My latest disagreement spawned from a Two Catholic Men and a Blog post on the so-called "availability" of God and/or the Holy Spirit. I pointed out that the knowledge of the God's word is not universally available, rather it is asymmetrically available. Some people are born into areas where Catholicism hasn't spread or at least isn't mainstream, some people die before hearing about Jesus, and others are so indoctrinated into competing religions that a near insurmountable boundary is present. Basically, if the Catholic God exists, it is unfair for his word to come so easily to some and not at all to others. Further more, this God is unjust to judge symmetrically given the circumstance he put in place.
Joe, one of the two guys, disagreed.
Here are excerpts of the exchange:
Joe: We must do our part and God will provide the rest. We who are indwelt are called to bring God's love to the whole world. It is OUR fault if some do not hear of God when they are accessible to believers.
You put the fault on God who "makes it so much harder." Again, it is not God who does this. We who imagine and teach the competing worldview are to blame.
God is not a genie in the sky who is expected to wave a hand and fix our troubles. Part of our salvation comes from working to solve just these issues.
Lastly, God judges how God will. He has revealed to believers how he will judge, but God can always save who he will without consulting anyone. Maybe many will be saved in spite of their ignorance. We don't know.
You may say, "perhaps it is better for them to remain ignorant." Maybe. Maybe not. We do know God is just and fair. The question is then, "why bet on ignorance when sure knowledge is available?"
Me: You seem to be trying the justify the lack of availability from the perspective of the believer, but from the perspective of those who don't know about Jesus or have been conditioned to believe otherwise, it's surely not their fault they are in the situation they are in. That's what I'm saying, and it makes God, if he exists, neither just nor fair.
Joe: God does not reveal to us the ultimate fate of non-believer. He only reveals to us our responsibility towards them. Whatever their fate, we as believers are held responsible for our own actions (or non-action) towards them.
As God is both just AND fair, the fact that someone is the situation they are in when it is not their fault would certainly work in their favor. You are certainly correct in pointing out that circumstances reduce an individual's culpability.
The Catholic Church has NEVER said that anyone is in Hell. Not even Judas. We hope that Hell is empty.
Do you see the difference?
Me: I see the difference in regards to hell, but denying some heaven while giving others that reward when asymmetrical circumstances make it so much harder for some to be aware and to believe is the definition of unfair. So, I'll ask you the same question I asked Ben: Do non-Christians go to heaven? Can they?
If the answer is no, God is unfair. If you don't know, then the fairness of God is also unknown and I don't think availability is the best topic to blog about.
Joe: Would you be considered unfair to give a gift to someone but not to another? I would think you would say no.
In the same way, human life is given as gift. If you were in the position of God to create matter from nothing and then bring a non-living being to life, say a clay figure, (see my Clay Man post) you would be perfectly in your rights to do whatever you wish with that Clay figure. You can take away its life without moral impact. It's YOUR stuff. You gave it life and can take it away again.
This is a very hard teaching to accept (as clay men). If you do not accept it, then we have different ideas as to what's "fair" and I'd beware of people who ask you for money since you'd be unfair or unjust not to give money to each and every person who asks.
If God gives life (and eternal life) as gift, it's not mysterious, but it IS up to him. If he wants to explain some of his rationale to us so we can have a chance of obtaining it, even THAT is gift. We are fortunate to listen to it!
Me: I don't accept that teaching and neither do you. Take a child who wouldn't be alive without you. According to this teaching, it is perfectly acceptable for you and your mate to abort the fetus, after all, it's YOUR stuff. I know you don't feel this way because I see you are pro-life. Further, once the kid is born anything from incestual pedophilia to murder one is fine when committed by the parent, right?
Wrong. You and I are both right in not accepting this teaching.
It goes on. Check the comments or weigh in yourself here.