The wealthy woman and Heaven

ANOTHER tale.
A wealthy woman who spent her time and wealth on herself dreamed one night she was in heaven.
Seeing a large mansion, she was told it was her gardener’s. To her shock, her home was only a small cottage.
When she questioned this, she was told by an angel: “Well, we did our best with the materials you sent up.’’

heaven

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82 thoughts on “The wealthy woman and Heaven

  1. Yep Bryan,

    I guess that IF there is a heaven, and IF it is as desirable as we are told, then I cant really imagine the need or even the desire for luxury type living ‘there’. I seem to recall a Psalmist who mentioned that he would be happy to be just a ‘doorkeeper in the house of the Lord’. Sounds reasonable to me.

    Rian.

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      • No davinci,
        Being something of a Gnostic, I’m far too modest to exaltedly claim to be the Serpent. But as a non-Christian as you will well know by now, I dont hold any belief in a literal heaven ‘place’. But of course I do have the very greatest of faith in a continuation of life following so-called death.

        In my comments there, I am simply speaking from the point of view of one who hears the Christians talking so much about ‘heaven’, and am proceeding to remind them of one of their quotes in Scripture.

        Just one other point, old mate, it is very noticeable that there is not the slightest suggestion in the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden concerning a life after death, or any non-material heaven awaiting one. Those matters only come up a long time afterwards in another stage of human evolution and thinking.

        Oh and I would argue that the concept of ‘Sin’ as we conceive it, is much too sophisticated an idea for it to have been in the minds of the ancient folks who penned the original and most likely very different version of the story of our first parents. In those times as virtually all through the early chapters of Genesis, there was only the Divine Command from on high. And the moral then used to be ‘You cant fight City Hall!’

        Rian.

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    • God gave me proof that Heaven exists Rian.

      It was an amazing, totally unexpected spiritual encounter, but one that will never leave me. I might add though, that I would have to be classed as a very great ‘Christian’ doubter. Perhaps that’s why God has to intervene so powerfully in a tangible way at times…..He has to work overtime, it seems, to keep me on the straight and narrow, and it’s certainly nothing to boast about.

      What’s that scripture? Ah, yes, “Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

      Cheers

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  2. Another tale…

    Moses and his people were fleeing the Egyptian soldiers and arrived at the Red Sea. The boats to cross the sea were nowhere to be seen…. Moses was in big trouble and he knew it. Daniel, the agent from Jerusalem came up to Moses on his camel, red faced. “Boss I’m sorry … but the guy in town let me down, there’s just no boats to be found…” “GREAT …” roared Moses… “Now I suppose you expect me to just wave my staff across the sea parting it to allow my people through, and then come crashing down on our enemies as they try to follow …” Daniel almost fell off his camel in excitement.
    “Boss… if you can do that I can guarantee you a chapter in the first testament …”

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  3. So Jesus answered them and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brother or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or land, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time … and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)

    You only get into heaven by the grace of God but your actions determines what you receive in heaven.

    Rather than just having a small cottage in heaven, the person at the lowest level will have the what amounts to the Earth and everything in it multiplied by 10. The people on the highest level would have property that would need to be measured in light years.

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    • My idea of heaven would be more egalitarian. Does that mean (should I get there) i wouldn’t find your version of heaven to be actually heaven ?

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      • 🙂

        The verse I put in at the start would cover it. God is justice and will reward people for their efforts a hundredfold. You put the work in, you get the rewarded.

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      • As for it not being your version of heaven. God knows what you want better than you.

        The person who is on the lowest level of heaven will say.

        I have been rewarded as no one else has.

        So he is happy with what he has.

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      • Hey Dom,

        He also said “consider the lilies of the field” and he also said something about a woman who only gave two copper coins.

        Perhaps God has a more enlightened view of justice than you think?

        As to being happy with what you have that’s great advice. It’s also not my point.

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      • God would definitely have a more enlightened view of justice. My view of paradise was conveyed by God. If you feel you do not like it that is fine. 🙂

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      • Hey Dom,

        Fair enough. Personally I’d guess your version of heaven is reflective of you rather than any particular deity. I suppose that’s one of the good things about atheism you don’t have to worry about what might happen in the afterlife.

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      • FAIL

        IF my “dogma” is incorrect there may be consequences in the afterlife. BUT as long as I’m an atheist it’s something I don’t have to worry about.

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      • Bryan, (Jan. 26, at 11.08)

        please do keep in mind that there are other alternative possibilities about the afterlife, as well as the Christian one. Even if the Atheist is actually wrong about there being a big zero after death, it may be that the eternal scheme behind everything may still just have a suitable and non-threatening place for him.

        You are being very dogmatic there with your affirmation of ‘Delusional’. You have said in the past that there may well be surprises about just who we might find in ‘heaven’. I prefer to keep an open mind.

        Rian.

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      • “You may call me Terry, you may call me Jimmy
        You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
        You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
        You may call me anything but no matter what you say.

        You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
        You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
        Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
        But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” 😉

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      • HI Bryan,

        This ain’t poker you don’t have to keep bluffing when there’s nothing in you hand, just fold early and we can all move on.

        Hi Monica

        “But you’re gonna have to serve somebody”

        You HAVE to serve there’s no choice in the matter at all no free will ??

        I understood that free will was a central part of the Christian theology is that not always the case ?

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      • HI Bryan,

        So I should worry about something that doesn’t exist because by doing so I receive no discernable benefits whatsoever.

        To use a poker metaphor where there’s nothing in your hand can I suggest you fold rather than bluff. Save us all some time.

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      • HI Monica,

        “You’re gonna have to serve somebody,”

        You HAVE to no choice in the matter – no free will ? I always thought that free will was a tenet of Christian theology.

        Is that not always the case ?

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      • “We all CHOOSE to serve somebody.”

        Um wow, look I do realise this whole “listening” thing really really has got you beat so we’ll take baby steps.

        Here’s what Monica said earlier:

        ““You’re gonna have to serve somebody,””

        Note that you are going to to HAVE to serve somebody. Not you can serve somebody if you’d like to. Or you can serve somebody if that’s what you really want to do. Or you can weight up the benefits of service v non-service and make an informed choice. Not even “We all CHOOSE to serve somebody”.

        But that we HAVE to serve – no choice. Hence our choice is restricted, it’s fettered, it’s forced.

        All of which would be the opposite of a free choice that we might make out of our free will.

        So we’d either have to re-write the verse along the lines of:
        “You don’t have to serve anybody unless you make the choice to do you, yes indeed”

        Or accept that as it stands it’s contrary to free will.

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      • If we have free will then we can choose not to serve.

        If we have to serve we have no free will.

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  4. This is a rather serious word of caution to committed Christians. I certainly needed to hear it! It’s the constant war within of flesh versus Spirit, and certainly a timely reminder as I am remembering the issue Dom (a Muslim) has with Christians concerning ‘slander’ of the prophets.

    As an aside Dom, I think that the prophets of the Bible certainly deserve our profound respect, for they truly are an inspiration to people of faith, but I do not believe that God would want us to lose sight of the fact that they were all ‘flawed’ individuals, just as we are, and that God ‘still’ uses imperfect vessels to make Himself known, to this very day.

    Righteous Judgment

    In my various writings and public speaking, I have urged the born-again church to resist the trends of self-righteous anger and bitter cynicism that exist in our world. Instead, let us seek to possess the “higher . . . thoughts” of Christ (Isa. 55:9).

    In truth, our calling is to serve God as ambassadors of Christ (Eph. 6:20). A true ambassador is not only pledged to represent his or her leader; the ambassador is one who knows what that ruler actually thinks and what he would say. He receives regular communication with that leader and is current on his leader’s short-term and long-term goals. Should the ambassador be ignorant of the ruler’s view, he is trained to not offer his own opinions; he is to wait until he hears from the one he represents. The world doesn’t want to know what we think. There are some seven billion opinions in the world today; what the nations need is not to hear our opinion, but to hear the One we represent: our King, Jesus Christ.

    I have also endeavored to put a roadblock in front of false discernment. We must avoid the self-righteous, religious approach of the Pharisees. When I urge people to not be judgmental, I am not saying don’t discern. Spiritual discernment is an art form, while judging by outer appearance is an instinct of the flesh. I am saying we must learn how to wait, listen and, in meekness, discern the higher way of Christ.

    Judgment That Is Righteous
    Yet inevitably there are still questions. What about the Lord’s admonition calling us to “not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24)? What is righteous judgment?

    In discussing this with others, I’ve noticed that the words righteous and judgment seem to be all that some see in the verse. However, the first part of the verse explains, at least partially, the second half: righteous judgment is that which is “not . . . according to appearance.” Righteous judgment comes from another source, that which is higher than the instincts of the flesh.

    You see, there is a difference between discerning a need that you are determined to pray for and, in contrast, simply finding fault which often degrades into gossip and slander. God does not call a person into a “ministry of judging others” just because one has always been fearless to “tell it as it is.” Faultfinding is not a gift of the Spirit.

    If your judgment is truly from God, it will not be an isolated gift. You will also have humility from God, love, and lowliness of mind as well.

    Righteous judgment proves itself genuine by the virtues that support and present it.

    All the virtues of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, gentleness, etc. — should be functionally evident in your character. If so, you will have been known to be gentle, loving, lowly of mind and wise. When you bring a righteous judgment, your character affirms that your judgment is not an emotional reaction, but you come as one sent from God – like Christ, you are typically full of grace and truth. You speak as an individual who is seriously concerned with bettering the life of others.

    As John wrote,

    “By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).

    Yes, the day of judgment is coming. Our goal should be that “love is perfected with us.” In the seasons of judgment, we are called to a life of perfect love, for “as He is, so also are we in this world.”

    Francis Frangipane Ministries

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    • So Mon,
      You gotta serve somebody, eh?

      I seem to recall a marvellous Atheist named Fred Hollows who clearly spent his latter years serving humanity. I dont really think that he regarded humanity as his ‘god’, do you?

      I guess too, that just because you have some sort of a belief in God, whether Christian or other, it doesnt really mean that you are truly serving that deity, does it? Presumably there must be loads and loads of Christians around whose primary servitude is to their own families, wouldnt you think? Maybe to their security and happiness as well. The verses you quote are loaded in such a way as to suggest that one can serve only the ‘devil’ or ‘the Lord’. Dont think that’s really adequate.

      In fact let’s look at it this way, ideally a Christian is constantly examining his faith, and his devotion to his Lord. That way, you can honestly say that he always has the principles of his Christian faith coming before him. Thus he very specifically has a God, and hopefully will endeavour to put that God first in his life.

      But – but although the Atheist may ponder some of the issues at times, he carries no feeling of obligation to constantly or frequently ‘examine’ his atheism, or to nervously study any sort of devotion to atheism. In reading Philosophy or Science he is not in any way consciously strengthening his atheism, in the way that a Christian is hopefully endeavouring to strengthen and perfect his Christian faith.

      There is no ideal ahead for the committed atheist, other than to follow the path to the facts of the world. He generally has no ‘sacred cow’ of his own in mind, and certainly nothing like the Christian idea of a deity. Truth or reality will be the ultimate thing he strives for; but neither truth nor reality sits up there teaching, admonishing or rewarding him in a god-like style.
      Rian.

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      • If Fred Hollows was sent to this Earth to serve humanity in his own special way, he has been obedient to that, regardless of whether he was aware of that or not.

        I did say ‘if’. :-))

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      • Hm,
        All very well, Strewth, but from what I’ve read and observed or heard among Evangelicals, the Christian is obliged to keep a full awareness of his Lord before him. He is not encouraged to be following some unconscious Christianity. He is supposed to hold specific beliefs and keep studying the Bible etc. The Atheist like Fred Hollows is doing good because he simply believes in it, not because of any ‘god’ or mythical entity like ‘atheism’ telling him to.

        Mind you, when I hear the Evangelicals spouting this sort of thing, I am reminded of a Gospel passage that tells how at the ‘Judgement’ the ones commended were those who did good for their fellows rather than those ones who just spoke the correct words like ‘Lord Lord’.
        Rian.

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      • Yes, Fred Hollows was a remarkable man, a true inspiration. Interestingly, did you know that he was the son of a pastor and once studied for the priesthood? But he abandoned his faith to become an atheist, “and for the rest of his life devoted himself to the good works of healing the blind. Towards the end of his life the interviewer asked him a profound question. “Well Fred, when you die and you go to heaven and are at the throne of God how do you think God will view your great works?” A sneer came over Fred’s face and he smirked “What do you think”?

        What do I think? I think that serving ‘humanity’ does not necessarily equate to serving ‘God’. I think that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6) or in Saint Augustine’s words, “Works not rooted in God are splendid sins.”

        “I dont really think that he regarded humanity as his ‘god’, do you?”

        I don’t know Rian. My thoughts are that he supposedly turned his back on God by choosing to become an athiest after once serving Him. And everyone is a slave/serves someone or something. Some people serve money and some their own pride, becoming their own god, be it consciously, or unconsciously; same thing.

        Everyone talks about James 2:14-26 ‘Faith without Works’, but works without faith is just as dead.

        “The key to the understanding is on the equivocation with the word “faith.” In the “faith without deeds [or works] is dead” line, “faith” is inauthentic faith.

        Said another way, real faith will lead to real works – i.e., good works done for God’s glory. Inauthentic faith will lead to no works or works done for self-glorification. Either way, inauthentic faith isn’t faith at all.

        But if you do good works but don’t have genuine faith, then you are just as spiritually dead, because the works aren’t really “good.” They are done for your glory and not for God’s. Works without faith is just as dead.

        Romans 3:10-11 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. …… Eternity Matters

        So….the Bible says that “Satan is the god of this world” (or “god of this age”). “He is the major influence on the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes and views of the majority of people. His influence also encompasses the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce. The thoughts, ideas, speculations and false religions of the world are under his control and have sprung from his lies and deceptions.”

        So, either you submit yourself to God’s rule or……… 😉

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      • “So, either you submit yourself to God’s rule or………”

        So once again it’s bye bye to free will.

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      • Hi Mon,
        Yes that reads as a thoroughly effective commentary on the Evangelical approach to good works.

        With regard to Fred Hollows, I was interested to read of his background, and the early possibility of a life of service in the Clergy. Didnt know any of that. Immediately my thought is that just perhaps if he had followed that through, he may well have not fulfilled any particularly great work on behalf of humanity. There are some of us who, despite all the best of intentions are simply not suited to work as ministers. Other jobs in life can be just as important.

        I feel just a little concerned about the part of the account dealing with the question that was put to him by the interviewer. I just hazard the suggestion that the expression on his face may have been wrongly interpreted. A wry smile, or a twisting up of the mouth while considering the issue might not have meant a sneer at all. I just took a moment to imagine being asked the question myself; and on the basis that I had never given the idea any thought, found my face contorting along with an odd smile, in such a way as to possibly get misconstrued like that.

        I just have to return to comments I’ve offered here before about the vexed business of ‘becoming an atheist’. I’ve just never heard of anyone pondering the question in real life. One doesnt really ‘choose’ to become Atheist. Rather the appellation simply applies accurately to any person who DISCOVERS that he no longer believes honestly in a god. As I’ve also said on this, I would venture to acknowledge that if this individual decides or vows never to rethink, or ever to entertain the idea of Theism again, then of course he is deciding, he IS choosing at that point. I would remind you that there was a time in my childhood when I discovered that I no longer believed in Fairies or in Father Christmas. I didnt ‘choose’ to stop believing. It was simply no long a fact in my mind.

        Now, in regard to that question of Faith and Good Works, I have to be completely honest and state emphatically that this is one of the many many sticking points on which I depart completely from orthodox Christianity. As I’ve said on a number of occasions, I dont hold any belief in a specific ‘heaven’, and I reject totally the suggestion that Good Works without Faith is dead. In this regard, I might remind you that in the famous passage on Love in Corinthians, the writer states that if I do the tabulated good works WITHOUT LOVE, it profiteth me nothing. He doesnt say ‘without faith’, does he?

        Actually, come to think of it, that the exact words in that passage say that you personally will not get any benefit for yourself if you do good works without love. So is that hope that you will get profit out of it, the very reason that the Christian does any good deed? Paul appears to be saying it is or should be!

        Furthermore, just because one may be performing good works without the requisite Faith as you describe it, it doesn’t automatically follow that one is doing them for one’s own glory. The decent and moral Atheists that I know, certainly show no sign of ‘being good’ for their own selfish benefit. I recall reading a Catholic homily that stated clearly that the non-believer can genuinely perform good works from his own heart.

        Quite frankly, I dont particularly care what Paul or any other Scriptural authority says about Good Works, Sin and Faith. Clearly it seems to me that this obligation or demand to ‘have faith’ and to believe all sorts of things in order to please the deity along with one’s works, represents a terribly clever method of control exerted on the Christian. It seems to me every bit as improper and manipulative as the old Catholic demand that one MUST go regularly to Confession, and that one MUST attend Mass etc or else!

        Along with our brothers of the Jewish faith, I believe emphatically in Good Works that CAN stand alone and bring gladness to the Spiritual Kingdom, along with the benefit they carry to one’s fellow human beings; and that applies to Christian and non-Christian alike. If Faith goes with the Works, then fine, – So be it.
        Cheers, Rian.

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      • Some more thoughts, Rian.

        I just wonder if you are missing the point. I mean, based on merit alone, no one deserves to go to Heaven more than the late Professor Fred Hollows. He was an amazing man who accomplished more than most for the betterment of humanity. When it came to the marginalized and underprivileged, he embodied Jesus Christ’s sacrificial, selfless love by restoring sight to the poor. And yet he is known to be an Atheist. By all intents and purposes there is no disputing that he had a ‘good’ heart. But in Luke 18:19, Jesus, himself, rebuked ‘The Rich Young Ruler’, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.” So if no one is good except God alone then it stands to reason that the ‘Biblical worldview’ is that we are all sinners with idols in our hearts. And that, as I understand it, is what Bob Dylan is alluding to in his song, ‘You Gotta Serve Somebody’, and not that Fred Hollows intentionally bowed down to and worshipped ‘humanity’ as his god. Same as Bryan’s thread, ‘Everyone has at least one god’. I understand it as being about the everyday decisions we make that really, have eternal consequences, and which can become idols in our hearts, …….”whether you consider yourself religious or irreligious, everybody lives by a set of conscious (sometimes unconscious) principles that govern your beliefs and behavior.”

        What’s an idol? I understand it to be anything or anyone we love more than the Lord, trust in more than the Lord, or give more attention to than the Lord. Hence, if you are not God-centred then someone or something (other than Him) must be taking His place. Matthew 12:30 Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me. The first clause speaks of the inner disposition, that which forms the real being of the man; the second, of his energy.

        Of Fred Hollows, Bill Muehlenberg of ‘CultureWatch’ says: “He once studied for the priesthood, but later rejected God. But his humanitarianism was only possible because of, and explicable in terms of, the reality of God and the moral universe we all inhabit. Hollows was still made in God’s image, still was under God’s common grace, and still lived and acted in God’s moral universe. That is why he could do what he did. So yes, non-believers can do good things, but not on the basis of their own worldview, but on the basis of the one they reject. The dog eat dog world of philosophical naturalism and impersonal evolution do not offer the basis or motivation for genuine altruism and self-sacrifice for strangers. But the biblical worldview certainly allows for it and makes sense of it.”

        Whether my understanding/reasoning is flawed or not, regarding this subject, this is the scripture at the heart of it, “You are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness” (Romans 6:16).

        ‘Got Questions Org’ states: “All the various forms of modern idolatry have one thing at their core: self. We no longer bow down to idols and images. Instead we worship at the altar of the god of self—pride and ego comes to mind. We idolize mankind—and by extension ourselves—through naturalism and the power of science. This gives us the illusion that we are lords of our world and builds our self-esteem to godlike proportions. We reject God’s Word and His description of how He created the heavens and the earth, and we accept the nonsense of evolution and naturalism. We embrace the goddess of environmentalism and fool ourselves into thinking we can preserve the earth indefinitely when God has declared the earth has a limited lifespan and will last only until the end of the age.

        We worship at the altar of self-aggrandizement or the fulfillment of the self to the exclusion of all others and their needs and desires. This manifests itself in self-indulgence through alcohol, drugs, and food. The self-control we so desperately need is spurned in our insatiable desire to eat, drink, and medicate more and more. We resist any effort to get us to curb our appetites, and we are determined to make ourselves the god of our lives. This has its origin in the Garden of Eden where Satan tempted Eve to eat of the tree with the words “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). This has been man’s desire ever since—to be god and, as we have seen, the worship of self is the basis of all modern idolatry.

        All idolatry of self has at its core the three lusts found in 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” Modern idolatry is not of God, but of Satan, and in it we will never find happiness focusing on ourselves. Our hearts and minds must be centered on God and on others.”

        It’s an epistle, I know, but I had a lot on my mind. Cheers.

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      • okay Bryan,
        So if you reject my thesis about ‘choosing’ atheism, how do you explain the example I gave from my own childhood?

        I didnt choose to give up believing in Father Christmas. It was when I discovered that F. C. no longer had any reality for me and that ‘his’ existence was demonstrably unproven, there was simply no belief there any more.

        I would have thought that you would appreciate the point I made when I stated how if the twice born Atheist specifically decides that he will not make any attempt to understand or accept a deity IN FUTURE, THEN he is specifically making a choice. And such a choice might be made just minutes or seconds after he has recognized that he no longer has belief.

        For me, when I discovered TO MY SURPRISE way back about 40 or so years ago that I no longer found any confidence or belief in my mind about the teachings of Christianity, I had to acknowledge that I was AT THAT MOMENT, no longer a Christian. At no time did I ever choose to give up Christianity. Sure, in conformity with my new status as an unbeliever, I did choose at that time to relinquish any regular attendance at Church as well as any other specifically Christian activities.

        But all the same, I have always left the door open for any sort of revelation from ‘on high’ that might return me to the fold. So now I am an Agnostic about Christianity. Mind you, the revelation I speak about, might just as readily direct me to Judaism or Islam or Hinduism. Who knows. I am Agnostic about all of them too.

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      • Hi Mon Honey,
        Nup, with respect, I’m not missing the point. I am quite familiar with all the Christian point of view you put forward. What I’m doing is rejecting it. Will discuss more of it later. In the meantime…..

        In regard to the temptation in the Garden, I see you are equating the Serpent with the Satan. Maybe you would like to answer the query I put to friend davinci the other day, which he has been conspicuous in his failure to answer. Just to refresh….

        The Serpent is described most clearly (in all translations) as an Animal. There is no suggestion in Genesis that the Serpent was anything else.

        If the Serpent was actually the Satan, or a dummy through which the Satan acted, and if genuine and regular snakes are therefore not responsible for the temptation, then why should they be punished?

        The punishment/curse uttered by the deity in the story simply cannot on the other hand, be applied to the Satan, as there is no Scriptural quote that tells how ‘he’ crawls on the ground and eats dirt. (Unless, as I pointed out, there is some extraordinary secret teaching about the ambulatory habits of the Satan which is only taught to twice born Christians.)

        That identification of the Serpent with the Satan is not the only interpretation that can be promoted. There is a perfectly good Gnostic and mythical explanation as another alternative, which I shall expound in another posting, though I’ll probably get stoned to death for suggesting it!

        Love and cheers, Rian.

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      • >>Rian, You can’t equate belief in Santa with belief in God. Apples and Oranges.
        If you were a Christian as you claim and decided not to be one you made a decision. A choice.>>>

        Sorry Bryan,
        But you are missing an awful lot here. Point one… We are talking about me losing my belief in Father Christmas when I was only a pretty small kid. So for me, F. C. was every bit up to that point, as real and genuine as God. At that age, I could in no way tell the difference, other than the fact that when I found out to my surprise that FC was believed in by no-one in my family, nevertheless, all of them very definitely still believed in God. I stayed with the strength and believed accordingly.

        And we are debating here about beliefs, not realities! To me as probably to any small kid, the beliefs in FC and Fairies etc were every bit as serious and real as any belief in god. No apples and oranges here. How can you be so darned sure about the way I personally went about believing?

        Point two, some little time back, we were accusing each other of over-generalising. But I recall certain of your blogs, when you and other Christians were ‘whooping’ over the ‘discovery’ that all human beings appear to be hard wired from birth to ‘believe’ and to accept the supernatural etc. You guys were clearly and blatantly generalizing in the discussion as you switched this inherent belief in supernaturalisms into specific automatic belief in a god – and that was simply not a given in the research involved.

        You are clearly being inconsistent in all this, since now you claim to be separating belief in a god from belief in a supernatural Father Christmas. It pleased and suited you to generalize before about this; and now you deny such a generalization in order to score a point in the debate.

        Now read this and notice exactly what it is I am saying here. It is absolutely true, Bryan, that some forty years or so back, I CHOSE not to be a Christian any more. (I no longer prayed as a Christian, read the Bible as a Christian, attended Church as a Christian or identified myself as a Christian in the Census or in Surveys.) You are right there. BUT the point is that I had NOT chosen to lose my Christian beliefs. That had suddenly struck me as a huge surprise. I discovered that they had largely gone. Notice Bryan that I was shocked when I realized that had happened.

        At that point, I didn’t choose or decide to ‘become’ an Atheist or an Agnostic or anything else. At first I just didn’t know what I was. From then on, examining the exact kind of faith and the particular limitations of the beliefs that I had, I eventually realized that I conformed to patterns common to Gnostics and Mystics. It has been in recent years that I have recognized as well, that certain of the spiritual convictions I had developed were best described as Pantheistic. And THEN and only then, I went ahead and deliberately CHOSE to call myself a Gnostic and Pantheist. Up till that time, the best term I could find for myself was a Mystical Humanist.

        Cheers Rian

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      • Although it’s a popular way with mainly less sophisticated thinkers, the notion that God and Santa Claus are similar and can both be discarded as over-active imagination is really silly and cannot be defended unless they have good reasons for why God’s existence is improbable. Many rational, educated people have come to believe in God and Christianity as a result of rational investigation, a claim that’s obviously not true for Santa. The two aren’t even remotely comparable in terms of reason, importance, or evidence.

        I CHOSE not to be a Christian any more

        AND THEN

        BUT the point is that I had NOT chosen to lose my Christian beliefs.

        are logically contradictory statements.

        Like

      • “You can’t equate belief in Santa with belief in God”

        Yeah one’s an imaginary character who brings joy, gives the worthy gifts and punishes the undeserving.

        Whereas the other ……..

        Like

      • Hi Rian,

        Hmm….am scratching my head and thinking you’re asking a question that no-one could possibly answer for certain except God, of course, but I think He’s keeping tight lipped regarding this subject.

        I can only hazard a guess, of course, but falling back on my experience with the demonic, I know for a fact that they are disembodied spirits. So I would suggest that Satan would have had to possess the snake to make it appear as though it was the serpent who was speaking to Adam and Eve….an optical illusion, if you like.

        “if genuine and regular snakes are therefore not responsible for the temptation, then why should they be punished?”

        When you think about it though, snakes aren’t really being punished. If they possessed legs before the Fall and then from there on evolved into legless, slithering creatures, how would they know (have a collective memory) of what they were like before the Fall? They wouldn’t. I think the curse was to be an indication (sign) that snakes would be forever despised and feared. And I would say that God has every right to jolly well do what He likes. He doesn’t have to answer to the likes of us.

        Why did God curse the serpent when He knew that it was actually Satan who had led Adam and Eve into sin? The fate of the serpent is an illustration. The curse of the serpent will one day be the fate of Satan himself (Revelation 20:10; Ezekiel 28:18-19).

        “The punishment/curse uttered by the deity in the story simply cannot on the other hand, be applied to the Satan, as there is no Scriptural quote that tells how ‘he’ crawls on the ground and eats dirt. (Unless, as I pointed out, there is some extraordinary secret teaching about the ambulatory habits of the Satan which is only taught to twice born Christians.)”

        That’s just silly Rian 🙂 Revelation 12:9 “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him”, and Revelation 20:2 “And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,” both describe Satan as a serpent.

        That’s all I have.

        Like

      • Okay Bryan,
        Maybe I worded it wrongly.

        try it like this…. I chose to give up living like a Christian, – doing all the appropriate Christian things, and identifying myself with Christianity. I continued to retain my own set of moral principles, while giving up those ‘obligations’ that are purely religious or are performed at the behest of a Christian deity. I could have gone on doing all this outwardly and remained in good cahoots with my birth family and many of my friends, while all the time not carrying an inward Christian life.

        But I say again, I found when I examined myself rather concernedly, that my specific Christian beliefs had gone. I was shocked to discover too that the inner spiritual faith that I had was actually the same whether I called myself Christian or not.

        I guess that you would probably conclude that even though I had held many orthodox Christian beliefs (within the context of the moderately liberal Methodist kind of my childhood) up till this time, I was not really any sort of real Christian. I had never had a Christian ‘experience’. Does that make you feel better?

        But it still was a shock when discovered that the major Christian beliefs that I had, had simply dissipated. I made no choice there, I simply found that they werent there any more.
        Rian.

        Like

      • “You are not taking responsibility for your choices Rian.”

        Don’t be too hard on Bryan, Rian,

        because that’s exactly what I wanted to say to you. Bryan took the words right out of my mouth! If it’s one thing I’ve noticed over the years it’s that atheists/non-believers consistently refuse to take responsibility for their unbelief. It may have come to you as a shock when you suddenly realised you no longer believed in the ‘Christian’ God, as you put it, but that does not mean your change of heart happened through ‘magic’—abracadabra, one minute you believe, the next minute you don’t. No, it happened because you slowly but surely made many choices/decisions over the years (and hardened your heart if truth be told) to reject the God you once believed in. I don’t buy your story either. 😉

        Like

      • “Unbelief is as much of a choice as belief is. What makes it in many ways more appealing is that whereas to believe in something requires some measure of understanding and effort, not to believe doesn’t require much of anything at all.”

        ― Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter’s Dictionary

        “I concede to my atheist opponents that belief or unbelief is a choice. As a choice, it is based upon desire. I desire, and therefore choose to believe in, one kind of universe, one that has laws and purpose with justice woven into its very fabric. The unbeliever desires, and therefore chooses to believe in, a chaotic universe where the dead remain dead and actions have no effect beyond their immediately observable consequences”

        — Peter Hitchens

        http://www.truthrevolt.org/commentary/peter-hitchens-why-modern-atheists-rage-against-god

        Like

      • “Unbelief is as much of a choice as belief is. What makes it in many ways more appealing is that whereas to believe in something requires some measure of understanding and effort, not to believe doesn’t require much of anything at all.”

        ― Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter’s Dictionary

        “I concede to my atheist opponents that belief or unbelief is a choice. As a choice, it is based upon desire. I desire, and therefore choose to believe in, one kind of universe, one that has laws and purpose with justice woven into its very fabric. The unbeliever desires, and therefore chooses to believe in, a chaotic universe where the dead remain dead and actions have no effect beyond their immediately observable consequences”

        — Peter Hitchens

        http://www.truthrevolt.org/commentary/peter-hitchens-why-modern-atheists-rage-against-god

        Like

      • Still leaves the question how do you take responsibility for unbelief open.

        And it raises the further question does that apply to everything I don’t believe in or just God ?

        I’m betting it’s pretty much just God.

        Like

      • It would apply to everything that affects our behaviour. You make the choice and therefore should take responsibility for your choice. The trouble is that some people don’t think deeply about their ideas and their implications

        Like

      • Still leaves the question how do you take responsibility for unbelief open. HOW exactly do you do that ?

        God doesn’t affect my behaviour does that mean it doesn’t apply to him?

        Like

      • Of course I’ll take responsibility for my behaviour. Why wouldn’t I?

        HOW does the lack of a belief in God change my behaviour though?

        And does that also apply to everything else I don’t believe in or just your God?

        Like

      • Hey Bryan,

        Well if the question’s already been answered then it should be no problem to answer again.

        Just cut and paste you’ll be fine.

        Like

      • Okay Bryan,

        Never let it be said that I am stubborn and resistant to change or to rethink. I’m endeavouring to take on board what you’ve been saying to me during our debate.
        Like all other non-believers then, I CHOSE to reject Christianity. In the process it must be said, that I chose also to reject Judaism, Islam, Hari Krishna, Animism, and heaven knows what else. Funny, actually, but I also chose to reject atheism. Those latter rejections at any rate, should really count in my favour, I would imagine.

        Now, since it appears that I should do a rethink and choose, let’s see, what might I pick to choose to believe? I must not rely on insight or revelation or intuition. I mustn’t wait until I have some clear conviction about something. I must simply choose and believe. Doesn’t matter which religion I choose, so long as I conform to what good old Lane Craig says, as Monica quotes. So long as I choose to believe in a god, all is well. He tells us that none of us has any excuse not to believe in God.

        Oops, I already believe in a god. Let’s rephrase that. I have always held a firm conviction about a Deity, so I don’t need to re-choose that. Oh dear, there’s one big problem here, reason and learning and observation led me to lose the Christian concept of God; so that makes me an Apostate doesn’t it? And from all I read within Christian history, an Apostate is inherently a million times worse than an atheist. I havent heard what Lane Craig says about that.

        By the way, Bryan, there is one nagging question I have here. Since one always CHOOSES to believe or not to believe in a god, (or in ‘God’) in the first place, or however you want to put it, please tell me about this. As I explained, I grew up as a small kid always believing in both Father Christmas and in God, though at that stage, it was of course a distinctly Christian God. Tell me, at what stage as an infant did I actually CHOOSE to believe in that deity? (for that matter, when and at what age did I make the choice to believe in Father Christmas too?)

        Interesting that just a short while ago, we were informed by Cardinal Pell in that famous ‘debate’ with the notorious Richard Dawkins (shudder, shock), that Atheists do go to heaven. And as I said the other day, you yourself indicated that we (oops, Christians rather) may well be very surprised to discover just who else is in heaven. Was Cardinal Pell in error????

        So do you have any idea if our very good friend Dom will ‘be’ in heaven along with you and the rest? Dom has clearly made a very powerful and informed choice about what he believes, just as our other good mate davinci has along with our erstwhile friend D.S May. All these guys in their choices sound very convincing to my unredeemed ear. Oh dear I’m terribly confused.

        Cheers, Rian

        Like

      • Now, since it appears that I should do a rethink and choose, let’s see, what might I pick to choose to believe?

        You have chosen Rian.

        I grew up as a small kid always believing in both Father Christmas and in God, though at that stage, it was of course a distinctly Christian God. Tell me, at what stage as an infant did I actually CHOOSE to believe in that deity?

        It sounds as if yours wasn’t an informed decision as a child.

        So do you have any idea if our very good friend Dom will ‘be’ in heaven along with you and the rest?

        No. I’m not God.

        Cardinal Pell In that famous ‘debate’ with the notorious Richard Dawkins (shudder, shock)

        I’m not aware of any recent debate between Pell and Dawkins.

        Oh dear I’m terribly confused.

        Yes I think you are Rian

        Like

      • Bryan,

        Quote… Now, since it appears that I should do a rethink and choose, let’s see, what might I pick to choose to believe?
        <<<>>> (Now you are being pompous, Bryan! You seem to believe as you’ve stated before that any of us can make a new choice if and when we want to. You even stated to me that you could actually choose to be an Atheist.)

        I grew up as a small kid always believing in both Father Christmas and in God, though at that stage, it was of course a distinctly Christian God. Tell me, at what stage as an infant did I actually CHOOSE to believe in that deity?
        <<<>>>
        (What on earth do you mean? Were my devout Christian parents wrong in teaching me about Father Christmas? Can a little kid of say 2 or 3 or 4 be expected to make some sort of ‘informed decision’ ??? – a real choice between alternatives? Oh come on! Now you are talking nonsense. Like every little kid in a loving family, I just automatically took on board and believed what my parents told me at that age.)

        So do you have any idea if our very good friend Dom will ‘be’ in heaven along with you and the rest?
        <<>>>
        (Ah, so you dont know what the doctrines of all traditional branches of Christianity teach about belief and about ‘getting to heaven’ and Salvation??? Monica’s quote from friend Craig Lane spells it out very plainly. Apparently you are not as traditional and orthodox as we all assume you are.)

        Cardinal Pell In that famous ‘debate’ with the notorious Richard Dawkins ..
        .<<<<>>>:> (oh come on Bryan, the debate on the ABC some year or so back, that everyone was talking about?)

        Oh dear I’m terribly confused.
        <<>>> (A very weak shot, Bryan. I’m not in the least bit confused about myself. I said absolutely nothing that was stupid. I was implying there that the sheer certainty that believers of all different faiths exhibit leaves the outsider rather bemused about how ANYONE can claim to know the real truth or convince any outsider.

        Oh dear, you are enjoying pontificating from a great height, arent you Bryan? You just dont give in an inch, do you? I actually get more and more convinced that in your training in Apologetics, you Christians are advised NEVER to admit or allow that the disbeliever or the Atheist can ever make a good point.)

        Pity about all of that. Cheers, Rian.

        Like

      • Rian, I assume you are then referring to the 2012 Q and A with Dawkins and Pell. My mistake. When you said “a short time ago” I assumed you meant more recently than three years ago.

        And you were the one who wrote that you were “terribly confused”. I merely agreed with you. I think sometimes the important subtleties of belief generally and Christianity in particular are not perceived or understood by you.

        Honestly Rian. you are an interesting bloke and I do have respect and fondness for you but that doesn’t mean I think you are necessarily right all the time.. You wouldn’t want me to agree with you just to make you feel better would you?

        It seems you are not accustomed to being disagreed with.

        Like

      • Apologies Bryan,
        Somehow when I cut and pasted into my comments there, your one line answers somehow disappeared. Hopefully you’ll be able to spot what I’m commenting on.
        Rian.

        Like

      • Thankyou Bryan for your careful and kind words of favour to me.

        Let me make a couple of things plain at this point. Despite any suspected evidence to the contrary, I have never been angry or upset over anyone on this blog, including yourself. It must just be said that I do enjoy debate. And in the process I will toss out direct challenges to the opposition.

        I sincerely hope and trust that during my two and a half years on this blog, I have never been seen to criticize anyone’s specific faith or their spiritual experience. Sure, I will debate matters to do with Scriptural writing, history and interpretation. If anyone offers some sort of an argument or reasoning around Christian Doctrine, I will have no hesitation in bouncing in with criticism, – but notice, it is criticism of the argument and not of the Doctrine or of the spiritual experience that anyone might hold.

        In my recent discourse on a Gnostic viewpoint of the Garden of Eden story, I did not at any time state that my description was uniquely true. Actually my actual convictions in the area of spiritual issues are very very few. A clear faith in The God, along with a powerful and I believe an informed conviction about the continuation of existence following so-called death; and of course a feeling of certainty about the spiritual essence that resides in each living being duly uniting us all with the God.

        In the immediate debate we’ve ‘enjoyed’ on the topic of belief, let me say that in the past, I have read a number of discussions of the matter giving both sides of the matter. I don’t mind anyone disagreeing with me; but I still think that there is a huge difference between convinced belief on one hand, and the assertion of a token Assent or a tentative allowance of an hypothesis, which might be envisaged as a ‘choice’.

        I still challenge you on the question I proffered regarding belief in the small child. Like any kid in a devout Christian household, I was indoctrinated from – what? – from the ages or 2 or 3 or 4 perhaps with the prevailing belief in God? And that was matched by an equal belief in Father Christmas. Sure, the God thing was emphasized at all times of the year, and in meaningful measured tones, unlike the FC thing which took centre stage in December.

        However, thinking back, I don’t think I can state more accurately the fact that FC was more real for me personally than was the Deity. I actually had evidence on 25th December each year that he was real. Didnt he bring me presents? Didnt he leave a little thankyou note to me and my brother for the biscuit and glass of water we put out for him on his overnight visit? It wasn’t for a few years, that it was observed by my brother and myself that the same thankyou note appeared to be written in a very similar hand to that of our mother. Luckily my eventual dis-enchantment over this had no misery for me, and I accepted it very quickly. Again, I did not CHOOSE to stop believing at that time, and I didnt hold it against my parents. Fundamentally, I had no choice… it was clearly proven.

        Anyway, Bryan, I ask again, as that very small kid of 2, 3 or 4, when DID I actually CHOOSE to believe in God or in FC in the first place, Hm? Is a small child in a loving family, who is being told confidently about God or FC, and is literally being Indoctrinated (or more unkindly but also accurately ‘brainwashed’ whether rightly or wrongly) truly choosing for himself, whether with informed choice or uninformed choice? Look, I may have been a reasonably bright little kid, but at 2 or 3 I could not make an abstract choice like this, could I?

        Cheers, Rian.

        Like

      • Bryan tells me…I think sometimes the important subtleties of belief generally and Christianity in particular are not perceived or understood by you.

        Well Bryan,
        In your posting there, you stated that I show ignorance about certain subtleties in Christian belief and teaching. May I say that in regard to Reformed and Evangelical Christianity, you are absolutely right. And I have never claimed to have that. I am however pretty familiar with classical and orthodox Christian teaching and history. Let’s look at my record on this blog.

        I offered clear evidence that Jesus did not commit Blasphemy according to Jewish law, as described in the Christian Testament. Good old PG put forward an ingenious explanation to prove the contrary, but this was quite bizarre and impossible, as is easily demonstrated.

        When you listed the standard forty or fifty OT quotes that purport to demonstrate prophecy about Jesus, I disputed this and immediately took five of the texts at random and proved that they were NOT prophecies about Jesus. Not a single Apologist on this blog disputed or disproved what I said. I am no personal authority, but I have all the materials at my disposal to refute a great number of those so called prophecies. Anyone like to take me on?

        When I argued that there were not huge numbers of Christian martyrs under Rome, (in lists of hundreds of thousands traditionally), but only some three or four thousand at most during the first 300 years of Christianity; and went ahead to list some 20 or so modern historical authorities to back it up, you dismissed my list as just cherry-picking my sources. But neither you or any other enthusiast on the blog quoted a single modern historian or encyclopaedic reference to prove me wrong. I of course did not ignore the quotes from Tacitus, Pliny and the like. You did add quite correctly then that the numbers didn’t matter really, it was the courage and faith of the martyrs that was important.

        When you blithely asserted that the early/first Christian church was undivided and united, I immediately quoted some 30 texts from the NT that demonstrated that from the start there were disputes, schisms, heresies and etc, and even the presence of a Denomination in essence. Though there were murmurs of objection, not a single person dissected those verses and explained them away.

        I make no bones about my non-belief in Christian Doctrines, but when our old friend ‘the Prophet HUP’ offered a bizarre definition of the Christian Trinity, in fact stating blatantly that this is ‘what Christians believe’, I couldn’t stand it. I promptly launched into a debate with him on the correct terms of the Doctrine. Though I was criticized for this on the basis that as a non-believer, I simply shouldn’t be correcting him, nevertheless not a single Christian voice on the blog suggested that my actual argument was wrong.

        I am not a particularly virtuous person I guess, but I do claim at least one quality. In argument and debate, I try scrupulously to be fair and honest. As far as I can recall there have been possibly two or three occasions on which I was corrected here on some particular issue of verifiable FACT. I immediately acknowledged the same, and stated I was pleased to have the information. This is obviously not the same as just having a different opinion or belief about a Doctrine. Let me know if ever I fail to do that, please.

        Cheers, Rian.

        Like

      • Hi Karen,
        Well, thank you for that. That was just about the nicest thing anyone has said to me today. (Just imagine what the others have been saying!) You will notice that Bryan has gently suggested that my insight or understanding on certain Christian subtleties of belief etc is rather weak. Very true. I have never been involved in the Christianity of Evangelism or Reformed tradition. My fields lie in Early Church history, development of Doctrine, Higher Criticism, Christian Symbolism, etc etc.

        Anyway, let me point out a few things. I make no effort whatsoever to steal anyone away from their own current faith. I offer no infallible word of God. i dont argue with anyone over their own internal faith or spiritual experience. For the greater part, I dont set out to debate the essential teachings of Christianity as they are discussed on this blog. However, I do critically examine the specific arguments that our posters put up here.

        So in a number of instances over these last two and a half years as a follower of Bryan’s blog, I have made critical and careful comments about certain of these matters.. It may well be that some other folk and scholars in the world have better information than I have, and could wreck my points. So be it. But it is true that as I pointed out, so far no-one here has refuted the arguments I’ve offered in those matters. Although I copped some pretty heavy flack for them at times.

        I do have some rather specialized (and limited) knowledge, and a lot of useful and unique study material at my disposal; You must acknowledge that whereas you Christian believers can deliver all sorts of powerful messages and dire warnings to us unbelievers, with a great sense of authority as being the ‘Word of God’, I on the other hand, without that sort of power-house behind me, can only offer debating points. Onlookers like Atheists and Agnostics and dissenters like myself might well be forgiven for finding dogmatic Christian Apologists to be pretentious.

        I am not impressed by the long list of so-called Prophecies found in isolated OT texts, and doubt their validity as predictions about Jesus and his life and passion. I certainly believe that our Jewish brothers have a far more accurate understanding of these passages, than do Christians with their rather desperate Apologetic agenda; and I have studied the explanations on both sides.

        Thanks for the title of ‘Pretentious’. Havent actually had that one before. I’ll file it away alongside Wolf in Sheeps Clothing, and Hypocrite, False Prophet, Fake Atheist, etc.

        Cheers, Rian.

        Like

  5. Hi Mon,

    I guess it’s time for me to offer a Gnostic viewpoint on the Garden of Eden story. One must keep in mind however, that for the most part, Gnostics are encouraged to seek their own truths in such stories, and there is rarely any consistent interpretation for all to believe. The following is one quite authentic approach to an allegorical take on Genesis 3 and 4. It must be understood that in profound ancient myths like this one, the obvious and literal meaning gets to be turned on its head.

    Fundamentally, the Serpent, traditionally seen in the ancient world to be a symbol of Wisdom, encourages the first humans to break away from the restrictions imposed by the Demiurge, to gain wisdom and understanding away from the womb-like limitations that they have been used to. The Demiurge is a lesser deity, who is a complete contrast against the ultimate God or Gods celebrated in the beautiful hymn of Creation delivered in the first chapter of Genesis.

    The Garden itself is (as explained in the Book of Ezekiel) god’s own garden or paradise for his or their own benefit, while mankind is appointed to the job of tending the same. The two wondrous Trees are actually there for the use of the gods, and it is by partaking of their fruit that the gods have gained, and will continue to gain their Wisdom and their Immortality. Man according to the Demiurge, is not to partake of the fruit intended for the gods, and this is clearly spelt out in certain of the verses of the Adam and Eve story, especially in verse 22 of Chapter 3.

    The Serpent, far from being any sort of Evil one, is actually according to some Gnostic sources, the Christ Spirit himself; and in ‘tempting’ Eve to partake of the Fruit, is telling the exact truth, and is fulfilling the highest purpose for the future growth and evolution of humanity. In this sense, of course, it is actually perfectly legitimate for mankind to share the nature of the gods, and you could say, this is the full intention of The God.

    The story of the Garden bears many similarities to creation legends from ancient Sumer, which is of course the site where ancient Ur of the Chaldees and Babylon were situated. This is just the place where Abraham is said to have originated, so it is not surprising that the Hebrews and later the Jews after their exile, came to have in their traditions myths and images from Sumer.

    The Garden story as we have it, bears every appearance of being a combine of two or three ancient myths twisted together. There are numerous faults and contradictions in the tale that suggest it. One might well imagine that the very earliest primitive versions of the story were making use of it to explain why humans wear clothes, why snakes crawl on the ground and why man is destined to labour hard to maintain his living, etc etc.

    So you will understand that the Gnostic view does not entail an Original Sin concept; and quite understandably Gnostics have deplored the way that the early Christians (notably Paul and Augusine) hijacked the Bibllical story of our ‘first parents’ and pressed a new and unfavourable meaning to it that neither the Jews or the Gnostics appreciated. The extravagent visions of the Sage in Patmos concerning the Satan or the Serpent, simply are then to be taken with a grain of salt.

    Cheers Rian

    Like

    • And yet that is so contrary to what I feel God has revealed to me (apart from Scripture). Never mind, thanks so much for educating me in regards to Gnostic faith. Really appreciate it Rian.

      Before I had even read the Bible for myself, God was teaching me, and showing me where to find confirmation in the Bible. It was amazing. So you could say that I have an unwavering faith in the ‘Christian’ God and His Word. That’s certainly ‘my’ truth and I honestly believe the Gospel to be ‘the’ truth for all mankind, but I acknowledge that there is much mystery in this world and the next.

      God bless you Rian

      Like

    • The serpent at a high level represents wisdom, as we see in the medical caduceus. At a low level it is also represents thought, but of a low type.

      Numbers 21:4-9New International Version (NIV)
      The Bronze Snake

      4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea,[a] to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

      6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

      8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

      Like

    • “Many theologians and biblical scholars share the view that the Bible should be taken seriously, but not literally. The consequence of such sentiments is the view that Genesis is most likely mythological, or at best, an aetiological narrative which really only witnesses to a fundamental and enduring relationship between God and the world. However, such a view is incorrect, for scripture conveys religious ideas that one may accept independent of any cosmology, ancient or modern. In fact, current research on mitochondrial DNA confirms the existence of common descent (i.e. a literal first human couple).

      The history of the fall recorded in Genesis chapters 2 and 3 is, for all intent and purpose, a literal history. It records facts which underlie the entire system of revealed truths. The Lord and the Apostles make references to the fall and Adam, not only as revealed truth, but also, as furnishing grounds for all God’s subsequent dispensations and dealings with humanity.

      A correct theological understanding of the fall of Adam and Eve makes plain the fact that the characters in the narrative of the fall are literal characters, and not mythological. The subtlety of a humanistic view of sin, as argued by some professing to be Christians, is merely a veiled denial of original sin inherited by Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden.

      Any view which is in conflict with the impact of sin in a fallen world is not an option. The fallen condition of man is literal, and devastating. Man cannot take care of himself. God had to intervene through the coming of Christ.”

      http://www.sats.edu.za/userfiles/The%20creation%20and%20fall_0.pdf

      Like

  6. Whether we consciously choose belief or unbelief, or whether the brain is hard-wired for belief or unbelief, doesn’t take into account the development and changes that the brain undergoes in the first years of life. It may develop wiring for trust, optimism etc, or it may develop wiring for mistrust , pessimism, etc. We can’t generalise, and what is true for one individual may be false for another.

    Is it worth arguing about?

    Like

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