Instigator / Pro
0
1373
rating
12
debates
4.17%
won
Topic

In the Christian worldview the statement, the only reason you try to be good is to gain God's approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment, is incorrect.

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
0
0
Sources points
0
0
Spelling and grammar points
0
0
Conduct points
0
0

After not so many votes...

It's a tie!
Parameters
More details
Publication date
Last update date
Category
Religion
Time for argument
Two days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One week
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
10,000
Contender / Con
0
1679
rating
290
debates
67.24%
won
Description
~ 1,981 / 5,000

The quote I'm referring to is in The God Delusion. Richard states:
"“Do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God's approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment?".

I can only take this to mean he believes that to be what the Bible states. Granted, I only came to Christ 2 years ago, but I've been on a non-step quest for understanding, knowledge, the laying out and discussion of doubts and questions since then. I'm not an expert. I'm not that learned in ancient context, Hebrew or Greek, etc. My understanding of what the Bible is said to very clearly say is at odds with this assumption.

Even if you don't agree with Dawkins at all, but you find you disagree with my statement I'd be very interested to discuss this. I'm not looking for someone to defend Dawkins. The God Delusion is simply the most recent place I came across a specific mention to something i've observed in a lot of places. I wanted to discuss it with someone who might agree with Dawkin's assumption. That's all.

So, dropping any need to reference anyone, I think this would sum up the sides of the debate well:
CON: In the Christian worldview the only reason you try to be good is to gain God's approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment.

PRO: In the Christian worldview, the reason you try to be good has nothing to do with God's approval or reward. Nor is it to avoid disapproval and punishment. The alternative claim is you "try" to be good because you now desire to be good where you desired other things before.

If someone wants to have a separate conversation about anything I've mentioned, please let me know. Please ask questions in the comments if you're interested but would prefer to better define or have me better explain something. I'm not trying to set anyone up or just look to preach at a user name. I want to have a discussion with another human who shares a different point of view than I do. That's all.

Round 1
Pro
In the Christian worldview, the reason you try to be good has nothing to do with God's approval or reward. Nor to avoid punishment. 

Christians seek to put Jesus in the top spot in their lives. His teachings define right and wrong and how to live. We "try" to be good because we can't be good of our own power.

We rely on the Spirit after conversion to change our desires.

If not for the above contested reasons, then what is "doing good" for?

Besides bringing a piece of God's original design into the world doing good is a test of one's true heart, true salvation status. 

Galatians goes into this and not only provides examples of the fruits of the spirit which lead then to "good works", but also of fruits of the flesh (following your sinful desires, defining what's right and wrong for yourself). Ironically, most of the legalistic, imaged based stereotypes come out of churches where fruits of the flesh abound.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19‭-‬21 ESV

The problem is God tells his followers not to boast. The true Christians are (in general and majority) doing "the Lord's work" without anyone having any idea. The loud ones are the ones who set the bad stereotypes and literally speak and behave in opposition to the fruits of the spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 5:22‭-‬26 ESV

Maybe why these were shared with us so we could know where to look. Although later scripture goes into the fact of any true judgments of ones salvation status are between that person and God alone. Then goes on the explain how to balance these to not let your ego take over.

This is the position and beginning of a proof of Biblical stance for it that I'll start with. Not wanting to assume anything about CONs position, I don't want to go too far off in the weeds. 


Con
In the quoted verse from Pro:
And those who belong to Christ Jesus

Also:
The problem is God tells his followers not to boast. The true Christians are (in general and majority) doing "the Lord's work" 
Pro adds 'without having any idea' but if you're just a 'good person' without knowing your actions are abiding by Christian words, you can't be a Christian because you're not accepting Christ as your lord and saviour, let alone his father.

The entire Christianity revolves around getting into heaven and avoiding hell, guess who the sole arbiter of justice is in that regard? God.

I'll give Pro a chance to build a better case in Round 2 now.
Round 2
Pro

The entire Christianity revolves around getting into heaven and avoiding hell


This id like to refute. It goes a bit away from our topic, but I think that discussion will take us right to this point in it's conclusion. 

Ill offer if this detracts from the core debate and essentially leads to an unresolved side conversation, I have of course not satisfied my argument and concede. 

Furthermore. If I can change my opponents mind from his quote to in agreement my next statement. Basically, my opponent says yeah I see what you're saying, i was incorrect in (above quote), and my initial, in round assertion about good works isn't admitted to simply follow, ill also concede. 

I claim the entire Christianity revolves around relationship with Jesus. Heaven and Hell are simply the result of a one time choice (or full life loved without that choice).

Over to my opponent. If this new approach is unfavorable, I've got another I can try but I think it'll be unfruitful. You lay out a good argument. If im not convincing in my argument claim of errant statement made at the start of this response, then I simply don't have a case to make. But I also didn't want to shift gears without acknowledgement even if it cost me a round. I apologize in advance if my opponent ses this as a missed round and is at all put off/annoyed/frustrated by this fact. 


Con
Pro claims that:

the entire Christianity revolves around relationship with Jesus. Heaven and Hell are simply the result of a one time choice (or full life loved without that choice).
Con agrees in part. Jesus, in Christianity, is a middleman of sorts not simply a son. He's God in the flesh; the medium by which we can perceive, understand and reach God.

Therefore, if our relationship with him is what the entire Christianity revolves around, it would lead us to wonder how to maintain a good relationship with someone who is seen as the way the truth and the life and the only way to God. (John 14:6)

Jesus continually preaches to us that God's approval and opinion of us is paramount to how good of a Christian and person we are. For instance, let's take fasting:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them” (Matthew 6:1). “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others” (Matthew 6:5). “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others” (Matthew 6:16). Jesus calls them “hypocrites” because in their praying and fasting they want to appear as if they treasure God, but in fact they treasure the praise of men. (What Jesus Demands from the World, 127)

Do you notice how it's strongly preached/taught that the approval or disapproval of other humans is irrelevant to a Christian and instead only the approval of God himself should matter? That theme is there throughout the Bible continually, especially when Jesus himself is preaching.
Round 3
Pro
For instance, let's take fasting:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them” (Matthew 6:1). “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others” (Matthew 6:5). “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others” (Matthew 6:16). Jesus calls them “hypocrites” because in their praying and fasting they want to appear as if they treasure God, but in fact they treasure the praise of men. (What Jesus Demands from the World, 127)

I'm not sure what the quoted text above in your response has to do with God's approval. Actually this is a great summary of what modern day "Christians" are doing wrong. It even says Jesus called them hypocrites. It doesn't talk about your relationship with God as much as faking one for the sake of the eyes of others. 

That said, this statement is of the most interest to me. 

Jesus continually preaches to us that God's approval and opinion of us is paramount to how good of a Christian and person we are.

This is simply not true. My issue is with the whole premise. I'm not at all sure what you mean by "good Christian" or "good person". The message Jesus preached said you are either a Christian or you are not and there are no "good people". Can you clarify where Jesus outlined what a "good person" or "good Christian " is please?


Con
I do not owe my opponent proof they are wrong.

The fundamental concept of Christianity is that there is an afterlife where we are rewarded if God approves of us and punished if God doesn't. Jesus completely supports this regime and speaks extremely highly of God. The quoted passages regarding fasting (that Pro happily agreed to) explain how Christianity teaches us that not only is God's approval paramount but that the approval of other humans is 0% relevant to the equation and only a poser or hypocrite would care if other humans thought of them as a good Christian or person, their concern should instead solely be with what God may think of them.

This concept is pushed throughout the Bible, consistently. Jesus himself in John 14:6 is declared officially to be the sole medium to said God, which is why Pro emphasised Jesus Christ being important to Christians as the relationship with him is key to getting approval from God.
Round 4
Pro
The fundamental concept of Christianity is that there is an afterlife where we are rewarded if God approves of us and punished if God doesn't. 
This is utterly incorrect. 

The message Jesus preached would say

We have been given a life, with free choice. You have the choice to define right and wrong your way calling God a liar or you can live according to God's definition of right and wrong and in relationship with Him. For your life and for the way you interact with God and others.

When you take matters into your own hands you'll inevitably break relationships both vertically (God) and horizontally (neighbor) from the way God intended. This is sin.

The standard for entrance to God's presence after death is a sinless life. If you sin once, you've fallen outside of this standard and thus do not get to enter God's presence after death (Hell).

Jesus' sinless life, death (sacrifice), and resurrection provided an opportunity. If you acknowledge your place as a sinner before God, repent of your sins past and future, and submit to God's ultimate authority over your life, you're "saved". Saved from an eternity outside of God's presence and a few things happen. At death, when judged, Christ's righteousness (call it his empty list of sins) covers your unrighteousness (your and mine hefty list of sins), thus entrance to Heaven. 

However, there's a few other pertinent things. Upon this acknowledgement, repentance, and submission, there's an actual event which takes place. 

The Holy Spirit changes your desires from that of the flesh (sinful nature) to that of the Spirit (The Law of God). This results in a newfound desire to do things you didn't want to before and to no longer do the things you used to. 

God delights in faithful acts of worship. But it's not required and God judges the motives of those who claim to follow Him. You don't do good things because you are looking for God's favor. You've been granted eternal life in his presence. The ultimate, undeserved gift. What possibly could we still need? The only other thing would be to guarantee salvation of those we care about. But we're called to care for all children of God and there's that pesky free will thing. Let's people do all sorts of terrible things to one another. But it also gives us the chance to choose a relationship with the God who created everything. To walk with King Jesus. It's absurd. Who are we? 

Christians do these God defined good things because we now desire to do them. The same way I desire to do the other "normal" things people claim to "love doing". God calls us by increasing this desire in a specific area for someone. But it's still up to them to take action. Often in faith. You can only do that in a deep personal relationship. And this results in what often others call "becoming a good person ". The problem is we're not. We are covered by Christ's righteousness, but will sin until death.

The Bible describes the actions and behaviors that result from someone with a "heart of stone" (desires things of the sinful nature) and someone with a heart transformed by the Spirit (desires God's definition of what's best for their life and right/wrong). God cares not for the images we love to project. 

A person with a sinful nature (regardless of what they claim to be) will produce 'bad fruits' in themselves and destroy relationships as God had intended them to be.

Some bad fruits include: sexual immorality, idolatry, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, and envy.

A person with a heart (desire, Greek word definition helps) transformed by the Spirit will produce 'good fruits' in themselves and heal and create new healthy relationships as God has intended them to be.

Some good fruits include: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

When we die as followers of Jesus, and then when Christ resurrects us we will have a new body. The symbolism of baptism. You die in your sins with Christ and come back in Christ. Jesus never said when a believer dies they get zapped off to Heaven. He taught we are resurrected, judged, and then he will make all things new. on this Earth. And we will live and reign with Him, as was the initial design in the Garden of Eden. We with be with God and we will be His people.

For those who are not followers of Christ, they are cast out of God's presence upon death and judgment. The result of a choice to acknowledge God as sole definer of right and wrong and the one meant to lead you in life (Lord) and be granted eternity in His presence even though we don't deserve it (savior). Punishment isn't fair as a description for Hell. I would argue given Hell is a real place, but in a separate reality that's, per the Bible's claim, outside of full human understanding or description. The passages describing it are using metaphor. However, it's not designed by God to be punishment, it is punishment because of God's absence. If God is the source and standard for all things truly good, then what is a space like that's utterly void of all of that? What would it feel like to be utterly devoid of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control? 

We desire to good once saved, but still are confined to a body of flesh and it's sinful nature. This is consistent with the personal experience over the last two years I've had. Ive watched as this new and deepening relationship with Jesus transformed the relationships I have with my wife, sons, and others around me. Ive seen transformation areas I've struggled with my whole life and within the direction of my life, which make no worldly sense. I have also been experiencing a peace and fufillment in life I previously had not thought possible. Even in the middle of some serious pressure, anxieties, and ongoing struggles. I can jot down a summary of the Gospel. Show you the verses. That's awesome. Perhaps could target the focus of your arguments against Jesus following Christians at the very least. I simply know one thing to be true. I was one way and now am completely different. 


This provides a much different picture than the assertion above. I'm happy to provide sets of verses for each contention to show the consistent message and meaning. There would be far too many for the character limit if I were to include the text of the verses. I also did not want to just drop a long list of verses you'd be forced to go look up if you wanted to read them. 

Con
Pro has literally just argued for my side of the debate. I'm not going to address a single argument and will explain next Round how this has been entirely conceded by Pro.
Round 5
Pro
Short version then. 


The fundamental concept of Christianity is that there is an afterlife where we are rewarded if God approves of us and punished if God doesn't. 

God approves of none of the sinful actions of all humans and loves all humans. The reward comes from our decision to accept a freely offered, undeserved gift. This is not a reward based on approval. 

God doesn't approve of all sinners. Some still go to Heaven because of Jesus and a choice the person made. He doesn't act on those to do things to them in Hell. He allows their choice to spend eternity outside of his presence which is described as the ultimate torture or punishment. Or Hell. You're somewhere, but the experience is what's being described. Not the place which is beyond human description. Heaven is being in God's presence. But we're not like showered with gifts. We're going to live. On Earth for a long time. In God's presence. Real place. Can't fully describe with human words. Described as Heaven. Then, what happens next is not revealed in any large detail. 

And super fundamentally to that statement, either way salvation has nothing at all to do with God's approval. There is no Biblical argument which would hold up whatsoever. Happy to do another debate if you think you have one.

If not, this has been an awesome debate. You're a stellar debater and I wish you the best!
Con
Pro has completely conceded the debate, I will explain why now:

  1. The 'relationship with Jesus' is identical to the debate because Jesus is an avatar of God himself and this 'in the flesh son' being consistently preached that God's approval was paramount (in fact so extremely so that human approval vs disapproval should be discarded as relevant).
  2. The idea of heaven and hell quite literally are self-evidently based on God's approval vs disapproval since point 1 holds true and is agreed upon by both debaters, with the 'fasting' and John 14:6 as combined proof.
  3. There is absolutely nothing other than God's approval vs disapproval/rejection that defines the difference between a good and bad Christian, for judge not lest ye be judged (again, completely links to point 1)
Jesus and this 'relationship with him' that Pro preaches as paramount to Christianity is completely contingent on the approval of God, since Jesus identifies as being 100% sided with God so much so he is rumoured to be God himself in the flesh and is definitely God's direct 'chosen' son if that's not true. Jesus is the medium through which we reach God to get his approval, that relationship is linked entirely and identical to the one with Jesus (according to Christianity, Pro agreed to this again and again). 

The fact you could have sinned many times over yet:

If you acknowledge your place as a sinner before God, repent of your sins past and future, and submit to God's ultimate authority over your life, you're "saved". 
- Pro, Round 4.

This means God's approval alone is the basis on which we receive salvation AKA the qualification to enter Heaven.

The alternative would be that we could lead a fairly sin-free life with maximised 'good' and minimised 'evil' yet refuse to be approved of by God as we do not kneel before him and kiss his boots, worshipping lord Christ and God himself. This single thing could lead to the disapproval that sends us to Hell and is the definitive hypocritical example of how Christianity fails to be a basis to be a 'good person' in any human-qualifying sense, instead only God's approval matters.