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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Richard my friend,


    One thing I have learned in this life is that no one is consistently trustworthy. Not myself, not you, nor any other man. All men are subject to failure at any given moment of weakness or fear. Why is that? Why does every man cheat and lie from birth? What causes this behavior? Even you, having written a thesis on the relationship between love and morality, by your own admission, have failed to live a life of moral and mental integrity. There is no escape from the Biblical Truth. Yes, my old nature is still with me and at some of the most improbable times will offer up an evil thought or a temptation to do wrong.

    The reality of a sin nature is clearly seen in human behavior. The Biblical doctrine of man's sinful nature is universally verifiable. One only needs to look without and within for the evidence of sin. If we are born without a sinful nature, why does it abound? Everyone sins, without exception.

    The past is the key to the present. In the beginning, God created humankind good, in His own image. It was the free will of Adam and the choice he made that brought about this sinful nature. If there is any doubt, then ask yourself why Cain, the firstborn man, murdered his own brother.

    In the past, it was through the disobedience of this one man, Adam, that a sin nature was passed on to his descendants. *Each and every person born of Adam's race has inherited that nature. This is affirmed in both Testaments...

    Psalm 51:5... David says, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me”

    Psalm 58:3... David also states: “The wicked are estranged from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth”.

    Ecclesiastes 7:20... Solomon wrote: "Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins”

    Isaiah 64:6... Isaiah states: For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away”.

    In the New Testament,

    Romans 5:12... Paul affirms an inherited sin nature when he says, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned”.

    1 John 1:8... The Apostle John says this to his readers: If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us”.

    Does the presence of the sin nature mean that we cannot discern between good and evil? Of course not. Jesus confirmed this when he said, “If a son asks for a loaf, will his father give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, *will he give him a snake? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”.

    A sin nature does not cause all to behave in the worst way, but simply manifests a deficiency in righteousness. God concludes that all mankind is spiritually dead (separated from God). The degree to which evil manifests itself varies in each person.

    Does the sin nature terminate at the new birth. If so, why do we struggle with the old nature after conversion? The regenerate can relate to Paul's experience when he wrote in Romans, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. . . . But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me” .

    The struggle between the sinful nature and the new regenerate nature is evident to the "born again" person. The unregenerate (spiritually dead), although aware of right and wrong, become de-sensitized to sin and do not feel the weight of sin. it is only burdensome to the regenerate (spiritual living). As Ravi Zacharias once said, "Jesus did not come to make bad people good, he came to make dead people live".

    Every person is born spiritually dead and in need of regeneration. Jesus affirmed this condition when He stated, “Follow Me, and let the dead to bury the dead”.

    Paul states, “you were dead in your trespasses and sins”.

    Unregenerate behavior manifests hostility toward God and denial of the truth. Paul states in Romans, “the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so”. Furthermore, "the natural man rejects the spiritual council of God, considering it foolishness. The reason being is that he is unable to receive it because he is devoid of God's Spirit.”.

    The consequence of the sin nature is death, separation from God. Again, the past is the key to the present. Why do people die? They die a physical death, not from biological necessity, but rather from the moral penalty.

    The solution to the escape of the consequence of the sin nature is the new birth, as stated by Jesus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus then asked, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus then answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again. The Spirit breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice, but you do not know where He comes from, and where He goes; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit".

    Paul states, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things become new”.

    Regeneration imparts awareness of the sin nature and awareness inspires restraint. Regeneration introduces a new ability to resist the inclinations of the old sinful nature. Paul stated “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh”.

    Jesus did not inherit the sin nature (seed of Adam). This is why He was born of a virgin. The sinless Christ, satisfied God's moral penalty for sin through His substitutionary atoning death. The execution of Christ was not a tragedy, it was an accomplishment.

    It is an irrefutable fact that each person possesses a sin nature. It is verified by human experience and the Word of God supports the concept. How shall anyone escape the consequence of sin if they neglect God's plan of salvation?

    The answer is simple, they cannot.

    Your friend to the end,

    John

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    2,564
    Hello John
    I really like the way you present your argument. I agree with all you write except there is one point you make towards the end that I would like to be clear on when you say;
    Jesus did not inherit the sin nature (seed of Adam). This is why He was born of a virgin.
    My understanding is that all are the seed of Adam. Whether male or female, they are both regarded as the seed of Adam. The female does not inherit a different human nature to the male. The only differences relate to physical differences according to sex and both have the possibility to sin.

    Jesus did make the comparison between those who follow after the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning... and a liar (John 8:44), hence the deception that was of Eve's own mind and is where "the devil" originates.

    A distinction is made between the "seed of the serpent" and the "seed of the woman". In this I agree that Jesus is the seed of the woman (virgin) and yet restrained the seed of the serpent, such that is was not developed within him. Both Adam and Eve sinned, so Eve was no different to Adam in this respect. We say that Eve was deceived (I claim by her own reasoning) and Adam ate knowingly after Eve had eaten. The bottom line is that both of them sinned because their nature was the same.

    Jesus was born of a virgin and so Jesus was born with the same nature as you and me and having the same nature as Adam and Eve. Only the fact that a virgin conceived was because God supplied the equivalent of the male sperm, which gave Jesus his inherited characteristics from his father's side (probably the same original genes that made up Adam). Therefore, Jesus is rightly the Son of Man and also the Son of God. This is why it is important that Jesus is seen as a man and not of the same substance as God. Jesus overcame all temptation and overcame all desire to please self rather than please God. Jesus accomplished this in every way as a man and not with the nature of God (who is ONE).

    Why did Jesus succeed when all others have failed? Firstly, while he was at a very young age, he understood he had a purpose in his life; I must be about my Father's business Secondly, Jesus was taught in the right ways from the beginning and he followed the instruction he was given. He read the ancient scriptures and learned the lessons and followed the instruction that is contained in them. If Jesus had not done all this, then with the same nature as Adam and Eve and with a propensity to sin (which he overcame) he could have easily sinned the same as everyone else. It was by deliberate self-control that he made God's will to be his own and so he overcame self-will that would have meant pleasing himself instead of God. It is our weakness of willpower and self control that often leads us to sin. It would be good to please self in that pleasing self we are also pleasing God. This is the other application of the second law as seen in the first law when we love God as we would have God love us.

    It is the same battle that Jesus had that goes on inside our minds. Jesus was no different to any other human being in this regard. The only difference is that Jesus won the battle within himself and in so doing this is when (and this explains) Jesus defeated the devil at his death. Jesus had not succumbed to devilish thoughts. After his death, Jesus was raised to eternal life and given an incorruptible body in which he can no longer be tempted. The devil did not win over Jesus otherwise Jesus would have remained in the grave and God would have had to keep to his word; the soul that sinneth it shall die(Eze 18:4). The "devil" is only our nature to think and to act contrary to God's will. In all points, Jesus was tested (tempted) the same as we are (Heb 4:15) and yet he remained sinless. Jesus had evil thoughts (temptations), but he never acted on them as we see by his temptation in the wilderness (after he had been granted access to call upon God's power (Holy Spirit) and God would grant his every request).

    Thanks be to Jesus who gained the victory and through his own victory has also won the victory for us (those who believe in him) that through him the day will come at the resurrection when we shall be like him and we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).

    All the best

    David

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Good morning John,

    Sorry for the slow reply. I've been working long days getting this site migrated to a new Linux server. It has fixed a lot of the problems we were having with delays and timeouts. (Windows sucks at serving up PHP pages.)

    Quote Originally Posted by jce View Post
    One thing I have learned in this life is that no one is consistently trustworthy. Not myself, not you, nor any other man. All men are subject to failure at any given moment of weakness or fear. Why is that? Why does every man cheat and lie from birth? What causes this behavior? Even you, having written a thesis on the relationship between love and morality, by your own admission, have failed to live a life of moral and mental integrity. There is no escape from the Biblical Truth. Yes, my old nature is still with me and at some of the most improbable times will offer up an evil thought or a temptation to do wrong.

    The reality of a sin nature is clearly seen in human behavior. The Biblical doctrine of man's sinful nature is universally verifiable. One only needs to look without and within for the evidence of sin. If we are born without a sinful nature, why does it abound? Everyone sins, without exception.
    Your answer to those questions doesn't sound like reality to me. The reason folks "are subject to failure at any given moment of weakness or fear" is because we are born ignorant and undeveloped. It takes years to grow into adulthood. We are limited by nature. We are largely ignorant of most truth and our minds are limited and we are driven by all sorts of necessities (food, shelter, etc.) so it is only natural that we would make mistakes in our efforts. There is no need to posit a "sin nature" to explain these obvious facts that follow from the limitations of what it is to be a finite, ignorant, mortal, organism.

    Furthermore, the concept of "sin nature" is not even taught in the Bible. I explained this in some detail in one of my first posts on this forum back in June of 2007 called Sin Nature - the Phlogiston of Christian Theology?.

    It is important to note that the idea of "sin nature" doesn't explain anything. Adam and Eve had no problem sinning before they supposedly acquired a "sin nature" after they sinned.

    And you assertion that "every man cheats and lies from birth" simply is not true. What does "cheat" even mean? I find the Christian view of humanity to be abysmal. It leads to greater sin because it teaches people that they are inherently wicked. If you tell a child that their hearts are "deceitful above all things" and that they should not trust their own hearts, from whence will they find integrity? Integrity is the heart and soul of morality. That's the point of the article we are discussing.

    If the "Biblical doctrine of man's sinful nature is universally verifiable" then so is the fact that the vast majority of people are good and desire to do good to their fellow man.

    Quote Originally Posted by jce View Post
    The past is the key to the present. In the beginning, God created humankind good, in His own image. It was the free will of Adam and the choice he made that brought about this sinful nature. If there is any doubt, then ask yourself why Cain, the firstborn man, murdered his own brother.
    First, there are profound scientific challenges to the idea that there was a "first man, Adam."

    Second, the unbiblical concept of "sin nature" explains nothing because Adam had no problem sinning without one. If Adam was created perfect, without a sin nature, and in the "image of God" how then could he make such a evil choice? What was wrong with him? What fool would do such a thing? The story really doesn't make any sense, since it portrays Adam as NUTS, not a "sinner." The word "sin" doesn't even appear in the story, you know. And worse, God did not even warn them of what would really happen if they ate. God said they would die that very day, but that didn't happen. And God told them nothing of what he would really do, namely, curse them and make them and their descendants suffer throughout the rest of history! He didn't say a word about that! So first he sets them up, like you putting poisoned candy in front of your children, and then he sent in a highly intelligent serpent to "beguile" them. He knew what would happen. He planned it all. How then can we think that it was the fault of those ignorant people Adam and Eve?

    And why are there no references to this story anywhere else in the entire OT? Doesn't that strike you as odd? If it is suppose to be the explanation for all the sin in the world, how is it that not one OT prophet ever mentioned it? Seems fishy to me. Seems like it was not accepted as "canonical" until very late, about the time that the Apocrypha was being written (since those books mention it a lot).

    Quote Originally Posted by jce View Post
    In the past, it was through the disobedience of this one man, Adam, that a sin nature was passed on to his descendants. *Each and every person born of Adam's race has inherited that nature. This is affirmed in both Testaments...

    Psalm 51:5... David says, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me”

    Psalm 58:3... David also states: “The wicked are estranged from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth”.

    Ecclesiastes 7:20... Solomon wrote: "Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins”

    Isaiah 64:6... Isaiah states: For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away”.

    In the New Testament,

    Romans 5:12... Paul affirms an inherited sin nature when he says, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned”.

    1 John 1:8... The Apostle John says this to his readers: If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us”.
    None of those verses teach the existence of a "sin nature." The Bible doesn't even use that term! It was made up and imposed upon the text.

    David's statement are perfectly understandable as Hebrew poetic hyperbole. It seems very foolish to try to establish a fundamental doctrine like "sin nature" upon fragments of Hebrew poetry. A doctrine like that would have to be derived from the explicit teachings in the didactic portions of Scripture, such as the verse in Romans that you cited. But does that verse teach a "sin nature"? Of course not. It says that death passed to men BECAUSE they actually sinned, not because they had a "sin nature."

    The primary problem with the Biblical concept of morality is that it reduces to nothing but mere "obedience" which has absolutely nothing to do with whether something is moral or not. The Bible says that all sin originated merely because Adam disobeyed an arbitrary command that had no connection with any intrinsically moral concept. This is what's so ironic about Christianity. It claims to be the only source of morality, yet its moral claims have nothing to do with real morality.

    Quote Originally Posted by jce View Post
    A sin nature does not cause all to behave in the worst way, but simply manifests a deficiency in righteousness. God concludes that all mankind is spiritually dead (separated from God). The degree to which evil manifests itself varies in each person.
    What exactly do you mean by a "deficiency of righteousness"? The Bible is very confused on this point. It says that "none is righteous, no not one." What then is righteousness? Most folks would agree with John when he said "he that doeth righteousness is righteous" (1 John 3:7). But this directly contradicts the idea that folks become "righteous" by merely believing in Jesus. That destroys the meaning of the word "righteous." Indeed, that's my primary problem with the Gospel. There is no "righteousness" or "justice" if folks can get away with murder! This is a primary inconsistency in Christian apologetics. On the one hand, all Christians get off scot-free, never paying for any sin whereas Hank Hanegraaff justifies eternal hell by saying that "justice would be impugned" if sinners didn't have to pay for their sins:
    Hank Hanegraaff: Finally, common sense regarding justice dictates that there must be a hell. Without hell, the wrongs of Hitler’s Holocaust would never be righted. Justice would be impugned if, after slaughtering six million Jews, Hitler merely died in the arms of his mistress with no eternal consequences. The ancients knew better than to think such a thing. David knew that it might seem for a time as though the wicked prosper despite their evil deeds, but in the end justice will be served. We may wish to think that no one will go to hell, but common sense regarding justice precludes that possibility.
    This is one of the main reasons I quit Christianity. The most fundamental doctrine of the Gospel is self-contradictory and hence irrational.

    Quote Originally Posted by jce View Post
    Does the sin nature terminate at the new birth. If so, why do we struggle with the old nature after conversion? The regenerate can relate to Paul's experience when he wrote in Romans, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. . . . But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me” .

    The struggle between the sinful nature and the new regenerate nature is evident to the "born again" person. The unregenerate (spiritually dead), although aware of right and wrong, become de-sensitized to sin and do not feel the weight of sin. it is only burdensome to the regenerate (spiritual living). As Ravi Zacharias once said, "Jesus did not come to make bad people good, he came to make dead people live".
    The struggle is not between the "sin nature" and the "regenerated" nature. The struggle is between SPIRIT and FLESH:
    Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
    This is what the Bible actually teaches. It is confirmed throughout:
    Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 ¶ But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12 ¶ Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
    This is what the Bible actually teaches. It has nothing to do with any "sin nature." It speaks constantly and only of SPIRIT vs. FLESH. I don't understand how anyone could miss this. I explained it all in my article cited above called Sin Nature - the Phlogiston of Christian Theology?.

    Quote Originally Posted by jce View Post
    Unregenerate behavior manifests hostility toward God and denial of the truth. Paul states in Romans, “the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so”. Furthermore, "the natural man rejects the spiritual council of God, considering it foolishness. The reason being is that he is unable to receive it because he is devoid of God's Spirit.”.
    There is great irony here. If I know anything, it is that most Christians are exceedingly resistant to truth. Indeed, I am convinced that all fundamentalist dogmatic religions breed a contempt for the truth.

    Your comment assumes that your personal religion, which is based on your fallible interpretation of a book that doesn't even say what it contains, is an accurate and essentially infallible representation of "God's Truth." Why can't you see that this is a rather problematic assertion? How does it differ from a Muslim who says the same thing about the Koran?

    I don't understand how you could be satisfied to make such unfounded claims about the ultimate truth of reality. Don't you have a sense that you could be wrong? If not, is that not itself something you should be concerned about?

    Quote Originally Posted by jce View Post
    The consequence of the sin nature is death, separation from God. Again, the past is the key to the present. Why do people die? They die a physical death, not from biological necessity, but rather from the moral penalty.

    The solution to the escape of the consequence of the sin nature is the new birth, as stated by Jesus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus then asked, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus then answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again. The Spirit breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice, but you do not know where He comes from, and where He goes; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit".
    There are profound problems - both biblical and logical - with that point of view. We discussed them at length in a thread called Is Physical Death the Penalty for Sin?. If it were true that "the consequence of the sin nature is death" then no saved person would die. It seems your doctrines do not logically cohere with themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by jce View Post
    Paul states, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things become new”.
    Obviously, if his words are true, then they have nothing to do with physical death since all believers die like everyone else.

    Quote Originally Posted by jce View Post
    Regeneration imparts awareness of the sin nature and awareness inspires restraint. Regeneration introduces a new ability to resist the inclinations of the old sinful nature. Paul stated “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh”.
    This shows how deceptive religion can be. If I am correct, and there is no "sin nature" then your "awareness of the sin nature" is erroneous. What then does that say about your "regeneration?" This is the problem - folks with ten thousand contradictory doctrines all claim to have the same "Spirit" that "guides them into all truth."

    Quote Originally Posted by jce View Post
    Jesus did not inherit the sin nature (seed of Adam). This is why He was born of a virgin. The sinless Christ, satisfied God's moral penalty for sin through His substitutionary atoning death. The execution of Christ was not a tragedy, it was an accomplishment.
    That doctrine is just made up. There is nothing in the Bible that says anything like that. Indeed, Paul said that Jesus was "born of the seed of David" so the text is contradictory and everyone must make up their own solutions. But the idea that the "sin nature" is passed down through the father's semen is extremely dubious, even from a believing Christian perspective. I never believed it.

    Christ was sinless because he didn't sin, not because he was born without a "sin nature." Adam had no "sin nature" but that didn't stop him from sinning. Like I said, the concept of "sin nature" explains nothing. And indeed, I think it is self-contradictory because "sin" is a moral act, not a "nature."

    Quote Originally Posted by jce View Post
    It is an irrefutable fact that each person possesses a sin nature. It is verified by human experience and the Word of God supports the concept. How shall anyone escape the consequence of sin if they neglect God's plan of salvation?

    The answer is simple, they cannot.
    I do believe I have completely refuted the concept of "sin nature" as entirely unbiblical.

    Quote Originally Posted by jce View Post
    Your friend to the end,

    John
    I really appreciate your good spirit John!

    Thanks!

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by David M View Post
    Hello John
    I really like the way you present your argument. I agree with all you write except there is one point you make towards the end that I would like to be clear on when you say;

    My understanding is that all are the seed of Adam. Whether male or female, they are both regarded as the seed of Adam. The female does not inherit a different human nature to the male. The only differences relate to physical differences according to sex and both have the possibility to sin.

    Jesus did make the comparison between those who follow after the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning... and a liar (John 8:44), hence the deception that was of Eve's own mind and is where "the devil" originates.

    A distinction is made between the "seed of the serpent" and the "seed of the woman". In this I agree that Jesus is the seed of the woman (virgin) and yet restrained the seed of the serpent, such that is was not developed within him. Both Adam and Eve sinned, so Eve was no different to Adam in this respect. We say that Eve was deceived (I claim by her own reasoning) and Adam ate knowingly after Eve had eaten. The bottom line is that both of them sinned because their nature was the same.

    Jesus was born of a virgin and so Jesus was born with the same nature as you and me and having the same nature as Adam and Eve. Only the fact that a virgin conceived was because God supplied the equivalent of the male sperm, which gave Jesus his inherited characteristics from his father's side (probably the same original genes that made up Adam). Therefore, Jesus is rightly the Son of Man and also the Son of God. This is why it is important that Jesus is seen as a man and not of the same substance as God. Jesus overcame all temptation and overcame all desire to please self rather than please God. Jesus accomplished this in every way as a man and not with the nature of God (who is ONE).

    Why did Jesus succeed when all others have failed? Firstly, while he was at a very young age, he understood he had a purpose in his life; I must be about my Father's business Secondly, Jesus was taught in the right ways from the beginning and he followed the instruction he was given. He read the ancient scriptures and learned the lessons and followed the instruction that is contained in them. If Jesus had not done all this, then with the same nature as Adam and Eve and with a propensity to sin (which he overcame) he could have easily sinned the same as everyone else. It was by deliberate self-control that he made God's will to be his own and so he overcame self-will that would have meant pleasing himself instead of God. It is our weakness of willpower and self control that often leads us to sin. It would be good to please self in that pleasing self we are also pleasing God. This is the other application of the second law as seen in the first law when we love God as we would have God love us.

    It is the same battle that Jesus had that goes on inside our minds. Jesus was no different to any other human being in this regard. The only difference is that Jesus won the battle within himself and in so doing this is when (and this explains) Jesus defeated the devil at his death. Jesus had not succumbed to devilish thoughts. After his death, Jesus was raised to eternal life and given an incorruptible body in which he can no longer be tempted. The devil did not win over Jesus otherwise Jesus would have remained in the grave and God would have had to keep to his word; the soul that sinneth it shall die(Eze 18:4). The "devil" is only our nature to think and to act contrary to God's will. In all points, Jesus was tested (tempted) the same as we are (Heb 4:15) and yet he remained sinless. Jesus had evil thoughts (temptations), but he never acted on them as we see by his temptation in the wilderness (after he had been granted access to call upon God's power (Holy Spirit) and God would grant his every request).

    Thanks be to Jesus who gained the victory and through his own victory has also won the victory for us (those who believe in him) that through him the day will come at the resurrection when we shall be like him and we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).

    All the best

    David
    Hello David

    Thank-you for taking time to express your understanding of this topic. I think you make a good case for your view.
    When I ask the question "what was the purpose of Christ's conception by a virgin?", I simply conclude that it was necessary for Jesus to be more than a man, hence two natures, son of man and Son of God. He possessed both a human nature and the very nature of God, His Father. Jesus manifested the conflict between these two natures in the garden of Gethsemene when His human nature desired to avoid the pain and tribulation of body and soul. His human nature was tempted as we are, yet He did not yield because His Godly nature could not. That creates a paradox. How could Jesus be tempted to sin and yet not be able to sin?

    Whenever confronted with such Biblical contradictions (mysteries), I remind myself of the things I do know, the Biblical Truths of origin, morality, purpose and destiny. My basic theology consists of the following facts that I accept by faith;

    ORIGIN:
    God created the Heavens and the Earth
    God's creation was very good, without death and suffering
    God made man as a special creation in His own image
    God made the first woman of the man

    MORALITY:
    Man was given dominion over the Earth with one restriction
    Man crossed the line in an act of disobedience
    The result of this disobedient act was a curse of death upon not only the man and woman, but upon all of creation
    This curse has been passed on to all humanity and nature and endures to this day

    PURPOSE:
    To acknowledge God as Soverign Creator and to honor Him as such and to love others who are created in His image

    DESTINY:
    Chosen by God before the foundation of the world and pre-determined by the council of His own will.

    I'm convinced that everything which has occurred, God has anticipated. Furthermore, He has a reason for the unfolding events of this creation and a good purpose for man to experience this fallen world. We know that He is, and forever will be glorified in the culmination of this work. God demands that we trust Him through this experience. Are there questions about God's plan and His methods... ABSOLUTELY!!!! The greater question is whether we are entitled to matter of factly answers from God. I say that we are not. It is His Universe, His purpose and His plan to reveal as He wills, to whomever He wills. I like that. I also like the idea that God is not limited to the natural laws of man's science. I want God to be the author of real special effects. Supernatural events which make the film industry's special effects look like child's play! God needs to be God! He must be able to construct a universe by a power only available to Him! I'm convinced He wants us to be thrilled at the prospects of the world to come! The New Heaven and New Earth that exceeds our most extravagant imagination. I have an internal God given desire to be awestruck by His Majestic Character and His Magnificent Abilities!!!!

    I simply say it is better to honor Him, trust Him and obey His word with whatever capacity He has given to each of us and to avoid vanity. Be a faithful witness to His existence, be thankful for His provision (good and bad), keep our promises, and call on Him in our time of trouble so that He can deliver us and as a result, we will glorify Him.

    It's really a simply theology with confident expectations and exciting anticipation. Truth be told, the best things in life are worth waiting for... including answers to very puzzling questions! Remember this, Adam had everything at his disposal with one exception, and it proved to be not enough. He had to have that one thing which God chose to withold, no matter the cost.

    Your brother in the common faith.

    John

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    2
    Hi Richard.

    I think theorising morality and setting out its principles is a great idea. Finding ways to discuss morals in way that abstracts them from a particular viewpoint and set of rules helps us in many ways from finding the truth about our own perspectives to living in an increasingly global society where we need to properly understand the true common moral ground and build on it in order to get along.

    There’s some interesting points raised in the above comments that I would really like to discuss, but I’m going stick to the original topic, for now anyway. So here are some thoughts.

    Both principles are founded in the most basic and universal moral intuitions shared by all humanity.
    I agree that the Golden Rule is generally common across humanity. However there are people who lack this moral intuition. For example, it is estimated that1% of the population are psychopathic. By psychopath I don’t mean people who are anti-social violent criminals (although a psychopath maybe) but the clinical definition - those who show a defined set of traits which include callousness, lack of empathy, lack of remorse, sexual promiscuity, conning and manipulative behaviour, persistent focus on gratifying their own needs at the expense of others. A psychopath’s brain means they are unable to feel in the same way another human being does. There appears to be a genetic basis for it. While a large proportion of violent crimes are committed by psychopaths, offenders are a small fraction of the psychopathic population, who otherwise seem to do alright for themselves. For example, studies suggest that about 4% of business leaders are psychopaths.

    My understanding is that, from an evolutionary point of view, the capacity for love developed as it gave a survival advantage under the conditions that prevailed. So, while we (as loving caring humans beings) may class psychopaths as immoral (or amoral) from a strictly evolutionary point of view how can it be said that the way they behave is wrong as under current conditions they seem to be generally successful both in society and in getting their genes spread around?

    All rational beings desire the best for themselves.
    I struggle here with the word ‘best’ and what it really means. I assume ‘ultimate wellbeing’ is meant, as to desire anything else would be irrational, and that ‘wellbeing’ includes physical, emotional, intellectual and moral wellbeing. By this definition, what we desire is often not what is actually best for ourselves, whether knowingly (such as choosing to smoke) or unknowingly (for example, by not understanding ourselves, not thinking things through properly or having an imperfect sense of right and wrong). As an observation rather than a criticism, it seems like a moral minefield trying to treat somebody with respect to their ultimate wellbeing while taking into account what they think they want and respecting their right to make their own choices.

    If a person acts with altruism and this has a detrimental effect on them, would they be considered an irrational person?

    “Universal Love for all sentient beings. This is an objective standard because any rational observer could, in principle, discern between what is or is not more loving. To refute this argument, it would have to be shown that people cannot objectively determine what is more loving.”
    What does ‘more loving’ mean? If we have love for another human being we desire their wellbeing and act accordingly. The most loving act possible in a particular circumstance will result in the greatest improvement to wellbeing. Therefore the lovingness of an act isn’t the act itself but the motive and the ultimate outcome. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

    How is it possible to objectively judge the motive of an act? To an outside observer an act may seem loving. From the perspective of outcome, it may have been the most loving act possible. But what was the real motive? If you know somebody well, you might have a very good guess at their motives. But it’s still only a guess.

    I also struggle to see how a person can objectively judge the outcome of an act. The immediate effect of an act may be negative. For example disciplining a child may make them cry, but when the right disciplinary action is taken it is ultimately for their own good. So a longer view needs to be taken. Even, assuming in principle an observer could witness the experiences and behaviour of a child as they grew up, I don’t see how they would be able to disentangle the effect of a particular act of discipline by a parent, or even in every case be able to definitively say whether a person's behaviour is a result of their upbringing or their own free will.

    It seems possible for somebody with a heart full of love but lacking in wisdom to perform actions that cause harm (whether actual or relative). We learn wisdom as we mature but even with age make mistakes when we encounter new circumstances. An objective observer would need a vast store of wisdom to allow them objectively judge not just one human being’s lifetime of actions, but the myriad of actions across an infinite variety of personalities and circumstances.

    Human society has often been faced with complex moral dilemmas where the wellbeing of large number of people is at stake, trade-offs between different groups of people are necessary or where the wellbeing of future, unborn generations of humanity may be affected. Accurately determining the consequences of a set of possible actions in order judge the lovingness of each one and select the best is mind boggling!

    Personally, at this point I’m feeling like I need God to guide me in making decisions where my human capacity reaches it limits and to help make sure some good or that at least no harm comes to anyone due to my inadvertent mistakes. Thank the Lord I’m not a world leader!

    The Golden Rule, good as it is, is only as good as human limits allow it to be. For those who believe in an all powerful, loving, wise, just God it would be unloving not to love him and do his will. Not simply because he says so, but because to not allow him to take care of the things we’re unable to and guide us to the right decisions in difficult circumstances is unloving towards ourselves and our fellow human beings. Without God I don’t see where the objective observer can come from, no human being has the capacities required.

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    2,564
    Hello Eleanor

    I just want to add my "welcome to the forum". I like the thoughts you have expressed and look forward to your sharing more thoughts on the other comments you said you would like to discuss. It is good you have stayed on topic, but it is too easy to get side-tracked on to other subjects as you will have seen and will probably find out as you introduce threads of your own; I am hoping you will.

    All the best

    David

  7. #47
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Yakima, Wa
    Posts
    15,148
    Quote Originally Posted by Eleanor View Post
    Hi Richard.

    I think theorising morality and setting out its principles is a great idea. Finding ways to discuss morals in way that abstracts them from a particular viewpoint and set of rules helps us in many ways from finding the truth about our own perspectives to living in an increasingly global society where we need to properly understand the true common moral ground and build on it in order to get along.

    There’s some interesting points raised in the above comments that I would really like to discuss, but I’m going stick to the original topic, for now anyway. So here are some thoughts.
    Hi Eleanor,

    Welcome to our fourm!



    Thanks for taking time to share your views. I really appreciate your probing questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eleanor View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Amiel McGough View Post
    Both principles are founded in the most basic and universal moral intuitions shared by all humanity.
    I agree that the Golden Rule is generally common across humanity. However there are people who lack this moral intuition. For example, it is estimated that1% of the population are psychopathic. By psychopath I don’t mean people who are anti-social violent criminals (although a psychopath maybe) but the clinical definition - those who show a defined set of traits which include callousness, lack of empathy, lack of remorse, sexual promiscuity, conning and manipulative behaviour, persistent focus on gratifying their own needs at the expense of others. A psychopath’s brain means they are unable to feel in the same way another human being does. There appears to be a genetic basis for it. While a large proportion of violent crimes are committed by psychopaths, offenders are a small fraction of the psychopathic population, who otherwise seem to do alright for themselves. For example, studies suggest that about 4% of business leaders are psychopaths.

    My understanding is that, from an evolutionary point of view, the capacity for love developed as it gave a survival advantage under the conditions that prevailed. So, while we (as loving caring humans beings) may class psychopaths as immoral (or amoral) from a strictly evolutionary point of view how can it be said that the way they behave is wrong as under current conditions they seem to be generally successful both in society and in getting their genes spread around?
    The fact that some people lack moral intuitions says nothing about the reality of objective morality or the validity of my moral theory as far as I can tell. Does the fact that some people are color blind imply that there are no colors? Does the fact that some people can't do math imply that 1 + 2 does not equal 3? The purpose of my moral theory is to expose and explain the root of our moral intuitions.

    The fact that there is an evolutionary basis for our moral intuitions does not imply that morality is to be identified with that which helps folks "get their genes around." That seems like a reductionist fallacy to me. For example, our ability to do advanced mathematics has an evolutionary basis, but the validity of abstract number theory (such as Wile's proof of Fermat's Last Theorem) does not have anything to do with helping folks "get their genes spread around" and that evolutionary concept tells us nothing about the validity of mathematics in general. I think the same goes for moral theory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eleanor View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Amiel McGough View Post
    All rational beings desire the best for themselves.
    I struggle here with the word ‘best’ and what it really means. I assume ‘ultimate wellbeing’ is meant, as to desire anything else would be irrational, and that ‘wellbeing’ includes physical, emotional, intellectual and moral wellbeing. By this definition, what we desire is often not what is actually best for ourselves, whether knowingly (such as choosing to smoke) or unknowingly (for example, by not understanding ourselves, not thinking things through properly or having an imperfect sense of right and wrong). As an observation rather than a criticism, it seems like a moral minefield trying to treat somebody with respect to their ultimate wellbeing while taking into account what they think they want and respecting their right to make their own choices.
    I agree that spelling out the details of what we mean by "best" could lead to many a philosophical sticky-wicket. We are complex beings with a variety of competing needs and desires. When we speak of our well-being, we are not talking only about our physical well-being. If that were the case, we would design our lives to minimize risk. There would be no sky-diving or even skateboarding. Few would think such a life is "best." These are pragmatic rather than theoretical concerns.

    We must take care not to confuse ourselves with words which is so common in philosophy. We must establish our understanding on what is intuitively obvious; that which motivates this whole discussion in the first place. We have no other basis for philosophy. It all begins with something that we understand intuitively - primitive concepts that cannot be defined in terms of other concepts since that would lead to an infinite regress or a self-referential loop. I think the true foundation of morality is perfectly clear: it all comes down to love. If we have no love for others, we would have no moral intuitions that something is right or wrong. If we have no love of self, we cannot love others. When these intuitive facts are processed by our big brain, we see that any moral statement, to be objective, must be symmetric and invariant under an interchange of moral agents and we arrive at the Golden Rule. That is my moral theory in a nutshell.

    Is it necessary that we be able to spell out all the details of what we mean by "best" in all practical situations before we can understand this theory or consider it valid? Of course not. We need only ask if there is something "best" (or even less restrictively, "better") in principle for the theory to work. The rest is moral pragmatics - the application of the theory - that always involves a lot that is beyond our ability to discern. For example, Quantum Physics is the best theory we have for understanding atoms but we cannot apply it directly to anything but a few of the simplest atoms. Everything else must be done with approximations and assumptions because the equations are too complex even for our best computers. Does this impugn the theory? Of course not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eleanor View Post
    If a person acts with altruism and this has a detrimental effect on them, would they be considered an irrational person?
    Altruism has nothing to do with morality. If it did it would be logically incoherent because both persons would be morally compelled to sacrifice self for other. Then both die and neither would be altruistic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eleanor View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Amiel McGough View Post
    “Universal Love for all sentient beings. This is an objective standard because any rational observer could, in principle, discern between what is or is not more loving. To refute this argument, it would have to be shown that people cannot objectively determine what is more loving.”
    What does ‘more loving’ mean? If we have love for another human being we desire their wellbeing and act accordingly. The most loving act possible in a particular circumstance will result in the greatest improvement to wellbeing. Therefore the lovingness of an act isn’t the act itself but the motive and the ultimate outcome. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

    How is it possible to objectively judge the motive of an act? To an outside observer an act may seem loving. From the perspective of outcome, it may have been the most loving act possible. But what was the real motive? If you know somebody well, you might have a very good guess at their motives. But it’s still only a guess.
    The purpose of my moral theory is to expose and explain the root of our moral intuitions. Do you think it succeeds? Do you have any moral intuition that contradicts love or is not founded in love? Do you have any moral intuition that is not explained by my theory? I would be very interested if you do since that would show a weakness in my theory that I must address.

    You ask "How is it possible to objectively judge the motive of an act?". We can't, and I don't see how that question is relevant since no such judgement required by my theory and there is no moral theory that could enable us to make such judgments. The purpose of my moral theory is to explain the root of our moral intuitions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eleanor View Post
    I also struggle to see how a person can objectively judge the outcome of an act. The immediate effect of an act may be negative. For example disciplining a child may make them cry, but when the right disciplinary action is taken it is ultimately for their own good. So a longer view needs to be taken. Even, assuming in principle an observer could witness the experiences and behaviour of a child as they grew up, I don’t see how they would be able to disentangle the effect of a particular act of discipline by a parent, or even in every case be able to definitively say whether a person's behaviour is a result of their upbringing or their own free will.
    Again, those are pragmatic questions that we would have to solve regardless of which moral theory we adhere to. They do not help us discern between competing theories of morality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eleanor View Post
    It seems possible for somebody with a heart full of love but lacking in wisdom to perform actions that cause harm (whether actual or relative). We learn wisdom as we mature but even with age make mistakes when we encounter new circumstances. An objective observer would need a vast store of wisdom to allow them objectively judge not just one human being’s lifetime of actions, but the myriad of actions across an infinite variety of personalities and circumstances.

    Human society has often been faced with complex moral dilemmas where the wellbeing of large number of people is at stake, trade-offs between different groups of people are necessary or where the wellbeing of future, unborn generations of humanity may be affected. Accurately determining the consequences of a set of possible actions in order judge the lovingness of each one and select the best is mind boggling!

    Personally, at this point I’m feeling like I need God to guide me in making decisions where my human capacity reaches it limits and to help make sure some good or that at least no harm comes to anyone due to my inadvertent mistakes. Thank the Lord I’m not a world leader!

    The Golden Rule, good as it is, is only as good as human limits allow it to be. For those who believe in an all powerful, loving, wise, just God it would be unloving not to love him and do his will. Not simply because he says so, but because to not allow him to take care of the things we’re unable to and guide us to the right decisions in difficult circumstances is unloving towards ourselves and our fellow human beings. Without God I don’t see where the objective observer can come from, no human being has the capacities required.
    I agree that making valid moral judgments can be quite challenging, but I have no idea why you would think God is any kind of guide. Is there any way for you to know God's specific will in any given situation? Will you not be subject to exactly the same human limitations that you listed?

    Again, I want to thank you for your challenging and probing questions.

    All the best,

    Richard

    PS: I have posted my answer as a new thread called Clarifying the Logic of Love since you brought up many important questions and I don't want them to get lost deep in this comment stream. It would be best if we continued the conversation there.
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

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