The first several drafts of "Modeling God" were very confrontational. At the time, I thought the best way to illustrate how little "Christians" actually knew about their beliefs was to challenge them to define certain key words they use all the time. Eventually, I had passages in the book that recounted actual conversations with pastors and theologians on their definitions of these words. By the fourth draft, I got an agent who showed me I had to tone it down.
(Eventually, the agent found that no established "Christian" publisher wanted to handle the book because it proved their "money making" authors wrong...and the agent went back to clients that make money. I have also found that "Christians" want to think they are right even though they know they aren't. Right and Just exist regardless of what we believe. The MOST damaging thing is to believe you are right and/or just beyond examination when you are not right and/or not just. Be careful.)
However, this hasn't stopped me from raising the question in radio interviews and in front of audiences: Why do people follow leaders (and pay them) when these leaders can't explain what they believe?
For instance, what are your definitions for "good" and "evil"?
It would seem to be a relatively easy question to answer...I mean EVERYTHING is based on something being "good" and something being "evil". THAT is how we feel justified in JUDGING people and things...HOW ARE WE JUDGING THEM?
If the answer is relative to God, then it REALLY isn't an answer. For instance, "good" is what God likes and "evil" is what God hates, is NOT an answer. This answer is COMPLETELY open to interpretation. We are looking for an objective answer. We are looking for an answer that will INCREASE our understanding in other areas. How does this relative answer help us understand passages like this:
"And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." (Matthew 19:16-17)
Jesus didn't say He was "good". (n this passage, He also didn't say He wasn't "good".)
Jesus said none are "good" except for God.
(Notice Jesus also called heaven "life". The previous two posts prove the importance of knowing the definition of "life" AND how this was Jesus' focus.)
Ask your pastor, teacher, mentor, etc. what are their definitions of "good" and "evil".
See if it increases your understanding of a passage like this...
Take some time to think what your definitions are for "good" and "evil".
Like all the recent posts, I will add to this every Monday through Friday. I'm doing this so people take the time to consider the question AND have all the information in one post. If you read previous posts, please try to take some time between the natural breaks and consider the questions. You will get a greater appreciation for how important this information is when you struggle with it yourself.
CS Lewis addressed the definitions of "good" and "evil" by writing about DUALISM.
"The two powers, or spirits, or gods - the good one and the bad one - are supposed to be quite independent. They both existed from all eternity. Neither of them made the other, neither of them has any more right than the other to call itself God."
(Lewis then shows that without an objective measure, the determination of good and evil is arbitrary.)
"if 'being good' meant simply joining the side you happened to fancy, for no real reason, then good would not deserve to be called good. So we must mean that one of the two powers is actually wrong and the other actually right."
(Remember, "RIGHT" and "JUST" exist regardless of what you personally believe. The most DAMAGING thing is to believe you are RIGHT and/or JUST and NOT ACTUALLY be RIGHT and/or JUST. We need an objective measure!)
"But the moment you say that, you are putting into the universe a third thing in addition to the two Powers: some law or standard or rule of good which one of the powers conforms to and the other fails to conform to. But since the two powers are judged by this standard, then this standard, or the Being who made this standard, is farther back and higher up than either of them, and He will be the real God. In fact, what we meant by calling them good and bad turns out to be that one of them is in a right relation to the real ultimate God and the other in a wrong relation to Him."
Lewis brings RIGHT into the discussion along with God. We know God is RIGHT and JUST. How could a pastor, teacher, theologian, mentor, etc. even begin to explain "good" and "evil" without knowing who God is?
We know the way to define "good" and "evil" involves God, and more specifically, RIGHT. What is the objective measure for RIGHT?
We found in an earlier post that God judges Right and Just by profitability. Profitability is the ability to create something more in the Long Term.
Good is an EFFECT of right and just. Look again at the Bible passage at the beginning of this post...Jesus is saying that God alone is able to create in the Long Term. ANY creation we do that is going to stand up in the Long Term is REALLY an EFFECT of us choosing to allow God to create through us...grace! (Just another reason why "grace" is defined as "the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in the life...EVERY other definition is contradictory.
When you read your Bible, substitute the word "creates" every time you read "good"...it will make your Bible come alive.
So, then what is "evil"? Does it mean "not create"? There are a lot of things that don't create that aren't evil...think of a person who is sleeping.
Lewis said this:
"If Dualism is true, then the bad Power must be a being who likes badness for its own sake. But in reality we have no experience of anyone liking badness just because it is bad. The nearest we can get to it is in cruelty. But in real life people are cruel for one of two reasons - either because they are sadists, that is, because they have a sexual perversion which makes cruelty a cause of sensual pleasure to them, or else for the sake of something they are going to get out of it - money, or power, or safety. But pleasure, money, power, and safety are all, as far as they go, good things. The badness consists in pursuing them by the wrong method, or in the wrong way, or too much."
Notice, "bad" is not defined by the quality in and of itself (because it shares the same qualities as "good"). "Bad" is defined by the result BECAUSE it is dependent on the method. The result is destruction...or as we've been calling it "unprofitability". When you read your Bible, substitute the word "destroy" every time you read "evil".
Notice something else...the Calvinists and Arminians debate over God's Will. One of the proposed fallacy with God not being ahead in time is: "How do we know that GOOD will triumph over EVIL?"
This question ACTUALLY proves BOTH belief systems are inhabited by people who DON'T KNOW the definition of "good" and "evil"!!!!! (Actually, you will be surprised next week at the people who don't know the most important definitions...)
Evil NEEDS Good!
Good DOESN'T need Evil!
In order to destroy something it FIRST MUST be created.
Lewis said it this way:
"In other words badness cannot success even in being bad in the same way in which goodness is good. Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled."
This is a key point that Lewis understood over 60 years ago!
Why don't our leaders understand this?
There is NO WAY to explain TRUTH and Satan WITHOUT understanding the definitions of "good" and "evil"...
...yet "Christians" continue to follow (and pay) people who aren't TRULY creating.
When I explain during the Righteous discussion that God is objective, I call this "Big Picture, Long Term". That is, God understands what will happen in all cases (Big Picture) over time (Long Term). Isn't THAT what sets apart God's thinking from our thinking? We only see the moment...the short-term.
In order to judge creation, it has to be in the LONG TERM. For instance, God will actually destroy something in the short-term in order to create something in the Long Term. The most common example is your thought process.
We all have a way of thinking that results in wrong beliefs. In order for us to get the right beliefs, we need to first destroy (take apart) our current belief SO THAT we can build correct beliefs. This process is uncomfortable...and the overwhelming majority of "Christians" don't want to make it ALL the way THROUGH the process. Consequently, the "Christian" retains contradictory comfortable beliefs based on tradition. What is the PROOF they are wrong? They aren't profitable...they don't create!
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12)
The reason is SEEMS RIGHT is that it is comfortable in the short-term...and we ALL think that comfort leads to right. However the END (LONG TERM) are the ways of death (inability to repair).
The last two posts dealt with "life" being the ability to repair. Now you see why life is mentioned with right/good and death is mentioned with wrong/evil. You need to have the ability to create in order to have life. You need to have GOOD.
"As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death." (Proverbs 11:19)
"If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." (John 15:6)
"For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:29,30)
Throughout the Bible, the word "unprofitable" is equated with evil. Another term for unprofitable is "vain". Taking the Lord's name in vain means to use it without being profitable. God wants NOTHING to do with Long Term unprofitability, not even His name!
God is Good because He creates in the Long Term.
This ALMOST ALWAYS means He will destroy something in the short-term.
(It's the same as tearing down a condemn house in order to create a mansion or gutting a condemned building in order to create a new community center.)
Think about Jesus! He was killed (in the short-term) in order that we may have ETERNAL life!
Next week, we are going to cover the enemy in much more detail. It AMAZES me the amount of misinformation that people (who get paid to teach us about God) spread about the enemy. For now, realize that the enemy is the OPPOSITE of God. That is, the enemy will offer us something in the short-term that SEEMS to create...however it ACTUALLY destroys in the Long Term.
God ALWAYS makes us pay UP FRONT.
God does NOT work on credit.
The enemy ALWAYS makes us pay LONG TERM.
The enemy DOES work on credit.
When a "Christian" judges a thought (or belief) as "evil" BECAUSE it makes them feel uncomfortable, what are the REALLY testifying about themselves and their beliefs?
The other reason God can destroy is in RESPONSE to Justice. God can equal out Justice (both good and evil). Remember, "reward" means "to recompense both good and evil".
God DOESN'T unilaterally bring destruction. He ONLY does it in RESPONSE to the evil already committed...like with Moses and Pharaoh. Pharaoh FIRST killed the sons of the Hebrews. God uses Justice to ramp up Justice in RESPONSE to Pharaoh resulting in Passover.
This means God DOES evil in the short-term in order to create in the Long Term. God can ONLY create in the Long Term because God's Nature is Good. Notice God's is Good in His ARE. However, God is able to DO evil.
The enemy is Evil in his nature. He is only able to destroy in the Long Term. Like a "white lie", the enemy is able to APPEAR to create in the short-term, however the Long Term result is ALWAYS destruction (Evil).
Our court system is based on The Law of the Old Testament. The courts attempt to equal out Justice during our time on earth. However, there is another way that WE can use Justice to deal with evil...
"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21)
What does this verse mean? Unless we understand "good" and "evil", we have NO idea how to respond to evil!
Now we know that we OUGHT to overcome evil with good...we OUGHT to overcome destructive forces with a value.
THIS is the REASON we OUGHT to love our enemies!
"If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee." (Proverbs 25:21-22)
Proverbs says that if we give to our enemies there are two results:
1. We heap coals of fire on the head of the enemy.
2. We will be rewarded from GOD!
BOTH of these are an EFFECT of Justice.
"But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." (Luke 6:35)
Jesus focused on the reward to us in His explanation of why we should love our enemies.
"Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." (Romans 12:20)
Paul focused on the penalty to the enemy. This is the verse that immediately precedes "overcome evil with good".
This is the OPPOSITE of what people believe and do!
In fact, I've seen people try to explain this verse as a BENEFIT to the enemy...that there is a tradition where coals are placed on the head to warm a person during their desert journey.
REREAD THE VERSE!
HEAP means to completely cover. When they heaped stones on people in the Old Testament, they didn't balance a few rocks on their head.
COALS OF FIRE means the coals are on FIRE.
There is a distinction between coals that are on fire and coals that are glowing:
"Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:" (Isaiah 6:6)
This is a non-contradictory explanation of "good" and "evil" that makes several passages of the Bible come alive.
Yet, we still have leaders who pursue comfort to the point they use comparative thinking to actively search for a tradition that gives an explanation that seems right to us...
...but whose end result is a lack of repair.