*Originally posted by tracer *
Well, if you’re including the New Testament, there are some pretty basic philosophical contradictions:
[ul][li]God is merciful and forgiving; yet God holds everyone accountable for the sins of Adam and Eve, for which the punishment is eternal torture.[/li][/QUOTE]
It’s only a contradiction if you assume that such forgiveness is unconditional, which it isn’t. It’s contingent on repentance.
Remember, in order to present a contradiction, the text must state two mutually exclusive and irresolvable terms. That is, it must simultaneously say “A” and “not A.” One might ponder the exact sense in which the terms “mercy” and “forgiveness” are being used, and the implications thereof, but the theological difficulty that you described does not constitute a contradiction per se. (Additionally, one must also consider the other aspects of God’s character, such as justice. One could draw any number of unwarranted conclusions by focusing on one aspect to the exclusion of the entire person.)
Additionally, the Book of Romans quite clearly dictates that all humans are sinful (verses 3:23 and 6:23), so it’s overly simplistic to say that we are punished for the sins of Adam and Eve. Also, while various verses do depict Hell as a terrible, hellfire-ridden place, theologian J.P. Moreland makes a case for such imagery being symbolic. According to his view, Hell is a place of torment, but not torture. (I’m not prepared to accept his view unconditionally, but he does make an interesting case.)
**[li]The death of God’s only begotten Son, which takes away the sentence of eternal torture, is supposed to have been the supreme sacrifice; yet God’s Son was only dead for 3 days, and God and his Son both knew He would only be dead for 3 days, which doesn’t exactly sound like much of a “sacrifice.”[/ul] **[/li][/QUOTE]
Once again though, that’s a theological difficulty, but it’s not a contradiction per se. We should be very careful about how we use that term.
I agree that the value of such a sacrifice may not be evident, and that this is a matter which merits theological study. Such a discussion would cover an entire volume, though. For the purposes of this particular discussion, I would simply like to emphasize that it’s not a contradiction in any precise sense of the word.