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How do Bible literalists reconcile themselves with Matthew 17:20?

"And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

Are they very careful not to want anything that is impossible?  Or do they think that their faith is smaller than a mustard seed, and so they could not move a mountain by telling it to move?

How do you interpret the verse?

Faith or no faith, no matter how hard you pray, wish, fast or meditate, you will not be able to regrow a lost limb, or move a mountain from "here to there".  So, what does this verse really mean?

Answer Question

Asked by jsbenkert at 9:42 AM on Feb. 6, 2013 in Religious Debate

Level 37 (89,331 Credits)
Answers (30)
  • Frankly it can do anything at all. The fact is that we do not have that kind of faith in general and not for a specific. If we did the specific thing would be made clearer and we would have the faith needed becase we already have it.

    It is sort of like a gas can. You are driving along and you haven't paid attention to how much gas you have or how what condition your car is in.
    You may go through the motions and put gas in but if the pump (faith)isn't working then adding gas is really not effective and will not get you where you need to go.

    Do I think that faith could heal a child. I think if it was pure faith nothing would stand in your way.
    That is not a condemnation. People are seriously flawed beings and full of doubts about everything. We worry and we complain and we blame. We turn to every avenue and it fails us and then we say God why didn't you help me? But you really don't have faith, you have want.

    Answer by Dardenella at 12:34 PM on Feb. 7, 2013

  • There is nothing wrong in saying why me? (Read Job) Or saying this isn't fair. I have said it enough times. The question is do you turn it over to God or do you deal with it yourself?
    Let's say your child comes to you frustrated and angry and asks you to fix something. You may be right on the verge of helping when your child in his independence and impatience takes it back and tries and fails to fix it himself. Does the child blame himself or you?
    I do not think God takes a personal interest in every single person, at everysingle moment in their life. I do believe that there if there is a strong bond or communication to start with God can maybe metaphorically pick your voice out of the babble.

    I am not sure I answered your question.

    Answer by Dardenella at 12:41 PM on Feb. 7, 2013

  • Yes, but this verse says "faith as a grain of mustard seed" - the tiniest bit of faith, not 'enough' faith, not 'great' faith, but just a tiny bit of faith - the size of a mustard seed - is all that's needed to move mountains.  It also doesn't say that anything about doing things on one's own, or blaming God if things don't work out right.  It says that one can move a mountain with words if one has "faith as a grain of mustard seed."


    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 1:23 PM on Feb. 7, 2013

  • If you have faith, do you keep checking up on whether it has been done yet? If you have faith and put it is God's hands do you pull it back and start working on it/ fixing i yourself? If you do, do you really have faith?
    That is what I mean. We try to believe ut we are constantly doubting and that is NOT faith the sizr of a mustard seed. It is hope maybe, Ihope God will help but not I totally believe He will.

    Yes it is an allegory it is not giving and actua quantity but a quality.

    Answer by Dardenella at 2:41 PM on Feb. 7, 2013

  • To get the gist of what the scripture is referring to read the severeal verses before it and after it at the least. The disciples had been unable to cast out the demon from the boy Why? The next verses we find that Jesus then said that casting out demons requires faith but also prayer (relationship with God) and fasting (emptying oneself as a dedication and focus on God).

    Jesus rebuked the disciples saying "wicked and perverse generation..." They were trying to draw on their own powers to rebuke the devil and cast out a demon. Through our faith in Christ, even as small as a mustard seed we rebuke the devil and cast out demons. We don't have to be a spiritual powerhouse because our strength comes from Christ.

    Answer by NikkiMomof2grls at 4:32 PM on Feb. 7, 2013

  • I just found "this":

    Answer by NikkiMomof2grls at 4:49 PM on Feb. 7, 2013

  • Trying again.


    Answer by NikkiMomof2grls at 4:55 PM on Feb. 7, 2013

  • Read especially: Faithless people, The need for power, The path to power and The path of love. This discribes fully what I was trying to fit into condensed form.

    Answer by NikkiMomof2grls at 4:59 PM on Feb. 7, 2013

  • He was speaking with his disciples who had the ability to perform miracles.Once Jesus dies and is no longer physically on earth (a chapter prior Jesus predicts his own death) miracles would continue on through the disciples so Jesus was teaching them the importance of their faith so they could continue to do God's work and bring people to salvation. The truth is all things are possible.Jesus reattached a guards ear,raised a person from the dead, healed a woman's bleeding disorder from her touching his robe and healed a girl without ever having gone to her home . So, if you are asking why no mountains had been moved there simply wasn't a reason to move a mountain or the disciples did not have enough faith to move it (just as it was referenced that they did not have enough faith to cast out the demon vs.16)..if Jesus wanted to though He could (and he did cast out the demon!) .


    Answer by deedee3849 at 7:11 PM on Feb. 7, 2013

  • It's easy to question things according to our own knowledge but when you believe God created every single thing in existence, it's easy to believe if he wants a mountain to move, He can move it........He can create a mountain instantly if He wanted to!

    Answer by deedee3849 at 7:13 PM on Feb. 7, 2013

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