Between Heaven and Earth

Grace and Salvation: Questions for AI

In Dr. Weaver’s long recovery from illness, I’ve found myself talking from the class podium rather more than I might like (and, I would bet, far more often than you might like!), and I’ve been using AI to help me in that task. I have never hidden that from you, but since I’m about to expand my use of it in today’s discussion, I thought I should share some thoughts about what I’m up to, because it might be a bit controversial.

I’d like to start by reminding you that the goal of this class, as stated by Dr. Weaver in the “About” section of the blog website, is “to explore divergent and, perhaps, novel and enlightening views.” He goes on: “Our discussions are based on scripture and faith, but we look to all sources, including science, other faiths, and even non-faiths for inspiration and ideas to expand our understanding” (my emphasis). 

Dr. Weaver wrote those words before ChatGPT was even imaginable as a “source of inspiration and ideas to expand our understanding. “Thank God, perhaps, that the SDA Church “has a set of beliefs, but none that cannot be changed if challenged by new understanding–which is to be actively sought.” Dr. Weaver went on to write that because of the failure of prediction leading to the “Great Disappointment”, “Adventists of all people should be open to new ideas and new understandings.”

I’ve been a member of this class long enough to know that every single one of you is open at least to hearing out new ideas and interpretations of scripture presented in class. That’s why this class is such a blessing, it seems to me. Dr. Weaver invariably presents refreshing views of scripture in his opening talks, and we delight in delight in discussing them. Ultimately, we benefit by being better informed about scripture and gaining a better understanding of it.

So I’ve confessed already to enlisting AI’s help when I try the impossible task of filling Dr. Weaver’s shoes in giving introductory talks in class. Let me stress up front that I don’t think AI is a replacement for Dr. Weaver (yet!) nor is it a replacement for study or reflection; rather, I see it (and I use it) as a supplement that helps me access a broad range of theological information quickly and efficiently, which is especially helpful given (a) my general ignorance of the Bible and other scriptures, and (b) the vast amount of Biblical and theological scholarship that has amassed over three millennia.

The way I use AI is in one sense similar to using any source, such as a commentary or a study Bible. It supplies information that I might not have known and ask questions that I might not have thought to ask. AI does not—yet—replace the personal study of religious texts, but it can enable and enhance such study. It provides material to start a discussion and, I hope, it leads to informed and meaningful class discussions.

But in another sense, I use AI as if it were a personal tutor, and this might be controversial. I ask it questions, and it answers them. Sometimes, like a good tutor, it might suggest further avenues of study in areas or from sources I had not known or thought about. The greatest danger from this is if the AI tells lies (or “hallucinates” in the jargon of developers) and misleads me. I hope I am savvy and sceptical enough to avoid being misled right now, but who knows?

That said, I find this method encourages me to think critically: First, about my about my own knowledge and the gaps in it; and second, about the answers ChatGPT gives. The information it provides helps me to articulate my own beliefs more clearly, and my hope is that it will have the same effect on you. Members of this class are not the type to sit back and meekly accept the information presented. No. You engage with it actively, and as a result you deepen everyone’s understanding through discussion.

As a futurist who has made a study of AI and its implications, I am convinced that conversing with AI as I am doing today will be the way all humans learn in the fairly near future. Many people, especially young people, are already learning this way. The traditional days of the book and the school are obsolescing more rapidly than most realize, given that AI grows exponentially more knowledgeable and more capable of understanding, and that people have less and less time and inclination for the old methods of learning. 

This change is driven by ongoing exponential advances first in AI modeling. I see us moving from large language models to methods more akin to human cognitive processes; and second, in computing power, including exponential advances in quantum computing.

These advancements will also depend on broader factors such as investments in AI research, societal acceptance of AI technologies, regulatory developments, and unforeseen technological breakthroughs or bottlenecks. That said, however, the pace of AI development ought to concern us all, especially considering how fast technology can leap forward unexpectedly. 

Preparing for such advancements and understanding their implications by keeping a proactive and thoughtful approach towards its integration into society and education will be essential to harness its benefits while mitigating potential challenges.

So in addition to inviting your discussion of the points I am about to make, with ChatGPT’s help, about Grace and Salvation, I also invite your thoughts and feelings about the future of AI in general and about my use of AI in our class in particular.

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This is the conversation I had with CHatGPT on the topic of grace and salvation. My questions are bolded

What do Christians mean by salvation?

Christians generally understand salvation as being saved from sin and its consequences, and entering into a restored relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. This concept involves both a present reality—being saved from the power of sin—and a future hope—being saved from the ultimate consequences of sin, which includes eternal separation from God. Salvation is seen as a gift of grace from God, accessible through faith in Jesus, who, according to Christian belief, died for the sins of humanity and was resurrected, defeating death and enabling eternal life with God for believers.

What does the Bible say we are saved from and saved for?

The Bible describes being saved from sin, death, and the wrath of God as key aspects of salvation. Romans 6:23 succinctly states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This suggests that through sin, humans earn death, but through God’s grace, they receive eternal life.

Furthermore, the Bible speaks of what believers are saved for, which includes a life transformed by God’s grace, a relationship with Him, and the promise of eternal life. Ephesians 2:8-10 elaborates that believers are saved by grace through faith, not by works, so that no one can boast; it also notes that believers are created for good works, which God prepared in advance for them to do. This indicates that salvation is not only about rescue from sin’s penalties but also about living a life reflecting God’s love and purposes.

So there are both mundane and heavenly forms of salvation?

Yes, exactly. In Christian theology, salvation has both “mundane” or temporal aspects and “heavenly” or eternal dimensions. The mundane aspects involve the transformation of a believer’s life here on earth—how they are freed from the bondage of sin and its effects on their daily lives, leading to a renewal of character and behavior according to God’s will. This is often described as sanctification, where believers grow in holiness and righteousness.

The heavenly aspects of salvation, on the other hand, refer to the eternal life and perfect communion with God that believers look forward to after death. This includes being completely free from sin, suffering, and death—the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises of redemption and restoration. Christians see these two aspects as interconnected, with the transformation experienced in life serving as a foretaste and preparation for the eternal joy to come.

Can a person who does not receive, or who rejects, mundane salvation still receive heavenly salvation?

In Christian theology, the relationship between accepting mundane (earthly) salvation and receiving heavenly (eternal) salvation is complex and varies across different denominational beliefs. Generally, mainstream Christian doctrine holds that salvation—both its earthly and heavenly aspects—is accessed through faith in Jesus Christ. This faith is expected to manifest in a transformation of life (mundane salvation) as evidence of genuine belief.

  1. Faith and Works: Many Christian traditions, including Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, emphasize that faith must be accompanied by works—meaning a life that reflects God’s commands and Christ’s teachings. In these traditions, rejecting the transformation of life (mundane salvation) could be seen as evidence of a lack of genuine faith, which could jeopardize one’s eternal salvation.
  2. Sola Fide (Faith Alone): In contrast, some Protestant denominations, particularly those influenced by Reformation theology, hold to “sola fide,” or faith alone, which suggests that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone, independent of one’s works. However, even within these groups, a completely unchanged life after professing faith might lead some to question the authenticity of one’s faith.
  3. Security of Salvation: There are also varying beliefs about the security of salvation. Some traditions hold that salvation once received is secure regardless of subsequent actions or beliefs (often termed “once saved, always saved”), while others believe that it’s possible to fall away from faith and thus lose salvation.
  4. Ultimate Judgment: Ultimately, many Christians believe that God’s judgment will take into account the reality of one’s faith and the transformation it wrought in one’s life. A lack of evidence of mundane salvation might raise questions about the sincerity or existence of faith that promises heavenly salvation.

In summary while different denominations might have different views on the nuances, a common theme across most Christian thought is that an authentic faith in Christ is expected to result in a transformed life, which is both a part of mundane salvation and a testament to the faith that secures heavenly salvation.

What parables are about salvation?

Several parables in the New Testament of the Bible focus on the theme of salvation, each highlighting different aspects of God’s grace, the kingdom of God, and the nature of repentance and forgiveness. Here are a few notable ones:

  1. The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32): This story about a father welcoming back his wayward son after he squanders his inheritance is a powerful depiction of God’s grace and forgiveness. It illustrates the joy of salvation and the open invitation to return to God.
  2. The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:2-9, Luke 8:4-8): This parable describes a sower who scatters seeds on different types of soil, representing the varied responses to the message of the kingdom of God. It emphasizes the need for a receptive heart to truly receive and benefit from the message of salvation.
  3. The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:12-14, Luke 15:3-7): This story highlights God’s concern for each individual and His effort to save those who are lost, underscoring the personal nature of salvation and the joy over one sinner who repents.
  4. The Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14): This parable compares the kingdom of heaven to a king who invites guests to his son’s wedding feast. The emphasis is on the readiness and willingness to accept the invitation, which symbolizes the acceptance of salvation.
  5. The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13): This parable of ten virgins waiting for a bridegroom, five of whom are prepared with extra oil for their lamps, and five who are not, stresses the need for preparedness and vigilance, as salvation will come at an unexpected hour.

Each of these parables uses everyday situations and characters to explore profound truths about the nature of salvation, the grace of God, and the human response to divine invitations.

Which of the parables are about mundane salvation, and which are about heavenly salvation, and why?

The parables of Jesus often intertwine elements of both mundane (earthly) and heavenly (eternal) salvation, reflecting the holistic nature of the Kingdom of God. Here’s how each of the mentioned parables relates to these aspects:

  1. The Parable of the Prodigal Son: This parable primarily illustrates mundane salvation through the transformation and restoration of the son upon his return. The forgiveness and acceptance he receives from his father symbolize the immediate, relational aspects of salvation that can occur in a believer’s life here on earth. However, the celebration of his return also hints at the heavenly salvation—the joyous eternal reunion with God.
  2. The Parable of the Sower: This parable is largely about mundane salvation in terms of how the word of God takes root in various types of hearts, affecting individuals’ lives differently depending on their response. The growth and fruitfulness of the seed in good soil can be seen as the transformative effect of the gospel in a believer’s life. However, the ultimate yield of the crop can also suggest the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises in heavenly salvation.
  3. The Parable of the Lost Sheep: Primarily, this parable focuses on mundane salvation, emphasizing God’s pursuit and joy over the repentance of one sinner. It shows God’s active involvement in the earthly lives of believers, seeking them out and bringing them back into the fold, which is a present-tense experience of being saved.
  4. The Parable of the Wedding Banquet: This parable addresses both aspects. The invitation to the banquet and the responses symbolize mundane salvation—how people respond to God’s call in their everyday lives. The actual banquet, representing the Kingdom of Heaven, points to heavenly salvation, emphasizing the eternal celebration that awaits those who accept God’s invitation.
  5. The Parable of the Ten Virgins: This parable leans more towards heavenly salvation. It stresses the importance of being prepared for the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven, symbolized by the bridegroom’s arrival. The focus is on the eschatological (end-times) readiness for Christ’s return, which marks the consummation of heavenly salvation.

These parables collectively teach that the choices made in earthly life have implications for eternal life, linking mundane actions and spiritual readiness to the ultimate realization of salvation in the heavenly realm.

So much for my questions to ChatGPT. My questions to you are:

  1. 1.To what extent do you agree with ChatGPT’s understanding of salvation and grace and the parables? Does it faithfully represent the Christian viewpoint?
  1. 2.Is the concept of salvation as being saved from sin and its consequences unique to Christianity, or is it kin to the karma and liberation found in Hinduism and Buddhism? 
  1. 3.Christianity emphasizes salvation through faith in Jesus. To the extent that these other faiths have a concept of salvation, does the absence of faith in Jesus doom them to perdition anyway?
  1. 4.How might a non-Christian believer in God interpret the parables of Jesus with respect to salvation? Are the parables universal or do they only apply to the Jews to whom they were directly addressed?

These are just a few of many questions that might spring to mind. You might have more.

Anonymous: I think this is great. I never liked AI or ChatGPT as much as this! I agree with it.100 percent. Probably no human could provide such an all-inclusive interpretation. It’s very good.

Reinhard: I still don’t get CHatGPT’s idea of “mundane salvation.”

David: I think it’s saying that there is a link between living a good life on Earth, which earns you salvation on Earth, and your salvation in heaven. Personally, I believe that even if you live a bad life on Earth, you still will receive God’s grace when you die, unless you actively reject it, then you will be saved. But ChatGPT is interpreting the Bible and the parables and finding a link between living a good life on Earth and being saved in heaven.

Donald: In the process of acquiring knowledge, what influences me as to who I am and what I’m about? Obviously, the first influence in your life is your parents, and your understanding of the world around you is formed pretty much by them, as a child. Then you have teachers who become part of that process. The environment, too, and other things play a role in who I am and what I’m about. 

So, what influences me? It seems a very important part is whether you are going to listen to me this morning. Why would you listen to me? Why not write me off just like you would potentially do with AI? Our concern about AI is certainly its power. It’s exponential, which is scary. But who is putting the information into the AI? It is its “parents,” environment, teachers, and so on. 

Does it eventually become its own body of knowledge? Or can we actually trace things back to whoever programmed it? Why? What’s our concern? When I was a kid, a guy came around trying to sell encyclopedias. If your parents were wealthy enough, you would have them in your home, but certainly, we had them available to us in school. Someone decided what’s in the encyclopedia and what’s left out. 

What causes us to be so fearful of AI? It could take over things, I understand that. But just in terms of what David did this morning, in regards to asking it fairly direct questions and then it giving you feedback based on its understanding. When you chose your classes to take in a particular semester, you didn’t say, ‘I don’t want the influence of that person in my life.’ You accept that it is, that you want to learn (say) photography, and that person teaches it, so let’s take it from him. 

But I’m going to give a slant based on parents, environment, and understanding and all the rest of it. It seems that AI is getting a bad rap based on our fear of it, as opposed to it just being another place in which we gather information. It’s really up to us to decide what to accept or not accept. Our greatest fear, probably, is being deceived by it and influenced wrongly. So should we allow it to play a role in our discussions, or should we reject it?

David: That is why my first question to the class was, “Do you think ChatGPT answered my question about salvation correctly, based on your own knowledge of the Bible?”

Kiran: I read the late by Jack Sequeira’s bookBeyond Belief: The Promise, the Power, and the Reality of the Everlasting Gospel. In chapter 3, “Gospel Defined,” he talked about two kinds of gospel: one is subjective gospel, the other is objective gospel. They seem to relate to the ideas of mundane and heavenly grace and salvation. He wrote:

“The objective gospel is what Christ accomplished for all of humanity. It’s called the imputed righteousness of Christ, or ‘you in Christ’ motif by Paul, which qualifies us for heaven, both now and in judgment. The subjective gospel, the imparted righteousness of Christ or ‘Christ in you’ motif, does not contribute to our qualification for heaven; it gives evidence of the reality of Christ’s imputed righteousness. So, if you understand the objective gospel, then it should show its evidence in the subjective gospel, which is the current reality of our life. But just because someone lives a good life doesn’t mean they qualify for heaven. They’re qualified by what Christ has.”

C-J: My biggest objection about ChatGPT is its being given so much range. It has to do with metrics. The beauty of the experience for me involves my spirit, my mind, and my body in terms of how it motivates me to behave in the world, or even in my own little sanctuary. That’s my problem. When I’m praying, I’m communing, communicating spiritually. And when I’m quiet, not consciously thinking, just trying to be receptive to the Holy Spirit communicating with me, I don’t think ChatGPT can do that. 

On the other hand, I have read beautiful literature or thought-provoking science that can produce that in me; it stimulates my imagination to consider things that Kiran mentioned, in terms of the potential that would have taken maybe 100 years for us through trial and error to find where it was going and how it can be incorporated for the good of the planet. 

On yet another hand, being in the elements away from a screen is so valuable; it’s essential to be away from the screen. But what if I’m outside, smelling the grass, hearing sounds, and watching the clouds go across the sky? I’m learning, but maybe not at a conscious level as this tool can do. But it scares me because it’s moving so fast that our species is not able to keep up with it. It’s just beyond. 

I make the conscious decision not to learn to engage with my doctor through my wellness portal because I don’t want off-the-shelf medicine, and I don’t want off-the-shelf faith. It’s eloquently stated. And for those of us who are familiar with the text and other belief systems, I do believe that there’s a common thread with karma and other things, but I just think that we need to slow it down and, although science is an incredible tool that gets us there much quicker, for me, it just scares me because my brain doesn’t work that fast. My imagination is still one hundred years ago. I’m not a kid of this generation in their 20s now; they just—their minds work quickly and understand how it works.

Don: Yesterday, Elon Musk (a brilliant guy, but he’s also seen as crazy)  said that by the end of 2025 artificial intelligence will be smarter than the average human. This is much sooner than the decade to so we have been led to anticipate.

I’m wondering, do you think God’s intelligence is artificial? Or is it natural intelligence? Who’s the intelligence policeman?

C-J: I think that God is spirit and energy, has no shape or form but communicates with us (I don’t know if this is really an accurate or appropriate word) telepathically. I think that I don’t have to see God to feel I’m in the presence of God. That causes me to be humble and open and yielding and loved in a way that I have never experienced in any other domain.

Don: Is it possible that artificial intelligence is a tool that’s used by God to communicate with mankind?

C-J: Why would God want to do that? That’s my question. I think that’s a human construct that’s been around since the beginning. So, why does God need that tool to do what He’s always done?

Carolyn: I think He could use that tool. For the people who have shut Him out and are not listening to God, they may hear something on AI that they would not even think of thinking or listening to.

C-J: Yes, if they were seekers, I agree. But when I think about all the great empires, what’s one of the first things that the conquering people do? They destroy the libraries. There’s a reason for that. They want to keep the people ignorant, and they want to influence them with their own culture and ideas, or just instill the fear of God in them.

Carolyn: Are we really imbued with Christ’s righteousness?

David: I do believe that the Holy Spirit is within us from the get-go.

Carolyn: Everyone, or just seekers? 

David: Everyone, period.

Carolyn: So what’s the difference between imbued grace and heavenly grace?

David: The fact that we’re all born with God inside us doesn’t necessarily mean that we live a Godly life. But I do think it means that we all tend to live a good life. Our conscience drives us to be good. ChatGPT is interpreting the Bible to conclude that to the extent we live a good life, God will somehow acknowledge that in bestowing heavenly salvation on us.

I’m not sure I fully agree with that concept, even if ChatGPT’s interpretation is correctly reflecting the Bible on it. I still believe that you might be bad throughout life and still be saved, upon death, for heavenly life.

Donald: Who’s defining what a good life is? The Bible does define for us what a good life is. To me, that’s fundamental. If we ask ChatGPT what a good life is, and we follow that, then we have misdirected our allegiances.

David: I think ChatGPT was quite clear that the good life is following life according to the will of God. 

Donald: That’s pretty remarkable that something that is a human construct looks at something that is of God as the reason to be described as a good life. Would we all agree what a good life is amongst ourselves here?

Kiran: ChatGPT is not coming up with its own wisdom. It’s summarizing human wisdom stored in the literature. In the future, maybe it’ll come to a point where it can contribute its own wisdom, but it’s not there yet.

Donald: But when you use the word summarize, you’re saying it takes into consideration the authors of knowledge, and then puts it together as a conclusion? If there are many bad points of view and you put them together, the conclusion might not be accurate.

Kiran: What matters is what data you train it on.

Donald: That’s why I’m shocked that David is saying that it speaks of a good life as something that includes the concept of God.

C-J: But that’s because that was his framework. Those were his boundaries within this scope. He told it to respond accordingly.

Jay: It is really important to listen to the prompt. It sets the stage for what the AI is going to give you back. David used phrases such as “in a Christian sense,” or “from a biblical point of view,” or “what are the parables that…?”  and in doing so he’s narrowing the scope down, to stay on topic of grace and salvation from the Christian point of view mainly represented in this class. If he said, “as a Satanist, how do you…,” etc., the response will be very different. He could put in the same prompt but with “As an atheist…,” or whatever, and get a very different response back from it. 

ChatGPT does not discern what is good and what is bad. What it is able to discern is based upon the bulk of literature that is out there as narrowed down by the viewpoint given in the prompt. It then summarizes what it discerns for you. 

Prompt writing is such an important part of conversations with AI, so we should pay as much attention to the prompt as to the response. It’s a really important part of the conversation. In this case, the prompts and responses are very similar in form to many of the conversations we’ve had in class, such as our conversations around the parables. Many of the parables ChatGPT mentioned are ones that we’ve been dissecting in this class for years and years. 

I didn’t see what I would call a new stream of consciousness or something so amazingly insightful come out of it. What I did see, again because it was prompted specifically to talk about, was how the parables reflected on the difference between mundane salvation and heavenly salvation. I don’t know that that’s can insight that we’ve had in this class before, 

I believe that God is timeless and universal—the God of all people at all times. If our modern sophistication with information and gleaning new knowledge were to contradict these universal principles, then I would start to worry, it would make me uneasy. But unless AI one day tries to prove to me through the Bible that God hates people, I won’t worry. 

Right now, I find it to be insightful in some of its responses David sees AI as a tutor. I’m teaching utilizing AI, I’m getting my staff to utilize AI, because in education, if we don’t start utilizing this, we will become extinct. AI is going to revolutionize what we do in education. I can’t go out and read the whole Bible and other reflective works and literature in 10 seconds and then answer any question, but AI can. 

So it’s a personal assistant, it’s a tutor, it helps to glean knowledge and wisdom; but again, the prompting is vitally important. Indeed, one of the fastest-growing careers across the nation right now is AI prompt writer. AI is becoming part of our culture and I think we have to reflect on how we got information in the past and how we will get it in the future.

C-J: But what happens when the plug is pulled, what happens when the power is gone? Or a language changes, even if we have the power and the language changes, or pieces of chunks of it are missing, to figure out what goes in between. Think about archaeology. Right now we’re using this common denominator, this tool. But every time that happens, when a great empire has grown, it sets them back, but when they become healthy again, they seem to have been humbled. They’re better at establishing commerce, health, agriculture, infrastructure. They realize if we had done this, then that would not have happened, or it might not have been this catastrophic. 

Jay: Throughout the course of human history, you see the rise and fall of kingdoms. I do appreciate the viewpoint that we usually come out as better human beings. There’s a lot of evil in the world, but there’s a lot of good too. We just don’t want to focus on it as much as we want to focus on everything else. 

There will always be rises and falls, there will be new tools, and that’s why it’s so important, in my opinion, as we continue to discuss these things, to identify the universal timeless principles that we can grab onto so that no matter what the rise and fall might be, we will come out of it as better humans on the other side.

Donald: It’s amazing to me, almost shocking, that I can remember, maybe just a little bit more than two years ago, saying in Sabbath school something about having breakfast with a friend and talking about ChatGPT. None of us knew much about ChatGPT at the time. So this is a relatively new conversation, which is remarkable. 

I think Jay’s point about listening to the prompt is very important. When we walk into a classroom it’s because we’re interested in the topic, not the teacher, and in the information that that particular teacher is going to share regarding that topic.

C-J: I chose what my curriculum required of me, but the teacher was really important. I don’t care if that was the most important thing, can I learn from this individual, the way I learn? Is this person just going to sit here and read a book? Or is it going to know all the things that I wanted to teach you?

Donald: I think you’re quite unique, Connie, because in 40 years of doing education and academic advising, I would suggest to a particular student, a good match between the professor and the student’s way of learning. 

But with regard to the prompt: You’re allowing yourself to understand something on the basis of that pathway to knowledge about a specific piece of information. Someone used the word “portal” just now. A portal is huge. It’s kind of like a funnel, I think, narrowing things down. So I can actually say these are the important things that I need to know. It summarizes information for us, for me specifically. It’s my medical portal.

But different doctors use various portals—they don’t all use the same one. There is no centralized portal, so the medical information its fragmented. I happen to live in an environment where most of my medical information is shared amongst the health community, and then can be useful to me. 

I think Connie’s point about the speed of AI is a very important one. The fear of AI for us all is the speed at which this thing seems to be whizzing by. We can go back to the Amish with horse and buggy and I can look down on the side of the road and see what’s happening. Or I can get in a 747 and not even see the road. So, I think speed is an important thing, and I can understand why we’re afraid of it, no question about it. It’ll be interesting to see what we say to each other two years from now.

C-J: The word “portal” means to go to a place that I had not considered, and to be open to what will be experienced there and not be self-protective to the point that I close off. That I will find people that will allow me to experience without making me feel I’m at risk of falling. But part of learning is being willing to have an element of vulnerability. If I do this, what’s the worst that can happen? If I don’t do this, what is definitely going to happen? 

So I would much rather take a leap of faith with someone I trust that has gone before me. But I also want them to say “Just look around and tell me what you see.” Instead of saying, “Look over here,” and putting a name on it and defining it, I’d rather hear: “Let’s go on a journey, and we’ll learn together.” Those are the best teachers I’ve ever had. They allow me to be intuitive, inquisitive, and experiential. And I think that’s the way my relationship is with God.

Kiran: One of the differences I understood about the Protestants is that Calvinists believe we don’t have a choice in picking who gets the grace. Because God is sovereign, he picks who will be responding to grace, and then he transforms them and makes them qualified for heaven. But Arminianism doesn’t like predestination and insists you have a power of choice. When God accomplished this whole grace on the cross, you have a choice to choose, and you say, ‘I want that grace for me.’” And as soon as you choose it, then the Holy Spirit comes into you and makes the righteousness imparted into your present life. I think that’s the difference. 

Some of us may be scared of the idea that, having accepted grace, you can choose to reject it too. That’s what Arminianism says—that you can resist the grace of God; whereas Calvinists say you can’t resist the grace of God. I believe once you accept the grace of God, you can’t go back. 

The spirit understands what we need, and it somehow transforms us, it molds us, it makes a person that is worthy of God. So I don’t worry about myself, having accepted Christ as my savior. The rest is up to him. It’s all about what he does in my life.

Don: I think that discussing the “prompt” issue is something that would be worthwhile, particularly in answering the question of what artificial intelligence can contribute to biblical scholarship.

David: Indeed, Jason raised a very insightful topic in talking about the prompt. I was thinking, as he was speaking, about the prompt being a form of question, and about the admonition to be born again: What are children most annoyingly good at?

Don: Asking questions.

David: Prompting! I agree it’s something well worthy of further discussion.

Don: We’ll pick this up again next week.

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