know their greed and entitlement mentality is sin? Seriously? They can rationalize with the best of them.
    .
    So all through history, did God love unbelievers? Did God love evil tyrannical believers who lorded over other believers with no power? Did He love the “believers” who burned supposed heretics at the stake? We tend to excuse them with platitudes saying, oh, we are all sinners and no one is perfect and such. Did they have a choice in their actions? Yes. And God is a God of pure Justice. Love includes justice. Remember, I don’t subscribe to the legal forensic view of the Trinity band the law/grace dichotomy. God has not changed. He has historically provided rescue to everyone. He even came here to prove it.

    Again, I say God is Hesed and I don’t really understand because church is full of Ananias’ and Sapphira’s in the pews and on the stages.

    But then the church is not the same as the Body of Christ. That is much harder.

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  51. I think we tend to focus on certain attributes of God and tend to ignore others. So, let’s take the Stanford rapist. The judge had mercy on the Stanford rapist and only gave him six months in jail. If we focus on mercy alone, that judge was wonderful, but, that judge also needed to be JUST! Was justice served by allowing that rapist to walk free after six months when his victim was scarred for life? I think not. God not be merciful only, but he must also be just. Justice will be served for the thousands of Christians martyred in Germany, Russia and China.

    That is a picture in Revelation. Martyrs before God’s throne saying, how long will it be before we get justice? God’s response? Wait a little longer. Justice will be served.

    I’m sure I’m skewed towards the harshness – that’s the environment I grew up in, so definitely need to understand love and mercy more 🙂

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  52. Lydia, I think the parable of the wheat and the tares is really relevant. The tares are allowed to grow up next to the wheat, because the wheat might get uprooted by their removal. Instead, they grow up together until harvest time.

    I find it somewhat comforting in all this that God’s purpose is not to really beat up the Christians in this life and make sure they earn Heaven, but to protect them, and the best way he can protect them is to, unfortunately, let them grow up next to the sons of Satan.

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  53. “f we focus on mercy alone, that judge was wonderful, but, that judge also needed to be JUST.”

    Mercy for whom? The victim?

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  54. I don’t think “mercy” really applies to the victim. The victim wanted (and deserved) justice for the crime, but received none due to the judge. The judge was merciful, but not just.

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  55. There is a third component, beyond justice and mercy, and that is protecting future victims. This is an area where churches often miss.

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  56. Lea, that’s a whole other discussion. On one hand, I don’t know that it’s right to make an example by punishing severely, but on the other hand it sends a message that something is unacceptable.

    In this case, it’s the worst of all worlds. The only reason that guy was caught was because good samaritans saw what he was doing and took action. She was unconscious. She bravely stands up and testifies against him and what happens? He’s given barely a slap on the wrist.

    Women already have big incentives to cover it up. For example, at BYU, women are getting kicked out of school for being raped and going to the police. Also, police often do nothing when women come forward. The DA may decide there’s not a compelling case. If all the stars align, they still have to confront the man who raped them in court with a defense lawyer who is going to do everything to get his client off, which means digging up as much dirt as he can to make her look like a fraud.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of women are just not willing to go through that. I know one woman who was sexually abused, and she may never be strong enough to stand up to her accuser. Her church (should I even say it) covered it up and re-victimized her. While the abuser was given a slap on the wrist, she got repeated counseling sessions and discipline cause she couldn’t whitewash her emotions.

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  57. “don’t think “mercy” really applies to the victim. The victim wanted (and deserved) justice for the crime, but received none due to the judge. The judge was merciful, but not just”

    We are not on the same page about mercy at all. Proper Justice IS mercy and compassion for victims. It says, you are valuable and they should not be allowed to get by with it lightly. It also says that since the perp was barbaric enough to do it once, they won’t be given the chance to do it again.

    Mercy in this instance is more like life in prison. Remember, there is a high bar to convict in the first place.

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  58. On one hand, I don’t know that it’s right to make an example by punishing severely, but on the other hand it sends a message that something is unacceptable.

    The example is one part, the other is stopping that guy from offending again! Simply by keeping him off the streets.

    I’ll admit that case was a bit difficult for me because I’ve been comfortable with the fact that rape is hard to prove and women have to protect themselves and watch out – but this guy was literally caught in the act, reported immediately, witnesses, convicted!!! And still.

    Textbook case for not reporting.

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  59. Lydia, you are 100% correct:

    “We are not on the same page about mercy at all. Proper Justice IS mercy and compassion for victims. It says, you are valuable and they should not be allowed to get by with it lightly. It also says that since the perp was barbaric enough to do it once, they won’t be given the chance to do it again.

    Mercy in this instance is more like life in prison. Remember, there is a high bar to convict in the first place.”

    Judges are fickle, I guess, and I can’t always gauge where their sympathies, despite evidence, lies. But, as a general rule, compassion and mercy should be shown the victim first, and that includes every woman who has ever been, and will still be, abused in the institutionalized church. Turning a blind eye, or encouraging it, directly or indirectly (as this God’s Design book does; however camouflaged), is criminal in my eyes.

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  60. “Lydia, I think the parable of the wheat and the tares is really relevant. The tares are allowed to grow up next to the wheat, because the wheat might get uprooted by their removal. Instead, they grow up together until harvest time.”
    .just some food for thought. The wheat/tare problem is in the harvesting. You have to allow them to grow next to the wheat because you don’t know they are tares until the ear (bloom?) appears. It is poisonous.

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  61. Lydia00 – I’m nor sure there is much point simply in trying to win an argument.

    My existing view on the love of God and unbelievers can be misunderstood as though he doesn’t want the best for all of mankind. The ‘God loves you unconditionally and has a wonderful plan for your life’ does not come from the pages of the NT, and is misleading to both believer and unbeliever alike.

    I wonder if more fear of God just might make complacent Christians think again before they go on a ministry ego trip, fleece the sheep, or abuse others or cover abuse up.

    Have you ever stopped to consider that Jesus’ warnings about hell were directed towards his disciples rather than the world around? He was saying ‘make sure you don’t end up there’. This isn’t salvation by works, rather by continuing in the faith. He who endures to the end will be saved. We need forgiveness and holiness – without which … .

    I’m sure some very ‘anointed’ charismatics are going to be in for a shock at the end of the age, but so too are church leaders and members who in their hearts left the faith for a life of sinning, even if covered up by a façade of church respectability.

    I know this is sombre and unpopular amongst evangelicals today, but at the very least we ought to stop giving the false assurance that you can do what you like but because you made a ‘decision’ 24 years ago you are guaranteed acceptance with God regardless of what you have done in the meantime.

    The Calvinist might say you were never saved in the first place, and the Arminian you have forfeited your salvation, but the end result is the same in both cases.

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  62. I think we agree about what should have been done, but we don’t agree what aspects of God’s character are in play.

    When someone wrongs me, I’m look for God to be just and avenge that wrong. When I do something wrong, I look for God’s mercy in not giving me the penalty I deserve. So, I guess I think of justice applying when I’m wronged, and mercy applying when I’ve wronged. Compassion is more what I think you’re getting at – compassion, to me, seems more like God finding that right balance between the two parties.

    I guess the overall point got lost that when we talk of something like Hell as punishment, there are three perspectives to consider. There is the victim, the guilty and the witness. When we say, no one deserves eternal punishment, we are looking at it more from the perspective of the guilty than the perspective of the victim.

    If I go back to this being an analogy, what mercy/justice does God get when people rape him? I think we tend to “consider the person” in that case, and say, God is really big and powerful and he should just suck it up when people abuse him.

    I think that is why Jesus was so harsh against the Pharisees. We treat sexual sin as the worst, but we don’t have God’s perspective on what the Pharisees were doing. They were carrying out abuse and injustice in God’s name. Think about the money they vowed to God that would have gone to help their parents. What does that say about God? Just like churches today that tell wives to go back to their abusive husbands. The leaders are slandering God’s character by telling people the opposite of what God would.

    It reminds me that a church discipline “form” in my old church said something like, “you have given the enemies of God occasion to mock”. Many times, it has been the discipline itself that has given the occasion to mock, and not the offense. Usually the “offense” is insubordination, and it’s insubordination to something the elders have no right to command.

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  63. Lydia: “The wheat/tare problem is in the harvesting.”

    I think the Bible differs with you on this:
    “And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves *said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he *said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.”

    It seems that the angels know the difference. The problem seems to be that the process of prematurely rooting out evil would have an effect that some of the just would not have been just. I always seem to fall short with analogies, but perhaps the evil perpetrated in 9/11 had an effect of bringing some to repentance that might not otherwise have repented.

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  64. lydia00 wrote:
    “So let’s define sin. Can we even start with good/evil and right/wrong? Can we boil it down to 2 overarching themes? Or do we go into perpetuity sin sniffing one another even those who don’t profess Christ. If you want to meet more decent human beings who profess Christ, I can no longer recommend most churches.

    2 overarching themes? In my opinion, an affirmative YES:
    1) Be a Mensch (Yiddish for good person and genuine human being)
    2) Don’t do the kinds of things to others you wouldn’t want done to yourself.
    The rest is just commentary.

    And don’t get me started on the subject of decent human beings who don’t profess Christ and yet practice him anyway (Romans chap. 2).

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  65. “My existing view on the love of God and unbelievers can be misunderstood as though he doesn’t want the best for all of mankind. The ‘God loves you unconditionally and has a wonderful plan for your life’ does not come from the pages of the NT, and is misleading to both believer and unbeliever alike.”

    That is a silly platitude that ignores such facts like children die of cancer. Gods plan might be for us to use our brains and resources for a cure for these precious ones.

    I get your point but you said God does not love unbelievers.

    Muff brought up Romans 2. Great point about unbelievers choosing to do right because right/wrong (referred to as law) is written on their conscious whether they act on it or not. How is that not love? So we have the “ability” to do right or wrong even as unbelievers . ….yet, doing right as an unbeliever cannot please God,? Personally, I think God is pleased when anyone does good. We get a glimpse of Him in the act.

    In Romans, Paul is referring to Gentiles who did not have the law and the Jews were concerned they could even understand such things. How could they ever know Yahweh?

    “I wonder if more fear of God just might make complacent Christians think again before they go on a ministry ego trip, fleece the sheep, or abuse others or cover abuse up.”

    KAS, you have been the one here insisting on the authority of church leaders and obeying them. Where do think this bad behavior comes from? It is inherent in the systems we set up. Just being in a stage all the time with people in rapt attention is not good for most people. You can start thinking people should listen to you,! :o)

    “Have you ever stopped to consider that Jesus’ warnings about hell were directed towards his disciples rather than the world around? “.
    .oh yeah. Tell me about it. I am not. Cal nor a OSAS person.
    .

    “. He who endures to the end will be saved. We need forgiveness and holiness – without which … .”

    .Good luck with that when it comes to others. You might want to start with pastors. :o)..

    Hebrew 10 was written to believers, too.

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  66. I haven’t read all the posts on here since I last posted to this thread. I’m just skimming my way backwards – I’m at the bottom of the page, scrolling back up to see the most recent remarks.
    I don’t know if I want to read every post since I was last here.

    KAS said,

    The ‘God loves you unconditionally and has a wonderful plan for your life’ does not come from the pages of the NT, and is misleading to both believer and unbeliever alike.

    Hmmm. I don’t know.

    This is one of yet a billion topics Christians cannot agree on.

    Here is Jeremiah 29:11:

    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

    Christians will run around saying, for instance, that Jeremiah 29:11 is not for believers today but was meant ONLY for Jews in the diaspora way back when, or what have you. (I forget the details surrounding that verse).

    Yet other Christians argue that stuff like Jer 29:11 does or can apply to people today.

    I’ve heard Christians in the last few years say that when they were at a real low point in their life God led them to that verse as if to say, “this is for you right now.”

    Then, some Christians say similar things – such as, God does not want you to be happy – God supposedly only wants you to “be holy.” ~That annoys me. The Bible doesn’t really say either way on the happiness issue.

    I don’t see where the Bible teaches God wants people to be unhappy and miserable.

    The Bible does not say God promises you a cake walk for your time on earth and nothing but dew drops and rain bows, but it also doesn’t say God wants you to suffer constantly.

    Jesus did say he wants his followers to have “the abundant life” or “life to the full.”

    Which does not sound to me as though Jesus was saying,
    “I am sending a lot of suffering your way to whip you into spiritual shape. I don’t give a rat’s rear end about your psychological well being or happiness. Happiness? Phooey on the concept of Happiness.”

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  67. Kas, “I wonder if more fear of God just might make complacent Christians think again before they go on a ministry ego trip, fleece the sheep, or abuse others or cover abuse up.”

    You are very optimistic about the ability to reach deceiver’s hearts. I do not think they will respond to fear anymore than they respond to love or to truth. The problem is, the fear message gets passed onto and absorbed by those who do care, who already care, and it adds a weight of worry and guilt to their shoulders they do not need.

    “The one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1John

    When you love someone, you don’t want to let them down. An expression of disappointment on their face can cut you to the heart. If you don’t love them, all the fear in the world is not going to produce the same result.

    “He who is forgiven much, loves much.” The more we know him, the more we love him.

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  68. To get back to the original topic – which is this hideous, hideous complementarian book: complementarianism is pure doody, and it’s dreadful that complementarians are writing books aimed at younger and younger ages to start brainwashing them early.

    Some percentage of girls are never, ever going to fit the stereotype female ideal complementarians present as “biblical womanhood.”

    (Complementarians have to define what “biblical womanhood” is themselves, because, for the most part, the Bible does NOT SAY what it is.)

    Goodness knows I tried for years (living up to gender comp definitions of what it means to be a girl or a woman), because my mother believed in this crap and encouraged me to buy into it.
    The Christian material my Mom brought home – books and magazines by Christian authors – all assumed, or argued for, the complementarian view.

    Try as hard as I might, I never fully fit the gender complementarian “biblical womanhood” role (and I did try really really hard to abide by it).

    At times, I fit it okay, but it was exhausting having to be something and someone I was not, or had no interest in being.

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  69. “The problem is, the fear message gets passed onto and absorbed by those who do care, who already care, and it adds a weight of worry and guilt to their shoulders they do not need.”

    Wow. That is an excellent point! Exactly.

    Just like bad people ignore the spirit of laws so we have to have more laws to get more and more specific which they still find ways to get around.

    The bad “Christians” are either calloused, don’t care or rationalized their entitlement to be exempt. We all have access to the Holy Spirit.

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  70. Kas, “The modern unbeliever in the West despises a God of love, who is seen as a weak and sentimental grandmother. “

    Kas, I’m not sure how you can make a blanket statement like that about a huge, diverse group of people. There may be some people out there who feel that way, but what significance is that? People are individuals who feel all sorts of different ways. Unbelievers have many different reasons for not believing, lots of them are very good arguments, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard someone say this was his/her reason for not believing. It kind of sounds like something Mark Driscoll would have said.

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  71. ” It kind of sounds like something Mark Driscoll would have said.”

    It is very Neo Cal. I heard it all the time from, ‘ ‘ ‘you believe in a wimpy grandpa God to a wishy washy hand wringing God’ and so on. It comes out of the control issue.

    But what do they do with Jesus Christ as ‘the full representation of God’? That is inconvenient. He was pretty caustic with the religious leaders but different with the tax collectors and society’s cast off’s. Even the 12 were NOT the cream of the Religious crop or they would have all been on the Rabbi track, like Paul. They were working which means they did not make the cut at age 14. Then, irony of ironies, Paul the Jewish scholar is spending most of his time with Gentiles!

    Love it. Upside down.

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  72. Shy1 – More fear of God might make some complacent Christians think twice. I certainly wouldn’t claim it as some kind of cure for all the ills in the church. There is a kind of presumption abroad that whatever we do, it will be alright in the end.

    I’m all for Christians being fully under grace, free from legalism, and secure in the love of God. That they can approach God with confidence, and without a cringing kind of fear that they might not be good enough. That, clothed in the righteousness of God, they are now as welcome into the very presence of God as Jesus himself is.

    This must be balanced with fear in the sense of awe and respect. If you want examples of how this is so often missing, just lurk around discussions on the theme of this thread, or egalitarians discussing gender roles, divorce and remarriage. I think you will find all too often this occurs at a human level only. Feelings or emotions rule, or how those who are outside the church might not like us; the will of God and how to discover it and put it in to action is conspicuous by its absence. RHE’s site is often a good example of this, but she is not alone.

    As for unbelievers despising a God of love only, you only need to see how those around you treat Christian things – more often than not with contempt. Any religious discussion will bring this out. Demands for explanations of why God allows this to happen, as though humantity has the right to put God in the dock and accuse him. Maybe this is in part the church’s fault – there are supposed leaders whose God really is a kind of grandmother. The charismatic movement may have some responsibility here as well – making God too familiar.

    So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samar′ia had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied. Fear and comfort at the same time – the perfect NT balance!

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  73. Lydia00 KAS, you have been the one here insisting on the authority of church leaders and obeying them. Where do think this bad behavior comes from?

    I’m not an apostle! The obedience and yielding to church leaders, those who speak the word of God, is not unconditional. If what they say runs counter to the bible as the word of God (And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.) then the bible takes priority. Obeying God rather than man. Similarly for wives and husbands, where submission is not unconditional.

    Elders who overstep the mark shoud be told, in love, to get stuffed!

    Bad behaviour stems from a false view of God as detailed above, and imo unsaved church members and church leaders. (I think you need to aim your criticisms at more than just church leaders.) This might be more common than thought. I knew an Anglican clergyman who had been in the ministry for 14 years before he became a Christian – and he reckoned there were no genuine born-again believers in his deanery. What kind of gospel could they preach to their congregations? German theology, treating the bible like any other book, can do enormous damage, and wreck evangelicals with a strong faith turning them into liberals with no real convictions any more.

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  74. “I knew an Anglican clergyman who had been in the ministry for 14 years before he became a Christian – and he reckoned there were no genuine born-again believers in his deanery.”

    Reminds me of Amy Carmichael’s biography. There’s a moment she visits some CMS Anglican missionaries in an Indian city. Her words confirmed what I already thought of that strain of the virus.

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  75. I’m not an apostle! The obedience and yielding to church leaders, those who speak the word of God, is not unconditional. If what they say runs counter to the bible as the word of God (And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.) then the bible takes priority. Obeying God rather than man. Similarly for wives and husbands, where submission is not unconditional.

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  76. Oops, that last comment was a mistake. Start over:

    “I’m not an apostle! The obedience and yielding to church leaders, those who speak the word of God, is not unconditional. If what they say runs counter to the bible as the word of God (And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.) then the bible takes priority. Obeying God rather than man. Similarly for wives and husbands, where submission is not unconditional.”

    What do we call this? An oxymoron, cognitive dissonance, what? ..

    If one is wise enough or studied enough to know their “leader, teacher, elder or pastor” is outside the bounds then why would they need such people at all as a leader or for teaching? It makes no sense.

    It’s just another reason why I think we get the whole Body of Christ thing wrong when we turn it into avregulated caste structure. The typical comeback to the question is, because the Bible says so. The Bible also tells you to greet your brothers with a holy kiss. It also says this which was written to all believers in that area. Not just an elder or pastor:
    .
    I am writing to you, dear children,
    because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
    13 I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
    I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.
    14 I write to you, dear children,
    because you know the Father.
    I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
    I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.
    On Not Loving the World
    15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[d] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
    18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

    20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.[e] 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

    24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

    26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

    KAS, history has taught us to view functions within the body, that are not static, but linear and studied enough to recognize false teaching as positional “offices”. I might be a pastor next week, if need be. Some may look to salty as an elder of a group, for a time. And so on.

    But if I am wise enough, Discerning enough, and studied enough to recognize any level of questionable teaching then why am I bothering? In the Body of Christ actual interaction is preferable. Sermons seem like indoctrinating. Every teacher and in the case of church, preacher, should be in a venue where they can be questioned.

    The word of God is Jesus Christ, not scripture. Scripture is not referred to as the word of God. Jesus would say, as it is written….and stuff like that. Jesus always take second place, it seems to Scripture!. He is the Word of God as He was there in the beginning and came to earth as the full representation of God.

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  77. “I knew an Anglican clergyman who had been in the ministry for 14 years before he became a Christian – and he reckoned there were no genuine born-again believers in his deanery. What kind of gospel could they preach to their congregations? German theology, treating the bible like any other book, can do enormous damage, and wreck evangelicals with a strong faith turning them into liberals with no real convictions any mire”
    .
    .Get used to it. NT Wright talked about the open secret of athiest theologians at Oxford. Here, the Neo Cal movement is producing more athiests than any seeker movement ever did. Some were pastors! I keep meeting former rabid Neo Cals who are now atheist. In My Free Will background we had tons of “back backsliders” but none of them became atheist!

    I keep picking up on clues in your comments that lead me to think certain things such as “German Theology” treating the Bible like any other book. This was standard thought at the very Neo Cal SBTS from profs. Which sort of cracks me up considering the whole Reformed trajectory from Augustine to Calvin. The entire underpinning of that philosophy is paganism merged with Christianity so what do folks expect. But then again, what about Barth? Bonhoeffer? Whike we might not agree with them jot and tittle, there is something to glean, no?
    .
    But Scripture is not the 4th person of the Trinity or without error as we don’t have the originals.So what category do we put it in? The inerrancy movement and the literalists are ruining scripture enjoyment and study for everyone. Shame on them!

    True conservative hermeneutics take everything into consideration from language. Grammer , historical context. Word meaning changes, etc.

    This is why I find Ancients Scholars and linguists much more interesting to listen to than a pastor preach. They tend to give me a deeper understanding of what was going on in the backdrop of what I am reading in in Scripture.

    I used to read a Blog of Bible translators and was overwhelmed with what they grapple with translating into other languages only to find the English translation did not do justice to the concept communicated.

    People get very frustrated with all of it. They don’t think they can understand it or they understand it for the rest of us in a wrong way. And part of the problem is because they have turned scripture into Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We tend to forget the early Christians for centuries did not have the New Testament and the Gentiles knew nothing of the old. So how did they do it? How could they possibly be real Christians? We are blessed to have scripture so why do we turn it into a process manual or baseball bat?

    Maybe we could learn from the early believers.

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  78. As for unbelievers despising a God of love only, you only need to see how those around you treat Christian things – more often than not with contempt.

    But is that because Christians preach a “God of love only”? Or is it because Christians behave in a manner that deserves contempt?

    I remember reading an article on the Huffington Post, describing how Mahaney and his cronies at SGM were hiding behind the Constitution, and insisting that the state had no right to interfere in the way they “counselled” members. Even if their actions violated the law, their advice was beyond the law’s reach, they said. Oh, the comments on that article… now there was some real contempt for Christianity, and it had nothing to do with focusing on God’s love and mercy.

    Demands for explanations of why God allows this to happen, as though humanity has the right to put God in the dock and accuse him.

    And if we were to talk about God’s wrath and justice, do you think this attitude would simply vanish? I doubt it. Most people have some basic sense of justice, and when they see the innocent suffering, they’ll very naturally wonder why an all-powerful and just God would allow it. I don’t blame them — sometimes I do, too.

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  79. In My Free Will background we had tons of “back backsliders” but none of them became atheist!

    I think it is much easier to stay a Christian when you are allowed to have doubts, to not know things, to ignore the things you think are wrong, etc.. And as pertains to salvation, it is much easier to remain if you don’t find yourself getting worried about whether you were chosen or not. If you had free will, you can continue to believe. And that’s enough.

    But is that because Christians preach a “God of love only”? Or is it because Christians behave in a manner that deserves contempt?

    I think it’s more the second one. Goodness, I see story after story about youth pastors arrested for various abuses. I see the ‘pastors’ on the internet who seem like bad people. I see women treated as chattel, with only one purpose. This is not a religion I would willingly join if I thought all were like that.

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  80. “I think it is much easier to stay a Christian when you are allowed to have doubts, to not know things, to ignore the things you think are wrong, etc.. And as pertains to salvation, it is much easier to remain if you don’t find yourself getting worried about whether you were chosen or not. If you had free will, you can continue to believe. And that’s enough.”

    This is so true. Doubt is not a sin. It can be a path toward wisdom. Not the path to excommunication as is the case again in history and currently! But the main point is a free will instead of doctrine over people –which always ends in tyranny.

    I have often wanted to encourage “fruit alone” instead of “faith alone” but many believe fruit are things like attending church, numbers witnessing and/or inviting people to churches. And others claim it works salvation not the hopeful result of true salvation. So, Why aren’t the Christians known as decent, trustworthy, responsible, hard working, fair/just neighbors today? They are known for their special structures, programs, cliques, molesting children, cheap grace for themselves, rules, against divorce (not abuse) and so on.

    I am not sure of the provenance as is the case with many ancient letters but I have found this ancient letter instructive concerning the early Christians from a pagan point of view around 200 AD

    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/diognetus.html

    We have it so much easier than the early Christians, too, considering our form of government.

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  81. Lydia00 – Why is it so quiet today, I wonder? 🙂

    I would differentiate German theology from German Christians, the latter produced a number of outstanding examples who stood up to the Hitler dictatorship and paid for it with their lives.

    German theology is the documentary hypothesis, JEPD, or form criticism and Sitz im Leben. Some of its original underpinnings have been made untenable, and even if it may have some limited use in understanding the bible, the usual result of it is to turn strong believers into doubting liberals. It is one of the great sins of the German nation.

    I don’t think more preaching of God’s wrath against sin would automatically lead to a reduction in abuse, but it might help. The God loves you regardless of what you do after ‘conversion’ is very definitely not helping imo. It creates a ‘Christianity’ where the focus has turned not very subtley from God to man. This is a characteristic of many homosexuality revisionist ideas, and egalitarian claims to be able to ignore certain passages in the NT because it would interfer with their personal fullfillment, as though Christian ministry were about realising your potential or empowerment.

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  82. KAS, I don’t believe questioning, doubts, seeking answers, studying different views etc, etc is sin.

    You have attempted to lump homosexuality and mutuality into categorical sin. When that happens over and over as you have done frequently in convos on various threads, It is time to bow out. I realize it is conventional wisdom in some traditions to do such but I find it ignorant and unseemly. So I am done wasting my time.

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  83. Lydia00 You have attempted to lump homosexuality and mutuality into categorical sin.

    No I haven’t! I said that when homosexuality and egalitarianism are being discussed, the frame of reference all too often is not the revealed will of God, but emotions, feelings, the focus being on man (or woman!) rather than God. This is extraordinarily common on both issues. How many egalitarians I have read are arguing from a position of personal fullfillment, of wanting to be affirmed, and who regard pastoring and being teachers a kind of right, rather than a privilege that it is only the preserve of God to give in the first place.

    I agree wtih you that questioning and studying differieng views is not sinful. I’m not sure where you have got the impression I would think it is from. I actually think it healthy! “I know that I am right” is a hallmark of deception.

    When both Christian husbands and wives reject what Christ says to them through his apostle, they are displeasing the Lord, and making themselves vulnerable to spiritual attack, and loss of blessing.

    Homosexuality will keep you out of the kingdom of God altogether, and I take the warning not to be deceived on this seriously. It is not as though God has not told us, and told us clearly, what he thinks about this so that we will not forfeit the good he intends for us.

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  84. How many egalitarians I have read are arguing from a position of personal fullfillment, of wanting to be affirmed, and who regard pastoring and being teachers a kind of right, rather than a privilege that it is only the preserve of God to give in the first place.

    But if God has given women the gifts of teaching, knowledge and leadership, why would He then demand that they smother it? It makes no sense, and it leads me to the conclusion that the traditional interpretations of gender comp clobber verses must be wrong. That’s based on reason and the Bible, not emotion.

    When both Christian husbands and wives reject what Christ says to them through his apostle, they are displeasing the Lord, and making themselves vulnerable to spiritual attack, and loss of blessing.

    Funny. Robert Morris of Gateway Church (Dallas) has used this very same scare tactic on his own parishioners. According to him, believers are vulnerable to “demonic attack” unless they tithe a set percentage of their gross income — a percentage which he gets to determine (of course, since he’s the ManaGAWD, y’know with all the superior knowledge ‘n’ wisdom ‘n’ stuff).

    http://fbcjaxwatchdog.blogspot.jp/2013/10/robert-morris-lays-down-law-non-tithers.html

    Isn’t it handy to have God as your personal enforcer to threaten people with? At least, “Robber” Morris seems to think so. I can’t find it in me to take his threats seriously, KAS, and see no reason take yours seriously, either.

    Homosexuality will keep you out of the kingdom of God altogether, and I take the warning not to be deceived on this seriously. It is not as though God has not told us, and told us clearly, what he thinks about this so that we will not forfeit the good he intends for us.

    Michael Hansen took those apparent warnings very seriously, too. And in his life, they seem to have done him harm and absolutely no good at all. The idea that his very existence was an affront to God caused him ceaseless anxiety and fear, and convinced him that he deserved the sexual abuse that he suffered as a teenager. He even attempted to take his own life, but thanks be to God, he failed. I’m grateful that he survived to tell everyone his story.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2016/11/09/testimonies-of-sexual-abuse-by-a-youth-worker-in-a-memphis-church

    And his story is one of many reasons why I question the traditional Christian understanding of homosexuality.

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  85. “When both Christian husbands and wives reject what Christ says to them through his apostle, they are displeasing the Lord, and making themselves vulnerable to spiritual attack, and loss of blessing.”

    Perhaps they simply disagree with the proof texting and interpretations by other humans concerning what is really being communicated in Scripture?
    .
    I fail to see how desiring to be and arguing to be on top in a spiritual caste is not “emotional”.
    .
    I understand your emotional desire to put those who disagree with your hermeneutic stance on Jesus Christ and mutualism into the sin category. I just don’t agree.

    Btw, i am still waiting for the OT law that clearly prohibits women from teaching or leading men. You mentioned there is one several threads back. I keep asking but you keep ignoring but then also keep declaring mutualism is on par with practicing homosexuality.

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  86. Serving Kids: Saying that God has given gifts of leadership to women begs the question. If Paul’s restriction is for everyone everywhere, then this is how we know what ‘role’ women may or may not assume. I have recently become wary of calling verses ‘clobber verses’.

    As for disobeying the apostles on marriage, Peter explicitly states prayer will be hindered by husbands not doing their part, and I see no reason not to think the same for wives. We may be under grace and not law (evangelical or otherwise) but does God ever bless disobedience? This is not a threat, has nothing to do with tithing (and I am against compulsory tithing). It’s how I see scripture, and to some extent born out in church life.

    You link to the story of Mike Hansen. For the sake of argument I’ll accept it as accurate, not having access to how others might see the same events. It strikes me there are two things going on here.

    The first is the church and people involved did not deal with this properly, to say the least. This may be a legitimate criticism of many evangelicals on the subject of homosexuality. That said, have you never considered that the gay lifestyle itself might be the cause of depression or inability to integrate in a church? Isn’t blaming others as old as Gen 3? That is not to make light of the abuse, which was itself homosexual.

    The second thing is the church’s view of homosexuality must stem from studying the relevant scriptures on the subject, and that alone. Not the experiences of gays amongst some evangelicals or their subjective ‘stories’.

    I have carefully read the revisionist interpretations, and find them unconvincing, often special pleading. You can argue about where SSA comes from and how to try to deal with it, but embracing homosexuality in practice is sinful. It’s not unforgivable, but I don’t see how a practicing homosexual could fit in with a church any more than an adulterer or gossip-mongerer could.

    The victim hasn’t begun to get over his experience, of forgiving the perpetrator (their actions are unforgivable). We all come at this from different angles and experiences, and if you think I am being glib (which I don’t intend) it might be because in my own church acquaintance I can think of two people homosexually abused for whom, while it might have left some long-term scars, was not a life-dominating causing life-long damage.

    Finally, you can’t blame the bible for the suffering of homosexuals. On the contrary, it offers a message of hope for homosexual sinners, as it does for all other sinners. However, its truth needs to be spoken in love, and with wisdom.

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  87. KAS: “As for disobeying the apostles on marriage, Peter explicitly states prayer will be hindered by husbands not doing their part, and I see no reason not to think the same for wives.”

    The problem here is that you are viewing the Bible through a complementarian lens.

    Consider these verses:

    “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house…” (Deut 24:1)

    “If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” (1 Cor 14:35)

    The question is how to interpret them from a larger perspective. The Jews of Jesus’s day saw the OT law as blanket permission to divorce, and it reinforced their ideas that women were property, and that they could be sent away when they were no longer favored. Instead, Jesus said, the opposite was true the verse was not a justification, but a result – the Jews were going to divorce anyway, so the women needed at least some form of protection. Does that make sense? The law was not a reinforcement of patriarchy, it was a protection from the results of patriarchy. Patriarchy was “the hardness of their hearts”. Jesus said, essentially, if you weren’t so patriarchal, there would be no need for this law.

    Now, many Christians look at the letters to the churches as some form of “perfect law”, unlike the OT law with all sorts of weird regulations, but, what if it’s the same? What if Paul is writing not what should be true for all times and all places, but something that is specific, again, to Christians living in a first century Patriarchal society. What if the propriety of women talking in church wasn’t a spiritual issue, but a cultural issue? We don’t have a follow-on set of scriptures to then give commentary to the writings of Paul, but we do see Jesus’s commentary on the OT law. The OT law made accommodations for the hard-hearted patriarchy inherent in OT society, why do we assume that the NT commands make no such accommodation?

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  88. Saying that God has given gifts of leadership to women begs the question. If Paul’s restriction is for everyone everywhere, then this is how we know what ‘role’ women may or may not assume.

    I can’t accept your assumption that Paul’s restriction was for everyone everywhere. I can’t make it fit with Jesus’ treatment of women, and with the tenor of the Bible in general. Women can be prophets and evangelists (both of which involve teaching and preaching), but can’t be teachers and preachers? Again, it makes no sense to me.

    As for disobeying the apostles on marriage, Peter explicitly states prayer will be hindered by husbands not doing their part, and I see no reason not to think the same for wives.

    That’s not the same as “spiritual attack”. Those were your words, and they were very much like Morris’. If you don’t want be lumped in with the likes of him, you might want to be more careful in your choice of phrasing.

    You link to the story of Mike Hansen. For the sake of argument I’ll accept it as accurate, not having access to how others might see the same events.

    What “same events”? If you’re referring to what was going on in Michael’s heart at the time, who else could possibly see that? Why wouldn’t you accept his account as accurate?

    That said, have you never considered that the gay lifestyle itself might be the cause of depression or inability to integrate in a church?

    “Gay lifestyle”? What exactly do you mean by that? And what does it have to do with Mike’s story? He was in Grade 5 when he realized he was “different”, and in Grade 7 when he learned simultaneously what to call it and how much God hated it. That’s when his anguish started, because he was convinced that he was guilty of the worst possible sin against God. How could Mike have had a “gay lifestyle” at this point? He was still in middle school, terrified of admitting to anyone what he was, and praying desperately for God to make his desires go away.

    That is not to make light of the abuse, which was itself homosexual.

    No, it wasn’t. A homosexual act is between two consenting men. This was an act of criminal violence by a man against a boy.

    The second thing is the church’s view of homosexuality must stem from studying the relevant scriptures on the subject, and that alone. Not the experiences of gays amongst some evangelicals or their subjective ‘stories’.

    I refuse to accept that. That sounds far too much like “Doctrine Over Person”, which is one of Dr. Robert Lifton’s criteria for identifying thought reform. This involves convincing us that people’s emotions and experiences are invalid, or “aren’t as real” as the accepted doctrine, and that if they conflict, the experiences must simply be discarded or ignored in favour of the doctrine.

    I reject this attitude on two grounds. First, I find that scripture itself speaks against it, especially in the story of Job. Second, I detest it when people do it to me — try to tell me that my experiences “don’t count”, or that my pain “can’t be that bad”. So I’m not interested in doing it to someone else.

    Finally, you can’t blame the bible for the suffering of homosexuals.

    And I don’t. I blame that on cruel and evil people.

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  89. And I don’t. I blame that on cruel and evil people.

    I should amend this. I blame it on the cruel and evil, and on the well-intentioned who wind up saying and doing cruel things to homosexuals.

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  90. can think of two people homosexually abused for whom, while it might have left some long-term scars, was not a life-dominating causing life-long damage.

    I cannot believe you said ‘might’. Abuse leaves scars. Period.

    And you keep alluding to people you know who are fine as a way of slamming people who aren’t fine. Or maybe who just want use their experience to protect others from what they went through! Which is noble. But you should know that just because you know somebody who had something traumatic happen and they don’t mention it everytime you see them? That doesn’t mean it doesn’t still affect them. And probably their children.

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  91. Lea – And you keep alluding to people you know who are fine as a way of slamming people who aren’t fine.

    No I don’t. I’m not slamming anyone, but I am bringing into play the fact that real-world cases of abuse personally known to me this did not become a life-dominating thing. That’s is not the same thing as putting down what anyone else has experienced.

    I do think though that it is right not to regard abuse as some special category of sin and being sinned against that means it has to dominate for the rest of someone’s natural life. Surely it is right to give encouragement to hope, hope that change and liberation can be achieved.

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  92. Sorry, late in the game on this but in regards to two things mentioned in the comments here, the Bible is very clear.
    1. Original sin, In Romans chapter 5 Paul makes it very clear that we inherited our sin nature from Adam. This is why Jesus was born of a virgin. He was not corrupted by our gene pool.
    2. Jesus speaking about Eternal damnation. Salty, I have read through the comments and I did not see the one reference that I think clearly refutes (although I really think that they all do) the concept of annihalation. In Luke chapter 16 the fire is felt as torment to the point that the man begs Abraham (not experiencing the torment) to tell his family so they they would not go through the same thing.

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