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  #46  
Old Jun 9, '12, 3:22 am
John Carlton John Carlton is offline
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

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Originally Posted by atheistgirl View Post
Lol - just about all of them would - they're very church based girls

No, I don't care about their background, religion, or color, it happens from where we are most are Christian, Black and poor.

Sarah x
Fair enough. And I'm glad to hear that you're out there doing good, the world needs do-gooders, she really does. Although, for argument's sake you could turn it around too. Even if someone doesn't go to Church it doesn't mean they don't have any spiritual convictions. I tutor children on Monday nights after school, and some of them, knowing that I am religious, come to me with questions, the Christians, Moslems and general uncategorised. My point was, we do not believe God withholds Grace from those that do not believe. And my other point is that we all have the choice to accept or reject. You appear, and I truly mean no offence, to be investing a lot of time and thought into this when you don't believe it will get you anywhere. And also, I mean no offence, you seem to be painting us in very black and white colours. I realise it's easy to do, I do, I did the same thing, but having stood on both sides of the Cross, our beliefs are never as simple as, say, a cursory reading of the Old Testament. You'll find a palpable number of professing Catholics here don't even believe in most of the events in the OT as actual history, in that you share common ground. But I'll cut my rambling, I've already told you everything I am equipped to about the topic of Grace. I hope some of the others are able to give you an answer you will hear.
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  #47  
Old Jun 9, '12, 4:16 am
Sair Sair is offline
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

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Originally Posted by Hat4 View Post
Could you clarify please? You seem to be using sarcasm here but that would mean that you think that all evil actions are immediately punished here on earth and people only avoid them to avoid consequences. Also, in the context of people only acting due to their inclinations, what would being persuaded to change your ways have to due with this? The point seems to be about motivation and not ability to change. Sorry if I'm missing the point, just trying to follow along.
Yes, you're quite correct that I was using sarcasm.

No, I don't think all evil actions are immediately punished, at least by external means, in the here and now. However, I don't think external punishment is the only reality to which moral offenders, if I may so phrase it, may be subject. One of the principles suggested by Epicurus (and I am, some would say anomalously, an Epicurean pantheist) is that stress resulting from one's actions is a great source of misery in life. The key idea is that human morality is reciprocal, and that if one acts contrary to the needs, desires and interests of others, one must expect others to act that way towards onesself, and the knowledge that one has opened the door to this is productive of stress.

So it might well be said that transgressing against one's fellows for no other reason than one's own gain is punishment in itself, since it invites the probability of reciprocal action.

As regards changing one's ways, this would, of course, involve changing one's inclinations - which can be done, because personality is not a fixed, solid phenomenon (one of those wonderful facts that neuroscience has uncovered). A person who had been in the habit of living according to criminal principles - by which I mean the belief that everyone is always and only out for what they can get, and that surviving in this environment requires realising one's own advantage before anyone else can get in before you - can come to understand that life is much less stressful and more rewarding if one cooperates with others and treats them with understanding and fellow-feeling. Yes, of course compassion can be destroyed by abuse; but it can also be rebuilt with the exercise of compassion towards the abused.

This should not be a foreign concept to those who believe in religious conversion. What I am saying, effectively, is that conversion can happen without the addition of religious faith - faith in one's fellow beings is enough, where it receives sufficient support.
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  #48  
Old Jun 9, '12, 5:01 am
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

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Originally Posted by reconman View Post
Your conclusion is correct, they can't. But there's one caveat: Grace only applies to those in heaven. It does not exist in this life or for those in purgatory, that much is certain, it simply cannot be possible.
Otherwise God would not allow horrible suffering by some while others escape unscathed. It's a paradox which cannot be explained otherwise.
Could you provide a reference from Church teaching that says "Grace only applies to those in heaven"...I know of no such teaching in the Catholic Church
(I note in your profile you are Catholic)

Peace
James
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  #49  
Old Jun 9, '12, 7:38 am
Contarini Contarini is offline
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

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Originally Posted by atheistgirl View Post
If I understand you correctly, if God is responsible for my very life, and God is the ultimate Good, then any good I do, is simply because of God, because my actions are in line (somewhat) with His nature, and well, to put it simply (I have to think about these things in simple terms which is why I will never be a philosopher!!!!) I couldn't do anything else if I'm in tune with Him.

However, if I decide to do something bad, then THAT act, is a willful act on my part to go against God, since He would never sanction such action, but will not stop me, since I have free will.

I have no idea if that's right or not but that's kinda what I got from what you're saying.

Does that not mean then, that my natural default position is to do good, since my very life, and being, is from God, who is all Good, so, to act naturally, to act according to my nature, is actually to do good?

But doesn't Christianity say my natural default position is to do bad, because I'm a broken human being, and it's only by willfully accepting God and so on, that I can do good?

Sarah x
This is an excellent question. A lot of confusion has been sown, especially by Protestants, who in the Reformation started saying that we are "naturally" bad. Calvin himself explains that this doesn't mean that human nature is bad, but simply that our sinfulness is a "given" that we come into the world with, not something we acquire in the course of our lives. But it seems to me that a lot of conservative Protestants are confused about this, and no doubt they confuse others. I remember one Baptist student of mine being rather shocked when I exposed him to Aquinas's view of human nature. . . . .

The basic Christian view is that our nature, created by God, is good. We naturally desire what is good. However, Christians also believe that something has gone wrong with the human will--the human capacity for choosing what our God-given nature inclines us to desire. St. Augustine puts it this way: our wills have become "turned in on themselves," so that we choose lesser goods in a disordered way. An obvious example of this would be a child grabbing candy away from another child. The desire for candy--for the sensation of sweetness--is not a bad thing. In fact, in Augustine's thought sweetness is one of the most powerful symbols for God's eternal beauty. The child's desire to taste candy is a reflection--a very faint shadow--of the child's ultimate, natural desire for God. But by indulging the desire for candy at the expense of love and justice, the child is exalting this very minor good (the physical sensation of sweetness) above a good (getting along with the other kid lovingly and justly) that more fully reflects the one, infinite, ultimate good which is God. The further wrinkle (again, brilliantly commented on by Augustine) is that the child may not actually want the candy so much as to exert power over the other kid. This is a much more radically distorted desire, and it plays some role in most sinful human behavior.

So it isn't that our "default position" is to do bad, as if "bad" were a thing that could be done. "Badness" isn't a thing in itself. It's a twisting of the good--putting a lesser good (most fundamentally, if Augustine's right, the assertion of our own wills) over a greater good (ultimately God). But all of us are prone to this kind of disordered good. So yes, we need help from God to break us out of the destructive spiral of disordered love.

Edwin
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  #50  
Old Jun 9, '12, 9:01 am
Gaber Gaber is offline
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

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Originally Posted by atheistgirl View Post
If I understand you correctly, if God is responsible for my very life, and God is the ultimate Good, then any good I do, is simply because of God, because my actions are in line (somewhat) with His nature, and well, to put it simply (I have to think about these things in simple terms which is why I will never be a philosopher!!!!) I couldn't do anything else if I'm in tune with Him.

However, if I decide to do something bad, then THAT act, is a willful act on my part to go against God, since He would never sanction such action, but will not stop me, since I have free will.

I have no idea if that's right or not but that's kinda what I got from what you're saying.

Does that not mean then, that my natural default position is to do good, since my very life, and being, is from God, who is all Good, so, to act naturally, to act according to my nature, is actually to do good?

But doesn't Christianity say my natural default position is to do bad, because I'm a broken human being, and it's only by willfully accepting God and so on, that I can do good?

Sarah x
The Christian (Christianist, in broader terms) puts forth the idea of a personal God. All relationship and cosmology in Christianist terms is based on that belief. That belief is called anthropomorphization, and no contemplative, Catholic or not, who has gone to the inevitable and natural conclusion of that path would say that God is personal in the sense that is ordinarliy understood. Naturally, due to the limitations of English and other languages being fundamentally dualistic, the adoration of God s Principle, and distinct from any single human person as a limtation of identification, is often put in relational terms. And indeed, up to the last barrier, the one that distinguishes mystics from the final accomplishment of the contemplative life, God is held as an object until that symbol is replaced by a very specific recognition. At that point the dynamic and temporary necessity of perceiiving God as an object is seem as incomplete and unnecesssary. But until then, lacking that insight, those who either ignorantly or with pointed purpose seek what is termed God throug ineffective or useful means, "God" is a mental place holder until one knows better. Then there is no difference.

But what most people are "atheist" about, and rightfully so, is the popular humanization or anthropomorphization of the referent for the now over-used-into-near-uselessness term "God." And if there is a mistake in atheism, it is precisely the mistake of those who have faith. Both faith and atheism are relative assesments in the realm of intellection. Neither goes in the direction, usually, of examining that factor which allows one's intellect to be percieved as such, in awareness, and the root of that awareness. So in that sense there is no distinction between even the strongest beleif, religious or other wise, and atheism. Neither usefully looks inward in an epistemological way that examines the tool of perception itself.

That can be done, even though on the grounds of faith or of atheism the process can be rejected as an intellectual proposition. But on the other hand, the kind of insight I'm refering to is independent of religion or lack of it, or any other factor of time, culture, background, personal attributes, or whatever. This can be expereinced.
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  #51  
Old Jun 9, '12, 1:12 pm
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prodigalson2011 prodigalson2011 is offline
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

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The question is framed in a way that presupposes a personal God who can be either rejected or could force something. Has anyone on here met God to ascertain that God is a Person? Or is that just a belief you acquired by way of a long and arduous string of communication? How do you know that was or is accurate? Are you absolutely sure that the chaine had it completely inerrant at each communication? Are you absoluitely sure that your understanding of the communication you in particular recieved was inerrantly correct? Do you know that with absolute surety? Not faith, surety. How do you behave when you think that thought? Who would you be without that thought? What if you turned it around, what would you be if you weren't an atheist but knew there wasn't a personal God? Im thinking that if you can't totally lay aside what you believe and look at it, and other ideas, impartially and thoroughly with all the pertinent disciplines, you haven't a clue what you are actually believing other than a partial. Is that why they call it faith and not knowledge?
You'd be a deist.

Regarding this and your latest contribution to this thread, Gaber, I'm left to seriously question what is meant by your religious nomination of "Ronin Catholic" as well as the veracity of your study of Catholic contemplatives. Your assertions in regards to their understanding of God seem to be a case of theological projection on your part; Thomas Merton might come close to fitting your bill, though. Nevertheless, I can't help but perceive a thread of that pseudo-Guruism that plagued the late 60s and 70s. That is, for all your words, you don't seem to be saying anything.

You constantly assert that most everyone else has a flawed conception of God and speak as though you have attained perfect knowledge of Him (or whatever impersonal means of address you would ascribe to your conception of deity.) Yet your responses never really give any indication or hint of any higher understanding; just an assortment of redressed new age ideas.
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  #52  
Old Jun 9, '12, 1:27 pm
tonyrey tonyrey is offline
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

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Originally Posted by atheistgirl View Post
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...but we cannot trust others nor can they trust us because no one knows who the next criminal will be.
Ok, but as our natural default position is to do good, it's fair to think we can trust others, as their natural position is also to do good, until they prove otherwise. This is borne out by the fact that most people are not bad people. They can't be, or societies all over the world, regardless of what faith or none, would simply implode.
It would be very foolish to trust everyone all the time.

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We are forced to regard everyone as potential enemies and to put our own interests first.
I completely disagree.
I see everyone as a fellow human being, with the same needs, wants, desires, hopes, dreams, successes and failures, pains and loves as me, and treat them as a friend. I think most people do that too.
It would be naive and extremely foolish to trust complete strangers without finding out anything about them.
Quote:
Putting our own interests first is an interesting statement. I'm not great at expressing these things as you'll have noticed, but I kinda agree, and don't. As I always do, I have to think in real world terms, and not abstract philosophical stuff, but:

Yes, I would agree, at times, I put my own interests first. But these interests were colored by longer term ambitions to be able to provide well for a future family, and, yes, honestly, to have more luxury and more comfort than I did growing up. (I highly recommend a cold water bath outdoors at just above zero to make you feel alive ).

These interests were also colored by a drive to achieve something worthwhile, from which I would derive an amount of pride and satisfaction in my accomplishments. (such as they are!).
If no one ever put themselves first no one would benefit from putting themselves first! It would be a truly vicious circle which contradicts the rational precept that we should love others as ourselves.

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But I could never have done it on my own. If I had viewed everyone as a potential enemy, as you put it, or a danger, I would never have been able to start in business. I had nothing, and I do mean nothing, and I had to rely on people trusting me, and bartering with me, to get started. If I treated these people, strangers, as potential enemies, well, heck, I'd never have left my room. And guess what. People were good. And I repaid their kindness. One of the reasons I got involved in something I do to give back to the community, was a guy who said he didn't want paying for a piece of work I had to have done, without which I would never have got out of the blocks, and he knew I had no money, and wasn't interested in bartering. He told me to put what he would have charged into something philantropic when I could. I can't tell you how much I laughed at that, not knowing what the word even meant and wearing, as I was, my sisters shoes at the time! Another guy did some publicity/promotion stuff for me, in exchange for cleaning his trucks

A good man, I'm friends with still, who took a chance on a precocious teenager. Sure, he could afford to write it off and probably just felt sorry for me. But he still did what he did. He was no enemy. He, because of his actions, indirectly, inadvertantly and unintentionally started a scheme that's now practically self funding and teaches troubled teenagers skills for life and work.

And he's like most, not all, sure, but most people I've ever come across or had dealings with.
I agree that sometimes we have to take risks but it would be irresponsible to trust complete strangers if we have a family to support.

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Why do we find evil more fascinating and exciting than virtue?
Again, I would disagree, and I'm not some kind of freek living in a bubble! I sure don't find evil more fascinating than doing something good. And most people I know, live around, work with, support, or meet, don't either.
What usually makes headline news?
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The forbidden fruit is desirable because we have inherited a tendency to rebel.
Yeah, I'll give you that one. Family duties and work vs Chocolate, no contest



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We want to be independent rather than take orders from others.
Which is one of the reasons I wanted to go into business. And the reason a lot of businesses exist. That's no bad thing.
It is not intrinsically evil but the lust for power often overrides everything else.

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Otherwise everyone would be living in peace and harmony.
I think, taking account of the global picture, most people do. If most people, most of the time, weren't, their societies would just implode.
Unfortunately the bloodstained history of the human race shows no sign of abating if we are to judge by current events and prospects. Most people do live in peace and harmony until they are oppressed or deprived of their basic rights and needs such as sufficient food to eat - ant that is a rare occurrence. Even in the UK - which is supposed to be a developed nation - over a million children are living in poverty.
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  #53  
Old Jun 9, '12, 2:00 pm
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atheistgirl atheistgirl is offline
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

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What usually makes headline news?
I would have thought, you, as a Catholic, would be pretty tuned in to media manipulation, as I've read here a lot of stuff about the mainstream media outlets and their anti-Catholic stance, and how they get called out on it by the people here. Quite rightly in my opinion.

Headline news is not a good proof that people are more fascinated with and excited by evil, than virtue.

That's just what the mainstream media feed us. Most of us though are not manipulated by that.

If people were truely more fascinated by evil and excited by it, most people would have in their libraries hundreds of studies of the lives of mass murderers and rapists. Most people would belong to clubs that invoke satanic stuff. Most people would be evil to each other, to watch the outcome and get excited by the responses.

That is simply not true.

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Even in the UK - which is supposed to be a developed nation - over a million children are living in poverty.
And is there major social unrest there? Are people generally, overall, unhappy? Is civil war looming?

Or will these problems be eventually solved or relieved by a peaceful political solution?

I suggest the latter, but as you live there, I concede you know way more than I do about the reality of the situation.

Sarah x
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  #54  
Old Jun 9, '12, 2:40 pm
tonyrey tonyrey is offline
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

[quote=atheistgirl;9389429]
Quote:
I would have thought, you, as a Catholic, would be pretty tuned in to media manipulation, as I've read here a lot of stuff about the mainstream media outlets and their anti-Catholic stance, and how they get called out on it by the people here. Quite rightly in my opinion.

Headline news is not a good proof that people are more fascinated with and excited by evil, than virtue.
It is an excellent proof! Read on.

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That's just what the mainstream media feed us. Most of us though are not manipulated by that.
Media manipulation is based on knowledge of what most people want to read - something sensational. Good news is rarely exciting...

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If people were truly more fascinated by evil and excited by it, most people would have in their libraries hundreds of studies of the lives of mass murderers and rapists. Most people would belong to clubs that invoke satanic stuff. Most people would be evil to each other, to watch the outcome and get excited by the responses.

That is simply not true.
You're going from one extreme to the other! Entertainment is often unrealistic. Children (and some adults) play video games in which killing is an achievement but they wouldn't kill in real life.

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And is there major social unrest there? Are people generally, overall, unhappy? Is civil war looming?
There were riots last year in London in which shots were fired at the police, homes were destroyed by arson and four people were killed. If people thought the present government would last indefinitely they would certainly resort to more drastic measures. It is extremely unpopular because of cuts to benefits and public services while the income tax for the rich has been reduced by 10%. The jobless (many of whom are young people who have never been employed) and the homeless (who are living on the streets or in sheds) have absolutely nothing to lose...

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Or will these problems be eventually solved or relieved by a peaceful political solution?
I suggest the latter, but as you live there, I concede you know way more than I do about the reality of the situation.
This country has a democratic tradition unlike many others in the world. Africa and South America, for example, have had a spate of revolutions which will continue because of corruption, injustice and unspeakable poverty - but there is a limit to what people will take when they know others are living off the fat of the land. The Cabinet (PM and senior ministers) is composed mainly of millionaires.
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  #55  
Old Jun 9, '12, 3:13 pm
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

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You're going from one extreme to the other! Entertainment is often unrealistic. Children (and some adults) play video games in which killing is an achievement but they wouldn't kill in real life.
I have deep concerns about these type of ''games'' and the effect they have on people that use them.

However, I don't believe your claim that most people are fascinated by evil is proved, or even true, based on headlines.

I am not disputing that a sensational headline might sell extra newspapers to people that might normally not have taken them that morning.

But if most people, most of the time, were truely fascinated by evil, there would be lots of other evidence to back this up, not just a purchased newspaper. Most people would be subscribed to occultish magazines, most people would be experimenting with evil actions and their outcomes in their daily lives, most people would have in their homes books on evil, evil people, evil acts, studies on these evil people and their motivations, most people would be doing evil. And there is just no evidence that is the case. In fact the opposite is true. Most people, most of the time, do not do evil, and are not interested in doing evil, evidenced by the fact most people, most of the time, live in relative peace and security.

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but there is a limit to what people will take when they know others are living off the fat of the land. The Cabinet (PM and senior ministers) is composed mainly of millionaires.
My bet, and I hope I'm right for the sakes of everyone in the UK is you will not see civil war, but a change of government, or some kind of political solution.

Sarah x
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Last edited by atheistgirl; Jun 9, '12 at 3:30 pm.
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  #56  
Old Jun 9, '12, 6:29 pm
tonyrey tonyrey is offline
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

[quote=atheistgirl;9389624]
Quote:
I have deep concerns about these type of ''games'' and the effect they have on people that use them.

However, I don't believe your claim that most people are fascinated by evil is proved, or even true, based on headlines.

I am not disputing that a sensational headline might sell extra newspapers to people that might normally not have taken them that morning.

But if most people, most of the time, were truely fascinated by evil, there would be lots of other evidence to back this up, not just a purchased newspaper. Most people would be subscribed to occultish magazines, most people would be experimenting with evil actions and their outcomes in their daily lives, most people would have in their homes books on evil, evil people, evil acts, studies on these evil people and their motivations, most people would be doing evil. And there is just no evidence that is the case. In fact the opposite is true. Most people, most of the time, do not do evil, and are not interested in doing evil, evidenced by the fact most people, most of the time, live in relative peace and security.
Fascination with evil doesn't imply that people do something evil. Many lives are so humdrum and boring that they need stimulants of some kind. Why are crime and horror films and novels so popular? There is no doubt that evil is exciting because it is sinister and threatening. It is a mistake to underestimate its significance because we are all potential victims and we can learn from the misfortunes of others how to minimise our vulnerability. If it's a force to be reckoned with it is foolish not to be fascinated by its sheer callousness and ruthlessness that have no scientific explanation. Delight in exercising power over others by torturing and killing them is not always a sign of insanity but cold-blooded inhumanity which is often premeditated and carefully planned.


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My bet, and I hope I'm right for the sakes of everyone in the UK is you will not see civil war, but a change of government, or some kind of political solution.
A change of government is almost certain according to the polls. Almost every week there is a scandal and backtracking on the Budget in a vain attempt to regain popularity...
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  #57  
Old Jun 9, '12, 7:51 pm
reconman reconman is offline
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Could you provide a reference from Church teaching that says "Grace only applies to those in heaven"...I know of no such teaching in the Catholic Church
(I note in your profile you are Catholic)

Peace
James
I believe you are correct. There is no such teaching.

These are just my own observations, which I cannot logically deny.

Grace can only apply to those in heaven because there is no suffering there. In this life and in purgatory, it's not so.
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  #58  
Old Jun 9, '12, 8:52 pm
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I believe you are correct. There is no such teaching.

These are just my own observations, which I cannot logically deny.

Grace can only apply to those in heaven because there is no suffering there. In this life and in purgatory, it's not so.
Are you unfamiliar with the teaching that the sacrament of confession puts us in a "state of grace?"

If we weren't given grace in this life, we would not make it to heaven. From the New Catholic Dictionary, grace is a "supernatural gift of God's beneficence, gratuitously bestowed upon a rational creature (angel or man), for the ultimate purpose of fitting the recipient for life eternal." In other words, grace is a sanctifying gift given to creatures to make them ready for life with God. It is a supernatural power that helps us to achieve eternal life.

Not to mention that grace is ascribed to several living individuals in Scripture, most prominently our Blessed Mother, whom the angel calls "full of grace." In addition to this, Paul tells us that in answer to his prayer to be freed of a particular ailment, God said in reply "my grace is sufficient for you."

In fact, I would go so far as to say that once in Heaven, grace is no longer necessary, as one is indissolubly bound to the life of God. At that point, you are in a state of glory, not grace.
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Old Jun 9, '12, 9:50 pm
reconman reconman is offline
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

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Originally Posted by prodigalson2011 View Post
Are you unfamiliar with the teaching that the sacrament of confession puts us in a "state of grace?"
True that is one definition. Here's another:

"a special favor : privilege"

It's obvious to me that some in this life receive favors and privileges from God (good health, a happy family, a rewarding career, unyielding faith in God etc) while others do not.

Therefore grace is not equally distributed by God. It can't be.

It must be then, that since the church says all will receive grace, it can only be speaking about heaven.
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Old Jun 9, '12, 9:58 pm
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prodigalson2011 prodigalson2011 is offline
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Default Re: God doesn't force Himself on those who reject Him?

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Originally Posted by reconman View Post
True that is one definition. Here's another:

"a special favor : privilege"

It's obvious to me that some in this life receive favors and privileges from God (good health, a happy family, a rewarding career, unyielding faith in God etc) while others do not.

Therefore grace is not equally distributed by God. It can't be.
That is not the sacramental definition of grace. Those are material blessings. What is meant by grace in the discussion at hand, and Catholic theology in general, is a spiritual gift that aids in the sanctification of the soul.

Grace, in the Catholic understanding, is not "distributed" unequally; rather, it is "received" in accordance with how open an individual is to it or how they respond to the initial grace given them, i.e. do they use the grace they have received to do God's will? do they receive the sacraments regularly? do they serve others? etc. Fr. Robert Barron expressed this concept well when he said something to the effect of: "When you receive the love of God, give it away, because the more you give it away, the more you get back." In other words, the more we do with the grace we've already received, the more our hearts will be able to hold.
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