Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Post up on thoughts that are not related to the other forums in THEOLOGY.

Can a person who does not believe in God live a generally moral life by choice?

Yes
7
64%
No
2
18%
I am uncertain
2
18%
 
Total votes : 11

Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:37 am

Holy-Fool-P-Zombie wrote:
I rate this video interview very hightly :!: :D And Matt Slick did say something, to this effect - in the interview:

Some of these Presbyterian churches are very, very good. And some are very, very bad.


I suppose some of them are quite liberal.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:56 am

Paidion wrote:
Do you suppose that what you call "the God-inspired Scriptures" contain no contradictions or errors?


I'd be surprised if there were not a number of threads here that have already discussed this topic. Perhaps the search engine would reveal them?
There is certainly tons to be found on google & many websites that answer the questions you've asked & defending the doctrinal statements of this website, The Evangelical Universalist, which we are posting on:


Minimal Statement of Faith for Evangelical Universalists

We believe in one God always existing as three persons who are revealed as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe Christ remained fully divine while becoming fully human; that he ministered with teaching, prophecy, and miracles; that he died on a cross for our salvation from sin, resurrected from the dead, ascended to the heavenly dimensions, and poured out the Holy Spirit while establishing the church of saints to make disciples of all nations. We believe that Christ will return to judge the living and the dead."

We believe in the divine inspiration of the Old and New Testaments (the Bible) and consider them authoritative for Christian faith and practice.

We believe that Christ reconciles people by grace through faith.

We believe the Bible teaches the hope that God will eventually redeem all people through Christ.

Gregory MacDonald (Robin Parry) elaborates on beliefs of evangelical universalists (4/30/2008) Responses to evangelical objections to the orthodoxy of universalism:

So what do the "evangelical" universalists believe? Much the same as any other evangelical. They believe that God is triune and created the world ex nihilo; they believe that humans are created in this God's image; they believe that human rebellion separates us from God and deserves punishment; they accept the final authority of the Scriptures for matters of Christian faith; they believe that the Father sent his one and only Son as a human being (who did not cease to be divine) to live as our representative, to reveal the Father and to atone for our sins through his death on the cross; they believe that through his resurrection eternal life is available to those who trust in Christ; they believe in salvation by grace (not merit), through faith in Christ (not works); they believe in the return of Christ and the coming day of judgment; they even believe in hell!


viewtopic.php?f=41&t=57

Perhaps you and Davo would like to start your own threads in answer to the above "Minimal Statement of Faith for Evangelical Universalists" and come out of the closet with your own creedal statements :idea:

:D
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:04 pm

"The third point of common grace as adopted by the CRC pertains to “civic righteousness by the unregenerate.” This means that God, without renewing the heart, exercises such influence that even the unsaved man is enabled to perform good deeds toward his fellow man."

https://www.gotquestions.org/common-grace.html

"Bolt's treatment of the third point of common grace is surprising. The third point teaches that the unregenerated person is able to perform good works in the sphere of everyday earthly life in society. This is due to an operation of the Holy Spirit within him which, without renewing his heart, so influences his soul that good thoughts and desires produce good works. Hoeksema condemned the teaching as a denial of the biblical and confessional doctrine of total depravity. Louis Berkhof and other Christian Reformed theologians contended that the third point is a necessary defense of total depravity."

https://standardbearer.rfpa.org/article ... formulated

Herman Hoeksema: A Theological Biography
By Patrick Baskwell [p.275]

https://books.google.ca/books?id=pQcXAg ... &q&f=false
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby DaveB » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:56 pm

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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:10 pm

DaveB wrote:http://www.evangelicaluniversalist.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=7324&p=110024&hilit=creeds#p110024


Image

And let's NOT forget ALL the theological articles, related to Zombie theology and the Zombie Apocalypse. Like the one from the Patheos Evangelical newsletters:


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I FULLY believe all these right and left wing articles - flooding the Internet and airwaves...will trigger the Zombie Apocalypse. And I'll introduce Zombie theology and theology of the Zombie Apocalypse - to counter this trend. ;)

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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby DaveB » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:45 pm

GEE, Randy, the topic I linked to had nothing to do with lefty-righty or with zombies. You managed to bring both things in, though! :o
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:35 pm

DaveB wrote:GEE, Randy, the topic I linked to had nothing to do with lefty-righty or with zombies. You managed to bring both things in, though! :o


The topic is "Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?". I know what you linked to - Dave. I'm just focusing on our theological future. We can't discuss such a topic, without bringing up right wing articles, left wing articles and zombies. I'm sure I can find a way, to make it all fit together. Just like folks here manage, to fit all the biblical elements - into a unified theology. :lol:

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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby DaveB » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:47 pm

Ah.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby maintenanceman » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:33 pm

Okay, so if we look at this subject in a 'realistic' mode, And turn the paradigm view, why would we even question that a 'non believer' could live a moral life? Maybe we should be asking, why do we have to believe in Jesus to be a 'moral' person :shock:
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby DaveB » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:39 pm

One answer is this - that without Total Depravity (TD) the entire Calvinistic house of cards comes tumbling down. If that happens, the entire age-old fight between Arminians and Calvinists and others would evaporate. There would be less to fight about, and less to divide us. So, we need TD!!

Only half-joking there. TD is THE basis for the rest of TULIP; all the other so-called 'doctrines of grace' depend on and follow TD.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby maintenanceman » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:50 pm

DaveB wrote:One answer is this - that without Total Depravity (TD) the entire Calvinistic house of cards comes tumbling down. If that happens, the entire age-old fight between Arminians and Calvinists and others would evaporate. There would be less to fight about, and less to divide us. So, we need TD!!

Only half-joking there. TD is THE basis for the rest of TULIP; all the other so-called 'doctrines of grace' depend on and follow TD.


Well, you are right IMHO, but at some point we (who the hell are the we :shock: ) need to spread the news that God loves us... We are what we are created to be!!!!! He is God and kind of knows what is going on.... MAYBE :!: :lol:
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:14 pm

DaveB wrote:One answer is this - that without Total Depravity (TD) the entire Calvinistic house of cards comes tumbling down.


I've heard this said before, but can you prove it or provide a logical argument that is necessarily the case?

To begin, you'ld need to define Total Depravity. That could be a problem in itself. I've seen a number of different definitions.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby DaveB » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:21 pm

You can prove it by removing TD, and then re-assessing ULIP.
It's an excercise you can do yourself with a pencil and paper, just working through the results of removing TD - I spent a good little time a number of years ago doing it. It becomes apparent that hard logic demands that TD beginning point.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby maintenanceman » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:30 pm

DaveB wrote:You can prove it by removing TD, and then re-assessing ULIP.
It's an excercise you can do yourself with a pencil and paper, just working through the results of removing TD - I spent a good little time a number of years ago doing it. It becomes apparent that hard logic demands that TD beginning point.


That's kind of good... But what will that do to the Calvinist guard? How can he/we change that? :o
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby DaveB » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:34 pm

I'm somewhat slow today, Chad - could you re-state the question?
Really - I am slow today. :oops:
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby davo » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:34 pm

DaveB wrote:One answer is this - that without Total Depravity (TD) the entire Calvinistic house of cards comes tumbling down.

Pretty much Dave… however, those who are predestined to believe TD, inevitably will. :lol:

The reality is… the goodness of God has NEVER been restricted to religianity, which is WHY anyone so inclined “CAN choose to live a moral life”. Now IF such a one wants to make THAT their own badge of personal honour well good luck to them, but THAT of itself would just make them as *self-righteous* as the predestined churchified one who gazing down his snout musters up the humility (cough, cough) to declare… “God, I thank You that I am not like other men…”.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Paidion » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:38 pm

Origen, you wrote:Minimal Statement of Faith for Evangelical Universalists

We believe in one God always existing as three persons who are revealed as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
etc., etc., etc.


Why are you quoting that statement of faith? Is that answering any of the questions that have been raised? Or do you think we all have to subscribe to that statement of faith in order to declare ourselves to be "Evangelical Universalists" and thus separate the orthodox from the heretics?

No, this is the most open Christian forum that I have ever joined. It doesn't require members to subscribe to their statement of faith. It requires only that we share our various understandings in a manner that is respectful to others.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby maintenanceman » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:54 pm

davo said:
The reality is… the goodness of God has NEVER been restricted to religianity, which is WHY anyone so inclined “CAN choose to live a moral life”. Now IF such a one wants to make THAT their own badge of personal honour well good luck to them, but THAT of itself would just make them as *self-righteous* as the predestined churchified one who gazing down his snout musters up the humility (cough, cough) to declare… “God, I thank You that I am not like other men…”.


That is a great spin :lol: Image sorry I did not know the thumb was so big :lol: :lol:
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:35 pm

Paidion wrote:
Origen, you wrote:Minimal Statement of Faith for Evangelical Universalists

We believe in one God always existing as three persons who are revealed as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
etc., etc., etc.


Why are you quoting that statement of faith? Is that answering any of the questions that have been raised? Or do you think we all have to subscribe to that statement of faith in order to declare ourselves to be "Evangelical Universalists" and thus separate the orthodox from the heretics?

No, this is the most open Christian forum that I have ever joined. It doesn't require members to subscribe to their statement of faith. It requires only that we share our various understandings in a manner that is respectful to others.


Why not quote it. No, it didn't answer your questions, but i suggested to you where you could find answers, if the subject interests you. I have no interest in arguing about or discussing the topic. If i did, i would have probably found threads on the topic & posted there. It is not the topic of this thread. True, this is a very open forum. I think all the regular posters here are aware of that. As such there are no obligations to answer another member's queries.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:44 pm

qaz wrote:
Origen; wrote:
qaz wrote:If an unbeliever offers a cup of water to a thirsty person, is his action evil? If he buys a meal for a hungry person is it evil? I think not.


Generally speaking actions are neither good or evil. They're neutral. The Satan & demon possessed can do just about any action a Christian can.

The more significant question is, what is the motive & spirit behind actions. For God looks on the heart.

For example, in one of the Clint Eastwood Westerns he (Blondie) is dying of thirst in the desert. Chico offers him water from a purely selfish motive, i.e. filthy lucre.

There are many other evil motives as to why the wicked do outwardly superficial (pharisaical) good deeds. Motives they may not be aware of because they lack knowledge of what's in their own hearts & are decieved.

Acts 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those sanctified by faith in Me.’

Mt.7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

Jn.3:19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

Jn.7:7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me, because I testify that its works are evil.

Mt.12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.

Eph.2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Eph.5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on the sons of disobedience.

Col.1:21 You, being in past times alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works,

Isa.9:17 Therefore the Lord does not take pleasure in their young men, Nor does He have pity on their orphans or their widows; For every one of them is godless and an evildoer, And every mouth is speaking foolishness

Jn.2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.


Is it impossible for an unbeliever to feed a hungry person for altruistic reasons?


Here's one opinion re Calvinism & altruism:

"Total depravity does not mean that people have lost part of their humanity or are ontologically deteriorated. Just as Adam and Eve were created with the ability to not sin, people retain that essential ability to either sin or not sin, even though some properties of their humanity are corrupted.[17] It also does not mean that people are as evil as possible. Rather, it means that even the good which a person may intend is faulty in its premise, false in its motive, and weak in its implementation; and there is no mere refinement of natural capacities that can correct this condition. Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise. All good, consequently, is derived from God alone, and in no way through humanity.[18]"

"...It is important to understand the scope of the "total depravity" of humanity in order to understand the Calvinist-Arminian debate. As noted, both views embrace total depravity; it is a question of the action which they believe God must take to reach humanity in its fallen and depraved state. May God grant to humanity the grace to respond to God's offer of salvation, so that all may believe (as Arminius taught)? Or must God's grace be irresistible in order to reach humanity (as Calvin taught), so that it is impossible for anyone to be saved unless God first extends to them His irresistible grace? Stated in this manner, there is no substantial difference in total depravity as embraced by Calvinists and Arminians; both agree that humanity is in a state of depravity which prevents them from responding to God. Rather, the two groups have a different belief in the grace which God extended to humanity in response to total depravity. Calvin taught Irresistible Grace; Arminius taught Prevenient Grace."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_depravity
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:48 pm

DaveB wrote:You can prove it by removing TD, and then re-assessing ULIP.
It's an excercise you can do yourself with a pencil and paper, just working through the results of removing TD - I spent a good little time a number of years ago doing it. It becomes apparent that hard logic demands that TD beginning point.



How do you define Total Depravity?
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby DaveB » Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:55 pm

Read the Westminster Creed, taking notes as you go, and it becomes clear what the 'divines' meant by TD. I use that as my working definition.

The question in the OP is answered easily by empirical means - be around people and watch. The only way to question that clear and distinct experience of people is a plea of special knowledge of some sort - either psychoanalytic theory or misinterpreted (imo) scriptures - and by that of course I mean TD - a theory that, for some, overrides what is plainly observable.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby maintenanceman » Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:01 pm

Origen said:
Here's one opinion re Calvinism & altruism:

"Total depravity does not mean that people have lost part of their humanity or are ontologically deteriorated. Just as Adam and Eve were created with the ability to not sin, people retain that essential ability to either sin or not sin, even though some properties of their humanity are corrupted.[17] It also does not mean that people are as evil as possible. Rather, it means that even the good which a person may intend is faulty in its premise, false in its motive, and weak in its implementation; and there is no mere refinement of natural capacities that can correct this condition. Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise. All good, consequently, is derived from God alone, and in no way through humanity.[18]"


The point you quoted "Just as Adam and Eve were created with the ability to not sin, people retain that essential ability to either sin or not sin,"

How is that not free will?
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:22 pm

DaveB wrote:Read the Westminster Creed, taking notes as you go, and it becomes clear what the 'divines' meant by TD. I use that as my working definition.



This writer goes even further than you did:

First, let's take a look at some of the historic points of Calvinism, but as we do, don't forget this quote below:

"The five points which identify Calvin's teaching (commonly called "TULIP") are like dominoes; they stand or fall together. If a person claims to be a One-Point (Total Depravity) Calvinist, if he believes the doctrine taught as Calvin taught it, then the person must accept the other four points."

Similarly, if you can prove any of the points of Calvinism wrong, than the whole belief system comes tumbling down like a house of cards. So let's take a look at some Calvinistic teachings and what the Bible has to say about them.


http://shapedbytruth-news.blogspot.ca/2012/02/?m=0

And yet there are those who claim to be 4 point Calvinists.

Four-point Calvinism (the official position of Got Questions Ministries):

https://www.gotquestions.org/arminianism.html
https://www.gotquestions.org/Amyraldism.html

So who's wrong? The author above, or the 4 pointers?
Last edited by Origen; on Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:26 pm

maintenanceman wrote:Origen said:
Here's one opinion re Calvinism & altruism:

"Total depravity does not mean that people have lost part of their humanity or are ontologically deteriorated. Just as Adam and Eve were created with the ability to not sin, people retain that essential ability to either sin or not sin, even though some properties of their humanity are corrupted.[17] It also does not mean that people are as evil as possible. Rather, it means that even the good which a person may intend is faulty in its premise, false in its motive, and weak in its implementation; and there is no mere refinement of natural capacities that can correct this condition. Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise. All good, consequently, is derived from God alone, and in no way through humanity.[18]"


The point you quoted "Just as Adam and Eve were created with the ability to not sin, people retain that essential ability to either sin or not sin,"

How is that not free will?


Good question. I'd like to know the answer, too.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby qaz » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:18 pm

DaveB wrote:Read the Westminster Creed, taking notes as you go, and it becomes clear what the 'divines' meant by TD. I use that as my working definition.

The question in the OP is answered easily by empirical means - be around people and watch. The only way to question that clear and distinct experience of people is a plea of special knowledge of some sort - either psychoanalytic theory or misinterpreted (imo) scriptures - and by that of course I mean TD - a theory that, for some, overrides what is plainly observable.


Terrific post, DaveB.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby maintenanceman » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:26 pm

:o
Origen; wrote:
maintenanceman wrote:Origen said:
Here's one opinion re Calvinism & altruism:

"Total depravity does not mean that people have lost part of their humanity or are ontologically deteriorated. Just as Adam and Eve were created with the ability to not sin, people retain that essential ability to either sin or not sin, even though some properties of their humanity are corrupted.[17] It also does not mean that people are as evil as possible. Rather, it means that even the good which a person may intend is faulty in its premise, false in its motive, and weak in its implementation; and there is no mere refinement of natural capacities that can correct this condition. Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise. All good, consequently, is derived from God alone, and in no way through humanity.[18]"


The point you quoted "Just as Adam and Eve were created with the ability to not sin, people retain that essential ability to either sin or not sin,"

How is that not free will?


Good question. I'd like to know the answer, too.

My friend, you seem to be taking on all comers... Tough position to be in, there are many good folks here who have some interesting views And a few Iron clad oppositions... :o Maybe you can at least take what they say and give them a consideration :lol:
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:47 pm

DaveB wrote:The question in the OP is answered easily by empirical means - be around people and watch. The only way to question that clear and distinct experience of people is a plea of special knowledge of some sort - either psychoanalytic theory or misinterpreted (imo) scriptures - and by that of course I mean TD - a theory that, for some, overrides what is plainly observable.


Amongst a list of other requirements for a "moral life" the OP spoke of one who "respects other people rather than feeling superior to them".

Unless you have God insights, you can't know that (what their soul is feeling) while observing people's superficial exterior.

IMO it's unlikely anyone as described in the OP lives an entire life (say 90 years) up to the very high standard (for an unbeliever) described there, including never once thinking or feeling superior to anyone, no matter how wicked. So, in that sense, even if Total Depravity were a false teaching, my answer to the thread title question is probably "no".

"We all stumble in many ways." (James 3:2a)
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby LLC » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:09 am

Origen; wrote: Rather, it means that even the good which a person may intend is faulty in its premise, false in its motive, and weak in its implementation; and there is no mere refinement of natural capacities that can correct this condition. Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise. All good, consequently, is derived from God alone, and in no way through humanity.[18]"


Isn't this what the self righteous said about Jesus? He couldn't possibly be a Son of God, Him being the son of a carpenter. However, Jesus says this: John 10:37-38 "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe me, but if I do them tough you do not believe Me, believe the works so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I in the Father." John 14:12 "He that believes in Me, the works that I do shall He do also."
Yes, God works through man as 1 Cor. 12:16 says "There are different ways of working, but the same God works all things in all men." God is even in sinners and unbelievers.
Ephesians 4:6 "One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

1Cor. 6:19 "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God."

Psalm 139:7-8 "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there. If I make my bed in the depths, You are there." Verses 11-12 "If I say "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to You."

Exodus20:21 "The people stood far off while Moses drew near to the darkness where God was."
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby davo » Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:31 am

Origen; wrote:Rather, it means that even the good which a person may intend is faulty in its premise, false in its motive, and weak in its implementation; and there is no mere refinement of natural capacities that can correct this condition. Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise. All good, consequently, is derived from God alone, and in no way through humanity.[18]"

What absolute unproven and unsubstantiated twaddle! This same writer also has this to say…
Ra McLaughlin wrote:"Total Depravity, part 1". Reformed Perspectives. Retrieved 2008-07-14. "[Any person] can do outwardly good works, but these works come from a heart that hates God, and therefore fail to meet God’s righteous standards."

HOW does this clown know…these works come from a heart that hates God” — again HOW can he know this and on WHAT basis does he make such a wildly presumptuous and judgemental claim? Unbelievable!
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Sat Oct 14, 2017 3:41 am

First, a word from our sponsor. :lol:

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Let's start off with a joke. Like TV evangelist Joel Osteen does - before his TV show commences.

From http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2008/12/the-very-practical-doctrine-of-total-depravity/

There’s an old 19th-century American joke about the woman who, when asked what she thought of the doctrine of total depravity, replied that it was “a very good doctrine if people would only live up to it”.1
:lol:

And now - for our opening act...A real Zombie, singing the Calvinist TULIP song at https://youtu.be/sSXiLVsq0cI :lol:

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And now it's time - for the new hit single. From our feature presentation - the main musical act. Let's give a big hand to the group, Depraved To The Core. Released from their hit album: Total Depravity - It's Like That :lol:

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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby qaz » Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:06 am

Origen quoted this:
Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise.


How do you know this? Do total depravity subscribers have a 6th sense that lets them read minds?
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Paidion » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:19 am

Origen, you wrote:Why not quote it [the Evangelical Universalist Statement of Faith]. No, it didn't answer your questions, but i suggested to you where you could find answers.


WHAT!!! You think I can find answers in a statement of faith?
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Paidion » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:28 am

Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise.


How can the act of giving one' s life to save the life of another be construed to be egoistical in nature? The one who carries out such an act won't be alive to enjoy anyone's admiration.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:50 am

Paidion wrote:
Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise.


How can the act of giving one' s life to save the life of another be construed to be egoistical in nature? The one who carries out such an act won't be alive to enjoy anyone's admiration.


Does every Christian who tries to implement these Bible verses - act out of ego?


And if so, why does God even want these, included in the Bible?

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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby LLC » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:36 am

davo wrote:HOW does this clown know… “these works come from a heart that hates God” — again HOW can he know this and on WHAT basis does he make such a wildly presumptuous and judgemental claim? Unbelievable!


I agree. Even the mafia man is able show Godly love towards his son as Jesus says in Matthew 7:11"So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children......." The problem is, the mafia guy just doesn't extend that love to other people.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:16 am

LLC wrote:The problem is, the mafia guy just doesn't extend that love to other people.


The mafia guy normally guarantees folks he hires - a job for "life". Think about it. :lol:

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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:18 am

qaz wrote:Origen quoted this:
Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise.


How do you know this? Do total depravity subscribers have a 6th sense that lets them read minds?


Those who believe in Total Depravity, both Arminians & Calvinists, base this upon the Bible.

It applies to those who are not saved by Christ, i.e. not born again, not filled with His Spirit, dead in their sins, loving darkness & hating the Light.

They would say it logically & necessarily follows from the Scriptures, some of which have already been posted in this thread.

1 Cor.13:3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Cor.11:14)
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:24 am

Paidion wrote:
Origen, you wrote:Why not quote it [the Evangelical Universalist Statement of Faith]. No, it didn't answer your questions, but i suggested to you where you could find answers.


WHAT!!! You think I can find answers in a statement of faith?


No, as stated to you already (& i quote myself):

"I'd be surprised if there were not a number of threads here that have already discussed this topic. Perhaps the search engine would reveal them?
There is certainly tons to be found on google & many websites that answer the questions you've asked"
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:46 am

Paidion wrote:
Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise.


How can the act of giving one' s life to save the life of another be construed to be egoistical in nature? The one who carries out such an act won't be alive to enjoy anyone's admiration.


They could be expecting God's admiration or that of others in the afterlife, as well as thinking of those in this world admiring them. If it isn't from egotism another ungodly motive or spirit (e.g. demons) may be involved. See 1 Cor.13:1-3; 2 Cor.11:14. Or, for His purposes, God may be interested in saving certain people's lives, & by His power uses another person to do so, like He used a donkey to speak human words.

Soldiers go to war to die for their country. They may volunteer. If they survive they may be considered heroes. People may praise them for their sacrifice.

Suicide bombers don't generally live after their bomb goes off. Why do they do it? For the glory of Allah? For the reward in the afterlife? They may think their motives are pure & righteous. But they are deceived. And enemies of God.

Rom.5:6For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby qaz » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:02 pm

Origen; wrote:
qaz wrote:Origen quoted this:
Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise.


How do you know this? Do total depravity subscribers have a 6th sense that lets them read minds?


Those who believe in Total Depravity, both Arminians & Calvinists, base this upon the Bible.

It applies to those who are not saved by Christ, i.e. not born again, not filled with His Spirit, dead in their sins, loving darkness & hating the Light.

They would say it logically & necessarily follows from the Scriptures, some of which have already been posted in this thread.

1 Cor.13:3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Cor.11:14)


Where does the Bible say an unbeliever can only do ostensibly good deeds for egoistic reasons?
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:43 pm

qaz wrote:
Where does the Bible say an unbeliever can only do ostensibly good deeds for egoistic reasons?


Whether for egoistic or other ungodly motives deep in their heart that they may not even be aware of, this is based on the Scriptures that are used by Arminians to support Total Depravity or the Scriptures understood in favour of TULIP, as given at sites such as:

https://carm.org/what-is-tulip-in-calvinism

http://traviscarden.com/total-depravity-verse-list

https://www.monergism.com/topics/total-depravity-man
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby davo » Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:19 pm

Origen; wrote:
qaz wrote:Where does the Bible say an unbeliever can only do ostensibly good deeds for egoistic reasons?


Whether for egoistic or other ungodly motives deep in their heart that they may not even be aware of, this is based on the Scriptures that are used by Arminians to support Total Depravity or the Scriptures understood in favour of TULIP, as given at sites such as:

https://carm.org/what-is-tulip-in-calvinism

http://traviscarden.com/total-depravity-verse-list

https://www.monergism.com/topics/total-depravity-man

It’s clear Origen your position is skating on thin ice when you seek to now dovetail “Arminians” into your support of TD, which by its very nature is wholly ‘the doctrine’ of Calvin, NOT Arminianism. No one argues with regards to possible degrees of moral degradation, BUT the Calvinist position that you peddle of “totality” is false.

Not only is that false but likewise the impression you seek by sleight of hand to give… those three links above are all Calvinist, NONE Arminian. I’m not defending Arminianism, yet I’ve seen how conveniently vague some of your responses are getting where you seek to spread the load of opaqueness in your answers… as per your nuanced 3rd person “they” when referring to Calvinists, instead of just owning your own Calvinistic opinion. Or the increase in your “they could” or “they might” or “may be” language of the same — IMO, like TD… it’s a farce.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:48 pm

davo wrote:It’s clear Origen your position is skating on thin ice when you seek to now dovetail “Arminians” into your support of TD, which by its very nature is wholly ‘the doctrine’ of Calvin, NOT Arminianism. No one argues with regards to possible degrees of moral degradation, BUT the Calvinist position that you peddle of “totality” is false.

Not only is that false but likewise the impression you seek by sleight of hand to give… those three links above are all Calvinist, NONE Arminian.


Do you not agree with this quote which i posted on this same forum page the other day:

"...It is important to understand the scope of the "total depravity" of humanity in order to understand the Calvinist-Arminian debate. As noted, both views embrace total depravity; it is a question of the action which they believe God must take to reach humanity in its fallen and depraved state. May God grant to humanity the grace to respond to God's offer of salvation, so that all may believe (as Arminius taught)? Or must God's grace be irresistible in order to reach humanity (as Calvin taught), so that it is impossible for anyone to be saved unless God first extends to them His irresistible grace? Stated in this manner, there is no substantial difference in total depravity as embraced by Calvinists and Arminians; both agree that humanity is in a state of depravity which prevents them from responding to God. Rather, the two groups have a different belief in the grace which God extended to humanity in response to total depravity. Calvin taught Irresistible Grace; Arminius taught Prevenient Grace."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_depravity

How depraved is fallen man in your estimation? Is it 25%, 50%, 75%? What percentage would you say it is in the Calvi-Arminian view?
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:08 pm

Definition of Total Depravity

"Arminians thus wholeheartedly affirm the following definition put forth by Calvinist Charles Ryrie:"

" “BECAUSE of the effects of the fall, that original relationship of fellowship with God was broken and man’s entire nature was polluted. As a result no one can do anything, even good things, that can gain soteriological merit in God’s sight. Therefore, we may concisely define total depravity as the unmeritoriousness of man before God because of the corruption of original sin."

"The concept of total depravity does not mean (1) that depraved people cannot or do not perform actions that are good in either man’s or God’s sight. But no such action can gain favor with God for salvation. Neither does it mean (2) that fallen man has no conscience which judges between good and evil for him. But that conscience has been affected by the fall so that it cannot be a safe and reliable guide. Neither does it mean (3) that people indulge in every form of sin or in any sin to the greatest extent possible."

"Positively, total depravity means that the corruption has extended to all aspects of man’s nature, to his entire being; and total depravity means that because of that corruption there is nothing man can do to merit saving favor with God.” 14 "

https://arminiantheologyblog.wordpress. ... depravity/
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:15 pm

This is a debate between a Catholic & James White re freewill & related topics, e.g. TULIP. The Catholic states that every point of the TULIP, including Total Depravity (or Inability), rests on freewill. These two scholars both know their subject well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNuChQUsIMU&t=11s
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby DaveB » Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:16 pm

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby davo » Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:06 pm

Origen; wrote:
wikipedia wrote:
Stated in this manner, there is no substantial difference in total depravity as embraced by Calvinists and Arminians; both agree that humanity is in a state of depravity which prevents them from responding to God.

Well thanks for that clarification… I can categorically state I’m neither Calvinist nor Arminian. Humanity is able to respond to God BY VIRTUE OF Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6b) wherein the grace of God was wrought for all (Jn 1:14b)… IOW Jesus was the means by which humanity has been reconciled to God. Knowledge of and subsequent acknowledgment of by way of confession does NOT create this reality, i.e., it already is.

Confession and faith do not establish it but rather tap into to it in terms of service to God, aka “election” — something Calvin, in particular, erred in by dragging it out of the biblical context linking it to postmortem realities of apparent ‘heaven or hell’ instead of the antemortem reality of SERVICE to God. Some were called into the service of God, most weren’t. Those that were, were so ON BEHALF OF or for the benefit of the whole. That’s the biblical pattern of “the firstfruits” sanctifying the whole — the very thing Jesus and the apostles did ON BEHALF OF Israel (and those gentiles called into that ministry, as per the NT) which in consequence then led to the ultimate reconciling of the rest of the world.
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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby Origen; » Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:49 pm

Total Depravity

"It is advocated to various degrees by many Protestant confessions of faith and catechisms, including those of some Lutheran synods,[1][2] and Calvinism.[3][4][5][6] Arminians, such as Methodists, believe and teach total depravity, but with distinct differences.[7][8]"

"...During the Protestant Reformation, the Reformers took Scotus's position to be the Catholic position and argued that it made sin only a defect or privation of righteousness rather than an inclination toward evil. Martin Luther, John Calvin and other Reformers used the term "total depravity" to articulate what they claimed to be the Augustinian view that sin corrupts the entire human nature.[11] This did not, however, mean the loss of the imago Dei (image of God)."

"...John Calvin used terms like "total depravity" to mean that, despite the ability of people to outwardly uphold the law, there remained an inward distortion which makes all human actions displeasing to God, whether or not they are outwardly good or bad.[12] Even after regeneration, every human action is mixed with evil.[13] Later Calvinist theologians were agreed on this, but the language of the Canons of Dort as well as the 17th-century Reformed theologians which followed it did not repeat the language of "total depravity", and arguably offer a more moderate view on the state of fallen humanity than Calvin.[12]"

"...Some Reformed theologians have mistakenly used the term "Arminianism" to include some who hold the Semipelagian doctrine of limited depravity, which allows for an "island of righteousness" in human hearts that is uncorrupted by sin and able to accept God's offer of salvation without a special dispensation of grace.[15]"

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Re: Can a Non-Believer Live a Moral Life?

Postby DaveB » Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:57 pm

This is the argument against TD and Calvinism. Channing, 1809.
I've shortened it but it is still long.


To return; the principal argument
against Calvinism, in the General View of Christian Doctrines, is the moral
argument, or that which is drawn from the inconsistency of the system with
the divine perfections. It is plain that a doctrine which contradicts our best
ideas of goodness and justice, cannot come from the just and good God, or be a
true representation of his character. This moral argument has always been
powerful to the pulling down of the strongholds of Calvinism. Even in the dark
period, when this system was shaped and finished at Geneva, its advocates often
writhed under the weight of it; and we cannot but deem it a mark of the
progress of society that Calvinists are more and more troubled with the
palpable repugnance of their doctrines to God's nature, and accordingly labor
to soften and explain them, until in many cases the name only is retained. If
the stern reformer of Geneva could lift up his head and hear the mitigated tone
in which some of his professed followers dispense his fearful doctrines, we
fear that he could not lie down in peace until he had poured out his
displeasure on their cowardice and degeneracy. He would tell them, with a
frown, that moderate Calvinism was a solecism, a contradiction in terms,
and would bid them in scorn to join their real friend, Arminius. Such is the
power of public opinion and of an improved state of society on creeds, that
naked, undisguised Calvinism is not very fond of showing itself, and many of
consequence know imperfectly what it means. What, then, is the system against
which the View of Christian Doctrines is directed?

Calvinism teaches that, in
consequence of Adam's sin in eating the forbidden fruit, God brings into life
all his posterity with a nature wholly corrupt, so that they are utterly
indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all that is spiritually good, and
wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually. It teaches, that all
mankind, having fallen in Adam, are under God's wrath and curse, and so made
liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell
for ever. It teaches, that, from this ruined race God, out of his mere good
pleasure, has elected a certain number to be saved by Christ, not induced to
this choice by any foresight of their faith or good works, but wholly by his
free grace and love; and that, having thus predestinated them to eternal life,
He renews and sanctifies them by his almighty and special agency, and brings
them into a state of grace, from which they cannot fall and perish. It teaches,
that the rest of mankind He is pleased to pass over, and to ordain them to
dishonor and wrath for their sins, to the honor of his justice and power; in
other words, He leaves the rest to the corruption in which they were born,
withholds the grace which is necessary to their recovery, and condemns them to
"most grievous torments in soul and body without intermission in hell-fire
for ever." Such is Calvinism, as gathered from the most authentic records of
the doctrine. Whoever will consult the famous Assembly's Cathechisms and
Confession, will see the peculiarities of the system in all their length and
breadth of deformity. A man of plain sense, whose spirit has not been broken to
this creed by education or terror, will think that it is not necessary for us
to travel to heathen countries, to learn how mournfully the human mind may
misrepresent the Deity.

The moral argument against
Calvinism, of which we have spoken, must seem irresistible to common and
unperverted minds, after attending to the brief statement now given. It will be
asked with astonishment, How is it possible that men can hold these doctrines
and yet maintain God's goodness and equity? What principles can be more
contradictory? To remove the objection to Calvinism, which is drawn from its
repugnance to the divine perfections, recourse has been had, as before
observed, to the distinction between natural and moral inability, and to other
like subtilties. But a more common reply, we conceive, has been drawn from the
weakness and imperfection of the human mind, and from its incapacity of
comprehending God. Calvinists will tell us that because a doctrine opposes our
convictions of rectitude, it is not necessarily false; that apparent are not
always real inconsistencies; that God is an infinite and incomprehensible
being, and not to be tried by our ideas of fitness and morality; that we
bring their system to an incompetent tribunal, when we submit it to the
decision of human reason and conscience; that we are weak judges of what is
right and wrong, good and evil, in the Deity; that the happiness of the
universe may require an administration of human affairs which is very offensive
to limited understandings; that we must follow revelation, not reason or moral
feeling, and must consider doctrines, which shock us in revelation, as awful
mysteries, which are dark through our ignorance, and which time will enlighten.
How little, it is added, can man explain or understand God's ways! How
inconsistent the miseries of life appear with good- ness in the Creator! How
prone, too, have men always been to confound good and evil, to call the just,
unjust. How presumptuous is it in such a being, to sit in judgment upon God,
and to question the rectitude of the divine administration, because it shocks his
sense of rectitude; such we conceive to be a fair statement of the manner in
which the Calvinist frequently meets the objection that his system is at war
with God's attributes. Such the reasoning by which the voice of conscience and
nature is stifled, and men are reconciled to doctrines, which, if tried by the
established principles of morality, would be rejected with horror. On this
reasoning we purpose to offer some remarks; and we shall avail ourselves of the
opportunity, to give our views of the confidence which is due to our
rational and moral faculties in religion.

That God is infinite, and that man
often errs, we affirm as strongly as our Calvinistic brethren. We desire to
think humbly of ourselves, and reverently of our Creator. In the strong
language of Scripture, "We now see through a glass darkly." "We
cannot by searching find out God unto perfection. Clouds and darkness are round
about him. His judgments are a great deep." God is great and good beyond
utterance or thought. We have no disposition to idolize our own powers, or to
penetrate the secret counsels of the Deity. But, on the other hand, we think it
ungrateful to disparage the powers which our Creator has given us, or to
question the certainty or importance of the knowledge, which He has seen fit to
place within our reach. There is an affected humility, we think, as dangerous
as pride. We may rate our faculties too meanly, as well as too boastingly. The
worst error in religion, after all, is that of the skeptic, who records
triumphantly the weaknesses and wanderings of the human intellect, and
maintains that no trust is due to the decisions of this erring reason. We by no
means conceive, that man's greatest danger springs from pride of understanding,
though we think as badly of this vice as other Christians. The history of the
church proves that men may trust their faculties too little as well as too
much, and that the timidity which shrinks from investigation has injured the
mind, and betrayed the interests of Christianity, as much as an irreverent
boldness of thought.

It is an important truth, which we
apprehend has not been sufficiently developed, that the ultimate reliance of a
human being is and must be on his own mind. To confide in God, we must first
confide in the faculties by which He is apprehended, and by which the proofs of
his existence are weighed. A trust in our ability to distinguish between truth
and falsehood is implied in every act of belief; for to question this ability
would of necessity unsettle all belief. We cannot take a step in reasoning or
action without a secret reliance on our own minds. Religion in particular
implies, that we have understandings endowed and qualified for the highest
employments of intellect. In affirming the existence and perfections of God, we
suppose and affirm the existence in ourselves of faculties which correspond to
these sublime objects, and which are fitted to discern them. Religion is a
conviction and an act of the human soul, so that, in denying confidence to the
one, we subvert the truth and claims of the other. Nothing is gained to piety
by degrading human nature, for in the competency of this nature to know and
judge of God all piety has its foundation. Our proneness to err instructs us,
indeed, to use our powers with great caution, but not to contemn and neglect
them. The occasional abuse of our faculties, be it ever so enormous, does not
prove them unfit for their highest end, which is, to form clear and consistent
views of God. Because our eyes sometimes fail or deceive us, would a wise man
pluck them out, or cover them with a bandage, and choose to walk and work in
the dark? or, because they cannot distinguish distant objects, can they discern
nothing clearly in their proper sphere, and is sight to be pronounced a
fallacious guide? Men who, to support a creed, would shake our trust in the
calm, deliberate, and distinct decisions of our rational and moral powers,
endanger religion more than its open foes, and forge the deadliest weapon for
the infidel.

It is true that God is an infinite
Being, and also true that his powers and perfections, his purposes and
operations, his ends and means, being unlimited, are incomprehensible.
In other words, they cannot be wholly taken in or embraced by the
human mind. In the strong and figurative language of Scripture, we "know
nothing" of God's ways; that is, we know very few of them. But this
is just as true of the most advanced archangel as of man. In comparison with
the vastness of God's system, the range of the highest created intellect is
narrow; and, in this particular, man's lot does not differ from that of his
elder brethren in heaven. We are both confined in our observation and
experience to a little spot in the creation. But are an angel's faculties
worthy of no trust, or is his knowledge uncertain, because he learns and
reasons from a small part of God's works? or are his judgments respecting the
Creator to be charged with presumption, because his views do not spread through
the whole extent of the universe? We grant that our understandings cannot
stretch beyond a very narrow sphere. But still the lessons, which we learn
within this sphere are just as sure as if it were indefinitely enlarged.
Because much is unexplored, we are not to suspect what we have actually
discovered. Knowledge is not the less real because confined. The man who has
never set foot beyond his native village knows its scenery and inhabitants as
undoubtingly as if he had travelled to the poles. We indeed see very little;
but that little is as true as if every thing else were seen; and our future
discoveries must agree with and support it. Should the whole order and purposes
of the universe be opened to us, it is certain that nothing would be disclosed
which would in any degree shake our persuasion that the earth is inhabited by
rational and moral beings, who are authorized to expect from their Creator the
most benevolent and equitable government. No extent of observation can unsettle
those primary and fundamental principles of moral truth, which we derive from
our highest faculties operating in the relations in which God has fixed us. In
every region and period of the universe, it will be as true as it is now on the
earth, that knowledge and power are the measures of responsibility, and that
natural incapacity absolves from guilt. These and other moral verities, which
are among our clearest perceptions, would, if possible, be strengthened, in
proportion as our powers should be enlarged; because harmony and consistency
are the characters of God's administration, and all our researches into the
universe only serve to manifest its unity, and to show a wider operation of the
laws which we witness and experience on earth.

We grant that God is incomprehensible,
in the sense already given. But He is not therefore unintelligible; and
this distinction we conceive to be important. We do not pretend to know the whole
nature and properties of God, but still we can form some clear ideas of
him, and can reason from these ideas as justly as from any other. The truth is,
that we cannot be said to comprehend any being whatever, not the simplest plant
or animal. All have hidden properties. Our knowledge of all is limited. But
have we therefore no distinct ideas of the objects around us, and is all our
reasoning about them unworthy of trust? Because God is infinite, his name is
not therefore a mere sound. It is a representative of some distinct conceptions
of our Creator; and these conceptions are as sure, and important, and as proper
materials for the reasoning faculty, as they would be if our views were
indefinitely enlarged. We cannot indeed trace God's goodness and rectitude
through the whole field of his operations; but we know the essential nature of
these attributes, and therefore can often judge what accords with and opposes
them. God's goodness, because infinite, does not cease to be goodness, or
essentially differ from the same attribute in man; nor does justice change its
nature, so that it cannot be understood, because it is seated in an unbounded
mind. There have indeed been philosophers, "falsely so called," who
have argued from the unlimited nature of God, that we cannot ascribe to him
justice and other moral attributes, in any proper or definite sense of those
words; and the inference is plain, that all religion or worship, wanting an
intelligible object, must be a misplaced, wasted offering. This doctrine from
the infidel we reject with abhorrence; but something, not very different, too
often reaches us from the mistaken Christian, who, to save his creed, shrouds
the Creator in utter darkness. In opposition to both, we maintain that God's
attributes are intelligible, and that we can conceive as truly of his goodness
and justice, as of these qualities in men. In fact, these qualities are
essentially the same in God and man, though differing in degree, in purity, and
in extent of operation. We know not and we cannot conceive of any other justice
or goodness, than we learn from our own nature; and if God have not these, he
is altogether unknown to us as a moral being; he offers nothing for esteem and
love to rest upon; the objection of the infidel is just, that worship is
wasted; "We worship we know not what."

It is asked, On what authority do we
ascribe to God goodness and rectitude, in the sense in which these attributes belong
to men, or how can we judge of the nature of attributes in the mind of the
Creator? We answer by asking, How is it that we become acquainted with the mind
of a fellow-creature? The last is as invisible, as removed from immediate
inspection, as the first. Still we do not hesitate to speak of the justice and
goodness of a neighbour; and how do we gain our knowledge? We answer, by
witnessing the effects, operations, and expressions of these attributes. It is
a law of our nature to argue from the effect to the cause, from the action to
the agent, from the ends proposed and from the means of pursuing them, to the
character and disposition of the being in whom we observe them. By these
processes, we learn the invisible mind and character of man; and by the same we
ascend to the mind of God, whose works, effects, operations, and ends are as
expressive and significant of justice and goodness, as the best and most
decisive actions of men. If this reasoning be sound (and all religion rests
upon it,) then God's justice and goodness are intelligible attributes, agreeing
essentially with the same qualities in ourselves. Their operation indeed is
infinitely wider, and they are employed in accomplishing not only immediate but
remote and unknown ends. Of consequence, we must expect that many parts of the
divine administration will be obscure, that is, will not produce immediate
good, and an immediate distinction between virtue and vice. But still the
unbounded operation of these attributes does not change their nature. They are
still the same, as if they acted in the narrowest sphere. We can still
determine in many cases what does not accord with them. We are particularly
sure that those essential principles of justice, which enter into and even form
our conception of this attribute, must pervade every province and every period
of the administration of a just being, and that to suppose the Creator in any
instance to forsake them, is to charge him directly with unrighteousness,
however loudly the lips may compliment his equity.

"But is it not presumptuous in
man," it is continually said, "to sit in judgment on God?" We
answer, that to "sit in judgment on God" is an ambiguous and
offensive phrase, conveying to common minds the ideas of irreverence, boldness,
familiarity. The question would be better stated thus: Is it not presumptuous
in man to judge concerning God, and concerning what agrees or disagrees with
his attributes? We answer confidently, No; for in many cases we are competent
and even bound to judge. And we plead first in our de- fence the Scriptures.
How continually does God in his word appeal to the understanding and moral
judgment of man. "O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, I
pray you, between me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my
vineyard, that I have not done in it." We observe, in the next place, that
all religion supposes and is built on judgments passed by us on God and on his
operations. Is it not, for example, our duty and a leading part of piety to praise
God: And what is praising a being, but to adjudge and ascribe to him just and
generous deeds and motives? And of what value is praise, except from those, who
are capable of distinguishing between actions which exalt and actions which
degrade the character? Is it presumption to call God excellent? And what
is this, but to refer his character to a standard of excellence, to try it by
the established principles of rectitude, and to pronounce its conformity to
them; that is, to judge of God and his operations?

We are presumptuous, we are told, in
judging of our Creator. But He himself has made this our duty, in giving us a
moral faculty; and to decline it, is to violate the primary law of our nature.
Conscience, the sense of right, the power of perceiving moral distinctions, the
power of discerning between justice and injustice, excellence and baseness, is
the highest faculty given us by God, the whole foundation of our
responsibility, and our sole capacity for religion. Now we are forbidden by
this faculty to love a being, who wants, or who fails to discover, moral
excellence. God, in giving us conscience, has implanted a principle within us,
which forbids us to prostrate ourselves before mere power, or to offer praise
where we do not discover worth; a principle, which challenges our supreme
homage for supreme goodness, and which absolves us from guilt, when we abhor a
severe and unjust administration. Our Creator has consequently waived his own
claims on our veneration and obedience, any farther than he discovers himself
to us in characters of benevolence, equity, and righteousness. He rests his
authority on the perfect coincidence of his will and government with those
great and fundamental principles of morality written on our souls. He desires
no worship, but that which springs from the exercise of our moral faculties
upon his character, from our discernment and persuasion of his rectitude and
goodness. He asks, he accepts, no love or admiration but from those, who can
understand the nature and the proofs of moral excellence.

There are two or three striking
facts, which show that there is no presumption in judging of God, and of what
agrees or disagrees with his attributes. The first fact is, that the most
intelligent and devout men have often employed themselves in proving the existence
and perfections of God, and have been honored for this service to the cause of
religion. Now we ask, what is meant by the proofs of a divine
perfection? They are certain acts, operations, and methods of government, which
are proper and natural effects, signs, and expressions of this perfection, and
from which, according to the established principles of reasoning, it may be
inferred. To prove the divine attributes is to collect and arrange those works
and ways of the Creator, which accord with these attributes, correspond to
them, flow from them, and express them. Of consequence, to prove them requires
and implies the power of judging of what agrees with them, of discerning
their proper marks and expressions. All our treatises on natural theology rest
on this power. Every argument in support of a divine perfection is an exercise
of it. To deny it, is to overthrow all religion.

Now, if such are the proofs of God's
goodness and justice, and if we are capable of discerning them, then we are not
necessarily presumptuous, when we say of particular measures ascribed to him,
that they are inconsistent with his attributes, and cannot belong to him. There
is plainly no more presumption in affirming of certain principles of
administration, that they oppose God's equity and would prove him unrighteous,
than to affirm of others, that they prove him upright and good. There are signs
and evidences of injustice as unequivocal as those of justice; and our
faculties are as adequate to the perception of the last as of the first. If
they must not be trusted in deciding what would prove God unjust, they are
unworthy of confidence when they gather evidences of his rectitude; and of
course, the whole structure of religion must fall.

It is no slight objection to the
mode of reasoning adopted by the Calvinist, that it renders the proof of the
divine attributes impossible. When we object to his representations of the
divine government, that they shock our clearest ideas of goodness and justice,
he replies, that still they may be true, because we know very little of God,
and what seems unjust to man, may be in the Creator the perfection of
rectitude. Now this weapon has a double edge. If the strongest marks and
expressions of injustice do not prove God unjust, then the strongest marks of
the opposite character do not prove him righteous. If the first do not deserve
confidence, because of our narrow views of God, neither do the last. If, when
more shall be known, the first may be found consistent with perfect rectitude,
so, when more shall be known, the last may be found consistent with infinite
malignity and oppression. This reasoning of our opponents casts us on an ocean
of awful uncertainty. Admit it, and we have no proofs of God's goodness and
equity to rely upon. What we call proofs, may be mere appearances, which a
wider knowledge of God may reverse. The future may show us, that the very laws
and works of the Creator, from which we now infer his kindness, are consistent
with the most determined purpose to spread infinite misery and guilt, and were
intended, by raising hope, to add the agony of disappointment to our other
woes. Why may not these anticipations, horrible as they are, be verified by the
unfolding of God's system, if our reasonings about his attributes are rendered
so very uncertain, as Calvinism teaches, by the infinity of his nature?

We have mentioned one fact to show
that it is not presumptuous to judge of God, and of what accords with and
opposes his attributes; namely, the fact that his attributes are thought susceptible
of proof. Another fact, very decisive on this point, is, that Christians of all
classes have concurred in resting the truth of Christianity in a great degree
on its internal evidence, that is, on its accordance with the
perfections of God. How common is it to hear from religious teachers, that
Christianity is worthy of a good and righteous being, that it bears the marks
of a divine original! Volumes have been written on its internal proofs, on the
coincidence of its purposes and spirit with our highest conceptions of God. How
common, too, is it to say of other religions, that they are at war with the
divine nature, with God's rectitude and goodness, and that we want no other
proofs of their falsehood! And what does all this reasoning imply? Clearly this,
that we are capable of determining, in many cases, what is worthy and what is
unworthy of God, what accords with and what opposes his moral attributes. Deny
us this capacity, and it would be no presumption against a professed
revelation, that it ascribed to the Supreme Being the most detestable
practices. It might still be said in support of such a system, that it is
arrogant in man to determine what kind of revelation suits the character of the
Creator. Christianity then leans, at least in part, and some think chiefly, on
internal evidence, or on its agreeableness to God's moral attributes; and is it
probable, that this religion, having this foundation, contains representations
of God's government which shock our ideas of rectitude, and that it silences
our objections by telling us, that we are no judges of what suits or opposes
his infinite nature?

We will name one more fact to show
that it is not presumption to form these judgments of the Creator. All
Christians are accustomed to reason from God's attributes, and to use them as
tests of doctrines. In their controversies with one another, they spare no
pains to show that their particular views accord best with the divine
perfections, and every sect labors to throw on its adversaries the odium of
maintaining what is unworthy of God. Theological writings are filled with such
arguments; and yet we, it seems, are guilty of awful presumption when we
deny of God principles of administration, against which every pure and good
sentiment in our breasts rises in abhorrence.

We shall conclude this discussion
with an important inquiry. If God's justice and goodness are consistent with
those operations and modes of government, which Calvinism ascribes to him, of
what use is our belief in these perfections? What expectations can we found
upon them? If it consist with divine rectitude to consign to everlasting misery
beings who have come guilty and impotent from his hand, we beg to know what
interest we have in this rectitude, what pledge of good it contains, or what evil
can be imagined which may not be its natural result? If justice and goodness,
when stretched to infinity, take such strange forms and appear in such
unexpected and apparently inconsistent operations, how are we sure, that they
will not give up the best men to ruin, and leave the universe to the powers of
darkness? Such results indeed seem incompatible with these attributes, but not
more so than the acts attributed to God by Calvinism. Is it said that the
divine faithfulness is pledged in the Scriptures to a happier issue of things?
But why should not divine faithfulness transcend our poor understandings as
much as divine goodness and jus- tice, and why may not God, consistently with
this attribute, crush every hope which his word has raised? Thus all the divine
perfections are lost to us as grounds of encouragement and consolation, if we
maintain, that their infinity places them beyond our judgment, and that we must
expect from them measures and operations entirely I opposed to what seems to us
most accordant with their nature.

We have thus endeavored to show,
that the testimony of our rational and moral faculties against Calvinism is
worthy of trust. We know that this reasoning will be met by the question, What,
then becomes of Christianity? for this religion plainly teaches the doctrines
you have condemned. Our answer is ready. Christianity contains no such
doctrines. Christianity, reason, and conscience are perfectly harmonious on the
subject under discussion. Our religion, fairly construed, gives no countenance
to that system, which has arrogated to itself the distinction of Evangelical.
We cannot, however, enter this field at present. We will only say, that the
general spirit of Christianity affords a very strong presumption, that its
records teach no such doctrines as we have opposed. This spirit is love,
charity, benevolence. Christianity, we all agree, is designed to manifest God
as perfect benevolence, and to bring men to love and imitate him. Now it is
probable, that a religion, having this object, gives views of the Supreme
Being, from which our moral convictions and benevolent sentiments shrink with
horror, and which, if made our pattern, would convert us into monsters? It is
plain, that, were a human parent to form himself on the Universal Father, as
described by Calvinism, that is, were he to bring his children into life
totally depraved, and then to pursue them with endless punishment, we should
charge him with a cruelty not surpassed in the annals of the world; or, were a
sovereign to incapacitate his subjects in any way whatever for obeying his
laws, and then to torture them in dungeons of perpetual woe, we should say that
history records no darker crime. And is it probable, that a religion, which
aims to attract and assimilate us to God, considered as love, should hold him
up to us in these heart-withering characters? We may confidently expect to find
in such a system the brightest views of the divine nature; and the same
objections lie against interpretations of its records, which savor of cruelty
and injustice, as lie against the literal sense of passages which ascribe to
God bodily wants and organs. Let the Scriptures be read with a recollection of
the spirit of Christianity, and with that modification of particular texts by
this general spirit, which a just criticism requires, and Calvinism would no
more enter the mind of the reader, than Popery, we had almost said, than
Heathenism.

In the remarks now made, it will be
seen, we hope, that we have aimed to expose doctrines, not to condemn their professors.
It is true, that men are apt to think themselves assailed, when their system
only is called to account. But we have no foe but error. We are less and less
disposed to measure the piety of others by peculiarities of faith. Men's
characters are determined, not by the opinions which they profess, but by those
on which their thoughts habitually fasten, which recur to them most forcibly,
and which color their ordinary views of God and duty. The creed of habit,
imitation, or fear, may be defended stoutly, and yet have little practical
influence. The mind, when compelled by education or other circumstances to
receive irrational doctrines, has yet a power of keeping them, as it were, on
its surface, of excluding them from its depths, of refusing to incorporate them
with its own being; and, when burdened with a mixed, incongruous system, it
often discovers a sagacity, which reminds us of the instinct of inferior
animals, in selecting the healthful and nutritious portions, and in making them
its daily food. Accordingly the real faith often corresponds little with that
which is professed. It often happens, that, through the progress of the mind in
light and virtue, opinions, once central, are gradually thrown outward, lose
their vitality, and cease to be principles of action, whilst through habit they
are defended as articles of faith. The words of the creed survive, but its
advocates sympathize with it little more than its foes. These remarks are
particularly applicable to the present subject. A large number, perhaps a
majority of those, who surname themselves with the name of Calvin, have little
more title to it than ourselves. They keep the name, and drop the principles
which it signifies. They adhere to the system as a whole, but shrink from all
its parts and distinguishing points. This silent but real defection from
Calvinism is spreading more and more widely. The grim features of this system
are softening, and its stern spirit yielding to conciliation and charity. We
beg our readers to consult for themselves the two Catechisms and the Confession
of the Westminster Assembly, and to compare these standards of Calvinism, with
what now bears its name. They will rejoice, we doubt not, in the triumphs of
truth. With these views, we have no disposition to disparage the professors of
the system which we condemn, although we believe that its influence is yet so
extensive and pernicious as to bind us to oppose it.

Calvinism, we are persuaded, is
giving place to better views. It has passed its meridian, and is sinking, to
rise no more. It has to contend with foes more formidable than theologians,
with foes, from whom it cannot shield itself in mystery and metaphysical
subtilties, we mean with the progress of the human mind, and with the progress
of the spirit of the gospel. Society is going forward in intelligence and
charity, and of course is leaving the theology of the sixteenth century behind
it. We hail this revolution of opinion as a most auspicious event to the
Christian cause. We hear much at present of efforts to spread the gospel. But
Christianity is gaining more by the removal of degrading errors, than it would
by armies of missionaries who should carry with them a corrupted form of the
religion. We think the decline of Calvinism one of the most encouraging facts
in our passing history; for this system, by outraging conscience and reason,
tends to array these high faculties against revelation. Its errors are peculiarly
mournful, because they relate to the character of God. It darkens and stains
his pure nature; spoils his character of its sacredness, loveliness, glory, and
thus quenches the central light of the universe, makes existence a curse, and
the extinction of it a consummation devoutly to be wished. We now speak of the peculiarities
of this system, and of their natural influence, when not counteracted, as they
always are in a greater or less degree, by better views, derived from the
spirit and plain lessons of Christianity.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
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