Free Will - its scope and purpose

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by Tariki, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    Universalism presupposes that God will give second chances beyond the grave. I'd like to think God is fair in His judgement and will give consideration to those who are ignorant of His will or ignorant of Him for that matter. After all, life is relatively short as it is and not everyone even has a chance for a full life (assuming a 70 year average). One would think that with eternity at stake, there would be ample opportunity to "purchase their ticket and get into the stadium" as it were.

    The problem I have is that it is not so clear cut for people where to go to purchase that ticket. Or that there is any ticket to purchase. Or maybe they don't even know there is a game on. Or maybe they show up at the wrong stadium.

    Even among the different Christian denominations there are divers ways of getting there. And quite frankly us believers will bicker at one another whether our particular sect is exclusive to the other sects or at least believe that the other sects have it so detrimentally wrong that their chances of getting in are compromised by their doctines.

    For those who are in error, at least honestly so, believers in God (or Something) of whatever religion or sect, I'd like to think that God will better their education and then allow them to decide who they rather serve before dumping them off into the eternal abyss.

    Another thing is that many people go out hating God because of their circumstances. Maybe they were victims of abuse, or lost a loved one, or some other tragedy that has held them back from knowing who God is, perhaps blamming God for their misfortune. It's hard to blame people in these circumstances if one has not gone through the same. Many of these people have never known love, no one has shown them.

    I do not condone this Cho fellow that shortened the lives of so many at Virginia Tech, but he was obviously lonely and depressed, and not in the right mind. I have no idea what kind of love was offered in his home growing, but I suspect it wasn't much, if at all. There had to be some deep underlying root cause in the center of his soul that made him the way he was. It may have all been a physical mental problem, I dunno. Granted, he didn't seem to try to reach out to people who reached out to him, being so closed off and isolated toward people, but I wonder if somehow he felt he couldn't trust people enough to open himself up. He definitely had a persecution problem, as evident in the videos he took of himself. The point is that he was in a desperate and depressed state of mind that over the years boiled to the point that in his anger and rage drove him to this kind of action. It would have been better if he just took his own life instated of all the ones he took with him. But it is interesting to hear that some families of the victims have forgiven him anyway.

    I would love to believe in universalism. Problem is, is that there are those so bent against God that they probably won't be comfortable in worshipping God for eternity anyway. I have a feeling that even when everthing is crystal clear there will be those who will not choose to love God.

    Sorry for rambling on, just needed to get some things out.
     
  2. earl

    earl ?

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    If you had followed the link I provided to his interview, you would have seen him discussing his beliefs about Christianity. Unfortunately, as I said recently elsewhere, more's the pity that "lunamothian" Christianity is the small minority. Definitely not optimistic that the "Twain" shall ever meet among factions of christianity. But as i said, I'll have the consolation of knowing that a great religious scholar who recently wrote his first book exlusively about Christianity, "The Soul of Christianity," is in the same boat I am. earl
     
  3. Dor

    Dor Bible Thumper

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    Ok I missed that second link.
    I will still stand by what I said. Universalism, reincarnatiojn etc are unbiblical and it does not matter how many books you write. Benny Hinn has wrote books does not mean I want to be in the same boat. If they teach unbiblical stuff they should make up their own religion.
     
  4. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    They are making up their own religion.
     
  5. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    dondi,

    It's nice to read a ramble or two, and thanks for your honest appraisal of Universalism. I would just repeat that "eternity" is a long time and if the door never shuts from God's side (apart from a quote from the Bible followed by a particular interpretation of it, can anyone offer a reason why God would ever close the door on anyone at any particular time?)

    However, bringing in my own particular "buddhist" ideas, eternity for me is just a deeper dimension of time.......past, present and future are held in eternities embrace. The rose that with my mortal eye I see flowers in God throughout eternity

    and...

    ..the present has no extension but intensity Therefore it always sounds - and seems - perculiar to me that Christianity speaks of souls created at a point in time, and therefore having a "beginning", yet then become - and are - "eternal".

    Anyway, just picking up a point made by Quahom1 concerning all having fallen short of the glory of God. For me this links to the idea that our acts of righteousness are "filthy rags" in the sight of the Almighty...........if performed outside of Christ.( A hard saying indeed! ) I think any attempt to understand the Christian concept of "salvation" without the acceptance that all have fallen - and indeed, have all fallen short of the glory of God - will result in misunderstandings.................just as a failure to understand that all is suffering -yes, all, including a good meal and a pint of ale, not to mention sex! - will seriously compromise any attempt to understand the Buddhist teachings on "enlightenment". For me an act done self-consciously will always, in subtle ways, include the stain of self-righteousness, which will in turn cause us to separate ourselves from others in "judgement". For me, to live "in Christ" is to act spontaeneously, to be an "empty" vehicle for the love of God that embraces the world. Quite where "free will" goes I have no idea, except that it seems to play some sort of part in the build up.........

    The Christian mystic Meister Eckhart is sometimes seen as a "dharma brother" by Buddhists, and he has expressed this idea of emptiness/no-self in his sermon based upon the gospel verse.....Blessed are the poor in spirit. Eckhart speaks of the perfect poverty.....

    ........the great masters have said that we should be so free of all things and all works, both inner and outer, that we become the place where God can act. But now we put it differently. If it is the case that someone is free of all creatures, of God and of themselves, if God finds a place to act in them, then we say: as long as this exists in someone, they have not yet reached the ultimate poverty. For God does not intend there to be a place in someone where he can act, but if there is to be true poverty of spirit, someone must be so free of God and all his works that if God wishes to act in the soul he must himself be the place in which he can act, and this he is certainly willing to be. For if God finds us this poor, then God performs his own active work and we passively receive God in ourselves and God becomes the place of his work in us since God works within himself. In this poverty, we attain again the eternal being which we once enjoyed, which is ours now and shall be for ever.

    This sets limits to the "scope" of freewill............at least, something to reflect upon. For me it brings to mind the description given to the moment of "enlightenment" within the Buddhist (Theravada) faith, that it is a moment when.........effort falls away, having reached the end of its scope. And also sets limits to the Pure Land notion that our good deeds should be expressions of gratitude, yet as the Pure Land "saint" Saichi has said.....

    To be grateful is not faith confirmed;
    Nothing happening is nothing happening.
    To be grateful is a fraud -
    'Tis true, 'tis true!

    To say, "How grateful!" is a lie;
    The truth is: there is nothing the matter with one;
    And there is nothing more that makes one feel at home -
    Namu-amida-butsu! Namu-amida-butsu!


    :)

    P.S. And again I say, we are more chosen..........(than that we chose)

    Anyway, I have taken the liberty of rambling on like this because I am now taking a rest. I may well post on the Buddhist section, but that will be it for the time being. It may not seem so, but some of this dialogue and attempted mutual understanding really takes it out of me...........:(
     
  6. earl

    earl ?

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    Frankly Tariki I sadly have the same feelings about the impossibility or toll it takes out of one to attempt dialogue between more "liberal" or universalistic Christians and more "fundamental" ones.:( See ya around other boards.:) earl
     
  7. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    The whole precept of Christianity and Judiasm is what we do with that freewill. Do we use freewill selfishly, or do we give our will back to God and allow Him to conform us to His will. Even after one is "saved" we are constantly in that battle to hold that freewill up to God and say "use me for Your Purpose". Freewill is necessary if we are to show love. That's the difference between men and angels.
     
  8. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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  9. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Would it be too simplistic a concept to suggest that it is God's grace that freely offers us free will? Just thinking...and obviously not too deeply, I guess.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  10. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Or how about this? That it is also that same grace that lovingly guides us in our free will?
     
  11. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    May you come back as a wriggly little worm.:p

    s.
     
  12. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    Probably a bit of both. However, I'm wary of the word "grace' as used in some circles to mean "predestination". If you mean that though God is Just and has no obligation to save us, yet makes it available anyway, and that He prods those who desire to be under His guidance, then, yes, God is most gracious.
     
  13. Prober

    Prober Give Us This Day...

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    I like this sentiment and agree.

    Also, it seems, more often than not, that the liberal / conservative dialog brings out the negative qualities of the participants more than the positive ones. I suppose this is natural, but it leaves me confused and questioning...

    Thanks for the thread and many good posts.

    All the good thoughts,
    Mark
     
  14. cyberpi

    cyberpi Interfaith Forums

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    I would say one of the differences with Buddhism is that the 'Golden' rule is simply missing. The negative of it is there... an inhibitor or apathetic version. Essentially: Do NOT do unto others as you would have them NOT do unto you. Or: Do NOT Hate others as you would NOT have them Hate you. Or: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. (UdanaVarga 5:18)

    I would say that patience could be seen as obeying the inhibitor version. But it takes an active 'free will' to set up the mirror like comparison and to overcome or prevent the more instinctive cues. An act of will is taking place in forgiveness, mercy, patience, etc... Also, it likewise takes free will to pro-actively take the 'Golden' rule in its positive form. To DO for others. Is there a meditation that will teach that? I don't think so... unless a person meditates for someone else. I think the 'Golden Rule' is entirely missing in Buddhism. Maybe someone would disagree and teach me otherwise?
     
  15. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Hi cyberpi :)

    I'm wondering, too. Is there really that much difference between the two statements? Maybe it is the apparent absence of "proselytizing" in Buddhism to which you refer? Not arguing, just asking.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  16. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Hi,

    Er, well, Mahayana Buddhism I'm guessing, probably represents the largest proportion of "Buddhists" around the world and I just lifted this off the good old BBC site:

    The Bodhisattva
    Mahayana talks a great deal about the bodhisattva (the 'enlightenment being') as being the ideal way for a Buddhist to live.
    Anyone can embark on the bodhisattva path. This is a way of life, a way of selflessness; it is a deep wish for all beings, no matter who they are, to be liberated from suffering.
    The Boddhisattva Vow

    However innumerable sentient beings are, I vow to save them.

    However inexhaustible the defilements are, I vow to extinguish them.

    However immeasurable the dharmas are, I vow to master them.

    However incomparable enlightenment is, I vow to attain it.


    This seems a positive kind of thing to me overall...yes?​


    s.​
     
  17. cyberpi

    cyberpi Interfaith Forums

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    I would say so... I would definitely say that it takes free will to express a vow and to do each of those. But perhaps the golden rule version might be:

    However innumerable sentient beings are, I vow to save them as I wish them to vow to save me.
    However inexhaustible the defilements are, I vow to extinguish them as I would have others extinguish them.
    However immeasurable the dharmas are, I vow to master them as I would have others master them.
    However incomparable enlightenment is, I vow to attain it as I would have others attain it.

    Maybe more mirror-like?
     
  18. cyberpi

    cyberpi Interfaith Forums

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    Actually only the first one or two would fit the golden rule, since saying:

    "I will do for myself as I wish others to do for themselves." Like exercising, can also be expressed as:

    "I will not do for others as I wish them to not do for me." Again, the apathetic or inhibitive version.

    So it has to be for others:
    "I will do unto others as I would have them do unto me."

    How different are the two statements? Night and Day. One is to NOT do unto others and the other is to DO unto others. Which one requires a heartbeat? I consider Love to be a verb, don't you?
     
  19. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Oh, cyberpi--did you see me trying to log out? You knew I couldn't resist this one, didn't you? To tell you the honest truth from my heart--I really do most often think of "Love" as a noun. ;) :)

    I do have to get off the computer--I have some tests tomorrow. Hope I pass, or in this case--maybe I'd like to fail. Anyway--this is interesting reading. Hope I can return and read some more soon.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2007
  20. Prober

    Prober Give Us This Day...

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    Lvoe you anyway!:)
     

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