I was raised, as many in the United States are, as a Christian. And just as many other Americans, my family was not very devout, in fact, church was basically a place for some weddings and some funerals, and prayer occurred only if there was something we especially desired, or were exceptionally thankful for. There were occasions that prompted us to church, and I even attended church almost regularly for a few years. Now this in and of itself does not make anyone a biblical scholar, many who attend church only read the few verses the pastor points out in his sermon, and some do not even get that far (I say pastor because that’s what I grew up with, and his because that is what most are).
I do not claim to be a biblical scholar, nor do I believe that more than a few people are such. However, as a Christian, I studied the Bible, and now, even though I have turned from that faith, I still study it. I am, if anything, a religious scholar. I study religions in general. My studies of the Bible have, I suppose, always been, in part, an attempt on my behalf to find something that might possibly have some meaning to me. To be honest, I have found much, but I have also found much meaning in other religions as well. My beliefs stem from several years of “finding myself” and trying to fit myself into one of the religious molds that others have set. After a while, I found that my beliefs set me outside of the molds, simply because, where I find I may agree whole-heartedly with one aspect of a religion, I usually find something that I absolutely cannot agree with.
The background for this paper is somewhat odd. It came from a discussion of religion, with a man who is both a Christian and a Scientologist. (I have realized in my studies of religion that just about any combination is possible, and that in very few cases, are there truly any two religions, which are incompatible enough that you cannot find some way, in which to worship both, which negates neither). This discussion stemmed from a post I had made on an online forum. I had mentioned the post (rather a portion of it) to him in the hopes that he would give me a good start to the day, and get my mind working properly. It worked. I will mention the portion of the post that brought on this discussion shortly.
In this discussion, we spoke of the Christian God’s Infallibility, how that affected and how it was affected by His Omniscience, and how the two affected His Mercy toward man, and how it all tied in with man’s free will. I realized half way through the discussion that I was getting nowhere, he was giving me portions of Biblical teachings, mixed with church dogma, and he kept feeding me lines that actually supported the theories I was stating.
The Post and A Few Definitions
The post, on the forum I mentioned, applied to the image of God that He created man in (man in this case being man as a species). I stated that, as according to the story of Creation in the Bible, God’s infallibility is nonexistent. I supported this with one statement, God created man in his image, thus if humans are fallible, god must be as well, the reverse holds true as well. One thing to keep in mind, God has no physical image, simply spiritual, mental, and emotional. Therefore, the image of god exists in the spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects of man. Infallibility is the idea that a being, either mortal or immortal, is incapable of ever being wrong, thus having no need to change its mind. Omniscience, or the state of being all-knowing, is necessary to infallibility, and means that the being in question knows all things that have gone before, all things that are currently happening, and all things that will happen, with no doubt, thus making them capable of making an informed, and fully uncontroversial decision every time. Predestined fate comes with the idea of Omniscience; it is the thought that there is a specific turn of events, not only in the universal sense, but globally and individually as well. Without predestined fate, one cannot have omniscience, without omniscience, one cannot have infallibility.
Mercy is something that many who read the Bible do not seem to understand fully. It is the idea that one shows enough compassion toward another, that even though they have made a mistake (and possibly a very grievous one); they are willing to forgive them. No matter what the person has done, that forgiveness will be there. A mercy is an act of kindness to another, in order to alleviate their pain and suffering, or the possible pain and suffering that may eventually occur to them. Both of these statements applied to the cases in the Bible where the word mercy occurs, show that, in truth, the Christian God, is actually merciful, as stated in the Bible. Neither of these statements says that mercy needs to be unconditional, just that it is there. God’s mercy is a necessity for the Christian faith, otherwise there would be no such thing as heaven, Christ’s death would have been pointless, and there is no hope for humanity, no possibility other than the pits of Hell. (A note I would like to make, by definition, and in reference to hell, mercy does not have to be unconditional, thus God can be merciful, as well as having a few prerequisites for that mercy. Besides which, there cannot be mercy, without the possibility of a punishment, in the first place. Thus, those that use the logic, that God is not merciful if Hell exists, to prove either that God is not merciful, or that Hell does not exist, truly have little understanding of the meaning of mercy.)
Then we have the idea of man’s free will. If man truly and honestly can choose what happens in his life, then he has free will, without which there is actually no hope. Without free will, Christ’s death on the cross was meaningless. Without free will the premises Christianity is based upon, are devoid of meaning, making the religion itself inane. Now, before anyone gets insulted by that last statement, realize that I was not making the statement that Christianity is truly inane, but that if a certain belief exists, it pulls Christianity into that category. Please read on for my actual thoughts on this subject before becoming angry.
What All of This Means
I must take my previous line of thought, and go through each idea in reverse. Thus, we start with man’s free will. Free will is the ability to make choices for ones self, as stated above. Without free will, people have the ability to say that nothing they ever do is actually their own fault, because someone (or something) else already decided their actions for them. As such, lack of free will opens the gates to lack of personal responsibility for ones actions, which the Bible and, more specifically, the teachings of Christ are against. Christ’s teachings were about making the proper choices in one’s life, and suffering the consequences, or reaping the rewards of whatever choices you make. Therefore, according to the Bible free will exists, and it is a requirement of those of the Christian faith, at the very least, to use it. The free will of individuals means that there are endless possibilities of what may or may not happen in the future, and every single decision and action, of every single person, sets off a chain of events affecting not only those around him, and his immediate environment, but those things that will come after. In effect, the possibilities for the future are infinite, and constantly changing based on the choices each of us make, if free will exists. Without free will then there is no hope that we actually have the ability to choose whether we are to be saved from the pits of Hell, or not, thus no hope for any of us, and no point in Jesus having been crucified.
The same concept, that of Christ’s death and its connection to man’s free will, clarifies the idea of Biblical mercy. If Heaven exists as a reward for good choices, and Hell exists as a punishment for bad choices, many wonder at how there can be such a thing as mercy. The mercy spoken of was conditional; in the Old Testament, it was only if you sacrificed to absolve you of your sins, could you gain the reward of heaven. With the coming of Christ, it was only if you asked Christ to act as the sacrifice for your sins could you reach the reward of Heaven. (There is a little bit more to this than what I have stated so far, including the idea of original sin, but that belongs to another topic.) I have heard it said that unconditional love must include unconditional mercy; however, this too is a false idea. A parent loves their child unconditionally, however, that does not mean that they must never punish their child, or that, should the child be offered mercy for their wrongdoings, the parent must not make conditions for that mercy. Mercy comes from love and compassion, not the other way around. We have established, so far, that, according to the teachings of the Bible, man’s free will not only exists, but also is necessary, and that God’s mercy exists, even though it is conditional. We have also established that, while the mercy of God is conditional, it does not mean that He has no love for man, nor that the love that he does have is conditional.
Now let us look at the other three concepts on which this paper is based. These last three are those that actually oppose the teachings of the Bible. Predestined fate is never mentioned in the Bible, nor does it have any place in Christian religious teaching. It opposes not only the words of God in the Old Testament, but also the words of Christ in the New Testament. The idea of free will is directly opposed to the idea of a predestined fate. Where predestined fate is concerned, the end of the path is already known, as is every step of the journey, because the person is not free to make the choice to deviate from that path, nor from that destination. If that is the case, then the person has no ability to choose, thus no free will. However, that idea is in opposition to the Biblical teaching that man is responsible for choosing his path, and that god is merciful. It opposes God’s mercy by not allowing one the choice of whether or not to do something. Predestination thwarts God’s mercy in two ways, first by denying one the chance to choose to do right, then by denying one the chance to choose to accept the conditions by which he may absolve his guilt. This is not the fairness and mercy that the Bible speaks of, nor is it anything but an ego trip for those who believe in predestination, as god chose them to enter Heaven, and others to enter Hell. Predestination also enters into the realm of calling God a lunatic with nothing better to do than destroy those things he has created, simply for the sake of destroying them. It shows a complete lack of reasoning and wisdom, and makes God into some sort of spoiled brat in the sky aiming a gigantic magnifying glass down at the sidewalk (earth), just to see if it really will make the ant (man) burn up.
God’s omniscience is a very touchy subject, I came into conflict with pastors and other Christians, for my beliefs on this while still a Christian. I did not tread lightly, then, however, and I see no reason to do so now. Omniscience cannot exist in accordance with free will, or God’s mercy, for the same reasons as predestination. If God already knows what choice you will make, then it has already been decided that you will make that choice, thus creating the need for predestination. Omniscience is knowing exactly what will happen; it does not include knowing that there are many possibilities of what may happen. There are those that will argue that if God is not omniscient, then he must not be omnipotent (all-powerful), nor omnipresent (in all places at once). This is not true. If God were omnipotent, then he could change the course of events, as he does when a person asks forgiveness through the blood of Christ, by showing mercy to those whose actions should send them to Hell. Omnipresence is unaffected by whether or not God knows all things, it simply has to do with where he is, now. There is a saying, from the Bible, “where two or more are gathered in my name, there will I be.” Christ, who is an extension of God, spoke this. God can be everywhere, without needing to know everything. He knows simply all of what has happened in the past, and knows all of what is happening in the present. This knowledge of the present is based on his omnipresence, not the other way around.
Now to explain infallibility in terms of what I have already stated. If one is to be infallible they must know everything that ever was, everything that now is, and everything that ever will be after. This sort of knowledge is necessary to make any decision, which cannot be shown to be wrong, or even able to be changed. In order for God to be infallible, not one of his decisions could be open to argument, nor to a change by him, or anyone else. If God were to change His mind, then that means he must have made a mistake, if He made a mistake, then He is not infallible. Conclusion The Bible directly states that God is merciful, and that man is responsible not only for his actions, but for correcting them, and taking any consequences, good or bad from them, unless he can atone. It does not state that God is infallible, as evidenced by him being willing to change his mind in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, and actually changing his mind in the story of Jacob’s ladder, as well as in deciding to send Christ as atonement for the sins and transgressions of all men. It does not state that God is omniscient, nor does it use words to imply that. The only thing I have actually ever heard is that God knows what is happening in the hearts of men, which simply shows omnipresence. It does not state that fate is already predestined, and that man has no choice, thus making him truly free from guilt of any kind and free from the responsibility of atonement for his actions.
To put it simply, man’s own arrogance, and pride has created the need for a deity that is as selfish, petty, and childish as he is. It gives them an excuse for being the way they are, not only because they are supposed to be created in God’s own image, but also because we are told in the Bible that we are to strive toward godliness. It is simply an excuse not to be responsible for one’s own actions, either god made you do it, or the devil did, you did not have a choice in the matter, you are simply a puppet for them to play with, and fight over. This paper was written, not by a Christian but by a pagan, who understands that not all Christians wish to escape from their responsibilities as humans. It is also written to give those who seem to have confused ideas on these subjects, a more objective view of them than they may receive from those among their “brethren” who tout such nonsense. I can only hope that this has been informative. Moreover, for those of you who insist on denying the truth, all you need to do is find your dictionary, look up the larger words, and find out for yourself if I have misrepresented anything. You may also wish to find your Bible and start reading it instead of taking on faith the word of a human. You should be following God, not man, and all pastors, preachers, priests, etc. are simply human, and may have misinterpreted what is in the Bible, the only way for you to know is to “Study to show thyself approved unto god, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim. 2:15 from the KJV Bible.