Last month I was having a free-for-all discussion with two very good friends I've known for years. These are the bits I could remember afterward. (Also, we were speaking in Chinese.)
Friend 1: I believe in reincarnation.
Me: So you don't believe in hell?
Friend 1: Yes, I do.
Me: No because if you do wrong you have countless lives to get it right, why would you ever go to hell?
Friend 2: No you go to hell when you die, then you come back as an animal.
Me: So hell is only temporary?
Friend 1: That's what I've never understood. How could you learn to do better if you come back as an animal?
Friend 2: Animals have their own "right way" that they are supposed to follow.
Friend 1: Why are you saying I can do all these good works and still go to hell [just because I'm not a christian]? It's not fair.
Me: It's a matter of authority. Who gets to define what good works are? God's just saying 1) let me define what true good is and what true bad is. And 2) let me tell you how to take care of your sin.*
* We had already talked about this in previous conversations: According to the Bible we were created for good works, so good works are only what we're supposed to be doing anyway, they can't make up for our lapses, anymore than you can tell a policeman "But look at all the traffic lights I didn't run!" or "I might have murdered, but I didn't steal!" It's not the good works that are the problem, it's the lapses if good works aren't allowed to cover for them. It's not for our good works but for our transgressions that Jesus came to be the solution.
And Jesus is not going to be the solution unless you accept his kingship, to tell you how to live your life after he saves you from death. I mean if you saved a murderer from death wouldn't you be sort of ticked off if he went back to murdering? It's easy to see this with a murderer but the least hint of crookedness presents the same problem to God.
We had also looked at the story of Cornelius. God saw all the good works he was doing, the alms he was giving to the poor, and sends an angel to ... tell him he's all right? No, to get him to send for Peter to come tell him how to be saved from his sins. Because it would have been a pity for Cornelius to go to hell after all his good works. It wasn't his good works Cornelius needed Jesus for, it was for his lapses. His good works weren't going to cover them.
Friend 1: People have freedom of choice. There are all these different religions and standards out there. Don't be offended, but when you choose a particular religion, you close yourself off to all the rest. You have to say everybody else's way is wrong. But people have free choice. Why do you have to be the only ones right? ....
Me: .... You can say 2 + 2 = 4 without it cutting into anybody's free choice. Will suddenly murdering someone for no reason at all EVER be right?
Friend 1: No.
Me: There you go. It's possible to have an absolute without doing violence to anyone's free choice.
Me: So you don't believe Jesus is God's only son?
Friend 2: I didn't say that. I believe he is.
Me: But you said you don't believe in a judgment. Jesus said there's going to be a judgment.
Friend 2: OK, maybe there will be a judgment.
Me: OK, then we need to ask this question: what standard is he going to use to judge us?
Here's the next conversation we had.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
(I realize this particular conversation did not address some rather pertinent questions - in random order off the top of my head:
Is Jesus the Son of God?
Does God exist?
Could we prove God exists?
Did God communicate with us?
Is there anything he wants to do?
Is the Bible completely accurate?
Is the Bible something man made up or God-inspired?
Did we evolve or was the universe created in seven literal days?
But we have or haven't discussed those things in the past and as it comes up in the future I hope to post about it.)
- ▼ 2011 (8)
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