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danielg
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1. The growing Annihilationist Movement You are right about that. It's based primarily on standard exegesis, but there is also a good philosophical argument, which I will be presenting at this years Rethinking Hell conference, held on the campus of Fuller Theological in June. See rethinkinghellconference.com 2. Human Value and Killing The argument that eternal torment is more respectful or kind than death is tenuous at best. Torment is cruelty. Death is finite and therefore more likely to be just, since it can be proportionate. The disproportion of eternal torment violates even the biblical notion of justice (eye for an eye), not to mention Jesus' call for mercy and justice to be exercised together. 3. The Precedent of the Flood God certainly destroyed all humankind save Noah's family. Was that denying the dignity of humans? Even more, Jesus said the final judgment will be JUST LIKE the flood of Noah, except this time by fire. And as Ed Fudge points out in the title of his seminal book on the biblical argument for Conditional Immortality (annihilationism), fire consumes - it does not burn without consuming. It will completely burn up the chaff (the unrepentant).
Jon, thanks for your reply, but I KNOW the standard naturalistic atheistic answers, I just don't find them all credible. I have, however, created a new site, and imported all the articles over there. I have answered your post at http://www.wholereason.com/2010/11/10-questions-atheists-cant-answer-well.html If you don't mind, could you copy paste your comment there? Thanks!
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>>MJ: Jesus would not dare state that no one can keep the commandments! While the Old Testament is full of injunctions to "keep my commandments," the fact is, that can never make one righteous, and this man was 'self righteous' because he kept the commandments as well as he could, and prided himself on it. This is why Jesus calls him on it after getting to admit that he keeps all of the commandments except those that Jesus omitted - coveting and having other Gods. The key to understanding this passage is Jesus' denial of self-righteousness through keeping the commands. In fact, Paul the Apostle denies outright that keeping the commandments makes one righteous: Romans 3:20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. >>MJ: In fact, the presence of Jesus Christ was not only to die for our sins and rise from death victoriously, but to be an example that you could live in flesh and keep the commandments Well, it really depends on your motives. If you obey the commandments to keep your salvation or righteousness, then you're insulting God and have misunderstood the gospel entirely. This is where most 'holiness' churches miss the mark and lead people into error. They end up making you focus on your ability to keep yourself devoted to God, instead of having you focus on God's ability to keep you. You should do a study through Romans. I have presented the Gospel here, which is righteousness APART from the works of the law. As you have remarked, once the gospel is rightly preached and understood, religionists get alarmed and ask the questions that Paul discusses in Romans: Romans 6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? ("Liscence") Of course, the answer is NO! But the answer is not "NO, we must also keep the commandments." It is "NO, you must realize that you are a new person inside, and now, God is in the process of freeing you from sin - you don't HAVE to live in sin anymore!" Not "you must not" but "you do not have to!" Those are very different messages. This leads his argument to the next objection - then how am I supposed to relate to the law and the commandments? (Romans 7 - rejecting 'Legalism') Romans 7:4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. This fruit is not simple obedience to the commandments - the Jews, who sought righteousness that way, never attained it, and neither will we! (Romans 9). AS newborn Christians, our relationship to the law is different. We meditate on it so that we can know what sin is, and allow God to change our hearts with respect to it so that we stop sinning. So again, it's not about obeying the law, it's about knowing it, and letting the Holy Spirit sanctify and change us. In this respect, we are at God's mercy - if God is not changing our heart on a subject that we are striving to obey, we will fail. Why presume to do the work of the Spirit? We should instead respond to God's working, and that's all. This is why, for example, the Apostle John told us that we DON'T have to obey everthing the preacher or anyone else says to us - only what the Holy Spirit teaches us - otherwise, we are right back under the bondage of legalism. 1 John 2:26-28 (New King James Version) These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will[a] abide in Him. Paul then goes on to explain in Romans 8 that, under grace, we do not have to sin, even though salvation by grace means that our sins do not affect our salvation, and we don't have to be under the law, because Jesus fulfilled it for us. Instead, of liscence or legalism, we have LIFE in the Spirit by setting our minds on spiritual things - i.e. the scriptures. >>MJ: We would not be advised so many times in the word of God if He had no intentions on us being able to keep those very commandments. The question is, how to rightly interpret this interaction between Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler. He is self-righteous, and thinks that his keeping of the commandments makes him so, rather than seeing that faith in God makes us righteous, and keeping his word merely shows that. However, the burden of keeping the law is not part of the New Testament. We keep the law only in as much as God works in us. Naturally, we are to keep the commandments, but out of love, not out of a need for securing our righteousness, a fact lost on this religious man. John 14:15 If you love Me, keep My commandments.
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>> STEVE: What kind of Christian are/were you? I grew up agnostic scientist, became a born again charismatic near the end of college, then left it after about 10 years. I explored mindfulness meditation and yoga for 6 years, then returned to evangelicalism, and am now a pastor. I still practice yoga and some mindfulness, but I found that practicing without a personal God did not work for me, and I returned to Christianity for that reason, as well as the fact that Christianity seemed to have a more comprehensive world view that translated very well into principles for governing relationships, science, politics, and history. Buddhism seemed weak in that, in the countries where it dominates, it does NOT translate into a government system that leads to prosperity - there's a LOT of poverty in Buddhist countries. I know that sounds like strange reasons to return to xianity, but that's how I reasoned. >> STEVE: I am wondering, because Orthodoxy actually has an esoteric, meditative component to it called Hesychasm I've never heard of that, but I do know that the 'desert fathers' of Christianity were more contemplative, and some Christians read their works. I am comfortable with needing less of an isolationist/monastery approach. >> STEVE: I've been able to bridge Buddhist "emptiness" with early Christian apophatic theology, and Buddhist meditation with Christian He sychasm. While I find quieting the mind and receiving with the senses very beneficial for self-knowledge and mastery, and the subsequent liberation that self-awareness can bring, Vipassana did not really teach 'emptiness' and I don't find the extinguishing of the self in that kind of Buddhism to be helpful. In Christianity, we find the love and development of self (as stewardship of what we've been given) for the purpose of self-giving and self-surrender to the higher purposes of God. I like this because it both values and acknowledges the self as something real and good, while also emphasizes transcending the self through surrender and love for others. I think the Buddhist version lacks the first emphasis, which seems out of whack with my experience and emotional needs - not just my ego, but my created self. >> STEVE: I think your "don't know" approach is very wise. Thank you. I think every truth seeker must maintain some level of "i don't know everything and may be missing something big" in their minds. However, I also think we need to be willing to draw conclusions so that we can start acting on what we are convinced of. As Paul the Apostle encouraged his student Timothy: You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of (2 Tim 3:1, emphasis mine) Thanks for commenting!!
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My boy and girl. I wonder where he learned that face from? Ahem. Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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Riding over these is how my boy got three flat tires in a week on his bike. I wised up and bought 'puncture resistant tire tubes' which are essentially about 3mm thick. Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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Sometimes, stuff that grows in the fridge can be amazing. This mold was cool. Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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My workplace is surrounded with beautiful trees. Here's one. Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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Just another day on the farm, waiting for the almonds to mature. Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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Took this at the almond orchard, just an old flat on the back of a flatbed. Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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These flowers look better in the picture than in real life, but they fill the decorative buckets outside of my workplace. Nice mix. Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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“When I was little, my grandfather used to make me stand in a closet for five minutes without moving. He said it was elevator practice.” ~ Stephen Wright Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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They look like a fireworks display! The versions below you can use for your desktop. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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The ground cover is encroaching! Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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“It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” ~ Lewis Grizzard Tomato harvest is underway - in my area, lots of Italian tomatoes, here loaded into the trucks for transport from the field. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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Gotta love sunsets in the country. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.” ~ Mother Teresa I've taken up exercising, and three days a week, I walk the .3 miles to the gym along the Iron Horse Trail. It's a scenic break from corporate life, and it's directly behind my building here in San Ramon. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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This is my Droid. Took a picture to sell on Craigslist. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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Here's what the ditches look like when empty. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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“Water is life's mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.” ~ Albert Szent-Gyorgyi Here's what irrigation looks like here in the central valley. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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"After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb." ~Nelson Mandela The other day, the highway I usually take to work was backed up due to an accident, so I took the road through the hills (Corral Hollow Road) to go around the traffic. I found this and many other beautiful vistas along the way. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
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“Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” Mark Twain The almonds are shedding their casing, revealing the shell and nut inside. Two more weeks and harvest begins here in the valley. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Dan's 365 Photo Blog
>> WENDY: Oftentimes in churches where leadership isn't emphasized or encouraged to everyone it is seen that the masses are just followers or the "average people" and only those who are super zealous and born leaders leaders take on any kind of responsibility in the church. That is a really interesting observation. I definitely think we need to be training people to lead and shepherd others, and the G12 model directly addresses this. I guess the danger is when that becomes the 'system' or the 'machine' behind the church, and people get crushed or left behind for not 'keeping up.' >> WENDY: I think the structure of Mercy Church allows people to feel a part of something and gives people tangible ways to get involved and not just be a "receiver" at church but also a "giver". And do you think that better, more real friendships are developed in this type of system/culture? What about people who feel it is 'not for them' because it is too pushy, agressive, demanding, or 'cookie cutter,' in that it only has 'one way' of getting people involved? I am not criticizing, just thinking of what critics might ask. >> WENDY: At times during my involvement at Mercy Church i have felt pressure to do certain things and take on certain responsibilites - but i know in my heart that no one is making me do it, and i know that if i don't speak up about my concerns i'm at fault. I'm free to follow the Lord and i know its my responsibility to keep my heart in check to make sure i'm serving God and not man. This is where it gets dangerous. If a person has enough maturity to know that requests for help aren't demands, and so they don't feel guilty and are not marginalized by the church when they can't or don't contribute at some higher level of time/money, then all's well. But if they are marginalized, that's bad. In addition, if the leadership is authoritarian, and people DON'T feel they can say no, but do anyway, they may choose to 'blame' themselves for not being mature or ready enough. Even your respons above gives me a little pause - victims of religious manipulation routinely b lame themselves and not the leadership. >> WENDY: Many people who have in recent months left Mercy Church have said that they have been labeled rebellious and bad and off limits from church leadership. If they have, that's a real red flag - the accusation of rebellion is typical for authoritarian and spiritually abusing churches. Here's the thing - everyone is rebellious to some extent, but it's the grace-filled, holy-spirit dependent leader that knows he is running a volunteer organization, not an army. >> WENDY: However, I personally do not respect the way that many of those people have left the church. If someone is leaving a group of people that they have invested with, built friendships with, lived life with then there is a responsibility to give an explanation of why they have decided to move on (even if they find that uncomfortable or difficult), tie up loose ends and relationships and then move on. While I agree with you, I would put more blame on the shepherds than the sheep. If they were not mature enough to leave maturely, it's likely that (a) the leadership never taught them how to mature, and what that looks like, and (b) failed to inspire them. There IS something to be said about Jesus' hard words for his disciples, and he did drive many away when he saw they were just there for the food. So some fallout is to be expected in a church that calls people to true discipleship. As leaders, if we are treading the 'higher comittment' road with our discipleship, need to be constantly watchful that we are leading and not beating the sheep, we need to have more of a heart for people than the work, and not excuse ourselves from improving our heart and methos by saying 'they left because they were rebellious.' >> WENDY: They seem to have an agenda to convince other people why Mercy Church is a "cult". And these accusations should not be taken lightly by either the leaders or the members. Controlling organizations often deflect criticism when it is due, often as 'the devil's attack.' >> WENDY: if you think the organization you work for is full of corruption and needs to change then if you just hold it in, get fed up and angry inside, and then one day just walk out of the office saying "this place is messed up, i'm done!" and never come back then you are not helping anybody. That really depends. In most cases, people that leave with this attitude have no influence with the leadership, which is where the change needs to happen. Trying to turn the Titanic could take years of blood sweat and tears that most people do not care to invest. And in my experience, controlling organizations eventually implode and return to small membership if they don't change. If I got into one again, I would try to influence the leadership (now that I am a pastor), to help the sheep. But if it continued, I would break fellowship and move on, shaking the dust off my feet. Phariseeism and legalism are poison. And I would let the sheep know why I was leaving in no uncertain terms. >> WENDY: This is a lengthy post but i am passionate about this because I am not a brainwashed soul who's stuck at Mercy Church. I have my own mind. I struggle with things - i regularly evaluate whether my life looks how God would want it to look- i struggle with usually being obedient enough to the Lord: i don't think i've ever felt like i've been too committed to the things of God or that maybe i should chill out and be less obedient. That is great to hear. >> WENDY: But I'm a sinful person so my flesh usually wants me to escape responsibility and just take the easy road. So i'm happy im in a church that regularly emphasizes the importance of actually doing something with my life that's not all about me. I have mixed feelings about the phrase "it's not about me." This smacks of a one-sided gospel which I addressed in the podcast sermon Finding God's Call III - A Biblical view of self-love. Give it a listen and tell me what you think. >> WENDY: That is how I know it's not a creepy cult: the leadership is willing to change and evolve and take the hard criticism to make our church the best it can be....Also, it was decided that people should not be challenged or required to attend the School of Leaders. Becoming a leader and carrying responsibility is a personal choice for someone and nobody can make that choice for someone else. Excellent, that sounds good. Actually, that sounds great! >> WENDY: Lastly, cell leaders have been encouraged to help people to simply take the next step with God where ever they are at. If someone isn't ready to go on Encounter then that's okay, just help them move forward with God in some way - just let them hang out where they are comfortable until they decide they're ready for somethign more. That sounds like a much more graceful method, it sounds very good. Thanks for sharing your journey.
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>>KEITH: While necessity CAN be an excuse for something, it can also be a legitimate reason. It all boils down to whether or not the claimed necessity really IS necessary. Agreed. >>KEITH: Back in the olden days, cap and trade used to be a conservative, market based solution to pollution, contrasted with the mandated emission standards approach. That may be so, I'm not sure. However, what I am sure of is that human-caused global warming is bogus, and taxing our system for fake science is bad for business, science, and the economy. We have to get away from panic-based pseudoscience driving public policy. And although I am a governmental minimalist, I do think that the govt does have some responsibilities, and this type of regulation should fall into it's arena. I think all of the profiteering by having private parties involved makes it ripe for abuse.
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