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    • By Jim_Alaska in Jim_Alaska's Sermons & Devotionals
         14
      Closed Communion
      James Foley
       
      I Corinthians 11:17-34: "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come."

      INTRODUCTION

      Historic Baptists, true Baptists, have believed in and still believe in closed communion. Baptists impose upon themselves the same restrictions that they impose on others concerning the Lord’s Supper. Baptists have always insisted that it is the Lord’s Table, not theirs; and He alone has the right to say who shall sit at His table. No amount of so called brotherly love, or ecumenical spirit, should cause us to invite to His table those who have not complied with the requirements laid down plainly in His inspired Word. With respect to Bible doctrines we must always use the scripture as our guide and practice. For Baptists, two of the most important doctrines are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. These are the only two doctrines we recognize as Church Ordinances. The Bible is very clear in teaching how these doctrines are to be practiced and by whom.

      We only have two ordinances that we must never compromise or we risk our very existence, they are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper.

      The moment we deviate from the precise method God has prescribed we have started down the slippery slope of error. True Baptists have held fast to the original doctrine of The Lord’s Supper from the time of Christ and the Apostles.

      Unfortunately, in this day of what the Bible describes as the age of luke warmness, Baptists are becoming careless in regard to strictly following the pattern laid out for us in Scripture. Many of our Bible colleges are graduating otherwise sincere, Godly and dedicated pastors and teachers who have not been taught the very strict, biblical requirements that surround the Lord’s Supper. Any Bible college that neglects to teach its students the differences surrounding Closed Communion, Close Communion and Open Communion is not simply short changing its students; it is also not equipping their students to carry on sound Bible traditions. The result is men of God and churches that fall into error. And as we will see, this is serious error.

      Should we as Baptists ignore the restrictions made by our Lord and Master? NO! When we hold to the restrictions placed upon the Lord’s Supper by our Master, we are defending the "faith which was once delivered to the saints" Jude 3.

      The Lord’s Supper is rigidly restricted and I will show this in the following facts:

      IT IS RESTRICTED AS TO PLACE

      A. I Corinthians 11:18 says, "When ye come together in the church." This does not mean the church building; they had none. In other words, when the church assembles. The supper is to be observed by the church, in church capacity. Again this does not mean the church house. Ekklesia, the Greek word for church, means assembly. "When ye come together in the church," is when the church assembles.

      B. When we say church we mean an assembly of properly baptized believers. Acts 2:41-42: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

      The church is made up of saved people who are baptized by immersion. In the Bible, belief precedes baptism. That’s the Bible way.

      Acts 8:12-13, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."

      When we say properly baptized, we mean immersed. No unbeliever should take the Lord’s supper, and no non-immersed believer should take the supper. Those who are sprinkled are not baptized and cannot receive the supper. The Greek word for baptize is baptizo, and it always means to immerse.

      "In every case where communion is referred to, or where it may possibly have been administered, the believers had been baptized Acts 2:42; 8:12; 8:38; 10:47; 6:14-15; 18:8; 20:7. Baptism comes before communion, just as repentance and faith precede baptism".

      C. The Lord’s Supper is for baptized believers in church capacity: "When ye come together in the church," again not a building, but the assembly of the properly baptized believers.

      D. The fact that the Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, to be observed in church capacity, is pointed out by the fact that it is for those who have been immersed and added to the fellowship of the church.

      E. The Lord’s Supper is never spoken of in connection with individuals. When it is referred to, it is only referred to in reference to baptized believers in local church capacity I Cor. 11:20-26).

      I want to quote Dr. W.W. Hamilton,

      "The individual administration of the ordinance has no Bible warrant and is a relic of Romanism. The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, and anything which goes beyond or comes short of this fails for want of scriptural example or command".

      “The practice of taking a little communion kit to hospitals, nursing homes, etc. is unscriptural and does not follow the scriptural example.”

      IT IS RESTRICTED TO A UNITED CHURCH

      A. The Bible in I Cor. 11:18 is very strong in condemning divisions around the Lord’s table. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
      19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
      20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.

      There were no less than four divisions in the Corinthian church.
      I Cor. 1:12: "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ."

      Because of these divisions, it was impossible for them to scripturally eat the Lord’s Supper. Division in the local church is reason to hold off observing the Lord’s Supper. But there are also other reasons to forego taking the Lord’s Supper. If there is gross sin in the membership we do not take it. Here is scriptural evidence for this: 1Co 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:
      8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
      10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

      B. At this point, I want to ask these questions: Are there not doctrinal divisions among the many denominations? Is it not our doctrinal differences that cause us to be separate religious bodies?

      IT IS RESTRICTED BY DOCTRINE

      A. Those in the early church at Jerusalem who partook "continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine" Acts 2:42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

      B. Those that do not hold to apostolic truth are not to partake. This means there is to be discipline in the local body. How can you discipline those who do not belong to the local body? You can’t. The clear command of scripture is to withdraw fellowship from those who are not doctrinally sound.

      II Thes 3:6: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
      Rom. 16:17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
      To commune together means to have the same doctrine.
      II Thes. 2:15: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
      II John 10-11: "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

      C. Some Baptists in our day have watered down this doctrine by practicing what they call “Close Communion.” By this they mean that they believe that members of another Baptist church may take communion with us because they are of the same beliefs. Once again, this is unscriptural.

      The welcome to the Lord's Table should not be extended beyond the discipline of the local church. When we take the Lord’s Supper there is supposed to be no gross sin among us and no divisions among us. We have no idea of the spiritual condition of another church’s members. If there is sin or division in the case of this other church’s members, we have no way of knowing it. We cannot discipline them because they are not members of our church. This is why we practice “Closed” communion, meaning it is restricted solely to our church membership. 
      So then, in closing I would like to reiterate the three different ideas concerning the Lord’s Supper and who is to take it. 
      Closed Communion = Only members of a single local church. 
      Close Communion = Members of like faith and order may partake. 
      Open Communion = If you claim to be a Christian, or simply attending the service, you may partake. 
      It is no small thing to attempt to change that which was implemented by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
      Mt. 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 
      Many of our Baptist churches have a real need to consider the gravity of the act of observing The Lord’s Supper. It is not a light thing that is to be taken casually or without regard to the spiritual condition of ourselves or our church.
      1Co. 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

       28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

       29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

       30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

Free Will: An Atheist's Question


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Hi all! This is my first real post so I'm gonna get right to it.

I believe it's possible that the following syllogism prohibits the idea of free will and actually supports the idea that it is an illusion.

1) God created the universe.

2) God is timeless.

3) God is omniscient.

4) God had a choice in creating the universe.

5) If God knew beforehand the events of this universe as His timeless omniscience would seem to imply, He bears ultimate responsibility for all actions taken in said universe, acting, in a way, as the "prime mover" of a Rube Goldberg-esque machine. In the same way that a domino has no choice but to fall over when hit by the domino triggered before it, so do people also lack the free will to alter their decisions. Therefore, free will does not actually exist and is instead an illusion.

My question is this: where am I wrong, how did you determine that I'm wrong, do you support a contrary position, and why?

Thanks :)

 

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1. Indeed

2. Indeed

3. Indeed

4. Indeed

5. No.

A domino is an inanimate object. Humans aren't. In fact, a human had to set the dominos in action. When I tell my child to do something, and he/she disobeys, the choice was theirs'...not mine. Such is man in relation to God and his creation. Man made the choice; not God. Don't blame God for something he didn't do.

The problem with your syllogism is that it is based on human reasoning and deduction.

Also, as proof that I have free-will, my first choice was not to respond to this, because as my past involvement proves in such discussions, this is a bating tactic; however, after some thought, I decided to give a quick answer. No one but me is typing these letters. No one but me is collecting these few thoughts that I'm relaying. In fact, though I could say more...I make the choice to end my answer now. ;)

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This section is really for non-members to ask things.

You, being a member of this board, can ask questions in an appropriate section of the main forum.

But yes, you can continue here too.

 

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Thank you DaveW, I apologize for the faux pas and this will be duly rectified with subsequent posts.

"A domino is an inanimate object. Humans aren't."

I don't see how this is at all relevant. Could you explain?

"In fact, a human had to set the dominos in action."

Sure, and I argue that God setting man into motion, given the preconditions you agreed with, necessarily sets the dominos into motion. Thus effectively predetermining the scenario from the start and eliminating our free will.

"The problem with your syllogism is that it is based on human reasoning and deduction."

Ah I see. So is the logic incorrect or do you believe the application of the logic is inappropriate and why? What should I use in its stead and why?

"Also, as proof that I have free-will, my first choice was not to respond to this"

Yes, but, as I pointed out, the idea that you think you experience free will is not the same as free will actually existing. It merely demonstrates an illusion at the least. I guess what I'm trying to say is how does one go about proving free will?

"I make the choice to end my answer now."

Sure, you believe that. But, given the preconditions laid out, is it logical to suppose that you actually did chose? I contend no and I haven't seen any evidence to suggest otherwise.

Thanks :)

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You have the fall back position that "the illusion of free will" is real, but not necessarily the "fact" of free will.

This is very convenient to your argument as pretty much ANY proof of free will can then be dismissed.

Therefore, the discussion becomes about as useful as the "tree-forest-sound" conjecture.

There is no way to prove that a tree makes sound if no one is there to hear it, for any way of recording that sound in itself makes the experiment null.

God's Word is full of indications that man has free will.

God does not lie.

Therefore man has free will, not just the illusion of it.

If you reject God's Word as being true and hold to the "illusion" premise that you have proposed, then it is not possible to prove free will.

If you abandon your presupposition that free will does not in fact exist, then you have proof plenty of the free will of man.

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Hi all! This is my first real post so I'm gonna get right to it.

I believe it's possible that the following syllogism prohibits the idea of free will and actually supports the idea that it is an illusion.

1) God created the universe.

2) God is timeless.

3) God is omniscient.

4) God had a choice in creating the universe.

5) If God knew beforehand the events of this universe as His timeless omniscience would seem to imply, He bears ultimate responsibility for all actions taken in said universe, acting, in a way, as the "prime mover" of a Rube Goldberg-esque machine. In the same way that a domino has no choice but to fall over when hit by the domino triggered before it, so do people also lack the free will to alter their decisions. Therefore, free will does not actually exist and is instead an illusion.

My question is this: where am I wrong, how did you determine that I'm wrong, do you support a contrary position, and why?

Thanks :)

 

I'm probably not going to end up answering your questions exactly as you've posed them, but happy to give some thoughts.

I admit I can't provide a logical explanation for free will, but then I couldn't explain it when I was an atheist either, and at times I even tended towards determinism, which many atheists hold to, though I could never stomach it for long!

You're bringing up an apparent conflict between the idea of free will and secondary causation, i.e. God being a prime mover--incidentally I think procedural generation in software is also a good illustration of this problem. If something (anything, not necessarily God) sets in motion a universe with laws of cause and effect, where is there room for free agency when every effect is the product of a prior cause? So while this does present a challenge to Christians that hold to free will and human responsibility, I don't think there's anything particularly theistic about the logical problem itself.

I think Christianity actually has a different problem with free will that other 'systems' (e.g. atheism) don't have, which is a conflict between secondary causation and God existing outside of time. How can a creator be a prime mover at all if the creator exists outside of time? Surely from the creator's perspective, they are creating a picture of a sequence of events, like a cartoon strip or the Bayeux Tapestry, rather than instigating an actual series of events. Or in other words, how can a God that's outside of time 'create' a beginning without simultanously creating an end?

Personally, the way I've tended to deal with philosophical problems about free will is to, er, not deal with them. Christianity does not present a strange universe: it proposes secondary causation and free will, which is pretty much equivalent to what I believed when I was an atheist (and experience everyday, of course), and which comes with some of the same age-old philosophical problems. I'm happy to chalk it up to a mystery, or assume that God makes it so in a way that's not explainable.

By the way, I think both Calvinism and Open Theism are Christian attempts to deal with the problem of free will.

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"A domino is an inanimate object. Humans aren't."

I don't see how this is at all relevant. Could you explain?

...given the preconditions you agreed with...

You compared free-will (or lack thereof) to a domino's causal agent. In comparing the two, you asserted that humankind's free-will is the same as that of a domino's. So, it's relevant, because you were the one who made the assertation. I was merely responding to your example.

I didn't agree with all of your preconditions. The first 4 points that I did agree with have no bearing on mankind's free-will or my answers.

 

   "The problem with your syllogism is that it is based on human reasoning and deduction."

Ah I see. So is the logic incorrect or do you believe the application of the logic is inappropriate and why? What should I use in its stead and why?

Since you say that you're an atheist, aren't these pointless questions? In fact, isn't the entire discussion that you started pointless? While I do appreciate the fact that you capitalized the "G" in God in your OP, you (as an atheist) assert that there is no God; however, at the same time, you are also asserting that God is the causal agent of everything. So, either you aren't truly an atheist, or your questions are moot at best or an attempt to cause confusion at worst.

What exactly is your purpose in this discussion about free-will? In the above quote from you, you mentioned "logic" twice. Would I be fair in saying that you highly esteem "logic"? Would it be fair to say that you consider "logic" to be your driving force in understanding things from your world-view? Human logic is just that...human. It is the result of a fallen mind. I'm not saying that all human logic is wrong, but all human logic is derived from a fallen mind; therefore, it is subject to fallibility and error. Therefore, any human logic that determines a supposed truth about anything spiritually related is faulty. Hence, that is one (if not the main) reason as to why there are so many various cults, "isms", and false religions. They are born from fallen men with fallen minds. That's also why an atheist can't reconcile God with their logic.

   "Also, as proof that I have free-will, my first choice was not to respond to this"

Yes, but, as I pointed out, the idea that you think you experience free will is not the same as free will actually existing. It merely demonstrates an illusion at the least. I guess what I'm trying to say is how does one go about proving free will?

Here, I will give you the chance to prove whether free-will exists or not...

Read the gospel of John. As you read it, when you get to the end of each chapter, please write at least a 200-word paper describing what you read (and your understanding of it) and then post your results for each chapter in this thread. 

You now have a choice. You will either do it or not, but the choice is up to you. Now, after your choice is made, what is the reason (or reasons) for why you made that choice?

   "I make the choice to end my answer now."

Sure, you believe that. But, given the preconditions laid out, is it logical to suppose that you actually did chose? I contend no and I haven't seen any evidence to suggest otherwise.

Thanks :)

"Logical"? We've already covered that. :)

"Preconditions"? You are asserting that those "preconditions" are unmovable. Those are your preconditions; not mine. I can't answer honestly based on faulty preconditions, and isn't it "logical" that you would want the honest answers that I've given rather than misconstrued and constructed answers based on a faulty premise?

Alimantado touched on something that I actually wanted to address in my first post...but I freely chose not to.  :nuts:

However, in the spirit of jest, I will freely choose to mention it now...with all this "God is the causal agent" talk, are you sure that you're not a closet-Calvinist instead of an atheist?  :coverlaugh: 

I read your "introduction" post. I don't know what may have caused you to come to the conclusion that there are no gods (little "g" was also correct). In that, you are correct; there are no gods. There is only one God. However, with the assertion that God is the causal agent in each and every situation, then that would mean that God caused you not to believe in him...right? But since you don't believe in God, you don't believe that either...right? Where's the logic in that? God made me not believe in him, but I don't believe in him, so I don't believe that God made me not believe in him.

This supposed problem is quickly resolved when one finds the purpose for God's creation of man as given in God's word...and yes, the answer is in there. When you find the answer as to why man was created, it will resolve this entire conflict of free-will vs. causation. In fact, free-will is the only option that makes sense given the mess that this world is in.  ;)

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If a person claims to be an atheist it makes me wonder why they wonder so much about something (Someone) they claim to believe doesn't exist (God).

Atheists don't believe Odin or Zeus exist yet I don't see them spending time trying to disprove the Eddas or what we now call Greek mythology.

Why aren't atheists denouncing and trying to disprove the boogie man, tooth fairy or various mystical or spiritual beings/creatures and gods/goddesses many actually believe in?

It's also curious that atheists are quick to question and/or attack the God of the Bible but rarely do the same towards the gods of various religions.

Could this be a matter related to what God points out in the book of Romans that all men have an understanding that God exists but some refuse to accept that innate knowledge?

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Hi DaveW!

"You have the fall back position"

It's not so much a fallback position as it is an attempt to cover all bases. I grant that the illusion would seem to be present although I don't see how, given the four preconditions, the logical conclusion wouldn't be that it doesn't actually exist. In other words, I don't see why it's more logical to claim "free will is an illusion" as the fallback position over "free will exists".

"This is very convenient to your argument as pretty much ANY proof of free will can then be dismissed."

And herein lies the problem. It appears as though there is no objective way to verify anything or anybody has free will. In the same way we can't prove that we actually exist (solipsism), a demonstrable proof or line of reasoning pertaining to free will has yet to be forthcoming.

"Therefore, the discussion becomes about as useful as the "tree-forest-sound" conjecture."

I'd say it's a fair bit more useful than that given certain groups' beliefs. For example, under this conclusion, your god is responsible for creating people with the express purpose of sending them to eternal torture (assuming you believe in that form of the afterlife). This would, of course, render this deity in a seriously negative light which would, at best, be inconsistent with a just being and, at worst, suggest it doesn't actually exist. (Of course you could always say God works in mysterious ways, but therein lies a problem with the falsifiability of supernatural agents, but that's a topic for another time).

"God's Word is full of indications that man has free will."

But, then, why does the syllogism I've laid out seem to indicate no such thing exists?

"God does not lie."

This, again, is another topic for another day, but how do finite beings such as we determine whether or not God is lying? Or, alternatively, how do finite beings determine God is the good one and Satan is the evil one? Herein lies yet another problem in this issue: it forces us to reconsider our preconceptions (which is good! We should question everything :) )

"If you reject God's Word as being true and hold to the "illusion" premise that you have proposed, then it is not possible to prove free will."

But, from an outsider's perspective, you have to see this as a cop-out. It's like saying, "If you reject Jerry's opinion down the street, then you're going to find Jerry wrong." Well of course you'll find Jerry wrong! It's a tautology. If we just accepted God's supposed Word from the outset, we'd then be in position of a confirmation bias because everything that can be evidence against a position is now able to be swept under the rug as unexplainable.
But this gets at the crux of the position: how is my syllogism incorrect based on the logic I've laid out? Would you at least admit it appears correct exclusively given the premises relayed?

"If you abandon your presupposition that free will does not in fact exist, then you have proof plenty of the free will of man."

But it's not a presupposition. It was a conclusion I made based on core tenants of the Christian doctrine. What I have found are inconsistencies as Christian doctrine usually states that free will exists as well. However, I do not see how this is possible given what I have laid out.
Thanks :)

Hi Alimantado!

I appreciate your thoughts and I certainly agree that it can be quite the challenging subject!
Thanks :)

Hi No Nicolaitans!

"You compared free-will (or lack thereof) to a domino's causal agent. In comparing the two, you asserted that humankind's free-will is the same as that of a domino's. So, it's relevant, because you were the one who made the assertation. I was merely responding to your example."

Yes, but your response, from what I gathered, was that a domino is inanimate and people aren't. So I'm asking how that's relevant to the discussion and how it changes the meaning of what I'm saying.

"I didn't agree with all of your preconditions."

Ah perhaps I should clarify: the first four points are the preconditions. The last point is the conclusion based off of those four points. So, technically, yes, you did agree with my preconditions.

"Since you say that you're an atheist, aren't these pointless questions? In fact, isn't the entire discussion that you started pointless?"

Not at all! I'm at least able to place myself within a hypothetical worldview and adopt its tenants to form conclusions which is what I've done above. Obviously I don't believe God created the universe or that there was even a God to do the creating (if "creating" is even the accurate terminology). I pose the question for a couple of reasons: I wish for people to think and, of course, doubt. I believe doubt isn't something to be ashamed of and is the sign of a good skeptic which I hope you all agree you are. The second purpose is to actually get an answer. I've posed the question before and I've never gotten an answer that satisfies me, but I also recognize that this doesn't mean no one can have a satisfactory answer. So I thought what better place to pose the question? And last, I wish to understand what people believe and why! The "why" is particularly important to me as, oftentimes, what you believe is less essential then why you believe it. :)
Oh, and, I, as an atheist, do not assert God doesn't exist. I simply lack a belief in said deity. I am what is called, in philosophical terms, an agnostic atheist.

"That's also why an atheist can't reconcile God with their logic."

Sure, people can be illogical, but logic is built on absolutes and axioms that are true by definition. Because they are definitional truths, they cannot be wrong. But even if that was incorrect, you still haven't demonstrated where I am wrong in my syllogism. Or does your last statement above concede that it's an irreconcilable problem in my worldview and the only way I can solve the issue is accept that your god exists?

"Here, I will give you the chance to prove whether free-will exists or not..."

But, as stated, this doesn't actually prove anything! It merely illustrates that free will is, at the least, an illusion. How do we objectively go about determining free will actually exists?

""Preconditions"? You are asserting that those "preconditions" are unmovable. Those are your preconditions; not mine. I can't answer honestly based on faulty preconditions, and isn't it "logical" that you would want the honest answers that I've given rather than misconstrued and constructed answers based on a faulty premise?"

These are the premises you and I both agreed upon! In your first post, you agreed with the four preconditions, but took issue with the conclusion which is what the discussion is about. From the premise "God is timeless", how could these premises be "movable"? What does "movable" even mean in this case? Then you state that my premises are faulty, but in what way? As I've said, you seem to already agree with my preconditions (unless you've changed your mind), so why are you arguing with them if it's the conclusion you take issue with?

"with all this "God is the causal agent" talk, are you sure that you're not a closet-Calvinist instead of an atheist?"

Yes. As I was saying, I'm speaking hypotheticals based on what I understand of Christian theology as someone who lived it and someone who is now an outsider.

"In that, you are correct; there are no gods. There is only one God."

You misinterpret me. You do believe God is a god, correct? As in the god of Christianity fits into the definition of the word "god". In that sense, I lack belief in this god too.

"However, with the assertion that God is the causal agent in each and every situation, then that would mean that God caused you not to believe in him...right? But since you don't believe in God, you don't believe that either...right? Where's the logic in that? God made me not believe in him, but I don't believe in him, so I don't believe that God made me not believe in him."

As stated, I'm speaking hypotheticals. I, of course, don't believe in any of this. This is purely for discussion and the three reasons I stated above. I do accept, however, that if there is a god as described from my syllogism, I am in fact prohibited from believing in it because of the preconditions the god laid out from the beginning. Unless of course I was only destined to be an atheist for a small portion of my life, but, again, hypotheticals ;)
Thanks :)

Hi John81!

"If a person claims to be an atheist it makes me wonder why they wonder so much about something (Someone) they claim to believe doesn't exist (God)."

That's a great question! You see, I live in a very Christian-centric household (they're Baptists like most of you here) and theology is a common topic of discussion. Despite being an outsider, I find it tantalizing to discuss. For example, I'm a lifelong Star Wars fan. I bring this up because I have many books, all the movies, even toys from my childhood pertaining to this movie franchise. I love getting into discussions about stuff that happens in the canon of Star Wars, which is super geeky, I know, but I don't actually have to believe that Han Solo and Darth Vader exist to really be interested and get into these discussions. And not only that, but people actually DO believe the topics I'm talking about here which makes it doubly interesting for me to get involved in. :)

"Atheists don't believe Odin or Zeus exist yet I don't see them spending time trying to disprove the Eddas or what we now call Greek mythology."

Of course not, no one believes in these gods of old nowadays and only mythologists are discussing the theology of these old beliefs. That being said, believe me, these topics interest in the same way, but of course I'm not on onlinebaptist.com discussing Zeus!

"Why aren't atheists denouncing and trying to disprove the boogie man, tooth fairy or various mystical or spiritual beings/creatures and gods/goddesses many actually believe in?"

Well in relation to the first things (not the gods/goddesses part), those aren't issues contingent to atheism. But since you mention it, I am an advocate for skepticism and reason in everyday life so I also lack a belief in these paranormal creatures as well. In fact, I'd even go as far to say skepticism plays a bigger role in my life than atheism because I'd almost have to consider my atheism a subset of my skepticism. On the point about assorted gods, some atheists do argue against the supposed evidence for their existence.

"It's also curious that atheists are quick to question and/or attack the God of the Bible but rarely do the same towards the gods of various religions."

I can only speak for myself here, but I question all religious texts. As mentioned, of course I'm questioning the Bible here because this is a Christian website and the Bible is the book I'm most familiar with having grown up a Southern Baptist. I apologize if my line of inquiry is interpreted as attacking.

"Could this be a matter related to what God points out in the book of Romans that all men have an understanding that God exists but some refuse to accept that innate knowledge?"

Of course I would deny that, but I don't see that it's falsifiable. All I can point to is my skepticism of all religions and their respective (and sometimes overlapping) gods.
Thanks for the questions and I hope I cleared up some confusion :)

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I think free will has been debated and discussed ad nauseum on this board. I think we're being baited into it again when the person just needs to do a little searching on this board and will find thousands of posts already covering the subject. They are trying to make their argument sound more scientific and theoretical and observed and questioned from a view or stand never stated before, which is absurd. It may be worded or questioned differently, but they still want God to be "proved" to them in a laboratory. Politeness is appreciated in their posts but still a thin veil. 

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Well, I just made a huge post in answer to his last comments directed towards me, but when I hit "Submit Reply"...it disappeared!

I hate that I lost it, and I don't have the time to write everything again. So, I'll end with this...

The Professor has admitted that he wants to cause others to doubt, and he wants to know "why" people believe what they believe. As for me, I'll give him no more ammunition in knowing why I believe what I do, because I fear it will only increase his knowledge in being able to cause doubt in others.

Not that I know that much anyway.  :nuts:

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Hi Miss Daisy!

"I think free will has been debated and discussed ad nauseum on this board. I think we're being baited into it again when the person just needs to do a little searching on this board and will find thousands of posts already covering the subject."

No no, not at all! I'm not trying to bait anyone, these are questions I'm actually curious about that I would like to see answered, there's no hidden agenda present as "baiting" would seem to imply. Again, I apologize if it appears that way. I was invited into this forum by user TheSword so I figured it was a forum open to these kind of discussions. I have read some of the posts that claim to answer my question on other discussion topics, but I have yet to be satisfied by the answers provided to me which is why I came here to ask my specific questions in a far more direct manner. So I extend that invitation to anyone wishing to answer.

"They are trying to make their argument sound more scientific and theoretical and observed and questioned from a view or stand never stated before, which is absurd."

I apologize, but I fail to see your meaning here. Are you perhaps objecting to the terminology I'm employing? Could you explain yourself better please?

"It may be worded or questioned differently, but they still want God to be "proved" to them in a laboratory."

Not at all! If by "laboratory", you mean I want God to be "proven" scientifically, I object. I recognize that science has severe limitations in testing the supernatural due to it's methodological naturalism. Because of this, I understand that most peoples' definition of whatever god they believe in is not able to be "proven" scientifically (although certain individual claims can be tested to an extent and a reasonable conclusion can be drawn therefrom, but even this has obvious limitations).

"Politeness is appreciated in their posts but still a thin veil."

I'm sorry, but a thin veil of what exactly? What is that you figure my intent is? I apologize if I have come off as malevolent, but I disagree in the assessment that my questions have ill intent. Curiosity is the main driver of my line of inquiry.
Thanks :)

Hi again No Nicolaitans!

"Well, I just made a huge post in answer to his last comments directed towards me, but when I hit "Submit Reply"...it disappeared!"

I'm very sorry indeed, I was looking forward to your "rebuttal"!

"The Professor has admitted that he wants to cause others to doubt, and he wants to know "why" people believe what they believe."

Yes, this is my intent, although I don't understand why "why" is in quotes. This seems to me to be a subtle implication that you're "not buying it", "it" being my motive. This seems to be a common theme as of right now. I hope my presence will eventually be trusted on this forum as time progresses as I don't seek to cause strife, only discussion. As stated, I believe doubt is good, I even doubt myself all the time! The more we doubt and apply appropriate skepticism to our activities, the less room for error we have, wouldn't you agree? :)

"As for me, I'll give him no more ammunition in knowing why I believe what I do, because I fear it will only increase his knowledge in being able to cause doubt in others."

While I object to the term "ammunition", I respect your opinion in deciding to bow out. Although, playing devil's advocate here (I guess some would believe that literally here XD), there is the distinct and, I'd like to think (if I'm exercising due skepticism and objectivity), very real possibility that your answers could convince me out of my position, possibly towards a new belief in your god. But enough of that, I'm just offering alternative viewpoints ;)
Thanks! :)

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Hi again No Nicolaitans!

I'm very sorry indeed, I was looking forward to your "rebuttal"!

It wasn't a rebuttal; I don't debate.

While the thought of you accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior is my hope, and the possiblity exists that you may be sincere in just wanting to discuss things without purposeful ill-intent...the fact remains that you want to cause people to doubt. To cause doubt in one of God's children is an offense of immense proportions...

 

You may see it as harmless, and perhaps you actually do; however, I (in good conscience) will no longer engage in any discussion that may be used to cause others to doubt.

Perhaps I was alone in my perception, but your opening post came across as something that you believed. However, you then said that you didn't believe any of it...it was all just hypothetical. So, I hope that you can understand that I now see a "boy who cried wolf" delimma. I love helping people, but I'm used to helping people who actually want help. I don't want to spend the time (such a discussion would take) in just stimulating someone's thinking. That may be the way to reach you, but I'm not the person to do it under the circumstances.

Now, with that said...I hope none of this came across as offensive, and I hope you have a nice day. :)

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Hi again No Nicolaitans :)

"It wasn't a rebuttal; I don't debate."

Ah yes, I understand, this is why I put "rebuttal" in quotes. I didn't intend it to be taken as a literal rebuttal (and now I know you didn't either), it was just the first convenient word I thought of.

"While the thought of you accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior is my hope, and the possiblity exists that you may be sincere in just wanting to discuss things without purposeful ill-intent...the fact remains that you want to cause people to doubt. To cause doubt in one of God's children is an offense of immense proportions..."

Thank you for at least considering that my inquiry is not of ill intent :) I respect your right to hold the opinion that doubt is sinful (I don't respect the opinion itself, I think it's rather backward with all due respect). As stated, if you wish to differ this subject to others who hold a different view pertaining to doubt, I completely understand.

"You may see it as harmless, and perhaps you actually do;"

Meh, maybe not harmless per say, as there would be an obvious threat if such a god did exist and the punishment for doubting that god was severe (which I would consider immoral, but you obviously disagree), but I do consider it healthy. I believe it's healthy to be skeptical; after all, while you may not be in this subject, I'd be willing to bet you are in most topics in everyday life (I will say, however, by stating that you believe doubting is sinful, this does give me a new perspective on Christian doctrine even if it's not the subject I was hoping to gain insight in).

"Perhaps I was alone in my perception, but your opening post came across as something that you believed."

I apologize for this misunderstanding. I thought it clear from the title (Free Will: An Atheist's Question), that people would infer that it's my (the atheist's) question. Being an atheist, I obviously wouldn't hold practical beliefs about the Christian god; merely hypothetical beliefs.

"I love helping people, but I'm used to helping people who actually want help."

I think my inquisition into gaining a deeper (and, arguably, proper) understanding into Christian doctrine and what people believe in general (and why of course) could easily be interpreted as me wanting help. But you're free to interpret otherwise :)

"I don't want to spend the time (such a discussion would take) in just stimulating someone's thinking. That may be the way to reach you, but I'm not the person to do it under the circumstances."

I would say it would be one way to "reach" me, but, again, I understand that you feel you aren't the best qualified for the task.

"Now, with that said...I hope none of this came across as offensive, and I hope you have a nice day."

No offense at all. You too have a nice day :)

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Professor, are you searching for Truth?  Are you searching for God?  Are you searching for a life long never ending logical argument?  The latter is a total waste of your time and mental capacity.  The two former can be done quite easily and here is the best method for finding both . . . . for the two are really one

From God's Word:    Matt 7:7-10
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  KJV

 

A little explanation from a very wise man:  Matthew 7:7-8
The promise is made, and made so as exactly to answer the precept, v. 7. Ask, and it shall be given you; not lent you, not sold you, but given you; and what is more free than gift? Whatever you pray for, according to the promise, whatever you ask, shall be given you, if God see it fit for you, and what would you have more? It is but ask and have; ye have not, because ye ask not, or ask not aright: what is not worth asking, is not worth having, and then it is worth nothing. Seek, and ye shall find, and then you do not lose your labour; God is himself found of those that seek him, and if we find him we have enough. "Knock, and it shall be opened; the door of mercy and grace shall no longer be shut against you as enemies and intruders, but opened to you as friends and children. It will be asked, who is at the door? If you be able to say, a friend, and have the ticket of promise ready to produce in the hand of faith, doubt not of admission. If the door be not opened at the first knock, continue instant in prayer; it is an affront to a friend to knock at his door, and then go away; though he tarry, yet wait."

It is repeated, v. 8. It is to the same purport, yet with some addition. (1.) It is made to extend to all that pray aright; "Not only you my disciples shall receive what you pray for, but every one that asketh, receiveth, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, rich or poor, high or low, master or servant, learned or unlearned, they are all alike welcome to the throne of grace, if they come in faith: for God is no respecter of persons." (2.) It is made so as to amount to a grant, in words of the present tense, which is more than a promise for the future. Every one that asketh, not only shall receive, but receiveth; by faith, applying and appropriating the promise, we are actually interested and invested in the good promised: so sure and inviolable are the promises of God, that they do, in effect, give present possession: an active believer enters immediately, and makes the blessings promised his own. What have we in hope, according to the promise, is as sure, and should be as sweet, as what we have in hand. God hath spoken in his holiness, and then Gilead is mine, Manasseh mine (Ps 108:7,8); it is all mine own, if I can but make it so by believing it so. Conditional grants become absolute upon the performance of the condition; so here, he that asketh, receiveth. Christ hereby puts his fiat to the petition; and he having all power, that is enough.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, PC Study Bible Formatted Electronic Database Copyright © 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All Rights reserved.)

And a verse for others in this discussion:

Matt 7:6
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.  KJV

Matthew 7:6
 It is not every one that is fit to be reproved; Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, v. 6. This may be considered, either, (1.) As a rule to the disciples in preaching the gospel; not that they must not preach it to any one who were wicked and profane (Christ himself preached to publicans and sinners), but the reference is to such as they found obstinate after the gospel was preached to them, such as blasphemed it, and persecuted the preachers of it; let them not spend much time among such, for it would be lost labour, but let them turn to others, Acts 13:41. So Dr. Whitby. Or, (2.) As a rule to all in giving reproof. Our zeal against sin must be guided by discretion, and we must not go about to give instructions, counsels, and rebukes, much less comforts, to hardened scorners, to whom it will certainly do no good, but who will be exasperated and enraged at us. Throw a pearl to a swine, and he will resent it, as if you threw a stone at him; reproofs will be called reproaches, as they were (Luke 11:45; Jer 6:10), therefore give not to dogs and swine (unclean creatures) holy things. Note, [1.] Good counsel and reproof are a holy thing, and a pearl: they are ordinances of God, they are precious; as an ear-ring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is the wise reprover (Prov 25:12), and a wise reproof is like an excellent oil (Ps 141:5); it is a tree of life (Prov 3:18). [2.] Among the generation of the wicked, there are some that have arrived at such a pitch of wickedness, that they are looked upon as dogs and swine; they are impudently and notoriously vile; they have so long walked in the way of sinners, that they have sat down in the seat of the scornful; they professedly hate and despise instruction, and set it at defiance, so that they are irrecoverably and irreclaimably wicked; they return with the dog to his vomit, and with the sow to her wallowing in the mire. [3.] Reproofs of instruction are ill bestowed upon such, and expose the reprover to all the contempt and mischief that may be expected from dogs and swine. One can expect no other than that they will trample the reproofs under their feet, in scorn of them, and rage against them; for they are impatient of control and contradiction; and they will turn again and rend the reprovers; rend their good names with their revilings, return them wounding words for their healing ones; rend them with persecution; Herod rent John Baptist for his faithfulness. See here what is the evidence of men's being dogs and swine. Those are to be reckoned such, who hate reproofs and reprovers, and fly in the face of those who, in kindness to their souls, show them their sin and danger. These sin against the remedy; who shall heal and help those that will not be healed and helped? It is plain that God has determined to destroy such. 2 Chron 25:16. The rule here given is applicable to the distinguishing, sealing ordinances of the gospel; which must not be prostituted to those who are openly wicked and profane, lest holy things be thereby rendered contemptible, and unholy persons be thereby hardened. It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to the dogs. Yet we must be very cautious whom we condemn as dogs and swine, and not do it till after trial, and upon full evidence. Many a patient is lost, by being thought to be so, who, if means had been used, might have been saved. As we must take heed of calling the good, bad, by judging all professors to be hypocrites; so we must take heed of calling the bad, desperate, by judging all the wicked to be dogs and swine. [4.] Our Lord Jesus is very tender of the safety of his people, and would not have them needlessly to expose themselves to the fury of those that will turn again and rend them. Let them not be righteous over much, so as to destroy themselves. Christ makes the law of self-preservation one of his own laws, and precious is the blood of his subjects to him.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, PC Study Bible Formatted Electronic Database Copyright © 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All Rights reserved.)

I am not wise enough to know when a discussion becomes an argument and it becomes obvious that one should just turn a debater and doubter over to God.  I just thought I would give some things to contemplate.

 

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Hi ThePilgrim!

I'm mainly here to understand what people believe and why. If that journey leads me to "Truth" or the Christian god, then I'm fully open to that route.

I appreciate the commentary you have laid out for me, I'll be sure to more fully peruse it.

Have a nice day :)

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I would like to add one last thing...

To any Christians who may be reading this thread and doubts have sprung up in regard to God being the one who causes all things to happen in your life...this would lead one to blame God for any and all troubles that may arise, any heartbreaks that may come, and any sin that may be present. Let me assure you that man has free-will, and while the Bible does teach that God works and moves in the affairs of mankind, God doesn't cause everything to happen that does happen in our lives.

This may not mean much to an unbeliever, but to a Christian...here is biblical proof that man has free-will...

This is God speaking in each instance...

Jeremiah 19:5
They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:

Jeremiah 32:35
And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Hosea 8:4
They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.

 

Now, before anyone panics and says, "But God is supposed to know everything!" Remember that God communicates with man in a way that man can comprehend and understand. His ways are above our ways, and our finite-human minds can't grasp all there is to know about him. God is holy, righteous, and true...it never entered God's mind to have (or make) them do these things...in other words...it never entered God's mind to be the "causal agent".  They committed the acts all of their own free-will. ;)

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You have stated that your purpose here is to cause doubt.

Your replies to my post prove the truthfulness of my post.

Therefore there is no point answering your questions, as you will continue to dismiss the answers you are given based on your presuppositions and your directive intent.

Any answer given is deemed by you to be irrelevant as it "makes the experiment null".

 

Further, if you were "brought up in the southern baptists" like I think you said elsewhere, then you have all the background you need. You know the answers to the questions you are asking.

Therefore, your questions are not to gather information, but to cause trouble.

It is therefore incumbent upon you to prove that there is value in your questions - convince such as NN and I that it is worth answering your questions.

Or you will get less and less replies as other people come to the same conclusions.

Do you actually want to grow from your time here, or is this a game for you?

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Hi DaveW :) 

"You have stated that your purpose here is to cause doubt."

It's one of my purposes, yes; but perhaps I should rephrase it. I was unaware the term "doubt" could bring about such animosity on this forum, so perhaps a better thing to say is I'd just like people to reexamine their beliefs and think. This may cause some to doubt, but, in my interactions with other Christians, they've also stated it strengthened their convictions. I hope this helps clear up some ill feelings.

"Your replies to my post prove the truthfulness of my post."

I apologize, but may I ask in what way? Surely you agree simply stating what you stated above does not in any way demonstrate the truthfulness of the claim. If there is something wrong with what I've said, I think it'd be more productive if it was actually examined and refuted. Again, I mean no offense, but this is generally how this sort of discourse is run and it would certainly be beneficial to me in terms of how I run future conversations.

"Therefore there is no point answering your questions, as you will continue to dismiss the answers you are given based on your presuppositions and your directive intent."

Not at all! I'm completely open-minded to the alternatives and the fact that I haven't accepted the answers here today demonstrates that they simply aren't valid to me as I've laid out in my critique. My primary purpose is to learn and if, in that learning, I become convinced of this particular religious sect, I will gladly admit it.

"Any answer given is deemed by you to be irrelevant as it "makes the experiment null"."

I'm sorry, could you please explain this better? 

"Further, if you were "brought up in the southern baptists" like I think you said elsewhere, then you have all the background you need. You know the answers to the questions you are asking."

Not necessarily. While I have some ideas of Christian theology, I am, of course, not all-knowing. Furthermore, I am currently residing within a household which I believe may act antagonistic towards a dedicated line of questioning such as this. Therefore, at the invitation of TheSword, I have joined this forum to voice my questions for others to hopefully answer and discuss. No disrespect intended.

"Therefore, your questions are not to gather information, but to cause trouble."

I believe this accusation is unfounded, but you are entitled to your opinion. I apologize for giving off this impression.

"It is therefore incumbent upon you to prove that there is value in your questions - convince such as NN and I that it is worth answering your questions."

Obviously, over the internet, it will be difficult to demonstrate my sincereness. Therefore, I have taken to be as honest, direct, and polite as I can be on this forum. I hope this speaks to an honest intent of mine.

"Do you actually want to grow from your time here, or is this a game for you?"

As you say, I hope to grow in understanding. I do not intend to "play" the members of this forum as if this is some "game". As I have further explored this website, I have realized what a deep outlier I represent in terms of personal opinions and beliefs. I take responsibility for joining this site without taking more time to delve into its content as user TheSword seemed to implicitly state it was a forum of sorts to discuss these kind of topics. I now know that is, for the most part, incorrect. That being said, if there is a consensus of users who wish for me to disable my account and exit onlinebaptist.com, I will take it upon myself and do so respectively and quietly.
Thank you :) 

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