• Gregory
    Romans 9 presents the first principles of Christian theology in regard to election. Paul says elsewhere that God wants all to be saved, which follows from the fact that God doesn't want us to sin. However Romans 9 reveals a higher desire of God than the desire that all be saved and this mysterious desire is reflected in how the "potter" sets up the whole system of free will in the context of desires and motives. I am not interested in Molinism, Armenian ideas, or other non-classical ways of understanding Paul. The tradition of this religion seems clear to me. God wants us not to sin but, through a compatibilist system, God has set up that some go to hell and some go to heaven. This is probably what Jesus meant by in the parable of the labourers as well.

    Now on atonment: philosophy seems to say that crimes should be punished just as good works rewarded and that's the end of the question. Christian theology says "not so" and presents sinners as incapable of rectifying their situation so that their only hope is to be given someone else's merits. Hence the sacrifice of Jesus. But what happened to equal, fair justice? Sin is a rejection of love yet Christians have unworthy sinners being turned into good people by Jesus giving them his merits through love.

    I seems to me that this whole system is backwards. God, if he loves more than just himself, should have set up a compatibalist system in which his whole created family goes to heaven and lives with him. Also, how is it ever justified to trump justice by giving the perpetrators someone else's merits, even if the other person is God as man?

    I see no way to justify any of this with philosophy. If God exists, everyone should go to heaven and there should be no atonement involved. Christian seems to come from strange philosophical categories of strange people living in bygone times. God can get everyone to heaven while respecting our free will by simply creating, again, the system as a compatibilist one. He should also not violate justice by turning souls to white by another person's merits being implanted in their souls as their own. Therefore my conclusion is that Christianity is based on immoral principles
  • csalisbury
    Christianity, for sure, comes from strange philosophical categories of people living in bygone times. I enjoy Romans, but yeah, it's weird - just like the Armenian and Molinistic readings of it too, I imagine.

    Well, one easy answer is not to worry about Romans.
  • Wayfarer
    If God exists, everyone should go to heavenGregory

    So - God is like The Manager, and if everyone doesn’t have a good outcome, then he’s responsible. Is that it?
  • baker
    So - God is like The Manager, and if everyone doesn’t have a good outcome, then he’s responsible. Is that it?Wayfarer
    This would apply for a demigod, ie. one who doesn't create the universe and of whom living beings are not part of.

    But given that 1. it's God who created everyone, 2. nothing happens without God's will, 3. God knows the future, one has to wonder why some will burn in hell for all eternity with no chance of salvation, and moreover, how is that some could so completely stray from God's will to begin with so as to earn themselves eternal punishment.

    The simplest explanation is that Christianity is a mix of monotheism and demigod worship, mixed together in such a way that it supports group supremacism of one particular group.

    Christianity is monotheism in some aspects of creation and judgment. And it's demigod worship when it comes to allowing for the possibility that humans can, on their own, act against God's will, and that this can have eternal, irredeemable, irrepairable consequences.

    If we start from the premises that God creates everything and that everything belongs to God, and that God is always happy/content, then isn't it strange to suppose that God would set aside a part of his universe where or about which he will be unhappy/suffering? That's one masochistic god, to say the least. Or, oddly familiarily man-like.
  • baker
    If God exists, everyone should go to heaven and there should be no atonement involved.Gregory
    As in some Hindu (mono)theisms. Of course, in those systems, too, a person has to jump through some hoops, including risking a series of rebirths/reincarnations, but there is no threat of eternal damnation for making the wrong religious choice.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    That's sort of how I understand mainstream modern Christian thought. I've been to a lot of Baptist churches, since that's what my wife grew up with. I've seen many takes because I like very few of them so we keep switching.

    There is an element of Christ as a blood sacrifice for mankind's sin. Crime and punishment isn't the analogy I've heard the most. It's more like the sacrifices in the Tanakh/OT, or the human sacrifice Abraham was prepared to make early in the Torah. Christ is without sin, and blameless, but sacrifices himself as the ultimate sin offering.

    There are philosophical issues here too. Ethically, why does God need this sacrifice to let humans into heaven?

    Looking back at Medieval takes, Christ was often seen as having accomplished a sort of legal feat here. The laws of morality dictate that man must be punished for sin, but Christ is able to create a sacrifice greater than any human's capacity to sin by sacrificing Himself. The sacrifice of a God is greater than the sacrifice of the entire race.

    It's hard to mesh this with modern ethics. Which I suppose is why a lot of churches have very Evangelical takes, focusing far more on the contrast of eternal suffering and eternal salvation, and the need to have faith and convert. I've certainly been to churches that preach:
    Saved by faith alone
    Once saved always saved
    Thus conversion in the most important thing so go do it.

    Every Sunday. You start questioning ethics from a human standpoint, and things get thorny.

    The Reformed theology textbook I read made salvation much more about grace. So it isn't being forgiven for a crime, it is receiving a gift freely given.

    Different denominations and churches within the same denomination preach different things about Hell. It's common to hear in some Baptist churches that people who have never heard the Gospel get to go to heaven. Think people born before Christ, or Native Americans before Columbus. How could they have know?

    The logical problem here is that, by this logic, our generation could "take one for the team," destroy all the Bibles and erase Christianity from all memory, and in doing so secure salvation for the race.

    Plenty of other Christians have non-Christians going to heaven. Even the Pope has floated this idea. Catholics also have the Purgatory to reform in.

    I guess my point is that it is hard to submit the doctrine of salvation to logical analysis because it is amorphous and changes for people over their lifetimes. It certainly isn't defined well in the Bible.

    For the Gnostics, salvation wasn't even a form of redemption. Rather it's a state of enlightenment where one recognizes the immaterial, pure truths of God, and can reject the fallen physical world. They used Paul too. The surviving Valentinian texts use an exegesis on I Corinthians to make Gnostic points, which is more fair than you'd think since John has straight up Gnostic points in it, and Paul seems open to some Gnostic ideas.

    The doctrine your describing seems more mainline Evangelical. I think part of the appeal there is that that doctrine elevated the importance of faith conversions, which is the center of their communal worship.
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