Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

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Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by myi on Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:53 am

Dr. Tiller, a doctor who performed late-term abortions (21 weeks+) was murdered yesterday at his church.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Some weblinks:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Tiller
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-abortion_violence
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_terrorism

I find this disturbing. At CFW in the reDefine Reality track, there was a proxe station that asked us to write words that come to mind when we think about "terrorist". As a followup, we read an article about an anti-abortion arson / murder. Personally, I find these violent actions very disgusting, given that the New Testament teaches us to love our enemies (see Matthew 6, Romans 12). Not only that, but one of the Ten Commandments says "Do not murder".

Naturally, we might ask, what about the "genocides" carried out in the book of Joshua? I tend to view such histories as instances where God used his chosen nation, Israel, as an instrument of his wrath. I do not believe Christians of today are given the same status. But what are your thoughts?

Another related issue: Capital Punishment. Under Christian ethics, is it righteous to execute certain prisoners? How might the Christian voter / citizen use his/her social power to create kingdom values?

I'd love to have a lively discussion on this, particularly since it's summertime, and we have more time (?) to read lengthy posts!

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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by stechen on Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:32 am

Well, first off this sort of thing actually has happened before, and I think that the term terrorism is fairly accurate in this case, and definitely unacceptable in my book.

That said, I think "do not murder" is a really tricky commandment for many, because you have to define what is murder, and if that's different from killing. (in some versions you have 'do not kill' though) It would seem that the popularly accepted view is that killing someone as self-defense or on a battlefield is not categorized as murder, so it seems that we as a society have accepted this cognitive dissonance, to a certain extent.

Of course, the Bible itself exemplifies this paradoxical view - there's killing going on throughout, and much of it does appear to be sanctioned by God. I certainly believe that we modern-day Christians (or any believers, really) do not have this sort of "right" or status anymore, but to be honest I also struggle with it even when it's in the Bible, when done by Joshua or some other Sunday School hero that I looked up to when I was a kid. The common apologetic's argument I recall regarding this is that the Israelite's enemies were either truly utterly evil beyond redemption. Of course, given that winners write the history books... I don't know. I guess I've just always had a big problem with indiscriminate killing regardless of who said it was okay. The Flood is also something that I haven't come to terms with either.

Capital punishment... in the Bible, there are quite a few regulations regarding it for a variety of different acts which at the very least says that it wasn't banned in principle back then, though I disagree with its usage now, because ultimately we're human, and we make mistakes. Death is irreversible, and it's small comfort to families of those executed mistakenly when we've learned that they were innocent, posthumously. I guess to me I don't want to assume that we ever have the complete truth about someone's guilt or innocence, and as such legislating such power into the hands of government as a matter of policy seems rather foolhardy.

So you could say I come down squarely on the side of the fence that opposes capital punishment and genocide, even when God says it's okay. And I think that's something that's debatable and probably a bit controversial... since we're supposed to be accountable to God only, and his will should transcend human laws if necessary. Yet I'm sort of uncomfortable with this concept because it can be abused. For example, I'm fairly certain that Dr. Tiller's killer knew that murder was wrong, but chose to do so anyway because he believed that his mission to follow God's will regarding abortion (in his mind) made it acceptable. It's definitely not a simple issue, I think.

While we're on the topic of Dr. Tiller... I remember during the election season there was a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding out there regarding various abortion procedures and their purpose, as well as the motives of women undertaking them, and I figured it would be useful to share a few stories that helped me to understand what the procedure means for people, largely because for the most part, we're given information that is largely slanted towards one side, which makes it particularly hard to relate and understand, unless you've been in similar shoes or are gifted with empathy.

I read several of these stories a long time ago, and thought of them again after learning of Tiller's death. I think it's always good to go beyond caricature and get a broader perspective, understanding that life is... just difficult sometimes.

"Sometime early in the 8th month my wife, an RN who at the time was working in an infertility clinic asked the Dr. she was working for what he thought of her discomfort. He examined her and said that he couldnít be certain but thought that she might be having twins. We were thrilled and couldnít wait to get a new sonogram that hopefully would confirm his thoughts. Two days later our joy was turned to unspeakable sadness when the new sonogram showed conjoined twins. Conjoined twins alone is not what was so difficult but the way they were joined meant that at best only one child would survive the surgery to separate them and the survivor would more than likely live a brief and painful life filled with surgery and organ transplants. We were advised that our options were to deliver into the world a child whoís life would be filled with horrible pain and suffering or fly out to Wichita Kansas and to terminate the pregnancy under the direction of Dr. George Tiller.

We made an informed decision to go to Kansas. One can only imagine the pain borne by a woman who happily carries a child for 8 months only to find out near the end of term that the children were not to be and that she had to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy and go against everything she had been taught to believe was right. This was what my wife had to do. Dr. Tiller is a true American hero. The nightmare of our decision and the aftermath was only made bearable by the warmth and compassion of Dr. Tiller and his remarkable staff. Dr. Tiller understood that this decision was the most difficult thing that a woman could ever decide and he took the time to educate us and guide us along with the other two couples who at the time were being forced to make the same decision after discovering that they too were carrying children impacted by horrible fetal anomalies. I could describe in great detail the procedures and the pain and suffering that everyone is subjected to in these situations. However, that is not the point of the post. We can all imagine that this is not something that we would wish on anyone. The point is that the pain and suffering were only mitigated by the compassion and competence of Dr. George Tiller and his staff. We are all diminished today for a host of reasons but most of all because a man of great compassion and courage has been lost to the world."

"A routine ultrasound on October 26--meant to be a time of great joy (my best friend came with us to the appointment--revealed terrible news: one of the twins had died, probably about a week before. We went from the ultrasound appointment to my obstetrician's office and were met with even more grim news. My weight had spiked up about 18 pounds, my blood pressure was soaring, and I had protein in my urine.

It turned out that I was in full-blown preeclampsia. I was admitted to the hospital immediately.

After that, everything happened very quickly. I was put on medication (magnesium sulfate) in an attempt to treat the preeclampsia and save the remaining twin until he reached outside-the-womb viability--a mere two weeks away (I was just over 22 weeks pregnant). But I got much worse overnight; my blood pressure couldn't be controlled, I had a massive headache and was vomiting uncontrollably. My kidneys shut down. I was moments away from seizures, coma, and death when the doctors came and told us the bad news: my remaining twin could not be saved. My pregnancy had to be terminated or both the baby and I would die.

You might, Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain, be able to imagine what it felt like to be my husband--to imagine being terrified of losing your children and your wife in one fell swoop. Ms. Clinton, you might be able to imagine lying in the hospital, so sick you barely feel any of what is happening, only knowing that the long-fought-for children you so desperately wanted are now both going to be dead.

Here's the part of the story where choice comes in. I could, of course, have gone through induced labor and delivered my tiny twins. But my blood pressure was hovering around 165/120 (often going higher), even with treatment. Can you imagine what labor would have done to my body with blood pressure that high? My doctor recommended, and I agreed, that I undergo the much less stressful intact dilation and extraction procedure (...)

As I lay on the gurney, waiting for my procedure to start, I felt a gulf of grief and emptiness the like of which I have never known. I felt abandoned by God. I lay there, crying, alone, surrounded by doctors and nurses. You can't imagine the sadness.

I was lucky. Are you surprised that I would say that? I was lucky because the partial-birth abortion ban was not yet in effect in October of 2004. If it had been, I would have been forced to undergo labor and delivery, no matter the risks to my health, and I might right now be either dead or so brain damaged I would be unable to type this."

Another one regarding D&E:

"I also know a woman who had two "partial-birth abortions," or D&Xs (dilation and extraction) as they are more accurately called. My friend Tiffany is a carrier of a terrible genetic abnormality. In addition to other defects, her babies developed with no faces, with no way to eat or breathe. They were doomed. The only way to extract them without hurting her chances of ever having another baby was through a D&X."

And one that really hurt to read, because what happened to this woman was something that we voters did through policy:

"I could feel my baby's dead body inside of mine. This baby had thrilled me with kicks and flutters, those first soft tickles of life bringing a smile to my face and my hand to my rounding belly. Now this baby floated, limp and heavy, from one side to the other, as I rolled in my bed.

And within a day, I started to bleed. My body, with or without a doctor's help, was starting to expel the fetus. Technically, I was threatening a spontaneous abortion, the least safe of the available options.

I did what any pregnant patient would do. I called my doctor. And she advised me to wait. (...)

On my fourth morning, with the bleeding and cramping increasing, I couldnít wait any more. I called my doctor and was told that since I wasnít hemorrhaging, I should not come in. Her partner, on call, pedantically explained that women can safely lose a lot of blood, even during a routine period.

I began calling labor and delivery units at the top five medical centers in my area. I told them I had been 19 weeks along. The baby is dead. I'm bleeding, I said. I'm scheduled for a D&E in a few days. If I come in right now, what could you do for me, I asked.

Donít come in, they told me again and again. "Go to your emergency room if you are hemorrhaging to avoid bleeding to death. No one here can do a D&E today, and unless you're really in active labor youíre safer to wait."

"I can't do these myself," said my doctor. "I trained at a Catholic hospital.""
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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by fobbymaster on Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:53 am

I think that what it boils down to is the issue of capital punishment. I think that most would agree that murder on an individual level (not capital punishment) is clearly wrong, as is in this case.

To me, the real issue is how us Christians view the murder [and capital punishment], deep down inside. I am split on capital punishment. I feel that as citizens of the world, we're responsible for following the laws of the world [as long as they don't conflict with God's laws, of course] and are subject to its punishments. However, I also don't believe that humans have the right to decide [from a Christian standpoint] whether or not someone's heart is "un-savable" [I think saying someone is unsavable is limiting the power of the Gospel and of God himself.]

I feel that if someone truly was against capital punishment, there should be guilt or sadness when a convicted person has died, and this is why I don't think I can consider myself "against capital punishment". When Saddam was killed, I thought "he deserved it" and "the world is a better place without him". If I truly, deeply believed that God wasn't done moving in his life and that humans shouldn't take away what isn't theirs to take, I cannot be indifferent to capital punishment.

I'm feeling the same conflict in this case. While it's clearly wrong for any of us individually to murder another person [I don't believe in God "calling" anyone to be murderers/assassins like in Boondock Saints =P], I don't feel too bad that the guy is dead. To me, he himself is a murderer. The murderer is also a murderer.

So is it okay to murder a murderer? No. But here on the sidelines, is it okay to be indifferent about his death? This is what I'm torn on.


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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by fobbymaster on Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:14 am

About the Joshua genocides and stuff:

I'm reading Concise Theology. On God's Omniscience: "God knows the future no less than the past and the present, and possible events that never happen no less than the actual events do."

The question I struggled most with was: what about the babies that Joshua killed? The civilization was evil, but the baby didn't do anything yet!

God in his omniscience knows whether an individual is going to turn his ways and follow God's rule. In a discussion at Tota Mente (New Life discussion group), the leader asserted that God knows whether or not an individual is going to turn towards God. God can know that if a civilization continued, that because of the environment, all living there would be evil. Why didn't God give them a chance to live? Because he knew that they had no chance of life even if left physically alive. The people living there were dead inside already.

We often only concentrate on God's wrath instead of his mercy. God allowing the sinful to be alive in itself is mercy. God never destroyed a nation without previous constant warnings. If read carefully, all nations destroyed had chances to turn around. And by chances, I mean generations of God patiently waiting. Many times God spoke through prophets, but he probably used other means to speak to the people, because God loved them. We forget that our sin in itself is reason enough for God to kill us, and by allowing us to live is mercy. God sustains all things. Without God, nothing lives.

So Joshua conquering and killing various peoples from various nations: Justice.
God allowing them to live for generations before carrying out his punishment: Love and Mercy

However, these are things that only God can know, and and Joshua acted as the hand of God because of direct revelation. I don't believe that any genocide going on is "God-ordained".

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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by stechen on Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:01 am

Point taken regarding cognitive dissonance. It's probably safe to say that everyone has times where they know they're supposed to feel bad but can't really bring themselves to do so, though the fact that I don't consider doctors who perform abortions or women who go and get them to be murderers makes it hard for me to feel that this is anything but tragic.

I still have a problem with the genocides in the Bible, though I acknowledge that as you have pointed out, God would often send messengers or prophets to warn people to change their ways. I suppose this could be passed off as "okay" since the Bible is quite clear that it was indeed God's will, but then does that mean that none of this can apply now, short of the heavens opening up with words painted in the sky?

I guess what I'm saying is that I can understand God sanctioning the killing of innocents because he knows for *certain* what they will turn into when they grow up, though that goes into predetermination territory and I'm not really comfortable with that, since my interpretation of free will is that you DO have a choice in whatever you do, and killing someone because you "know" they're going to be evil in the future is wrong, i.e. if God killed them because they were destined to become evil, then there really is no such thing as free will.

From a contemporary perspective, how do we interpret such a passage? There have been attempts by political leaders to use such stories as motivation and justification for various wars (for example, just look at Donald Rumsfeld's situation updates on Iraq - scary stuff)... do we just chalk it off as Sunday School stories telling us that we should trust and follow regardless of what we believe otherwise?
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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by Boomerwang on Fri Jun 12, 2009 2:33 pm

Thanks for bringing up this difficult and challenging topic.

I'm not so sure that an individual's evilness can justify his killing, even if his death prevents "more evil" from being done in this world. I feel the bottom line is, irrespective of consequences in this life, we are accountable for ourselves and only ourselves when we are judged by God one day when we die. Whether we feel the killer(s)'s actions were heroic or not, they will have to provide an account for themselves when they are judged one day.

I agree that we cannot judge who is "saveable" and who is not, and just add my support for this insight. Sheep cannot judge fellow sheep, and how can we accurately predict what will become of others when we do not even fully understand the extent of God's saving power? It just doesn't make sense to me.

I'm also not sure we can compare nation-wide military movements of the Old Testament with individual killings today. I just think there are two totally different contexts going on here. And in my opinion, I'm also not sure if we can credit it to the Israelites as righteousness for being God's chosen instrument of judgment on those enemy nations. God used them in this way, sure, but while He blessed them with victory, this doesn't mean they didn't suffer (guilt, sorrow, depression, hatred, etc.) as a result. If we could get more Biblical clarification on this, that'd be great.

In any case, I put my two cents in that even if it's "beneficial" to kill individuals such as Dr. Tiller, I feel it is against God. In terms of judging Dr. Tiller's character or worth or righteousness, who among us can? Could we have anticipated Saul's transformation into Paul before he was? No.
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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by Boomerwang on Fri Jun 12, 2009 2:57 pm

stechen wrote:... killing someone because you "know" they're going to be evil in the future is wrong, i.e. if God killed them because they were destined to become evil, then there really is no such thing as free will.

Steven, you know me, I'm not trying to pick a fight with you. But I strongly disagree with your conclusion. According to what we know of the Bible, God would not kill those who are merely destined to become anything, assuming "destined" points to "possibility." But if God does decide to judge before it is our time to die "naturally," He is carrying out His justice. On people that are not only destined to become evil, but are evil, and will not repent to the end of this age, how can we say that God has taken away their free will by judging them? We see Him as acting prematurely, when in fact it is us who observe His actions wrongly.

Let's say you are overseeing a movie project I'm doing. I'm still gathering cool ideas to use in my movie, but you've already watched the movie I'll be making! Having already watched a movie I'm still gathering ideas for and am about to write, you decide to cancel my project. In my eyes, you acted prematurely, and didn't allow me to write my movie before judging it. But what I didn't understand is that you already saw my final product, and already saw the results of my free will. The cancellation therefore has nothing to do with curtailing my free will.
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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by stechen on Sat Jun 13, 2009 2:39 am

I think I do get the point you're making, but what I was getting at with free will was basically the acceptance of the possibility that you might actually have done something different, given circumstance A or a conversation with friend B. So for example, with the movie analogy, in that case "I" already know that your movie will be crap, and decide to cancel it. To me, this perhaps assumes that none of your friends bothered to tell you that there were big flaws with your script, or that you never got feedback from other filmmakers, or that even given all this support and advice, you still chose to ignore it regardless.

If that's the case, then indeed it makes sense for me to cancel the project, given that you absolutely will not change your mind. But the thing is... I don't really think people are *necessarily* dead set on any worldview or mindset, at least in general. That's why I argue that it's not free will.

Perhaps God already knew what sort of advice people would get, or if they would listen to warnings, or if the people warning others of dire consequences did so in an understandable and acceptable way, and that none of the people in those doomed cities would change their ways regardless of all these variables.

Does that make more sense?
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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by Boomerwang on Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:46 pm

Yes, it does, thanks.

stechen wrote:...

Perhaps God already knew what sort of advice people would get, or if they would listen to warnings, or if the people warning others of dire consequences did so in an understandable and acceptable way, and that none of the people in those doomed cities would change their ways
regardless of all these variables.

...

Well, isn't this what actually happened? God knew how the people were acting, so the only question was, would they repent of their ways if they were warned? They were. Like you point to, the prophets were sent, and time itself is grace given by God, an opportunity for repentance. Think about if we were to die tonight compared to if we were to die tomorrow night. Suddenly, this extra day known for now as "tomorrow" is seen for what it is: grace. I think that, yes, despite all of this grace from God, the people were still set in their ways. And God knew that.

I mean, one thing I definitely struggle with from time to time is the idea of what I coin "premature judgment" - the idea that God can judge you before "your time." But then again, that becomes very philosophical. What is our conception of "natural lifespan"? It is already based on our broken bodies tainted by sin, because according to the original Creation, our natural lifespan is unlimited. So I think it is when we begin establishing facts that are already biased against God's sovereignty, and then use an us-first approach to establishing our ideas of justice, that it becomes an unfair idea for God to condemn a city. But if that is what God has allowed to happen, then we cannot say that that city was "meant" to exist longer than it was. Anyways, just sharing something I struggle with mentally.

I'd like to try and clarify my movie analogy, because I think there's some misunderstanding (however small). My analogy, for illustrative purposes, by default fulfills your requirement for the definition of free will. Basically, I'm saying, given all outside factors that could potentially influence (and perhaps have influenced) the movie producer's ideas, he ultimately still produced the "crappy movie." In this case, we're not talking about possibilities, as in "Case A," or "Case B." Such cases only evidence free will from a human perspective. But if God is omniscient, He can see which Case the movie producer will take in creating the movie. Thus, in His eyes (not that I can say what He sees - for I am but a worm), He sees the movie producer being influenced by his friends, by whatever, and then in the end, his circumstances and his decision bring him to decide to go with Case A, the "crappy movie." So, my analogy fits perfectly fine with your thoughts on what free will is. It's just an illustration. I never meant to cover what your assumption says about outside influencing factors (like friends giving you feedback on the fly), but either way we could, for illustrative purposes, assume that either case (i.e. the presence or non-presence of outside influencing factors) happens - it doesn't matter. The basic premise of my analogy is that we decide freely (as freely as sin-broken people can, anyway) what we do, but God already sees the choices we'll be making. And what I'm trying to say is that that perception of God does not necessarily hinder our decision-making ability by default.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Steven, Margaret, Caleb, everyone. :)
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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by rudes on Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:48 pm

As for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, I feel that it is
wrong in so many areas, starting with murder, and passing judgment on others. Is the world a better place? Doubtful.
As for abortion, itís always been a tough thing for me. I can see the times
where it threatens the life of the mother. Iím not sure that an unborn child is
more helpless than a mother sure to die should she be forced to deliver the child,
especially if the child is also sure to die/already has. However using abortion
as a method of birth control, I canít really support.






As for Joshua, I see it more as the fulfillment of Godís
promises. We see Godís grace in Genesis 15:16 in that the sin of the Amorites
has not yet reached its full measure, however in Joshua, God judges justly and
rightly the people of Canaan. God was patient with Canaan, despite the horrible
idolatries. It was not Joshuaís genocide, but rather God judging the people of
Canaan, cleansing the land that he will walk in with his people from the idols
and idolaters. The plunder was not for the Israelites, but was devoted to God.
It was not Joshuaís conquest, but the Lordís. In Matthew 5:21,22 where Jesus
expounds on the command do not murder, the sense of anger is present, which
characterized murder. In Numbers 25 Phinehas is praised for his zeal in driving
a spear through the Israelite and the Midianite woman. So maybe killing is not
necessarily murder.





Just as we are under sin, due to the sin of Adam, similarly,
the children have the sin of their forefathers on their heads. They are not in
fact innocent, but are guilty of sin as they enter the world. So is it then
just that they are killed? Perhaps we say but thatís not fair, but I would say
that regardless of whether we see it as fair in our worldly sense, it is just.
Revelations 19:11-21 talks about the rider on a white horse on whose robe and
thigh is written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords. With justice he judges and
makes war. The beast and the kings of the earth gather to make war against the
rider. The beast was captured, and with him the false prophet, thrown into the
fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword. I
feel that this parallels the account of Joshua, and it seems to me that it is
not genocide but justice as brutal as it may seem.





I think that war and the killing of the Canaanites was not
Godís intent for the world, however by our sin, we bring about the pain and
suffering that we experience in the form of wars, murders, divorce, adultery,
etc.





As for how it applies today, I see the book of Joshua
as the story of Joshua leading the Israelites in accomplishing Godís mission, I
guess similarly to the book of Acts. I can also see the seriousness God
has toward sin, faithfulness in his promises, and His sovereignty.

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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by stechen on Sun Jun 21, 2009 5:56 am

Regarding abortion, I think no matter what you do it's birth control, as by definition you're determining whether or not you'll give birth. (contraception just vastly affects the likelihood) I don't think that necessarily makes it a bad thing, though what you were probably were getting at was probably the "abortion of convenience" often seen in arguments.

Though when it comes to law, I think the issue is necessarily muddied a bit precisely because you have to take into account many different situations. As noted above, the way our laws are worded now, a woman is forced to give birth even when the fetus is already dead. That doesn't make any medical sense at all, but because of the way the law is worded, that's what we get.

It should also be noted that Tiller was murdered for performing a procedure that while repugnant to some, was still LEGAL in the United States at the time.

I suppose what we get out of those passages is ultimately "it's OK because God did it - he never makes the wrong decisions". In a sense you can't really argue with that, though I just think I would prefer less gruesome ways to get you to trust in someone's judgment.
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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by Boomerwang on Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:52 pm

Maybe I'm arguing semantics, so please correct me, Steven. But I think it goes far beyond a mere attitude of whether it's "ok" or not because God did it. "OK" doesn't apply to God - that's how far above us His will is. It's not a "God condoned this - therefore it's alright to kill this nation." This is God's will anointing an instrument to carry out His justice (Israel). It's not "ok, well it seems fair because He is God, after all..." God sets in place all standards, and we can't then use those standards to judge His character and evaluate whether He is right or wrong. It's as foolish as clay judging the potter. We feel justified as mere clay to make judgment calls on the potter... but it's not meant to be. Just because the clay has rules for their existence doesn't mean they apply to the potter. But we are simply fortunate that God is just, loving, and gracious. Therefore, it's not a matter of whether it's fair or not that some are allowed to live and some to die, but that every moment of life we live is undeserved. Every nanosecond of life we live is an undeserved blessing from God. In my opinion, that is a more proper perspective on all this. I'm not bashing or criticizing you personally, Steven, but your wording there just made me excited about that vein of thought, so I'm more... eh, expulsing my views, however strong they may be. I just feel like there's this effort on our (humanity) part to qualify what God chooses to do according to our views. I agree strongly that we need that, to a certain point, because we are created as relational beings - that's how we learn, that's how we understand. But I think we place more stock on understanding than on faith. And too often, we are quick to dismiss the later as "blind devotion just because it says so in the Bible." Well, of course it does - it was authored by God. And "God is not like men, that he should be so limited and pathetic."
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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by Boomerwang on Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:54 pm

Going off of something Rudy brought up, about starting life afflicted by sin, that's something I'd say most Christians accept from the get-go as part of our doctrine. But if it is the truth, then I would say that backs up the "absolute grace" idea and drives the point home that we don't deserve life, period. The idea is that because of sin's existence in us, we ought to be born dead. There isn't "oh, this person is this sinful, so he should live for X days." That X should be a 0 for any and all of us. So the fact that any nation is allowed by God to live is grace in itself. We are quick to condemn God's judgment of nations because in our pride, we believe we have a right to live. We don't. At all.
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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by stechen on Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:10 am

No, you're correct in interpreting what I said. After thinking about it, I think I was a bit presumptuous in judging what God did. That said, that's how I interpret the situation, based upon my current understanding of the world where it's simply extremely hard for me to accept mass killing indiscriminately. Yes, it's not the same in the Bible because it's not technically indiscriminate, but I guess it's only human to find it hard to disconnect personal experience.

So in summary, yes, I was in a sense judging what God did, and to be honest, I think I still do, based on how uncomfortable I am with those killings, and events such as The Flood. But I also understand that it's wrong to do so... in theory, so your admonishment hopefully wasn't in vain.
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Re: Murder of Dr. George Tiller - opinions and thoughts?

Post by Boomerwang on Sun Jun 28, 2009 2:26 am

Thanks for your thoughts. It means a lot to know we can share and be heard be each other. It's more encouraging to me to know that we continue to challenge each others' thinking and our own. If "we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart," then we may not be as concerned with where our convictions currently lie than with where our convictions will be when our growth is complete, know what I mean? (Let me know if I'm not being clear, because I'm not sure if I expressed myself adequately here) :)

I'd like to take a moment for myself to go back to what Margaret originally brought up - I'm not quite sure I even took the opportunity to address the original topic!

myi wrote:Naturally, we might ask, what about the "genocides" carried out in the book of Joshua? I tend to view such histories as instances where God used his chosen nation, Israel, as an instrument of his wrath. I do not believe Christians of today are given the same status. But what are your thoughts?

My thoughts happen to agree here. For me, I've found that my biggest mental conflicts in moments when I share similar concerns that Steven has brought up about this subject has to do with viewing God's will as an "outside animating force" working in the "natural order" of our world, versus God's will being very natural force in our world. I think that for me, my struggle has been realizing that God's will is not necessarily separate from the forces at work in this world - that such forces are often the mechanism through which God choose to accomplish His will. In that way, such circumstances as Israel being chosen as God's instrument of divine judgment become decrees that produce real-life consequences as naturally as a natural world can be when afflicted by sin. As to why God has chosen to allow sin to exist to fulfill His will, instead of choosing another mechanism for it, is beyond me.

myi wrote:Another related issue: Capital Punishment. Under Christian ethics, is it righteous to execute certain prisoners?

It seems this is one of those "can of worms" topics, but one that I appreciate seeing brought up. I'm not very sure what you originally meant by "Christian ethics" (i.e. as opposed to what other kind of ethics?), but my initial thought is that no, it is not. And even if it is "right," it is not necessarily "good." (But again, this is just another philosophical/worldview argument on the polarization between right/wrong, good/evil.)

Even though it appears God allowed capital punishment to exist in the Israelite community, it was not an end to its own - it was allowed to remind the Israelites of the eternal consequences of spiritual death. At least, I think so. There are a few instances I remember seeing in the Old Testament (I'd be happy to look them up but I don't know off the top of my head) that say "God does not delight in death and destruction, but in the revival of the living." Something along those lines. I think the only case where capital punishment could possibly be "righteous" is if decreed directly by God. Even then, that wouldn't make the executioner free from the natural consequences of performing such an action - the guilt, for one thing. It seems that as One who celebrates life and hates death, God would rather us spend our efforts trying to bring His message, and therefore salvation and redemption, to people. (This is just a rambling of thoughts surrounding my initial answer to the question, no arguments here.)
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