Puzzles and Paradoxes Solved
By Gary Amirault
I get many newsletters, books, tapes, etc. sent to me. Most of them, I only get a chance to browse through to see if there is anything interesting to note for possible future reference. I was recently sent a magazine entitled Facts & Faith. This is an interdenominational magazine aimed at proving that science and the Christian faith are not in conflict. While many organizations such as this one usually call for a short earth history, this one believes the earth is billions of years old. The man behind the organization is a Dr. Hugh Ross.
In Volume 9, Number 1, First Quarter 1995 is a short article entitled Puzzles and Paradoxes by Kathy Ross. Since it is only four paragraphs long, I'll type out the whole article rather than paraphrase it:
Would you like some practice in dealing with a challenge to the Christian faith? Recently I received a letter from Charles in response to something he read in this column. Charles describes himself as a former "born again" Christian who has now come to view Christianity as morally repulsive. His letter presents a list of arguments in defense of his changed perspective. Virtually all these arguments center on puzzling or paradoxical doctrines, beliefs that many people besides Charles, perhaps people like you know or will know, struggle to understand and accept. My plan is to present Charles's case against the God of the Bible, one point at a time, and to invite your thoughtful, respectful response. Here's how the letter begins:
"Several issues ago I believe you asked the question if the existence of evil can be reconciled with a loving God. In asking that question, I presume that you are willing to accept the answer that best fits the evidence.
First, consider the Christian's explanation for the origin of evil. According to the literalist's view, human suffering is God's just punishment for Adam's disobedience. Now I ask you, if your great grandfather committed a murder, and the judge sentenced you to death for it, would you call the sentence just, or would you loudly protest that the judge was unfair? I suspect the latter. Yet, absurdly, the Christian would have us believe that God's sentence of death upon the entire human reace is fully justified because of a sin committed by Adam, a far more distant relative!"
Imagine yourself as one of our correspondence volunteers. What would you write to Charles in response to this first point? Does he accurately represent the doctrine of original sin? I look forward to hearing from you.
I encourage those of you who are reading Dew to write to Kathy Ross and give her your answers to Charles' question. Her address is: Kathy Ross, Reasons to Believe, P.O. Box 5978, Pasadena, California 01117. Below is the brief response I wrote in answer to Charles' question.
I am afraid the answers you will receive from the "Orthodox" church will not satisfy you and they shouldn't because they are not based on the nature of God, nor upon His attributes, nor upon the Scriptures.
The Calvinists will give you the most plain and blunt answer. It will go something like, "God is just." Who are you to ask God anything? Does the clay have the right to ask the Potter 'What doest Thou?' Man is by nature totally depraved and worthy of death. By grace, God has chosen from the foundation of the world to save a certain 'elect.' All others are destined to their 'just desert,' that is, a miserable existence of eternal torment in a fiery lake which will never be extinquished. Some leading Calvinsist even write that heaven would not truly be heaven without the existence of the vast hordes of mankind being punished with exquisite sufferings. Jonathan Edwards of "Great Awakening" fame would be one of these Calvinists who delighted in seeing "sinners in the hands of an angry God." You are repulsed at such a God, and rightfully so. This is not a God of Love, but a demon! Yet when removing 20 letter words from the long winded Calvinist Reformed sermons, the picture of God is truly a fiend. Charles, you should be repulsed at such a view.
The Arminianists, on the other hand (who are the majority), will tell you God didn't mean this awful fate to come upon mankind. He did the best thing He could to give you an opportunity to escape at least the eternal part of sin. He sent His Son to die in your stead for your great-great-grandfather's sin and if you will just say "Jesus come into my heart," He will pardon you for that original sin. Now if you screw up on your own after that, well, then you are on your own. He gives you an opportunity to escape the great barbecue but you can fall back into it from own sins. As for the fate of non-Christians, Arminianists, divide into many camps. Some will automatically let infants bypass "original sin" and just let them into heaven. Those who reach the age of accountability (which age varies depending upon the denomination you are in) are on their own. Most Arminianists believe that somehow everyone will at least have a chance to avoid getting toasted. Obviously, Charles, you see the flaws in this system. Children can see the holes in this mess, but theologians and Reverends seem to be blind to it. This kind of God is not All knowing nor All-powerful. Something snuck up and ruined His good plans for mankind and then had to come up with a secondary plan to salvage what He could. He won't be able to salvage all even with the death of His own Son because this thing called "free will" will lead billions into the eternal barbecue. This God created man with a mechanism in him that would eventually bring most of mankind into something far worse than death itself. Charles, again, even little children can see that something smells very foul here. This God is a wimp! In addition, those who embrace this God have to cut out quite a few scriptures which contradict this concept of God. As a matter of fact, both these groups, while claiming to be true to their supposed inerrant scriptures have to bury or twist many Scriptures to justify their doctrines.
Both these groups blame the devil and man for the presence of evil but God says, "I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:5-7, KJV) Now the New King James Bible in this passage softens "evil" and calls it "calamity." In Genesis 3:18 after the so-called "fall," God "cursed the ground for your sake!" (Genesis 3:17) Was creation subjected to futility because of Adam and Eve's "fall?" The Bible in all translations says, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Romans 8:18-21) Who subjected it? God, not some mythical free will or rebellious nature or Satan! Who are these "sons of God?" What does it mean for creation to be set free from the bondage of corruption?
Charles, I am sure you never got good answers from "orthodox" fundamentalist/evangelical circles. You never will. But one thing concerns me, Charles. You see, I have gone through much of the same thing you did. Churchianity has created a very foul image of God. It claims He is love, but you see that under the cosmetics of the church, their God is really not love. You have more love than what most denominations portray God as having. A normal mother would never bring a child into the world if she knew the odds were greatly in favor of the child being horribly abused for all eternity. Yet the church says God brought billions of human beings into the world knowing in advance that most of them would rot in hell. Charles, I saw these same inconsistencies, was sickened, but I could not forsake Jesus Christ. I had come to the place with Him where I had to say as one of the disciples did, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68)
Charles, as disgusted with the hypocrisy, greed, and corrupt teachings I saw in the dozens of churches I attended, I couldn't leave Christ because there was no other place to go. This caused me to cry out with all my heart for answers and He heard my cry and answered. He showed me clearly differences between Bible translations although I was told by church leaders there weren't any major differences. He showed me how the pagan doctrines of eternal torment entered into the Roman Catholic Church and that the Protestant Church is still basically Roman paganism. Our English translations have been translated by men whose minds were still blinded by these pagan teachings. They are getting better, but there are still some clear errors which church leaders are not willing to admit because they have locked themselves into the "biblical inerrancy" doctrine. They can't back off without admitting they have been wrong or purposefully deceitful.
Charles, my concern is about your saying you were once "born again." Perhaps you were born into a "church system" but if you were truly "born from above," you would have no other place to go but to Him. Were you born from the faith of Jesus Christ or did you put your faith into a church which preaches a false gospel? You see, when you are born from Him, He will eventually lead you into all truth. He will show you that our Father is love. He is also All-powerful, All-knowing, Omniscience, and He wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 4:9-11) Jesus came to do the Father's will, desires and work. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all mankind unto Myself." (John 12:32)
You see, Charles God has a purpose for everything, including suffering, evil, Satan, and even blind, dumb preachers. Read the enclosed list of dozens of scriptures which clearly declare Jesus was, is, and will be the Savior of the whole world, including you, your family, and your enemies. Also, read the booklets that show some clear English Bible translation errors which are not in the Hebrew or Greek. They have been added by theologians, not by God. One day you will see far enough to see that He was sovereign even in letting the church go astray just like Israel went astray. Oh, the wonder of His wisdom! Charles, lay your questions at the feet of Jesus Christ, your Savior, Lord, and King. He will clear up this confusion for you. Where else can you go? True Life is in Him and that is the Truth. "I am the way, the Truth, and the Life." Remember?