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I play at church but...

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  • I play at church but...

    I've played guitar in church bands for the vast majority of my life. Probably since the age of 15 I've been playing in church bands (I'm 37 now). It's always brought a lot of joy in my life and a sense of purpose to my playing.

    Lately I've been having a lot of nagging questions about God that have made me want to quit playing on a worship team. One thought in particular has been nagging me. It's pretty much the same one that bothers a lot of people worded in various ways.

    If God is omniscient, omnipresent and all powerful how is he then not ultimately responsible for sin? How is it that God predestines some for heaven and others for hell? If he loves us as much as we would like to believe that he does, why doesn't he show himself in a real and tangible way? I think we all agree that hell sounds like the worst torture that one could go through, even for a second let alone an eternity. If the stakes are that high, and the only outcomes for belief and unbelief are that severe why wouldn't God try harder to make sure that no one goes to hell?

    I don't really expect any satisfactory answers from any of you. I'm not really sure that there are answers, other than God is God and he can do as he wants. It's just a bummer because I've always enjoyed playing at church, but now feel very hypocritical when I do. That and the thought that I am on my way to hell for my unbelief isn't all that encouraging either. Anyways that's my first post here!

  • #2
    Bro, some very good questions there. I suggest that you study a bit of Quantum Physic before you get into these sorts of questions, & here's why: it'll give you perspective. We know SO VERY LITTLE, & our perspective is so subjective & skewed that - apart from God saying to us, "Hey! You over there! I'm sorta like this...", we'd never know anything about Him at all. We hardly know anything about ourselves correctly, which is why every so many years a new scientific revolution happens & everything we think we know about the universe flips on it's head. An example: a single particle of light can be fired at a fall & will leave a single mark where it hits - this is all measurable. If you place another wall with a hole through it, & something that senses light over the hole, & fire that same particle of light, it will pass through that hole & leave a mark on the other wall. Now, put a thousand holes on that baffle between you & the wall, fire your particle of light: it passes through all of them simultaneously, & still leaves on mark on the wall on the other side! From our perspective a particle of light - which is traveling forward - isn't exactly following a single course of direction - the chances of it following a specific path you might recognize is likely, but the very next moment that same particle could be - from your perspective - completely across the known universe, & back again not even a moment later, having never traveled the distance between those two locations. That's why light that is a single particle can also function as a wave of things at the same time that it's only one thing. Is it witchcraft? Crazy talk? No, what is likely is that light primarily functions on a higher dimension than us, & with each higher dimension the rules change/adapt. When you add a fourth spacial dimension, suddenly things that were millions of miles away from you in 3 dimensions, happens to be within reach, only around a barrier. From what we presently know of the universe there are likely at least 13 dimensions - we know of only the base 4: height, depth, width, & time. The God we worship - by definition as creator - would primarily function ABOVE all of these... so, if you think light is confusing!

    I don't know that I believe some of the things in your list - we might not agree doctrinally - but I'll say this: God's HUGENESS and UNIQUENESS has led me to be able to hold potentially a lot of mysteries at bay: are we free agents, able to enact our wills? Sure? Is God absolutely sovereign over our decisions? Yep! So, I'm left with this: the God I encounter/see in Jesus is a beautiful person, & I love Him, & I can trust that sorta God. If that God - whom I love & trust - tells me a story about where sin came from & doesn't say, "Sorry guys - that was all MY FAULT", then I'm going to bank on that story, because God is WAY BEYOND my grasp apart from His intervention, & I don't assume to ever be able to fully grasp the nature of the universe He made, or the mysteries of how He works in it.

    If any of this helps you, I'm happy to chat further about some of the other things you wrote about. Shoot me a private email at shannon@theworshipcommunity.com

    Thank you for stopping by!

    Comment


    • #3
      Just a precursor here... these answers are rooted out of my denominational understanding, which may differ from yours. YMMV.

      >If God is omniscient, omnipresent and all powerful how is he then not ultimately responsible for sin?

      God created mankind to have free will. This makes us different from the angels, (indeed, *higher than* they are), because we have the opportunity to honor and worship God freely, knowing that we could have instead become automatons whose love is as deep as a computer program spitting out "I love you" back at its creator.

      >How is it that God predestines some for heaven and others for hell?

      Different denominations (like mine) reject this question, rendering it faulty. God calls all to heaven, but not everybody, freely, accepts the invitation. And even if some do make it to the wedding feast, not all clothe themselves with holiness. God didn't predestine the improperly dressed wedding guest to come as he did. (See Matt 22:1-14).

      >If he loves us as much as we would like to believe that he does, why doesn't he show himself in a real and tangible way?
      That's like a fish asking another fish to prove to him that water exists. God has proven Himself so immensely, that we take for granted everything around us. The fact that I am typing right now is a miracle--that our brains (made up of matter) can register a coherent sentence, built on language and grammar, and we could have that move to our fingers, which remember the keys to which we type, and seeing the end result on the screen. THIS was made by CHANCE? (And this is the teensiest tip of the proverbial iceberg, when was the last time you ventured into a natural history museum)?

      >I think we all agree that hell sounds like the worst torture that one could go through, even for a second let alone an eternity. If the stakes are that high, and the only outcomes for belief and unbelief are that severe why wouldn't God try harder to make sure that no one goes to hell?
      His Son died on the cross. What more do you want?

      In short, I think these questions are good questions, and if my answers are too short, that's simply the limitation of the medium. It can be resolved by delving into great books that go into this at great detail. I recommend Peter Kreeft's "Making Sense Out of Suffering."
      Nick Alexander
      Host, The Prayer Meeting Podcast
      Worship that is Contemporary, Traditional, Charismatic, Contemplative, Spontaneous, based on the Church calendar, play it whenever you want.
      Find out what Nick Alexander can do for your conference, retreat or workshop.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Pepe Silvia View Post
        I don't really expect any satisfactory answers from any of you.
        Sounds like your mind is already made up that there aren't satisfactory answers. That indicates to me that you are camped out on doubt and looking to validate your pre-formed conclusion and not gain new perspective. That won't help your situation. Doubt is like a virus- it will suck the life out of everything. We can only help if you keep an open mind and consider what we have to say.


        Originally posted by Pepe Silvia View Post
        If God is omniscient, omnipresent and all powerful how is he then not ultimately responsible for sin?
        First thing to really understand about God- he isn't the 'man behind the curtain' pulling strings and making smoke & mirror shows trying to manipulate us. He is the creator of the universe whose end game is to have a relationship with his creation. This is really what the entire Bible is about- chronicling God's desire to have a relationship with his creation- and how to overcome the sin that prevents it.

        As Nick says, we are created to have free will. Meaning, as clarified in Genesis, humans were made in God's image. To me, there are a few main thing that 'created in God's image' means. One, we are creators. Compared to all other mammals, humans, we create things- invent things. We create art and music. We share ideas and concepts .We envision what could be and strive to create it from nothing. We create relationships and societies. We create these things because of the imaginations God put in us- because we are made in His likeness. Other species of mammals may do some of these things, but it's out of a utilitarian need to survive. Another key concept to me about being created in God's image is the fact we do have a free will. When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden, the most perfect of places that God created for us, it's because God desired us to live in tranquility. His desire was (and still is) for us to live in harmony with God. They had free will to eat of any fruit, even though they were given instructions not to eat from one tree. They chose to eat fruit that God said not to. God didn't make them eat that fruit, he didn't strike them with lightning when they did, but they chose to disregard what God told them (which is what all sin boils down to), so God separated himself from the sin. Adam and Eve are responsible for sin because of their free will and choice to disobey and the consequences of that sin.

        Originally posted by Pepe Silvia View Post
        How is it that God predestines some for heaven and others for hell?
        Can you show me a verse that says God predestined people for Hell? I haven’t found one. Everything credible I’ve read on predestination is the concept of certain people God has called for certain roles before they were born. The idea of predestination has been contaminated by people’s misconceptions rooted in a couple of 'proof texts' taken out of context. Basically saying God knows who is going to heaven and who is going to hell before they are even born, so that must mean God 'decided' that person is going to hell before they were born. Which isn't true at all.

        To clarify, as stated multiple times in the Bible, God's desire is that ALL people go to heaven. We are ALL given an opportunity to go to Heaven as adopted sons through Jesus- if we choose to accept it (again, our choice). God does not create someone just to send them to Hell. Remember Genesis- we are created in God’s image. God would not deliberately send Himself to Hell, so why would he deliberately send us? What sends people to Hell is their decision to either become an adopted son through Christ or to reject Christ. That is up to you and me.

        As far as biblical ‘predestination’, from what I have learned about it, it really means God has called certain people for specific kingdom work before they are born. Think of people like Moses, Jacob, David, the 12 Apostles, pastors, teachers, evangelists, even Jesus. Throughout the Bible, God has chosen certain people for predestined roles in His kingdom. That doesn’t mean because someone isn’t ‘predestined’ in that sense that they go to Hell by default.

        In all reality, yes- we know that not everyone will go to Heaven. People are in Hell and will continue to go there until the restoration of Heaven and Earth. I am confident God knows who those people are. One could delve down the road of ‘if He knows they are going to Hell, why create them’? This question is one of many that stumps the best of theologians, and is one of those questions that perhaps we aren’t supposed to know the answer to. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. My best assertion is that God creates people and gives them free will- even if it’s against His will and he knows they will choose to reject Christ.

        Originally posted by Pepe Silvia View Post
        If he loves us as much as we would like to believe that he does, why doesn't he show himself in a real and tangible way?
        What’s real and tangible to you? For me, the first one is that He sent his Son, Jesus, to be tortured, mocked, ridiculed and ultimately killed so we have a way to be forgiven for our evil. Other ways that are tangible to me- when people are healed from diseases. When I go outside and see the most beautiful sunrise. Heck, the fact that the earth has been in orbit for billions of years and hasn’t burnt up. Every time I read my Bible and the words jump off the page. The thing with God, you can choose to see Him everywhere or nowhere. It comes down to faith. Are you going to take a chance and believe in something you can’t immediately see, taste or feel? Are you going to trust in something that hasn’t come to pass yet?

        Originally posted by Pepe Silvia View Post
        I think we all agree that hell sounds like the worst torture that one could go through, even for a second let alone an eternity. If the stakes are that high, and the only outcomes for belief and unbelief are that severe why wouldn't God try harder to make sure that no one goes to hell?
        Take an objective look at this question. Here is what God has done so far
        • Garden of Eden- which Adam and Eve chose to sin and were removed from
        • Gave us the Bible, with detailed written instructions about how not to go to hell, the stories of the consequences of people who rejected God, and the Gospel of Christ
        • Gave us Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice
        • Has spent the last 2000 years sending evangelists, teachers and preachers into all the nations of the earth to proclaim the Gospel
        • The Bible is the world’s best-selling and most widely distributed book, with over 5 BILLION copies printed since 1815 (when they started keeping records)
        • Approximately 78 million Bibles are distributed every year
        • There are roughly 24,000 Christian tv programming shows and tens of thousands more Christian radio broadcasts worldwide
        • There are currently 37 million churches in 41,000 Christian denominations with 2 billion Christian people worldwide
        • There are over 300,000 foreign missionaries and 4 million full-time Christian workers (work in a ministry role)
        • 160,000 people a year are martyred for their Christian faith

        Looks to me like God is doing his part. With all due respect, what more do you want?

        It’s not up to God to keep me or anyone else out of Hell. We all have a choice.

        Originally posted by Pepe Silvia View Post
        That and the thought that I am on my way to hell for my unbelief isn't all that encouraging either.
        Hey- we all go through stuff like this. We get a seed of doubt- Satan whispers in our ear, ‘did God really say…?’ ‘If God is all that, then why did this happen’? Remember, he is the one is the liar, deceiver, and thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. You are doing the right thing and seeking answers. But if you already decided they won’t be good enough, you are falling for a huge trap. Keep an open mind- you can even ask God.

        Don’t give up- hang in there. We’ve all been where you are. You have to do dig in and find the answers. Seek out people who can really help you without giving you a bunch of church speak and judgment. I am praying for you to have clarity and to hear from God.
        If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

        Comment


        • #5
          Okay so, here are my thoughts.

          If you don't want to play in church, then don't! There are other venues for your music.

          If you feel like a hypocrite, but still want to play in church, then play in church! Your thoughts are between you and any divine being you believe in (if they exist).

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