Thursday, February 05, 2009

Re 3: What I Believe

Continuing the discussion, Niffer says:
The fact that you listed "I like to debate" as one of your 25 things about yourself should have warned me about this. LOL.
First things first: I am *not* trying to debate you. You are welcome to believe whatever you want. My only purpose for this discussion is to tell you why I believe what I believe. And perhaps to provide a better perspective of Christianity than the one you had when we started this discussion. I'm not trying to convince you to take that perspective as your own. That's entirely up to you.

That being said, I am trying to persuade you of one thing: that it's not entirely crazy for Christians to believe what we do. Even the part that says Jesus is the only way. I'm *not* asking you to believe this. Just that it's possible to be true.
In a pathetic attempt to continue with your analogy, I will comment on providing you with a rocket to go to the moon...
Yeah, there comes a point in any analogy where it breaks down. All I was trying to say is that for some questions there is only one answer. For example, 2+2 = ? There's only one answer for that. You might prefer the answer to be 5 or 3.1459 or Ice Cream or whatever... but 4 is the only one that's correct. The analogy of the rocket breaks down after a while. For example, it becomes false if we ever invent Star Trek like transporter technology.

I'm of the opinion that our relationship with God is much more like the math problem than the transportation problem, in that there is one answer only. And that's the answer for now and for always. God is different from us and apart from us in a way that makes it impossible, no matter how creative we get, for us to find him on our own. He *must* be involved. In fact, he's got to do most of the work. We simply don't know enough about where we are in relation to him that we can ever navigate our way out of it.

Using another analogy, it's kinda like asking a slug to operate a computer. The slug is just not equipped for doing that, no matter how hard it tries. Not only does it not have fingers. But it doesn't really have good enough eyes to see with. Nor does it have a brain large enough to comprehend what a computer is other than a surface. Asking a slug to operate a computer is outside of the slug's capabilities. Similarly, I think that asking a human to find God, without God, is outside of our capabilities. Christianity is the only major world religion that says this. Every other one thinks that we find God by what we do. I think that God's just too different from us for that to be true.

(*) Remember that this is just an analogy. Over time, slugs could evolve to use computers. That is not my point. My point is that God is beyond the ability of evolution to replicate. So no amount of evolution or time or whatever would ever help us to find God. He's just too different from us. We need him to come and get us.
Of course, I say all this with the word "you" being in general, and not aimed at YOU MJH.
Of course.
I bet there are some good books out there. I should look into that.
The book that I would recommend to you is called "Letters From a Skeptic", by Greg Boyd. If you were someone I knew in person and we were talking over the cube wall or the backyard fence, I'd buy the book and give it to you. It presents the case for Christianity. So it may not be as ecumenical as you'd prefer. But it's a good book. Another one that I would recommend is "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. I re-read that book every couple of years. Lewis has a writing style that uses a lot of different idioms. Some find him difficult to read. But, save for one part, I love the book.
Heck, it took me all day just to type out my response, and it still came out sounding silly to me. Oh well.
That is the only silly thing that I read.

Update: I forgot to comment on this:
But there exists people who just aren't that kind-hearted. They don't respect the human race, as a whole, and thus they aren't interested in taking a shuttle, staircase, space elevator, or even dreaming about the moon.

If you don't have respect for life and those around you, then I see no reason for you to continue to be in their presence, whether that be here on Earth or in Heaven, or even in this life or the next.
I absolutely agree that there are people who simply do not care at all that God is looking for them. That doesn't keep God from loving them any less and hoping for their return. Once God has found us, He begins to work on us. And once he's begun, he'll be faithful to complete what he's started. That work changes us into the kind of creature that he intended when he made us.

So, yes there are people who are mean, and self-centered. And many of them are Christians. The only difference is those who are allowing God to fix what's broken in them, and thus are getting better bit by bit, and those who are not allowing God to fix them, and thus are getting worse bit by bit. In both cases, bit by bit can be really fast or really slow. So don't be surprised if you see good behavior from non-Christians or bad behavior from Christians. We're on the same sea. But we have different starting points and we're pointed in different directions.


Niffer said...

I still owe you a comment. Hopefully I'll have time today.

mjh said...

??? You don't owe me anything. Comment if you want to. In the list of priorities, commenting on my blog should be pretty low.

Niffer said...

Finally I have the time and energy to write back! Go Niffer!

The first thing I'd like to comment on is:
"I am trying to persuade you of one thing: that it's not entirely crazy for Christians to believe what we do. Even the part that says Jesus is the only way. I'm *not* asking you to believe this. Just that it's possible to be true."

Oh, I definitely think it's a possibility. A real possibility. I think that there is a lot of good in the Christian religion, especially if "done right". And in so many ways, what you have been saying makes a lot of sense. So, no I do not think that Christians are entirely crazy, including Jesus being the only way.

I think the ironic thing, though, is that there really isn't a way for anyone to know for sure. You have to wait until you're dead before you know which religion or belief is right. Until then, you have to depend on your faith and whatever makes sense to you personally. And both of these things differ from person to person. Someone is right.

I do have another thing to mention in light of the "Jesus is the only way"... Whenever I read that, I interpret it differently than I know my religious family members do. My family members believe that the way to Heaven is to accept Jesus as your personal savior. I interpret it as "being more like Jesus is the only way to Heaven." Now, you could argue that accepting Jesus as your savior instills the desire to be more like him, but I would argue that is not the case for some of my family members. I would also argue that it is possible to be more like Jesus without believing he is one's personal savior. I'm not sure if I'm making sense. I guess I'm just trying to say that I interpret "Jesus is the only way" as "trying to be more like Jesus is the only way" and not "accept him as a savior is the only way."

And I totally agree with your Update.

I hope all is well with you and your family! Have a great weekend!

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