But the Greatest of These is…

34 comments
helping kid, greatest of these is love

So often non-Catholics get caught up on the Catholic Church’s doctrine of salvation by faith and works. Most protestant denominations believe in salvation Sola Fide, or by faith alone. However, not only is this principle of salvation by faith alone not found in scripture anywhere, it is actually contradictory to scripture. Further, it would seem to me to also be very contradictory to reason as well.

This has been debated on a scripture verse-by-verse basis plenty of times in the past. I don’t want to recount that entire argument here, but, instead, hopefully get the reader to look at the issue from a little different perspective. It’s easy to take a scripture passage out of context and make it seem to say something that it really doesn’t say. Scripture always and everywhere must be taken in its entire context – not just the context of the paragraph, or the chapter, or the book, or even the entirety of scripture – but in it’s place in salvation history as the Word of God, the entire deposit of Faith, and natural law. In other words, how does it fit into all that is Truth, whether divinely or naturally revealed?

However, even just looking at scripture by itself as a whole, the written Word of God, the overwhelming message from God is very clear: Jesus redeemed every one of our sins, at no cost to us. There is nothing we can do to earn it. However, God doesn’t force it on us, but always respects our free will. We must accept this gift of salvation. In other words, it requires a response on our part. And what response does it ask of us? Catholics would say that this response is to be one of faith and works. Most protestants say that it requires a response of faith alone. What does scripture say?

Let’s look at it very simply from an overall perspective. Nowhere in scripture does it explicitly say that we attain salvation by faith alone. That passage simply doesn’t exist. However, scripture does say very explicitly that we are to respond with works. Here are a few of them:

“One came up to him, saying, `Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?’ And Jesus replied ‘If you would enter life, keep the commandments‘” (Matt. 19:16-17).

“He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

“But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by perseverance in good works seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury” (Rom. 2:2-8).

“You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love” (Gal. 5:4-6).

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13).

Jesus even goes so far as to make an even further distinction that acknowledging and believing in God is one thing…but doing the will of the Father is what will bring eternal salvation:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matt 7:21)

Looking at more scripture we see that there are still other things we need to do to be saved, including repenting and being baptized (Acts 2:37-38) – not just believing the gospel in our hearts, as many Christians falsely believe.

Many will quote Ephesians 2:8-9 as proof that we are saved only by faith, and not works. It says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God–not because of works, lest any man should boast.” And it could seem on the surface, when taken out of context, that it is saying just that – we are saved by faith, not works. But that’s not actually what it says, and it most certainly doesn’t say faith “alone.”

First of all, if we take that interpretation of it, then it is in stark contrast to all of the scripture verses listed above (as well as much of the rest of scripture) that do say some type of work is required for our salvation. So do we have the authority to pick and choose which verses we want to believe and which ones we don’t? Of course not. And scripture can not contradict itself. So this means we must look further into how all of these verses can make sense together – scripture as a whole.

Second, if we do look at the context of this scripture passage, it is easy to see that Paul is making a point about boasting about our works. He is saying that we can not take credit for them because they are not really from us, but are the grace of God working through us. And that is true, but it doesn’t say that these works are not still necessary for our salvation. Even simply continuing to read onto the very next verse we get some insight into this interpretation and the role of works.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God–not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10).

The natural, reasonable conclusion after reading these scripture passages, taking them in their entire context and seeing how they can all be compatible (and not contradictory), we must conclude that salvation at least requires a response of faith and works. It’s not one or the other, but both. At least that’s what scripture as a whole clearly says. And these works are done entirely by the grace of God, of course, but still require the cooperation of our own free will.

So there is a huge difference between saying that we are “saved by faith” and that we are “saved by faith alone.” I can understand somebody claiming that we are “saved by faith.” That is entirely true and clearly scriptural. But, as we see in reading scripture as a whole, that is not the only thing required for salvation. Scripture clearly lays out more to the story, as seen above. So we can not be justified in saying “saved by faith alone” (although some people mean different things by “faith”). Especially when such a principle is not only unscriptural, but it also contradicts large parts of it.

I think part of the problem is that too many people have an incorrect sense of the word “work” when used in this context. They automatically connect it to a sense of working to earn something, but this does them a great disservice. We are not earning anything. We are accepting a gift. We are cooperating with God’s grace. A work is simply something that we do, and in this case, it is something that God himself has asked us to do to attain our salvation. So if you have an issue with it, feel free to take it up with the big guy himself. But scripture, the Tradition of the Church, and Jesus himself are all pretty clear on it.

I sincerely believe that most non-Catholic Christians agree with the gist of this, and understand that what we do, our work, does obviously play a role in our salvation – that’s just reasonable, scriptural, and apostolically Traditional. Unfortunately, it seems that many of them are so set in their own tradition of protesting the Catholic Church on this matter that they won’t even consider that we agree far more on this point than they’d like to admit. I hope that with further dialogue we can all work past that and agree on the Truth and be that much more closely unified as Christians.

Overall, I think one of the greatest verses in the bible can reveal something very important to us regarding this issue. “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is…faith”? No. Of course not, that is not what the Bible says.

If “faith” alone was the only thing required for our salvation, shouldn’t the greatest of these most definitely be “faith”? It would seem so, but this isn’t what scripture says. Ultimately, the greatest commandments involve what? Having faith in God? And having faith in each other? No. They involve loving God and loving one another. And this makes sense since “God is love” and we want to be as close to God as possible. But love is not just a feeling, or a belief, it is much more than that…it is a work that we do from the heart…faith working through love – faith and works.

“So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

34 comments Add comment

sam March 16, 2009 at 9:28 am

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

(Ephesians 2:8-9)

Matthew Warner March 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Not sure what you’re saying, Sam? Little help please? This passage is already addressed in this very post(see above)…did you have comments about what was said about it?

Gerald August 24, 2009 at 11:32 am

Sam, do you know the difference between works of the law and works of charity or love. You really should read all of Is 1 and then you will understand. I don’t see how protestants can get around saying we don’t have to love our neighbor when Christ said it was one of the two greatest commands. Read Romans 2:4-10, Matt 25 ,and John 5:21. In FACT every passage that speaks about judgement speaks of what we have done, good or evil? The key is Eph 3:20-21 God working in and through us. The book of revelations calls these works fine linen because they are God’s grace working in and through us. I think the part protestants miss about grace is that our works are motivated by grace just as much as our faith is.

Artie August 24, 2009 at 8:08 pm

I highly recommend “The Salvation Controversy” by Jimmy Akin. I have not met one protestant who adheres to Sola Fide when it comes down to it. They say they adhere to Faith Alone but when asked if they have to love thy neighbor or obey God’s commandments they always answer yes. I would simply say that terminology is really important in this conversation especially when defining faith and works. Gerald beat me to the point on this. I will also say the only time we see “Faith Alone” in the bible is when it is condemned in James 2:24. The epistle of James only mentions it in the negative sense.

Makes you wonder why Martin Luther wanted to throw out book of James… hmmm?

In all respect to protestants who adhere to the doctrine of “Faith Alone” I know your intentions are well and as a Catholic I can respect your love for Christ. To clarify the Catholic position, the Catholic Church has never taught we “earn” our salvation. It is an inheritance (Galatians 5:21), freely given to anyone who becomes a child of God.

Chris Weidenhamer August 25, 2009 at 1:02 am

Something that seems to flow through the text of all the Catholic posts I’ve read so far makes a strange assumption:

Sola Fide does away with works altogether.

Do you all really believe that we think “works” has been erased from the bible? Forgive me, I don’t want to sound condescending, but I’m struggling with this one. Sola Fide refers to Salvation. Justification before (in the eyes of) God.

We are still to conduct good works. It’s all over in the bible. You see, when one is given a gift, they’re likely to show gratitude, perhaps even pay it forward. When someone’s life has been saved from certain and eternal death, they’re equally certain to act differently. When someone you love says “feed my sheep”, you’re most certainly going to do what you can to feed them… aren’t you? Like it is written – if your child asks for bread, who will give him a stone?

All of these describe acts that flow out of the gift of faith (Eph 2). They are works that justify us before men (James 2). It is in this same sense that Paul calls us slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:17-19). All this leads to sanctification (as in made to be saint-like), not justification (as in made to be just). That faith in Christ, which was a gift from God, is what made us just.

Artie, I think I’ve read this comment from you twice now: “I have not met one protestant who adheres to Sola Fide when it comes down to it.” Please elaborate a bit. I’d love to know how this works out , because it sounds familiar.

With Love,
Chris

Artie August 25, 2009 at 8:13 am

Chris again I highly highly recommend “The Salvation Controversy” by Jimmy Akin. He goes into depth about the terminology and the false accusations from both sides. Sola Fide as you adhere to it, is really no different from “faith” and “works” concept in Catholic theology when it is properly understood. Sola Fide refers to faith alone, but I have to ask if Faith Alone is truly faith alone then works need not apply at all including loving thy neighbor.

The issue is with terminology.

The first question that needs to be asked Chris, is what is your definition of faith? Does it encompass or eventually lead to “good works” (I.E. acts of love, charity, obeying the commandments, etc.)?

The next question is what is your definition of works?

In regards to my comment, “I have not met one protestant who adheres to Sola Fide when it comes down to it.”

When the discussion is ironed out between a fellow protestant and a Catholic, we come to the same conclusion, yet use different terminology to get us there. Hope that makes sense.

Chris Weidenhamer August 25, 2009 at 11:15 pm

My problem with the debate and the way it seems to iron out is that, regardless of language, one may be left relying on his works to get into heaven. Relying on Christ AND works leaves Christ insufficient.

Regarding love and obedience, as Matt referred to over on “are you saved?”, Catholics and Protestants both expect them. Absolutely. The difference is this – one expects to see them as a natural byproduct of salvation, whereas the other mandates them as a work required for salvation. Again, this leaves the atonement insufficient. No?

Artie August 26, 2009 at 7:47 am

“My problem with the debate and the way it seems to iron out is that, regardless of language, one may be left relying on his works to get into heaven. Relying on Christ AND works leaves Christ insufficient.”

That is not a proper understanding of Catholic theology in regards to faith and works.

It is important to realize that the Catholic Church does not teach that we earn our salvation by our own efforts, although it does teach that we have to work on our salvation. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).

We are justified by faith because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification. The Catholic Church does not teach that we receive initial justification by good works. You do not have to do good works in order to come to God and be justified.

To sum it up a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law . . . not by faith alone . . . for faith apart from works is dead . . . but faith working through love.

Let me ask you this question, does the bible teach that we must do something like go to church, feed the poor, love thy neighbor, etc.?

Sacred Scripture makes it clear that there must be a balanced relationship between our faith and its expression in good works.

I always ask somebody with “faith alone” theology to demonstrate their faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. So I will ask you to do the same.

Loving thy neighbor hardly makes Christ insufficient. I will say that no loving thy neighbor and saying I believe in Christ would make me a hypocrite.

Faith is a gift from God, but to suggest that you are not cooperating with it by accepting that gift is to suggest that we are forced to believe. Accepting that free gift is indeed a work.

Kevin Bullock August 26, 2009 at 8:25 am

Good stuff, Chris you said
“my problem with the debate and the way it seems to iron out is that, regardless of language, one may be left relying on his works to get into heaven. Relying on Christ AND works leaves Christ insufficient.”

So your problem with a salvation that requires a mans action is that it calls the sovereignty of God into question.

My problem with that logic is that it calls the character of God into question. If mans salvation and faith are forced on him as Artie points out, then what does that say about the rest who end up in hell?

You must logically conclude that God ordained some for heaven thus creating some specifically for hell. If man has no work or choice in his salvation then it is double predestination or nothing.

While that can be a logical argument that can be supported IF you lay that logical framework over top of scripture. It is inconsistent with the character of God found in the bible. Scripture tells us God’s Son came to take away the sin of the world that seems pretty plain to me.

Gerald August 26, 2009 at 9:47 am

“one may be left relying on his works to get into heaven. Relying on Christ AND works leaves Christ insufficient.”

Chris,

This is the problem with protestants. They don’t understand the atonement. It’s all God or all us and if it is any of us then it is not of God. Everything is dichotomy, but dichotomy is not the mind of God. Tell, me do you believe that God provides? Well now if I am hungry and go out in the woods and kill a deer and it feeds my family for a month. Who provided? God or the deer? You see the problem with your either us or him approach. God works THROUGH his creation.

Now with regard to faith or works. It’s another false dichtomy. Did not Jesus say: John.15

1. [5] I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Does that mean in me you can do nothing as well? No, he bears fruit. But Paul says ”

Gal.2

1. [20] I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The Math of the scriptures is not 100% God and 0% us. Or 50% God and 50% us. It is all God working in and through us. To him be the glory!

Eph 3
[20]
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
[21] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
I
You want to rob this work of it’s fruit that comes on judgement day when he says “WELL DONE good and faithful servant”, knowing full well that he gave us the strength to do what was required on that day of judgement.

Gerald August 26, 2009 at 9:57 am

Another thing that I forgot to mention is that non-catholics like to use the phrase “it is finished” to say that we have to do nothing. They imply the context of “it is finished” is that all was done on the cross and we don’t need to do anything. That however seems rather odd for to me at least it implies that everyone should be saved in the whole entire world for all time. The infinite sacrifice does not save some when it was finished 2000 years ago? Why on earth not? Isn’t God soveriegn?

I of course agree with soveriegnty if it does not take away free will or make God the monster of calvinism who “desires that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” but does nothing about it. All men in fact receive grace or the statement from 1 Timothy 2:4 . The problem with the “it is finished interpretation” is that it implies that God is just kinda sitting back. But God is working today in our lives to bring about salvation. And it is not just at that moment when we say a sinners prayer. God lead the Isrealites through the desert and he leads us through the desert of life. There is a path we are on and he leads us when we listen and hear his voice. That grace one for us on the cross was suffient to save ALL of mankind but it does not because it must be applied to our lives today. Not 2000 years ago. The salve must be put on the wounds today and we must respond to his grace today. He does not force it either and so we must open ourselves up to it. His grace is for all. “The sun shines on the good and the bad”. All receive it but many do not acknowledge it.

Enough soap box for now. Good discussion.

Gerald August 26, 2009 at 10:02 am

Kevin, that is the big problem with calvinism and its view of sovergnty.

1 Tim 2:4
1Tim.
1. [4] who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

If this God is the same as the god of double predestination then he is a monster. For he says there is a man drowning in the water over there and I could save him but I am not even going to try because I don’t rell like it. But i hope he gets saved even though he can’t possibly save himself, nor can anyone but me save him. That god is a liar because the passage above would be a lie.

But of course the one true God is not that God at all. He is a God of love and in loving us he allows us the freedom to love him. He stands at the door and knocks with each one of us. But does not force us to.

Kevin Bullock August 26, 2009 at 10:02 am

Feel better Gerald?

Kevin Bullock August 26, 2009 at 10:05 am

Gerald, that is the naked truth of double predestination.

Gerald August 26, 2009 at 10:49 am

I feel good!! I knew that I should…… Narna narna narna na. So good. So Good….I’ve got him…..

Gerald August 26, 2009 at 10:50 am

Wait I didn’t lock in those lyrics. “I knew that I would”.

Gerald August 26, 2009 at 11:09 am

If love were an automatic result of getting saved the following statements would not be in scripture.

1John.4
[11] Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
[12] No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

Eph.5

1. [25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
2. [28] Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

1Tim.2

1. [15] Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, IF she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

It’s not auotmatic. It’s conditional. These are just a few verses of many that don’t support automatic love.

Matthew Warner August 28, 2009 at 8:52 am

Hey all – please check out my latest post on this today…maybe it can help clear up a little bit of this. I hope! God bless.

Vinciente February 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

You claim that…
“Most protestant denominations believe in salvation Sola Fide, or by faith alone. However, not only is this principle of salvation by faith alone not found in scripture anywhere…”

What about Ephesians 2:8-9?
8-For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of GOD:
9-Not of works, lest any man should boast.
[King James Version]

Are you calling the Bible, which is accepted as the infallible Word of GOD, a liar?
Remember that all men will be held accountable for every last word according to Matthew 12:36
Be careful not to find yourself to blame in the sight of GOD for falsely teaching others that their faith in him is “not enough for salvation”.
There are many places where we are admonished that our actions will reveal if we are walking in our salvation, but not that salvation is dependent on our actions.

Matthew Warner February 19, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Vinciente,

Thanks for your comments. I would encourage you to actually read the post. I quoted that very scripture passage and discussed it.

I also even wrote a follow up post to clarify even more (also linked to in a comment above). Here it is.

Anyway, I would hope you would at least read what I have to say before making such accusations. God bless you.

Robbie January 3, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Hey Matthew,

Doesn’t it make you mad that Vinciente made comments about what you were saying without fully reading the information that you posted?

I sincerely believe that you are doing that very thing with the New Testament. You are making comments about pieces of text to explain soteriology without reading/understanding it in its entirety.

I am certainly not claiming that I understand it all either but I do understand Salvation.

First of all, the ground work must be laid, which is the truth of the “Old Testament.” God has chosen a special group of people, the Jews. He has also given them a special law that they are to follow. The only problem is that as hard as they try to keep the law they fail. Many times God is just by killing them because of their disobedience. But God is also merciful so he sends prophets to warn them, but yet the people still rebel, and are sent into exile. But God is also merciful and he brings His people back from exile.

Jesus enters 1st Century Judaism and keeps the whole law. Something that has never been done. A perfect man and God in the flesh. It is only by a perfect sacrifice that we can be made right. “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us. That we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21

So that brings us up to speed. God will only accept perfection. If God will only accept perfection what about all those verses you quoted from Jesus about his challenge to men to do good things? This is where we see what lies behind the law. When we are confronted with the reality of the law we see very plainly that we cant keep it. “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” So what Paul says is that not only does doing good not Justify us before God, it just shows us how sinful we really are. Just like the Jews we can try and keep the law as a means to our salvation but we will just end up wandering.

Now what is funny is that I think in some weird way you agree with me up to this point. But here is where the truth of scripture may be painful to you:

There is truly nothing you can do to even receive,inherit..whatever word you would like to use, there is nothing you can do. I will try to explain this but only God can truly reveal this to you.

1. You are dead in sin. -Ephesians 2:1-And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,

Dead means dead. Lifeless, immovable, unable to make decisions, unable to do anything but be dead.

2. You are blind- 2 Cor. 4:3-4 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

This means you can’t see anything. Not the way, not the truth, and not the life. Or the “Light of Men”

3. You are lost- Luke 19:10-for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Lost means unable to find the way, no matter what great effort you may try and make on your own.

This should be clear? The reason you have no part in your salvation is because it is impossible. God is the sole author, creator, sustainer of your salvation.

What you may mean by all of this is- You know Christians by thier fruit. In other words I am not a christian because of my works, but my works are evidence that God has saved me of no work of my own.

Say aloud to God- I had nothing to do with you saving me. It is quite freeing!

Matthew Warner January 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Robbie,

I’m not sure that you read the entire post either, actually. In any case, I don’t find much of what you say very “painful to hear”. I think you and I probably agree on much more than you think. And most of your premise is straight out of Catholic teaching. Your conclusions, however, do not logically follow from your premise. Particularly when you say “The reason you have no part in your salvation is because it is impossible.”

If we look at Christian tradition and the entirety of scripture – particularly the parts quoted in the post – it is quite clear that we play a part in our salvation. Not because we inherently need to or because Jesus is somehow insufficient by himself, but because that is precisely how God set it up. That’s what he asks of us. And, by His grace, we can do so. By his grace and infinite wisdom and design, it is surely not “impossible” – as you claim.

I think your misunderstanding may come from three main issues:

1) You equate “work” with “earning”. That is fallacious. The work we do – ANY work that we do – is only made possible by God’s grace. It is the way by which we accept the free gift. But we can do nothing good apart from God’s Grace.

2) You think that requiring “works” implies that Jesus’ work was not sufficient. This is, again, fallacious. Works are required because God requires them – quite clearly. And NOT because he “needs” them in themselves.

3) We have to also be clear with our words we use. Justification, Salvation and Sanctification are often misunderstood or used interchangeably to mean different things by people. A clear understanding of them will help clarify these points a lot.

Here are three other posts I’ve written that may help you understand my position a bit better:

Over-simplifying Salvation

Justification vs. Sanctification vs. Salvation

Catholics on Faith and Works Clarified

Sage April 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Just watched last night a part of Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ. I almost couldn’t watch the blood and gore in this movie. Yes, it’s just a movie but it is based on what you consider to be a true story. I do not understand how Christians can see this, think about the death of Yeshua, and still believe Yahweh is a God of love. How does this horrible death show love? To save us from our sins a man had to be violently murdered like that? Would you subject your child to this if you had a choice? I certainly wouldn’t. Yahweh could just say I’ll save everyone from sin who believes in me? An all powerful, all knowing, loving God who allowed such suffering! A suffering, beaten, bleeding man hanging on a cross in every church is sick. No wonder humans are so confused and can be so easily led into following people like Jim Jones.

Matthew Warner April 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm

God loves us so much that he respects our free will – which, as a result, means allowing evil in this world. God doesn’t will evil. He just allows it because he respects our free will (part of what makes us human). Additionally, free will must be respected in order for true love to even exist. So because he loves us and wants us to have the choice (genuine love must come from a free choice) to love Him and each other back, he must also allow us to choose against him (i.e. do evil). It is surely a mystery, but certainly not one incompatible with a loving God.

Sage April 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm

In christian mythology, it was the serpent/devil who gave humanity free will. If you believe the christian myth of creation, humans wouldn’t know the difference between good and evil if Eve had not been persuaded by the serpent to eat of the tree of knowledge in the garden. It is only because she disobeyed god that we humans have free will. God didn’t will the evil of Hitler and the Holocaust; he just allowed thousands of people to be murdered? If you were all powerful and all knowing and you sat by and watched while thousands of people were murdered instead of stopping the carnage, would we call you a loving person? I don’t think so. If you could wave a magic wand and keep a two year old from having brain cancer, but you did nothing would we think of you as a loving man? No.

Matthew Warner April 21, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Sage – that makes absolutely no sense at all (and is completely inaccurate Christian teaching/history/story). Honestly.

Artie April 22, 2011 at 6:46 am

The natural entropy of the universe as introduced by Adam and Eve’s transgression is not necessarily evil, although it did introduce the emotion of shame, from which, it is very apparent that the other so-called negative emotions ultimately are derived from. Fear and hate being the two most prominant which seem to guide those who are adamantly in denial of our loving God.

Sage April 22, 2011 at 10:14 am

It’s very easy to just blow someone off with “That makes no sense at all.” Why does it make no sense to you? Did Adam and Eve have free will before they knew good from evil? Would anyone who could stop the evils of this world but chose to “allow” them and sit and watch children die of terrible diseases and people murdered in the Holocaust be thought of as a good person? I choose to think for myself Matthew instead of just closing my mind and quoting church dogma; can you do that?

Matthew Warner April 22, 2011 at 10:46 am

Sage – the devil giving Adam and Eve free will is not how the story goes at all and it simply makes no sense. I’m not blowing you off, just stating a fact. She had to ALREADY have free will in the first place in order to freely choose to deny God (eating of the tree) and saying yes to the devils temptation.

And while all of those evils you mention are tragic that they occur, if God simply stopped them all from happening, he would be overriding our free will to choose to do them. And, as I already mentioned, taking away our free will negates the possibility for genuine love (which requires a totally free choice between two real ends – good and evil) and therefore negates our purpose and what we were made for (to love).

In short, in order for authentic love to be possible, at least the possibility of those evils you mention must exist. If the choice is only between Good and…Good, then there IS no choice and no merit in choosing “good.” There must be a choice between good and evil – which necessitates that evil must be a real possibility for us.

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