Re: Coercion

From: <>
Date: Mon Apr 19 2004 - 20:01:53 EDT

Josh wrote:

> This 'demons did it' recourse forces us into a corner where there are
> several possibilities as I can envision it. If demons are responsible for the
> supernatural activity outside of Christianity, and angels responsible for the
> good stuff, then why are so many of the things attributed to Satan so purely
> reducible to physical causes? I cannot believe that Satan is behind the 9/11
> attacks except as a personification of evil. If I am to assume that demons are
> real, as the Jesus of several Gospel accounts believed and interacted with,
> and I am to believe that the 'young man' who was in the tomb in Mark, but
> became an 'angel' in other gospels are real, then what am I to make of this great
> 'spiritual war?' I am to assert that there exists a tenuous balance between
> Satan and God such that miraculous manifestations of the demonic never be
> captured on film irrefutably. Instead, they manifest through actions of men which
> are otherwise reducible to physical laws. The Satan of the gaps gets smaller
> and smaller the more you think about it.
> The other possibility is that demons and Satan do not exist literally and
> that the stories about Jesus 'casting' out demons is not literally true.

One must first define what they mean by "literally". What you seem to be
asking for is for mechanisms, but you also infuse with your comments your
own notions about how you expect that mechanism to work. Unfortunately,
we don't know of any device that can test for the presence of anything

However, more important is a practical point. I have known quite personally
some people who suffer from manic depression (for example), and of course
there are "pills" that these people take that can ameliorate the symptoms.
Yet the real "cure" comes when they admit that they have a problem and
submit to taking the medicine regularly. Is that "admission" merely a
robotically physical act or is it a spiritual act? What makes
an alcoholic really commit themselves to quit the bottle? Is
it the robotic act of a machine or the willful recognition of
sin? In some ways, a sincere confession of sin, and a submission
to a right way of living is a miracle all of its own. No gun,
no club, no fist, and no pill could achieve that without first
a repentant and contrite heart.

I don't mean to trivialize your point, but true repentance is not
brought about by any fear of punishment or pills for that matter,
it occurs when one recognizes that he/she is wrong and
he/she doesn't want to do it anymore. I think the question comes
down to "why should we be moral?" Those 9/11 people stayed
amongst people in the US, they recognized the value of education
(at least they went to pilot school), yet they were on a mission,
and somehow, the fact that they were free to have and to express
their own opinions, and the human life they saw on the streets
every day did not dissuade them from evil. We sense the fear
of "knowledge" when it is in the hands of a madman. Do you really
think words and pills alone will change their hearts and turn
people like that around? It is the aspect of "will" that seems
deeply spiritual to me and something that only prayer and the
quite words of Christ speaking to the hearts of such people that
have any hope to change them.

Empirically speaking, "why should we be moral" really doesn't mean
anything for one bent on a road of distruction, but the authority of
God establishes it as wrong. I see a huge gap between one who acts
like Christ enduring suffering on him/herself, and one who ends his/her
life flying a plane into a building. Show me the pills that bridge that gap.
Yet sometimes,... sometimes, people really do change, and what
"mechanism" or "recipe" can we offer for it other than the ___message___
that comes out of the Bible?

In many ways, we actually depend on Grace every single day
of our lives. In fact, theologically, even the very
universe itself depends on God's willingness to sustain it.
That is why I seem to always close with that expression
"by Grace alone we proceed". It's a miracle we're even given
another chance.

Received on Mon Apr 19 20:02:14 2004

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