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Old 04-01-2013, 05:10 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 43,159,772 times
Reputation: 11862

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It's something I've struggled with most of my life. Jesus tells us to have faith, our pastor tells us to have faith, but sometimes we seem to be torn between belief and doubt, and sometimes feel the latter overpowering us at times. Sometimes, it just seems that some people are naturally more inclined to skepticism, or what we expected to believe is so implausible.

I just think it's so unfair to punish people for something that they can't help. After all doesn't the NT say that God chooses who he draws to himself? That those who have faith are ultimately just lucky?

If you have no faith at all, is there really much you can do? There are some who have tried desperately to have faith (this isn't Christian specific btw, Muslims, Jews.etc, those religions that emphasis faith and belief). What if your faith is insufficient to trust in the Lord? Is that just too bad? Some Christians think that some people can 'choose' not to believe, which I think is just ridiculous and proves their ignorance. Many Christians, such as myself, are just a lot more aware of it, yet our weak, sometimes seemingly non-existent faith makes us question whether we really are Christians or followers of Christ sometimes. I keep constantly praying for faith, probably don't read the Bible enough (ironically because I feel it damages my faith) but nothing seems to change. This, of course, doesn't help things. What would you recommend if I wanted to strengthen my faith? It's more than intellectual, it's something I feel at a deep level. I don't like the feeling of doubt, but perhaps I'm too afraid to confront the truth? It just leaves me with a feeling of emptiness. I'm going through a tough time in my life right now and I feel like I need faith more than ever, yet despair just seems to beget more doubt.

Just seems really unfair that God would punish people for unbelief, especially if they've tried to make an effort to seek him. It's different from believing and rejecting in most cases, imo.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:27 AM
 
34,508 posts, read 8,896,494 times
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This is perhaps related to the 'problem of Evil' package. The bit marked 'God made it that way in the first place - so why is he blaming us?'

The stock response is:'God gave us free Will - he wanted us to love him without coercion...hellfire-threat apart... ... and he wouldn't want robots.' Very well. That will do. But then why, if we decide that we can't love what we don't believe exists (let alone is not particularly cuddly anyway) are we punished for it?

So then we get the 'learning -curve' apologetics or 'you punish your kids when they do wrong - to educate them - because you love them.' Sure - but not by locking them in the basement and torturing them for the rest of their lives. And where is the 'learning curve' in eternal torment without remission for eternity? If there is a reduction of sentence for being Really Sorry, it isn't even hinted at in Bible or religion.

This is unacceptable and the only way out is to reject eternal torment, reject hellthreat or to reject the God -claim altogether.
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Old 04-01-2013, 09:01 AM
 
3,404 posts, read 4,140,228 times
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I like the question. If there is a god wouldn't he know anyway if you weren't honest with yourself and everyone else about what you really believe? Why pretend to believe in something without question? If freewill is given by god how can it be expected that everyone should come to the exact same answer to the same question? And then hand out eternal damnation to those that get it wrong. Considering the differences in people, that would be setting up a lot of us to fail from the beginning wouldn't it? I don't believe god would be like that. It's horrible. If there is a god, a superior being, I think he is better than this.
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Old 04-01-2013, 09:48 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
2,819 posts, read 2,766,490 times
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faith is a gift. if you do not have this gift, it is the fault of the Giver. You cannot try to do things to earn this gift. You either got it, or you dont. some would have you think that if you just, pray more, read more, study more, see more proof, more more more more of something just so you can come to a belief. If God has not given that gift to you at the moment, he will in the future. some dont have to see to believe, others, like thomas, will have to see and touch in order to believe. If you dont believe now, you will believe once you see Christ seated on His throne. You will then bow down and confess his as lord.
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Old 04-01-2013, 11:04 AM
 
Location: NY
8,996 posts, read 14,202,502 times
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It almost sounds like you have a faith in the judgement of God under Christian teachings, but not faith in the salvation given by God's Grace.

If you do not have faith in Jesus as savior, what gives you faith of the punishments for not having faith in Jesus?
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Old 04-01-2013, 12:37 PM
 
Location: Missouri
661 posts, read 1,030,155 times
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Great question, one I struggled with for many years. As a Jehovah's Witness, I was taught that the answer was to study more, pray more, make sure you attended all the meetings and regularly share in talking about your faith with others. If those things did not work, then something was wrong with you, because God could not be wrong. Any thorny questions such as how would I have even known who Jesus was if I had been born in the middle of China had to be suppressed and left to Jehovah to answer in his own time.

I think the key here is fear, fear of either being destroyed at Armageddon, as the JWs believe, or Hellfire. It prevents you from stepping outside your religious prison you have built for yourself and looking at the situation with logic and reason. It's control.

Once I threw off the shackles of fear, I was able to come to a place of peace in my mind, I was able to look at and address all those difficult questions and understand that they were a lot easier to answer without the inclusion of a contradictory God, who loves everybody so much that he gave his son for us, while at the same time threatens us all with eternal torture or death, according to what you believe.

I went through a very bad time, maybe similar to you, and I came out the other side of it an agnostic who knows that it is ok not to know, that no one really knows, and that if there is a Creator up there who sanctioned genocide in the Bible and had innocents killed and who created a place where a human being could be tortured forever and ever, He does NOT deserve my worship, whatever that means for my future. I believe that I was compromising my inmost principles and my integrity for most of my life and that was making me so unhappy. I finally got rid of those religious bonds a few years ago and have never felt more at peace with myself. I am where I was meant to be.

I hope you get to a better place whatever you choose to do.
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:14 PM
Status: "Amused by BF." (set 9 days ago)
 
Location: Ontario, Canada
23,316 posts, read 12,067,777 times
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There is no dire punishment awaiting a person without faith.

Don't worry about it.
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:40 PM
 
Location: Hyrule
8,401 posts, read 9,551,969 times
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Nope, nope and nope. No worries, as mentioned above by others. If it's true (burning in hell, shut out of the pearly gates) could you live with yourself knowing you helped damn half a nation in order to receive your gift? That's nuts, IMO.

People who can have the kind of faith, looking forward to what's described, are missing a few moral blocks, IMO. Be glad yours are intact and move away from their dictator mentality and their reasoning for faith. There are other more loving, free approaches to beliefs out there. I'm an atheist but I've see a lot of Theists that were gentle and kind about those lacking faith and it has no bearing on the here after. Choose one of them if you feel the need for religion in your life. IMO, of course.
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Old 04-01-2013, 02:25 PM
 
37,508 posts, read 25,238,629 times
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Default Can we really control how/little much we faith? If it's something we can't help why are we punished for having no faith

We aren't! We have a Father who is God . . . NOT a Godfather. The threats are man-made and use the Vito Corleone method of persuasion. It has nothing to do with God. The only faith we need is that there is a God, period. Our lives will reflect whether or not we do.
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Old 04-01-2013, 09:50 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 43,159,772 times
Reputation: 11862
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ringwielder View Post
Great question, one I struggled with for many years. As a Jehovah's Witness, I was taught that the answer was to study more, pray more, make sure you attended all the meetings and regularly share in talking about your faith with others. If those things did not work, then something was wrong with you, because God could not be wrong. Any thorny questions such as how would I have even known who Jesus was if I had been born in the middle of China had to be suppressed and left to Jehovah to answer in his own time.

I think the key here is fear, fear of either being destroyed at Armageddon, as the JWs believe, or Hellfire. It prevents you from stepping outside your religious prison you have built for yourself and looking at the situation with logic and reason. It's control.

Once I threw off the shackles of fear, I was able to come to a place of peace in my mind, I was able to look at and address all those difficult questions and understand that they were a lot easier to answer without the inclusion of a contradictory God, who loves everybody so much that he gave his son for us, while at the same time threatens us all with eternal torture or death, according to what you believe.

I went through a very bad time, maybe similar to you, and I came out the other side of it an agnostic who knows that it is ok not to know, that no one really knows, and that if there is a Creator up there who sanctioned genocide in the Bible and had innocents killed and who created a place where a human being could be tortured forever and ever, He does NOT deserve my worship, whatever that means for my future. I believe that I was compromising my inmost principles and my integrity for most of my life and that was making me so unhappy. I finally got rid of those religious bonds a few years ago and have never felt more at peace with myself. I am where I was meant to be.

I hope you get to a better place whatever you choose to do.
Yes that kind of crazy fear should have no place in genuine faith. At least the JW don't teach ET. I grew up believing people would be tormented in the lake of fire forever. Anyway, a loss of faith isn't comforting for me either because i'm deathly afraid there'll be nothing after this life. Some may say it's irrational, but I want to believe I'll continue somehow. Maybe it's part ego, but I do want to believe so much in Christ's promises. I mean I sorta still do, but over time it's like my faith has got eroded away ya know? Whether God will find me acceptable is something I worry about still.
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