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Growth What makes people the way they are?

Nov 8, 2017
We all start on even ground. We are all made in God's image. We are all given a soul, body and spirit. We all have extenuating circumstances in life - hard times, abuses, despairs, good times, times of pride and times of humiliation. It's part of the sin nature we're born with.

I believe with all my heart the scripture that says, "I [God] take no pleasure in the death of the wicked.", or "God isn't willing that any perish, but that all would come to repentance."

Why are some people void of faith? Surely it can't be a circumstantial cause - like personal sin and poor choices (we all have personal sin), environment (we all are born into a fallen world) - and certainly God doesn't choose to inflict misery on certain people.

Hardening of the heart? Who hasn't felt bitter and been hardened for a time? And if extended bitterness and hardness is the reason, isn't God's grace bigger than the sin of unbelief?

I'm kind of knocking on the doors of Paul's writing in Romans of "Who can thwart God's will? Why does he still find fault? But who are you, O man, who replies to God this way??"

My answer is that everyone needs to "try" Jesus. If you never do, you will be making a choice you will regret forever. So I guess the answer to my question is that sin makes people the way they are, but choosing to reject Jesus makes this permanent.
Apr 26, 2015
What makes people the way they are?
Besides those who suffer from chemical imbalances, altered genetic, and other aberrations, which can make a person prone to mental, emotional and/or physical disorders, the most common variable is a persons 'belief systems'.

Fear (lack of faith) is the beginning of collecting beliefs other than the Truth.
Every person has a different collection of beliefs.
It is the collection of beliefs which govern our thoughts and actions (personalities).

Many who are unhappy with themselves seek refuge from self, from their collection of beliefs. Their yoke of untruths is heavy.
Christ's yoke is light and easy because the way of life is based on Love and Truth, and not on fear and deception.

Unfortunately, some people have certain beliefs which have become huge stumbling blocks. The greater the stumbling block the greater the fear that is needed to be confronted, which requires faith to face and expose. I know of many who have died in anguish over their secrets. Secrets based on untruths (unreal). The truth is, they died for nothing real.


We all start on even ground.
To a large extent, we are the products of our genetics stretching back many generations. This is true not just in regard to physical health, but in regard to many personality traits and proclivities as well. We do not emerge from the womb as blank slates. Some of the research with long-separated twins proves this. Our free will is not nearly as free as we might like to think.

In addition, we are born with vastly different intelligence levels. We are born into vastly different family, cultural and economic circumstances. We have vastly different educational and employment opportunities. Some of us live to be 94, others 14. In my experience, we have vastly different capacities to believe - not just religious teachings, but almost anything that requires a leap of faith.

There is simply no way that a child born into an upper middle class, white, highly educated Omaha family with deep Southern Baptist roots and traditional Christian/American values "starts on even ground" with a child born into a destitute, uneducated family in New Delhi with deep Hindu roots and traditional Hindu/Indian values. The odds of the latter child ever hearing about Christ in a meaningful way or turning to Christ even if he does are minuscule in comparison to the odds of the former child doing so. Literally billions of people have no realistic chance of ever becoming Christians in the narrow way that evangelicals define the term.

I believe this undeniable fact about the real world is a major challenge to the evangelical mindset. Evangelical attempts to address this undeniable fact while preserving the tidy evangelical theology strike me as completely unconvincing.

I am unable myself to articulate a convincing theology that deals with the undeniable fact that we do not all start on ANYTHING LIKE the same ground IN ANY RESPECT, including the likelihood of becoming Christians. One is almost forced to fall back on such tired cliches as "It's just a mystery we can't understand" or "We just have to trust in God's goodness."

Along the lines of what Hermit is talking about, I am in the process of reading for at least the 20th time my favorite spiritual tome, Secret Splendor by Charles Earnest Essert (Philosophical Library 1973). Essert makes the point that Ultimate Truth exists independently of what we think or believe about it. We spend our lives debating ideas about Truth but never perceive Truth itself. Our reliance on our rationalistic, dualistic thinking, which is essential to everyday decision-making, actually gets in the way and prevents us from seeing Truth itself. Truth itself must be perceived intuitively. In Christian terms (Essert was not a Christian), we would say that Truth will reveal itself if we get out of the way and allow it to do so, if we will stop churning ideas in our minds and arguing over which of those conflicting ideas is Truth. To some extent the same teaching is found in the anonymous Christian classic The Cloud of Unknowing.

I tend to think we actually do stand on more or less equal ground in our ability to intuit Truth. Intuitively grasping Truth does not require any particular level of intelligence, education or anything else. It merely requires quieting what Buddhists call the monkey mind, viewing the world from a different, more mystical perspective and allowing the Truth to break through. Indeed, worldly wisdom and riches can be major obstacles to this, as is suggested in many Biblical passages such as the Sermon On the Mount and Matthew 18:2-4.

For the destitute Hindu in New Delhi, the Truth is unlikely to break through in terms of "Jesus," but it might well break through in terms of a realization that we live in a created reality, there is something fundamentally flawed with this reality and our individual selves, and we cannot overcome these flaws through our own efforts. Such realizations might come within the context of a Hindu, Buddhist or other non-Christian culture.

For these reasons, I tend to think - I certainly don't claim to know - that the conventional understandings of what is required to be "saved" and what Jesus meant by John 14:6 may be badly misguided.


Staff member
Aug 16, 2015
Thus is the beginning of a long standing debate.
You can see this debate discussed by Jesus and the Apostles in John"s Gospel.
They (the Jews) believed that the answer was sin caused this. Where the contention existed was whether it was corporate sin or an individual's sin that caused people to be born with less than an equal opportunity in life. They, being God's chosen, were blessed.

The Apostles asked Jesus, "Who sinned to cause this man to be born blind?"

Jesus' reply was telling. And the answer is sufficient.
It isn't always all about us. Sure we feel special because God loves us all in an individual fashion. And empathy for the lost is part of our unique relationship with God. But we don't have the vision God has. We can't configure the fractals of possibilities in our minds to make choices for everyone.

God may desire us but He doesn't need us. And there are none so blind as those who will not see.

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