What Came First- The Feeling or The Doctrine?

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United St...

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United States Library of Congress, demonstrating printed pages as a storage medium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do we realise how much our feelings guide us?  Here is a very general way to not read the Bible:

1) read the text and intake via the eye into the brain what is said,

2) have a gut reaction (feeling) and say “God can’t mean that/has to mean the opposite of that”

3) arrange a logical argument with our mind that backs up our feeling, often giving it the best possible motives (“it can’t apply now”, “it stands to reason”, “that was Bible times”…)

4) re-regard the text and summarise that it is a) incomprehensible (“beyond our understanding”) or b) nonsense (“legend”, “poetry”)

The middle two steps here (heart and mind) are not wrong, but they are in the wrong place and (4) is well, how can I put this tactfully… Wrong!

Continue reading

Heaven, Hell, annihilation and procrastination

Hell's Eternal Punishment

Hell’s Eternal Punishment (Photo credit: vaticanus)

Just lately I’ve been thinking of hell- it’s terrifying: the idea of never knowing peace or relief from pain.  I can see why annihilationism is so tempting: the idea that it does not go on for ever, the idea that death is just an end for those souls who reject God and his salvation through Jesus Christ.  I really wanted to become an annihilationist when I thought about hell.  I don’t mean thought intellectually about it, but just thought about what it would be like, what it would feel like.  Body and soul are destroyed (Matthew 10:28), but as Mark 9:42-50 makes clear this is not a clean-cut absolute end as “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’”  Furthermore, if any part of you causes you to sin, Jesus says “It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell” (and gives other examples).  In other words, no amount of discomfort in this life is worth the pain of hell, even a lifetime of difficulty and pain does not compare.  On the plus side, “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17), which coming from a man who had suffered as Paul had, shows that Heaven will plentifully compensate us for any pain encountered on earth, even a death for trusting in Jesus (my wife has been going through Revelation).   And thank God that it is He who judges and directs the affairs of both Heaven and Hell!  We can know safety and Peace in His saving plan (John 3:16-18)!  Continue reading

Head in the clouds

Recently my wife found this excellent website: http://www.akiane.com.  It has pictures drawn and painted by a child prodigy, Akiane.  I would heartily recommend having a look: see her “Prince of Peace” for example…
…If you made it back from that link (and I don’t blame you if you didn’t), many of her pictures put me in mind of Heaven.  Many of them have themes like hopefulness or goodness of some kind, along with being actually beautiful, (as contrasted with the infamous “unmade bed” of modern art).  I think one of the things Christians have to do is really get excited about Heaven.  Indeed, historically, those with their “heads in the clouds” often had more of an impact on earth, where they kept their “feet on the ground” and spent their lives glorifying God.

Here are just some of the ideas that give us an inkling of what Heaven is… Continue reading

The Eternal Battle of Good against… Neutral!

Neutral Ground

Hmmm… I think I heard that phrase on TV once.  There is a strong desire for both sides in any argument to adopt the “neutral” point of view, to be in line with what the “common man” (or woman) might think.  The Scriptures basically say that humanity knows God is out there (“The heavens declare the glory of God;  the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1 for example).  So from God’s point of view the “neutral” or unbiased stance is belief in Him, and as a believer in Him, I can hardly disagree*.

New Atheism

However the “new atheists” have in many ways tried to claim the neutral ground Continue reading

“catch-out” questions

Just a quick thought for the day… (not really one of life’s big questions but I’ve seen it around)

If God can do anything, can he make a rock so big he can’t move it?

OK, so at face value, when someone asks if God can do something, the right answer is usually “yes”, since he can do anything right?  In this case though we have been asked a nonsensical question, like “can God make a triangle with 5 sides?”  The question just makes no sense.  Triangles have 3 sides.  This defines what a triangle is.  God can do anything possible for “all things are possible with God”, which is rather more than can be said for us.  But questions like “Can God qizzuri a hedrophalitinisakilite?” just do not make sense.  Creating a problem He could not solve is a nonsense, as He is all-powerful.  The answer to the emboldened question above is “no“, and you will note that this in no way limits God’s power.  It is simply that He can make a rock of any size, and still move it.  Though why He would indulge the whim of some mad philosopher and participate in some strange cosmic weight-lifting challenge is beyond me!

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? 

This question is too downright strange to deserve an answer, but the underlying point seems to be that angels and other cosmic beings such as God could not interact with ordinary matter as they are not made of it.  The response from scripture is that yes “God is Spirit” and there are other spiritual beings.  This does not prevent them interacting with matter (God made the world, remember?).  This means God is capable of interaction, even as “not-matter”.  The idea that scientists can not cope with such an idea is laughable.  In fact the photoelectric effect is an example of something not made of matter (a light-particle or “photon”) interacting with more solid material (atoms, nuclei, etc), so even in science there are examples of things of wildly different kinds that are perfectly capable of interaction.  Again, in practice, more than nine out of ten angels deny ever trying this one out…Photoelectric effect