Do We Really Have the Freedom to Choose?

(Sirje) #21

The penalty for sin comes as a natural consequence right here - right now. The idea that God mandates anyone to “suffer” pain for a certain period of time depending how sinful he/she has been is ridiculous. What kind of God would want that. That would be totally against what we’re to believe about God.

(Pagophilus) #22

I think this article is misguided. Yes, our environment shapes us but that does not take away our freedom of choice.

Oh, and the story of Ben - it shows that most Christians are hypocrites, and we would do far better making a clear distinction and identifying as Seventh-Day Adventist rather that trying to be accepted as fellow Christians. Muslims are right in seeing Christianity as tied to debauchery and a lack of standards. Go to a Muslim country and where do you find the alcohol? In the Christian quarter. Hypocrites. How do the women dress in the Christian quarter? Provocatively. What does the number 1 representative of Christianity have to show for itself? Hollywood, the music industry, and the porn industry, the three being closely related. Where is Christ and Him crucified? Where is love for your fellow man? Even Christian Americans don’t want a government-funded health system because they don’t want to pay for someone else’s healthcare. Hypocrites. All of them.

(jeremy) #23

i don’t think i’ll be surprised…both the bible and egw teach that the saved will include those who never knew the truth…the lake of fire is for those who’ve had opportunities to know the truth, but who rejected it…

well, the bible definitely teaches a commensurate lake of fire for those who receive the mark of the beast, and for those who aren’t in the book of life, and egw definitely teaches commensurate suffering in that lake of fire:

“If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of god, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” Rev 14:9-10.

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev 20:15.

“…And they were judged every man according to their works.” Rev 20:13.

“Some are destroyed as in a moment, while others suffer many days. All are punished “according to their deeds.” The sins of the righteous having been transferred to Satan, he is made to suffer not only for his own rebellion, but for all the sins which he has caused God’s people to commit. His punishment is to be far greater than that of those whom he has deceived. After all have perished who fell by his deceptions, he is still to live and suffer on.” GC:673.

fire and brimstone preaching was common at one time…and while this type of preaching has largely died down now, the texts that support it haven’t…it’s the inconvenient truth that’s definitely there for all to see…

(jeremy) #24

it’s amazing, but white evangelicals are squarely behind trump:

(Michael Wortman) #25

It would be a shallow person who had made it through the pearly gates and not be eternally tormented by the knowledge that a loved one who hadn’t made it through was being tormented eternally outside of the pearly gates.

(George Tichy) #26

This is unbelievable, people who claim to be Christians supporting an individual who is a total moral disaster. What kind of religion do they promote?

(jeremy) #27

eternal torture is definitely one of those beliefs that can harden people against the bible, no question…and the shocking thing is that it is possible to read phrases like “and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever”, Rev 14:11, in just that light…even phrases like “and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them”, Rev 20:13, can be read in a way that supports the idea of people going to hell when they die…

i saw an interview on FOX yesterday of a good-looking, well-coiffed young lady who was a christian fundamentalist on why she supported trump…i almost got the feeling that she admired trump for his affairs, and secretly wanted to have an affair with him…

i think what the world is coming to is a denial of reality and reason, which i suspect is what will be needed for the condition of things we read about in egw’s prophecies to actually exist…just in my lifetime i’ve seen remarkable changes in society…

(James J Londis) #29

The divine criteria for creating the community of saints at history’s end is a complete mystery to me, just as knowing who presently constitutes God’s people. There are whole peoples throughout history brutalized and enslaved, dehumanized in various ways. If what EGW says is “true,” many questions beg for answers. A lifetime of unimaginable suffering is all this child of God ever experiences? God has no better remedy than that? Does this assume that the character you have “developed” makes you fit for eternity; ergo, without a character they are not fit? Where is the love and righteousness of God? What bothers me about speculating on who will or will not be “saved” at the end is this: If only a small remnant make it (a decided minority of all those in history is implied), Jesus victory on the cross was “pyrrhic” at best. He wins the battle and loses the vast war to save every person possible.

A wise Christian woman once said to me (a social worker who dealt with broken human beings every day): “I believe that anyone who will enjoy heaven will be there.” Makes great sense to me and fills me with immense gratitude for the God who is love.


This discussion assumes the readers believe in a God who will be judging us, and seems to be concerned with the rules of the judging. The bigger question I find among my non-Adventist friends is why, if there is a God, and he is loving, does he allow so much evil and pain to continue. The idea of proving to inhabitants of other worlds what sin is about is ludicrous for even minimal intelligences. This single question of pain is THE issue against a God of love, and has created more agnostics and atheists than any other question. To continue to believe in him is both a matter of faith best based on an unprovable relationship with him, or insanity. Or both. So far, I am doing the faith thing, but it makes no sense to many others.

(jeremy) #32

when it comes to spiritual truth, i think we have to set aside our preconceptions, expectations and unavoidable biases, and conclude, to the best of our ability, only what can be supported by actual inspiration…there are things in the bible - less so, i think, in egw - that we simply don’t have enough information about, or enough ability, to fully make sense of…but even when we have information and ability, the times and mindset we’re living in now probably make accurate assessment difficult, if not impossible…

i think almost everyone wants a god that makes everything better in the end, but this santa claus fantasy requires shutting out much of the testimony of inspiration, such as a universal flood, sodom and gomorrah, israel’s slavery in egypt, the babylonian captivity, not to mention more modern events, like the centuries of papal persecution, WW2, the bosnian genocide, the rwandan genocide, and now the syrian genocide…and this is before we get to actual doctrines, like IJ and the lake of fire…

personally, i think we’re living in a time when the justice of god, and what that means, especially for a world steeped in original sin, has been perilously minimized…i believe most conceptions of god and heaven are caricaturish…they’re inventions of a sentimental, fallen mind, much like physical idols were anciently…so when we talk about who will be saved - “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”, 1Pet 4:18 - i think we have to be aware of what is affecting our conclusions, namely, a concept of god that has evolved over time that doesn’t square with the terrifying god of justice portrayed in both the bible and egw…

without a doubt, the second coming of christ, and the ushering in of heaven, is going to be unspeakably joyful for the few who at that time will have been living in dens and caves and crevices, with very little to eat or drink, and who will have been castigated as anti-god and anti-society, while being hunted to death for perhaps an extended period…

but the vast majority will be running for their lives, hiding wherever they can, or dying of heart attacks precipitated by overwhelming fear, or perishing through supernatural plagues - “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem: their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth”, Zech 14:12 - or taking their own lives any way they can…and that’s if they survive the seven last plagues that precede the second coming…

and after all of this, of course, comes the lake of fire…it’s all so horrific…i wouldn’t be surprised if people have nightmares about it…but somehow, our pastors and preachers need to take us to a place where all of this revelation can keep us realistic, and fully cognizant of what the stakes really are…and if they won’t, we have to do this for ourselves, all on our own…the last thing we want is to be living before the end of the world without the faintest clue of what’s coming, and what we need to be doing now before it’s too late…

(Elmer Cupino) #33

What’s your opinion on SDAs who do not believe in science yet make a living by having professions in the sciences like biology, pharmacology etc?

(Frankmer7) #34

The NT claims to present the ultimate revelation of God in Jesus of Nazareth, as the solution to the dilemma of this present age in which we live. Jesus, through his life, death, and resurrection, ushered the kingdom of God into this broken and divided world in which we now exist. His kingdom, in which all injustice, all oppression, all evil, all sickness, and suffering, and pain, will be swallowed up forever.

Yet, here we are, 2,000 years later. And, nothing has seemed to change. The pain, the loneliness, the oppression, and injustice just roll on. In this world and in our lives. This is what gives atheists and agnostics their strongest argument against the whole idea of faith in God. An argument that seems to cluster around two poles… either God has the power to stop the misery, but silently looks on while it continues unabated, or, he is not powerful enough to stop it, and sits by with his hands tied. Neither seems worthy of worship in the eyes of many people. And, the retort from Paul or the book of Job, that who are we to question God, leaves thinking people with the idea that the God of the bible is a despot or a dictator who won’t even engage with our deepest needs and concerns. Even as a believer, prayer can feel like this…where is God when it hurts? To many, it often seems nowhere to be found. The Psalms and Job often second this view.

Is there a satisfying answer to these arguments, other than tired, Christian platitudes? I don’t know. Based on my own experience, if Jesus is truly the revelation of God as a human being, I see a god who regards his creatures so highly, that he would come to share their experience in all its messiness. I see a god who came to heal, to uplift, to relieve, and to enlighten. I see a god who opposes the religious status quo that enriches some, but that keeps so many more in bondage. And, in the end, all of this put him on a cross. Jesus was crucified in weakness. He did nothing with the power that he had, and the authority he claimed, to override the choice of his contemporaries to reject him, to railroad him, and to put him to death. And even though he was raised in power, what does this say about God in relation to us and our free will? Now?

Maybe it says that the situation of dealing with human beings is very difficult…even for a powerful God. Maybe, it’s like herding cats. Maybe, this is why M.L. King spoke of the long arc of justice moving slowly and inexorably towards its culmination…not quickly. Maybe, there is truly much that we simply cannot grasp about the interaction of an all powerful God, with creatures who have some degree of autonomy, and within the complexity of a beautiful but distorted creation. A creation steeped in so many shades of grey, not black and white.

Now, we see through a glass but dimly. Then, we shall see face to face. Maybe these are still platitudes for many. Forgive me!



(George Tichy) #35

I can also voice my opinion if you want… :wink: :innocent:

(Elmer Cupino) #36

Please do. The more the merrier.

(George Tichy) #37

One word explains it all, easily: hypocrisy!


Your comment brought to mind some thoughts I believe about the punishment of the unsaved:

It is true that sin can be punished here and now but as the Psalms show, that is not always the case and oftentimes the wicked go on seemingly indefinitely prospering in their ways.

It’s not strange that God will vary the duration (and severity) of chastisement of each person based on what the person did with what they had the opportunity to know. Headstrong children need a firmer hand.
In Matthew 11, Jesus said, ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!’, ‘…it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.’ And of Capernaum He said, ‘for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.’
In speaking about His return and the judgment, Jesus said in Luke 12, ‘And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.’ Thus, the Bible speaks of varying levels of chastisement.
These verses are difficult for Adventist theology (I don’t remember them ever being discussed when I was an Adventist) because the Adventist view of the fate of the unsaved means that if one acknowledges them, we have a God who will raise up the unsaved, inflict some kind of punishment (without any hope of rehabilitation because he will) then annihilate them. Is there any sadistic human judge who would order this done to a criminal before his execution?

In Matthew 25:46, Jesus speaks of the goats on His left hand who didn’t fare well in the judgment. He says they will go away into ‘eternal punishment’. The Greek words for this are ’aionion kolasin’. The Greek word ‘aionios’ refers to an age or unknown (to us) length of time (and thus certainly not necessarily forever); the Greek word ‘kolasis’ was borrowed from agriculture and meant a pruning of a vine or bush to encourage new growth. Thus we have the discipline of wayward children by a loving Father rather than extermination (or worse, as some groups believe, unending torture) inflicted by an angry master.

Rev 14:10&11 speak of the unsaved being ‘tormented’ and the smoke of this torment rising ‘forever and ever’. Concerning the time frame, again, a variation of the Greek word ‘aionios’ is used. Only God knows how long it will take for each individual. The Greek word here translated as torment is ‘basanismos’ which comes from the word for a touchstone which was rubbed on metals to test their purity. Hence the purpose for this chastisement is to metaphorically burn off the dross and thus purify the sinner.

(Allen Shepherd) #39

I find it ironic that Matthew questions choice when he no longer lives in his native land. No choice?

I have two answers to such comments:

  1. God took responsibility for his ‘mistake’ and was punished on a cross. The death sentence. Surely an appropriate retribution for all the trouble he caused. And Revelation says he was slain from the very beginning, that is he died even then in anticipation. Eternal death in a way.
    So, you cannot say he did not get what he deserved.

  2. The quote Vandeman gives shows the reason for the tree in the garden. Without choice, there is no character development. An no possibility of love. Without choice, there is no love. Think of a young man who loves a young woman, but she does not return the feeling. If he captures her and forces her, does that make her love him? Usually results in contempt and hatred. She may even submit openly, but hate inwardly. Without the possibility of choice, real choice, there is no love. Can one learn to love when there was no choice? Yes. But it is second best at best. Real choice is a wonderful thing. I heard a man married for 50 plus years say, and he was quire wealthy, 'The best thing was she chose me"

A good book on this is “The Trial of Innocence” but La Coque. Very insightful.

Robin wishes she had not been born, as that would have been one result of God squashing the human experiment at the flood. I find such a position actually very funny and quite ironic. If it was so bad why has she not ended it instead of carrying on for the 80 plus years of her life? I mean, every day is just one more of horror. Maybe even a life full suffering is one worth living, flush toilets or no. WORTH living.

I remember meeting Africans with nothing, out in the bush, having wonderful campsite conversations with their loved ones and friends. The fellowship was sincere and heartfelt, with people speaking their minds about life and love. No toilets in sight, but just humans enjoying one another. it was wonderful.

If one read EGW, one finds that the Christian life is NOT a lifetime of unimaginable suffering., but one of victory to victory, even if imperfect. I have found that to do right, even when it is misunderstood, gives great satisfaction. There is pleasure in right doing, even if it brings suffering. And at the end there is no regret, as there are with other choices.

And God covers for the mistakes. Is there no truth in the Shepherd Psalm?

EGW had a dream after a woman came to her with a bucket full of troubles. In it she saw her, off the path in the garden, tangled in a thorny bush. The Gardener said, “Why are you off the path? The thorns will only sting and hurt you. Gather the flowers and the pinks, instead of fretting about the thorns and thistles.”

I guess it is a matter of the perspective we choose.

(Phillip Brantley) #40

It is helpful to understand what every lawyer understands, which is that there can be more than one proximate cause to an occurrence. A person’s will is not the sole cause of a choice but merely a proximate cause. Another proximate cause of the choice is the historical context. We are all historically conditioned, because we exist in time and space. Therefore, even though we possess free will our choices are necessarily historically conditioned. And even though are choices are historically conditioned, we still possess free will.

(Allen Shepherd) #41

I might add that Blacks voted for Obama in record high numbers, and percentages. Was that racism?

The answer I got to comments such as that one was that they supported his policies, and it was not racism. Could it be the same for the White Evangelicals?

(George Tichy) #42

Is it that difficult to recognize the difference between an honorable man and a pervert?