Daniel P. Barron

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

BookerDeMitten:i It seems that the existence of evil adds ambiguity or doubtfulness to the existence of God.

Some say that God foreknows all that will occur, and the nature of all that he creates. Others adopt a more "open theist" position, (to varying degrees of openness regarding his extent of knowledge) saying that God cannot know (at least fully) something which does not yet exist.

With any of these interpretations, there is surely a point in his creation where evil occurs (evil by his own standards as much as anybody else's)

For me, the existence of such evil, and its continuation and perpetuation, mean that there is a distinct possibility that God lacks providence or that his authority, ability, or existence is questionable.

Daniel: God creates evil, (Isaiah 45:7ii) sends deception, and causes all things. (Romans 11:36iii)

BookerDeMitten: With this in mind, doesn't the fact that God condemns evil and even (according to certain religions like Christianity, I'm looking at multiple kinds of theism here) make attempts to amend it, through the cross, seem to contradict such claims that he sends deception? Why would he be interested in sending deception if he condemns it in laws like the ten commandments?

Daniel: He does these things so that He may show His wrath.

Romans 9:

22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

BookerDeMitten: Where does his wrath come from? Why is he angry with a situation that he has created?

Daniel: I don't know.iv

BookerDeMitten: Fair enough. I think that this makes his anger doubtful however, if there is no seeming factor legitimizing it.

Daniel: Lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5v) God says He is angry; (Psalm 7:11vi) that's all there is to it.

BookerDeMitten:

Lean not on your own understanding.

This seems self contradictory. If your own understanding points you to theism in the first place, surely you are in fact leaning on your understanding. Aren't you doing the same in quoting a passage instructing me to not lean on my understanding?

God says he is angry

This seems unlikely for reasons stated above. Is it possible that the author is mistaken? Usually anger is related to something either within yourself or the outside world. If God is perfect, he has nothing to be angry about in relation to himself. If it's the outside world, it seems unlikely since he created that world in the first place. Why would he as an all wise being create a world that makes him angry?

Daniel: God caused me to believe. It is not my will or understanding that made me come to this conclusion.

No it's not possible the author is mistaken. Scripture is God and it is from everlasting.

BookerDeMitten: How did God cause you to believe? What makes you think the Bible is true? Surely it must have some quality that elevates it above rest? At least from your experience, that is.

Daniel: He causes all things. (Romans 11:36) I don't know exactly how He does these things.

It's quality is such that nobody wants to believe it. (Romans 3:11vii)

BookerDeMitten: What makes you think the Bible is true?

Daniel: God makes me think so.viii

BookerDeMitten: You presumably experience the Bible as being more convincing than other religious texts, or secular philosophies, am I right? You could argue that it cannot be known how God causes this, but presumably it's the case that your experience of reading the Bible and being aware of it means that you believe it. True?

Daniel: I find the Bible to be more convincing only by the grace of God. I acknowledge how difficult it is to believe otherwise.

BookerDeMitten:

I acknowledge how difficult it is to believe otherwise.

So it's difficult to believe otherwise than you do? You couldn't just choose to believe in atheism, right? Just like I can't choose to believe either theism or atheism, I'm in-between.

You say you believe through grace. You tell me that I shouldn't lean on my own understanding, but surely it is your own understanding of grace, as well as reading about it in the Bible, that was God's medium of communication to bring you to Christianity?

Daniel:

So it's difficult to believe otherwise than you do?

Nono. I mean, without the grace of God, it would be impossible for me to believe Scripture.ix

You couldn't just choose to believe in atheism, right?

I grew up atheist.

medium of communication

I don't know and what does it matter?

BookerDeMitten:

I grew up atheist.

Nevertheless, you might have believed atheism was true then, but you can't just choose to believe in atheism now can you? Or can you?

I mean, without the grace of God, it would be impossible for me to believe Scripture.

Sure, but you do experience the legitimacy of that grace, correct? Whether it be an intuitive perception, instinct, experience of revelation (like the burning bush) or otherwise. Something in your life has made you aware of God's grace. Perhaps it's just your reading of the Bible. The Bible talks about grace. If it didn't, maybe you wouldn't believe. But nevertheless it does, and so this means you experience how convincing it is, am I right?

Daniel:

Perhaps it's just your reading of the Bible.

He made me believe before I had ever read the Bible.

you can't just choose to believe in atheism now can you?

Not outside of God's will.

BookerDeMitten:

He made me believe before I had ever Read the Bible.

Okay, so what experience did you have at the time? Did you just wake up one day and think "I'm Christian".?

Not outside of God's will.

Okay. So you experience God's will as compelling, is that right? God's will is something that you experience as convincing?

Daniel: It happened while I was awake, as far as I can tell. And yes I am convinced.

BookerDeMitten: Okay. Isn't your feeling of being convinced part of your understanding? Or a factor of your conscious life that you consider in your understanding of the world?

Daniel: I don't rely on my understanding. Some of Scripture doesn't make sense to me but I believe it anyway.

BookerDeMitten:

Some of Scripture doesn't make sense to me but I believe it anyway.

Your personal experience of being convinced (intuitively, through revelation, instinct, or otherwise) is what overrides that doubt, is it not?

Daniel: It's not doubt.

Isaiah 55:

9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

BookerDeMitten: Okay, but you say some of it doesn't make sense to you. So the stuff that does make sense to you, including your personal revelation, overrides the extent of your non understanding in the balance of factors contributing to your belief? Is that right?

Daniel: Sure.

BookerDeMitten: So surely this means you are, in part, relying on your understanding?

Daniel: I have an understanding of Scripture, but that isn't what I argue from. I cite Scripture when making a claim; I encourage you to check it for yourself, and not take my word for it.

I have an understanding of Scripture, but that isn't why I believe. The parts that make sense aren't why I believe. I believe because God has caused me to believe.

Matthew 13:

12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

Matthew 25:

29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.x

BookerDeMitten:

I believe because God has caused me to believe.

God must have given you some experience that lead to your conversion, whether it be a sudden epiphany, instinct, or a sign of some kind, etc. This would have spurred you on to believe. Whatever the turning point was, and however God gave you the understanding that he exists, it must have been known to you at the time. Keep in mind that I'm using the alternative of God giving you understanding rather than you "leaning on your own". Him providing you with understanding might be likened to the idea of God giving people strength, expressed in the saying "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change."

Daniel: The epiphany, I suppose, was that the only God worth worshiping is the one who entered into His own creation in order to die for it.xi

BookerDeMitten: This is a big theological subject, for now I'll just say that such a realization is a form of understanding. Theoretically at least I would suggest it doesn't have to be 'your' understanding as such, it could be argued that it was more a realisation that was passed down from God. It still seems to me a factor that lead you to Christianity, and thus you didn't simply come to believe within a vacuum, as it were. Would you agree?

Daniel: What is your point?

BookerDeMitten: Earlier you talked about the idea that I should not lean on my understanding. This was in response to me asking about why on earth God would be angry, if he creates all. But it seems to be your understanding that has lead you to Christianity in the first place. Therefore, aren't you asking me to abandon the predicate that lead you to the very faith that my own understanding makes me doubt?

Daniel: I don't lean on my understanding. That doesn't mean I lack understanding.

BookerDeMitten: What I mean is that the cause that God uses is like a 'drop' of reason itself. The cause is some kind of epiphany or revelation, which is a reason to believe.

  1. Identifies as "agnostic."
  2. Isaiah 45:
    7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

  3. Romans 11:
    36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.


  4. Darwin: It comes from His righteous and perfect character. “is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)

  5. Proverbs 3:
    5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    And lean not on your own understanding;

  6. Psalm 7:
    11 God is a just judge,
    And God is angry with the wicked every day.

  7. Romans 3:
    11 There is none who understands;
    There is none who seeks after God.


  8. Darwin: God is self-evident in His creation (Romans 1:20). He is also self-evident in His Word, the Scriptures (e.g. “ they willfully forget: that by the word of God . . .” (2 Peter 3:5). He also makes Himself known to all men (John 1:9), but they “suppress the truth” and hate God (Romans 1:18-32).

  9. John 6:
    44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

  10. These verses mean election. Those who are chosen to believe until the end will receive "more" in that they inherit eternal life. Those who are not chosen, even their understanding and faith will be taken away, and they will perish forever.

    Faith is required to understand these verses, because God spoke in parables to prevent people from believing.

    Matthew 13:

    10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

    11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

    ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
    And seeing you will see and not perceive;
    15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
    Their ears are hard of hearing,
    And their eyes they have closed,
    Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
    Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
    So that I should heal them.’

    16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

  11. Which isn't saying much, as many false Christians profess this.

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