A Question for Believers – Are there any limits to your faith?

[This post has been moved to Thinking-Critically.com]

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About Rodibidably

Jeff Randall is a frequent volunteer for free-thought organizations, including the Center For Inquiry – DC. Having been blogging since January 2008, he decided that a community of bloggers would be an interesting new experience (or at the very least a fun way to annoy his friends into reading his posts more frequently). Since finding out about about the existence of, and then joining, the atheist/skeptic community in 2007 he has been committed to community activism, critical thinking in all aspects of life, science, reason, and a fostering a secular society.
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20 Responses to A Question for Believers – Are there any limits to your faith?

  1. spiritualreflections says:

    Thanks for your question. The limits to our faith are what we as humans place. I believe in a God who is all loving and all good. The question of not doing something if God asked you is more of a question of discernment and how you listen to God. Is it God’s voice you are really hearing or is it the voice of one’s ego, or cultural voices, or religious voices, etc. How do you know? How do you discern God’s voice, God’s action in your life? How do you recognize God in your life?

  2. Rodibidably says:

    My questions assumes that you believe the question to actually be from “god”.
    (i.e Abraham being told to sacrifice his son Issac)

    For the sake of this question, I’m ignoring the idea of some sort of psychosis or other mental illness.

    If you’re ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED with every fiber of your being, that “god” has asked you to do something, is there anything you’d not do, knowing that you’re DIRECTLY defying an order from “god”?

  3. Larry Who says:

    Personally, I would hope that if the Father asked me to do something, I would obey and follow His orders. Without question. Without thinking. Without whining. Why? Because my Father is for me and has my best interests in mind.

    Now I assume (without reading all of your posts) that if God asked you to do something, you would put limits on your responses, right? How stupid is that? After all, you said that it was God. Not someone who sounded like God, but actually God.

    Don’t even unbelievers want to please God?

  4. michellespagefornonni says:

    God doesn’t contradict himself. Therefore, if God asks me to do something which contradicts His revealed will (the bible), it can’t be God I’m hearing. When Abraham was asked to sacrifice His Son, the Ten Commandments had not yet been given, and “Thou Shalt Not Kill” hadn’t yet been uttered. There’s also evidence Abraham knew God could raise the dead, (Hebrews 11:17-19) and that God could provide another offering. Abraham knew God had already said “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned (Gen 21:12) He fully understood this was a test of his trust in God, and not the command to do something evil. He believed if he tried to kill Isaac, God wouldn’t let Him die, for God had already made promises about Isaac’s future.

    So, to answer your question, if I think God is asking me to do something against His revealed will, then I must be hearing another voice.

    On the other hand, God may indeed ask me to do something that doesn’t make practical sense. Look at all the missionaries bringing hope, help and healing to places with truly awful living conditions, and they have to beg for financial support to even get there, and they live without income or savings sometimes for years and years, sometimes getting malaria or some other dread disease. And they don’t doubt God asked them to go there, and helps them survive and serve. However, God has revealed often in His word how he desires to see sacrificial love for others in his followers.

  5. Rodibidably says:

    Larry Who,

    Now I assume (without reading all of your posts) that if God asked you to do something, you would put limits on your responses, right? How stupid is that?
    Actually, as an atheist I don’t believe that “god” exists, so if I was hearing a voice or a burning busah or whatever tell me to do something, I’d check myself into a mental hospital.
    However YOU accept the possiblity that “god” does exist, so being asked by that “god” to do something is possible in your world view. It’s not possible in my world view, any more than it’s possible for Elvis, the easter bunny, and Winnie The Pooh to ask me a favor tommorrow.

    Don’t even unbelievers want to please God?
    Do YOU want to please Ra? Or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Or Allah? or Vishnu?
    Probably not (at least not ALL of them). Somebody who does not beive in god, has no more desire to please that god than you have to please the tooth fairy, or any one of hundreds of gods you don’t believe in.

  6. Rodibidably says:

    michellespagefornonni,

    Are you claiming god never asked somebody to kill after the ten commandments are given to moses?

    Now let’s examine some real issues from the New Testament itself. Matthew 5:17 states clearly that Jesus still supported the Old Testament in its entirety. Matthew 10:34 states that Jesus explicitly did not come to bring peace, but rather a sword. Mark 4:11-12 sure sound to me as if Jesus wants people to be confused rather than saved. This seems strange to me for someone who allegedly loves his fellow man and even his enemies. In Luke 19:27, that ultimate pacifist Jesus asks that those who refuse him as their king be brought before him and killed, not my definition of a pacifist.

    Speficially focus on the line from the new testamentr: Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.

    But back to the question… If “god” asked you to kill your child, would you do it?
    And if not, is there anything that could be asked of you, that you’d refuse to do, even for “god”?

  7. Larry Who says:

    Rodibidably,

    I used to be an agnostic, sort of a chicken atheist, right? See my testimony here: http://larrywho.wordpress.com/testimony/

    But then, who knows? Maybe you will have a meeting with the Lord. Then, you can write about it.

  8. Rodibidably says:

    Larry Who,

    I’m curious if you actually read my response before posting this link, since your 2nd reply has absolutly nothing to do with the comments directed towards you?

    I’m happy for you that you’ve found meaning in your life. I am on a different path than you, and while I can accept yours, you seem to be unable to accept that others can live their lives in a manner different than your own.

    Personally I find it highly offensive if somebody claims that their way is the only way or the best way for somebody other than themselves. HJust because jesus or allah or l ron hubbard may help your life, does bnot mean that others have that same need that you have.

  9. benmaulis says:

    Your question is in error but supposing God simply asked me to do something I didn’t want to do, I would argue with him. I argue with him all the time. Just like Moses (Exodus 3:11,14 and 4:1,10,13)

    Your question, however, cannot be compared to Abraham and Isaac at all because you left out the prior promise. The Lord never told Abraham to kill Isaac without first telling him that in Isaac shall his seed be called. Because of what God had already told Abraham, he was equally convinced that if he did kill Isaac that God would raise him from the dead.

    “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten [son], Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God [was] able to raise [him] up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”

  10. Larry Who says:

    rodibidably,

    Forgive me for not answering your questions, okay? Sometimes, I overlook stuff. This must have been one of them.

    Highly offensive, huh? What does that connote? To me, it suggests a person pacing back forth in his room (or cubicle). His hair disheveled. Unshaven. Glassy eyes. Tie at half-mast. Maybe, a Blackberry held to his mouth as he makes his complaint known to the local ACLU office.

    Or maybe, it was just a rhetorical device.

    Oh well, it’s one or the other, right?

  11. moot.point says:

    Man I’ve been out of it here. So sorry. I’ll get back in the swing of things soon.

    First a quick response. This is not taking into account any of the above responses as I have not read them so I’m probably being redundant here.

    So, I think the question (obviously implying the Abraham and Isaac narrative) is a great example of a syllogism, wherein a conclusion is implied by two truths. In this case God has previously promised Abraham that “through Isaac the entire world would be blessed” specifically in terms of descendants. Then He asks Abraham to kill Isaac. From our view point these things are mutually exclusive. Abraham took them to mean that there was a previously unknown resolution. This would be an example of faith (as I not Dawkins’ defines it). Abraham was operating on truth A despite the fact that it seemed impossible to reconcile with truth B. In the end it all seems to have worked out OK for both Abraham and Isaac.

    To make a short story long here. Abraham was operating on the syllogism, not Truth A or Truth B but the Truth implied by combining the two.

  12. benmaulis says:

    Now consider that both you and your child will die anyway. It is just as certain as God told Adam, “thou shalt surely die.” You may say, yeah, but that will be 70 years from now or something, but the word says to you:

    Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

    You may in fact die more quickly than you could execute such a hypothetical order yourself. You really don’t know whether you have 70 years or 7 minutes. In the context of eternity, does it really make a difference?

    For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

    It does not require an absurd hypothesis to consider the certain truth of your mortality.

  13. Rodibidably says:

    benmaulis ,
    Your question is in error
    I’m sure we can have a good debate about why the question is in error. Being a hypothetical situation I’m at a loss for how that’s possible, but I’m sure you have your reasons.

    but supposing God simply asked me to do something I didn’t want to do, I would argue with him. I argue with him all the time. Just like Moses (Exodus 3:11,14 and 4:1,10,13)
    I’m glad to heart that you would not blindly follow an order to kill your child.
    But that leaves open a question. If you believe that god is all-good. And god knows all. Then how can you ever justify questioning the will of god?

    Your question, however, cannot be compared to Abraham and Isaac at all because you left out the prior promise. The Lord never told Abraham to kill Isaac without first telling him that in Isaac shall his seed be called. Because of what God had already told Abraham, he was equally convinced that if he did kill Isaac that God would raise him from the dead.
    But as a christian you’re under the assumption that anything god does is good, and god has a reason. If god asks you to kill your child, you as a christian must assume that god has a reason, even if you can’t see that reason.

  14. Rodibidably says:

    Larry Who,
    And yet again you avoid answering the question.

    I love your little tirade on my comment.
    You start with the assumption that my life would be better if only I believed what you believe. Many muslims throughout the world feel the same way towards you (your life would be better if only you accepted allah). You should find this offensive, as you’re CERTAIN that jesus is god, and any attempt to make you stray from jesus’ path puts your soul in danger.
    I am offended in the same way, but for different reasons.

    By assuming that your path is best for me (or any person other than yourself) you’re stating that my life is somehow wrong and that you know better than I what will work in my life.
    That is the height of arrogance, and to me, it’s also offensive.

    As for the rest of your comments on this little tirade, they really are just too ignorant to respond to.

  15. Rodibidably says:

    moot,
    Welcome back.
    I understand how you’re claiming the Abraham issue is different than this situation. They are not meant to be EXACT duplicates, just examples of similar situations.

    But as I said to benmaulis: But as a christian you’re under the assumption that anything god does is good, and god has a reason. If god asks you to kill your child, you as a christian must assume that god has a reason, even if you can’t see that reason.

    So my question still stands. Based on your understanding of the nature of god, if god gave you an order/request to kill your child, would you kill your child?
    And we’re of course assuming for this scenario that you’re certain it is in fact god giving the command, and not insanity, or some type of trick. By virtue of being all powerful, god can devise some manner to validate that it is in fact god.

  16. Rodibidably says:

    benmaulis,
    Now consider that both you and your child will die anyway.
    You’re right in that I could be hit by a bus on ym way to work etc.
    But knowing that me or my child COULD die, or even knowing that my child WILL die, I’d still never be able to take the life of my child, under any concievable scenario.

    I am an atheist, so obviously I don’t belive in god. But let’s assume that god came to me, and somehow made me believe. And then god asked me to kill my child. I could never bring myself to follow the word of somebody who would ever request that a parent take the life of their child, no matter the reason. Perhaps according to your book this would make me a bad or immoral person.

    In the context of eternity, does it really make a difference?
    Yes, because if you’re right about eternity, you’d live for all eternity knowing that you took the life of your child. How could somebody ever come to grips with that?

  17. Ben Maulis says:

    Your fallacy of irrelevant conclusion based on a false dilemma is not persuasive, but it is insulting. You are presumming to say that God asserts that which he has denied, and that “my book” draws a conclusion about you from your own ridiculous assertion. I’m sorry you’re so confused. I hope it works out.

  18. Ben Maulis says:

    I see something else that might help. What you appear to be asserting as the basis of Christian faith is actually called “fideism.” It is a heresy that has been thoroughly condemned, but if you want to continue to argue against it, it would make a good straw man.

  19. Rodibidably says:

    Ben Maulis,
    irrelevant conclusion
    What conclusion is that exactly?
    Saying that I would never kill my own child (for ANY reason) is exactly what this post is about.
    Or was there some other thing that you have an issue with, it’s hard to tell based on your random ramblings.

    a false dilemma
    Apparently you don’t understand the concept of hypothetical situations. I’d suggest google or a dictionary.

    You are presumming to say that God asserts that which he has denied
    God has killed and ordered to be killed over 2 million people in the bible (not counting Sodom and Gomorrah and the flood). So asking a hypothetical about if he ordered 1 more death is perfectly appropriate.

    that “my book” draws a conclusion about you from your own ridiculous assertion
    Christians make claims all the time about people drawn from their reading of the bible (all homosexuals are going to hell, atheists are deluded, etc). The only conclusion I make is that if I was to willing defy the will of god, then your book says I am a bad or immoral person.
    If you think I can defy the will of god and NOT be considered immoral, I’m curious what version of the bible you’re reading, because it’s certainly not the one that 99.9% of christians read.

    I’m sorry you’re so confused. I hope it works out.
    Aww, how cute. you tried to be condescending and patronizing. And it almost worked… Good for you!

    Fideism is the view that religious belief relies primarily on faith or special revelation, rather than rational inference or observation (see natural theology). The word fideism comes from fides, the Latin word for faith, and literally means faith-ism.
    I have made NO claims about special revelation or faith. I have simply given a hypothetical situation that is loosely comparable to the story of Abraham, and asked how people would react in that situation. I made no claims about your religion (or any religion) and fideism.
    I’m curious what exactly you’re reading that you’re commenting on, because it’s almost as if you’re replying to an entirely different set of comments.

  20. Pingback: A Question for Believers – Are there any limits to your faith? | Thinking Critically

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