Thursday, October 1, 2015

Set Your Face Against Gog

Iran joins Russia in Syria

Are we seeing the precursor to Ezekiel 38? Frankly, I've leaned toward the idea that the prophecy deals with amassing troops in the second half of the Tribulation, but there has always been the possibility that it would precede and precipitate the rise of the Ten Horns. A few more players would have to come on the field to make it truly an Ezekiel 38 fulfillment, so it's not there yet. Regardless, it's very interesting to see this turn of events.

Bears watching, I'd say.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

When Did God Know?

There is knowledge that did not and could not exist apart from God actually creating. Creation is an act of God's mind, and what he created is sustained by his mind (will), nonetheless, only as God created did that knowledge which had to do with creation and time come into being. Before that action, there was nothing to know in regard to it, and if he would never have created, there still would be nothing to know. It is not a breach of aseity to realize this.

We have no reason to believe that God amuses himself with fantasy. Does he daydream or ponder, "What if I were to..." trying to figure out what he was going to do before he did it? I don't think so. God either does or does not, and if he does, he understands what he does entirely. When God created, he would have known all conceptual things at once, and seen all historical things as he created. If he had not created, he would have seen and known nothing about creation.

Therefore, when there was no creation, God knew nothing of the acts of free agents, for there was nothing to know. When God created, he instantly knew exhaustively what was not in flux by the brute fact of his omniscience, and what was in flux from omnitemporal observation. Of course, something has to be in existence to be observed, so there is a distinction within the knowledge of God. What exists because of conception God knew when he conceived it, but what exists as a result of freedom he knows by creating that which can act in time and timelessly observing it throughout its time.

When God created the universe, he instantly knew its entire history, including that of mankind, because he observed it from a timeless vantage. The foreknowledge gained through omnitemporal observation is therefore exhaustive while the choices and acts of agents are free. The conception of children in Christ is the only template mentioned in scriptures which guided God in creating. We are never told that a conception of the damned burning throughout eternity, nor the precise acts of mankind, guided anything prior to creation.

There is an aspect of incrementalism in observational foreknowledge. For instance, when God said "let there be...",  he would instantly know the history of all that existed in response to that decree. When he said, "let there be..." again, then he would know the entire history of what that decree brought into existence in conjunction with all the former decree had actualized. It is likely the former history would have been changed in some way by the latter decree. When God finished his creative work, the fullness of all he foreknows observationally would have been perfected.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Penchant for Taking Heads

There are three biblical characteristics by which the Antichrist can be identified (other than his proclamation in the Temple that he is god above all that's called god, which removes all doubt). First, he arises in the place of the King of the North (Seleucid Monarch) which was centered in what is today Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq. Second, we are told in Daniel that he honors a martial god unknown to his fathers at the time of Daniel and gains his status due to his fealty to him. Third, his name (which could be his birth name, his titular name, or his popularized name) has the gematria value of 666. What can we conclude, if anything from these characteristics?

The 666 is so cryptic, I don't know that there's anything helpful to say about it in this time. Perhaps it suffices just to recognize that what it means won't matter until after the Rapture, when it's used as a mark of submission. Prior to that it's anyone's guess, and after that it will only be of usable consequence to the Jews. So much for gematria.

What more can I say about the King of the North? It really is self-explanatory.

The reference to a martial god, on the other hand, could use some unpacking. It aligns quite well with the god of Islam, and really, no other. Allah is a god of conquest and siege who was unknown in the days of Daniel. Since no other god before or since could really fit the entirety of this description, the Antichrist will be a nominal Muslim.

He will succeed politically through the auspices of Islam. It may be that he initially sees himself as the Mahdi (I think others will), but eventually, he will come to see himself as god. The Islamic world will gravitate toward him, and much of the rest of the world will be bowled over by him and his violent impulse. Resistance will be seen as futile, while spiritual delusion will seal the deal.

With all true Gentile believers removed from the scene through the Rapture, the only people that will withstand the delusion and offer any resistance (particularly to the mark) will be the Jews. For anyone not willing to go along with his rule, his religion, and his economy, their heads will be taken. That that is a a penchant seen readily amongst radicalized Muslims today is no mere coincidence, its seems to me, so the details converge and tell me the Antichrist is a Muslim who will rise to power in the area that's at war this very day.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Failure of Middle Knowledge

Molinism posits that God's omniscience is expressed in three moments which are logically sequential rather than chronologically sequential. The first moment is God's Natural Knowledge which encompasses everything that is necessarily true apart from God's will. The second moment is God's Middle Knowledge which is aware of all possibilities (particularly free actions of agents) given any circumstance. The third moment is God's Free Knowledge which entails all that he actualized.

What kind of knowledge is Middle Knowledge, actually? At best, it could only be analytical and theoretical, because it is never instantiated, never incarnated (apart from that which becomes Free Knowledge). What isn't actualized is merely hypothetical--a mental "trial run," if you will. Supposedly, Middle Knowledge answers with certainty, not mere conjecture, the question: "What would occur if another state were to obtain? But if that other state was nothing more than whimsy in the mind of God, how is the actualized outcome different, distinct from, better than determinism?

A Bible passage that purportedly backs this premise is Christ's musings concerning Sodom and Gomorrah. I question whether or not interpreting the passage to teach Middle Knowledge catches the gist of what Jesus was using the illustration for.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day."    Matthew 11:21-23  NASB
Was Jesus divulging precise alternate history or just making a point about how awful was the rejection of Christ by Jews who heard what he said and saw what he did? I don't think there's really much of a question.

If God can forecast the free choices agents would make in any circumstance accurately, without fail, prior to anything created existing, then I submit that those actions are not truly the agents' at all, but are instead mere projections of the mind of God. How could they be proven to be otherwise? The only qualification that withstands scrutiny and averts blameworthiness when it comes to matters of choice is independence (in connection to this, see Genesis 2:19Judges 3:4Jeremiah 19:5; James 1:13-15). Choice has to be made by the chooser and seen by the seer at the moment of decision in order to be free.

If a decision of an agent is known with absolute certainty before anything else was even made, and if in making everything else God opts among various possibilities to instantiate that decision (the agent certainly has no access to those possibilities), God unavoidably becomes the author of that decision. There is no way that choice is free in the sense that it is instigated in freedom by the chooser. The biblical notion of freedom, as I see it, is that choice is derived independently of God. If that choice "happens" before it happens, the choice is illusory.

Middle Knowledge was formulated as a means of attributing meticulous sovereignty and foreknowledge to God without obliterating freewill or having God incur culpability for actions taken which he opposes (sin). It fails to do so. If God knew what every choice an agent would make was before he created the universe, and knowing, then actualized that "blueprint," then culpability for all choices (including sin) adheres unshakably to God, and none of those choices are actually free (independent).

Molinism, it seems to me, reduces to determinism, so why add the extra layer?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Omnipresence and Omniscience Entail Omnitemporality

If it is true that God is both omnipresent and omniscient, then he must also be omnitemporal.

Omnipresence requires that each point in creation (or space, if you'd like) is accessible to God with equal facility. More to the point, everywhere is actually always before God, though God himself is not circumscribed by creation or in any way actually "in" it. God, being God, is transcendent and immutable. In other words, God is what he is everywhere at once.

It is known that everywhere in space is in a state of fluctuation, nothing is static, everything is in motion and changing. To be omnipresent, God has to be the same everywhere despite everywhere's constant fluctuation. Change, in itself, is a time construct, but, thanks to Einstein, we know that time is experienced relative to motion. The result, I think, is that "this instant" is a much more fuzzy concept than I'd care to admit; nonetheless, it leads me to the conclusion that God must be omnitemporal if he is omnipresent.

Omniscience requires that everything that can be known is known by God. If, in any instant, God is unaware, or ignorant of some knowable thing, he would cease to be omniscient. Omniscience, it seems, precludes discovery. It follows that God knows all that he has known or will ever know at once.

Knowledge grows with the passage of time. Not in the sense that new facts come to light as time goes on, but that new facts, correlated with time passing, come into being. There is constantly, in every instant, something new to know. The result, I think, is that God could not be eternally perfect in knowledge if his knowledge was dependent upon time. Therefore (by definition alone), God must be omnitemporal if he is omniscient.

Omnitemporality is entailed in omnipresence and omniscience. We can't have one without without the others. To that end, God's omnitemporality could be understood to be that such that every instant in time is before God at once. God is not "in" time nor subject to it, but rather is transcendent to time and unfettered by it, and he knows its entirety from start to finish.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Nature of the Future

The future does not really exist (nor for that matter, does the past).

The past is merely the record of what used to be the present, and the future can only be what will be the present when the present gets to that point. It is the present where the action is and it is that action that produces either the past or the future. So the present is what is necessary for either the future or the past to have what existence they might, and never vice versa.

There are of course, circumstances which were in motion in the past and which determine the future to some degree. A huge asteroid could be hurtling toward us from ages past that will impact our future in very tangible ways. Celestial bodies move according to the laws of physics and their courses can be charted and accurately projected. Earthly bodies, and by that I mean humans, cannot--their responses to their environment, to one another, to God, or to themselves cannot be charted because their free actions are uncertain until taken (the Heisenberg principle of free agents?).

Freedom is entirely wrapped up in the present. It exists in the moment of decision. Insofar as choice is concerned, the past is inert and the future is is inaccessible. Decisions are made in the moment their action occurs, necessarily. Some choices are made which effect the future and/or are influenced by the past, but freedom to act, to choose, always and only happens in the present.

Therefore the future cannot be fixed in any real sense, because it is dependent upon a present which is in flux. A future which is dependent upon that which is in flux has to be in flux itself. It seems to me that if there is any truth at all to the notions of will, freedom and spirit (which produce flux) it is impossible for the future to be fixed, and therefore controlling the present. Nothing is actually written until it's written in its present.

That does not mean the future cannot be known. 

If an observer could view all of the presents that will ever exist from a vantage outside of time, the future would be known to him, exhaustively, by observation. I see no other possible way than this for the future to be known and freedom for agents to exist in the present (see this and this). If that observer were infinitely wise and powerful, he could shape that panorama of time by an interposition here and there (or as often as he saw fit) without affecting the existence of freedom, generally, in any present. In being able to do so, I see no reason to posit that such a being would need a mental "trial run" (i.e middle knowledge and/or deterministic decrees) in order to do so.

That the future can be known by a timelessly observing God does not make it fixed (in the sense that it is controlling), for it is only made in the present. If some other reality obtained due to freedom in some present, then that is the future that would be known by God from observation. For the future to be fixed, will and freedom would have to cease to exist in any true fashion. I see no biblical warrant to suggest such a course, and to posit such is to misunderstand the nature of the future and put the cart before the horse.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Why Neither Molinism nor Determinism Can Be True

"Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind"    Jeremiah 19:4-5 NASB
Molinism and Theological Determinism suffer from the same scriptural and fatal flaw, in my mind. Either regimen has to say something about how God thinks that he doesn't say of himself. We don't know, nor can we know how God thinks. We have what he tells us about himself, and that is it.

In the passage above, God tells us something about how he thinks, namely that the brutal, idolatrous infanticide practiced by apostate Jews was something that never entered his cogitations. It was not something that found it's way into his thinking nor something that arose because of his thinking. This was solely existent because of the agency of the Jews in question. God had no prior involvement, as it were.

This conclusion depends, to a degree, upon how one reads this text, there is some ambiguity in it. The general context of the passage is God's decrial through Jeremiah of a sin incomprehensibly out of place given Israel's history and God's word to them. As I see it, the extension in thought (v. 5) intended to be communicated by the author was something along the line of: "I did not command such a thing be done, I never spoke of such a thing, nor has such a thing ever even entered my mind." In other words, the antecedent of the understood "it" in that last phrase is the horrific act of infanticide, not the act of commanding or speaking.

Even if the antecedent of the understood "it" in that last phrase were to be seen to be referring to the action of God commanding or speaking (i.e., "nor did it ever enter my mind to command such, or speak of such"), there would still be an issue concerning God's decrees. If all is only as God decreed, as either Molinism or Calvinism would affirm, then the Israelites were, in effect, commanded (decreed) to burn their children from before time began and it did, in fact, enter God's mind to speak (decree) of it. His disclaimer through Jeremiah would be a disingenuous protest at best if Molinism or Calvinism were true--merely crocodile tears.

On either Theological Determinism or Molinism, my reading, which I think reflects what was the original intent, could not possibly be true. In both regimens, "it" would have had to enter God's mind before this world was actualized (which would actually be the case regardless of how one interprets that "it"). Therefore, for either system to be true, this passage would have to be false. The Word says, "let God be true and everyman a liar," so Molinism, it seems to me, must be tossed into the ash can.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What if Greece Walks Alone?

 High Stakes Bailout Referendum

It is my understanding of biblical prophecy that Greece will be part of the Ten Horns associated with the rise of the Antichrist at the end of time. That would, it seems to me, require Greece break from its ties to Europe and turn to the Levant. That looks to be sooner rather than later. 

Now it may seem that what's going on now and is likely to unfold over the next several weeks doesn't rise to that level, and I'm jumping the gun. But if Greece bails on the European Community where are they going to go? They can't walk alone, so who will they turn to for a dance partner? As odd as it may seem given their history, fellow receiver or the cold-shoulder from the EC, Turkey, in the wing dressed to the nines, with spats on.