Figuring Out Religion

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Stillwaters
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Stillwaters » Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:06 pm

Mountaineer wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 12:08 pm
Stillwaters wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:05 pm
I remain fascinated by the “Gate is Narrow” viewpoint. If I understand Mountaineer and Xan’s position correctly…most of humanity will be damned for eternity. Many through no fault of their own (raised in different culture, religion, never exposed to Christianity, etc.). Others are damned because they have heard the word but “Do Not Get It” or as others have said “I can’t make myself believe in Santa Claus”. This would mean “billions” in torment.(perhaps 100’s of billions if the 2nd coming is delayed another thousand years). In any event, this mass damnation is very abstract and does not carry much emotional heft.

I would like instead to bring it down to a more personal level. I want to present a very real situation (but we can call it hypothetical) that does occur and see how Mountaineer and Xan would handle it. Say that a very good friend (a Believer) of yours has a daughter who he loves beyond almost anything in this life. She and he have a very close relationship with many common interests. She is also very devoted to her father. She is now an adult with her own family and she is NOT a Believer. They have had many discussions regarding his Faith but it is very clear that she no longer has the faith (and perhaps never really had it due to other outside influences over the years). She is very forthright that she has no interest in this subject matter any further and has told her Dad that this topic is now off limits. Any further broaching of the issue could irreparably damage the relationship. This close friend comes to you very distraught with two questions:

1) Is my precious daughter going to suffer in Hell for eternity? (you have to be honest even though he is your friend)

2) If she is to suffer for eternity how can I possibly be happy in Heaven?

Not to jump the gun on #2 but I would assume that God would have to erase from him any memory of her. If this is the answer, then he has in fact been re-programmed like a machine, and the true love between them and by extension all humans is not of true sacred lasting value, eternal of otherwise.

Again, any response in your own words (vs. Scripture or other reference material) is most appreciated.
Stillwaters, thanks for the ongoing discussion; I'll do my best to address your questions.

First of all, it is important to again mention my presuppositions to refresh you on where I’m coming from with my answers. I believe Scripture is inspired and for practical purposes inerrant (i.e. use an accurate translation(s)) when taken in context and that Scripture interprets Scripture with the clearer passages helping to understand the less clear. That means I believe Scripture is God’s authoritative Word and includes all He wants us to know which is sufficient for our salvation. If there is a conflict, God's authoritative Word takes precedence over man's reason. I also agree with Luther that we are not to explore the hidden side of God, that side He does not reveal to us via His Word (Scripture and Jesus). I believe Satan does everything he can to deceive us, cause us to doubt, cause us to believe we are the most important item in the universe. Satan rarely, if ever, attacks head on; frequently there is just a slight bending of the truth, enough to still sound good and reasonable and will deceive unless we are quite well versed (pun intended). Most heretics start out by trying to explain something that is unclear and not revealed in Scripture. Scripture is clear that God has/is allowing Satan to roam the earth and create havoc for reasons God knows. So, here is my response:

The end will not come until all have heard the gospel (Mt 28:19-20, Mk 13:10). That addresses your comment about people who through no fault of their own have not heard. Thus, if they do not believe after hearing the gospel, it is their own fault. All we can do is pray that God gives them the gifts of repentance and faith. It is only our job to proclaim the Word, tell others of the gospel; it is not our job to browbeat them into believing.

1. I do not know. I think it is entirely possible that a person, including the precious daughter in your example, can confess belief in Christ on their deathbed. Think about the thief on the cross next to Jesus who Jesus said will be with Him today in paradise. I also believe that God can do anything He wants and that his thoughts are not our thoughts (Is 55:8-11) and anything we speculate is just that, speculation to no good end. I believe God is a God of mercy as well as a God of wrath. That said, I believe Scripture is very clear about what happens to unbelievers after their death and about those that teach heretical ideas (for example: Mt 13, Mt 22, Lk 13, Rev 20), there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

2. It seems to me if there is no pain, no tears, no death, and no mourning we will be quite joyful (happy, completely at peace) in the new Creation (Rev 21:4). How that happens, or if we will remember loved ones who are not with us, I have no idea.


Bottom line is God is God and I’m not. I must say however that I too have many questions like you that are unanswerable by Scripture on this side of the Last Day. I think that is a natural human tendency and the solution is continual repentance and continually remembering that I am a baptized child of God, forgiven for Jesus’ sake and what He did on the cross for us all. Thanks be to God and my parents that I was baptized as an infant at which time I received the Holy Spirit that enables me to know Jesus.

Blessings.
Mountaineer,

Thank you for what I consider a very solid and straight forward response to my questions. This is new to me that ALL will hear the word no matter what historical age, culture, geographic location or mental aptitude. Not something that has been emphasized by other Christians. This of course assumes that an enormous mass of humanity, those already dead, will be brought back to life in order to hear the word that have not heard the word. That is quite an interesting interpretation of scripture. That only leaves those that "can’t believe even if they want to” and what a terrible deal for them.

Back to the friend example though. Let me change the set-up just slightly because I don’t believe speculation is fruitless when it comes to such a life and death matter. Lets say your good friend came to you two days after his daughter perished in a car accident. Now there is no chance for a death bed conversion. Her fate is sealed. I am still trying to image what you would tell your friend to comfort him without twisting scripture which is quite clear on the matter. In this scenario, I would imagine there is nothing you can do to comfort him. If his faith is true and without doubt he should be in an awful state (needing counseling, meds, unable to focus and work) for the remainder of his life. Imagine someone told you that your daughter will fall into the hands of ISIS and be tortured forever. You would be occupied with worry and trepidation on a daily basis.

The love of a child often eclipses one’s own personal wants and desires. I would also guess that there be many a parent who would take a bargain with God and swap for their daughter. In other words, trading one's salvation (including the selfish element for pleasure and continuance that many have) for the life, love and happiness of a child. Here is my observation though: There are innumerable households in this situation where a Spouse, Brother, Sister, Son or Daughter is lacking in Faith. If the believers in these households really believed in the Hell aspect of the teaching they would be in a near continuous tizzy and sense of urgency over the fate of their loved ones. Yet we are not seeing this. It's as if this idea is either being suppressed in the subconscious or what I really suspect…there is great doubt among MOST believers that this aspect of the teaching is true.

This brings me to the topic of doubt. There is an example in my own circle of a very fundamentalist family losing their seventeen old son due to an unexpected tragedy. A year later this family is still unconsolable. I spoke with a fundamentalist friend of mine and ask this question: "If this family truly believes that they will be with their son for eternity, after just a few more decades of their own lives, why are they so incapacitated? I would expect them to be sad and miss him but not experiencing the pain of those with permanent loss”. My friend did not have an explanation for me. So here are my next three main questions if you have the patience to bear with me:

1) What would you tell your friend about his daughter that had perished in the car crash faithless? Is there any hope you can give him without butchering scripture interpretation or resorting to the empty “cannot know Gods mind"? I would think your friend's remaining life will ultimately be shattered by the situation. What mental suffering lies ahead!

2) I have heard it said that faith ranges from weak to absolute. Does it matter how much doubt/faith one has with regards to being saved?
In other words, would the faith of a mustard seed be enough for salvation?…this would change the calculus quite a bit. Surely the Church must provide some guidance between soft belief and ALL IN Belief, otherwise why even distinguish Faith this way?

3) You had mentioned quite awhile back in this thread that, and I am paraphrasing: “My daughter has a stronger faith than me”. Does that mean that you carry some doubt no matter how small even now? If not, what did that mean? From your responses to most on this thread (over the years) you never give any ground. Not even simple statements like “that’s an interesting perspective that I haven’t thought about and I could see why that would cause unbelief”. Your answers are alway brimming with confidence and absolute in nature. Even questions that bother Theologian Scholars and Christian Apologists roll off you like Teflon. I detect NO DOUBT or conversely ABSOLUTE FAITH.


Thanks again for taking the time to respond to these incessant questions. I promise to slow way down in the days/weeks ahead.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:11 am

Stillwaters wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:06 pm
Mountaineer wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 12:08 pm
Stillwaters wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:05 pm
I remain fascinated by the “Gate is Narrow” viewpoint. If I understand Mountaineer and Xan’s position correctly…most of humanity will be damned for eternity. Many through no fault of their own (raised in different culture, religion, never exposed to Christianity, etc.). Others are damned because they have heard the word but “Do Not Get It” or as others have said “I can’t make myself believe in Santa Claus”. This would mean “billions” in torment.(perhaps 100’s of billions if the 2nd coming is delayed another thousand years). In any event, this mass damnation is very abstract and does not carry much emotional heft.

I would like instead to bring it down to a more personal level. I want to present a very real situation (but we can call it hypothetical) that does occur and see how Mountaineer and Xan would handle it. Say that a very good friend (a Believer) of yours has a daughter who he loves beyond almost anything in this life. She and he have a very close relationship with many common interests. She is also very devoted to her father. She is now an adult with her own family and she is NOT a Believer. They have had many discussions regarding his Faith but it is very clear that she no longer has the faith (and perhaps never really had it due to other outside influences over the years). She is very forthright that she has no interest in this subject matter any further and has told her Dad that this topic is now off limits. Any further broaching of the issue could irreparably damage the relationship. This close friend comes to you very distraught with two questions:

1) Is my precious daughter going to suffer in Hell for eternity? (you have to be honest even though he is your friend)

2) If she is to suffer for eternity how can I possibly be happy in Heaven?

Not to jump the gun on #2 but I would assume that God would have to erase from him any memory of her. If this is the answer, then he has in fact been re-programmed like a machine, and the true love between them and by extension all humans is not of true sacred lasting value, eternal of otherwise.

Again, any response in your own words (vs. Scripture or other reference material) is most appreciated.
Stillwaters, thanks for the ongoing discussion; I'll do my best to address your questions.

First of all, it is important to again mention my presuppositions to refresh you on where I’m coming from with my answers. I believe Scripture is inspired and for practical purposes inerrant (i.e. use an accurate translation(s)) when taken in context and that Scripture interprets Scripture with the clearer passages helping to understand the less clear. That means I believe Scripture is God’s authoritative Word and includes all He wants us to know which is sufficient for our salvation. If there is a conflict, God's authoritative Word takes precedence over man's reason. I also agree with Luther that we are not to explore the hidden side of God, that side He does not reveal to us via His Word (Scripture and Jesus). I believe Satan does everything he can to deceive us, cause us to doubt, cause us to believe we are the most important item in the universe. Satan rarely, if ever, attacks head on; frequently there is just a slight bending of the truth, enough to still sound good and reasonable and will deceive unless we are quite well versed (pun intended). Most heretics start out by trying to explain something that is unclear and not revealed in Scripture. Scripture is clear that God has/is allowing Satan to roam the earth and create havoc for reasons God knows. So, here is my response:

The end will not come until all have heard the gospel (Mt 28:19-20, Mk 13:10). That addresses your comment about people who through no fault of their own have not heard. Thus, if they do not believe after hearing the gospel, it is their own fault. All we can do is pray that God gives them the gifts of repentance and faith. It is only our job to proclaim the Word, tell others of the gospel; it is not our job to browbeat them into believing.

1. I do not know. I think it is entirely possible that a person, including the precious daughter in your example, can confess belief in Christ on their deathbed. Think about the thief on the cross next to Jesus who Jesus said will be with Him today in paradise. I also believe that God can do anything He wants and that his thoughts are not our thoughts (Is 55:8-11) and anything we speculate is just that, speculation to no good end. I believe God is a God of mercy as well as a God of wrath. That said, I believe Scripture is very clear about what happens to unbelievers after their death and about those that teach heretical ideas (for example: Mt 13, Mt 22, Lk 13, Rev 20), there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

2. It seems to me if there is no pain, no tears, no death, and no mourning we will be quite joyful (happy, completely at peace) in the new Creation (Rev 21:4). How that happens, or if we will remember loved ones who are not with us, I have no idea.


Bottom line is God is God and I’m not. I must say however that I too have many questions like you that are unanswerable by Scripture on this side of the Last Day. I think that is a natural human tendency and the solution is continual repentance and continually remembering that I am a baptized child of God, forgiven for Jesus’ sake and what He did on the cross for us all. Thanks be to God and my parents that I was baptized as an infant at which time I received the Holy Spirit that enables me to know Jesus.

Blessings.
Mountaineer,

Thank you for what I consider a very solid and straight forward response to my questions. This is new to me that ALL will hear the word no matter what historical age, culture, geographic location or mental aptitude. Not something that has been emphasized by other Christians. This of course assumes that an enormous mass of humanity, those already dead, will be brought back to life in order to hear the word that have not heard the word. That is quite an interesting interpretation of scripture. That only leaves those that "can’t believe even if they want to” and what a terrible deal for them.

Back to the friend example though. Let me change the set-up just slightly because I don’t believe speculation is fruitless when it comes to such a life and death matter. Lets say your good friend came to you two days after his daughter perished in a car accident. Now there is no chance for a death bed conversion. Her fate is sealed. I am still trying to image what you would tell your friend to comfort him without twisting scripture which is quite clear on the matter. In this scenario, I would imagine there is nothing you can do to comfort him. If his faith is true and without doubt he should be in an awful state (needing counseling, meds, unable to focus and work) for the remainder of his life. Imagine someone told you that your daughter will fall into the hands of ISIS and be tortured forever. You would be occupied with worry and trepidation on a daily basis.

The love of a child often eclipses one’s own personal wants and desires. I would also guess that there be many a parent who would take a bargain with God and swap for their daughter. In other words, trading one's salvation (including the selfish element for pleasure and continuance that many have) for the life, love and happiness of a child. Here is my observation though: There are innumerable households in this situation where a Spouse, Brother, Sister, Son or Daughter is lacking in Faith. If the believers in these households really believed in the Hell aspect of the teaching they would be in a near continuous tizzy and sense of urgency over the fate of their loved ones. Yet we are not seeing this. It's as if this idea is either being suppressed in the subconscious or what I really suspect…there is great doubt among MOST believers that this aspect of the teaching is true.

This brings me to the topic of doubt. There is an example in my own circle of a very fundamentalist family losing their seventeen old son due to an unexpected tragedy. A year later this family is still unconsolable. I spoke with a fundamentalist friend of mine and ask this question: "If this family truly believes that they will be with their son for eternity, after just a few more decades of their own lives, why are they so incapacitated? I would expect them to be sad and miss him but not experiencing the pain of those with permanent loss”. My friend did not have an explanation for me. So here are my next three main questions if you have the patience to bear with me:

1) What would you tell your friend about his daughter that had perished in the car crash faithless? Is there any hope you can give him without butchering scripture interpretation or resorting to the empty “cannot know Gods mind"? I would think your friend's remaining life will ultimately be shattered by the situation. What mental suffering lies ahead!

2) I have heard it said that faith ranges from weak to absolute. Does it matter how much doubt/faith one has with regards to being saved?
In other words, would the faith of a mustard seed be enough for salvation?…this would change the calculus quite a bit. Surely the Church must provide some guidance between soft belief and ALL IN Belief, otherwise why even distinguish Faith this way?

3) You had mentioned quite awhile back in this thread that, and I am paraphrasing: “My daughter has a stronger faith than me”. Does that mean that you carry some doubt no matter how small even now? If not, what did that mean? From your responses to most on this thread (over the years) you never give any ground. Not even simple statements like “that’s an interesting perspective that I haven’t thought about and I could see why that would cause unbelief”. Your answers are alway brimming with confidence and absolute in nature. Even questions that bother Theologian Scholars and Christian Apologists roll off you like Teflon. I detect NO DOUBT or conversely ABSOLUTE FAITH.


Thanks again for taking the time to respond to these incessant questions. I promise to slow way down in the days/weeks ahead.
Stillwaters, I enjoy our conversations. Here is my response to your three questions:

1. I would tell my friend that I cannot begin to understand the depth of his feelings, the sense of loss, the grief, as I have not yet experienced such painful feelings as he seems to have. I would also tell my friend that I’m here with you, to pray with you, to talk with you, to hug you, to cry with you, to just be with you. You are not alone. When my friend is ready, I would read Scripture with him, probably a lot of the Psalms as they deal with the diversity of human feelings from despair to joy. I would remember that even Jesus cried out on the cross - My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22). I would also pray for my friend that the Holy Spirit would bring him peace and comfort. I know and trust that God works all things for His good purposes even though I or my friend may not understand why, where, when or how. I would remember the five solas - grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone, Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. I would remember God is in charge, not me and not my friend.

2. The Scriptures are full of accounts about varying faith: Peter walking on water, and when he took his eyes off Jesus he sunk; Doubting Thomas; Jesus frequently rebuking his disciples for their weak faith. We are simultaneously 100% sinner and 100% saint - sinners sin because they are sinners. We are saints because Jesus declared us so. Sinners do not have perfect faith, or perfect anything else. I am saved because I confess Jesus is Lord (in various forms such as the three creeds) and trust in the promises of Jesus. I know that God can do anything, and I know Scripture clearly says what is required to be saved. God may use other methods or save others that do not follow what is said in Scripture, but I’m going to go with what He chose to reveal to us and not what isn’t said. And, as I’ve said before, I cannot determine what is in the heart of others from their conception forward about their belief regardless of whether they say they believe or say they do not believe; that is God’s job and way above my pay grade.

3. See my response to 2. I KNOW I am saved because Jesus says so because I confess ‘Jesus is Lord’. I also know that I can fall away if I do not routinely go to where I receive Jesus via the Word and Sacraments. A poor analogy but probably makes my point: If I want to live on this earth for a long time I must routinely breath oxygen and drink liquids and eat food. I can skip a few breaths or meals, but if I skip many consecutive breaths or meals I shall perish.

I hope this addresses your questions. Best wishes.

Blessings.
Rev 22:6-21
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Stillwaters » Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:31 pm

Mountaineer wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:11 am
Stillwaters wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:06 pm
Mountaineer wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 12:08 pm


Stillwaters, thanks for the ongoing discussion; I'll do my best to address your questions.

First of all, it is important to again mention my presuppositions to refresh you on where I’m coming from with my answers. I believe Scripture is inspired and for practical purposes inerrant (i.e. use an accurate translation(s)) when taken in context and that Scripture interprets Scripture with the clearer passages helping to understand the less clear. That means I believe Scripture is God’s authoritative Word and includes all He wants us to know which is sufficient for our salvation. If there is a conflict, God's authoritative Word takes precedence over man's reason. I also agree with Luther that we are not to explore the hidden side of God, that side He does not reveal to us via His Word (Scripture and Jesus). I believe Satan does everything he can to deceive us, cause us to doubt, cause us to believe we are the most important item in the universe. Satan rarely, if ever, attacks head on; frequently there is just a slight bending of the truth, enough to still sound good and reasonable and will deceive unless we are quite well versed (pun intended). Most heretics start out by trying to explain something that is unclear and not revealed in Scripture. Scripture is clear that God has/is allowing Satan to roam the earth and create havoc for reasons God knows. So, here is my response:

The end will not come until all have heard the gospel (Mt 28:19-20, Mk 13:10). That addresses your comment about people who through no fault of their own have not heard. Thus, if they do not believe after hearing the gospel, it is their own fault. All we can do is pray that God gives them the gifts of repentance and faith. It is only our job to proclaim the Word, tell others of the gospel; it is not our job to browbeat them into believing.

1. I do not know. I think it is entirely possible that a person, including the precious daughter in your example, can confess belief in Christ on their deathbed. Think about the thief on the cross next to Jesus who Jesus said will be with Him today in paradise. I also believe that God can do anything He wants and that his thoughts are not our thoughts (Is 55:8-11) and anything we speculate is just that, speculation to no good end. I believe God is a God of mercy as well as a God of wrath. That said, I believe Scripture is very clear about what happens to unbelievers after their death and about those that teach heretical ideas (for example: Mt 13, Mt 22, Lk 13, Rev 20), there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

2. It seems to me if there is no pain, no tears, no death, and no mourning we will be quite joyful (happy, completely at peace) in the new Creation (Rev 21:4). How that happens, or if we will remember loved ones who are not with us, I have no idea.


Bottom line is God is God and I’m not. I must say however that I too have many questions like you that are unanswerable by Scripture on this side of the Last Day. I think that is a natural human tendency and the solution is continual repentance and continually remembering that I am a baptized child of God, forgiven for Jesus’ sake and what He did on the cross for us all. Thanks be to God and my parents that I was baptized as an infant at which time I received the Holy Spirit that enables me to know Jesus.

Blessings.
Mountaineer,

Thank you for what I consider a very solid and straight forward response to my questions. This is new to me that ALL will hear the word no matter what historical age, culture, geographic location or mental aptitude. Not something that has been emphasized by other Christians. This of course assumes that an enormous mass of humanity, those already dead, will be brought back to life in order to hear the word that have not heard the word. That is quite an interesting interpretation of scripture. That only leaves those that "can’t believe even if they want to” and what a terrible deal for them.

Back to the friend example though. Let me change the set-up just slightly because I don’t believe speculation is fruitless when it comes to such a life and death matter. Lets say your good friend came to you two days after his daughter perished in a car accident. Now there is no chance for a death bed conversion. Her fate is sealed. I am still trying to image what you would tell your friend to comfort him without twisting scripture which is quite clear on the matter. In this scenario, I would imagine there is nothing you can do to comfort him. If his faith is true and without doubt he should be in an awful state (needing counseling, meds, unable to focus and work) for the remainder of his life. Imagine someone told you that your daughter will fall into the hands of ISIS and be tortured forever. You would be occupied with worry and trepidation on a daily basis.

The love of a child often eclipses one’s own personal wants and desires. I would also guess that there be many a parent who would take a bargain with God and swap for their daughter. In other words, trading one's salvation (including the selfish element for pleasure and continuance that many have) for the life, love and happiness of a child. Here is my observation though: There are innumerable households in this situation where a Spouse, Brother, Sister, Son or Daughter is lacking in Faith. If the believers in these households really believed in the Hell aspect of the teaching they would be in a near continuous tizzy and sense of urgency over the fate of their loved ones. Yet we are not seeing this. It's as if this idea is either being suppressed in the subconscious or what I really suspect…there is great doubt among MOST believers that this aspect of the teaching is true.

This brings me to the topic of doubt. There is an example in my own circle of a very fundamentalist family losing their seventeen old son due to an unexpected tragedy. A year later this family is still unconsolable. I spoke with a fundamentalist friend of mine and ask this question: "If this family truly believes that they will be with their son for eternity, after just a few more decades of their own lives, why are they so incapacitated? I would expect them to be sad and miss him but not experiencing the pain of those with permanent loss”. My friend did not have an explanation for me. So here are my next three main questions if you have the patience to bear with me:

1) What would you tell your friend about his daughter that had perished in the car crash faithless? Is there any hope you can give him without butchering scripture interpretation or resorting to the empty “cannot know Gods mind"? I would think your friend's remaining life will ultimately be shattered by the situation. What mental suffering lies ahead!

2) I have heard it said that faith ranges from weak to absolute. Does it matter how much doubt/faith one has with regards to being saved?
In other words, would the faith of a mustard seed be enough for salvation?…this would change the calculus quite a bit. Surely the Church must provide some guidance between soft belief and ALL IN Belief, otherwise why even distinguish Faith this way?

3) You had mentioned quite awhile back in this thread that, and I am paraphrasing: “My daughter has a stronger faith than me”. Does that mean that you carry some doubt no matter how small even now? If not, what did that mean? From your responses to most on this thread (over the years) you never give any ground. Not even simple statements like “that’s an interesting perspective that I haven’t thought about and I could see why that would cause unbelief”. Your answers are alway brimming with confidence and absolute in nature. Even questions that bother Theologian Scholars and Christian Apologists roll off you like Teflon. I detect NO DOUBT or conversely ABSOLUTE FAITH.


Thanks again for taking the time to respond to these incessant questions. I promise to slow way down in the days/weeks ahead.
Stillwaters, I enjoy our conversations. Here is my response to your three questions:

1. I would tell my friend that I cannot begin to understand the depth of his feelings, the sense of loss, the grief, as I have not yet experienced such painful feelings as he seems to have. I would also tell my friend that I’m here with you, to pray with you, to talk with you, to hug you, to cry with you, to just be with you. You are not alone. When my friend is ready, I would read Scripture with him, probably a lot of the Psalms as they deal with the diversity of human feelings from despair to joy. I would remember that even Jesus cried out on the cross - My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22). I would also pray for my friend that the Holy Spirit would bring him peace and comfort. I know and trust that God works all things for His good purposes even though I or my friend may not understand why, where, when or how. I would remember the five solas - grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone, Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. I would remember God is in charge, not me and not my friend.

2. The Scriptures are full of accounts about varying faith: Peter walking on water, and when he took his eyes off Jesus he sunk; Doubting Thomas; Jesus frequently rebuking his disciples for their weak faith. We are simultaneously 100% sinner and 100% saint - sinners sin because they are sinners. We are saints because Jesus declared us so. Sinners do not have perfect faith, or perfect anything else. I am saved because I confess Jesus is Lord (in various forms such as the three creeds) and trust in the promises of Jesus. I know that God can do anything, and I know Scripture clearly says what is required to be saved. God may use other methods or save others that do not follow what is said in Scripture, but I’m going to go with what He chose to reveal to us and not what isn’t said. And, as I’ve said before, I cannot determine what is in the heart of others from their conception forward about their belief regardless of whether they say they believe or say they do not believe; that is God’s job and way above my pay grade.

3. See my response to 2. I KNOW I am saved because Jesus says so because I confess ‘Jesus is Lord’. I also know that I can fall away if I do not routinely go to where I receive Jesus via the Word and Sacraments. A poor analogy but probably makes my point: If I want to live on this earth for a long time I must routinely breath oxygen and drink liquids and eat food. I can skip a few breaths or meals, but if I skip many consecutive breaths or meals I shall perish.

I hope this addresses your questions. Best wishes.

Blessings.
Mountaineer,

Thanks again for your responses and the conversation in general. Nice response to your hypothetical friend in #1 by the way.

I did find one of your statements in Question #2 to be interesting. Specifically: "God may use other methods or save others that do not follow what is said in Scripture, but I’m going to go with what He chose to reveal to us and not what isn’t said.” That point of view seems to offer hope for those who simply cannot believe. Its suggests that Christianity/God could possibly have some wiggle room depending on circumstances that can’t be known because they are not spelled out in Scripture. I certainly see the logic of following the Word to the tee if one has the ability to believe (to greatly increase the odds of success). Ultimately I find the fear based aspect of the teaching (Hell) to be counterproductive in bringing more thoughtful or educated or sensitive people to the faith. I also found the quotes in the link from Hal’s post from the OT to be an interesting contradiction to the NT stance on the issue. I guess the mystery of how to choose between two contradictions will never be clear to me because resolving them in “context” can be such a subjective endeavor.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Xan » Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:43 pm

Just interjecting here real quick: Hal's quote is from Ecclesiastes, which is a weird book. It's basically a book of the Bible that excludes God, in other words, it describes life when lived purely as a "creature" rather than a child of God.

Luther's introduction includes:
"in this book Solomon is speaking simply about the human race and is clearly confining himself within the limits of human nature."

So when Hal's quote says that men die just like animals with no difference, that's in that context. I hope I'm describing this correctly because I'm really not certain I quite understand the point of view of Ecclesiastes myself.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by jacksonM » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:03 pm

Xan wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:43 pm
Just interjecting here real quick: Hal's quote is from Ecclesiastes, which is a weird book. It's basically a book of the Bible that excludes God, in other words, it describes life when lived purely as a "creature" rather than a child of God.
Thou aren't not far from the Kingdom of God Xan.

(P.S. - my mother died today. I helped convert her to Christianity so I hope she is enjoying a blessed eternity).
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Wed Jan 23, 2019 5:46 am

jacksonM wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:03 pm
Xan wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:43 pm
Just interjecting here real quick: Hal's quote is from Ecclesiastes, which is a weird book. It's basically a book of the Bible that excludes God, in other words, it describes life when lived purely as a "creature" rather than a child of God.
Thou aren't not far from the Kingdom of God Xan.

(P.S. - my mother died today. I helped convert her to Christianity so I hope she is enjoying a blessed eternity).
JacksonM, I'm sorry for your loss. It is not easy to lose a parent.

May God comfort you as you deal with all that is to come.

Blessings.
Rev 22:6-21
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Xan » Wed Jan 23, 2019 9:31 am

Very sorry to hear that, Jackson.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Stillwaters » Wed Jan 23, 2019 12:39 pm

Condolences JacksonM and very sad to hear of your loss. I can, due to recent events, relate. We just lost our Dear next door neighbor last night. Lost my Father last year and Mother-in-law in November. The pre-Baby Boomer generation is rapidly moving on. :'( Stay well!
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Wed Jan 23, 2019 1:54 pm

Stillwaters wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 12:39 pm
Condolences JacksonM and very sad to hear of your loss. I can, due to recent events, relate. We just lost our Dear next door neighbor last night. Lost my Father last year and Mother-in-law in November. The pre-Baby Boomer generation is rapidly moving on. :'( Stay well!
Wow Stillwaters! That is a lot of loss in a short period of time. My condolences to you as well as Jackson. :'(

Blessings.
Rev 22:6-21
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by pugchief » Wed Jan 23, 2019 4:25 pm

Condolences JacksonM
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by jacksonM » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:10 am

I appreciate all the condolences. My mother was 98 so she lived a good, long life. I wasn't there but I heard she was saying "Jesus is Lord" on her death bed for the last few days. Having been raised Catholic, she had also asked for the last rites to be performed to cover all bases.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:21 am

There are two basic themes in Holy Scripture. One is called the Law and one is called the Gospel. Both are from God and both are holy, both are necessary, and both are needed. The Law always focuses on the action or inaction of a person. It makes demands in the form of commands regarding what to do and prohibitions regarding what not to do. The Law reveals the problem of sin. The Gospel always focuses on the action of God to save us through His Son, Jesus Christ. It makes no demands upon us whatsoever, but showers blessings upon us. It is a happy proclamation of what God freely gives us through Jesus. Jesus does all the work; we do none of it. Instead of giving commandments and prohibitions, the Gospel gives promises and assurances.

The problem is that many Christians are not aware of the distinction, and as a result, they painfully confuse God’s Word. If the difference between Law and Gospel is unknown, then the Scriptures appear to be full of contradictions. If the difference, however, is known, then the relationship becomes elegant, exciting, and powerful. If people don’t think they have a problem, then they will never be interested in a solution. God’s Law is designed to be used by the Holy Spirit to convince people they have a problem. However, no one can convince others they need to confess their sin to God and seek God’s help for their problem of sin. This is something God Himself must do. He uses means to do that: proclamation of the Word via hearing and reading Scripture, baptism (water plus Word) gives the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s Supper (bread and wine plus Word) gives us Christ Himself, and Confession and Absolution assures us our sins are forgiven. Christians must wait on the Holy Spirit to work when and where He pleases to work in the hearts of people as only He can. This does not contradict that God desires all people to be saved; it reminds us that the timing for when faith comes is always in the hands of God.
Rev 22:6-21
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