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Did God Ordain Sin?
Must we have to choose between a good but weak God or a bad but strong God? Belief in the sovereignty of God has lead to extreme forms of determinism, while a rejection of God's sovereignty has resulted in an overly contingent based view of history, which assumes the idea of a God with limited power and knowledge.
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Funny thing is, I am not an atheist. I think that there is a place where science ends and God begins, but I have no idea where that is. I think of God as an entity that is just far too complex for the mortal mind to really comprehend. After decades of meditation and contemplation, I have concluded that our purpose here is not to spend the eight or so decades we have on Earth praying and tithing, but rather to embrace the gift of life that we have been given and live it to its fullest, experiencing all that we can and learning all we can possibly learn until our time here expires.
I am not enlightened enough to know to what end this serves, but if I am certain of one thing, it is that no one else does either.
My best guess is that we use our knowledge to advance to a higher life form, be it in a trans-humanist conversion to the next step in the evolutionary ladder or the promotion to a higher level of some spiritual plane, but I cannot say for certain. I have no doubt that if God wanted me to know what my purpose in life was, He would possess the power to make me know it.
My life after rejecting conventional religion was truly liberated. My unwillingness to follow the herd allowed me to take novel approaches to my life choices. If you or someone close to you has HIV and it affected the way you thought about your religious faith, send us a note.
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The final paragraph in this reader note from Amy is the most powerful, showing how she was able to embrace who she is without rejecting religion altogether:. I grew up at a Southern Baptist church in Louisiana, where I was homeschooled and then attended a fundamentalist evangelical high school.
What 6-year-old would choose that? In middle and high school, I realized that I was a lesbian, but I managed to hide it until college. Although I attended a Southern Baptist university, it was a moderate one with plenty of nonreligious students and even a fairly large Muslim population.
Really, the biggest and most difficult decision was to let go of the idea that everything in the Bible was intended to be taken literally. Such churches tend to be more progressive, such as approving gay marriage and supporting Planned Parenthood. I hope to be a good example of how one can let go of literalism yet still enjoy a deep faith.
Being able to let go of the threat of hell, I realized that non-Christians, feminists, and science gifted me a faith that truly feels rooted not in fear, but love. In this latest note for our religion series , a reader who grew up in the American South during segregation recounts two evil forces in his childhood, one real and one imagined: Satan and institutionalized racism. When I was a child, my mother often referred to the Devil in some form or the other to threaten or keep the children in check, especially if we had been bad or were somewhat hesitant about getting ready for church on Sundays.
So we would merrily go off to church each and every Sunday in an attempt to keep a step or two ahead of that ole wicked and evil Devil. You would not even be able to recognize yourself or your family. He would make you do evil thing to others. I was told that the only power that could protect from the Devil was God. That just blew my mind. I would often ask my mother if she loved her children.
Of course she said yes. She said no. He had two long horns that protruded out the top of his head. His body was always aglow in fire. All day and night, the sinner can be heard screaming out and begging and pleading for water to quench the thirst.
Why Does God Allow War?
While a child, and even sometimes today, I would have nightmares about this Devil. Our true inability to clearly discern what will happen to us after we die leaves us vulnerable to all sorts of unscrupulous people with the sole intent of taking advantage of the weak and confused. Some folks will have you to believe you can buy your way into Heaven. It is said that God made everything and everything he made is good. Yet, I am suppose to hate the Devil. Remember, God made the Devil and he must have known what he created, especially since he made everything.
Dam (The Heights)
Then again, if God made the Devil and said the Devil was flawed, what does that say about the creator? I am told that unless we are born again, we will not enter into the kingdom. I just try to treat people the way I would like to be treated. If it works for you, fine. But I have come to the conclusion that man has no knowledge of any of the unknown in life. It is all based on guesswork from the folks in control and the masses should just follow them because they are the rich and powerful.
Not me. If I go to Hell or wherever, it will be on my own terms. A reader from a very traditionalist Muslim family has a colorful story of personal religious choice:. I was born into a long line of imams of a Sufi order.
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My father is an imam, all my paternal uncles were imams, and my six brothers and I are supposed to be imams. One of these ways, she would tell us, was that if we whistled, Satan would appear in some guise to convert us and pervert us, be it the form of a cockroach, a goat, a snake, or even—gasp—an attractive woman. This one would cause me to whistle frequently as a boy, to the point where I am now an expert at various methods of whistling. One evening I found myself walking alone between the gym and the camp, whistling absentmindedly and happily, now that I was away from home.
Then I realized my mistake: I was all alone, in the dark, calling Shaitan!
I froze in my tracks, stopped my song, and waited for Him to appear—hoping for a cockroach rather than a sexy maiden. Nothing appeared. Doubt started to creep into me. So I whistled again, this time loudly, while standing in the dark street, daring him to show up.
The Bible on When War is Justifiable, PART 1 by Ralph Drollinger
I continued to call Shaitan—not even a cameo. I whistled and continued on my way, but a realization was nagging at my young mind: If Shaitan does not exist, then his counterpart does not either; there can be no Good if there is no Evil. No Shaitan, no Allah. I am nearing 40 years old now and have never looked back to either God or Satan As a side note, I think my mother invented, or maybe perpetuated that myth of whistling, as a way to have peace and quiet in our small home where she was trying to raise 11 children.
She did not want to be the conductor of a symphony of whistling adolescents. Also, if she were to find out that SHE is the cause of one of her sons straying from the righteous path, she would have a heart attack on the spot. I do not want my mother to die yet! Dylan, a young Millennial reader, revives a really interesting subthread on Jewish identity starting here , here , here , then here within our overall discussion on religious choice:. I grew up in New York and was raised Jewish.
For the most part no one questioned my Jewish identity until I was in my teens. My dad was Jewish; my mom was Christian. They met in Nazi Germany and fell in love there. My dad and his siblings and parents escaped to Britain and the U. My parents reunited after the war when he came back as an American soldier and joined his family in the U.
Related The Innocence of God: Does God Ordain Evil?
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