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Why would God have ordained stoning and burning people as a punishment

* * * * * 2 votes stoning burning OT Law NT Grace

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#1
Seeking1

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Hi everyone, 

 

I was having doubts (and still struggle with them on a regular basis) about the holiness and justness of God concerning the fact that in OT times under Mosaic Law, God not only allowed, but truly ordained into the actual law itself with NO prompting from men whatsoever, that sinners should be stoned and burned to death under certain circumstances. In the outer forum a while ago, a post called "Verses" by "MoslemGentleman" (http://www.worthychr.../147416-verses/) also touches upon this issue somewhat.  These issues may seem a little macabre to some, but I believe apologetic's questions like these should be dealt with head on, rather than avoiding the issue by simply saying "That's the OT! We as Christians live under the NT covenant of grace now, so what happened back then simply doesn't matter today!" or simply repeating a rendition of the gospel to them, hoping that by putting them in fear, the doubts they are having with God's character will simply vanish.

 

Let me say this bluntly about what I think about this approach to handling people's questions: WRONG! When dealing with doubters, whenever you are able to (since you cannot have an answer to every single question someone may throw at you), you should deal with the question they are asking spot on without deviating from the subject matter at hand and tap dancing around the issue. BIG mistake! The reason many atheists claimed to have felt just from leaving the faith is because of "pat answers" and deviation tactics like these. If you don't know an answer, maybe more of you should do some actual research on the internet and particularly on apologetic's websites for real answers to real questions. Because of my doubts, I have done research myself on a few apologetic's topics like these and I have gotten some very solid and great answers that have served to assure my own heart greatly.

 

Going back to the original topic, I remember reading about the way people are stoned in Islamic nations. I am not sure how painful a death by stoning actually is, but it seems pretty bad from the descriptions given in writing (I have never watched an actual video of one). But since I thought a death by burning would surely be worse, I thought upon that topic first. I would think the pain in that one would be so bad, that a person would only scream, and not really talk or think about too much else. However, it was said that Michael Servetus in 16th Century Geneva was able to cry out for Jesus to have mercy on him before dying while in the flames (http://www.godglorif...of_servetus.htm). Roman Catholics also burned many "heretics" at the stake, which they argued is approved by God Himself. 

 

This method of death could be used to say that God is unjust about hell, too, but even Jesus' account of what I believe to be the temporary hell (as opposed to the final lake of fire) involving a rich man in "tormenting flames," didn't seem like the fire itself could have been too excruciating (although definitely bad enough for him to complain about it!). This is because the rich man was able to talk coherently to Jesus, seemly without simply screaming since the text itself gives no such impression, asking Him that since he couldn't be let go, that the man he had oppressed in life, Lazarus, be allowed to come back to Earth to warn the rich man's brothers of "this place" so that they would not join him in hell also. If the flames were precisely like ordinary flames, I would think the rich man would have a hard time thinking (let alone articulating) such complex thoughts back to Jesus. The phrase that Michael Servetus gave as he was dying seemed much simpler than the whole conversation given by the rich man.

 

Disclaimer, though: I am a female, and females in the Bible are NOT allowed to teach men with authority on spiritual topics, so be careful of what I have to say here also. The flames really could be like ordinary flames; I don't want to downgrade the doctrine of hell. It's just that these facts with the rich man seem to make me question the exact nature of those flames. Then again, maybe I am overstepping my bounds here, so be careful. If any man wants to contend with me on this issue, please feel free to do so.

 

Nevertheless, the fact God appeared to have wanted some sinners to die an excruciating death by fire (thinking of potentially vivid details in mind though I have never witnessed an actual death by this method) made me question His character. If these kinds of methods could really deter crime, (not arguing against death penalty itself as a deterrent to crime, just whether an extreme method like this is actually necessary) why then didn't righteous come by the law? Why was Jesus even necessary? What good purpose could such a method of killing possibly serve then? Wouldn't that be making God sink to level of His sinful enemies, instituting an extreme punishment He knew wouldn't ultimately even work to save sinners? Isn't God Holier than any sinful man (or even angel)? Couldn't some people even seeing this be permanently traumatized rather than moralized, or even fully reject God because of what they saw and experienced, rather than be fearful and return to Him? 

 

I did some searching on the internet to see if any Christian (or even others like Jews or even Muslims) had a good apologetic for these issues. I found quite a few websites where Christians indeed skirted these very important issues, even engaging in ad hominem attacks against any who would dare ask such questions, and I was getting disappointed rather quickly. However, I found some commentaries on the verses in question that commanded people be burned by fire (Leviticus 20:14, Leviticus 21:9, etc.). I have personally found verse commentaries to be an excellent source for apologetics, even better than some apologetics websites! 

 

I believe that the key to truly understanding these verses is to pay careful attention to the actual words contained in verse, even if we are tempted to insert our own ideas as authority. 

 

The verses in question read:

 

Leviticus 20:14 (And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.)

 

Leviticus 21:9 (And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.)

 

Observation: What phrase here do you suppose that is simply missing from the text that could alter the intent of these passages profoundly?

 

Answer: burnt to death!

 

The people here may never have been meant to die from an actual burning! They may have simply been put to death by stoning or strangling before dying, so it would only be their dead corpses that would have been burned! Potentially no death from fire here! If true, that would make anyone, anytime, anywhere a transgressor for ever using fire as an actual execution method! The Roman Catholics would be transgressors by that fact alone! The execution method would be rendered UN-Biblical, so any unbeliever (or even Christian doubter) using this to say God is unjust would be wrong by default! I did NOT come up with this idea on my own, but I got it from the following verse commentaries on Bible Hub:

 

Leviticus 20:14

(http://biblehub.com/...ticus/20-14.htm)

 

Leviticus 21:9

(http://biblehub.com/...iticus/21-9.htm)

 

In fact, another Biblical account can be utilized to support this notion: the death of Achan in Joshua 7:25! He and his family were stoned first until dead, and only then were they burned! Therefore, I felt I had a satisfactory answer on God justifying people killing other people by burning: Perhaps He NEVER did! 

 

However, in spite of this potential victory, the other problem still remained completely unanswered: the problem of stoning. This kind of death has been described by sources as torturous and pretty slow. These sources were in reference to the executions taking place in Islamic nations, not Christian or Jewish ones (as almost no professing Christians or Jews stone people to death as a punishment in the modern world but Muslims still do). First, I found some Jewish sources saying their method of stoning back in early Biblical times was more humane than the methods used by Muslim nations today, and barely anyone was ever executed this way (or even given the death penalty at all). I know these sources are probably not trustworthy, but I feel it is necessary to mention that Jews view proper methods of stoning differently than Muslims. The Jewish method was meant to be much more quick and less excruciating in killing someone than the methods employed by today's Islamic nations.

 

Stoning

(http://en.wikipedia....ning#In_Judaism)

 

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

(http://www.jewishvir...04_0_03929.html)

 

Comparative Study of Stoning Punishment in the Religions of Islam and Judaism by Sanaz Alasti

(http://www.cjcj.org/...ive_study_0.pdf)

 

I feel it is important to mention this since it is possible that the way in which people were stoned in Israel may have been much more quick and humane (even if still very graphic) than what is seen today in Islamic countries. The Jewish method may actually reflect the first Biblical method (however it was actually done as the Bible doesn't provide much details).

 

Another article I found was really helpful to this question too. It is called "Christians should just reject their religion's history of stoning" (http://www.debate.or...y-of-stoning/1/). It really puts things into perspective, and I think people should take a good look at. A Muslim makes a very good sounding argument that if God justified stoning people in the times of OT, then Muslims aren't so bad for stoning people today since there was a time in history in which God Himself did actually approve of (and instituted!) stoning once (even if Christians no longer allow it today or God dissolved that command for the Christian era of grace). However, with some of the reasoning I have provided from others, this argument alone shouldn't hold any water since the Biblical and Islamic methods of stoning likely aren't even the same! Also, the "Con" debater does a pretty good job of refuting the Muslim's argument and that of the "Pro" debater against the Bible's OT mandate for stoning. He/she uses very similar arguments like those that I just provided. 

 

In addition, the killing of Achan and his family may been extremely quick. Here is the account of the execution: Joshua 7:25 "And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day." The whole congregation stone him and his family all at once! That would have been many, many stones pelted at them all at once! The number of people in the Israelite camp was huge, so I am making an educated guess that the deaths were rather quick due to this fact, and probably would definitely have been less than a few minutes. (Average Islamic stonings take at least 10-20 minutes, and sometimes even last 2 whole hours - http://civilliberty....by-Stoning.htm)

 

I hope I have helped someone who may be having doubts, and also for apologetics with doubters (both Christian and non-Christian) in the future concerning these issues. Any other feedback would be greatly appreciated.

 

 



#2
OakWood

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What you have said is interesting. I have often wondered if God gave salvation to people in the OT who were stoned to death, because they had already received their punishment by stoning and their sacrifice atoned themselves for their sins.

Yes, stoning would hurt, but anybody can put up with a temporary amount of pain. Even the most barbaric type of stoning such as the way Muslims do it, would not be agony (at least not for long). After a couple of whacks to the head, you'd be semi-anaesthetised after that.

If you have ever been involved in a serious accident or injury, you'll know that it doesn't really hurt much, the pain tends to come afterwards. I remember how much a little cut to the finger hurts but when you nearly slice the end of your finger off, (which happened to me once) it doesn't really hurt much at all.

Even when people are burned alive, any agony they experience would be rather brief. In fact most people who are burnt at the stake pass out from smoke inhalation long before their bodies start to burn.

I don't believe that Hell is agony, although it may be hot and uncomfortable. It may even be fairly tolerable, but the real suffering comes from knowing that it is probably endless and with no hope of getting out..

 

The real question to ask is why did God ever demand sacrifice in the first place? Nearly everything in the Bible is based around sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice being Jesus on the cross, the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. Why does God want a sacrifice? What does it achieve? I don't know the answer.



#3
kwikphilly

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Blessings Seeking 1...

     Welcome to Worthy............................................Praise & Glory to God in the Highest!                                              With love-in Christ,Kwik



#4
FresnoJoe

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Because

 

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Ecclesiastes 8:11

 

~

 

Hi everyone, 

 

I was having doubts (and still struggle with them on a regular basis) about the holiness and justness of God concerning the fact that in OT times under Mosaic Law, God not only allowed, but truly ordained into the actual law itself with NO prompting from men whatsoever, that sinners should be stoned....  under certain circumstances....

 

....I hope I have helped someone who may be having doubts, and also for apologetics with doubters (both Christian and non-Christian) in the future concerning these issues. Any other feedback would be greatly appreciated.

 

:thumbsup:

 

Welcome Beloved

 

But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death. Proverbs 8:36

 

If You Think It Is Tough Being A Sinner In God's Eyes

 

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

 

You May Want To Take A Look At

 

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6

 

The Love God Shows

 

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

 

For The Sinner

 

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6

 

At His Love

 

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:14-15

 

For You And For Me

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

 

~

 

So Dear One

 

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

 

The Choice Is Yours

 

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:16-17

 

Continue To Sin While Cursing It's Wages

 

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Psalms 1:1-2

 

Or Turn To The One Who Loved You To The Uttermost

 

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. Isaiah 53:7

 

And Live

 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24

 

Love, Joe



#5
Parker1

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I found this an interesting read on the subject.



#6
FresnoJoe

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I found this an interesting read on the subject.

 

:thumbsup:

 

One sure way to start an argument is to introduce a very controversial topic into the conversation. One such topic is that of capital punishment. Since capital punishment is the central theme of Leviticus chapter 20, it may appear that we are approaching a very sensitive subject. Actually, I do not believe that our text has very much to say regarding the contemporary debate over capital punishment. In fact, I want to settle this issue before we even begin to study our text. I do not think that Leviticus chapter 20 was recorded to convince 20th century Christians of the need for capital punishment any more than I believe that the primary purpose of Genesis 1 and 2 is to refute the relatively recent theory of evolution.

 

It should be clear at the outset that the Old Testament in general, and our text in particular, requires capital punishment in a number of instances. The issue, however, is whether or not the capital punishment of Leviticus can be viewed as timeless and universal, so that what God commanded Israel to observe is also binding on those who lived in later dispensations. Some would dogmatically maintain that Old Testament texts such as ours do make capital punishment a mandate. Let us beware in being too dogmatic on the basis of our text, however, since it “proves” far more than we would wish. Are we willing to insist on capital punishment for every offense which is listed here? We may insist that God’s word requires the life of the murderer, but do we also insist that the one who has sexual relations with his wife during her monthly period also has to die for such a sin? https://bible.org/se...es-leviticus-20



#7
Seeking1

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Thank you for your feedback :)

 

I never meant to insinuate that we should return to OT law concerning sin and punishments. I was just thinking through why God would institute such punishments in any dispensation/time period, and if it could be reasoned out how He could do such a thing justly.  I know that part of faith is assuming that everything God does is just, but I have deeply struggled with this kind of faith, especially when I get to thinking about things like Calvinism. I'm not a Calvinist, but it gets harder if such a thing is actually true. I feel like Calvinism deeply respects God's person NO MATTER WHAT, and some Calvinists have even spoken wickedly for God, imo.  I guess I have gone a little off the subject of my original post here, though. I hope I haven't offended anybody here too much, but I don't expect to know the truth about this issue apart from seeking a clear answer from God Himself about it (which I haven't received as of yet). There are many good arguments on both sides for and against Calvinism, so man's reasoning in dealing with the Biblical text has been unprofitable to me on this subject.  

 

To get back to the original subject of my first post, I feel in this instance, I may have touched upon vindicating God's OT style of execution with man's reasoning. Like I implied, I do not feel this can be done with all subjects, and Calvinism may be one of those. However, whenever you are able, you should have a ready answer for every man that asks you an important question about the faith. I am woefully lacking here myself, though. Again, thank you for your comments. 



#8
Hawkins

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I think you need at least to be a Jew in that period of time to judge if it's fair or not. If Moses set the law which is not acceptable as just/fair to the Jews to an extent, the law would not be able to be implemented at all. Humans in a certain period of time may consider something fair but not in some other times. Moreover, you need to compare the law with those adapted by the Jews' surrounding nations, especially the surrounding religions. If Mosaic Law is actually perceived by the Jews as "not just", the Jews may switch to other religions. Because humans at that time are cruel and brutal, the term fair/just to them could mean harsh. To them, harsh law could mean fair/just law. Moses (or God) may have to take these environmental and religious factors into account before he set the law. 

 

Other than the above factors, God actually may convey the message to the ancient Jews that God's Law can be very strict. 



#9
jerryR34

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I think you need at least to be a Jew in that period of time to judge if it's fair or not. If Moses set the law which is not acceptable as just/fair to the Jews to an extent, the law would not be able to be implemented at all. Humans in a certain period of time may consider something fair but not in some other times. Moreover, you need to compare the law with those adapted by the Jews' surrounding nations, especially the surrounding religions. If Mosaic Law is actually perceived by the Jews as "not just", the Jews may switch to other religions. Because humans at that time are cruel and brutal, the term fair/just to them could mean harsh. To them, harsh law could mean fair/just law. Moses (or God) may have to take these environmental and religious factors into account before he set the law. 

 

Other than the above factors, God actually may convey the message to the ancient Jews that God's Law can be very strict. 

this seems to go against absolute morality and the unchanging nature of God.



#10
FresnoJoe

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....this seems to go against absolute morality and the unchanging nature of God....

 

:thumbsup:

 

God's

 

See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.

 

If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.

 

Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people. Deuteronomy 32:39-43

 

Nature

 

Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.

 

Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.  Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.

 

Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.

 

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

 

The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.  The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.

 

So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. Joel 3:9-17

 

Has Never Changed

 

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

 

To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

 

These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. Jude 1:14-16

 

Dear One, Don't Mess With Jesus

 

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Romans 12:19

 

~

 

Be Blessed Beloved

 

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

 

And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. Numbers 6:24-27

 

Love, Your Brother Joe



#11
coheir

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I think after watching how man kind did before the flood; God new if there were not strict laws the same would happen again.

One might say if God did not implement tough law God would need another flood to clean up mans second mess as the first.

When one looks at the surrounding nations they were just as strict about things maybe not the same things but they had their

laws to punish by death certain things also.

Stoning or burning may not stop everyone from doing that crime but it would stop most from doing it, imho.

 

So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. some times death is the only way to make a person stop doing something.

Remember God wanted a holy people and you can not have that while allowing the other.



#12
OakWood

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I think after watching how man kind did before the flood; God new if there were not strict laws the same would happen again.

One might say if God did not implement tough law God would need another flood to clean up mans second mess as the first.

When one looks at the surrounding nations they were just as strict about things maybe not the same things but they had their

laws to punish by death certain things also.

Stoning or burning may not stop everyone from doing that crime but it would stop most from doing it, imho.

 

So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. some times death is the only way to make a person stop doing something.

Remember God wanted a holy people and you can not have that while allowing the other.

 

It wasn't just that. By executing people who carried out such practises, it prevented them from corrupting the rest of society. By nipping such behaviour in the bud, it prevented another Sodom and Gommorah situation from occurring.



#13
Omegaman

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You brought Calvinism into the topic. I think that is not especially the most fruitful way of expressing what you are meaning. Many people think of Calvinism as the things expressed by the acronym T.U.L.I.P. For those unfamiliar with these terms, the internet is full of info, and so are these forums. Calvin was about more than T.U.L.I.P. though. Also, I would like to say that the things Calvin stood for, are not his invention, so I somewhat do not even like the term Calvinist. I would probably be considered a Calvinist, at least over the last year of my 30 plus years as a Christian. I have come to that position from my studies in the New Testament, especially the book of Romans. It is not the teaching of John Calvin that I am following or believing in, but the teachings of Paul (so am I a Paulist?) in particular and the teachings of the bible in general (or am I a biblicist?).

So, to my mind, we need to answer not John Calvin and or his followers, but the bible and it's message, and the doctrines it contains.

For example:

The sovereignty of God. Is Gods sovereign? If so, He does not answer to us, we answer to Him.

Is He Just? Is He loving?

If these things are true of God, and if the Bible is His inspired word, then it follows that if the Bible decrees death by stoning, for example, then that is God's prerogative, it is just, and it is even compatible with love.

We may choose to disagree, but when we do, we are opposing God, challenging His justice, and His Love, perhaps even His wisdom, but especially His right to rule His creation as He sees fit.

If the unbeleiver finds Himself in the presence of God at the judgement, it will not be God who is the one on trial defending His decisions.

Personally, I can not go there, I am much more comfortable with the notion, that God knows better than I.

If mankind is naturally ignorant, blind, deaf, dead, opposed to God and inclined toward selfishness and evil, then we are not in a position to judge God, not even remotely. To think that we can impose our notions of right/wrong, justice/injustice, love/unlove, etc., can only be seen as the height of arrogance and pride, neither of which I care to cultivate in my life.

Regarding the description of the rich man and Lazarus, I am inclined to note that this is not a description of Hell (meaning the final state of the damned) anyway, and also that it may be intended as a parable, not a literal situation, and probably does not merit being scrutinized in such detail. In other words I doubt that the detail of the nature of the flames and degree of suffering is intended to be focused upon, but instead the idea that there is suffering to be avoided, but that mankind will not respond to God's mercy, even if a man (Jesus) should return from the dead and warn them to escape and provide a way for them to escape. Those are a few of my thoughts, good post.

#14
Babbler

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A big question.  I am left to conclude that the law served two purposes. It helped to maintain a lawful society and at the same time cast the message that sin leads to the second death.



#15
Seeking1

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Thank you for your feedback. :)

 

 

You brought Calvinism into the topic. I think that is not especially the most fruitful way of expressing what you are meaning. Many people think of Calvinism as the things expressed by the acronym T.U.L.I.P. For those unfamiliar with these terms, the internet is full of info, and so are these forums. Calvin was about more than T.U.L.I.P. though. Also, I would like to say that the things Calvin stood for, are not his invention, so I somewhat do not even like the term Calvinist. I would probably be considered a Calvinist, at least over the last year of my 30 plus years as a Christian. I have come to that position from my studies in the New Testament, especially the book of Romans. It is not the teaching of John Calvin that I am following or believing in, but the teachings of Paul (so am I a Paulist?) in particular and the teachings of the bible in general (or am I a biblicist?).

So, to my mind, we need to answer not John Calvin and or his followers, but the bible and it's message, and the doctrines it contains.

For example:

The sovereignty of God. Is Gods sovereign? If so, He does not answer to us, we answer to Him.

Is He Just? Is He loving?

If these things are true of God, and if the Bible is His inspired word, then it follows that if the Bible decrees death by stoning, for example, then that is God's prerogative, it is just, and it is even compatible with love.

We may choose to disagree, but when we do, we are opposing God, challenging His justice, and His Love, perhaps even His wisdom, but especially His right to rule His creation as He sees fit.

If the unbeleiver finds Himself in the presence of God at the judgement, it will not be God who is the one on trial defending His decisions.

Personally, I can not go there, I am much more comfortable with the notion, that God knows better than I.

If mankind is naturally ignorant, blind, deaf, dead, opposed to God and inclined toward selfishness and evil, then we are not in a position to judge God, not even remotely. To think that we can impose our notions of right/wrong, justice/injustice, love/unlove, etc., can only be seen as the height of arrogance and pride, neither of which I care to cultivate in my life.

Regarding the description of the rich man and Lazarus, I am inclined to note that this is not a description of Hell (meaning the final state of the damned) anyway, and also that it may be intended as a parable, not a literal situation, and probably does not merit being scrutinized in such detail. In other words I doubt that the detail of the nature of the flames and degree of suffering is intended to be focused upon, but instead the idea that there is suffering to be avoided, but that mankind will not respond to God's mercy, even if a man (Jesus) should return from the dead and warn them to escape and provide a way for them to escape. Those are a few of my thoughts, good post.

 

Hi Omegaman, I know Calvinism was a bit off topic, but I just expressing some personal feelings I was having at the moment. I feel Calvinism is one of those things that may be impossible to defend with man's reasoning if true. I have read Calvinistic arguments, and I have found them personally dissatisfying. If I found out that Calvinism is true (not from men), and I accepted it, I would not waste much time debating others about it, since it is something I would just have to accept off faith alone. It is not supported well with man's reasoning, imo. I might even feel that God would have to give me and others a "special grace" in order to accept it, so beyond asserting it is the truth and using the Bible alone to support my argument, I would not waste my time in debate over it. 

 

I would feel that God would provide the understanding or He would not: pure and simple! I would move on quickly. If God exercises His Sovereignty in the way that Calvinism teaches, I might even worry about things significantly less than I do now. Nothing that man does ultimately matters in terms of God's real plan (secret will) for that individual person. For me, the secret will is the only will that matters at the end of the day, while the revealed will is simply a tool or a means to an end with God. Calvinism is not faith-only in terms of what man does: it is nothing only! It is God's election only! God's choice, not man's! I could be the worst sinner ever or even the least of all sinners and it wouldn't matter in terms of God's choice! If you're damned you're damned, and if you're saved, you're saved, and that's it! God's choice for your salvation is all that matters: you don't make one! If Calvinism is true, I would say beyond a shadow of a doubt that God does NOT love all men!

 

Providing food and common security to men by God is not ultimately love at the end of the day when they end up in hell by His choice! Jesus even said that "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Therefore, even God sees the folly of Earthly security. To me, it would be a means to harden them and affirm their damned status! The love spoken of in the Bible would ultimately be only for His elect children! If somehow my faith wasn't "saving faith" and I turned out to be a Sovereign Reprobate, in order to accept Calvinism as righteous, I would have to say "As God wills!" just like the Muslims do for Allah. God's "revealed will" may be to save me, but His real, secret will may be instead to draw me into a false, shallow faith that I would mistake as real (by His Sovereign Decree), in order to give me the greater damnation! I might even abandon worrying about whether or not I am truly saved, because it's all God's choice anyway at the end of the day! I might even say again like the Muslims do, "As God wills!" No man is going to care about his feelings on Earth like in eternity: only eternity matters. No one is going to care about God's revealed will more than His secret one in eternity! 

 

I also know there is more to Calvinism than TULIP. If I believed in Calvinism, I would not go by that name either since it is un-Biblical to follow after men. I also know that John Calvin did not invent Calvinism either. John Calvin also borrowed many of his teachings from Augustine of Hippo. Whether or not the Bible actually teaches Calvinism, I not 100% sure either way. Some passages seem very Calvinistic while others seem in opposition. This is an answer I do not expect to receive from men (or really even desire to). 

 

Thanks for your compliments though. I know I went off topic here too. However, I decided to tell you some of my two cents anyway since I brought it up in passing. Its not something I really want to debate much with people, and by that, I shouldn't have mentioned it. But again, thanks anyway for your feedback. :)


Edited by Seeking1, 04 April 2014 - 12:54 PM.


#16
Hawkins

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I think you need at least to be a Jew in that period of time to judge if it's fair or not. If Moses set the law which is not acceptable as just/fair to the Jews to an extent, the law would not be able to be implemented at all. Humans in a certain period of time may consider something fair but not in some other times. Moreover, you need to compare the law with those adapted by the Jews' surrounding nations, especially the surrounding religions. If Mosaic Law is actually perceived by the Jews as "not just", the Jews may switch to other religions. Because humans at that time are cruel and brutal, the term fair/just to them could mean harsh. To them, harsh law could mean fair/just law. Moses (or God) may have to take these environmental and religious factors into account before he set the law. 

 

Other than the above factors, God actually may convey the message to the ancient Jews that God's Law can be very strict. 

this seems to go against absolute morality and the unchanging nature of God.

 

 

I don't think that you actually understand what the absolute morality of God is. God allowed the Jews to kill and to eradicate the Canaanites.

 

God's absolute morality is based on one but one thing, it is soul calculation. He saves souls.

 

That being said,

 

Matthew 19:8 
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.
 
When Moses took the environmental factor into account, he made a law which allows the Jews to divorce.
 
 
The purpose of the Mosaic Law is to establish a set of Law which, to a certain extent, makes sense for the Jews to obey. Mosaic Law is more advanced in that it is a Law in the written form, such that it makes it easier for the Jews to tell "right from wrong". Unlike the Gentiles, we Gentiles rely on the Law God has written in our hearts to act. However, along time when our hearts are hardened, we break the law when we are in situations where we failed to tell clearly about "right from wrong".
 
The covenant came along with the Mosaic Law has the basic meaning that, "You hearts are hardened and may no longer abide by God's Law written in your hearts. Now Moses and I will give you a set of Law to make it easier for you to obey. Such that, once you observe the Law in a successful way, God will redeem you by His Grace."
 
In a nutshell, a covenant is about a set of Law which will be practically obeyed by the group of humans under the scope of such a covenant. On the other hand, humans need a covenant to survive because , as proven in Noah's time, that without a covenant we have no chance to abide by the absolute version of God's Law.
 
A covenant thus usually comes with a set of practical law. Together with God's Grace specified by that covenant, humans are thus become savable. Without a covenant, then no Grace will be granted. Humans (from Adam to Noah) may have to obey an absolute version of God's Law, which will only lead a total destruction (as proven in Noah's time), as there's no chance that we can fully abide by such a version of Law.
 
A possible secret is that, humans at Noah's time may (or may not, cannot be sure) somehow protected/covered by the New Covenant.
 
1 Peter 3:19-20 
through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 
who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.


#17
Atwood

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"Why would God . . . ." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Any blessing whatsoever or any escape from calamity or punishment which any member of the Race of Adam gets, is pure grace. Our loathsome sinful condition merits severe punishment. ----------------------------------- And one thing is for sure, we don't figure out the LORD. His ways are not ours and are past our comprehension. Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who gave Him needed counsel? One of the purposes of the Book of Job is to teach us that we do not understand what God is doing and may never in this life understand it. But we must face reality and not live in illusion and delusion. Horrible pain and suffering are part of reality. Right now while I am typing this, unspeakable horrors are going on. Men may be chopping up other men with machetes. Fiendish doctors are slicing up innocent babies who were at peace in their mothers' wombs, slicing them up with no anesthetic. Then can you picture them throwing the pieces down a garbage disposal. The Lord sees all this and lets it happen. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- But sometimes we get a measure of explanation for our darkness: Consider this one from Isaiah 50: ----------------------------------------------------- "Who is among you that fears Yahweh, who obeys the voice of his servant? -------------- He who walks in darkness, and has no light, let him trust in the name of Yahweh, and rely upon his God. ------------------- Behold, all YOU who kindle a fire, who gird yourselves about with firebrands; walk in the flame of YOUR fire, and among the brands that YOU have kindled. This shall you have of my hand; you shall lie down in sorrow. "

#18
Atwood

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Oakwood posted "What you have said is interesting. I have often wondered if God gave salvation to people in the OT who were stoned to death, because they had already received their punishment by stoning and their sacrifice atoned themselves for their sins."

No sinful human being can atone for his own sins. God is infinite; thus we may view a sin vs. His dignity as having infinite consequences. But you raise a good observation: No matter how horrible the death (and horrible deaths are not uncommon), that does not determine what happens to a man after he dies -- the death is a brief event in eternity.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oakwood posted: "The real question to ask is why did God ever demand sacrifice in the first place? Nearly everything in the Bible is based around sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice being Jesus on the cross, the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. Why does God want a sacrifice? What does it achieve? I don't know the answer." --------------------------

The wages of sin is death; death or separation from God and His blessings for eternity is the consequence of sin. The Lord Jesus is God become man. As an infinite being He could suffer death for us (separation from God) sufficient to cover eternity as our substitute. On the cross He cried, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me." He was forsaken, separated from God (only in His human nature) on the cross while He bore our sins and our punishment for our sins. Since He is one person with two natures (God and man) His one person experienced this death through the human nature (the Trinity cannot be separated). The enormity of our sins (demanding eternal punishment) could only be paid for vicariously by an infinite being.

#19
Atwood

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Now which is harder for me to understand: 1) Why would God have . . . . or 2) Why would I have sinned so continuously and abominably against the love and grace of God? ------------------------------------ Who is it whose thoughts and actions require analysis, scrutiny, and judgment? ------- The Lord's or mine? --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- And how can we ever understand the great love and grace of God in paying for our sins on the cross and then offering salvation as a free gift just for trusting the Lord Jesus as Savior -- salvation which includes forgiveness, eternal bliss, and "freely given all things"?

#20
jerryR34

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I think you need at least to be a Jew in that period of time to judge if it's fair or not. If Moses set the law which is not acceptable as just/fair to the Jews to an extent, the law would not be able to be implemented at all. Humans in a certain period of time may consider something fair but not in some other times. Moreover, you need to compare the law with those adapted by the Jews' surrounding nations, especially the surrounding religions. If Mosaic Law is actually perceived by the Jews as "not just", the Jews may switch to other religions. Because humans at that time are cruel and brutal, the term fair/just to them could mean harsh. To them, harsh law could mean fair/just law. Moses (or God) may have to take these environmental and religious factors into account before he set the law. 

 

Other than the above factors, God actually may convey the message to the ancient Jews that God's Law can be very strict. 

this seems to go against absolute morality and the unchanging nature of God.

 

 

I don't think that you actually understand what the absolute morality of God is. God allowed the Jews to kill and to eradicate the Canaanites.

 

Why?  Why wouldn't he save the Canaanites also?  Why would he choose a "People" based solely on their beliefs that were physically identical to those he chose to eradicate?  Couldn't he have just as easily sent a prophet to minister to the Canaanites regarding his glory?

 

Bottom line, do you or anyone else, believe that God puts some on earth to act as examples of what is unholy to help the holy get to heaven?  What happens to those he uses as examples?  Do you think that given free will all Canaanites chose to turn their back on God, and if so why?  Why didn’t God help the Canaanites believe like he did the Israelites?






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