The Faith Award

Why should God be so interested in belief—Dawkins wants to know. Why shouldn’t he reward kindness, generosity, humility, or sincerity? (The God Delusion, 104) It’s a very good question.

Dawkins is asking a question that pertains to an entity he believes (almost) certainly does not exist. Indeed it will be difficult for him to hear any kind of answer. He (and any atheist) is going to have to yield to the notion that God does indeed exist. Not just any god–for there are thousands who require good virtues and works of righteousness in addition to belief. But only one God–the God of the Bible–requires FAITH alone. If Dawkins (or any atheist) wants an answer to this question, he will have to tolerate for once, the God of the Bible…

In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth and gave order to it. He created man and woman in his own image. He blessed them and charged them to be fruitful and multiply, and to rule over his creation. God provided them with seed-bearing plants and fruit-bearing trees to eat for food. God saw all that he had made and saw that it was very good (Genesis 1).

Adam and Eve had perfect communion with God in the Garden of Eden. God had only one restriction–do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or you will surely die (Genesis 2:16-17). It is not too much to ask. There were plenty of trees from which Adam and Eve could eat. Only one single tree in the whole garden was forbidden. God gave us freedom to choose to obey him, or to forsake him. He permitted us to act on our will. And so we did. You and I were not there in the Garden of Eden. But we all fell with Adam’s sin. Sin infected the entire human race. We ALL are guilty of sin. We all harbor ill thoughts, we all lie, we all cheat, we all offend, we all shrink in our pride. And therefore we all die, just as God warned would surely happen.

God is not obliged to reverse our decision. We made our choice. We are not entitled to reconciliation. We all deserve eternal damnation.Yet God is gracious. He cursed the serpent for instigating this evil, but in the middle of the curse, he promised redemption for man (Genesis 3:15). And so he established his covenant.

As sinners, we are born into death. The dead and the living cannot have fellowship together. The pure will not tolerate the perverse. And the perverse will not tolerate the pure. God is perfect and holy. We are imperfect and unholy. We can do NOTHING to save ourselves. NOTHING! No amount of good works will ever redeem us from the grave. We will always contend with sin. We made our decision–we CHOSE death.

The only one who CAN save us from death is the One who is perfect and holy, without blemish, without sin—Jesus Christ the Son of God. He took our sin upon himself and died our death so that we may live.

Romans 10:9 tells us that that if we confess with our lips, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved. It is easy to read this verse to mean that we are saved as a result of our believing in God. But this would contradict with the rest of Scripture and nullify the work of Christ. We are saved by GRACE, not by works. Galatians 2:21. Belief in God does NOT merit salvation. Faith is NOT an activating agent that somehow makes the cross effective in our lives. We are not saved because we believe in Jesus. We believe in Jesus, because we are saved. Belief is a result (not a cause) of salvation. We will have restored communion with God, not because of anything we have done, but because of what Christ alone has done.

Dawkins is therefore mistaken. God does NOT reward our belief. Salvation—from beginning to end—is entirely the work of God ALONE. We are DEAD in our sin. As long as we are in the grave, we will only ever choose death. But the Holy Spirit gives life. Romans 8:1-17. The Spirit is the one who reveals God’s truth and leads us to true faith and repentance. We can NEVER choose to believe in God without the intervention of his Spirit. True faith can only come from God, not from ourselves. Ephesians 2:8-9. If true faith originates from ourselves, than belief in God is a work of self-righteousness.

Salvation is by God’s grace ALONE, through faith ALONE, in Jesus Christ ALONE, for His glory ALONE.

(I just breezed through an immense amount of doctrine.)


9 Responses to “The Faith Award”

  1. 1 rostock
    3 May 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I have to wonder why Dawkins is so interested in DISbelief. I do not think he assumes kindness, generosity, humility, or sincerity to necessarily be ‘Christian’ qualities. Shouldn’t a virtuous life be enough for him too? Why does he care whether someone believes or disbelieves in God?

  2. 4 May 2009 at 1:48 am

    Dawkins is a joke; as a philosopher and as an example of “I don’t need God to be a good person.” Anyhow, Good post. See you there!

  3. 3 Byron Miller
    30 August 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Why do you say “He (and any atheist) is going to have to yield to the notion that God does indeed exist”?

    Dawkins isn’t interested in DISbelief as you project, he’s simply providing credible evidence that the human species is more than capable to be moral regardless of ones belief and that belief in many ways clouds an otherwise moral judgment.

    I and many others personally view the concept of Original sin to be the most irrational and immoral concept that man has ever conceived often causing the human species to act irrational and illogically because of the many ways to believe in such a concept.

    • 4 rostock
      31 August 2010 at 2:31 am

      Hello Byron,
      WOW! you posted a ton of comments. Thank you for taking time to read my blog and offering your mind. I don’t have heaps of time to be able to answer all your comments all at once, so please be patient with me as my responses to all your comments may be slow. (I work full-time from home on top of also being a full-time stay-at-home mom. I’m pretty stretched for time, energy and brain function.)

      I said Dawkins would need to tolerate the God of the Bible because his question was regarding God and therefore the answer likewise involves God.

      If the concept of original sin is what causes humans to act irrationally and illogically, then if we dismiss the concept altogether we should be able to live sensible lives, right? Would that mean a perfectly moral life? Does that work for you? Is this the answer to the world’s problems?
      Do children always behave sensibly? Even if they never heard of the concept of original sin, they certainly know very well the difference between right and wrong. What causes them to choose wrong even when they know better? Do you know any children who have never (never) needed discipline?

      • 5 Byron Miller
        31 August 2010 at 1:56 pm

        Please feel free to take your time 🙂 I actually got wind of your blog from a few friends on facebook and I sat around for a few weeks wondering if i should even respond (since some of it is old). I don’t want to seem like i’m beating a dead horse, questioning you personally or trying to impose any ideas so please let me know if i cross those lines 🙂

        I don’t see God or religion as discipline in itself, you have to be disciplined in the religion to have faith in it though. I see discipline as a reflection of our social norms and inner self to preserve our own wellbeing and natural order as well as the survival of our species. Even animals convey a sense of discipline within their own communities. For example fish swim in large communities to better fend off predators, bird fly as flocks in the same way but also because the environment also imposes strength in numbers as a means of survival.

        What i personally don’t like about the concept of original sin is how much it removes from our humanities from the offset and gives away to an idea of god as if the humility and humbling experiences we have in life have to be a gift from god to be trusted. When my daughter was borne it was an experience i can’t express in words to see her, touch her and be with her. When she first smiled it melted my heart. That child has no concept of original sin, that child has no concept of faith, that child has no perception of ideology or anything – shes an empty vessel for all intents and purposes socially but a filled vessel in respect of being human. She can smile, she can cry, she can express emotion, she can express fear. She was borne with the capabilities that quantify humanity and i feel original sin does nothing but destroy that relationship we’re all connected in and try and distinguish it differently.

        The world is neither good nor evil.

  4. 6 rostock
    6 September 2010 at 5:07 am

    Yes, I was aware of the thread on KS’s Facebook. I’m glad for your comments and appreciate your patience with me trying to take time to consider all of them. Thank you.

    I may not have been clear in my first comment to you. My point was not to project God or religion as a vehicle for discipline.

    My point was this…that by your logic, we can conclude that your daughter (who has no concept of original sin) never behaves irrationally—she never lies, never talks back, never manipulates, never leaves a mess for somebody else to pick up, never declines vegetables at the dinner table, and NEVER WHINES! She never needs corrective discipline because her behavior is ALWAYS agreeable. Is this true??? I find that very hard to believe. I know plenty of little ones who likewise do not have any understanding of original sin yet their behavior can be far from agreeable. Even when they know the right thing to do, they may still choose to do wrong. And after they receive corrective discipline, they may still repeat this behavior over and over again. WHY?

    If your daughter always behaves sensibly, you’ve struck gold. If she does not, what causes her to depart from sensible behavior? She has no concept of original sin…

  5. 7 Byron Miller
    9 September 2010 at 11:59 am

    If you raise your children to be rational and critical of oneself then you’re children don’t have long term problems in any of the areas you allude to. Children are not borne with rational thought, they’re borne with triggers and a process by which they mimic their environment to learn from and to survive in. Their responses to the environment don’t always appease us and may drive us nuts at times, but as rational people we learn to cope and at times, even enjoy those days. I personally can get terribly frustrated but that frustration is short lived when i remember just how short this difficult time is and the difficulties encountered aren’t out of willful ignorance of everything i do to help, but just out of the fact that a 2 year old and 6 year old don’t have complex enough brain systems to flourish on themselves and will need the support of our family to help direct them, foster them and show them how to grow.

    9 out of 10 times when my 2 year old flips out, its because she’s tired or hungry. I wish it was so simple with some of my adult co-workers 🙂

    How does original sin get correlated to teaching your children to be respectful and a an active family member? When we clean up as a family i get the kids involved.. sure they make messes that i end up cleaning up at times but i certainly see no causation or correlation to original sin in any of this discussion, especially when i compare some of my more religious friends and neighbors who have kids that i categorically define as “hellions” 🙂 (not to say my kids are an exception from even being one themselves hehe)

  6. 8 rostock
    13 February 2011 at 8:14 pm

    How does the concept of original sin correlate with training our children? How does it NOT?

    Animals respond to their environment and act on instinct. But they are not sinful beings and morality and judgment do not effect their behavior. If humans functioned this way, then all we’d need to do is modify our environment in order to promote “sensible responses.”

    But we are very different from all other species. We do not merely respond to our environment and act on instinct. We REASON. We weigh right and wrong, we battle with temptations and argue with our conscience. We contend with SIN. Triggers or no triggers, we are ultimately responsible for our actions and attitudes. If we have a long day at work and take our frustration out on our family at home, we might reason that our grumpy attitude is a result of a long, frustrating day at work. That may be so, but it is NO EXCUSE. Unlike all the other species of animals, we are sinful beings and we cannot escape it on our own. (Or can you think of anyone who has a completely perfect record?)

    If sin is not inherent in each of us, and our actions are merely responses to external triggers, are we really responsible for our behavior? If we do not have personal responsibility, then discipline and justice have no place.

    UNLESS we understand original sin, how can we train our children and legitimately discipline them when they exhibit foolish behavior?

    • 13 February 2011 at 11:45 pm

      I don’t follow. With or without sin (or any concept thereof) you’re still responsible for your own behavior. Your either responsible for how your faith determines your behavor or you’re responsible for how your rational/critical/logical reasoning skills determine your behavior. (or hopefully a mix thereof..)

      Original sin isn’t even a universal belief between “Christian” religions so i’m not sure how it could be the basis for ones moral compass or reasoning.

      Children absolutely respond to their environment and act on insctinct. I teach my children skills they need to come to their own rational conclusions. Discipline is always a reaction to something that is directly a response to the environment they’re in. i would never say i’m training my children for anything 🙂 Training implies an end result, i want them to grow up to be who they want to be, not what i trained them to be!

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