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Posts Tagged ‘free will’

Hitler freewillMaybe you’ve seen this quote in social media. And, like the atheist who created this graphic, maybe you also think it’s silly.

But before you instantly agree and move on, give this graphic some thought. In fact, give it more thought than the person who created it.

So what if God thought the world needed an Adolf Hitler or an Osama Bin Laden or a Josef Stalin or a Pol Pot?

Didn’t He also think the world needed a Mother Teresa, a Pope Francis, a Jean Vanier (creator of the L’Arche homes for severely disabled people) and a Nelson Mandela?

The point is not whether God created good and bad people. The point is He created people with absolute freewill. In other words, people like YOU and me.

Did God know how Hitler and Mandela would turn out? Quite possibly; serious Christians believe God exists outside of space and time (even as He created them) so we can speculate that he was aware of the choices Pol Pot and Jean Vanier would make.

So does that mean He suddenly changes His mind and stops Bin Laden from being born? I’m sure some folks would say yes.

If you’re one of them, this sudden denial of freewill is a slippery slope. If you believe God is perfect — a position held by serious Christians — and stands in rightful judgement of his creations’ choices, then where do the limits on freewill end?

Should God also stop YOU from driving because He knows that one day, you’re going to hurt someone in an accident?

Should God have forced eternal singlehood on singer Kenny Rogers, actress Joan Collins, director James Cameron and TV host Larry King? Each has been married at least five times; think of all the emotional pain and (possibly) financial hardship caused by all those divorces.

What about AK-47 machine gun inventer Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov? Wikipedia says Kalashnikov emphasized the weapon was for defensive purposes only and severely regretted the deaths it caused. But so what? Why not hold Kalashnikov and, by extension, God responsible for the actions of people Kalashnikov never even met?

Singer Amy Winehouse (1983-2011). There’s someone whose death we can certainly stick on God, right? After all, He should have denied her the right to ever touch a drop of alcohol, since it was a major factor in her death.

Casinos. Now there’s a good one. How dare God allow even one to be constructed, since gambling has contributed to freewill-loving people going bankrupt, to marriages and families breaking up, and to careers being destroyed.

Now let’s consider another element of freewill: The freedom to accept or reject the idea of a loving, perfect creator who has every right to judge you and me on all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do.

If you accept the idea, then how about the notion that this perfect creator wants His creations to spend eternity with Him — wants it so much that He sent His equally perfect Son to live among us and be put to death to pay for the sins of everyone who believes in His Son?

One of those believing people could be YOU, if you accept the gift of Jesus Christ. What do you think? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Where's the plan? 2.15When I saw this graphic, posted on an atheist website, my immediate reaction was: I bet that’s how the world looks to a lot of people.

It’s hardly a stretch to write that planet Earth appears to be in permanent chaos. Wars, Ebola virus, fundamentalist terrorism, rampant corruption, female and child slavery, broken marriages, child sexual abuse. I’m sure you can easily add to the list.

So where’s the plan? Is all this playing out according to some orderly arrangement? Really?

In a word, YES. Now stay with me while I explain.

Serious Christians like me believe God’s plan is not so much about events. It’s about people. It’s about a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians  believe is God’s divine Son.

That relationship has three key parts:

1. It can, and has, changed the world for the better. Consider these facts:

  • Christians have started hospitals and universities (this essay sheds light on that topic: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-9O).
  • A Christian, William Wilberforce, tirelessly led the decades-long fight to end slavery in Great Britain.
  • Christian scientist Francis S. Collins played a leading role in mapping the human genome.
  • Members of a Christian organization, the International Justice Mission, risk their lives to free female and child slaves in the developing world.

2. It can, and has, brought life-changing peace to lives torn apart by pain and misery. Two examples:

  • Second World War hero Louis Zamperini (subject of the Hollywood movie Unbroken) was an angry alcoholic tortured by regular nightmares of his time in a Japanese prison camp. Then he became a serious follower of Jesus Christ. The nightmares ended. The drinking stopped. And his troubled marriage was restored.
  • Beaten up and betrayed by his criminal friends, Michael “Bull” Roberts was at the end of his rope when he reached out to Jesus Christ. Since then, he’s left behind a life of crime and sought to help others in his situation. (You can read a bit more of his story here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-5g).

3. It’s based on free will. This might seem difficult for you to accept because free will includes our ability to do all the nasty stuff I mentioned in the second paragraph. You might protest that a loving God would not allow all those things to happen. But centuries of evidence shows that free will is an all-or-nothing proposition.

If the nasty things I mentioned were stopped, then so would your ability to ignore God and reject the gift He offers you: a changed life, now and for all eternity, through faith in Jesus Christ.

It’s up to YOU to respond to the gift. It’s up to YOU to figure out whether you want to be part of God’s work to make this broken world a better place. It’s up to YOU to take hold of the life-changing peace He offers through Jesus.

So what do you think? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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George JonasIt’s one thing for me, a committed Christian, to try and explain/justify God. It’s another altogether when a self-confessed, “non-religious” major newspaper columnist like George Jonas tackles the topic.

In a 2013 National Post column, the veteran journalist (1935-2016) wrote about dreaming he was God and encountering a range of challenges from skeptics. Here’s an excerpt from one of those chats:

   Skeptic: “Aren’t you supposed to be omnipresent? I never saw you in Auschwitz, the (Soviet) gulag, Dresden (where so much Second World War bombing took place) or Katyn Forest (site of a Second World War massacre)…”

    Jonas: “You never looked for me. You were busy doing evil things.”

    Skeptic: “Why did you let me?”

    Jonas: “Has it occurred to you that you might have acted without my permission?”

Later, Jonas (still writing as God) noted: “Men doing fiendish things used to prove the existence of evil. Now it casts doubt on the existence of God. Once I punished men for being bad; now men punish me for it. ‘If we’re bad, God, you don’t exist.’ Talk about gall.

To my sometimes-foggy brain, the insight shown here is impressive. We humans were given a mind-boggling gift  – freewill – then tested God by using it to crucify Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe to be His son. Not only did God prove freewill was for all time and space by doing nothing to stop this crucifixion, He restored Jesus for us by resurrecting Him.

(If you want powerful evidence for the resurrection, go to a website called biblegateway.com and, in the “passage lookup” section, type this:
1 Corinthians 15:6.)

Sadly, as Jonas pointed out, God’s gift of freewill hasn’t been enough for skeptics. Some may claim they haven’t done the evil that wracks the world, yet they must live with it. To that, I recall British writer G.K. Chesterton. When asked by a newspaper to write an essay on the theme ‘what’s wrong with the world?’, he responded with just this:

    Dear Sirs,
    I am.
    Sincerely yours,
    G. K. Chesterton.

He was what’s wrong with the world because of what he did and what he failed to do. I am what’s wrong with this world for the same reasons. And so are you.

That said, I am sure of this:

  1. For everyone who says the state of this world proves there is no god, just imagine how things would be if He weren’t involved. Would there ever have been peace in Ireland? Would apartheid ever have ended in South Africa? Would the Berlin Wall ever have come down?
  2. There is a price to be paid for the wrong things you and I have done, and for the right things we haven’t done. That price was paid by Jesus. If you believe this and make him your leader and best friend, then forgiveness – and the opportunity for a new, clean start – is yours. Just as it is already mine.

Does this make sense? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Is God male or female? Does it matter?

It certainly did to a blogger with Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald. I stumbled upon one of Lawrence Money’s essays, called “We need to upgrade God”, and am fascinated by the points he made.

Money read an article about an unspeakably sad funeral of a two-year-old Australian girl. He reacted ferociously to the story’s mention of a sign that hung on the wall of the church that said Our God Reigns From Above With Wisdom, Love and Power.

“Surely if the God above had such wisdom, his power would have been be used to protect such an innocent life,” he wrote. “And love? You create a little life, allow just enough time for her family to embrace her, then sit by and watch her slaughtered. That’s some weird kind of love.”

Money pinned the blame for all this on the fact that God is usually seen as a male. “Would a female God, who gave her only begotten daughter, have allowed such atrocities? I doubt it,” he wrote.

In the end, he declared “I’d like a female god, please. I want an upgrade.”

I understand where Money is coming from. Sometimes, when I look at our broken world, it seems so many problems are rooted in the male gender.

But should I, or Money, be attributing human (male or female) weaknesses to the creator of the universe? Doing so would reduce God to little more than a Clark Kent-style superman (or woman). That’s why I don’t think the issue of gender is worth debating.

So then, what about God allowing the murder of children or terrorist attacks or the flourishing slave trade?

Money believes a God of wisdom, power and love would stop such horrors in their tracks. Okay, let’s suppose God does what Money demands. What then?

  • Should He stop marital infidelity? (It does lead to broken families and psychological trauma, after all.)
  • What about speeding? (It often causes accidents and death.)
  • Shouldn’t He also take away beer and wine? (They contribute to alcoholism, broken lives and death.)

Where should it stop, Lawrence? All these things come from a gift of freewill – a gift that serious Christians believe God proved for all time when He allowed the political and religious authorities of the day put His son, Jesus Christ, to death.

Do you really want God to take back that gift? Do you want to be a robot? Because without freewill, we’re just a race of goose-stepping, brain-dead automatons.

Yes, without freewill, we would not turn our backs on God, His gift of Jesus and His plan for each and every life. But the evidence makes it clear that God is not interested in such a soulless and unhuman arrangement. He wants a real relationship with us that we’ve entered with our minds and hearts fully aware and alive.

Do you want that kind of relationship? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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