Monday, January 31, 2011

Some Thoughts on the Redeemability of God's Image

...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.      Revelation 13:8

There are some things God cannot do. One of which is to make a duplicate of himself. To do so would not only violate his oneness, but it would make him a creature. How would the original and the duplicate be told apart? Therefore, even if God desired to make a creature with personal and relatable qualities commensurate with himself, that creature would not be him, could not be as his is, or do as he would do.

The repercussion, it seems to me, in making another being with God-like capacities of will, is that it would be inevitable, at some point, that the creature would chose a course of action not only independent of God, but also at cross purposes. In other words, the creation of the image of God necessitated the failure of the image according to the standard that is God himself. This failure, being one of inevitability, would not require a specific decree in order for it to occur. It would have been a foregone conclusion given the decision to create.

I find it interesting, perhaps telling, that the first test of conscience adherence to the standard was sufficient to prove the point. I have to wonder if God would not have foreseen the dilemma (he would have undoubtedly), and allowed the efforts of Satan in the Garden to expedite things. I do not think there is any necessity for an omniscient, omnipotent being to wait around for an inevitable occurrence. Certainly, no aspect of the Fall would have caught God by surprise!

If that failure had been made open-eyed, rapprochement would be impossible because there was no possibility to learn from error. What would fuel the reconciliation? If seeing God for who he actually is did not arrest the will to "do" other than God, what could stop a recurrence? At best, a reconciliation could only last until the next time wills diverged. This is similar to the situation with angels and it is unsustainable if God is to be God.

If that failure is made in ignorance, rapprochement would be possible because one could realize his error and agree that God's way is the only way. This is the situation with man. Mankind is redeemable because it is possible for him to awaken from his ignorance (with gracious assistance of course) and realize that harmony with God is the greatest and only good.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How Old Is Stuff?

How old is stuff? I don't know, but I don't think it's necessary that it's billions upon billions of years--not even million upon millions. It's not that I do not understand radiometric dating, the geologic record, or the concept of a light year. I think there is ample evidence to posit that the universe is something over 13 billion years, and that our solar system is well over 4. Folks who can do that kind of thing say the math works out--I don't doubt that it does.

The fact is, however, I have a credible witness who says the biblical account of creation is true, and that would make stuff orders of magnitude younger. He spoke of Adam and Eve as real people at the beginning, and spoke of Noah and the great flood as real history rather than a metaphor. Perhaps he should be written off as just a crazy rube, an ignorant man of his times, but he proved his trustworthiness by doing that which no one has ever done. Without a PhD, calculus, or a computer he, Antonio Cromartie like, announced his intents, and then went ahead and backed up his words up by dying and rising from the dead (and without any assistance!).

No cosmologist, paleogeologist, evolutionary biologist or any other scientist has ever willingly offered themselves to death so they could prove their mastery by raising themselves back to life on the third day. When they do, maybe I'll listen to them instead of Jesus when they talk about our genesis. It is not that they are dumb, or even mistaken about their evidence, its their forensics I take issue with. Like folk trying to definitively settle the Ripper case, the best they can do is spin a tale that fits the facts, but they'll never decisively prove their case after the fact.

So why is there so much heavy duty evidence for billions upon billions of years? I would think it would be a given that creation would reflect the properties of its Creator. God is infinite and timeless: he is from everlasting to everlasting and is everywhere. What would one expect a universe created by such a being to look like? It seems evident to me, it should look really, really big and appear really, really old. Otherwise, it would give a false representation of its maker.

Some old-earthers say that amounts to deception, but I honestly don't know how it would. It's perfectly reflective of God's attributes and it speaks parabolically to the pride of man. There has always been an issue with humankind as to whether we will depend upon God's word or our own reasoning. As it was for Adam and Eve in the Garden, so it is with us generation after generation. God says one thing, our reasoning says another--faith goes with God, pride goes with us, and soon thereafter comes the splat.

It's not that there are not reasonable clues out there that stuff hasn't been around all that long. We could see it if we were willing, some do, most do not. When we look at stuff, it should reveal the majesty of our infinite, eternal maker, without necessarily providing any clues as to how we've gotten here (that is what Genesis is for after all). I don't have any problem saying that stuff does so without the necessity of billion upon billion years of age, nor for that matter, that unbiblical formation concept called evolution.

Monday, January 17, 2011

God Is Real

Reality, in my mind, would have to be defined as that which is ultimately irreducible. Otherwise, what is purported to be real isn't actually, it is in some way illusionary--not something in and of itself, but subject to existential change due to something else more real than itself. That which is, even if everything else isn't, is real. That reality is God.

Nothing else has that quality in and of itself. Everything else is derivative. Therefore, reality, at least in this philosophical sense, is, and only is, God himself. Since I do not think that what God knows can be separated essentially from what he is, then what is real is God and what he knows. Everything else comes back to this, everything else is established on this.

What God says, therefore, corresponds to, indeed, is all but synonymous with reality. The only question that could arise in regard to anything God has said being grounded in reality is whether or not God would choose to pass on misinformation (in other words, lie). God lying is not something I can envision, not only because such a lie would contradict his own reality, but because Jesus said God's word was truth. Therefore, if God speaks, whatever he says is true, even when speaking of things that never come to pass in time, grounded by his own reality.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Disclosure of God: The Holy Spirit

I have posited that we do have a recording of God's commentary on creation, available for ready access, at least in our time. We can all see it for ourselves, or hear it for ourselves--it's right there in the Book that's called "good". Rejecting God in light of this dual revelation of creation and commentary would have to be considered bald rebellion, maybe as Satan-like as humans are apt to get. However, a glaring "weakness" still remains: whereas the communicator (God) is perfect, the receptor (man) is not.

This weakness is observable, and admittable by even the metaphysically blind. Even with our flaws in perception we can clearly see that humans are not flawless in their perception. Just as a dog cannot play the clarinet, so humans do not perceive clearly, accurately, or consistently. Our weakness actually goes much deeper than just an innate intellectual or conceptual disability--it is a spiritual and moral chasm. We not only do not have the mind or eyes to see the truth, we don't have the heart.

The existence of our perceptual fault of heart and mind lead me to an inescapable conclusion: we will never be able to intellectually find our way to God, nor for that matter establish that there is no God to find. We have the existence of stuff and ourselves and a puzzle that our intellects cannot reliably solve. Forensics and even a Commentary from the Authority (the Bible, in case that wasn't clear) will fail to objectively produce unequivocal, normative knowledge of God among humans, because its ascertainment is still dependent upon our perceptive abilities which are hampered by perceptual disabilities.

So what does it actually take for us to know anything about God? It takes imputed knowledge that gets past the limits of our perception, and arises intact from the inside out. It's not that forensics, or that revealed in the Commentary are not helpful, even essential, but they do not produce objective, reliable knowledge on their own. Logic, science, even the Word of God, are the prisoners of our perception. If the Holy Spirit doesn't anoint our eyes, ears and heart, we don't get the truth or we color what we do.

Nature is not enough, logic is not enough, even the Bible is not enough--it takes the Spirit to know God.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Disclosure of God: The Bible

It is my proposition that humankind can never know anything with certainty about God apart from his self-disclosure. I am not speaking about forensics here: what is implied by evidence, what can be inferred from the same or deduced logically. I am talking about God speaking for himself. We may think forensics offers objectivity, but it doesn't because it is always the prisoner of man's perception, particularly when it comes to the subject of God.

If God doesn't speak for himself about himself, we'll never figure out who he is, what he's like, what's he up to, what he can do, or where this is all going. We wouldn't even know whether we are he and he is us or whether everything is him together. Minimally, I think it is safe to say that he has to be much brighter than us and would have to be able to communicate at least as well. Other than that, our faulty perception plays a greater and greater role as we try to plumb the depths.

What is needed is a voice from heaven, laying it out straight, unmistakably clear. Of course, with all the people constantly popping into being, that would get a little noisy--better to say it once and record it for posterity. Or even better yet, because of the value of empathy in communication, do a ventriloquism act with a few select individuals and have that recorded for posterity. And even then, there may be some good reasons in the mind of God to not be all that clear!

I believe the Bible is God's recorded self-disclosure and commentary on creation to all mankind. I believe it sets forth all that God thought essential that we know about him and what he's up to, and that it is the only source for truly objective knowledge about him. I believe that he watches over that word, to make sure it accomplishes all for which it is sent, and I therefore believe that it is reliable and error free. If you ask me why I believe such things, I will in straight-faced seriousness tell you, "because God told me so!"

And yet for all that communicative power, it is still not enough.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Disclosure of God: Human Perception

Do we actually, can we actually know anything about God? It depends of course by what one means by the phrase and the particulars that make it up. Although it is usually helpful to define terms at the start of a discussion, when it comes to the subject of God, I do not believe we can start with defining terms. Hopefully, the reason will be apparent in the next few paragraphs. Since I would, nonetheless, like to start exploring the subject, a tentative definition for "God" is in order.

God is the ultimate. God is the ultimate source for all that is, the ultimate power that energizes and sustains it, the ultimate intellect that designed and directs it. I would think it would be impossible for all that is not to betray some intelligence concerning the nature of what is ultimately behind it. That is the sentiment behind the Apostle's words to the church at Rome. Creation has fingerprints all over it, which betray the perpetrator who created it. Paul said, in fact, the evidence is quite clear, so much so that ignorance of God is inexcusable.

That would be well and good and portend an excellent potential for a worldwide, common understanding of God, but its downfall is that it still is dependent upon the eyes of the beholder. Different presumptions will be brought to the task, and different assumptions inferred from the evidence. The evidence may be plain enough in hindsight, or divine sight, but the perception of the viewer will mean the difference between "message sent=message received," or error. We can say at least that much about man, regardless of what we know about God.

Actually, I think we can say a bit more. Man seems a very imperfect creature when it comes to perception; conclusion; decision. We are error prone, we are limited. What would be the likelihood that such a creature could accurately plumb the greater depth behind the surface of things? We are the surface in a matter a speaking, getting to the truth behind ourselves would entail a dizzying loop, like staring down the endless hall of images in parallel mirrors. Might as well try bottling the wind.

It seems to me, what we need is an active witness from the One behind it all, a personal commentary on the evidence he left behind--like watching a director's cut, with explanatory notes straight from the horse's mouth. We would then have a definitive statement on the subject that dispelled all the flowery tripe of the artsy-fartsy pundits. What we need, then, is self-disclosure from God. In fact, I would posit, we stand no chance whatsoever of knowing anything about God with any certainty apart from it.

And even that, is not enough.