Yeah, let's wrap up China. The China house church movement is illegal and harassed and persecuted in China. I think the 20,000 a day estimate is a guess. However, I have personally met Paul, a "Bible smuggler" and listened to his stories of the "hunger and thirst" people have to learn about the gospel. That doesn't make the estimates any better, but I can see that there is a desire in people to know God and that the Bible has the power to satisfy that hunger. From that smuggler's accounts, I recognize that same hunger that is within me.

I'm not advocating Christianity because I think it will be helpful to people. I'm advocating it because I think it true. While the McDonald's craze is probably not healthy, it does forcefully demonstrate the hunger that exists in us that hamburgers seems to satisfy. It validates the existance of physical hunger. As an analogy, I'm saying that there is a built-in hunger in each of us to know God and that the message of the Bible satisfies that hunger. The Bible talks about that hunger and the China house church movement seems to me to validate that biblical concept. It seems to me that (if God exists, and He wants us to find Him) it is the way for Him to reach us without compromising our free will. Yes, as you say, "they're evangelizing by word of mouth". It's Martin Luther's "one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread". It's a hunger thing.

I can tell you more of my "reasons to believe", but what will you make of it? I've already stated that God is not limited to nature, so the revelation of God in my life is experiential and is only meant for me. The truths in the Bible are there for everyone to read, but they aren't real in your own life until you've experienced them. You can simply dismiss all my experiences as "coincidence" or "fantasy" or "delusion" as you wish.

I'm trying to remember a quote. I think it's from Bertrand Russell and if it's not, I'll apologize to him if I see him (I'm sure you know that he is dead). He said something like "if, after I die, I find myself in God's presence. I'm going to march right up to Him and ask why He didn't make Himself clear on earth."

If that happened to Mr. Russell, then his belief that God didn't exist would have been in error. The question would then be whether he had been in honest error or dishonest error. Had Mr. Russell honestly considered Christ and rejected Him or had he subtly subverted every effort he could have made to find God? I don't know the answer, but Mr. Russell did; and God does.

I tell you about my experiences and my logic, not to prove to you that God exists, but that God's existance is reasonable and that our efforts to find Him are not without hope. If you want to find God, I can offer you hope, but if you don't want to find God, nothing I can possibly say will do anything at all. You can act or reject in accordance with your own internal desires. If you do come to face God, as Mr. Russell hypothesized, you and God alone will know whether you were in a state of honest or dishonest error. In my understanding of Christianity, God forgives honest error. Certainly, if I never heard of Christ and His sacrifice for me, God would forgive me. But you and I are not in that position. If I had honestly come to believe in the Hindu god or Shinto spirits, I believe that God would forgive my honest error.

If you do want to know God; to satify that hunger that I think exists in everyone, then you will somehow act, even if it's ultimately acting in the wrong direction. God has the power and the will to make it right. If you don't want to come to know God, then He will grant your wish there also. You and God alone know your inner desire.

I want to touch quickly on one more aspect that I previously neglected. The Christian doctrine is that God proposes a union with anyone who will. This union might be compared with a "marriage". In a marriage, there are simultaneously new freedoms and loss of freedoms. A whole new world opens up, but the old world collapses. You can no longer live just for yourself, you must begin living for your spouse and that changes everything. In a marriage that works, each partner expects and demands to be the sole object of love of the other. It might sound arrogant and dictatorial, but that's the nature of real love.

I need to finish this email right here because if I don't send it now, it will be Tue before I get the next opportunity.




One last thought on Chinese evangelising that also refers to the popularity of Christianity elsewhere - truth is not democratic.

I'm not sure it's a good idea to liken a physical hunger for fast food to a physical hunger to know the Christian god. You crave (you don't hunger for it) fast food because it's cheap, convenient, and is a short-lived satisfaction. Is that what you want to say about Christianity? Furthermore, how do you know that there's a "built-in hunger in each of us to know God"? Let's say you didn't grow up in a predominantly Christian society. Do you think you'd just automatically drift toward the Christian god? Or do you think you'd drift toward the god that was predominant in your society, say, Odin? People are born atheists and will remain so until the idea is planted in their heads, whether as children or adults, that there is something else. You need to be told about the Christian god before you think you want to get to know him. It's not just a feeling you're born with. You don't need to be told about anger to be angry and you don't need to be told about love to love.

You might say I've deliberately pushed this "built-in hunger" out of my mind. Indeed, many times in previous e-mails you have referred to me as consciously rejecting the Christian god. In your last e-mail, you mentioned, "Had Mr. Russell honestly considered Christ and rejected Him or had he subtly subverted every effort he could have made to find God." You also say, "If you don't want to come to know God…", and "If you want to find God, I can offer you hope, but if you don't want to find God, nothing I can possibly say will do anything at all." Many times I have responded that I am not consciously rejecting your god and neither did Bertrand Russell. Russell said, "I am myself a dissenter from all known religions, and I hope that every kind of religious belief will die out." This doesn't sound like he was making any special effort toward disbelieving in your god. Subsequently I'm not thinking to myself, "I do not want to find god." The definition of atheism is the disbelief in ANY god or goddess. I do not reject things that do not exist, nor do I make an effort to not find something that does not exist. If I believe in leprechauns and you do not, I can very well say to you, "if you want to find leprechauns," and "if you don't want to come to know the leprechauns", but you weren't exactly sitting around trying not to know leprechauns in the first place, were you? Thousands of mythical creatures like leprechauns exist - that is, people have believed in them. You don't believe in any of them. You pass them off as nonsense, you make no special effort to disbelieve in leprechauns. Thousands of gods and goddesses exist. To me, they are all nonsense. I make no special effort to disbelieve in the Christian god. Your god is no more special than any others, even demigods. I could ask you, why do you resist believing in those gods invented throughout the ages, many of them omniscient, omnipotent, and immortal?

How do you defend your statement, "If I had honestly come to believe in the Hindu god or Shinto spirits, I believe that God would forgive my honest error." in light of the biblical verses (supposedly quotes from Jesus himself) that don't show much sympathy toward "honest error"? Examples: "'But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.'" Luke 19:27…"If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned." John 15:6…"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the son shall not see life, but the wrath of god rests upon him." John 3:36.

Also, you continue to mention the free will that your god gives us. If you do not believe that your god is omniscient and omnipotent, then please disregard the rest of this argument. However, if you do believe this, then the belief that your god also gives us free will is contradictory. According to the definitions of omniscience and omnipotence, your god knows exactly what you will do at 2pm on Saturday in 2002. How can you demonstrate your free will to an all-powerful god who knows what's going to happen at every second? Can you surprise god?

Yes, I would still like to pinpoint why you believe what you believe. Did you ever try to get to know any other gods or goddesses? You keep alluding to your theory that many Christians are atheists pretending to be Christians, but can you back that up? How do you know that they're all wrong and you're right? What's the definition of a true Christian anyway? Is it someone who takes the bible as literal truth or just follows the general message? How do you know for sure? And again, are Lutherans the only true Christians? I am still very curious about your answers to these questions.


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