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Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Synod of Dort, Fear, and Power Worship



The more I reflect upon the history of Christianity, and particularly the Reformed tradition, the more convinced I become that fear is a reoccurring theme and primary motivation for obedience. It is out of the terror of hell that masses have been converted, it is out of sheer horror of endless torment and torture that people are urged to bow and submit to God. Sinners are in the hands of an angry God according to Jonathan Edwards. What is utterly detestable to me is that God, according to the Synod of Dort, decided the final outcome of this inconceivable fate before any decisions by his creatures were ever made. All things are according to God’s eternal decree. This amounts to every woman that was ever raped, every child who has ever been ravaged by hunger and disease, every tragic car accident, every tsunami, hurricane, earthquake, tornado, child molestation, cancer, and holocaust was a part of God’s plan. It was God’s decision, God’s decree, and God’s immutable will whereby these ideas were conceived. This is bleak, dark, and disgusting, but is typically proudly accepted by those who desire to glory in the ultimate sovereignty of God. I write with such passion because I used to hold to the 5 points of Calvinism. I used to teach the supposed doctrines of grace. I now see that there is nothing gracious, or glorious about them.

In Reformed theology, God decreed these monstrosities before time was even created, yet God is said to be free from all responsibility. Even though God decreed the event, man is ultimately responsible. Some Reformed scholars talk about “compatablism,” which seeks to preserve God’s sovereignty and the responsibility of man. It does not seek to explain how man can be responsible if all events are planned and designed by God, but just states this is fact. This is not an answer and should be rejected until an explanation can be produced. Secondly, all of the ghastly events described above are said to be for the ultimate good. In other words, there is apparently consolation knowing that rapes and murders, molestations, and human sacrifice are for the greater good. Is this the wise council of God? Is this as good as God could have done? Could not the good of a few elect have come about without all of the blood, pain and torture? I certainly think so.

Lastly, it seems that most people who hear about Reformed theology are repulsed by the dogmas and doctrines, and rightly so. If the God described in Reformed theology is so utterly repulsive, if God brings people into being who never asked to be created in the fist place only to be a vessel of wrath, why would anyone worship such a God? Since I was one of these people, all that I can say is that I was immature. I took pride in submitting to something that others despised. It was a kind of badge of honor I walked around with. I saw myself as one who believed the truth and lived for the truth. The truth was that God was sovereign and this meant that God controlled all events. Everything happened according to God’s sovereign will, in God’s sovereign timing, for God’s sovereign purposes. All revolved around the sovereignty of God. This was God’s glory. I taught people about it, and didn’t even bother myself with trying to convince anyone that my God was the true God because if God wanted anyone to believe and submit then God would give faith and regenerate their wicked heart.

If this is what God is like, I submit that noble, righteous, and just creatures should rebel. They should rise up with one heart and attempt to overthrow such a detestable dictator. For this kind of God sounds more like a devil than a saint. If God is good, and I believe God is, then God will stand on the side of those who intend to demolish and overthrow such heinous conceptions of the deity. These are bold statements and they arise out of a heart that has been freed from fear. Perfect love casts out fear and I think many more would join with me if they were not scared of being eternally inflicted with red, hot, fiery flames. Crippling fear is common and not unusual. History is filled with examples of people being ruled and dominated by unjust, heavy-handed, bloodthirsty tyrants. Many have submitted and obeyed such beasts. But every once in a while, the people can stand it no longer and they join hands and with noble, upright, peace-seeking, justice-loving, freedom-fighting hearts, and put an end to such tormentors. I look forward to the day when despicable conceptions of God are not taken seriously in theological circles, but abandoned for what hopefully amounts to a God who is truly, authentically, and genuinely worthy of honor, praise, and worship.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My comments in “(((…)))” under your sectioned original posting:

The more I reflect upon the history of Christianity, and particularly the Reformed tradition, the more convinced I become that fear is a reoccurring theme and primary motivation for obedience. (((Yes, we are called to “fear God and keep His commandments…Ecc 12:13-14” for we humans, before God’s rescue plan in Grace by Christ’s sacrifice were like fish in water—we did not know we were wet…with sin. We are only different now…being made new creatures with a new heart of flesh, in which God’s Holy Spirit moves us to follow Him…in that NOW we DO know we are ‘fish’ (‘wet’ with sin) who are helpless and hopelsess and in need of ‘rescue’ and we seek God through Christ by the leading of His Holy Spirit. We are changed and now desire to follow Christ and know follow God's laws/character. We strive to follow God's laws AFTER knowing Christ not before. We are not saved by 'works' to follow the law but by gratitude for what Christ did we therefore desire to follow God's law. Further and in spite that we still fail and fall into sin, we are under God’s grace and not under God’s law. We only desire Godly ways out of graditiude/love for what Jesus did for us first)))

It is out of the terror of hell that masses have been converted, it is out of sheer horror of endless torment and torture that people are urged to bow and submit to God. (((Yes, (and no) we should fear Hell as it is a place of where everything that God has created is not and we won’t like being there with a regretful screaming conscience …forever. What’s that verse??? Do not fear man but rather fear him who after killing the body can also cast you into hell. I sense that you feel we are going to end up like puppets on a string or bees in a hive just busily scampering about praising God and Christ? If our spirit is currently in objection to adoring praise on God and Jesus (and His Spirit) in and of deep gratitude for His rescue plan to save us then we will NOT be in Heaven but rather hell. I am confident that there will not be one spirit in Heaven who does not want and desire to be there (out of Love for Christ's work to save us) and like wise having God reject us to Hell will not meet with much HONEST objection either. We will GET what we really desire/deserve either we will say to God now: “Thy will be done” or God will say to us: “They will be done”))).

Sinners are in the hands of an angry God according to Jonathan Edwards. (((Those who reject God and Christ HERE in time will not get a second chance later on the other side of time. God wants us to believe in faith for it is by grace through Faith that we are set aside once we KNOW then that is different. Jesus, looked more kindly on those who believed without knowing than…for example Thomas, who had to poke his finger in Jesus side and see the holes on His hands BEFORE he would then believe. We have God written in our minds and in our hearts we have eternity set in us and we are left without any excuse just by looking around at what God has created. Scientifically...do you know how very special this planet is? Go see the DVD a “Privileged Planet” (put that into Google))))

What is utterly detestable to me is that God, according to the Synod of Dort, decided the final outcome of this inconceivable fate before any decisions by his creatures were ever made. All things are according to God’s eternal decree. This amounts to every woman that was ever raped, every child who has ever been ravaged by hunger and disease, every tragic car accident, every tsunami, hurricane, earthquake, tornado, child molestation, cancer, and holocaust was a part of God’s plan. It was God’s decision, God’s decree, and God’s immutable will whereby these ideas were conceived. This is bleak, dark, and disgusting, but is typically proudly accepted by those who desire to glory in the ultimate sovereignty of God. I write with such passion because I used to hold to the 5 points of Calvinism. I used to teach the supposed doctrines of grace. I now see that there is nothing gracious, or glorious about them. (((Dan?? With all the theology (schooling) you have stated you have why is it you ask all these either (rather) basic questions or they are so detailed and specialized that they are overwhelmingy? It sounds to me like you were just introduced to the Gospel of John or that you (or one) would want to micro-inspect say for example God’s declaration: created the world in “6 days” into so much detail that it would be beyond our mind to comprehend? We need to trust His Word and His plan for our rescue in Christ and not ‘inspect it to the point of our inability to understand—Satan loves it when we do this—for if God were to answer all our “6 day” creation questions we in fact COULD NOT possibley understand it. God is outside of time He ‘sees’ everything in the now; whereas, we see everything as past experience for which we then project (learning hopefully from our past experiences and mistakes) into our future to make good or better decisions. In a sense, I like to think (ponder) that we do not have a, ‘ now’. For as soon as we mention it (or do something in the) ‘now’ it is then…the past. When we ‘do’ something ‘now’ that action is where God truly ‘sees’ our character. God, therefore knows all we do or will do as time is not a restraint to Him...we can not hide (this is a tough and confusing way to operate but it is like this because we are spiritual beings corked-up into clay jar bodies). God, does not desire pain on us but he will allow us the ability to choose right from wrong and then to be responsible for that choice. You know this, Dan…for Love can not be forced via ultimatum and still be true love. If you swing a hammer and miss the nail but smack you finger…is that God’s fault?!!! Of course not! If you drink and drive or even go to an air show in which your family gets killed http://www.ramstein-1988.de/28412.html do you blame God? Did you read, the book of Job? God counts us as extremely valuable for He gave up His Son’s blood in order to offer us a rescue option—but He will NOT force us to accept it. Yet if we do not then it is it His fault we did not take it? Of course not!! It is our responsibility, and without that rescue plan that conclusion is death and separation...forever. Do not count pain and suffering as something that is always negative…remember God sees things differently than we do—we are in the ‘trees’ He is outside the trees and can therefore see the ‘forest’. Many things in the Bible (in Christianity) are totally ‘upside-down' from what reality is…in the Spirit (first is last richer poorer etc) but pain can also be a good thing (biblically!). Think about this: if you had NO pain cells in your body then you would hurt yourselves and never even know it—you’d die! Your body would not be able to tell you to stop this or that or go here or there or take a pill of spit that food out because it is rotten—you could cut yourself shaving and not even know it! Well, if you had no heartache (emotional pain) then you would have no conscience. You’d have no feelings of love or remorse or regret nothing—you’d be no more than an ant existing in a hill…and when you ceased to perform (died) we’d just kick your useless frame outside and forget about you! Imagine it...without a conscience you’d be a sack of sin…you’d sin and not even know it—that is until you got to Hell. In fact you'd go gleefully into Hell without a clue--God gave you a conscience to allow you the choice to protect your spirit from the wiles of Satan (for Satan wants you to run out of time and never accept God's plan in Christ). God made us in His image (ponder this) and so at one time before the Fall (and when then sin entered the world) we knew of things like God did/does and we had a heart of justice (fairness) like God dis/does because we walked with God and had communion with God in perfect understanding and harmony. When sin entered the ‘picutre’ our Godly knowledge was tained into ‘curiosity’ and our Godly justice was tainted into ‘conscience’. They both still work BUT…we can elect to do what is right or wrong because we now have the knowledge of good and evil (the difference between the twos). It is He who tweaks the curiosity He gave us and it is He who taps on our conscience. We do not do anything to, "Come to Christ". We do NOT "accept Jesus", God tweaks the curiosity that HE gave us and via that and the conscience we then desire to know Him. Without God’s Holy Spirit our spirit is doomed))).

In Reformed theology, God decreed these monstrosities before time was even created, yet God is said to be free from all responsibility. (((of Course God is free of the responsibility was it God who chose to ‘eat the fruit of that tree’? Again we have to have the responsibility. If God had not allowed the ‘tree’ to be there so that we could not have disobeyed then we would be puppets without the capability to commune in Love with our creator. And as far as God knowing that we would disobey before we even did so…then that’s still OK because any love act on His part imparted towards us is better than no act of love and no us. Besides even though we were the guilty party who did the ‘bad’ deed it was God who came down into His own polluted creation and died for His own creation!! Dan??? What do you want from God? He gave all He had to save us and if we individual choose to say “no” to Him and refuse Christ then why should He then say…”well, that’s OK come on in to my presence forever anyway”? Certainly you do not believe God to be a fool and wimp…?)))

Even though God decreed the event, man is ultimately responsible. Some Reformed scholars talk about “compatablism,” which seeks to preserve God’s sovereignty and the responsibility of man. It does not seek to explain how man can be responsible if all events are planned and designed by God, but just states this is fact. This is not an answer and should be rejected until an explanation can be produced. Secondly, all of the ghastly events described above are said to be for the ultimate good. In other words, there is apparently consolation knowing that rapes and murders, molestations, and human sacrifice are for the greater good. Is this the wise council of God? Is this as good as God could have done? Could not the good of a few elect have come about without all of the blood, pain and torture? I certainly think so. (((it is God’s answer to Himself that is important, not man’s answer to God. All these cannons and synods and dogmas, and doctrines and other types and offshoots of Christianity bother me. All the ‘isums’ and all the religious names: Protestant, Catholic, Baptist and the like bother me. Give me God’s Word in one of His translation (or multiple translations) and allow me to read, memorize verses, and pray…(and perhaps some good outside reading from Godly men) and God’s Holy Spirit will do the rest—that’s His job anyway! I’m the sinner. I’m the one that needed rescue. I’m not greater than God nor will I ever be for Pride is what started all this MESS in the first place!!!)))

Lastly, it seems that most people who hear about Reformed theology are repulsed by the dogmas and doctrines, and rightly so. If the God described in Reformed theology is so utterly repulsive, if God brings people into being who never asked to be created in the fist place only to be a vessel of wrath, why would anyone worship such a God? Since I was one of these people, all that I can say is that I was immature. I took pride in submitting to something that others despised. It was a kind of badge of honor I walked around with. I saw myself as one who believed the truth and lived for the truth. The truth was that God was sovereign and this meant that God controlled all events. Everything happened according to God’s sovereign will, in God’s sovereign timing, for God’s sovereign purposes. All revolved around the sovereignty of God. This was God’s glory. I taught people about it, and didn’t even bother myself with trying to convince anyone that my God was the true God because if God wanted anyone to believe and submit then God would give faith and regenerate their wicked heart. (((I’ve already commented to some of this above…but one thing caught my eye…I sense a tad of pride in here “badge of courage” “I taught people”…but then you end correctly: It is God’s job (through the action of His Holy Spirit to convert people NOT YOURS…or any human. We are never to accept any praise for anything we do for there is NOTHING we can do that would overshadow or out shine Christ and His blood sacrifice for our sinful souls. In Christ ALONE.)))

If this is what God is like, I submit that noble, righteous, and just creatures should rebel. ((WRONG!! If you rebel now…then you will rebel and scream forever…on the other side of time. We are to surrender to Christ remove the self (centered) and allow in Christ (centered) life. Everything you have from your sense of fairness to your conscience to your imagination and curiosity and the ability to ponder the vastness of space is not of Satan but of God. You have a worship hole in you that demands you give your time up for something and you can bet that the World wants you to occupy it with all things NOT of God…and to burn up your time until there is no time left to ponder (with curiosity) and to then seek God. Die now without affirming to God your understanding and acceptance of Jesus (as His rescue plan for you) and then what other 'plan’ deos one turn too and exercise pride and pompous knowledge of? IF NOT GOD, THEN WHO?)))

They should rise up with one heart and attempt to overthrow such a detestable dictator. For this kind of God sounds more like a devil than a saint. If God is good, and I believe God is, then God will stand on the side of those who intend to demolish and overthrow such heinous conceptions of the deity. These are bold statements and they arise out of a heart that has been freed from fear. Perfect love casts out fear and I think many more would join with me if they were not scared of being eternally inflicted with red, hot, fiery flames. Crippling fear is common and not unusual. History is filled with examples of people being ruled and dominated by unjust, heavy-handed, bloodthirsty tyrants. Many have submitted and obeyed such beasts. But every once in a while, the people can stand it no longer and they join hands and with noble, upright, peace-seeking, justice-loving, freedom-fighting hearts, and put an end to such tormentors. I look forward to the day when despicable conceptions of God are not taken seriously in theological circles, but abandoned for what hopefully amounts to a God who is truly, authentically, and genuinely worthy of honor, praise, and worship. (((Dan, after re-reading your blog I think you’d be wise to search your conscience to see if you believe you’ve offended and/or greaved the Holy Spirit. We will not be looked upon kindly when we drag God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit down in the selfish mud pile of this Earthly time in which we have all corrupted it. We humans are like trains: we were constructed in a manner to operate a certain way and like trains we need to run on a track…so that we know where we have come from and know where we are going and so that our ride is smooth and safe. Exercise your worldly desires to satisfy pride and you affectively jump the track. Yes, you will then be free…to do and go anywhere you want. But in reality you will be so free you will find yourself lost. You’ll be free like a boat in the ocean whose captain cares not about his conscious ‘compass’ as long as he can see land. But let SIN fog your boat and or damage your compass and now you are no longer FREE but will DIE spiritually in Lost in SIN! Pray, Dan…de-center yourself and re-center Christ!)))

11/05/2006 8:40 AM

 
Anonymous Kurt said...

"If this is what God is like, I submit that noble, righteous, and just creatures should rebel. They should rise up with one heart and attempt to overthrow such a detestable dictator. For this kind of God sounds more like a devil than a saint. If God is good, and I believe God is, then God will stand on the side of those who intend to demolish and overthrow such heinous conceptions of the deity. These are bold statements and they arise out of a heart that has been freed from fear."

Dan,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but are you attempting to answer a fool according to his folly lest he be wise in his own conceit? (Prov 26:5) If you are, I applaud your idea because it can be very effective showing how the logical conclusion of the "orthodox" theologian is really illogical for a loving God to punish people for eternity in "Hell."

However, the way in which you do it muddies its effect because the issue becomes focused on you rather than the illogical conclusion you are trying to show. Saying you would "rebel...rise up...and attempt to overthrow such a detestable dictator" is attacking the Sovereignty of God and the idea of the Creator/creature distinctive. If you can avoid painting yourself as an autonomous being outside of the realm of God (in effect making yourself as god) I think you will go much farther in trying to effectively reason with Calvinists.

7/12/2007 4:44 PM

 
Blogger HungerTruth said...

Kurt,

I'm glad that you see this an effective way to uncover what should be seen as immoral worship.

Hopefully others will see that I am merely saying that no one should submit to a being just because the being has lived longer and has more power.

If God was evil, we should all rebel...rise up...and attempt to overthrow him. This is not about me, but obviously I am advocating that this is the right course of action, and obviously I would join or if nobody else would, lead the rebellion. This would certainly be an attack on the hypothetical evil being's sovereignty.

I don't know what you mean by painting yourself as an autonomous being outside of the realm of God. I am a being that makes choices whether there is a good God, evil God, or no God at all. If God is real, how can I be outside his realm?

Furthermore, how would making choices make to rebel against an evil God make me God? God's are immortal and eternal (in the biblical sense) and I am neither.

I appreciate your desire to refine the way we communicate our ideas.

Dan

7/13/2007 2:46 PM

 
Blogger Kurt said...

Dan,

When you judge God's actions as evil aren't you are making yourself equal or superior to God? In a sense, you are trying to make yourself autonomous (remember Adam and Eve in the garden?) by saying that you know better although that is really a deception, isn't it? See Romans 9:20-22

7/26/2007 7:23 AM

 
Blogger HungerTruth said...

Kurt,

It depends on how you define God. If deciding what is good and bad, true and false, what is pleasurable and harmful makes one God, then yes. However, I don't think making moral decisions makes anyone God in the ultimate sense. But I would define God as an immortal, everlasting being. Therefore, I could never end up in that class.

Furthermore, Adam and Eve were not completely autonomous after they choose to eat, as they could not prevent themselves from dying. Besides, they always had the choice to eat or not. In that sense, they were always autonomous.

If God were malicious, a God who legislates opportunities for his people to beat slaves with rods because they are property, forces women from other cultures into marriages, commands genocides etc... and you obeyed Romans 9, how would that be noble? It's like taking orders from Mussolini.

I like Abraham's example. He did not just give God the green light because God is God. He said, will not the judge of all the earth do what is right. In other words, there is the possibility in his mind that the judge could have done wrong. Abraham thought God was going to destroy the righteous with the wicked in Sodom, which obviously would have been wrong. Let's follow his lead and there will be no suicide bombings, holy wars and blood baths.

I hope this helps.

7/26/2007 11:40 AM

 
Blogger Kurt said...

Dan,

Notice that I said "trying" to make yourself autonomous. Of course, you really aren't, because you are a creation living at God's good pleasure within God's realm. Satan didn't like that and we know what happened to him. So, man is only deceiving himself when he trys to judge God actions (Romans 9). Only an equal of God has a right to judge him. Since there are none, God can not be judged.

Hope this helps!

7/26/2007 3:39 PM

 
Blogger HungerTruth said...

Notice that you didn't respond to my point about the definition of God, autonomous, the point about God possibly being malicious, or Abraham's example.

Once you respond to these we can talk about the right to judge a more powerful being such as an eternal God. Besides, the fact is, we can all make moral judgments, so why shouldn't we? Abraham did!

Shalom

7/26/2007 4:16 PM

 
Blogger Kurt said...

Dan,

Whether or not God is "malicious" can only be determined by God who spoke everything into existence. You and I, made in the image of God, were given an understanding of right and wrong as we interact with the world, but have a limited understanding of how all things work because we are not God. Since you or I am not the Creator, we have no right to judge God's creation when it comes to how God interacts with it.

To read into the Scripture that Abraham thought God could do wrong just doesn't make sense. If you logic is correct, Abraham should not have stopped at 10 righteous. He should have stopped at one righteous, but he didn't. A better Abrahamic account that more clearly shows the true submissive attitude to his Creator that we should all have is when Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Issac. Don't you think Abraham should have questioned God about that of all things? After all, God was telling him to murder his own son! The explanation comes later in the NT where it says that Abraham believed that even if God allowed him to kill his own son, God could raise him from the dead. Apply that to your saving the "righteous" in Sodom and Gomorrah viewpoint and see how you shortchange God's ability to set things right in the end. Abraham,in contrast, really trusted God to do the right thing in the end. Good example as to why we shouldn't be judging God. Let's take our cue from Abraham. :>)

Dan, I'm really troubled by your attitude. God is the Creator and we are the created. Should the clay jar tell the potter had to run things? You seem to have a problem with that, as did Satan, a third of the angels, many in the nation of Israel, and a few others. We know how Scripture judges those with attitudes like that. Let's learn from Job, shall we?

Let me know if I can be of further help, brother!

7/26/2007 7:02 PM

 
Blogger HungerTruth said...

Speaking things into existence does not automatically make ones actions moral or immoral. It is always right to make moral judgments. If we don't, who will? Even a deity can do bad things, so we must always be on guard.

Even YHWH is said to have told the Israelites to kill every man, woman and child, except for the virgin women. They would be forced into marriage or sex slavery, however we would like to conceive it (Num 31).

If Abraham thought God was doing what was right, why did he enter into dialogue, bargaining with God? He obviously was not OK with what he thought was happening. He thought God was doing something wrong.

Of course Abraham should have questioned God about sacrificing his son, however it was common to sacrifice children to deities. I would tell God that if he wants to kill people, he can pick up the knife. If people refuse to kill for God, our world would be a whole lot better.

God may have very well had a good plan, however, we need to see that in order to act. We can't always just assume that. If we did, there would be no safeguards.

Kurt, I'm really troubled by your attitude as well. With your scenario, if you thought God wanted you to kill me, you probably would. With my attitude, you are safe. See how much better my attitude is :-)

It seems like more than anything else, you are scared of the consequences for thinking for yourself. God may toss you into hell or something. If God is that kind of God, I would not want anything to do with him.

Keep thinkin!

7/27/2007 11:09 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

-i totally agree with dans side.god is love,peroid.he died for every sin that was ever committed by everyone on this planet whether we beleive this or not.god will reveal this in due time.the book of ephesions states that there will be a restitution of all things.right now there is a veil over the gentiles as well as the jews.starting to make sense.example:try to tell a orthodox jew about jesus being the messiah and he will not beleive because of the veil over his eyes. even though its in plain view.its the same with the gentile concerning the restitution of all things. may the lord have mercy on ignorance and foolishness of men.people are very manipulating and scared to think for themselves.once again GOD IS LOVE and love NEVER fails.

12/21/2007 12:16 PM

 
Anonymous Anna said...

Amen. Fear and love can never coexist. Conceptions of Hell have been perverted so that instead of a God of love, we have a God who compels obedience with fear, power, and control. People who operate this way are called abusive so why does this not extend to dieties too?

6/19/2008 2:06 AM

 
Blogger HungerTruth said...

Anna,

You are spot on! The God of Reformed theology, the all sovereign God, the God who burns, tortures, is an abusive God. We can say God is so big we can't see, so loving we can't feel, so good we can't question, but the truth is that if we don't protest eternal torture as abusive, then we can't protest anything. Keep up the good work!

6/19/2008 11:13 PM

 

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