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Unread 09-16-2018, 11:06 AM   #1
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Bothersome issues

I initially started this by resurrecting Lee's old thread on "recurring sins" but started to diverge from the original point of the thread so I'm starting this one.

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Originally Posted by Leboman View Post
Is there a point where those recurring sins lead you down a path (for lack of a better analogy) to a hardened heart?

Is there ever a point where God goes, "You know what? I've had it."


I used to believe so. Now...I'm not sure. The more I study grace the more it blows me away. However, there are still passages where it talks about God hardening people's hearts (Exodus) and giving people over to their own lusts (Romans).
I'm assuming you were referencing Hebrews 6:4-6?

As I've been fairly transparent about, I've come to reject the notion that Jesus rose from the dead and have concluded that he was merely a well-meaning lunatic who was so influential that people actually believed him to the point of a whole religion being formed around him. This idea has played out in other religions as well so I am convinced that this is a perfectly reasonable explanation for why Christianity caught on.

I struggled with that Hebrews passage for a long time and I still hold to my idea of it despite the varying takes on it that I've heard. I personally think it means that if someone experienced the grace of baptism and the indwelling of the holy spirit and that conviction that leads to godliness, but then deliberately chose to walk away, nobody could bring them back, not even themselves. I do think there's a point where God says, "Yep, I've given you enough chances; you're done."

If so, though, how would that reconcile with God's desire that all would come to repentance and that none would perish? Repentance seems to be an ongoing lifestyle and not a one-time event, but for someone to abandon that lifestyle, would there then be no return? Would the ultimate rejection of Christ by concluding what I have concluded be considered as blasphemy of the holy spirit?

But what if Jesus DID rise from the dead? Either way, I am an apostate as far as Christianity is concerned. But if he did, then would that Hebrews passage infer that I am damned to hell for my own recalcitrance?

Sorry if this thread doesn't make any sense; I've just been contemplating a lot of things lately and this is one of them.

EDIT: Also, the title of this thread infers that there are other bothersome issues I have on my mind. There are. This is just where I'm starting.

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Unread 09-16-2018, 04:49 PM   #2
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I confess, the Hebrews passage wasn't the one on my mind at the time but I can see how it might be related. Another thing to throw in there is the whole concept of the "unforgivable sin" which is defined in Mark 3:28-30 as "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" and the nature of that is usually up for debate as well.

My understanding of the word "repent" in Greek is that it is "changing of one's mind" and it is not necessarily a one time thing. We are constantly learning and hopefully we are constantly letting the Spirit refine us. I am more convicted of some things now than I was twenty years ago. Likewise, I am less convicted of others.

I believe God meets us where we are. I don't believe we can attain perfection here in this life so sanctification is a process that is not completed until you either die or Jesus returns.

As for your personal situation, I can't answer it. I (unlike some) leave room for God's grace and mercy. I do believe that when we no longer feel convicted of things that are clearly sin then we are in dangerous territory. However, I also believe that are less things that are "clearly sin" than we like to admit.

Don't know if that makes any sense or not.
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Unread 09-18-2018, 08:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leboman View Post
I confess, the Hebrews passage wasn't the one on my mind at the time but I can see how it might be related. Another thing to throw in there is the whole concept of the "unforgivable sin" which is defined in Mark 3:28-30 as "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" and the nature of that is usually up for debate as well.

My understanding of the word "repent" in Greek is that it is "changing of one's mind" and it is not necessarily a one time thing. We are constantly learning and hopefully we are constantly letting the Spirit refine us. I am more convicted of some things now than I was twenty years ago. Likewise, I am less convicted of others.

I believe God meets us where we are. I don't believe we can attain perfection here in this life so sanctification is a process that is not completed until you either die or Jesus returns.

As for your personal situation, I can't answer it. I (unlike some) leave room for God's grace and mercy. I do believe that when we no longer feel convicted of things that are clearly sin then we are in dangerous territory. However, I also believe that are less things that are "clearly sin" than we like to admit.

Don't know if that makes any sense or not.
My understand of the Greek there would be the same; repentance would be a change in one's attitude toward their own actions.

Still, it seems to be a discrepancy; does God shut us out after a certain point, or merely leave us to our own devices in the hopes that maybe we'll turn around and come back to him on our own, while withdrawing the holy spirit from us? Or does the holy spirit always stay with someone, convicting them, even after they leave? Again, this is working within the idea that Jesus rose from the dead and his teachings are valid. I find myself feeling a sliver of guilt for certain things that I once thought were sin but now see as nothing. I've been passing that feeling off as residual religious guilt, sort of like how an abused individual develops irrational fears of certain things because of how they had been treated in the past (yes, I equate religious guilt with abuse). Still, more than a year after leaving the church, I'm reminding myself that certain things are 100% okay. Yet I wonder... because my mind always wonders... if there is something to what's happened in my life since I abandoned faith in Jesus (health issues, job issues, etc.), something more than mere coincidence. I still hold that the universe was designed, but reject the notion of Christianity; is my rejection really based on reason, or mere defiance? Sometimes it's hard to tell.
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Unread 09-18-2018, 01:32 PM   #4
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My understand of the Greek there would be the same; repentance would be a change in one's attitude toward their own actions.

Still, it seems to be a discrepancy; does God shut us out after a certain point, or merely leave us to our own devices in the hopes that maybe we'll turn around and come back to him on our own, while withdrawing the holy spirit from us? Or does the holy spirit always stay with someone, convicting them, even after they leave? Again, this is working within the idea that Jesus rose from the dead and his teachings are valid. I find myself feeling a sliver of guilt for certain things that I once thought were sin but now see as nothing. I've been passing that feeling off as residual religious guilt, sort of like how an abused individual develops irrational fears of certain things because of how they had been treated in the past (yes, I equate religious guilt with abuse). Still, more than a year after leaving the church, I'm reminding myself that certain things are 100% okay. Yet I wonder... because my mind always wonders... if there is something to what's happened in my life since I abandoned faith in Jesus (health issues, job issues, etc.), something more than mere coincidence. I still hold that the universe was designed, but reject the notion of Christianity; is my rejection really based on reason, or mere defiance? Sometimes it's hard to tell.
All equally good questions.

For the sake of clarity I should point out that I do not hold to the Reformed view. That is going to color how I interpret certain things. I believe that you can walk away and reject God's grace to the point that He withdraws it from you and leaves you to your own devices. Where and when that happens I can only speculate.

I would like to believe that some of these nagging feelings (for lack of a better phrase) are an indication that you have not reached that point yet. That's just me though.
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Unread 09-18-2018, 07:48 PM   #5
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I would like to believe that some of these nagging feelings (for lack of a better phrase) are an indication that you have not reached that point yet. That's just me though.
Me, too.
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Unread 09-19-2018, 09:45 AM   #6
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I recognize this is probably best answered elsewhere, but I do have a question. How do you reconcile the thought of the world having a designer with the thought of God? Are you more agnostic than anything and reject Christianity? Truly curious and probably just blew the entire thread open with that.
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Unread 09-19-2018, 09:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leboman View Post
All equally good questions.

For the sake of clarity I should point out that I do not hold to the Reformed view. That is going to color how I interpret certain things. I believe that you can walk away and reject God's grace to the point that He withdraws it from you and leaves you to your own devices. Where and when that happens I can only speculate.

I would like to believe that some of these nagging feelings (for lack of a better phrase) are an indication that you have not reached that point yet. That's just me though.
If there is such a point I'm sure beyond reasonable doubt that I would be far beyond it. I think those nagging feelings are mostly nostalgic guilt, most of my friends I met in college have become distant or utterly nonexistent since my decision to abandon the Jesus club. Part of me wants to return to what made us friends in the first place, but every ounce of my logic says no.
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Unread 09-19-2018, 01:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
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If there is such a point I'm sure beyond reasonable doubt that I would be far beyond it. I think those nagging feelings are mostly nostalgic guilt, most of my friends I met in college have become distant or utterly nonexistent since my decision to abandon the Jesus club. Part of me wants to return to what made us friends in the first place, but every ounce of my logic says no.
Maybe I'm just naive and maybe it's bad theology but I never give up on anyone.

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Unread 09-24-2018, 12:56 AM   #9
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It's a bit irritating that your friends abandoned you. It sucks to have nothing in common with people besides your faith.

I want to remind you of what I mentioned to you months ago, in another thread you started - namely, a quote from Dostoevsky's letter to the woman who gave him a copy of the Gospels before he went off to prison in Siberia.

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“I want to say to you, about myself, that I am a child of this age, a child of unfaith and scepticism, and probably (indeed I know it) shall remain so to the end of my life. How dreadfully has it tormented me (and torments me even now) this longing for faith, which is all the stronger for the proofs I have against it. And yet God gives me sometimes moments of perfect peace; in such moments I love and believe that I am loved; in such moments I have formulated my creed, wherein all is clear and holy to me. This creed is extremely simple; here it is: I believe that there is nothing lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic, more rational, more manly, and more perfect than the Saviour; I say to myself with jealous love that not only is there no one else like Him, but that there could be no one. I would even say more: If anyone could prove to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if the truth really did exclude Christ, I should prefer to stay with Christ and not with truth.”
Some months ago you, in the final post in this thread, were asked if there was anything you were doing in your life that might have provided an ulterior motive for wanting to find a reason to abandon the Gospel - as Johnny Rob so bluntly put it, 'who are you sleeping with?'. I think perhaps we see hints of that turmoil in your post now.

Ask yourself if your abandonment is really because you've arrived at the conclusion, independent of all other motivations, that the Resurrection never happened - or if there is some ulterior motive.
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Unread 09-24-2018, 05:28 PM   #10
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It's a bit irritating that your friends abandoned you. It sucks to have nothing in common with people besides your faith.

I want to remind you of what I mentioned to you months ago, in another thread you started - namely, a quote from Dostoevsky's letter to the woman who gave him a copy of the Gospels before he went off to prison in Siberia.



Some months ago you, in the final post in this thread, were asked if there was anything you were doing in your life that might have provided an ulterior motive for wanting to find a reason to abandon the Gospel - as Johnny Rob so bluntly put it, 'who are you sleeping with?'. I think perhaps we see hints of that turmoil in your post now.

Ask yourself if your abandonment is really because you've arrived at the conclusion, independent of all other motivations, that the Resurrection never happened - or if there is some ulterior motive.
I arrived at this conclusion in the classroom of the Bible college I went to - trust me, it was one reached independent of other motivations. I tried to convince myself that I was wrong and it was just normal doubt so I stuffed it and avoided the topic. But every time I would return to conversations about the resurrection (which, of course, would happen a lot in Christianity), I would think more and more about how impossible it was to prove and how thin a lot of the supporting evidence really was. The guilt I occasionally feel is something I find annoying, not inspiring. I know it's completely needless. I'm curious to hear what you think would be my ulterior motive.

Another thing I find immensely bothersome is that a friend of mine said he thinks my job and health issues were God trying to intervene in my life to bring me back to faith. First of all, it was utterly dismissive of what was going on in my life. Secondly, it was incredibly narrow-minded. It's annoyingly difficult to be friends with a Christian after you leave the faith.
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Unread 09-26-2018, 09:00 AM   #11
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It's annoyingly difficult to be friends with a Christian after you leave the faith.

Why do you think that is?

I have a lot of friends who aren't Christians. It doesn't seem to bother them or me.
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Unread 09-26-2018, 07:06 PM   #12
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Why do you think that is?

I have a lot of friends who aren't Christians. It doesn't seem to bother them or me.
Maybe our situations are different. I also apologize -- I didn't mean all Christians. Some of my friends from college will only talk to me in attempts to re-convert me to the faith I left. It's frustrating. I haven't had any problems with anybody here.
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Unread 09-27-2018, 08:56 AM   #13
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Maybe our situations are different. I also apologize -- I didn't mean all Christians. Some of my friends from college will only talk to me in attempts to re-convert me to the faith I left. It's frustrating. I haven't had any problems with anybody here.
I admit...I don't spend my time trying to convert my friends. I just try to be a friend. Maybe I'm a bad Christian.
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Unread 09-29-2018, 10:31 AM   #14
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I admit...I don't spend my time trying to convert my friends. I just try to be a friend. Maybe I'm a bad Christian.
I mean, by all means if the point of Christianity is faith in the resurrection being the deciding point of one's eternal fate, then a Christian should use their energy trying to convince people of what they believe. But the point of trying to convince someone who chose after long deliberation to reject that belief to return to it? Where is the point? To me, for someone who watched me walk away to try to convince me to return time and time again, regardless of me stating my reasons, is just disrespectful. It makes me wonder if the entire basis of those friendships was that faith. And for a friendship to hang on a single point like that, especially a point that constitutes a cosmic "maybe" is just... well... disheartening.
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Unread 09-29-2018, 02:46 PM   #15
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I mean, by all means if the point of Christianity is faith in the resurrection being the deciding point of one's eternal fate, then a Christian should use their energy trying to convince people of what they believe. But the point of trying to convince someone who chose after long deliberation to reject that belief to return to it? Where is the point? To me, for someone who watched me walk away to try to convince me to return time and time again, regardless of me stating my reasons, is just disrespectful. It makes me wonder if the entire basis of those friendships was that faith. And for a friendship to hang on a single point like that, especially a point that constitutes a cosmic "maybe" is just... well... disheartening.
I don't avoid talking to my friends about my faith. However, I don't use it as a means to evangelize them. I have friends who don't want to discuss it and I respect that. Doesn't mean I don't pray for them but I'm surely not gonna' beat them over the head with a Bible.
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