No pain, no gain?
PUBLISHED: 10:30 18 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:53 06 May 2010
SIR – Diane Munday is confused about her concept of the all-loving, all-powerful God allowing natural disasters. Disasters happen anyway, but they affect the human race because of mankind s misbehaviour which link is something people cannot or will not u
SIR - Diane Munday is confused about her concept of the all-loving, all-powerful God allowing natural disasters.
Disasters happen anyway, but they affect the human race because of mankind's misbehaviour which link is something people cannot or will not understand because of such widespread ignorance of and, seemingly, hostility to the unseen.
As the Bard almost wrote "There are more things in heaven and earth, Diane, than are dreamt of in thy philosophy." The works attributed to Shakespeare were inspired from a higher realm.
God permits suffering which is the greatest of teachers - "no pain, no gain." Suffering has the great purpose of ennobling our eternal selves which enables us to develop our spirituality for more comfortable progress in eternity and in preparation for doing great things later on.
We are here to start fulfilling that purpose and God leaves us to it. He will not prevent us from learning as we, as an individual or as the member of a group or nation or whatever, experience the natural return to us of the bad we have sent forth.
"What goes around comes around" and then you know not to do it again. Is it any use to tell anybody not to do something?
Without an express request for something lawful in God's sight, angels are not allowed to intervene which they can do by influencing human though.
Here is the power of prayer, Diane, and it must be heartfelt and plentiful to be effective. Undesirable discarnates can also influence human thought and this is how a lot of temptation arises.
It is well to become clear about these things before each one's allotted time here expires and the beautiful angel of death comes to free the eternal self from the worldly overcoat.
Forefield, St Albans
SIR - I read Diane Munday's letter (Herts Advertiser, February 4) - 'Wrath of God' - with considerable interest and some sympathy.
I am a committed Christian, but I also ask questions, and am sometimes puzzled by events that seem at odds with my understanding of a God of Love.
Let me reassure Diane on one important issue, however, the God I worship is most certainly not behind the tsunamis or floods that occur - far from it! Jesus kept on telling his hearers that God - His Father - loves us, and cares for us deeply, so please don't let us start blaming God for these natural disasters!
Some of them may in part be caused by human kind's mismanagement of our resources, so constant deforestation may in part account for some degree of climate change in Africa and in other less developed countries. But I certainly don't believe that God has any part to play in causing these natural disasters.
So - why do I go on believing in Him? Partly because of all the positive outcomes I observe about the Christian faith - people's lives being transformed, alcoholics cured and men and women's lives given a purpose and a peace of mind when faced with difficult circumstances - and partly because of the life and teaching of Christianity's founder, Jesus Christ. Diane, I am a historian, and I have to accept the historical facts about the life of Jesus in the first century AD. And I have to come to the conclusion that He really was God in the flesh!
Diane, I appreciate your honesty! Why not have an unprejudiced read of John's Gospel?
Bewdley Close, Harpenden
SIR - Diane Munday's "fairly wide readings about religion" would seem not to have been wide enough.
Religious, especially mystical, literature abounds in more nuanced views of divinity than the one she presents. I strongly recommend the writings of Karen Armstrong. Ultimately, of course, all our conceptions may merely be projections of the human mind - though this would run counter to a great deal of subjective experience.
Woodfield Way, St Albans
SIR - I was interested in Diane Munday's letter about why suffering goes on and questioning traditional teaching about God.
I have to agree that it's impossible for us to think of any reason why a good God would allow tragedy in our lives, although some would argue that we cannot be expected to know God's thinking. That said, the Church would generally say its faith is based on a revelation of what we need to know in order to trust God, in the Bible.
I became a Christian long ago, but had only read the New Testament in full at that stage. Over the years, I came to believe that the Bible cannot be the perfect revelation of a perfect God who knows perfectly how to communicate clearly the truth, as there is so much debate among the open-minded. So I think it needs to be taken with very large pinches of salt.
My fall-back position was: if I ever found the Bible unbelievable, my God would be the highest conception of goodness I could find. I'm still committed to that, although it is hard, even so, to be sure what's right in some situations.
It's possible for us, if not to understand suffering, to at least do something about it and not just expect God to put it right.
Who knows, maybe God's not all-powerful?
Maybe there was a dark power at work in Creation, or the Creator may not have been perfect, and may have had some kind of duality, as hinted at when Jesus, supposedly one with God, prayed, "not my will but yours be done".
We are best to try to spend as little as we need to on ourselves in order to do the most we can to help the needy.
As a single man with no mortgage, I'm in the fortunate position of being able to do this (I still give away over £2,000 a month to Third World relief on a gross salary of £30K). If more people would follow this line as best they can, maybe adopting a foreign child rather than adding to the world's population, more could be done. I would add that I believe in sanctity of life, despite my concerns about over-population.
It'd be good to hear if any other readers will commit themselves to the purpose of relieving suffering in this world instead of railing against the unknowable reasons for evil in the cosmos.
NAME & ADDRESS
SIR - I refer to the letter from James Gray (Herts Advertiser February 11) in reply to a letter from Diane Munday (February 4).
Perhaps Mr Gray would like to explain to me three of the basic concepts of the Christian faith, i.e. the virgin birth, the Resurrection and life after death when one has been cremated and reduced to ashes. Somewhere, faith has been defined as the illogical belief in the improbable occurrence!
NAME & ADDRESS
SIR - I am astounded, but not surprised, that after attacking Diane Munday, James Gray and Michael Jameson cannot come up with reasonable and sound arguments for the existence of a prescient, omniscient and omnipotent God who cares for his creations.
With the dextrous use of the English language they both set forth the most ridiculous set of unsound assumptions which, they maintain, are self evident truths.
Mr Gray tells us that there are people 'who have come to faith, (sic), specifically because of personal suffering or who testify to the positive effects of their suffering'. Will he then explain to me, and your readers, the beneficial effects the Holocaust had and also will he, then, describe the benefits of the innumerable pogroms and the various massacres of the innocents that have taken place in history in regards to the survivors or the relatives of those murdered? Can he put before me their glowing testaments to the efficacy of these events?
And will he bring forward survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake so that they can relate what a wonderful and fulfilling experience they had? If there is a Creator then only He could have created these disasters. I have not heard of any positive effects of any of these natural events save the efforts of humans who seek to alleviate the suffering of those affected.
If there is a God who loves his creations, as Mr Gray supposes, then why did he allow these wholly destructive and life destroying events to happen?
Unbelievably Mr Gray states... 'if you a have a God that is big enough to be angry with for not stopping suffering, then you have a God big enough to have good reason for allowing it to continue'. I cannot speak for others but to me this describes an Almighty Being who takes great delight in hurting his beloved creations and feeds off their pain.
Epicurus put it succinctly when he wrote: "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?" It occurs to me that we have higher moral values than the God Mr Gray describes.
And here I would mention that you do not have to be a committed Christian, Jew, Jain, Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu to live a moral life with a high regard for those beings around you. It is arrogant to propound that it is only the religious who live a well ordered life that harms no one. There are millions of good people in our world who do not believe in a God and who can identify right from wrong and who do good works. Right and wrong does not emanate from religion, rather, the knowledge stems from instinctive self preservation although sadly it is not always heeded.
Kingfisher Close, Wheathampstead
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