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Whence Cometh Morality?

Discussion in 'Christian Theology Forum' started by Lunar, Apr 27, 2008.

  1. Lunar

    Lunar New Member

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    Hello again, everyone. A while back I left the site, mainly in reaction to what I perceived as a hostile environment towards differing opinions. I do feel that this is a valid complaint, but I won't dwell on it. At the same time, this is the site where I discovered my faith in Christ, and many of the people here have offered prayer and support. For that I am grateful. And in particular, now that I find myself questioning my faith, I think that this, the place where it began, may be the best place to come seeking answers.In particular, I can't help but avoid the question of whether I believe something is good because Christ deemed it good, or whether Christ deemed it good because it is good. This is an age-old issue perhaps best articulted in Plato's Euthyphro. My intrinsic judgment when I see a moral claim made in the Bible is to ask whether it measures up to my own standards first. This is something that I am sure many people here will object to, but I also think we all do it more than we care to admit.The issue of slavery stands out. It takes little effort to find condonement of reprehensible practice in the Old Testament (stoning adulterous women to death, killing family members who adopt a different faith, etc.), but we can generally sweep that under the carpet - dirty secret though it may be - because of Paul's renunciation of Mosaic law. The New Testament, then, should be where our moral code all comes together. Nothing objectionable here, right? But we can't help but ignore the numerous times that Paul condones slavery, or his repeated assertion that the woman be subordinate to the man in the household.Some members of this site have actually upheld this second position, with one going so far as to imply that we ought to revoke universal suffrage. (Perish the thought!) But I have never seen anyone defend slavery. Why is this? We all have on the one hand our notion that slavery is obviously wrong. This comes largely from secular argument and social standards. But surely the word of God trumps this; that is the mantra, after all. The Word of God before the word of man. Why shouldn't we hold slaves, then, if the New Testament not only permits it but specifically instructs the slave to be subservient to his master?This is the key issue that I am struggling with in my crisis of faith. I simply cannot will myself to discard a secular humanist justification for ethics in favor of Christian law. I find myself happy when they happen to coincide - and I think they do coincide more often than not - because it feels as though my faith is being vindicated. But I simply don't know how to respond when they don't. If I were to be presented with an irrefutable argument that Christianity does, in fact, condone slavery, I simply don't think I would have enough faith to discard my humanist instincts and go with Christianity in that case.I find the same problem with the issue of homosexuality. Paul is fairly unequivocal in his rhetoric about homosexuals, and yet at the same time I actually lack the ability to take him seriously on the issue. I am powerless to do anything other than see that it harms no human and conclude that any just God would not condemn such an act.This particular issue has made me question what the actual role of the Christian faith is in my life. I feel as though I was drawn to Christianity because it, in so many respects, lined up well with what I already believed. But such a view makes Christianity completely extraneous. I can, of course, always simply reject the inerrancy of the Bible, but I feel as though what the historical Jesus leaves me with hardly constitutes a faith. It is coherent (usually) with humanism, but not necessary for it. And at the moment, I simply don't know how to answer that problem. Christianity was, for a brief moment, a very powerful force in my life. While I am confident that I can remain a good person without it, I would like very much to be able to maintain it for my own sake at the very least. I am just afraid that I do not have the will to believe anymore.
     
  2. RaddSpencer

    RaddSpencer New Member

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    (Lunar;47164)
    In particular, I can't help but avoid the question of whether I believe something is good because Christ deemed it good, or whether Christ deemed it good because it is good. This is an age-old issue perhaps best articulted in Plato's Euthyphro. My intrinsic judgment when I see a moral claim made in the Bible is to ask whether it measures up to my own standards first. This is something that I am sure many people here will object to, but I also think we all do it more than we care to admit.
    You've asked a whole host of different questions. The slavery question itself has already been discussed in detail (however, I wasn't here when it was discussed). I hope my fellow brothers/sisters answer the rest of your questions, but I'm going to talk about one central theme that is present in your arguments:I can't say that you have the Christian World view, and here is why:"Woe to those who hide deep from the LORD their counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, 'Who sees us? Who knows us?' You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay; that the thing made should say of its maker, 'He did not make me;' or the thing formed say of him who formed it, 'He has no understanding'"?(Isaiah 29:15-16)One thing that I have noticed is that you assume that God is like us. You assume that when God destroyed civilizations or peoples in the Old Testament that He was doing something which was morally wrong. This is because you have humanized God. You have turned God into a human being. God is not a fellow human with extraordinary powers. He is the Potter and we are the clay. So, we have to change our attitudes, morals, and viewpoint to His standards, not the other way around. And if we don't, He has every right to throw us (and nations) out into the trash with all the other broken and inferior pottery.Just look at this website:[url="http://ldolphin.org/clay.html]http://ldolphin.org/clay.html[/url]"In the clearest imagery possible, God the Potter asserts His rights to reform, remodel, or even to discard an entire nation when His inspection reveals the pot on the wheel is 'spoiled, marred, or ruined.'""Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: `Thus says the LORD, Behold, I am shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.' "But they say, `That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.' "Therefore thus says the LORD: Ask among the nations, who has heard the like of this? The virgin Israel has done a very horrible thing. Does the snow of Lebanon leave the crags of Sirion? Do the mountain waters run dry, the cold flowing streams? But my people have forgotten me, they burn incense to false gods; they have stumbled in their ways, in the ancient roads, and have gone into by-paths, not the highway, making their land a horror, a thing to be hissed at for ever. Every one who passes by it is horrified and shakes his head. Like the east wind I will scatter them before the enemy. I will show them my back, not my face, in the day of their calamity." Then they said, "Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not heed any of his words." Give heed to me, O LORD, and hearken to my plea. Is evil a recompense for good? Yet they have dug a pit for my life.Remember how I stood before thee to speak good for them, to turn away thy wrath from them. Therefore deliver up their children to famine; give them over to the power of the sword, let their wives become childless and widowed. May their men meet death by pestilence, their youths be slain by the sword in battle. May a cry be heard from their houses, when thou bringest the marauder suddenly upon them! For they have dug a pit to take me, and laid snares for my feet. Yet, thou, O LORD, knowest all their plotting to slay me. Forgive not their iniquity, nor blot out their sin from thy sight. Let them be overthrown before thee; deal with them in the time of thine anger." (Jeremiah 18)The punch line is that when you make God your enemy -- its over.God is indeed the God of Love, but He is also the God of Justice. He demands payment for sin, and He is dead serious about it. DEAD SERIOUS. We sinful people may not understand why God casts people to hell, hates sin (like homosexuality for instance), or destroyed entire nations over sinful behavior. However, we are not holy, and frankly we don't see sin through His holy eyes. Hebrews 9:19-22"19For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, 20Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 21Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
     
  3. Jerusalem Junkie

    Jerusalem Junkie New Member

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    The Word of God before the word of man. Why shouldn't we hold slaves, then, if the New Testament not only permits it but specifically instructs the slave to be subservient to his master?
    One, cause in this day and age its illegal....No human being owns another human being that simple....Observing the text in the Bible is good but you also have to consider the law of the land...I think your reading too much into it though I could be wrong...
     
  4. Lunar

    Lunar New Member

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    (RaddSpencer;47193)
    One thing that I have noticed is that you assume that God is like us. You assume that when God destroyed civilizations or peoples in the Old Testament that He was doing something which was morally wrong. This is because you have humanized God. You have turned God into a human being.God is not a fellow human with extraordinary powers. He is the Potter and we are the clay. So, we have to change our attitudes, morals, and viewpoint to His standards, not the other way around. And if we don't, He has every right to throw us (and nations) out into the trash with all the other broken and inferior pottery.
    RaddSpencer:Thank you for the reply. However, I don't think I have properly conveyed the level on which I have become skeptical about this whole affair. It takes a great deal of faith for me to adopt the belief in God in the first place. In order to believe in God, I must posit a being utterly beyond my own comprehension, one that, as you put it, defies any comparison to human standards. And when I see his views are on occasion so wildly out of touch with what is best for humanity as a whole, I cannot help but ask myself: Why? What is the payoff in all this? If I am at the point in which my belief in God in the first place is uncertain (as I fear I am slipping toward), how is it more comforting to hear that I cannot even fathom the roots of my own moral system?One of the main reason I was drawn to Christianity was because it was a way of grappling with the conviction of my own sin. But I fear that my conception of sin and God's are increasingly disconnected, and it is no comfort at all to hear that I am man, and he is God, and that I'd best shut up and listen or suffer the consequences.(Jerusalem Junkie)
    One, cause in this day and age its illegal....No human being owns another human being that simple....Observing the text in the Bible is good but you also have to consider the law of the land...I think your reading too much into it though I could be wrong...
    Do you really believe this is the reason, though? School prayer is illegal in many areas; should students not pray in those areas because it is the law of the land? Likewise, abortion is legal; is abortion permissible according to the Word of God because it is the law of the land? It seems as though it is the Word of God that is motivating us to want to change those laws, rather than simply submit to them.
     
  5. Christina

    Christina New Member

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    Well we have discussed this before but you are making assumption that are not nessarily true you thinking of slavery in the more modern term of the Word aquitainting it with civil war type slavery that is wrong we are talking a time when there were no large companies, no way of long distance trave, no local supermarkets, condo's for rent , in a day when farming was crucial for survivial, most people were uneducated could not read, if you did not own anything how did you provide for your family ???slavery was more of a buisness deal, the slave was guarnteed work,pay,housing,food for him and his family, in exchange for the farmers were assured they had help for the harvset and the planting. or the boat captain his crewthis was job security of the day people seldom went more than a days walk from home there were not police stations and 911 to call for help the slave master provived securityslavery doesnt have to mean beatings and crulety that is a modern ideaIm sure there was the occasional cruel master but this was not the norm of the dayIf you were in their shoes you may have welcomed being a slave it was the anceint form of Welfare for workseems you are putting way to much emphasis on your preconceived notions rather than to examine the fact of the day
     
  6. Jerusalem Junkie

    Jerusalem Junkie New Member

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    Lunar I think I have figured out your problem. Your not paranoid are you?
    Do you really believe this is the reason, though? School prayer is illegal in many areas; should students not pray in those areas because it is the law of the land? Likewise, abortion is legal; is abortion permissible according to the Word of God because it is the law of the land? It seems as though it is the Word of God that is motivating us to want to change those laws, rather than simply submit to them.
    Lunar there are two different laws in essence here, God's Law and Mans Law..now God's Law stands as is has not changed since it was written, Mans Law changes everyday you see the difference...our legislators do not consider Biblical text when they write these stupid laws they are re-acting to public out cry...My views on abortion I will not expound on here.
     
  7. RaddSpencer

    RaddSpencer New Member

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    (Lunar;47201)
    RaddSpencer:Thank you for the reply. However, I don't think I have properly conveyed the level on which I have become skeptical about this whole affair. It takes a great deal of faith for me to adopt the belief in God in the first place. In order to believe in God, I must posit a being utterly beyond my own comprehension, one that, as you put it, defies any comparison to human standards. And when I see his views are on occasion so wildly out of touch with what is best for humanity as a whole, I cannot help but ask myself: Why? What is the payoff in all this? If I am at the point in which my belief in God in the first place is uncertain (as I fear I am slipping toward), how is it more comforting to hear that I cannot even fathom the roots of my own moral system?
    I don't know man. I think you are jumping the gun a little bit on this one.First of all, as I said above --- God is serious about sin. The Jeremiah 18 quote (above), shows you a part of God's nature. God gives people and nations LARGE amounts of time to repent of their evil ways. Its not like someone sins and God strikes with lightning a millisecond later."However, this same God also sent prophets to warn His chosen people and the world that serious consequences would result if His instructions were ignored and His laws were violated (see Deuteronomy 28). This crucial aspect of biblical teaching has never been popular. Sadly, most of the warnings God sent through His prophets went unheeded—and millions suffered terrible consequences as a result. Our modern world would be wise to heed the biblical prophets, because their warnings ultimately focus on the end of the age—the times in which we are living. In fact, God’s prophetic warnings are still being delivered today! Some critics assert that the God of the Old Testament was a bloodthirsty tyrant who delighted in destroying the world with a flood; they ignore the wickedness and corruption that humanity had embraced, and fail to see that God sought, for mankind’s own good, to put a stop to its evil behavior (Genesis 6:5–13). Before sending the flood, God sent Noah, a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5) to warn the world of what was coming. Noah’s warning message lasted approximately 100 years (Genesis 5:32; 7:6). This is consistent with the actions of a loving God. Scripture proclaims: "Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). Even though God provided a warning for nearly a century, only Noah and his family (eight people) heeded the message. Everyone else continued to "do their own thing," until it was too late and they perished in the flood (Matthew 24:36–39)." [url="http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/cgi-bin/tw/tw-mag.cgi?category=Magazine20&item=1104109604]http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/cgi-bin/tw/t...item=1104109604[/url]God gave those people a CENTURY to repent. Talk about being slow to anger eh? Every story of the prophets is the same. God is angry with a people (who have been sinning for a LONG time) and God wants them to turn from their ways and repent. He only destroys them when, well, nothing else can be done.How about the prophetess Jezebel (Church of Thyatira) "19'I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. 20'But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21'(BF)I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. 22'Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. 23'And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds." Rev 2:18-22As for the roots of your moral system:I don't know how your morality is set up now, but Jesus should be the roots of your morality. Consider the Argument from Morality (championed by C. S. Lewis)The Argument from Morality[url="http://www.biblicaldefense.org/Writings/moral_argument.htm]http://www.biblicaldefense.org/Writings/moral_argument.htm[/url]"C. S. Lewis used an advanced form of the moral argument for God's existence in his work Mere Christianity.9 Lewis argued that man's idea of right and wrong is a clue to the meaning of the universe.10 Lewis reasoned that there must exist a universal moral law for several reasons. First, all moral disagreements between persons imply an appeal to a standard of behavior to which all persons are subject.11 People accused of doing wrong usually claim that their action did not violate the universal standard, or that they somehow had a special excuse for not submitting to the standard in this particular case.12 They do not usually deny the standard itself. Second, quarreling often occurs when one person tries to prove that the action of another person is wrong. However, the fact that two people quarrel about whether or not an action was moral implies that they agree that there is such a thing as right and wrong.13 One person claims the action was right; the other person claims the action was wrong. What they agree upon is the concept of right and wrong (the moral law).14"The punch line is that Jesus SHOULD be your morality. He should be the Rock on which you stand. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one come to the Father, but through me." John 14:6 24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." Matt 7:24-27Right now, it is obvious that your house is on sand [​IMG].
     
  8. Jerusalem Junkie

    Jerusalem Junkie New Member

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    All that scripture is great but I still do not think hes getting what we are trying to say....hes letting all those notions get in the way........
     
  9. Lunar

    Lunar New Member

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    (kriss)
    Well we have discussed this before but you are making assumption that are not nessarily true you thinking of slavery in the more modern term of the Word aquitainting it with civil war type slavery that is wrong we are talking a time when there were no large companies, no way of long distance trave, no local supermarkets, condo's for rent , in a day when farming was crucial for survivial, most people were uneducated could not read, if you did not own anything how did you provide for your family ???slavery was more of a buisness deal, the slave was guarnteed work,pay,housing,food for him and his family, in exchange for the farmers were assured they had help for the harvset and the planting. or the boat captain his crewthis was job security of the day people seldom went more than a days walk from home there were not police stations and 911 to call for help the slave master provived securityslavery doesnt have to mean beatings and crulety that is a modern ideaIm sure there was the occasional cruel master but this was not the norm of the dayIf you were in their shoes you may have welcomed being a slave it was the anceint form ofWelfare for workseems you are putting way to much emphasis on your preconceived notions rather than to examine the fact of the day
    First of all, beating one's slaves is not a modern idea. The Old Testament specifically regulates how and when you can beat your slaves.Secondly, a primitive society does not necessitate slavery. Societies far more primitive than those in biblical times (for example, hunter-gatherer societies) were able to exist without slavery. Slavery is not wrong only when we can live conveniently without it, it is wrong always.And thirdly, in Ephesians Paul specifically says that the relation between the slave and the master should be the same as between the Christian and Christ (Ephesians 6:5-8). This implies inferiority on the slave's behalf. We are inferior to Christ, after all. This also reflects the state of slavery in the Roman Empire. Slaves were not merely taking a job as servants; their lives were considered property, which is wrong. The slave's patron could even kill the slave if he so desired. Epigrams from that era refer to acts of cruelty by masters towards their slaves. To portray it as a respectable, innocuous business relationship between an employer and an employee is just incorrect.(Jerusalem Junkie;47222)
    All that scripture is great but I still do not think hes getting what we are trying to say....hes letting all those notions get in the way........
    Um, please let me speak for myself with respect to that.RaddSpencer: In terms of there being "nothing else for God to do:" There is at least one more major thing God could do, which would be to reveal himself. Surely nobody would disobey him if he made his presence indisputable.(RaddSpencer)
    As for the roots of your moral system:I don't know how your morality is set up now, but Jesus should be the roots of your morality. Consider the Argument from Morality (championed by C. S. Lewis)The Argument from Moralityhttp://www.biblicaldefense.org/Writi...l_argument.htm"C. S. Lewis used an advanced form of the moral argument for God's existence in his work Mere Christianity.9 Lewis argued that man's idea of right and wrong is a clue to the meaning of the universe.10 Lewis reasoned that there must exist a universal moral law for several reasons. First, all moral disagreements between persons imply an appeal to a standard of behavior to which all persons are subject.11 People accused of doing wrong usually claim that their action did not violate the universal standard, or that they somehow had a special excuse for not submitting to the standard in this particular case.12 They do not usually deny the standard itself. Second, quarreling often occurs when one person tries to prove that the action of another person is wrong. However, the fact that two people quarrel about whether or not an action was moral implies that they agree that there is such a thing as right and wrong.13 One person claims the action was right; the other person claims the action was wrong. What they agree upon is the concept of right and wrong (the moral law).14"
    I enjoy reading C.S. Lewis quite a bit, but I have always considered this a very weak argument. Nothing about the fact that people discuss morals entails a metaphysically existent universal moral law. It entails shared concepts and ideas, nothing more. There are plenty of things which we discuss and standards by which we adhere which are not metaphysically existent and could have originated solely from man. In particular there is an obvious reason why moral standards would have emerged regardless of whether their source was God - because they produce a harmonious society in which we wish to live.I don't know. I am worried that I just don't have the faith to cast aside what is present and knowable in favor for a standard that, by the admission of the posters here, is not knowable by any human standard. It is not a question of choice for me anymore; I fear that I am not capable of believing it.
     
  10. RaddSpencer

    RaddSpencer New Member

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    (Lunar;47231)
    RaddSpencer: In terms of there being "nothing else for God to do:" There is at least one more major thing God could do, which would be to reveal himself. Surely nobody would disobey him if he made his presence indisputable.
    If it was only that simple. "22Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" 24But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub,[d] the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons." 25Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29"Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house. 30"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." Matt 12:22-37Many times I have wondered why God does not just appear before everyone and say "Hello I'm God, this discussion is over". However, God knows that if someone does not want to believe --- they will come up with ANY excuse to reject Him. I mean, what more evidence do you need? He cast out a demon in His own name in front of EVERYONE, He calls himself "I AM". -- WHO else could this Prophet be?You must realize that God cares about our hearts. He knows full well that not all people will want to be with Him in eternity. In fact, most will reject his offer (just like the Pharisees)." 13Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matt 7:13-14If you know about C.S. Lewis, then I am sure that you know about Christian Apologetics in general. God has given the "thinking man" what he needs to come to Him.[url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_apologetics]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_apologetics[/url]They key is are YOU willing to go down the narrow road?(Lunar;47231)
    I don't know. I am worried that I just don't have the faith to cast aside what is present and knowable in favor for a standard that, by the admission of the posters here, is not knowable by any human standard. It is not a question of choice for me anymore; I fear that I am not capable of believing it.
    The road is waiting. You say you don't have enough faith to believe in God (or accept Him as your personal Savior). However, why do you sit in that chair blindly every day. i mean think about it, no one performs strength tests on their chair every day. You could sit in it and it fall apart (thats happened to me a couple of times), but you sit in it anyway -- having faith that it won't fall apart.Why do you believe that the wind exists? I mean it cannot be seen with the naked eye! You can see the trees sway, you can feel something cool on your skin. You can see a hat blow by, but HOW do you know that this isn't a mass delusion?Maybe I should write a book called the Wind Delusion (Kind of like Dawkin's God Delusion [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_Delusion]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_Delusion[/url]). I'm an A-windest (or whatever XD). I intend to show that wind is only a figment of our collectively insane imaginations. And as for not being able to know God. Well you are in luck man. That is the whole reason that Jesus came to earth and died for our sins. HE is the reason that we can know the Father. This is the whole idea behind being a Christian."For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." 1 Tim 2:5"And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John 2:1You may feel that God cannot be known or that God does not want to know you because of your (our) imperfection, but you are wrong man. God wants to know us. He (Jesus Christ) is our bridge to the Father. God is still as Holy as He was in the old testament. This time though, when we come to the Father, Jesus covers our sin. We are forgiven [​IMG].
     
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