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The Christian Afterlife

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Brad
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0 posted 11-25-2002 04:37 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,6000,845507,00.html

I don't think it's so important to read the thread as it's about something quite different, but I wanted to contrast a different Christian perspective and hear the reaction to what people would normally regard their views of an afterlife to be:

quote:
Priestley [who was writing in the eighteenth century] was a devout Unitarian Christian, and Lodge makes a common mistake in thinking that materialism is essentially at odds with Christianity. It is, for one thing, a key part of the Creed that the afterlife involves the resurrection of the (brain-including) body. Many today who believe in life after death seem to think that when you die you waft off somewhere and continue some sort of conscious existence. But the original, time-honoured story is quite different: what happens is that you die, and the next thing you know is that it is the Day of Judgement, and you are setting off for it fully embodied.

[This message has been edited by Brad (11-25-2002 04:40 PM).]

Essorant
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1 posted 11-25-2002 06:20 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I'm not sure I agree with the "Afterlife".  

I often feel like there is probably only one lifehouse in which we all reside, just in different nooks and crannies, chambers and appartments.   There seems always to be another corridor or wall beyond that is life again with new dimensions.  When we are not inmates here, we are inmates elsewhere.  Whatever master or mistress or housecleaner is arranging this might not even be makeing judgements deep at all, but just whimsical renovations for change of scenery
Brad
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2 posted 11-25-2002 06:34 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Uh huh, but what does that have to do with this description?
Essorant
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3 posted 11-25-2002 07:14 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I was just expressing my perspective, as a Christian.

[This message has been edited by Essorant (11-25-2002 07:15 PM).]

Brad
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4 posted 11-25-2002 07:19 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Believe it or not that helps, but it sounded to me like you were more concerned with the word 'after-life' than with whether this is the description you believe in or the more common idea of a disembodied 'you' that is somehow anchored to the earth by a body.

Which makes more sense to you? If you want to talk about nooks and crannies in an overall concept of life, that's fine but either of the above descriptions take it a little bit farther than that.

Essorant
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5 posted 11-25-2002 08:54 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I would then agree more with the fully embodied because I believe that we are all anchored to earth by a body of earth, the frame, and anchored to the heavens by a body of them as well, the soul, and anchored to existance as life altogether by being a body of both, the being.  Either always seems to have the others but just doesn't ever stay the same, or stay in the same nook or cranny, bedroom or apartment...but if you could look through the whole house at once I believe you'd notice they are always still under the roof.

[This message has been edited by Essorant (11-25-2002 10:15 PM).]

Denise
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There are at least two or three different views held by Christians that I know of (there could certainly be more). One view is that when we die our soul goes to be with the Lord and is reunited with a resurrected body later (different views on when that actually happens as well). Some believe that it happens for Christians at the rapture prior to Christ's physical return to earth, and for non-Christians at the Day of Judgment. Others don't believe in the rapture and believe it happens for everyone, Christian and non-Christian at the Day of Judgment.

Some believe in "soul sleep", some believe that the soul and body are essentially the same and when the body dies, that means the soul dies as well. They all believe, though, that an actual physical body, though a transformed incorruptable body that is no longer subject to disease and death, will live forever with the Lord.

Again, some believe in heaven as a totally separate place from earth and some believe that heaven will be here on earth, once the heavens and earth are renewed, and some believe in various combinations of both. And for every conviction there are Bible verses and passages to back up a given conviction, even when read in context.

I personally have held various views at different times and at the moment I'm content to know that I don't know all the answers, but He does, and I will find out when it happens, unless, of course, if I can figure it all out beforehand!

Geeze, Brad, this is the kind of stuff (among other things) that different denominations are made of! Couldn't you have asked an easier question?! Now I have a terrible headache. *ouch*

But the bottom line, despite all the differing beliefs about different subjects is that all Christians believe/trust in Christ for salvation, as opposed to holding to a belief that one can save oneself through good works, meritorious deeds, earning righteousness through obedience to the law (and I'm not saying that we shouldn't be obedient, we just don't gain our standing with God because of obedience), etc.

That's where the certainty of belief comes in. He, and what He did, is our Absolute, our foundation. Christ's substitutionary, all-sufficient sacrifice on behalf of sinners, received individually by the sinner as a gift, through faith in His sacrifice on one's behalf, is the truth that Christian's have in common, despite other differences of interpretation that they may have.  
Essorant
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7 posted 11-25-2002 11:42 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Do you think "Day" in "Judgement Day" to a God might be a space of time measured very differntly than a day in our time?  Maybe it is very much smaller or larger in its space...it is stranger to ponder.  

[This message has been edited by Essorant (11-25-2002 11:53 PM).]

Stephanos
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8 posted 11-26-2002 03:47 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

I agree with the aspect of there being a "body" involved in the afterlife.  Orthodox Christianity has always believed in the future bodily ressurrection of believers (and unbelievers for that matter).  But I strongly disagree with the assertion that mind, or spirit, is a result of bodily organization.  The bible actually seems to suggest the opposite.  God himself is described as "Spirit", or pneuma in the Greek.  The spirit is presented as distinct from the body, and yet united with the body.  If you want to say that spiritual things are all based on physical configurations, then you are landed right back in the problems of thoroughgoing naturalism.  Then God himself would have to be a result of physical configurations... a part of the universe rather than the Creator of it.  God, the ultimate personal being would be reduced to having originating from impersonal configurations of atoms.  Why try to naturalize Christianity, or Spritualize naturalism?  Just call naturalism what it is, and Christianity what it is.  But Christianity has always believed in a bodily existence in the afterlife.  In that much I will agree.  


The article you took that quote from seems to suggest that our ideas of "spiritual" existence after death are not the "time honored" creed of Christian belief, which really taught a bodily existence.  The mistake is the dichotomy.  Christianity has always presented the sublime unity of body and spirit.  This article tries to pin us on one or the other, and then hide the fact by explaining "spirit" as part of the body, or derived from the body.  It is a suggestion of ignorance in the early creeds.  They really didn't know that "spirit" was only the result of chemical processes, like we enlightened ones do now... so they say.  I don't buy it, because I do not presuppose naturalism.  I think those guys back there actually got some divine revelation after all.  


Stephen.  


[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-26-2002 03:58 AM).]

Opeth
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9 posted 11-26-2002 11:22 AM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

That would explain many biblical contradictions regarding the subject of death and the afterlife. Like how could the bible state that Christ was the first to ascend into heaven, even though christianity teaches that many from the old testemant already ascended.

To a christian, this topic should matter, as well as other christain doctrines, afterall, the bible states that in this day and age, false christian churches will dominate (the majority), preaching a different Christ.

Rev 12:9 Satan deceives the whole world.

[This message has been edited by Opeth (11-26-2002 12:19 PM).]

jbouder
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10 posted 11-26-2002 12:33 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Opeth:

Three words for you: CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT!!!

Brad:

There are certainly different theories floating around out there in Christendom regarding the nature of the after-life.  Although much has been written over the centuries regarding what happens between death and the Second Coming, the Bible actually offers very little didactic information on the subject.  There are parables that describe those who have passed as being conscious of their after-death conditions, but it is difficult to tell whether Christ was describing things as they really are or if he was just using rhetorical devices to drive his point home.

So I don't see the differences of opinion in Christian circles as contradictions, as Opeth contends, but rather as opinions that often are of little or no moral, theological consequence.

What the New Testament does explore somewhat comprehensively is the nature of the resurrected body.  Jesus' historical, bodily resurrection is even mentioned by Paul as being so important that, if it did not occur, we may as well "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die."  Paul goes on to describe the resurrected body in 1 Corinthians 15.  Jesus' resurrection is the source of hope for the Christian and, fortunately, there is ample evidence (biblical and extra-biblical) that supports the historical resurrection of Christ.

Quickly, to again address Opeth's contention, the Lutheran and Reformed Christian traditions do not assign equal weight to all Christan doctrines.  For the Lutheran, it is Christ's vicarious atonement on the cross and his resurrection that form the focal point of all history and is the foundation of all good theology.  We believe this is consistent with apostalic teaching.

Lastly, differences of opinion on secondary and tertiary theological issues does not usually rise to the level of "preaching a different Christ."  The Bible does not ascribe equal weight to all teachings and neither should we.

Thanks for the post, Brad.

Jim
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11 posted 11-26-2002 12:49 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Jim,

So what is your explanation to these biblical statements, as they do relate to each other.

That Satan deceives the "entire world."
That Christ calls his true flock a "little flock."
That there will be "another Christ" preached.
That Satan appears as a minister of righteousnes.
That there will be false churches.

How does Satan deceive the whole world?
Is all of christian faiths one little flock?
Which churches are the false ones?

PS ~ I have heard of the so-called christian "context" and find it to be quite illogical and confusing. That is what got me started on my truth finding journey to begin with.
jbouder
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12 posted 11-26-2002 12:57 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Opeth:

I think this is the wrong thread for addressing these issues.  I'd rather not hijack Brad's thread.

Jim
Opeth
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13 posted 11-26-2002 01:07 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

That's cool. Answer it on the thread regarding religion.

Back to the subject matter of this thread. It wasn't until the church fathers (Aquinas, Augustine) accepted Plato's opinion, that the immortal soul doctrine crept into the christian church and was stamped as christian doctrine, bringing forth the immediate placement of people after death.

Stephanos
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14 posted 11-26-2002 02:05 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Opeth,

You are either unaware of, or not bringing up, the Jewish scriptures which indicated a developing belief in a "hereafter".


"And though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God"  Job 19:26


"I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.  For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption"  Psalm 16:8-10


"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."  Daniel 12:2,3


This fits with the idea of divine revelation of the after-life, both in the Jewish nation and the Gentile world.  The Jews did not have the full expression of this revelation but it is undeniably present.  The Gentiles had it fragmented in Plato, the idea of pure "spirit" without body.  The Christian revelation is the fullest expression of this, marrying body and spirit in the hereafter.  I don't have any problem believing that God sometimes chooses to give revelation as a gradual unfolding, as with this doctrine.  Neither do I have a problem that he reveals truth to non-Christians.  This supports my claim that the knowledge of God is given to some degree to all men.  But to say that this is a hi-jacked doctrine slipped in by the Roman Catholic Church is too simplistic to me, and counts out the possibility of divine revelation.  In fact, my guess is that it presupposes the impossibility of divine revelation, and settles on this unfounded theory.  

I am curious...How can the Jewish Scriptures above be shown to have connection with Plato?  Even if they did, does that show that Plato was wrong, or that the Jews were wrong?  They seemed to both hold halves that made little sense until they came together in full Christian expression as taught by Jesus himself.


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-26-2002 02:37 PM).]

Essorant
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15 posted 11-26-2002 10:53 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant




[This message has been edited by Essorant (11-26-2002 11:07 PM).]

Opeth
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16 posted 11-27-2002 08:10 AM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

The Jews/Israelites never believed in an immediate placement in heaven or hell after death. That is not the same belief as believing in an afterlife.

Remember the word hell is translated from these words: gehenna, sheol, tartaros, & hades. The word sheol has been defined as either just a grave or an abode of the dead.  
Stephanos
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17 posted 11-27-2002 12:53 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Opeth,

No, the Israelites did not believe in a full grown doctrine of Heaven and Hell, like we find in the New Testament.  I never said they did.  Go back and read my post.  But what I am saying, that you are failing to address, is that from these scriptures above it can adequately be argued that the Jews had a conception of sentient existence after death.  Please explain what these scriptures are relating if they do not convey the hope of conscious life beyond death.  The aspect in all of the above scriptures I am referring to are phrases which don't descriptively fit "Sheol" or the "grave". . .

"I shall see God"

"thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol)"

"awake... to everlasting life ..."



Please explain how these scriptures can be cogently thought to express "Sheol" as meaning merely death.  Of course the concept of Sheol can be argued to be an underdeveloped awareness of an existence of punishment and torment ... But even without going there, thus giving you the benifit of the doubt about Sheol meaning merely absolute death, these scriptures seem to be talking about something other than Sheol.  In fact the one scripture is a declaration to God, by David I think, that God would not leave his soul in "Sheol"...  interesting huh?  How do you address this?


Stephen.  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-27-2002 12:54 PM).]

furlong
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18 posted 11-27-2002 03:13 PM       View Profile for furlong   Email furlong   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for furlong

"The Christian revelation is the fullest expression of this, marrying body and spirit the hereafter"

With respect, what a muddle!

The "real" nature of man is either spiritual or material it can't be both.  If the former, then we are what we are now (whether we entirely know it or not) and the use of the composite "after-life" becomes inappropriate. If the latter then we'll end up as next year's compost.

Opeth
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19 posted 11-27-2002 04:41 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Stephan,

"But what I am saying, that you are failing to address, is that from these scriptures above it can adequately be argued that the Jews had a conception of sentient existence after death."

~ You are misunderstanding why I stated what I did. It is either the fault of this form of communication, or between us both.

The subject matter of this thread deals with the non-belief of an immediate afterlife upon dying. My only contention that I have made so far regarding the issue at hand is this...

In my findings, the Bible does not support an immediate afterlife upon death, but does support what Paul called the sleeping of the soul...meaning, that everyone who has died is still dead, awaiting the coming of the Great Day of the Lord.

Now, do you understand my contention?  
Essorant
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20 posted 11-27-2002 07:03 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant


Furlong,

Why can't spirit and matter be in the same spectrum?
Stephanos
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21 posted 11-28-2002 12:26 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

furlong,

Your nature, even now, is not either physical or spiritual.  The true muddle is when we try to make it one or the other.  Think about this...  If we were completely physical (as is proposed in a naturalistic view of the universe) then all of knowledge, emotions, and consciousness is reduced to the chemical level.  In fact everything would be a part of the naturalistic chain of events... it's cause and effect.  If you are merely physical, everything about you is simply the physical properties that emanated from the configuration that preceded the present.  If this is true then, will, thought, emotion, are all illusory, and nothing we experience means anything other than what "IS".  However if these things are reflections of absolute things which are not physical, then we can easily explain our insistence that we actually have choices, true knowledge, and purpose.  In fact to use your own words...   what is the difference between a "muddle" and something that isn't a muddle, in a universe that is only physical through and through?  Wouldn't your perception of disorder or confusion only be an arbitrary decision?  What is order, and what makes it better than disorder, in a totally physical universe?


My point is that a totally physical existence presents us with a plethora of enigmas and unsolvable problems.  


If you want to go the other direction and say that we are only spiritual, then you are denying physical existence which we experience on a daily basis.  You would end up ignoring the obvious reason we have to breathe, eat, walk, bury dead bodies, etc...  after all we do have physical bodies.  But the spiritual aspect is already married, so to speak, to our physical bodies.  The future life described in the bible is much like what we have now, only in an unfallen state, without sin.  It is a glorified state of the same configuration, body and spirit... only there will be no death and no sin.  


I would like to see your metaphysical defense of either an all-physical, or all-spiritual universe.  


Stephen.  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-28-2002 12:28 AM).]

Stephanos
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22 posted 11-28-2002 12:41 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Opeth,

So your only contention is that you think the Bible teaches that there is no immediate afterlife?  Well I don't really care if it is immediate or not.  But there is little support scripturally for the teaching that there is no after-life at all.  I thought that's what you've been saying all along.  There are many scriptures that teach a definite after-life for believers and unbelievers alike.  I don't really have any problem with allowing room for disagreement upon if there is a "sleep" in between or not.  I see it as irrelevant.

Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-28-2002 12:45 AM).]

furlong
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23 posted 11-28-2002 08:36 AM       View Profile for furlong   Email furlong   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for furlong

Stephen

It seems to me that what you just said goes to the heart of the problem that maybe Opeth has (and I suspect many other logically thinking people have) with the your presentation of mainstream Christianity; namely the attempt (vain IMO) to ground “reality” and your religious beliefs in a foundation comprising of a mix of spirituality and materiality, or, which is the same thing, the concept of a God who is all-Spirit and all-Good but who “allows” evil materialism.  Surely the starting point for any “un-muddled” discussion of these ideas is the recognition that infinite Spirit cannot possibly reside in or, as you say be “married” to finite matter - the two are absolute opposites.  (And incidentally, as I am sure you appreciate, I am not talking here about “consciousness” when I use the word Spirit).  

All the argument in the other thread, and I mean ALL, ultimately boils down to an attempt by you and Jim to use a (mostly) literal interpretation of biblical texts to try and defend a mainstream theology which appears to me to be fundamentally flawed.  A construct, if you like, of a couple of thousand years of human tinkering.

To make the point: Jim says at one point in the other thread:

“Some of the doctrines you mentioned (e.g., the doctrine of the Trinity) were articulated in order to counter teachings that were inconsistent with Apostalic teachings such as the kenosis ..”

With great respect to Jim, he might as well have used the word “invented” instead of “articulated”.

So we if we dismiss any proposition which attempts to promulgate the theory that Spirit and Matter can co-mingle we are essentially left with what might be simplistically termed the materialist viewpoint and its antithesis, that of real man as a spiritual idea.  Either of these to my mind is logically valid.  And for what it’s worth I personally can see merit in both positions.  I tend to blow with the wind, or the music: when listening to Madonna the former view and to Beethoven the latter   .

A section from Brad’s link, in respect of the former camp:

“It was in 1994 that Francis Crick published The Astonishing Hypothesis - the hypothesis in question being "that 'You', your joys and your sorrows..., your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules". Crick was high on the latest neuroscience, and understandably so. But neuroscience has added precisely nothing to our ability to grasp the basic materialist idea that the mind is just the brain. That was already old news in the 18th century, when thinkers such as the philosopher-chemist Joseph Priestley took it to be more than mere hypothesis. "Mind", Priestley wrote in 1777, "is not a substance distinct from the body... sensation and thought do necessarily result from the organization of the brain... what I call myself is an organized system of matter."

Intuitively I CAN relate to a proposition which ascribes our human totality to nothing more than a biological machine.  Not very romantic maybe, kind of sad in some ways, but nevertheless marvellous, and as our material science advances, perhaps (debatably) more and more believable.

And for the latter camp we have Jesus:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

and more recently Leibnitz, Descartes, Fichte, Hegel, Spinoza, Bishop, Berkeley and last century Mrs Eddy.  The latter being perhaps the most radical.  And it’s to her writings I’d refer you if you want a thorough metaphysical justification for the “spiritual approach”.

Either extreme in my view is more “honest” and tenable than mainstream religious teaching.


[This message has been edited by furlong (11-28-2002 08:38 AM).]

Stephanos
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24 posted 11-28-2002 12:27 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

furlong,

One thing at a time please.  

"the concept of a God who is all-Spirit and all-Good but who “allows” evil materialism"


Judeo-Christian tradition has never held that Spirit is "good" and material things are "evil".  This dichotomy that you are referring to describes the Gnostic heresies alluded to in scripture.  Why the presumption that Spirit and Matter are incompatible?  or that one is evil, and one is good.  I see no convincing metaphysical or theological argument that matter is contrary to God's goodness.  If God is the Creator, he can certainly create what he desires.  In Genesis, when God created everything in the physical universe, it is related that he "saw that it was good".  


You are either a unity of spirit and body, or you are body alone, or spirit alone.  These alternatives to the reality that God constructed present us with incomplete halves.  You have not yet addressed the problems of a wholly physical universe, nor the problems of a wholly spiritual one.  The latter seems to me obvious.  Who but speculative philosophers could  come up with a theory that we obviously know isn't true... namely that we do not have a physical nature?!  Show me someone who really thinks so and lives like they believe it.  

You can of course try to redefine physical to mean spiritual or vice versa.  But this is not convincing.  It is taking concepts and meanings of words that have been around a long time and saying "this is what that really means".  A bit too arbitrary for me.  If you are only physical BTW, there is no point in saying that either of us are right.  Correctness is irrelevant in comparing two physical phenomena.

Of course there are people who have tried to make things Jesus said to fit into naturalistic religion.  What he says obviously doesn't fit with materialism, so let's try to spiritualize nature.  It won't fit there either.

I will ask you to present your alternative view of reality, and cogently resolve the problems of naturalism (spiritual or not).    


Stephen.
 
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