Hi, Brenton!

I very much enjoy corresponding with you.

> I think it is ironic that that even an atheist as I am feels
> more charity
> and kindness towards his fellow human beings than the god you profess
> to worship. I would not torture anyone forever, especially if they had
> not committed an act of violence towards anyone.


What you don't understand is God's holiness. If you ever get a view of the holiness of God, you would realize that all without exception (including me) are only deserving of hell. The act of supreme love is that God sent His Son to pay the penalty for the objects of his love, even when those objects of his love deserved only hell.

> And yet you are
> content to obey your god's every wish of retribution simply because he
> claims to be perfect, all powerful, and demands perfection. You would
> not speak up for me if your god decides to burn me forever, because I
> am not "righteous".


And there's no way to "get righteous" in your own character and conduct. I am not "righteous" in my character and conduct. I am a sinner. I am far from perfect. I constantly fall short of God's standard. That is why I am in need of a righteousness that is outside of myself.

> And yet I would speak up for you. Given the
> opportunity, I would protest such cruel treatment as I would for anyone.
> Don't you feel this is a little odd?


"So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom he desires. You will say to me then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?' On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, 'Why did you make me like this,' will it?" (Romans 9:18-19)

> Or do you simply conclude that I am
> lying and am an instrument of Satan slyly following his commands to
> tempt you into a state of doubt?


I conclude that everything is brought into my life for my good (Romans 8:28).

> I have to say that you are truly built in the image of your god. Your
> standands are his standands and woe to the creature who fails to meet
> them.


What you must realize is that ALL humans fail to meet God's standard in our character and conduct, including ME!

> When we look back into history at the victims of the Salem witch
> trials or the Spanish Inquisition and wonder "How could anyone have
> committed such unspeakable crimes?", we also see that they were
> following in the footsteps of their creator.

Salem and the Inquisition are easy targets. But these things only show the depths that fallen man can reach. They were wicked, heinous things. They were judging based on the wrong standard! For if they judged the witches and "heretics" to be lost and deserving of death, then if they were consistent, they should have judged themselves lost and deserving of death! As the Pharisees (who thought they were righteous based on their character and conduct) got ready to kill the adulterous woman, Jesus said, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7). Jesus exposed the self-righteousness of the Pharisees; he showed that they were just as worthy of death as the adulterous woman was!

> The words of Jesus are for the most part words of love and caring,
> not threats of retribution, vindictiveness, and hatred. His message was
> probably not to love because of a command or threat, but because it is
> uplifting and beautiful.


Have you read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? What was Jesus's attitude toward the self-righteous Pharisees? He told them that they were lost! He said that anyone who was going about to establish a righteousness of their own were evil and wicked!

"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:18-20).

"The world cannot hate you; but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil" (John 7:7).

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household" (Matthew 10:34-36).

"He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16).

> I think we are on opposite sides of a very great gulf and
> certainly one
> of us is wrong. I value my freedom above all things and would strive to
> live in a society where all men are free from the shackles of an
> earthly or
> spirtual king. I would protect your right to worship with my life if
> necessary. Would you protect my right not to worship?


You bet. I would NEVER force anyone to worship or to believe what I believe. This is totally ANTI-Christian. GOD is the one who causes a person to believe; we puny men cannot make anyone believe. If we tried, all we would do is to force men to pretend to believe. I totally disagree with the "reconstructionists" who are trying to turn America (or the world) into a "Christian society." God never commanded this, and I am strongly opposed to this kind of thinking. If I were to force an atheist to worship, all I would be doing would be creating a worshipping atheist! If I were to force a homosexual to become a heterosexual, all I would be doing would be creating a lost heterosexual! I don't know what kind of "Christians" you've run into, but I'm not on any kind of crusade to stamp out the "evils" of society. I just proclaim the gospel of salvation conditioned solely on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ.

> I view my fellow
> humans as basically good, trying to make their way through life as best
> they can, seeking happiness, protection for their families, and
> do not see
> them as some failed or despicable version of a perfect "Adam".


As long as you don't claim that you agree with the Bible on this, I can handle that!

The Bible says that there are none who are good by nature. To be "evil" doesn't mean that someone is a murderer or is outwardly immoral; it means that one is thinking that he will get to heaven based on his efforts. It means that one thinks he is a good person and that he deserves God's favor. It means that one thinks that his salvation is based on something other than the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ. Look at who Jesus called evil! It was not only the irreligious and unconcerned; it was also the religious, moral, dedicated religioninsts who were evil!

> There
> are very few "evil" people, but the ranks of the church down through
> history contains many of them.

I agree that so-called "church history" contains many evil people. This is the same today; most who call themselves Christians are actually evil people.

> Jesus was crucified for blasphemy. If
> he were to arrive today, he would most likely again be taken out and
> crucified by "true Christians" for blasphemy, if not protected by
> unbelievers.


He would be crucified by the self-righteous religionists who think that they were righteous enough in and of themselves and did not need the righteousness of Christ. He would be crucified by the self-righteous religionists who Jesus said were lost and their deeds are evil.

Remember this -- if God were to judge me based on my character and conduct, I would go to hell! I am not righteous in my character and conduct! I fall short every day! It is ONLY because of the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ that I am saved. I am saved by something totally outside myself. I have been declared "not guilty" because of what Christ has done for me -- NOT because of some kind of "righteousness" that I have attained! I am no more deserving of heaven than you are! Salvation is totally by GRACE -- unmerited favor. If God saved people based on their deservedness to be saved, it would no longer be grace.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Marc


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