The broken tools

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Original painting by John McNaughton

Normally I would just post up some Scripture and leave things there, but two heavy questions have been pressing on my mind for some time now and I wish to take some moments to address them.

The first concerns a rather knotty and difficult moral problem that faces Christians everywhere:

Does God really forgive all sins, no matter how terrible, except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

The answer can only be: yes, He does.

Now, whenever this is mentioned in polite company among the well-educated elite, the man who makes this statement is always greeted with a look of incredulity and a follow-up that goes something like:

"So your god would forgive even murderers, rapists, serial killers, and paedophiles?!?"

Again, the answer is: yes, He could and would - if He is asked by someone who truly repents.

This makes the hardest kind of sense. But the evidence tells us that it is true.

Take a look at good old Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul. He was the very definition of a serial killer. He went forth and killed innocent Jews - his own people - for the "crime" of obeying a prophet who told them to be kind to one another, to obey the laws of God and not the words of the priests, to abstain from sins of the flesh and eat of the creatures of God's Earth, and to be generally good and decent people.

They had committed no crime except to break the laws of the Pharisees - which stood in direct contradiction to the Word of the Eternal and Almighty God.

He killed them for it. In other words, he murdered the innocent.

And he saw the errors of his ways, begged God to forgive him, and became the single most effective Apostle of the Faith out of the lot.

The other Apostles had previously tried to choose among themselves to find one whom they believed to be most worthy of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. They chose Stephen, a pious man of great faith.

But Stephen was the choice of men, not God - and he was stoned to death. For whatever reason, he was not the instrument that God needed to carry His Word to the world.

The Apostle Paul, on the other hand... He was the very definition of a wicked man in God's eyes. And look at what he became.

One could argue, and it has been argued, that Pauline doctrine completely twists the original meaning of Christ's ministry to the point where it is unrecognisable, and that what St. Paul taught had very little to do with what Christ taught. I try not to concern myself too much with such theological hair-splitting; as far as I'm concerned, if the Pauline Epistles were good enough for St. Thomas Aqiunas or St. Augustine of Hippo as explanations of Christ's message, then they are certainly good enough for me.

So that deals with murderers and serial killers. What about paedophiles?

Now, let's be clear: as far as I'm concerned, paedophiles are the worst of the worst. If it were up to me, I'd have every first-time convicted paedophile castrated, preferably surgically but that tends to make the weak-kneed among us a bit squeamish, so the alternative is to do it chemically.

And I would have repeat offenders impaled. Slowly. Without grease.

What about them? Is God really willing to forgive even a paedophile? Even though Christ says very plainly that anyone who causes a little one to stumble should tie a millstone around his neck and throw himself into the sea? (Matthew 18:6, Luke 17:2)

Is the Lord really capable of forgiving someone like that, a man that the rest of us would gladly see put to death?

Apparently so.

As difficult as that is to stomach and accept, the key here is that the sinner in question has to repent, genuinely, and turn away from sin. And that is what makes the price of God's forgiveness so high and so difficult to achieve.

Not one of us is worthy of God's mercy and grace. Not a single one - starting from the Pope right on down to the cripple on the street. (Given the manner in which the current Pope has comported himself, you can see why that one, in particular, is unworthy of forgiveness.)

Forgiveness has to be earned. And that bloody hard to do.

In the case of murderers and rapists and even paedophiles, the penance required for murder and rape and even paedophilia is to turn away from those sins, beg forgiveness from those they have hurt, and never sin again.

In the case of paedophiles, well, that forgiveness might just come at the price of death. Since I am not a good man, I am unable to muster sympathy for convicted paedophiles, whose guilt has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt.

It bears remembering that God is not some wish-granting Macguffin where, if you utter the right incantations and perform the right rituals, you get what you want. Being in service to God is hard, painful, thankless work which tests a man to his very core.

Every single one of us fails that test. We're just not good enough and never will be.

Which leads us on to the second big question that I've been pondering of late:

What is the point of trying to fight sin, given that there seems to be no hope or possibility of victory over it?

I wrote a post about this a couple of weeks back, in which I put my own ideas on a message that the greatest living sci-fi Grandmaster, John C. Wright, gave to us. A thoughtful reader of Mr. Wright's work provided a comment which he posted in full, and which is worth thinking about carefully:

Reading this post, I realized something: Satan knows he is beaten. He isn’t trying to win – he’s trying to maximize harm. He therefore commands his troops in a way that will destroy as many of his own people as possible.


That, right there, is what you need to know in order to understand the true purpose of this moral Dark Age that we live in today.

What follows here are purely my own thoughts. I am no theologian, and I am about as piss-poor an example of a Christian as you can possibly find, so I expect no one to take my comments on the subject with any seriousness whatsoever. If I am wrong on any particular point from a Scriptural perspective, I am certain that one of my eagle-eyed readers will spot the error and correct me - for which I will be very grateful.

Now, as far as I can tell, it's important to understand that God doesn't view time the way that we do. For Him, it isn't exactly linear the way it is for us. So, what is for us several thousand years of linear time does not pass for Him in quite the same way.

Exactly how it passes is quite beyond me, of course, but it strikes me as likely that, given the fact that the Lord states very clearly that He knows all that the human heart contains, and given that He seeks and requests a personal relationship with each and every one of His children, He therefore has some way of understanding the lives and choices of every single one of us in a way that the merely human mind simply cannot comprehend.

The point thereof is that our individual trials and tribulations are simultaneously of paramount importance to the Creator, and yet also insignificant to a Being capable of counting every single atom in the Universe and telling you exactly how many protons, electrons, neutrons, and fundamental particles exist in all of His Creation.

Given these facts, it is only logical that such a Creator of such vast knowledge can see things that we cannot, and therefore perceives time completely differently than we do. The tens or hundreds or even thousands of years of pain and suffering that we as a species endure, may well just pass in the blink of an eye to the Lord - and yet He can perceive and understand the full depths of misery of His Creation in every detail.

From His perspective, the war between good and evil is already won, and He can already see how the final victory will transpire.

If you assume that the Book of Revelation is true and correct, then we already have a very good idea of what will happen. Satan will be cast down from his throne in Hell and Christ Jesus will return to reign for a thousand years in His proper place as Lord and King, before Satan tries once more to defeat him and is in turn defeated for the final time.

Moreover, Satan was already defeated once before by that very same Christ.

By breaking the Gates of Hell and returning from the dead, Jesus Christ offered all of Mankind a way out, an eternal covenant that made it impossible for Satan to win. He may rule over the Earth, but he no longer has complete control over those of us who choose to serve Christ, and therefore the truth.

But from our merely human perspective, time crawls by and we focus entirely on our own individual experiences of suffering. We do not see the bigger picture because we cannot. We have no ability to do so. And Satan knows this.

So he seeks to inflict the maximum amount of damage that he can, while still operating in God's frame of reference.

Unfortunately for you and me, Satan is succeeding, even as he knows full well that, in the end, he has failed.

The pain and suffering and misery that we all experience will diminish in time, and the evil that afflicts us is already defeated. Yet we cannot help but feel it.

And that is precisely the point. That is what evil thrives upon.

Evil has already been defeated. We know it. They know it. Their aim is not to stop us from winning - they failed and cannot recover from that failure. All they can do now is inflict maximum damage before succumbing to that inevitable defeat.

All of which brings us to the real point of this post.

Every one of us is broken and condemned by his own sins. Not one of us can escape judgement and penance for what we have done wrong. Each of us must answer for our time on this Earth, and some of us will pay a heavier price than others because we have done far worse things.

But ultimately, each of us has a choice, and a chance.

We have the free choice - perhaps the only choice that really matters - to stand with God, or against Him. Those of us who choose to stand against Him are often rewarded in the here and now with fame, fortune, and women, all of the hedonistic pleasures that life has to offer - but they inevitably discover along the way that they are consumed by a gnawing emptiness, a hunger that can never be satisfied.

What they are feeling is the lack of genuine human connection and love that every one of us needs in order to survive and thrive. The price for all of those wonderful things is your soul, and once you sell it, you can't get it back.

On the other hand... those of us who choose to stand with Him, do so knowing full well just how broken and messed up we really are. And yet, He uses us to do His Will, to prevent evil from inflicting the kind of collateral damage that He can see all too well.

Look at the history of broken men used by God to achieve astonishing ends.

Joseph was a monopolist and a market manipulator. Moses killed a man in his youth and ran away from his crime. David was the most beloved of all, but committed adultery and then commanded that the husband of his mistress be put in a position where his death was guaranteed. Virtually every single one of the kings of Israel and Judah was a flawed man; a bare handful actually did the Lord's Will. Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, Elijah, Hosea, Isaiah, Daniel... all the way down the line, every single one of the men that God used to work His wonders was flawed in some way.

So too was Paul. So were every one of the Apostles. Yet He used them nonetheless.

And look at what those men accomplished. Look around you at the world that they helped build.

Yes, you are broken, and yes, you are weak. But you can still be of service to a Power far greater than you can possibly imagine.

All you have to do is bow your head, pray, and ask for forgiveness - and it will be given.

Comments

  1. Hey Didact, This is one of your best articles you have written. I was really inspire and lifted up.

    I was wondering if it would be ok if I read the article on my podcast? I will refer to your website http://didactsreach.blogspot.com'' and put the links in the details to the article.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am very grateful for your kind words, thank you very much. Feel free to read it out on your podcast. If you ever feel like having a very bad and struggling Christian on your podcast, let me know.

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    2. Thank you. I have not had much time to sit down and record but will do before Sunday. It would be awesome to have you on the show. I used to do it with a mate but since he left I need t9 get back on it myself. This is the channel https://soundcloud.com/user-248390809

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    3. Sorry I couldn't respond to this earlier, I've been traveling of late. I would be happy to find the time to sit down and talk with you - obviously not going to be this week, but send me an email and we'll figure out how to make something happen.

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    4. Yes that sounds good. I think I got your email from this site. I will send you an email soon.

      Delete
  2. Finally finish the episode. Sorry it took longer than expected.

    Here is the link for you or anyone else wishes to listen to the article

    https://soundcloud.com/user-248390809/special-episode-the-broken-tools

    Thank again.
    I hope the sound is ok

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  3. Could it be that sin must absolutely exist for humans to be content? Do we have to base our lives in relativity to be truly humans? Just like sin there is ugliness, which makes beauty count, and the taste of success is what makes it satisfying if it wasn’t for the bitterness of failure. I don’t know if there must be equal balance between good and bad, but I guess perception plays a big role here. Two people can sit in the same room and have a totally different experience based on what they have trained themselves to perceive.

    On murder, rape and robbery, perhaps a punishment that fits those crimes is banishment from one’s society. It forces you to give up all attachments to anything and rebuild your character from scratch. The other option is to send the sinner to a community that holds the opposite values. I heard the Amish had no problem taking in someone who murdered one of their own and then put him to work on a building project of their own. That takes some serious discipline to pull off. I don’t know the full details of that story, but I heard that sending criminals to these types of communities is a way to reform them.

    Lastly, there is reincarnation. Something that was part of Christian teachings but got erased by a king who wanted to go on a book burning spree. If you screw up in your previous life, here is your chance to make it up again. If you did well, you might get another life just to be more awesome or just show those around you the correct path. Heh!

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  4. I find it Ironic that as society has lost God, so has their ability to forgive.

    Back in the 60's, if a murderer 'found god' and spent the rest of his life atoning and running a soup kitchen, he would be lauded as a true success story, and praised for turning his life around.

    Today, even an apology for past misdeeds is seen as a sign of weakness, and is like cutting yourself open to try and escape sharks.

    Case in point. a guy recently ran a gofundme for 'beer money', earning over 2 million... Instead of blowing on himself, he publically granted it to a local children's hospital.

    What was the media response? digging up a 'black joke' he tweeted back in high school and crucifying him as a racist.

    Trump was right. The Media IS the enemy, and the strongest tool in Satan's toolbelt.

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  5. Just one item, while many protestant denoms take Revelations literally, the Catholic position, as I understand it, is that it is mostly historical, rather than prophetic, and allegorical, rather than literal. This is not a new position, either, so, much as we can blame Bergoglio for damaging the church, this one isn't on him.

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    Replies
    1. I'm open to either form of interpretation; honestly, I don't know enough of the Scriptures or the theology behind them to have the first clue about what Revelation really means. It is by far the hardest of the Biblical books to read, and that's saying something given what large parts of the Old Testament are like.

      And yes, Pope Francis is rapidly making it impossible to believe in the doctrine of Papal infallibility. I'm highly sympathetic to the Catholic Church, but the sooner that it undergoes a violent purge of heretics and filth, the better. It's well past time we brought back the Papal Inquisition - only this time, starting with the current Pope as a target.

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    2. Didact,

      Yes your sins are forgiven even if you have imperfect contrition.
      The sins that aren't forgiven is when you obstinately choose to be unrepentant. God loves you and respect your free will to choose hell he won't stop you. You FREELY CHOSE.

      As a brother in Christ lemme {strike} bitchslap{/strike} correct you by citing a Fr Z {strike} beatdown[/strike} post on the very struggles you have
      https://wdtprs.com/2019/11/ask-father-i-utterly-reject-bergoglio-so-how-can-i-remain-a-catholic-fr-zs-rant-and-beatdown/

      xavier

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  6. I wish I could remember how C S Lewis put this about not sinning in his words so I'll use mine. We sin. We try not to. We fail so why should we keep trying? Because the failure teaches us that we need God's Grace. We don't stop our sinning, God does.

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