Thank you for taking the time to type such a long response. It is very interesting to read your perspective.
That is a very depressing view.
I don't think it's depressing. If we accept that God is creator, then we are the created and must accept we have the ultimate authority over us. I liken it to the structure in Downton Abbey. Think of God as Lord Grantham. His servant, Mr. Bates, serves him with respect and, I believe, love, even though he is just a servant. However, even though Mr. Bates is a servant, he may choose to leave service and go his own way.
How does free will agree with the paragraph in the first quote? If God can do whatever he likes, I do not have free will. You would still have the free will to rebel against God and/or choose not to serve him, just like Mr. Bates above. God doesn't want robots. He wants to be in fellowship with his creation. While he has the power and authority to do away with us, (think flood here), he also has mercy and love for his creation. He is long-suffering of us with extraordinary patience. He will let us choose to serve him or not. While, in the end, the penalty for rebelling against him is steep, it is our choice to do so.
When my children misbehave, I do not impose cruel arbitrary punishment - I prefer natural consequences. I also would not punish one child for something a sibling did. If I disobey the law, I hope in a just society my family is not punished for my transgressions (that would have been the case in the totalitarian regime I grew up under.) What many confuse in this situation is the belief that our sense of justice is better or superior to God's. This is a very unintentional arrogance on our part. Do we have the omniscience to understand and see the future of how the future generations of one's family will act? Maybe God punishes the future generations of a family because he already knows/sees the path they will travel. How do we know whether or not, if by punishing the future generation or two, the family will finally make the correct turn towards righteousness. We don't know because we are not omniscient. In addition, there is another entity at work in the world--the antithesis of good. The influence of evil is alive and well in the world. Evil was a natural consequence of allowing free will. However, God counted it as a necessary evil in order to allow his creation the free will to choose rather than having robots who would be incapable of a real relationship with him. Apparently, for God's purpose and with his abilities to see the future, this was the best plan going forward. I have the faith to believe he knows best how to achieve his overall plan to restore Eden as it was meant to be from the beginning while preserving his desire to gift his creation with free will.
I have never understood the concept of original sin. If every human carries this from birth and has to be punished for it, the creation is faulty. If humans are punished for the sins of their forefathers, the system is arbitrary. I don't subscribe to the notion of original sin from Adam being carried to the future generations. Romans 5:12 plainly states that we inherited death from Adam; not sin. However, once we, as humans, were removed from God's presence and sacred space (Eden) we can't help but sin. No one is perfect; no, not one. No one is righteous on their own. This is why God, in his infinite mercy had to have a plan to redeem us through the most perfect, spotless sacrifice. Jesus's sacrifice washed us in his blood to cover our continuous sinful nature. As a follower of Christ, my sin is covered and I try to restrain sin and temptation, but alas, I'm still not perfect and will sin until the end but the stain is invisible to God because of Jesus.
If you are interested in delving into the misinterpreted notion of "original sin", here is an in depth study of Romans 5:12. This one part of the study specifically addresses the supposed "sin nature" inherited from Adam
Thanks for bringing up this point; I was going to raise it, too.
Death is certainly not the worst thing to happen; there are far worse things over which death would be preferable - even for an atheist.
But my question is: if heaven is such a great and joyful place, why do Christians seek to prolong their life on Earth? Why undergo painful medical treatments, if death means just a short while of separation from the loved ones before joining them in eternal joy? Shouldn't Christians be eager to depart this life sooner rather than later, if heaven is such a wonderful place?
The reason to stay is to accomplish our part of God's plan. I feel one part of God's plan for my life is to homeschool my DD and prepare her for the world as a strong Christian who will defend the faith. There may be more, but I'm not certain of what that is. I may never be aware of my full contribution or if I've accomplished my part until it's completed.
I'm ready to go whenever God calls, but I'm also human and in my flesh, I'm afraid of HOW I'll go. Let's face it, no one really wants to suffer, but we're called to follow Christ's example. It terrifies me and I wonder, will I be able to bear it if I have to? We in America have no concept of real suffering (other than disease). When I read in Voice of the Martyrs about the suffering of those in the 57 countries where Christians are actively being persecuted in horrible ways, I can't but admire their strength and perseverance in Christ. It's like nothing I can imagine. Would I be as strong and resilient as they are?
I also am very selfish (a sin) in wanting to see my DDs marry and have children of their own, or settled and fully on their own in their chosen life paths. While one DD is approaching 27, my youngest is only 14. I, in my selfishness, feel she's too young to be without her mother and I still have things to teach her. For all these reasons, while one foot longs to be with Christ in Heaven, the other is somewhat firmly planted on solid ground in this world until God calls.
Thanks again for taking the time to compose such a thoughtful response. I found it very interesting.
You're very welcome and I hope you find the answers you're looking for.