Thursday, July 08, 2010

The difference between fearing God, and trying to be God

It only surfaces when God crosses your will, or your preferred way of thinking.

The God-fearer says, "God differs from me; I must be wrong, and I must change."

The God-wannabe says, "God differs from me; He must be wrong, and I must change Him."


Starbuck said...

The God-wannabe says, "God differs from me; He must be wrong, and I must change Him."

Now that is the height of arrogance... But, I have known a few people like that.

Kind of reminds me of the movies about the end of the world. Everyone is trying to stop it, and succeeds in coinvincing God that it shouldn't happen. That just baffles me. Like when God gets something really cranked up he will suddenly decide you are right and he is wrong. Like I said, arrogance.

DJP said...

What provoked this? It's been a long time coming.

I thought it when Sam Storms said that, if he became John meant Revelation 20 as premillennial, he would conclude that John was in error.

I thought it over this exchange at Triablogue.

But other off-screen encounters have also brought this often to mind.

It's opened up a bit more in this Pyro post.

DJP said...

Oh, one more thing. I've been so re-soaked in Proverbs, through working on my manuscript, that I assumed what I should have mentioned:

The fear of God is the beginning both of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).

There will be neither B nor C without that A.

Terry Rayburn said...

The God-wannabe thinking is WAY more pervasive than meets the casual eye.

From the smallest complaint about the weather to Sinatra's "My Way", the wisdom and goodness of the Lord are, at best, doubted.

From the simple poem "Invictus" to the worldwide multi-billion dollar false religions, the true God is denied tor spit on.

We're not immune to it as believers, and it's good to catch ourselves and realize what we're really saying when we grumble about Providence.

[Soft piano in the background]
"If I ruled the world,
Every day would be the first day of Spring...."

Of course if every day were the first day of Spring, Tennessee would be overrun by ticks and fleas, there would be no vegetative mature growth and harvest, and the animals and people would starve, until they cried out, "Okay, you take it back over, God!"

As the late J. Vernon McGee might say in his Texas drawl, "Puny li'l man...thinks he knows better'n the Lawud".

Robert said...

It is amazing how Christians (real and decived) try to reason with other Christians as to why they are justified in their actions that don't meet up with God's Word. I could stir up a hornets nest getting into details, but it is sad that we get caught up in our own blind ambitions and desires instead of submitting to God in EVERYTHING. "As we become 'empty' of self and dependent on God, the Holy Spirit will use us." (J. Oswald Sanders) I pray that we will all be more diligent in becoming empty of ourselves and filled with the Spirit through prayer and reading Scripture.

Mike Westfall said...

The God-wannabes that I'm acquainted with don't necessarily think that God is wrong. They just think that He has conferred upon them the same powers that He possesses. So, they don't even say, "God differs from me."

Funny though, I've yet to see any of them demonstrate the power they've been anointed with. Well, there was one guy who apparently averted a rainstorm in Jesus' name while out hiking with a non-christian friend...

bp said...

Off topic, but I'm going through my scores of books, trying to downsize and I ran across a set of books by Vernon McGee. Is he Biblically solid?

Gregg Metcalf said...

Man has wanted to either be God or control God since Lucifer attempted to exercise that plan in heaven and was booted to the planet earth. To think Joseph Smith and Benny Hinn were seminally present in Adam in prepartion for Lucifer/Satan to aspire them to be little gods.

Aaron said...

@Terry Rayburn: When I hear of some prayer requests, I confess I often think we are a bunch of spoiled brats. Last summer we were in the midst of a drought. It wasn't serious but it was becoming problematic. So then some members asked for prayer that God would hold the rain off until we could finish our work. I similarly hear it on the Christian radio station as well. Good grief. Can't we just be thankful?

@BP McGee was a great preacher. He preached through the Bible and God kept him alive through his cancer to finish the Bible in five years. His commentary is simple (it was his notes for his "Thru the Bible series) so it doesn't always have the depth you'll want for complex study. My opinion anyways.

Rupert said...

So where does that leave me?

DJP said...

In a special place in my heart, Rupert.

Besides that? You'd have to tell me more about you, for me to tell you more about that. Have you been dying to do just that?


DJP said...

Wait, don't tell me -- do you play Ron in the Harry Potter movies?

Rupert said...

Posting issues - sorry - Part 1.

Genuine thanks for the sentiment DJP. And you hold a special place in my mind, in a respectful way.

Since I am atheist I do not fear any God. Nor do I wish to be one. I possess a desire for people and the world to be 'nice to each other' in an all-encompassing manner those simple words don't generally elucidate for people. Perhaps what many would call a 'Christian lifestyle', although I find that such a thing is actually derived from pre-existing cultures and societies, not the other way around.

While I'm aware of the popularity of the Potter books and movies, I have only seen snippets and live far from the world of acting.

No, I haven't been dying to tell you more about myself, I really see no point. For the sake of adding value to this discussion I will share some things.

I happily attended church and associated activities until my mid-teens. I stopped because I found it all to be an unsupportable facade. Later I did the evangelical conversion thing, but again I found nothing real or factual to back it up. In fact all the objective indicators convinced me that religion is mans creation.

Rupert said...

Part 2.

I'm mid-50's (in age and year of birth, is that serendipitous or what!), ended a long marriage some years back and am deliriously ensconced in a loving and sharing relationship. Never did drugs or went nuts with sex or anything else (except high-speed motorcycling which continues to this day). I see nothing wrong with same-sex relationships, am pro-choice and anti-gun.

I'm sure you've already figured out most of the above, so no great revelations (no pun intended - respect).

All my life experiences have brought me to a point where I keep questioning whether people of faith have managed to really, really convince themselves that it is real; or if they feel some strange and strong urge to present a veneer of belief to the world. I just don't know why, on either count.

I've heard all the evidence, the scriptural claims, counterclaims and interpretations, the proclamations of 'hearing the voice of God' and so so many other things - yet I remain singularly unconvinced. It generally only presents as self-supporting.

I do not wish to offend you. I am happy for you to have your faith. It does not cause issues for me and those like me - until there are attempts to inject it into law, education or governance. That's theocracy, not democracy.

Given all that, your article is profound and accurate even without a 'God' element.

Susan said...

Funny the subject of weather should be brought up. I am reminded of James 5, in which Elijah (a man just like us) is the example of praying in faith (about the weather, no less!). It can't hurt to pray; if God doesn't answer in that way, at least I tried it!

DJP said...

Thanks, Rupert; and while my kids — okay, and me too! — would have been jazzed to learn that Rupert Grint were a BibChr reader, I'm happy you're here instead.

So to answer your question straight-up: where it leaves you is without foundation, wall, or ceiling. The initial exhilarating illusion of freedom will one day give 'way to the realization of hopeless chaos, as you realize what this really means.

It means you — not merely do not, but — cannot know who you are, what you are, or what it means to be you. You cannot justify why "nice" or "loving" are better than "brutal" or "devastating"; indeed, if you've bought into evolutionary mythology, you actually are bucking the tide of nature.

Of course you must tell me of yourself, because all is autobiography to you. You cannot even prove to yourself, without presuppositions, that anyone other than yourself exists. The only interpretive grid is the grid you devise, and you simply devise it because you devise it. It is a fiat creation, a la Rupert.

"Fiat," you say. "Where have I heard that word?" Probably, if you're very educated, you've heard "Fiat lux," the Latin for God's command in Genesis 1 - "Let there be light." It is used in the phrase "fiat creation," to describe how God created all the universe by sheer exertion of His will.

It's not chance that I use it of you. Like all atheists, necessarily, you are not an atheist. You absolutely are a theist. To you, you are God. That was the whole point of denying Him, to make room for your ultimacy.

I can say this without knowing you better, yet, because it is the common lot of mankind, and has been ever since the events of Genesis 3. I don't have to shake a man's hand to know that he breathes, that he eats and drinks, that he sleeps — and that he is born hating the actual God, and yearning to take that place for himself.

You're following in our great-great-great grandparents' footsteps. So do we all, until and unless arrested and eye-opened by the grace of God, which I pray for you.

I develop this more, if you care to read it, here.

Anonymous said...

Dan, I remember hearing Storms say that. I literally laughed out loud. I wonder what else he thinks he is perfect on. What an ego.

DJP said...

Literally breathtaking, wasn't it, James?

Sure gave a snapshot of the man.

Rupert said...

DJP, I acknowledge that my presence here probably provides no value to you. You are aware of why I am here. Thus I again endeavor to couch my words in terms that do not elicit editing or deletion. I see more value in discourse than disregard.

I find no surprises at all in your response. It is very familiar to me. Allow me to elaborate.

Your statements concerning walls, knowing who I am and the difference between 'nice' and 'brutal' are based on your belief that without belief I am bereft of a place in the world, self-awareness (warts and all) or an ability to discern good and bad or how civil societies can exist. If that were so the world would be an dreadful place.

You used a few 'scene setting' personal facts to accuse me of self-aggrandizement. In terms of interpretive grids, I read the same language and questions being applied to yourself in your philosophy introduction in your linked article. What is the differentiation?

Much of the rest of your response resorts to the self-supporting claims which I referred to previously. The same is displayed in the rest of your linked article. You quote the Bible to support your belief in the Bible and God.

I really do agree with a significant proportion of the philosophical introduction though! I think it can be applied equally in support of both our stances.

If I had a dollar for every person who claimed that atheists are theists with themselves as the anointed God, I would be very wealthy. I do not believe that there is a God to deny. Not believing in the existence of a God is not tantamount to appointing oneself as a God. To do so would require evidence of distinctive 'moral' and 'ethical' behaviors between believers and non-believers.

What did our gggg/p's do? Your use of the word 'arrested' is interesting.

Again, it is not my intent to offend you or anyone else. If my position or my questions do so, I would actually be surprised but duly apologise.

Coram Deo said...


I just used this quote (with due credit) over at TurretinFan's blog in a meta where a professing believer has been busily promoting theistic evolution to no avail.

In Christ,

Terry Rayburn said...


J. Vernon McGee was first a Pastor, most notably at Church Of The Open Door in California (L.A., I think -- my late Grandma went there as a young woman).

When I became a Christian in 1976, he was on the radio daily with "Thru The Bible Radio", where he taught through the Bible every five years.

I drank in his teaching like a parched coyote finding water in the desert.

He was a Dallas Seminary graduate back in the Paleolithic Era, when DTS was young and feisty. He was a thorough Dispensationalist, but very gracious in his love for all, and very much honored the Sovereignty of God.

He was strong for biblical authority/inerrancy but often said that the Bible didn't need to be defended, but like a lion, it just needed to be let out of it's cage.

He taught strongly against Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy, and could hold his own intellectually, which surprised those who pre-judged him by his down-home laid-back drawly country Texas speech.

He could probably be considered a 4-point Calvinist, but had a wonderful way, as he put it, of "taking the hay down out of the loft and onto the floor where the sheep could eat it".

He was a man of Grace and Love, and the fruit of the Spirit was as important to him as nailing down a theological proof.

Going through his daily "Thru The Bible" for a full five years (or 10 or 15) would be a wonderful Bible education for anyone.

You can still hear him at Thru The Bible".

Terry Rayburn said...

Rupert wrote, "All my life experiences have brought me to a point where I keep questioning whether people of faith have managed to really, really convince themselves that it is real;"

No, it's only by revelation from God.

No existential or empirical proof will work, as your early dabbling in Christianity demonstrates.

You must be born again, Jesus told Nicodemus.

Unless a man is born again by God, he can't even SEE the Kingdom of God, let alone believe in its King.

I pray you will be born again, Rupert.

Anonymous said...

Actually Dan, I was glad to hear an amill person actually say what I always suspected they believed.

Your example was perfect. I can't be wrong, so God (his word) must conform.

bp said...

Thanks Terry (and Sir Aaron). I have McGee's Thru the Bible series. I'm glad I can keep them.

The hard part about going through all these books to downsize is that I inherited a lot of them from my mom and my sister (when she worked at Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc and got free books) and I don't have time to read all of them to see if they're solid or not. So I don't know if I should sell them at our garage sale or let them die a peaceful death (in our trash).

Aaron said...


I don't want to leave the impression that I think there are not times when we should pray about the weather. What I'm saying is that it's a bit spoiled to pray for an end to a drought and then when He appears to be answering, then pray for Him to delay said request until you can finish your gardening.

Aaron said...

BP: you might think about donating the books to your Pastor who'd probably be more familiar with the authors and may have better use for them.

Susan said...

Sir Aaron--I understand now. Thanks for clearing it up. :)

And now to throw off this meta in grand style: Is Paul the Octopus trying to be God??

[/running away from rotten tomatoes thrown from every direction]

DJP said...

In case I'm not the only one who didn't get Susan's allusion: Paul the Octopus.

Susan said...

Thanks for the link, Dan. I can't believe the mollusk made it to Wiki status!!

DJP said...

Rupert, I'm glad you're here, and you're welcome. But no, I really don't assume that I know what brings you here. Seriously and without an electron of sarcasm: why are you here?

Half the time, you seem to enjoy hanging with me/us and having a chuckle, the other half you seem to want me/us to knock the chip off your shoulder. (If that's an Americanism that doesn't translate, tell me and I'll re-word.) As I said, you're welcome here. I'm just not sure what you're after.

I'm not sure what to pick out of the rest. It's our now-familiar dance of --

Rupert: [statement/question that indicates unfamiliarity with Biblical Christian faith].

Me/whoever: [offers an answer].

Rupert: Yes, yes, I already knew all that.

As I tried to stress, nothing in my response singles you out. It is inherent in the atheist's self-defeating position.

Faith in the God of Scripture isn't a conclusion drawn at the end of a long line of reasoning. It is far too large for that. Rather, it is the necessary premise without which reason itself is a doomed project.

Rupert said...

I explained why I am here in my 'part 2' thingy above DJP. I still am really searching for the answer. Why? Because of the influences wrought on the socio/political/economic environment by faith. Yes, much of it is good, but there is also a lot which is lacking in efficacy and acceptance of the viewpoints of others.

I have found so many premises to be flawed, selective, misrepresented and hypocritical that I find my brow regularly furrowed by the trains of thought which lead people to certain conclusions.

It often appears that some elements cling to the sections or versions of scripture which best suit their personal prejudices.

I can hang and chuckle because like man and dolphins, much of our 'DNA' is alike but boy, do the differences have a gig impact! I don't have a chip in my shoulder, I have a question in my mind, as outlined above.

Without wishing to be rude, the only self-defeating thing I find in the atheist's position is finding reason and logic in the argument for faith, despite our best efforts. So as you state, looking for a line of reasoning may be a doomed project.

Rupert said...

Agh! Prose fail!

I meant 'big' impact and also 'on' my shoulder (I do know of that term)

Rupert said...

DLP, I just found out about the blog profile thingy! I've supplied some info.

DJP said...

It's "DJP," but who's counting?

Hokey smokes! How'd you break everything? You OK now?

DJP said...

Ah, the high-speed cycling.

So, Rupert: I explained why I am here in my 'part 2' thingy above DJP. I still am really searching for the answer

You mean you're here to see whether we really believe what we say, or are just faking it? It's a psychological study? Hunh.

As to the rest: once again you say, "Yeah yeah, I know all that," and then your next words betray that you really don't. You say you read my other article, and then you say "the only self-defeating thing I find in the atheist's position is finding reason and logic in the argument for faith, despite our best efforts." yet if you'd read that thoughtfully you would have seen that your entire life is an exercise in faith, from first to last waking thought.

Yet it's a groundless and self-defeating faith. I'll up-front tell you the assumptions on which my worldview is based. You have to deny yours, and steal from mine. That is necessarily the lot of the atheist.

Rupert said...

Sorry DJP, excited fingers. I have no idea how I broke my nose or my neck, they were old injuries found when I had x-rays for other things. The back, ribs and collar-bone were from bouncing down the road at 120mph. Good job I wear the best protective gear available. My right thigh twitches on a permanent basis and my left side has a range of minor muscular and organ issues.

That's motorcycling, not cycling but who's counting :-)

And while I'm here I'll let you know I popped over to Hip and Thigh and had a debate with Fred and a couple of other posters. I used a different profile, Leroy. And before anyone accuses me of sock-puppetry or whatever, lets look at the facts. I only ever use one name on each site. Anyone looking at the profiles would know it was the same person, not a very effective 'cover'. I used a different name to ensure the discussions remained independent of each other. You and Fred could also check the IP address to confirm this. If I wanted to be misleading I could use a proxy server, but I assure you I haven't.

Regarding our discussion on this particular thread, we seem to be playing verbal ping pong. My view is that there is no evidence at all for God so I try to understand why people have, or at least claim to have, faith. You repeatedly accuse me of making myself a God, of somehow presenting the same traits of faith that you express, and that the 'assumptions' on which my worldview is based are also the same as yours. I'm afraid I just shake my head in a querulous manner at these statements.

My worldview is based on physical observations and a body sciences which, on a daily basis, takes us closer to whatever may be described as 'origins'. Yes science gets it wrong and many theories are disproven. But the fact is that the new answer or proof is always science, never God.

So now its up to you DJP. If you tell me to rack off I may well do so. Or with your grace I might contribute in the 'chuckle' category with perhaps the occasional foray into scriptural discussion. You may find my contributions in that area to be ignorant but hey, you can always educate me.

DJP said...

Sorry to be late to responding in this old thread.

Rupert, it's far from verbal ping pong. I guess you could say it's verbal ping _____. You're in a repetition loop where you're not taking your finger off the "transmit" button, and thus not seeing that what you're saying over and over has already been decimated, and you need to deal with it.

Your starting-place is that there is no "evidence" at all for you. It is beyond denial that you live a life of faith from your first to your last waking thought; that you do not care to admit it does not alter reality, much as you might hope it would. Everything you hold dearest rests in the final analysis on unproven and unprovable assumptions.

I showed that in the essay you (once again) say you read, but appear not to have thought through. The difference between you and Christians is not that you rest your life on solid and certain facts, while the Christian goes on childish hopes and dreams. It is that the Christian admits up-front that he starts with the admission of God's truth, while you try to pretend you have something better, and refuse to admit you have nothing but yourself.

You have yet to offer one item that is self-validating and has anything affirmative to do with an atheist worldview. In fact, your entire structure is self-destructing. You can't get further than "If atheism is true," without hopeless contradiction.

Rather than keeping old threads going endlessly, perhaps we'll progress as the posts progress.

And since I don't know what "rack off" means (other than it sounds unfriendly), I'm not telling you to do it.