Online Debate with an athiest
RESPONSE: The problem is that if God would have been too straight forward with the bible people would not spend time in studying it and getting to know God better through it. after reading the entire bible once or twice, there would be no more a need to study. But the mystery embedded within its pages is uniquely designed by God to have a double effect upon the reader. He may read it and need to return to its pages over and over again to understand better and learn more, all the while have it transform his life.
1) 2 Samuel 24:1
“And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.”
...King James Bible
English Standard Version (©2001)
Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”
21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
Very problematic contradiction
From this some conclude the Devil and God must be one and the same. However such an obvious contradiction reduces the credibility of scripture.
Nicole, this was not the idea I had in mind, lol. I'll email you what I meant (I think you misunderstood) but I don't want all this on my wall. Its the same out of order as if it were on Ryans wall. However I'll provide answers to satisfy your questions lest I get accused of not having any, but lets do it the way I requested on a facebook open forum, like a group. The public will be able to view our debate there as well.
In regards to this first question, I'd argue that this is a case in which both cases are true, teaching that God's authority extends even over Satan's. Let me explain first with a few examples. Evil men brought Jesus to death at the crucifixion, but notice this verse:
"For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, (28) to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur," (Acts 4:27-28, NASB).
God used evil men to accomplish his purpose, which was in sending his Son Jesus to die on our behalf. Herob and Pilate might have sent the death sentence, the solders might have been the once who hammered his hands, but it was God who sent his Son to die for us. These men were instruments. God would have not used "good" men to do this, of course.
Here's another example. In John 13:25-27 Satan entered Judas when Judas decided to betray Jesus, but it was the plan of God that Jesus be betrayed as Acts 4:27-28 above tells us. In the book of Job also, we see God allowing Satan to be the instrument by which he was to test Job's character.
What does this tell us? That God can use evil men, even Satan, to accomplish his will. Yes God was angry with the people and did send forth a punishment (2 Samuel 24:1), but allowed Satan, who is ultimately the originator of sin and death, to be the instrument by which to accomplish it. Let's keep in mind however that its out of protection for the innocent who truly want to live righteously and as a result of their own sins that evil men are put out of the way. God allows the evil one to work His evil yet that work is ultimately used for the glory of God. All this is done without God sinning and it demonstrates God's absolute sovereignty over all creation. This sensitive issue is touched upon some more in the answers to the following questions you posed.
2) An inherent flaw in scripture is its openness to so many varied interpretations. Certainly all denominations cannot be right, thus can it not be concluded that many Christian churches are guilty of false teachings? If there are so many disagreements among Christians what hope is there to truly understand scripture and really can it be understood?
The reason why we have so many interpretations is because people are going against the bible's own method of biblical interpretation. God tells us through his prophet to interpret the pages of this book "line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little, precept upon precept" -Isaiah 28:9-10. However, Christians take it upon themselves to interpret it by themselves, without the aid of the context and of the rest of the bible. This error has caused the confusion in doctrines we see in our churches today. But the mistake is in the people, not the bible.
"The bible is like a Lion, let it go, and it will defend itself." -Martin Luther
3) Is Jesus God? Within the Christian context a complete agreement on who God is, is not consistent among believers. Thus with this uncertainty how can you be sure as a Christian you are in fact worshipping THE actual God.
RESPONSE: I believe Jesus is God based on the scriptures, and you can only do two things to debunk this. Either show me through the bible I'm wrong, or prove the bible is not true, in which case it wouldn't matter what I believed. I don't have time to go to the biblical reasons why I believe Jesus is God, but I invite you to present a verse or two if you'd like to show me otherwise. In the mean while, I wrote an entire booklet proving through the bible that Jesus is God. You should take a read: http://adventist-defense-league.blogspot.com/2009/03/honest-look-into-trinity-doctrine-we.html
4)Why do Christians often state that scientific facts indeed prove their religion to be right when they ignore mainstream science and instead opt to believe Christian Pseudo Science?
RESPONSE: Simply because its true. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is one such evidence. It states that all things are decreasing, rather then increasing as evolutionists say. Like a hot cup of coffee getting colder, the universe and the earth is deteriorating, not evolutionarily growing. This implies everything had a beginning, which in turn implies someone (an intelligent being) must have been present to have caused it (for every cause has an effect). There is more listed in question 10, and even more listed at www.evolutionfacts.com.
Now I won't go and say all science proves religion or God, and this is because there is much disagreement even within the circles of scientists. Much of the theories are too far-fetched or either illogical at best (as in saying life came from non-life). But I agree that the evidence for a creator within science does exist and the honest person should consider them.
RESPONSE: God does not technically "need" mean to carry out his will, actually. For example, he himself spoke the Ten Commandments when he wanted them to be known to his people. But what happened when he spoke it? The people cried to Moses to tell God not to speak anymore, but to rather tell Moses all the law. This is one of the reasons why God uses human agents. We can bear his mightiness in our sinful, human flesh. Secondly, God uses people to do his will because it serves as a lesson and as a means to transform the human instrument's character to be like that of Christ's. The more I use my child to do my will, like taking out the garbage, cleaning his room, washing the dishes - the more his mind is taught ethical and moral behaviors. Now I'm not sure what your assumption may be when you ask why God would use man to destroy evil nations of other men, but if it were God himself doing the destroying, you'd still accuse him of destroying people, so whats your point? Either way, you'd accuse God. God wanted his army of soldiers (Israelites) to see first hand the results of sin and rebellion against God while performing their duty as solders. It taught the consequences of sin and the seriousness of living a life of righteousness and not one of murder, theft, sexual immorality and so forth. These men returned home to their families to teach their children the consequences of sin, ethical and moral values, and the benefits of following God's law rather then man's own irrational idea of what constitutes right living.
5)Why does a loving God enact so many instances of torture and suffering on his people if he is indeed omnipotent?
RESPONSE: God does not "enact" torture." In fact Adventist Christians have good biblical reasons to believe in annihilation rather then eternal torment. This is a separate issue however. God does however allow (not enact) suffering, simply because he has left us to the consequences of our own choices, which are what bring suffering about. Yet he has not left us without direction. He commands his law to us so that we could, through obedience and faith in him, not suffer the consequences of suffering (the result of violating law). Suffering in the meanwhile has its benefits of teaching is important moral and ethical lessons. The child will only suffer once after burning his hands on the stove (even after being told not to place his hands there). I guarantee he'll never touch the stove again. The saying is true, "all things work together for the greater good to them that Love God." -Romans 8:28.
6) Why does an all-powerful God need men to carry out his will in some instances? I.e., why are there so many instances of orders given out for the complete annihilation of groups of people using other groups of people?
This is ridiculously long lol!RESPONSE: Its ok to quote any one of these verses if you have a proper understanding of God's character and person. God's character includes love and justice at the same time, and he demonstrated this at the cross, where for the "love" of the world he sent his sin to satisfy the inevitable result of sin, death (justice). Consequently, God's love and sense of justice has its following results. Not obeying God's law has its results, just like not obeying man's law has its result. The reason why a judge feels it necessary to impose the death penalty on a person is both because the people this person hurt demand justice and because this person will only continue to commit those crimes. God is an even greater Judge, knowing the future more then any man. When God says he will destroy a man, it is because he continued transgressing his law, which will in effect continue to hurt himself, other people, and the person of God. But the mercy of God extends farther then that of a human Judge:
7) Why is context an issue when non-believers choose to quote scripture? For example it is okay to quote: “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.”. Bu...t not okay to quote: “15 Deuteronomy 6:15 (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.” or this one:Amos 3:6 “6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?” ( a personal favourite:).)
I am going to be kicked off Facebook lol!
Deu 5:10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
Mat 18:21-22 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven (seven in scripture symbolizes an eternal, completed number i.e creation ended on the 7th day).
Therefore yes God does punish, as would any father to his child, but it is our own willful disobedience to his laws that naturally brings this upon people, and must must protect all his children, even from other people.
Part IVRESPONSE: Nicole, I invite you to go to www.e-sword.net and download the free Hebrew/Greek Concordance of the KJV bible, that way you can study deeper into the original text of the scriptures. First off, note that the word translated "peace" is the Hebrew word "shalom" which means "safe." Now notice something important about this text. It is contrasting things. It contrasts light from darkness "I form light, and create darkness." Then it contrasts good from evil "I make peace and create evil." Its obvious that if your going to mention one thing and then mention its opposite, it must really be its opposite. For example, the opposite of man, is women, but it would be silly to say the opposite of man, is beast. Now if the word for "evil" meant "moral evil/sin" as you think it does, this wouldn't make sense, because the opposite of "safe" is not "moral evil/sin." The opposite of "safe" is "calamity, destruction, etc." In fact, the word translated "evil" is the Hebrew word "rah" and this same Hebrew word is found in Psalm 141:5, and here is translated "calamities" in your KJV. It's translated "distress" in 1 Samuel 29:7, and "grievous" in Proverbs 15:10.
8) It is said that all versions of the Bible are pure and holy, yet newer translations have cast doubt on the goodness of the King James Version (my favourite:)).
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” Isaiah 45:7
This differs from:
New International Version (©1984)
“I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.”
And more so from:
New Living Translation (©2007)
“I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.”
Now biblically, "rah" can't always mean "moral evil/sin." Take Proverbs 15:10 again for example. This words begins "Correction is grievous (rah)..." But of course, correction is not "moral evil/sin." It can however be grievous.
Contextually the verse is speaking of natural phenomenon. Note that light, darkness and peace (safety) are natural occurrences. Consequently, the fourth word in this list (rah) must also be speaking of natural occurrences, calamities. This verse is dealing with natural disasters and human comfort issues, not moral evil. This is consistent with other scriptures. Translating this word as such by other translations is only in keeping with the original meaning of the ancient text. There is no deception intended.