“I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.”

This to me is so funny, yet unfortunately so true. There are two things going on in this quote. First is the concept and power of prayers the second is the belief we can sin all we want then just ask for forgiveness. I challenge both these concepts to be false.

It is no surprise that prayers go unanswered. If each and every prayer were to be answered I think chaos would consume this world. The question is why God chooses to grant some prayers over others. I can understand God not granting this individual a material possession such as a bike, which is what I think this quote is implying. I get it; we really do not need material possessions and Jesus taught against this “When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22. I interpret this as Jesus trying to diminish the importance of material possessions.

If we have just established that God does not grant material items, and we can assume he does not respond to every trivial request, I wonder why God does not grant prayers of healing and cries out for peace. Now I think many believers will say that God has his reasons but I cannot just buy into this, nor can I buy into the answer that God works in mysterious ways. If prayers were not meant to be answered then why does the Bible say “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” Mark 11:23. This concept is also brought up in Matthew chapter seven, where it says “ask and you shall receive.”

The Bible is telling us if we just believe then anything will be given to us. I do not believe this to be true. When I was young I believed and I prayed for my dad to see me, and take me away from the turmoil I was in. I prayed, I believed, and nothing happened. I also question faithful believers who have been inflicted with cancer. Why are they not healed? I would challenge anyone who says they truly believe to actually ask God to cast a mountain into the sea. We could go through every believer of this faith and each one could ask, and I guarantee you this mountain will not budge. Is this where the author of this quote believes this is not how God works?

The other part of this quote is the concept of stealing and then just going to church and asking for forgiveness, and everything will then just be alright. Things are great you got your bike and are now forgiven. One of the things which bothers me about Christianity is the concept that you can sin six days then pray for forgiveness on the seventh day and all will be good. I am no expert by any means, but I do not think God works this way. Jesus said “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 I don’t know if Christians know about this, or choose to pick other verses to discount this statement. Before Jesus was Jesus he was the Word, and if you choose to follow the Bible you cannot pick and choose what you will believe and what you won’t.

I had a brief conversation with one of my readers on the concept of being saved by faith and faith alone. I had to ask for clarification so I apologize if I am still not on the right path here, but I believe one of two things are happening. Either the Bible is contradicting itself or the believer is picking and choosing which parts of the Bible they choose to follow. If the Bible is the Word of God then it can possibly not contradict itself, because if it were it would prove to be fallible and the belief would then crumble under its own fallibility.

If the Bible is indeed the Word of God then man has chosen to change the Word to fit their own needs. This happens ever so gradually through the countless translation of the Word. With each new change the Word needs to be changed in order to gain new copyrights. This greed to make money off the Word is a perversion against the religion. This is a key theme I am working on in my book idea “Deceived.”

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3

To follow up on the Matthew chapter seven verse I used I would like to include the remainder.

22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” John 3:4

I am sure there are millions of faithful followers who not only have faith, but also follow God’s laws. It is those who follow both I admire the most. With that being said; when looked at through these few verses I do not believe God has any patience for those who do evil, and then one day a week ask for forgiveness. So is this a contradiction or is man bending the word to his own liking???

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Comments
  1. brendamarroy says:

    Hi Tim,
    Perhaps the fallacy here is how people perceive god to be. Most see god as a santa claus or as a guy with a beard sitting on a cloud pulling puppet strings. This vision of concept of god is ludicrous to me.

    My concept of creator energy is exactly that..universal energy that is neither masculine or feminine but is both because energy encompasses all. The way I see it is the god that man created when they wrote their bible is actually made in the image of man. The creator energy that I’m in relationship with doesn’t look or sound much like the warlike, mysoginistic, patriarchal god of the bible.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Brenda,

      Amen. Do you follow Taoism? It kinda sounds a lot like it. I love the concept of man creating God in their image. This is a thought I have not had in my many conflicts against faith.

      • Look at this so-called God. He gets jealous. He craves certain things. He can be petulant times ten. He is rampantly self-centered. He is demanding. He is a narcissist. He lacks any semblance of a sense of humor.

        He sounds like almost everybody else I know. He isn’t superior to any of us, he is us.

      • brendamarroy says:

        Hi Tim,
        I don’t like to put a label on myself because I really do not believe in any specific religion. I totally appreciate Taoism and apply Taoist principles to my life on a daily basis. If I had to have a label I’d say I was pagan. I feel connected to the deep belief in being earth centered and in the premise that god/goddess energy is as much feminine as it is masculine. I like the balance in paganism.

  2. You wrote, Either the Bible is contradicting itself or the believer is picking and choosing which parts of the Bible they choose to follow.”

    In my opinion, it’s not an either/or situation, both are true.

    The bible is rife with inconsistencies and contradictions. That’s not really surprising since it was later written over several hundred years from verbal stories passed down from folks in a nomadic tribe (i.e., the storytellers didn’t have written works to refer to in order to insure they were keeping their myths straight).

    And nobody — not even the most fundamentalist of the fundamentalists — follows the bible verbatim. Every church, denomination, sect and individual picks and chooses. If adherents actually followed the bible literally, they wouldn’t be able to move because they would be constantly tied up in knots trying to figure out all the contradictions!!

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      So how can so many people be swept up in the religion if their most sacred doctrine is riddled with contradictions. I cannot wrap my mind around this concept. How could I ever find the answers I am looking for in a flawed manuscript. I am so frustrated by this.

      • Tim,
        The problem is the question, not the answers!

        Since the beginning of time, people have looked for the magic elixir. They have longed for an easy way to navigate through the complexities this life presents us with. They desire a static rulebook to still the ever changing world. So, they invent things like the Bible or the Koran.

        But there are no singular answers. Answers change — sometimes from moment to moment — as circumstances and variables change. The sagely person understands this and lives according to the flow of life around them.

      • Tim Lundmark says:

        Rambling,

        This is what I want to achieve the ability to understand and live according to the changing answers. The thought and ability to flow with life around me is my ultimate dream! I am a control freak and I have been dwelling on aspects of life I cannot control and it is driving me insane. I need the elixir to qwell my burdons, but it is actually believing which keeps me from falling in line. I suppose it is cliché but I could go back to my treatment days and say “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference” Now if God cant grant me the serenity because he doesnt exist then that would mean that I now have to grant myself serenity, but I am broken and the one having issues so isnt that silly??

  3. Johanna says:

    Tim, For the sake of time, I’d like to address one of your concerns, which has troubled many.

    First of all, Because God is all-knowing, and all-powerful, He hears and answers all prayers. He can answer, No, Yes, or Not yet. When we say God doesn’t answer our prayers, what we are saying is God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want Him to.

    God knows what is best for us and gives that to us accordingly (Mt7 (9-11).
    He also gives us a clear explanation for why we may not get what we requested. ( James 4:3.)

    We should add to all of our prayer requests, If it is your Will…..If we truly trust God and mean what we say, we should have no problem accepting whatever God sends, even if it wasn’t what we asked for because we know that ” All things work together for good to those that love God” Romans 8:28 In addition, God promised strength for the weak and rest for the weary. He will help us to accept the answer that is given. (Psalm 73, 1 Corinthians 26, Matthew 11:28)

    There are really no contradictions in the verses you mentioned. God wants us to pray. He does want us to ask and communicate with him. He wants to know our desires. He wants us to be able to “unload” our burdens upon Him. He then DOES always answer our prayers. We need only be open to the way in which he answers.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Johanna,

      The thing I have discovered and found interesting is the pulls I am getting from two seperate points of view. On one side we have Rambling who is always brutally honest and helps center me back to logic then I receive comments from you and others which then make sense. It is interesting my feelings inside. Something you said in your comment hit me like a bombshell which rocked my world but I will write about that next week.

    • @Johanna,
      When we get right down to it, your answer merely is a dressed up version of “shit happens”. This idea that a person prays to God and then God always answers but often not in the way we want or expect is just a fancy way of saying that inexplicable things happen in life. Sometimes we understand them and sometimes we don’t.

      There really is no reason to interject a divine being into the equation. It doesn’t change the results and it really doesn’t change whether or not we understand the why and the how.

  4. Johanna says:

    Alright, I guess I have to comment on the sin/forgiveness comments.
    God does not want us to sin.
    We do sin because we are human.
    None of us follows all of God’s laws perfectly.
    God wants us to be humble, admit our faults and TRY to follow his commandments as best as we can.
    When we fail, we admit our failings and try again.
    People who truly love God wouldn’t sin 6 days a week and repent on the seventh. Rather they would turn their faces toward God 7 days a week; They sin 7 days a week and ask forgiveness 7 days a week.

    God knows our hearts.

    • @Johanna,
      If you read the bible closely, God sins too. He isn’t humble in the least and never admits his own faults. He gets ticked off over trivial things and then supposedly kills people. And he certainly doesn’t follow his OWN commandments!

      His philosophy is more like “Do what I say, not what I do.” Parents who raise their children in that way tend to end up with screwed up kids. Hmm.

  5. DP says:

    @Johanna

    This is one of the major issues I have with my Christian faith. There is always some sort of grand scheme for the way things turn out.

    Your mother dies of cancer.
    God allowed it to be so – maybe he wants you to help others going through the same thing.

    Your little sister gets hit by a car.
    God allowed it to be so – maybe X,Y,Z.

    Why can’t it just be a mistake? No hidden meaning, no great significance. Why can’t things just happen? We (christian community) are always trying to ascribe some sort of religious connotation to regular every day happenings.

    I agree with the Rambling Taoist.. maybe I’m more Taoist than I thought. 🙂

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      DP,
      I to do not understand the grand scheme concept. I wonder why it was in any ones best interest to have my best friend get cancer suffer than die? Sure I started my foundation based on this experience, but why did he have to suffer to create an idea?? I am going to go back awhile and ask what was the grand scheme in the Sharon Tate murders? These people were brutally murdered, and why and how does this fit into the grand scheme of things???

  6. Johanna says:

    Rambling, you’re on a freakin’ roll today! I am taking my kids ice skating so I’ll get back to this discussion later my friends.

  7. Let me provide an example of the sinful god. (I’m penning this series called Tao Bible and this necessitates that I reread the bible again.)

    Back in Kings or Chronicles (I think) I read that the Ark of the Covenant was being moved. At some point, it gets jostled and appears headed to the ground — oh my! This fellow, who — for shame, for shame — is not a Levite, grabs it so that it doesn’t hit the nasty ground.

    Does God give the man a high five for his “save”? Nope. Because the man is not a Levite, God’s anger is “kindled against him” and God sees to it that the man is killed.

    Now if I told you this story and replaced the word “God” with “Bill” or “Mary” most people would say that the person was overreacting. It was a silly reason to be upset — particularly when one considers the guy had the best intentions and was simply trying to keep the sacred ark from falling on the dirty ground — and a very trivial reason to kill him.

    If you read the the Old Testament with a critical eye, the God who states “Thou shall not kill or murder” kills and murders people at the drop of the hat.

    One could even suggest he has committed adultery! Mary was betrothed to Joseph and yet who supposedly impregnated her? Think about that for a moment or two.

  8. tinadot says:

    Faith is for the spineless

  9. Johanna says:

    To begin, In order to understand how God dealt with his people in scripture, an understanding of Jewish culture, practice and tradition are essential. We cannot understand fully from our 20th century mindset.

    God is merciful and just. His mercy never exceeds his justice and his justice never exceeds his mercy. They are balanced perfectly.

    Some examples of God’s justice are listed above by Rambling. There are many more examples of his mercy:
    Psalm 103:7, Psalm 103:8, Titus 3:5, Psalm 104, exodus 33:18, Hosea 14:4, Job 10:15, Lam. 31, Mic. 7:18, Rev. 4:3, and the list goes on.

    Because God is also all-just, He is always fair.

    • What kind of an answer is that? It sounds like you’re saying, “OK, so yes, God has screwed up a few times by killing unjustly, but look at the times he has been overly merciful. In the end, the two roughly balance out.”

      So, it would seem that humans could adopt this formula too. Just keep a ledger of all of our activities to make sure when we screw up, we balance that out with good acts. If the two are roughly equal, then they cancel each other out and we have our ticket to heaven punched.

  10. Johanna says:

    Rambling I will respond to one comment you made concerning why interject a divine being into the equation…
    In a sense, you are correct in saying “shit happens”. So it does. The difference is, that I believe that all of the things that happen in my life are ordained by God for my own good. I believe He is always with me. I have comfort in my suffering. I have joy in all things. I have peace. I know that the “shit that happens” has a redemptive purpose. It is not all for nothing. I will live this life knowing that I have a purpose and it will be fulfilled when I am with God in eternity.

  11. shinxyblog says:

    “Before Jesus was Jesus (God) was the Word, and if you choose to follow the Bible you cannot pick and choose what you will believe and what you won’t.”

    Precisely. And as pointed out in the thread of comments chiefly by my new obsession, Rambling Taoist; there is some really fucked up shit in the bible. This includes heavy sexism, racism and homophobia.

    I don’t believe that if you are a true follower of any religion that you can just pick and choose what you like, because that’s what religion is; complete and utter following and devotion. You can say you believe in a Christian God, but in my view (and I stress the “in my view” part) you can’t say you’re a Christian unless you follow the entire Bible, which is apparently the word of God. A belief in a Christian God is not the only prerequisite for being a Christian (and this goes for any religion, it’s just that Christianity is being brought up here).

  12. Johanna says:

    Rambling, you misunderstood what I meant by the whole Just/Merciful thing. God is Just, meaning he does not “screw up” He kills because he is Just. He does what he must. He offers mercy to those who seek repentance and acts with his mighty justice when people turn away from him.

  13. Johanna says:

    And, PS. I really don’t like your tone this evening. It’s really kind of rude.

    • Sorry. I’m really trying to restrain myself. I’m just as passionate about this overall issue as you are; I simply happen to be on the other side of the fence.

      I deal with some of the issues we’ve been discussing here in a post that will hit my blog at 1:00 pm PST. That said, you may not like its tone either.

      P.S. I’ve found a few of your comments to lean toward condescension, but I’ve tried to overlook them.

  14. PhillyChief says:

    The question is why God chooses to grant some prayers over others.

    I would think way before you could get to that, the questions would be:
    • What leads you to the conclusion that there’s a god?
    • What leads you to the conclusion that it is the infamous Abrahamic god?
    • What leads you to believe he listens to prayers?
    • What leads you to think that the Abrahamic god would violate the Free Will doctrine by actively participating in human activity through answering a prayer?

  15. Johanna says:

    PhillyChief, I like your questions. They are coherent and well thought out, especially the last one. Volume upon volume of books have been written to answer these questions. Men much holier and wiser than myself have pondered and answered them. I don’t want to turn this friendly, supportive blog into a full on defense of the Christian faith. I really started commenting on this blog because I felt some compassion for the author. The only reason I ever spoke of my beliefs was because he had questions about the Christian faith and as a Christian I felt I could clarify what we believed. I never had any intention of “converting” him or forcing my beliefs upon anyone else. I will let others take your questions, research them and come to their own conclusions. Peace.

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