Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Can anything good come out of you?

How do we answer the question, "Why are some atheists/secularists good and why are some believers not?"

I know that the Bible says that there are none good, no not one. I am not questioning if mankind is sinful. Of course we all are. I am just grappling with trying to figure out where morality comes from. Experience shows that those who believe in God are not more likely to "better people," than those who do not believe. I know atheists who are much more concerned about the poor and oppressed and downtrodden than their believing counterparts. Why? Shouldn't followers of Christ have more sensitivity to the needs around them than someone who believes very little about Jesus, much less trusted him for forgiveness?

I think we have made too little of human potential. And before I am accused of converting to a secular humanist, let me explain. Even though I am not a secular humanist I do think we've missed how much potential we have for good. And I don't think this contradicts Scripture. (However, I may have to edit this post after the responses)

I want to start by saying that even the best of our human potential will never be good enough to satisfy the holiness of God. We will always fall short of giving God glory. I want this to be understood from the outset. Faith in Jesus is the only way to be brought to the Father in forgiveness. Now that that is clear, let me proceed.

Humans have the potential for great good. But we will never be as good as possible. Humans also have the potential for great evil. And we can be as evil as possible. Mother Theresa was a good person but she could have been even better. Jeffrey Dahmer was an evil person, and while it can be argued he could have probably been worse, I think it is fair to say he went out of his way to do evil things. We could cite more examples, but hopefully this shows what I'm trying to say. The doctrine of the fall of man does not teach that man is as evil as he could be, but it did leave him the potential to delve deep into evil without some sort of constraint. On the other hand what the doctrine of the fall of man does teach is that man is prevented from ever being as good as he possible could.

We can still be and act "good," (just not good enough). We were created in the image of God. God is good. Therefore, we were created for good. Creation was very good. When man ate the fruit of the tree it was not the tree of the knowledge of evil, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When that fruit got into the human system, they could still do good, but now they also knew evil as well as good. This is why humans, whether believers or not, do have a lot of potential for good. But in the end, they will always fall short of perfection in good.

Relucant Warrior or King Disguised

In trying to understand more about Islam, I am reading through Islam An Introduction. My comments are not directed at the author, Rosalyn Rushbrook. But I am using her information as my source of knowledge for my understanding of Islam.

In the chapter on the PM, one finds him to be a somewhat likable fellow and even peace loving. But what stood out for me was how he's like the rest of us. When we feel threatened we tend to strike back, whether verbally or physically. He seemingly allowed peaceful coexistence of Jews and Muslims unless their community came under attack. In this case he had asked they all come together to fight the common enemy. "...he would have preferred it if he had been left in peace in Madinah, but sadly, the opposition from the Quraysh tribes continued and he was obliged to take part in sporadic warfare...[even if] only a few months." (pg16) "Jihad was...primarily for defensive reasons..." (pg17)

So PM was a relucant warrior. Sounds pretty noble. But what would have happened if he had been led to the slaughter as a lamb, not opening his mouth? What would have happened if he had taken insult and turned the other cheek? What would have happened if he had commended his spirit into the hands of God? What if he would have defeated death by dying and rising again in victory?

I would say that anyone who could do that would be a King, but maybe one in disguise.

Quran burning

I hate being behind in blogging. I miss opportunities like the Quran burning in Afghanistan and the desecration of graves of Christians and Jews in Libya.

So, I'll just add my two cents worth a bit late.

First, as I understand it there is a misconception about how non-Muslims view the Quran. From a Christian perspective one would tend to think the Bilbe is to Christianity as the Quran is to Islam. (Bible:Christianity, Quran:Islam).But actually the Quran is to Islam as Jesus is to Christianity (Quran:Islam, Jesus:Christianity). So, the burning of a Quran is a bit more inflammatory (pun intended) than someone burning a Bible. It would be similar, yet not to the degree, of the outrage felt by Christians when Andres Serrano submerged a crucifix in his own urine and took a photo of it. The Quran is seen as literally the word of Allah (God). In the same way, Jesus is seen as the word of God too (John 1:1 etc). So, as Rosalyn Rushbrook, a convert from Christianity to Islam, has stated in her book Islam An Introduction, "Muslims react strongly when they feel that the Quran has been treated with insult or disrespect." (p43)

And I guess "strongly react" means to kill and pillage. This is quite a contrast from what Jesus taught his disciples, which was to turn the other cheek when someone does something bad to you. Besides, the Word of God, Jesus, himself, was cursed, spit upon, beat to a pulp, mocked, a crown of thorns jammed on his head, and nails thrust through his hands and feet until he was dead. I think that kind of death is a bit more extreme than burning God's word, which by the way can be reprinted as a wise Islamic scholar said in the aftermath of the insurgence in Afghanistan.

And it seems an apology is not even good enough. It's unforgivable. On the other hand Jesus said blasphemy of the Son would be forgiven. Even he prayed from the cross for forgiveness for those who had put him on the cross saying they didn't know what they were doing. Is there no mercy in Islam, not even to those who may not know what they were doing?

Is this incident really a true picture of Islam or just an excuse to kill Americans?

And lastly, why were there no reports of Libyan Muslims being killed after the cemetery desecration of Christians and Jews?

I'm not saying the followers of Jesus have always been stellar examples of actually following Jesus. Of course, they haven't. But I am highlighting the difference between the two religions. And it is a stark difference.