November 04, 2004

Comments on Human Nature thoughts

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Interesting Article.

Now let’s pick it apart shall we

Many religions teach the idea of a fall, the idea that humans were once perfect but through some reason or other now are imperfect. Religion, being pure and from God obviously should not be something which appeals to a side of humanity which only came into existence after the fall.
The bible teaches us that humans became "Security seekers" after the fall and before the fall, Adam walked in the sunshine with God without care.
Surely therefore if a religion is perfect and from God it should not appeal to the security seeking part of humanity in the way Islam and protestant Christianity do.

I see a problem here. Taking the second paragraph. If Adam walked with God without care in the garden, he was secure with God (though he may not have been consciously aware he was). After the fall he was not (He would die, something that would never occur before the fall) and needed the security of the previous relationship, as you say. Now follow this argument. The focus of any true religion must be the restoration of the original state of affairs. And guess what, this requires that all the wrong in the world be taken care of. This is what the cross is all about. The forgiveness of sins through the death of Jesus in our place.

Your arguments seem to fall apart around the third statement I have quoted. If a religion is from God, and therefore has the purpose of saving people and putting right what we mucked up, then it will surely appeal to our sense of security, because the end result will be a secure eternity with God.

I have a serious question to ask you. Why on earth should a religion not appeal to a sense of security? What is the reasoning for not appealing to an attribute of man whether it arose before or after the fall? Why should a religion or worldview or whatever you call it not give a sense of security. Why on earth not. You never give a good reason for this, apart from this assertion that we should not appeal to a “post-fall attribute” of man. This sounds very close to a Gnostic and other similar worldviews. If not why this apparent dislike for fallen man and his traits?

Further more, you seem to advocate views that are condemned in the bible. You seem to state that Catholics are actually justified by their works, a concept clearly condemned by the Apostle Paul, Jesus and James. If you are not actually saying this, could you please clarify what you actually mean (and therefore how Catholicism is different to protestant Christianity).

Your description of Islam is also, to my knowledge inaccurate, since to the best of my knowledge there is no security of salvation in Islam.

Think about it. How often in your life would you rather not having to make a decision if you knew that someone else was in an infallible position to make the decision for you. Wouldn't you just rather follow the person you knew was 100% right, I know I would. I would certainly rather this than be in a position where I would risk taking the wrong choice. This is why we like tools like calculators and computers.

Hehe. By the way, protestant Christians do follow a person who was 100% right. He’s called Jesus Christ if you weren’t sure. But he doesn’t make decision for us. Perhaps you’d care to glance at my review of “Decision Making and the Will of God” by Gary Friesen for an explanation of my view.

It seems that unlike so many other religions, Catholicism is not based on the human nature of the fall in providing some artificial security but rather on appealing to the real human nature, not the desire for security, but the desire to be in communion with God.

Neither is Christianity (note the switch, the Catholicism you are describing is so far from biblical that I cannot bring myself to call it Christian). Christianity is based on the actions of the Son of God, living and dieing on earth as a man, to bring about forgiveness by God.

Yes, that's right, Catholicism appeals to that bit in genesis "man walked in the evening sun with God" as Catholics believe that in the Eucharist they actually eat Christ's (who is God the son) flesh. They actually restore the communion and closeness they had with God before the fall.

Protestant Christians know that they will literally one day walk with God again. The security now is a mere reflection of the security and closeness to come.

It is precisely because the other religions and perspectives aim to fulfill the fallen element of human nature which we can see why they are ideologies of the fall.

Sorry, but you have completely failed to show this. You have offered no good reason why appealing to the fallen nature of man is bad. Your arguments seem to come so close to Gnotistic and similar thought.

Now to my reply. Man does indeed have a need for security. This comes from a deep seated remembrance of being with God. We find ourselves so lacking that initial relationship we had with God (the God shaped hole) that we desperately seek things to fulfill us. The seeking is not bad, but rather it is an indication that we are fallen and need God. The only way we will ever be secure is after this world has ended. This is what Jesus Christ came to accomplish, the way to God. Protestants feel a sense of security because they know that they will be with God. The security is an expectation of thing to come.
Sorry about the disconnected flow of this reply, but it is late.

Yours

Rich Cowan

P.S. could you possibly do a bit of experimenting with your themes? Your blog is difficult to read, and comments very difficult to read (white text on a grey background)


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  1. By the way, protestant Christians do follow a person who was 100% right.

    Over-generalisation. Biblical inerrancy is only believe by the radical fringe of christians. Most accept the possibility that (a) the gospels are inaccurate and (b) certain passages may not describe a literal event.

    note the switch, the Catholicism you are describing is so far from biblical that I cannot bring myself to call it Christian

    Take it up with the catholics of the world, then. No one has an observable monopoly on the truth – that can be taken as axiomatic.

    Protestant Christians know that they will literally one day walk with God again.

    WOAH! Big over-generalisation here.

    The only way we will ever be secure is after this world has ended.

    Prove it.

    04 Nov 2004, 01:13

  2. I'll make a fuller post in reply to your comment later, but please bear in mind that this was written in reply to someone who was claiming to be catholic, and so I took some "liberties" that I would not have otherwise taken

    04 Nov 2004, 01:24

  3. based on your comment I'm going to drop the comment on catholicism being not biblical – it's not helpful and could be insulting to some people. I'm sorry I wrote it in the first place. Don't think however that I'm dodging your objection. I will reply to it.

    04 Nov 2004, 01:29

  4. " Man does indeed have a need for security. This comes from a deep seated remembrance of being with God. We find ourselves so lacking that initial relationship we had with God (the God shaped hole) that we desperately seek things to fulfill us."

    we agree here.

    Matter is by nature programmed and deterministic. Spirit is by nature free to accept or refuse the good. Human beings are both body and soul. According to the biblical tradition the first generation of mankind tragically introduced into our nature a wound through man choosing evil.

    This wound is then passed on by the material laws of inheritance to every generation. Original sin disorientates the 'life-sense' of mankind by which we naturally seek fulfilment in God and harmony with one another.

    Original sin alienates us from the goodness of God and frustrates our natural desire for communion with our Creator and gives us a tendency to sin, disordering our desires.

    Original sin therefore has disordered our souls as well as our bodies. Because of this we need to be physically and spiritually restored into a perfect relationship with God.

    However, because we are fallen creatures we do not realise that it is God physically and spiritually which we desire- instead through various false philosophies and ideologies we are convinced it is some alternate pathway to the fulfillment of this notion of security.

    before sin there was no desire for security. After sin there is a desire for a restoration of our relationship with God physically and spiritually. We being fallen creatures do not realise this and feel that we need security.

    Any ideology that provides some kind of emotional security through guarenteed salvation or whatever, therefore illudes the real need of humans.

    They are thus ideologies of the fall.

    04 Nov 2004, 13:16

  5. Just a quick shot in reply to Mr Higgins.

    If something is biblical, how can it be an ideology of the fall?

    04 Nov 2004, 14:16

  6. You're right it can't be, but I obviously take the view that Catholicism is the only purely biblical religion.

    Much of protestant theology is scismatic from what the Church teaches and what the bible teaches.

    Docrines like "once saved always saved" and the notion of a pre trib rapture are inventions from the last 2 centuries tricking to the side of human nature which tends towards security.

    I do not wish to debate OSAS at this particular time or get into heated Catholic debates on this issue as I am too aware that my life will be taken over in writing ;)

    04 Nov 2004, 14:31

  7. Re. your last comment – How true !

    If you wish to leave the conversation as it stands I'm fine with that. I just want to applaud yo for thinking about these issues, and for the disccusion we've had. Thinking carefully about these kind of issues is omething we should do more. It's good for us. I guess we'll agree to disagree.

    Rgds

    Rich Cowan

    04 Nov 2004, 14:46

  8. Hey
    I kinda feel a need to say some stuff about this – I've got no real desire to get into a debate with anyone however; I'm going to state my views about 'security' as it applies to and derives from 'protestant christianty', and why I hold those views – you're welcome to
    First, I should say where I'm coming from – I'm a Christian, I go to Westwood Church, which is a very 'low'(i.e. informal) Church of England church near Warwick Campus while I'm at Uni, and a Baptist church while I'm at home – I do not consider myself either Anglican or Baptist. I believe the bible is 'true'. This is not the place I don't think for pinning down precisely what that means, only to say that issues such as possible contradictions in the bible, the reliability of the source documents and whether some bits are meant to be literal or metaphorical are not things I avoid – having said this I do believe Jesus physically rose from the dead – to be christain as it is defined by the bible you kinda have to.
    Right – that's me, on to the point I wish to make. Security in the bible is touched on a huge amount of the time. The psalms of King David clearly show a man who whatever the circumstances found his security/peace/whatever-it-is-that-stops-a-man-crumbling-under-pressure in God, another psalm (46) describes God as 'our refuge and strength' (NIV). God, as described in the bible, is 'the prince of peace', Romans 8 at the end has as strong a statement as you can get that 'Nothing shall separate us from the love of God' and he's described as 'God is love' in 1 John. Now. I don't know how to separate God loving me and me getting security from that fact. Read Psalm 23. 'Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your stalf, they comfort me' – this is a simple statement that the guy writing it has nothing to fear because of God – and more importantly Does not fear anything because of God. Large portions of 'Protestant Christiantity' would claim that 'You can have a personnal relationship with Jesus Christ!!' – this is now such a sterotyped phrase it's lost much meaning. To briefly restate it, it means that you can know God as you would know any other person, love him and experience his love for you, etc. This is the source of peace, or security, that the bible talks about (start of Philippians 2 is a pretty good example). It is my experience of being christian that this is not just reserved for 'saints' or other UberHoly ones. It's just part of the package the bible points to. I have a few things left to say. The first is that I'm not catholic bashing. That'd be silly – I'm not claiming any kind of monopoly on God's love within Protestantism, whatever I may or may not agree with in catholic teaching. Anyone who's read 'The Practise of the Presence of God' by Brother Lawrence who was a Catholic monk who lived quite a while back and had a deeper relationship with God than anyone else I've read about since the apostles could tell you that – and that's just one item in a long list of things I could bring up. The next – you'll note that 'Once saved always saved' or whatever highly detailed interpretation of the book of Revelation that was mentioned earlier have no part to play in what I've said. That's theology – you have to do more than tell someone they're loved to make them know it – you have to love them as well. Finally, I'd just like to say that if you've read this God loves you. (He did before as well; wouldn't want to make my comment look more significant than it actually is!) If there's anything in this that you'd like to get back to me on, do so. God bless

    10 Nov 2004, 00:40

  9. Sorry that I’ve taken a long time to reply, but other things have gotten in the way.

    Over-generalisation. Biblical inerrancy is only believe by the radical fringe of christians. Most accept the possibility that (a) the gospels are inaccurate and (b) certain passages may not describe a literal event.

    Ok, firstly point b) is a strawman, since biblical inerrancy does not entail the belief that the entire bible is literally true. Later on I’ll define biblical inerrancy for you since you seem to have a wrong idea of what it is.

    Also your reply seems to miss the point of my statement. My statement reflects one of the core doctrines of Christianity, that Jesus Christ was God incarnate, fully God and fully man and sinless. Jesus being 100% right has absolutely nothing to do with the bible of the gospels and their inerrancy or lack of it. It has to do with the person of Jesus Christ. Christians hold that Jesus was and is God and is therefore 100% right as God is.

    Take it up with the Catholics of the world, then.

    That’s what I was doing. No problem there is there?

    No one has an observable monopoly on the truth – that can be taken as axiomatic.

    And? Does this mean that I can’t affirm what I think to be true (with good reason) and combat what is false when I come across them? I don’t know if you’re trying to imply relativism here, but even if nobody has a absolute monopoly on the truth, it doesn’t follow that I (or you) can’t be right and other people wrong.

    Prove it.

    Follow our arguments. Our proofs are contained within. I can establish the near reliability of the New Testament record through textual criticism, establish that the gospels are likely to be accurate records, take Jesus’ comments on the Old Testament (the Law and the prophets) and from there establish the general biblical story to be true. Once there our arguments are very clear about security, its origin, why we feel it and therefore why we will not feel totally secure till after death. If you want me to write this fully I will, but it may take some time.

    Sorry for the delay

    Richard Cowan

    24 Dec 2004, 11:55


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