Jesus Christ and Satan

The Most Serious of Games

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I am acutely aware of the seriousness of faith. The major Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are all concerned with salvation, and how we can be “right with God”. If there is a God who has created this vast universe, as I am convinced there is, then His power to bring salvation or damnation is of the utmost importance and we are right to fear Him.

It is this fear of God which has led me to study religion in depth. In my adult life I have made it my mission to understand more about God and religion, and to try to ascertain what truth is and how I can live in the best possible way. I’m still learning, and the more I explore the more I realise the vast range of opinions that exist in matters that are of huge theological importance.

Heaven and HellIf heaven and hell exist, and if only one religious path leads to salvation, then many billions of people will be damned to hell. The reason I find this concept difficult is because I believe God is completely in control of our lives and our destinies. The idea that God would judge people for actions which He has freely undertaken (to unfold our lives in a certain way) is problematic as we can have done nothing freely to warrant God’s wrath. As a caveat to this, I must point out that it is not my place to judge God, and I don’t deny He has the power and authority to do whatever He chooses, even if damning certain people to hell might seem cruel or unfair to my human understanding.

I find it difficult to understand those who believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, but at the same time argue that we have free will. It is so clear to me that we do not have free will. We do not take the decision to be born. We do not choose to grow from nothing into babies and then toddlers and then teenagers and then adults. We do not choose the colour of our skin or our eyes. We do not choose how our organs are arranged in our bodies. We do not choose our parents, or our siblings. We do not choose to make our hearts beat, or our blood flow. We do not choose to grow our nails or our hair. We do not choose our dreams when we sleep. We do not choose to digest our food and drink.

In the same way, we don’t choose which thoughts will arise in our minds. If you believe you are in control of your thoughts then tell me, what is a thought? How do you make thoughts arise in your mind? What will you be thinking about in an hour’s time, or at this time next year? If you say thoughts are caused by your subconscious, then please explain what this subconscious is and who or what is in control of it. If you think that you are merely a product of evolution, then please explain what is the cause of this evolution. If you believe we exist due to a set of mathematical laws, then please explain why these laws exist. And tell me, why does anything exist at all?

What causes the seed to grow into a flower? What causes the tree to sprout up from the earth and grow its branches and its fruit? My friend, when you pray for good weather, a fruitful harvest, or a new job, are you not praying to a God who is in control? Do you really not see that God is in control of all things?

The Fall of ManAnd yet still, there are those who attempt to argue that God only does good things; that He is not in control of your ailments and your diseases; your very life and death. There are those who argue that God blesses them with a husband or wife, or a tasty meal, or a new job, but then deny that it is also God who causes the divorce, or the food poisoning, or the redundancy. Friend, can’t you see the hypocrisy in this way of thinking? Surely you know, if you are honest with yourself, that God is in control of all those things which you call “good” and all those things which you call “evil”.

I hear you arguing that your holy scriptures talk about the devil as the cause of evil in the world. Friend, do not be naive. Have you really thought in depth about what the devil is? I would like to know some attributes of this creature. Where does he dwell exactly? Does he live within a creaturely body? Is he able to somehow insert thoughts into your mind? Surely he would have to be omnipresent in order to control our thoughts. What are his powers? What does he control in contrast with what God controls? Please, give me some insights into Satan and his powers, and let those insights be rational!

If the devil exists, he must be under God’s control, as everything is. To argue against this would be to deny God’s omnipresence. The myth of the fall, and the entire Christian story, are based on the idea that we have free will, which we do not. How can it be said that we are sinners, when all of our sin is willed by God?

If you’re still not convinced, my friends, I’d like to invite you to undertake a simple exercise. Take a sheet of paper, divide it into three columns, and label the columns ‘God’, ‘Satan’, and ‘Human’. Then under each of those headings proceed to list the things of which each of the three persons is in control. We might call this ‘The Will Game’. You could even put certain activities into more than one column. My intention is to encourage you to think deeply about the cause of activity in existence, in the microcosm and the macrocosm.

heaven stairwayNow I do not wish to offend my Almighty God and Father, whom I kneel to in prayer each and every day. I do not wish to offend the God who has power to make me suffer in every moment for all eternity. Heavens, that is the last thing I wish to do! I am driven to speak the truth in accordance with my convictions, and may you, my friends, persuade me otherwise if I am wrong! I cannot argue that God is in control, as I have done here, and then deny that my convictions come from God. God must be willing me to write this article or I wouldn’t be doing so. The Lord knows full well that I am merely a puppet in His hands!

Perhaps I am in dangerous territory. Could it be that by speaking so openly about the truth that I perceive, I am participating in my own downfall? This worries me greatly. I don’t know whether the Christian story is so beloved by God that anyone who questions it is guilty of a grave sin. I can believe that the Christian story is God’s game that He has chosen to play over the last two thousand years, and maybe it is a great sin to shed light on the errors and inconsistencies in this great story which has produced so many saints and martyrs.

I write not to argue against God but to convey what God has revealed to me. I am a lonely voice in a world where either people have forsaken God in their atheism or they hold blindly to a set of doctrines and defend them at all costs. People are quick to say who will be saved and who will be damned, but I do not claim to have such knowledge, despite what any particular scripture says! I have a hope that God is ultimately merciful to every sentient being, and I do pray that God chooses mercy over damnation for all of us, regardless of our beliefs – beliefs which He has bestowed upon us!

Lord, forgive me if I have sinned in writing this article. You know my heart. You know that I hate doing anything that annoys or angers you. I know that if this article speaks to anyone, it will be through your Spirit working in the minds of those who read. I ask, Lord, that you would show these people only what is true, and that you would save their minds from any thoughts you would consider blasphemous. May your truth and your will prosper, Lord!

52 comments

  1. Hi Steven and all!

    Thank you Matt (Brumage ) for supporting my own steadfast (which Steven interprets as ‘bossy’!) views/ comments/ beliefs.

    Your second to last paragraph starting: ‘By the way…’ admirably sums up God’s written Word as, His ‘simple’ Truth. And the fact that we don’t fully understand all of His written Word is God’s method of drawing us into humble, meaningful prayer in asking for full understanding of it, when God’s Holy Spirit will enter our hearts and begin to guide our learning and lead us into ‘the light’ …gradually revealing all of God’s Truth about Himself.

    And I couldn’t agree more about: ‘Omni this or that’ which in effect is just an attribute to His unfathomable mystery, superiority and magnificence. God doesn’t describe Himself more profoundly or simply than when He says: ‘I AM’.

    The fact that many of us may feel at times that we don’t have much to thank God for or, doubt God as loving and merciful or, feel that God has deserted us proves; strangely enough, that to us He exists as a living God!

    Inserting our own theories or misguided thoughts between the lines of God’s written word in order to find meaning /answers favourable to our own particular questions/ problems or, in order to convince ourselves that in changing scriptural meaning we might change our own personal outcome or, that we can actually challenge God or barter with Him…and on His level too!!! …will only induce deeper fantasy and ultimately deeper confusion and worse still, possibly result in loss of faith altogether…how subtle satan is!!

    But like Matt says…’How shockingly solid the Bible is.’

    Best

    Jan

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    1. Hi Jan,

      I have every respect for your thoughts, comments, and beliefs; I just found some (not all!) of your comments a bit condescending. Apologies for any offence caused, I love you really!

      Steven

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    2. Hi Jan, Matt, Steven, et al!

      I consider the Bible to be shockingly flaky; not solid at all. It appears to me that many Protestant Christians, since the Reformation, have substituted the Bible as a thing to be worshipped, in place of the Pope – the ultimate authority for Roman Catholic Christians. I consider it to be dishonest to rationalise the errors and contradictions between scriptural passages as ‘our’ problem, our inability to understand God.

      Naturally, if you start by believing that the Bible is inerrant in its entirety, that it is God’s written word, you will inevitably fall into the trap of deliberate misinterpretation of ‘problem’ passages. Any contradictions that I point out can be easily rationalised, if you start off with that notion, without any reasonable doubt. This is a natural human tendency to defend what we believe, so I don’t know if any good will come of my pointing out the contradictions.

      God describing Himself as, “I AM”, is hardly revealing. Descartes said more in his famous sentence explained in the extract below –

      Cogito ergo sum[a] is a Latin philosophical proposition by René Descartes usually translated into English as “I think, therefore I am”. The phrase originally appeared in French as je pense, donc je suis in his Discourse on the Method, so as to reach a wider audience than Latin would have allowed.[1] It appeared in Latin in his later Principles of Philosophy. As Descartes explained, “[W]e cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt … .” A fuller form, dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum (“I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”),[b] aptly captures Descartes’ intent.

      It would seem, then, that Descartes was better able to explain the self-awareness of our individual existences than God could reveal something of His Own nature. Our ability to ‘doubt’ is an essential quality of human existence; something to be treasured, not shelved, even when we consider the nature of God and what has He really revealed to us? We need to examine the Biblical passages carefully and honestly, if we are serious about our desire to understand God and the purpose of our earthly existences.

      I’m prepared to highlight one area I consider to be a serious problem within the Bible and how readers respond to it will influence whether I reveal other problems I have . The sixth of The Ten Commandments makes it clear that we should not kill. However, several passages of the Bible instructed the Israelites to kill those who break the Law! Mostly, this is dealt with in Leviticus 20 and a link is included below for your consideration –

      https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+20&version=KJV

      Below is an extract of just one of the many laws for which execution applied when it was broken –

      9 For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

      Have you noticed how the last six words absolve the executors of the crime of murder by stating, “his blood shall be upon him”? In other words, it was his fault we had to kill him. This is a rationalisation, and I would suggest that this prescription for dealing with the offence was humanly conceived, and not dictated by God to Moses, as the supposed writer of Leviticus.

      Below is a link to a website that really does away with rational and ethical thinking and explains the rationale behind this extreme method of dealing with law breakers –

      https://bible.org/seriespage/15-capital-crimes-leviticus-20

      The writer is quite eloquent and persuasive, but the fact remains that in order to execute the offenders, the executors had to break the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” But the writer rationalises this wrongful act by saying that they were ‘co-participants’ with God, so that’s alright then.

      I consider that the work was written by an ‘apologetic’ to borrow one of the words used by Steven in several of his posts. You would think that as God ‘chose’ His people, the Israelites, that they would obey Him out of love and devotion, but it seems that this was either absent in them, or they were naturally such a licentious race that they needed Capital Punishment to ensure that they kept God’s laws! This may explain why the writer wrote this –

      “When God made certain sins crimes as well, the Israelites were strongly motivated to obey God’s laws and to avoid sin.”

      My own feeling, as a man of sensitivity, is that if I was placed in the position of one of the executors, I would experience revulsion at having to stone one of my fellow tribesman, or his slave, or his wife for committing adultery. I have never killed anyone, nor have I caused physical harm to anyone, except when I was at school, and only in self defense.

      We may not like to describe God as ‘omni’ this or ‘omni’ that, but to be worthy of regard as the Supreme Being, He surely could have caused the death of those who failed to keep the laws, with His Own Hand? Perhaps, a sudden, lethal heart attack or stroke, would have been more judicious than requiring His chosen people to be’co-participants’ in the executions? I think the people would have had the intelligence to see that God was taking the lives of the people who sinned against Him, especially if God took the lives of the trangressors while the sins were in progress, or very soon after. This would have obviated the need to be ‘co-participants’ in the killing of sinners.

      I shall stop here and await responses from those who feel they can answer the problem I have, that in order to limit the sins of the Israelites, they were, in my view, required to sin, by killing the ones that sinned?

      Please do not feel offended by anything I’ve written here, and do not take it personally. It’s one of the contradictions, in my mind, and you could simply ignore it as ‘my problem.’

      Peace and love to all,

      Dinos

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      1. Hi Dinos!

        In response to your comments about the Bible, I thought you might be interested to read this post that I stumbled upon today. At the end of the article the author lists various resources, including a link to a short essay that can be downloaded which contains arguments for and against Scripture being the inspired Word of God.

        The last line of the essay is this: “Therefore, as followers of Jesus, we worship the Christ of the canon, not the canon of Christ.” I think this relates to what you were saying about how the Bible has become an object of worship for some Christians.

        Anyway, the post is here:
        https://thefaithgap.com/2016/10/04/pay-no-attention-to-the-god-behind-the-curtain/

        Personally, I’m interested to read some of the books that are listed in the bibliography at the end of the article as this is an area I would like to explore further. But I do think that believing the Bible is inspired and inerrant must ultimately be an act of faith – theologians could argue about it endlessly with compelling evidence for and against.

        Love to you and Demetra,

        Steven

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        1. Hi Steven!

          I thank you for expressing your love to mum and me.

          You should be aware that I’ve included you in an email that includes a string of thoughts posted on another website. It shows how two Christians on that web site have responded to me on the issue of the reliability of the Bible as an information source about God.

          I thank you for responding to my comments and supplying the post that you stumbled on. I’ve looked at the titles and summaries of the books the writer referred to as “Helpful Resources.” It appears to me that the books he used to test the reliability of the Bible are all inclined to convince the doubter and are not genuine in their search for truth. Also, in his paper, he refers to the consideration of whether an “average Jew” could have written any of the scriptures, but the average Jew was illiterate, so this is a nonsense. Writers whose material was of their own thoughts would have been intelligent and literate. I would suggest that they would have qualified as philosophers of the time and probably read the genuine papyri before submitting their own work.

          I used to belong to the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), which was free and made no demands on its subscribers. New books were reviewed regularly and the reviews were often about six pages long. It was clear to me that these were serious books written by scholars who wanted to present the facts, the reviewers were scholarly, and that much of the accepted “scriptures” contained asynchronous details that made them of dubious authenticity. This was an unpleasant pill for me to swallow, but my desire for truth overrides my desire for comfort. Unfortunately, the Society grew so much that they had to unsubscribe those who did not contribute with critical reviews of new books and I couldn’t do that.

          I provided a link to a paper that consists of copies of extracts from books written by serious authors in my post on 21 September, which appears below this one. It’s certainly pertinent to this question, but it appears have been ignored, as nobody commented about any of its material. If you are serious in your quest to judge whether the Bible is truly inerrant in its entirety, that it contains only the word of God and not the word of philosophers, then perhaps you should have another look at it? If you read it all, as I have, you should find some very interesting points.The link is copied below:

          Click to access Did_Paul_write_Timothy_or_Titus.pdf

          Peace, love and truth to all,

          Dinos

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  2. Hello readers!

    I’ve said before that there are many denominations within Christianity. If we want to believe that the Christian Bible is pretty solid, we have to do it by faith alone. Consider this –

    Within the Old Testament the canonical books number 49 in the Orthodox; 46 in the RC;,and, 39 in the Protestant.

    Also, the Bible cannot promote itself; people gathered together to decide which books should be included and which should be excluded. Scholars have determined through scrutinising the ‘scriptures’ that some of the material was added by writers other than those to whom they have been ascribed. This means that they were not necessarily inspired and may explain why they seem to contradict previous passages of the Bibles we read. Apparently, this applies more to the NT than the old. Below is a link that deals with this in detail –

    Click to access Did_Paul_write_Timothy_or_Titus.pdf

    It is rather lengthy, but there are some useful comments made at the end in the Conclusion, and if you page up from there to page 112, in an extract from a book called “Jesus Interrupted.”

    Unlike many Christians, I do not feel uneasy that some of the Bible is unlikely to have been written by the ascribed authors because my faith is not based on the Bible, but on God through self-realisation. I have no intention to cause doubt to those who prefer to believe in their version of the Bible in its entirety, merely, I offer a different explanation for the apparent contradictions in passages of the Bible, other than it’s due to our limited understanding.

    Peace and love to all,

    Dinos

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