Can you name one moral action done by a theist which could not be done by an atheist?
Can you name one evil action done by a theist which could not be done by an atheist?*
*As in they would never do it because it’s silly, not because they are physically incapable of doing it.
Can you live like Hell your entire life and get into Heaven with a death bed confession? While this appears like quite a complex question, I think the answer is fairly simple. Yes.
My personal view of Soteriology (the study of salvation) really has little to do with the “confessor” and a majority to do with the recipient of the confession. The Bible teaches that salvation comes from God and God alone and that man is incapable of coming to God without divine intervention, which comes in the form of regeneration (God renews the heart and mind of a fallen man to draw the individual to Himself). If it were up to us, Scripture is quite clear that we would never come at all because we are naturally at opposition to God. So God calls when God wills, whether that is at an early age or at the end of a life. So it is entirely possible that someone could live their entire life in sin and then experience of the grace of God immediately before death. Doesn’t seem fair? Let’s explore.
One Biblical example in particular stands out on this subject. While Jesus is hanging on the cross, one of the thieves cries out for mercy. Jesus responds by promising that they would be together in paradise. Now, this thief died soon after this interaction and has no opportunity to preform redeeming acts to compensate for his life of sin. Fortunately for him, it was never about what he can do.
Salvation does not represent a perfection of the recipient, but a covering of righteousness that ends in justification in the eyes of God. I am not a better person on my own now than I was before Christ called me into a relationship with Him. The difference is that my sinful life is now covered in Christ’s righteousness, not because of anything I have done since, but because of what Jesus did previous. So the long and short of it is, whether you are a follower of Christ for 80 years or thirty minutes, the righteousness of Christ is sufficient to make you just.
To the Christian, if this angers you then your priorities are quite out of whack I’m afraid. We are taught that living this life in a relationship with Christ is the most amazing blessing that we can have. I look forward to being able to serve Him for 60 years (hopefully) and I am blessed to have been called earlier in my life. To live life here with Christ is to live life like it was truly designed.
Another response to chillin’s questions on the Ask page.
Chillin asks, “What makes theism any more valid than deism?”
Deism contends that there is a “first creator” who brought about the existence of the universe and then left it spinning on it’s own accord. This removes the personal intimacy that theism presents, stating that the God who created the universe also fellowships and participates in it. So what makes the latter more valid than the former? I’m not sure that this is a very valid question, because the perceived validity of worldviews is relative to the holder, but I will tell you why theism is more valid to me. I held a deistic theology/worldview for a few years of my life because I had some “intimacy issues” with God. Through unforeseen events in my life and the studying of the Bible, I began to see the evidence of a God who does not merely watch the universe go by, but who intervenes in a constant and personal way. In a more generalized sense, I would say that both theism and atheism are more valid in respectability than deism. Deism itself is a sort of cop out (similar to agnosticism). It seems rather noncommital, identifying a god, but to lazy to attempt to know it. This is not a complete answer, but if I presented why theism is most valid, you would surely respond by calling me closed minded. Also, discussing why theism, and Christian theism in particular, is the most valid worldview would be a book more than a post.
Another chillin question from the ask page. I promise I’ll get caught up soon, everything is just a touch hectic lately.
Chillin: How did god decide what’s moral and what’s not?
I’ll try to keep it short and allow for most of the dialouge in the comment section. When you look at God’s moral law (the ten commandments), the laws that are held within are based upon God’s character. God is perfectly holy and unparalleled, thus worshipping a created being is not moral. God gives life, and thus murder is man acting as God and taking life (I’ll rebut after you give me the typical “so why did God kill people in the Old Testament” spill. Just put it in comment form). God is pure truth, so lying is contrary to God’s character and thus immoral. The idea of morality is based solely on God’s unchanging character and immorality are actions and heart conditions that are contrary to that character.
Another chillinatthecabstand question from the ask section. (He asks it in a more detailed form on his blog)
If the point of humans is to worship God, what then is the point of God’s existence?
Response: The question has a “could God make a rock He couldn’t lift” quality to it, but I defintely think that it is a good discussion to have. Let me clear up some misconceptions in your post first. God exists for Himself and in community with Himself. You claimed in your post that God cannot talk to Jesus or the Holy Spirit because they are paradoxally the same being. While this is true, we see God refer to Himself in plural pronouns and named in the the plural Elohim in Genesis and conversing within Himself. Also, you claimed that God cannot be friends with His created beings, which is also not theologically and biblically accurate. Moses was called a friend of God and that phrase is used several times throughout Scripture to define His followers. The Bible is very clear that God created man in order to fellowship with them.
I noticed some comments on chillin’s post that appeared to claim that God just exists with no clear purpose. This is definitely not true. The purpose of God’s existence is existence. Let me explain. God exists so that everything else can exist. His purpose is to create and give purpose. He is the uncreated Creator and without Him nothing can come into being. Our worship of God is required because He makes existence possible. God also exists for fellowship and community with Himself and His creations. God’s purpose is creation, receiving glory and fellowshipping with His creations.
Chillin: Good thought about God’s existence being boring, but as you documented quite well, God is distinctly different in many ways from humanity and you are assuming that boredom would be in His character and make up.
Look forward to some response.
More from the Ask Page! My buddy chillinatthecabstand posed this question
Can you name one moral action done by a theist which could not be done by an atheist?
Chillin: First off, that’s three questions, so I charge double. I would have to say that the answer is no. Morality is a character trait that is found in all people (theist and nontheist) that is dominant is some and less so in others. If one subscribes to theism, that does not remove the ability to act immorally and one who does not believe in God is not incapable of moral actions. That is why you have Christians committing immoral actions and atheists being philanthropists and vice versa. As a Christian, I hold that all men were created in the image of God and even though sin has marred that, the communicalbe trait of morality is still present in all people in some form. Christians are not by nature any “more moral” on their own, merely that they have had their immoralities atoned for. Followers of God are supposed to seek hard after living a right and moral life, but we still fall because we are still human, but this does not negate the atonement. In the same way, just because a nontheist may act morally most of the time, there is still a sinful nature in need of atonement. So all that said to say, no, there is not an immoral action that a theist cannot commit and there is not a moral action that a nontheist cannot commit. I hope this answered the question at least somewhat sufficiently. Look forward to all your responses!
Robert posed this question on the “Ask” page of my blog. Check out my response and throw in your feedback!
· How should theology be fitted into the life of the average church member? How much theology should they know, and to what extent? Which doctrines do you think they should know as required or essential?
Chuck Colson in his recent book has some great thoughts on this, and just wondering what yours are. Thanks!
Good question. I am a huge fan of education, especially in the church. For instance, I am a youth pastor and we have begun running our Sunday Morning Bible Studies in a way that would meet the requirements for an undergrad degree in Bible college. We did an indepth overview of the O.T. and we are currently working through the Synoptics. I think God has given us the gift to learn about Him and know Him and we should take full advantage of that. I think most church members do not know because we do not teach. A church member should know what they believe and why they believe it so that they can love God in the way we are instructed, but also so that they can defend their faith properly when called upon to do so. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and when we feed the church members sound doctrine, it is amazing what God can do through that.
As far as what doctrines are essential, that will obviously vary by denomination. Since I am a pastor at a reformed Southern Baptist church, I teach very heavily on God’s soverignty and the doctrines of grace. However, there are essentials and there are negotiables and we should defintely stress the essentials (that being the deity and humanity of Christ, inerrancy of Scritpure, virgin birth, etc). The others, I would say, have room for disagreement in the body and different churches will dwell on different things. We also spend a great deal of effort and teaching on the two greatest commandments; loving God and loving people.
I hope this answers your question, looking forward to some feedback.
I have posted a new page with an open forum setting in mind. If you have any questions about theology, doctrine, theism, etc., post it up on the ask page and I’ll do my best to give you an adequate answer (or point you in the direction of someone who can do it better). Should be fun, so participate at will.