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Trusting God

July 17, 2007

Pony, interesting discussion over dinner yesterday! I have one suggestion:

Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? (Gen 17:17)

We can safely say that “fell upon his face” is not a sign of unbelief or disrespect, in fact it means otherwise:

And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him. (Gen 50:1)

And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face (Num 16:4)

The problem then seems to be “laughed” and “said in his heart,” the former being unbelief, and the latter possibly murmurings. (Which gives a new meaning to the condition of heart-murmur)

Hmm… almost after Abraham laughed, Sarah laughed too- and God disapproved of it:

Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. (Gen18:12-15)

Hmm it does seem that God choose to disregard Abraham’s laugh but confronted Sarah for laughing.

It seems to suggest laughter of two essentially different nature, do you think so? :)

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Obeying God

July 16, 2007

Dear pony,

Thank you for visiting my church again. Looking forward to having you with us again. :)

This is to follow from my “dun mind” comment on the solemnity of the church service- i believe my answer then, was that is because i believe that is the manner of worship that God likes or find acceptable.

This, i guess, is related to the divine command ethics:

In “Autonomy and Theological Ethics,” Robert Adams discussed four types of people:

1 The autonomous Nazist soldier: who kills because he believed (or rather act on the false belief) that Nazism is correct.

2.The conscientiously obedient Nazist soldier: who kills because he is following order.

3. The autonomous relief worker: who stops relief to the poor to go to corrupted authorities

4. The conscientiously obedient relief worker: who did nothing to stop relief to go to corrupted authorities.

1 and 2 are attitudes towards evil; whereas 3 and 4 are attitudes towards good.

Adam goes on to say that for an evil cause, it does seem that an autonomous person is more blameworthy; whereas for a good cause, an autonomous person is instead praiseworthy.

This then goes on to show that the obedience to God, which is something good, should be more praiseworthy if it is autonomous. Thus a person should believe in the moral truth because of the truth itself, rather than because God commands so. (Blind obedience, in his lexicon, is termed as “heteronomy.”)

However, he later coined a term used by Paul Tillich, called “theonomy:” “Theonomy asserts that the superior law is at the same time, the innermost law of man himself, rooted in the divine ground which is man’s own ground.” (p126) and concludes saying “the theonomous person may love his moral principles for their own sake, but believe that they owe their status as moral principles wholly or partly to their divine sponsorship.” (p127)

 Consider Gal 5:22-23:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. “

Given these fruits, I believe a solemn manner of worship aids in the cultivation of Christian character, and desirable as ends itself, even if it is not commanded by God. :)

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Pleasing God

July 11, 2007

Pony, this is to follow up on what we were discussing yesterday about the petitionary prayers.

I wonder what you think about the idea of “pleasing God?”

I guess my take is that God gives us freewill to freely choose to do things that are pleasing to him.

Hmm does this actually brought into question the immutability of God? – It seems the case to me.

As such there are things in which God cannot predestined to come into being unless He knows that it is the free wish of his creation. However, I guess being God, he sees the larger scheme of thing and sees further too. For example, a boy wishing for a birthday cake may not get his cake because that may say means that his parents have to go hungry by skipping lunch to buy a cake for him etc. – in that case, when we pray for God’s will to be done, we are praying for Him to help us decide on what is the best outcome for us.

That point aside, on the meaningful relationship we are talking about. An analogy will be father is thinking of buying me a cake for my birthday- but there is a difference between i voicing out my wish that i want a cake and not doing so. Father will definitely be happier and he may decide to give me a better cake! And coming back to the first point again, if it is his wish for me to have a cake rather than say a transformer toy that will distract me from my studies, then he will stick to his will. Though i may not understand why father should deprive me of a transformer toy, i trust that he loves me and wants the bring out the best in me- and thus i pray (no matter how unwillingly at this juncture) that his will be done.

Hmm what do you think? :)

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be perfect

July 5, 2007

“The command ‘Be ye perfect’ is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him – for we can prevent Him, if we choose – He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.”

CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 205-6.

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a new creation

July 4, 2007

“Already the new men are dotted here and there all over the earth. Some, as I have admitted, are still hardly recognisable: but others can be recognised. Every now and then one meets them. Their very voices and faces are different from ours: stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant. They begin where most of us leave off. They are, I say, recognisable; but you must know what to look for. They will not be very like the idea of ‘religious people’ which you have formed from your general reading. They do not draw attention to themselves. You tend to think you are being kind to them when they are really being kind to you. They love you more than other men do, but they need you less. (We must get over wanting to be needed: in some goodish people, specially women, that is the hardest of all temptations to resist.) They will usually seem to have a lot of time: you will wonder where it comes from. When you have recognised one of them, you will recognise the next one much more easily. And I strongly suspect (but how should I know?) that they recognise one another immediately and infallibly, across every barrier of colour, sex, class, age, and even of creeds.”

CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 223.

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

2 Cor 5:17

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Jon Kvanvig

July 3, 2007

here’s a link to the webpage of Baylor philosopher Jon Kvanvig. He’s a prominent christian philosopher and there’re chapters of a very interesting book on philo of religion available there, including ‘Autonomy, Finality and the Choice Model of Hell’, ‘Losing Your Soul’, and ‘Universalism and the Problem of Hell’.

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Heavenly Problems

July 3, 2007

“‘The Hunt,’ a provocative episode of the award-winning television series The Twilight Zone. An old hillbilly named Simpson and his hound Rip appear to drown in abckwoods pond but awake the next morning near the water, walk toward the local graveyard, come to an unfamiliar fence, follow it, and arrive at a gate. The gatekeeper explains to Simpson that he is at the entrance to heaven. He is welcome, but Rip is not; no dogs are allowed.Simpson becomes infuriated, declaring that he would rather stay with Rip than go to heaven, and man and dog walk away together. Soon they meet an angel sent to accompany them to heaven. Simpson protests that he won’t go without Rip, and the angel tells Simpson that Rip is welcome in heaven. The angel explains that if Simpson had left Rip and gone through the gate, he would made a terrible mistake, for the gate-keeper had lied: the gate was the entrance to hell. Why had Rip been excluded? He would have smelled the brimstone and warned Simpson away. As the angel says, ‘You see, Mr Simpson, a man, well he’ll walk right into hell with both eyes open- but even the devil cant fool a dog!’…

Heaven… defies description. What events take place there? How do individuals relate to each other? What activities occupy them? A familiar supposition is that harps are played, but how long can harp music suffice for felicity? We understand the happiness that Rip brings Simpson. But how does it compare to the joys Simpson would experience in heaven? Not knowing, we are comfortable with Simpson rejecting heaven and staying with Rip.

To see addition difficulties involved in grasping the concept of heaven, comsider the case of Willie Mays, the spectacular baseball player whose greatest joy was to play the game he loved. What does heaven offer him? presumably bats, balls, and gloves are not found there. So what does Willie May do? Assuming he is the same person who made that spectacular catch in the 1954 World Series, how can the delights that supposedly await him in heaven match those he knew on earth?

Furthermore, some of May’s fans found their greatest delight in watching him play baseball. Wont they delight this joy in heaven? Whatever heaven may offer them, they will miss Willie in action.

The problem mounts. Consider two individuals, peters and peterson, and suppose that peters looks forward to the joy of spending eternity with peterson, whereas peterson looks forward to the joy of being forever free of peters. Assuming they retain their distinctive personalities, including their fundamental likes and dislikes, how can they both attain heavenly bliss? 

More questions arise in attempting to understand the supposition that our bodies will be resurrected. Will they appear as they did when we were ten, forty, or eighty years old? …”

Steven M Cahn. “Heaven and Hell” God, Reason and Religion, 65-68 

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