Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Absolute Eternal Nature of God

God is absolute rather than relative. It is us who are relative to Him. He is the Subject, and we the object. God relates to man according to man’s relation to God. God’s action may be different in relation to one man versus another man, for it is men that vary and God that is stationary. God is constant, but we are not. Thus God responds consistently as Himself, but we being relative to Him are responded to according to our positional relation to Him.

Men change, God does not. Therefore if God still responded to man like man was yesterday, then God would be operating according to the past rather than the present. However, God is always the eternal now, having no past and no future. He doesn’t exist in time, but is the Creator of time. His existence is outside of time, distinct from time, separate and above that which is created. He only enters into time by choice, but does not have His habitation within time. This is why man being united with God has a new eternal home for our nature rises to have relationship with Him because He has already descended so that we may ascend. God doesn’t come and join us in time, but has us join Him in eternity releasing us from the bounds of time. This is why Jesus went to prepare a place for us in heaven for us to have our being in His Being in His home which is now also ours.

We were born eternal and were subjected to temporal existence when we fell from our relation to God. Peter Kreeft writes, “Being became a being, the Subject became an object, God became a man, I AM became He” expressly to release us from our fallen existence to a place of being sons and daughters of God.

Kreeft writes, “Jesus was not God represented, but God presented, God made maximally present, God known by sight and even touch as well as by faith. Heaven had come to earth. It was not a new concept of heaven but a new presence of Heaven.” Moreover he explains, “In all His encounters, He becomes in time what He is eternally.”

God does not manifest in time differently than He really is. He is always Himself weather as the Father or as the Son. He enters time to reveal Himself to us, for we could not know Him unless He manifested His identity in a way we can know. He has done this in creation, in the Incarnation, in the revelation of Scripture, and He does this forevermore through Christ.

Christ, now having habitation in us since we are lifted up to also be in Him, reflects through us to the world. We become the agents of His body manifesting His heavenly reality, where we have our being, to this earth where we live as foreigners. The cross is both horizontal and vertical. It bridges heaven and earth, but also distributes heaven to earth making the latter reflect the true glory of the former.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Review: Moment of Truth by Marc Nuttle

Moment of Truth by Marc Nuttle is a practical guide, catered to the everyday person, to getting involved in politics.

Marc Nuttle is a living historic figure having worked in the campaigns of Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin as well as Pat Robertson and Steve Forbes. He has been an advisor on major government projects in the United States and in China, Russia, Ukrain, Bulgaria, Sudan, Jordan, and more. Nuttle is highly qualified to write this book on political issues and the necessity of involvement of the average person in the political process.

Nuttle, while openly a Christian conservative, adeptly illustrates the issues of our day and how a person can determine for themselves what side of the issue they want to endorse. Moreover, he enumerates how to ascertain the values one holds dear and use them to develop a political voice. While expressly conservative, he is very fair to the entire system of politics.

To read more of this book review click here to follow the link to Helium.com where this article is posted.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Goodness of God Revisited Again

From the time I started this blog, discussions on the question of God’s goodness have been of primary prevalence. Therefore I find myself thinking and writing on this topic far more often than any other topic.

The most common objections to God’s goodness are the actions recorded in the Old Testament, the existence of evil, and the doctrine of hell. The problem anyone encounters with the first two is that one has to have a different point of reference for good outside of God in order support an argument that God’s actions are not good. Not to mention, if God does not exist, and is not available as the point of reference for goodness, then there is nothing to contend in the first place, for there were no such actions by the hand of God.

To argue against His goodness rather than His existence allows, for the sake of argument, for Him to indeed exist. Now if the Bible God exists, the Bible God has certain attributes that describe His nature. God, being one, rather than a sum of parts, is not a collection of His attributes. We speak of His attributes separately at times, but they are one, just as He is one.

As discussed in the previous post, God is not just in one situation and merciful in another. He at all times is doing or saying the just and merciful thing. At the same time, His goodness is one with His justice and mercy. His actions come from His nature. They cannot be different than who He is. God is not like us in that He chooses to respond differently than He wants to. He always does that which He wants for His will is one with His nature. To use His doing all that He wants as a refutation that He is good is illogical. For His want is one with His nature which is good. Doing whatever He wants, is precisely doing that which is good. In contrast, we have a duplicitous nature and we often do the things we ought not to do because we want to do that rather than what we know is good and at times we do the good thing by choice even when we want something we ought not want. This is not so with God. He always does according to His nature which is good. There is nothing external governing Him. There is no authority greater than Him.

To move from the philosophical to the illustrative, the next common contention against the goodness of God is to point out particular actions of God as evidence that He is not really good for a good being would never do such and such. The problem in this is that we ourselves are not infinitely good and so we cannot be the point of reference for goodness. Thus we have nothing outside of God to declare something He did as wrong. If the Bible God is real, and the Old Testament records are true, we were created by this God. Thus our idea of what is good cannot supercede His.

Now as to the question of evil, if there is evil then there must be good. And if there is both good and evil then there must be a way to differentiate between the two. That way cannot come from those who are doing the evil and the good; it has to come from a good source that is not corrupted by evil. A source that is good infinitely or eternally. The evil then is that which is different from that good and the only way anyone can call something evil is to have some idea of something else being good and knowing that this evil thing is not that good thing. Hence, a point of reference outside of us is required. Now, that point of reference does not need a point of reference. Nor can that point of reference be an abstract theory of man or an abstract form in the cosmos, it needs being to have realness. A supernatural eternal being that is absolutely good and gains His existence from none outside of Himself is necessary to support a worldview that says there is good and evil.

However, if one is not maintaining such a worldview and there is no evil and no good, things only are amorally then this view would not need such a foundation. Naturalism will do nicely to support this view of things, but few are willing to abandon certain actions as being amoral rather than down right wrong, unjust, or evil. Such a worldview is difficult to live out for as soon as someone does something “wrong” to you the view ought to be quickly abandoned and a call of injustice issued.

Lastly, there is the doctrine of hell. The argument is that a good God with such infinite power and love ought to have come up with something less revolting than an eternity in torment for those who do not have relationship with Him. However, God is the source of eternal life. Being outside of Him is being outside of that eternal good life. That is a tormenting existence when all is said and done and one has passed on into eternity. It cannot be otherwise, God’s life isn’t in that existence. His Presence is not manifested there. Therefore, it is tormenting, it is destructive, it is horrid. This is not a place where God wants any of us. He sent Jesus so that all would have the opportunity to be pulled out of the existence that leads to such perishing. The door to the good eternal life—the heavenly reality—is Jesus. It is in Jesus therefore He is the only way. Hell is then not something God is doing to us, but something He has made the way for us to avoid for it was never a place meant for mankind, but a place created for Satan and his demons to be bound for eternity. God does not send anyone to hell. He opens His to us to find life in Him as we are designed to, but gives us the freedom to continue in our own ways apart from Him which will sadly separate us forever from His life.

God’s goodness cannot be proven by weighing God’s actions and commands and finding them to fall short of Himself. There is not another standard worthy of being an instrument of measurement against God. He is the good authority. There is no authority greater than Him. God is always Himself. If He is, then He is good. If He is not, then the entire discussion is irrelevant for there is no one to judge.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Justice & Mercy: Philosophical & Practical

God's attributes are not parts of Him, they are each the whole of Him. He is all His attributes at all times. He is one, thus His attributes are one. We speak of them individually, but we err when we extract one without reference to the others. For instance, God is just and He is merciful. He does not choose to be merciful in one situation and just in another, He is equally just and merciful in every situation. To us we might see His response as more of an action of justice rather than mercy, but in reality it is just as merciful as it is just. This is why King David, when given a choice between being punished by being given to His enemies or being punished by God, he chose God for he knew that God's punishment would be exactly right, good, and merciful.

In the same way, our actions ought to be that which lines up with His goodness. Therefore, when our mercy does not include justice or our justice is not constrained by mercy then we are not in line with what is good. God is also love. Love is not unrestrained mercy. In fact, justice and mercy are not at odds with each other or with love. Perfect love is perfectly just and merciful at the same time for God is all of these attributes eternally. They all are anchored together in Him as one.

Any of these attributes lived out apart from the rest would be harmful and not a true representation of the attribute. Love without justice is not real love. Justice without mercy is not really just. Mercy without justice is not really being merciful. True love is not just a balance of justice and mercy, but is a full composite of both for the two cannot be rightly separated.

People who are recipients of constant mercy devoid of justice are not helped, but hindered from attaining personal responsibility. They cannot mature into the people they ought to be if they are saved from every just consequence of their choices.

People ought to be allowed the freedom to be irresponsible, but at the same time it is good to not remove the consequences of the actions. In Danny Silk's book, Loving Your Kids on Purpose, he explains that we all have choices. He encourages parents to give their children the freedom to make those choices while they are in the safety of the parent's home so that their lessons are learned early in life and do not become perpetual problems into adulthood. A child forgets her lunch at home, and Mom does not drive it to her, for she would now experience a lesson in consequences as she decides how to acquire lunch for herself due to her forgetfulness. The action was both one of mercy and one of justice. It was just for the child to not have the lunch she forgot, and merciful for the mom to provide her the opportunity to learn this lesson.

Today's society has elevated tolerance as a virtue and personal irresponsibility as a public problem rather than a private one. This nation was founded to be a place where people are free to make their way in the world with their property and life protected by the enforcement of laws enacted for this purpose. However, it was never intended to be a place where the poor and unhealthy are enjoined from being thus. It was never to be a place where the those who are responsible are forced to surrender their hard earned goods to those who are not. Today freedom has been encroached upon to aid the whole by requiring the few to not only be responsible for themselves, but for those who are irresponsible as well.

In a world where personal irresponsibility is protected by a removal of due consequences, people are apt to become more irresponsible rather than less. It is human nature not to take care of oneself when someone is willing and able to do it for you. Why would a child learn to tie his shoe if mom and dad never stop doing it for him? Why would a child learn to feed herself, if mom never expects them to do it and does it for her? Why would someone who knows how to fish, choose to fish when fish are abundantly handed to him?

I once had a professor who said, if he had enough money in his estate to enable his children to never have to work again, he would bequeath it all to charity rather than to his children. He said he did not want to create lazy children by giving them what it ought to take hard work to acquire.

I used to struggle to understand why the Bible says that if someone in a community is not working they ought not to be able to eat the food. The same Bible says to give to the poor. Then I realized that the “poor” being spoken of are not those who choose not to work or who squander their earnings, but those who are physically incapable of providing for themselves. The “poor” were not those who didn't have money because they were not working, but those who couldn't work and thus justly needed provision. Still this was a voluntary giving out of love and compassion and not a giving out of compulsion of a national law. One is giving, the other is legalized stealing.

While it is good to be a cheerful giver, it is not good to produce ravenous takers. Giving when there is genuine need will produce the fruit of a grateful receiver. Becoming a provider of a person who is able to provide for themselves creates an unhealthy dependency the sucks the life out of the relationship making one the master and the other the slave regardless of the best of intentions. This steals the integrity of the person receiving such aid and makes them feel lousy and unable to be productive keeping them in bondage. The way of freedom is the way of responsibility and the way of irresponsible people experiencing their consequences. This way the consequences act as a motivator to correct ones course.

If we are to live according to justice and mercy there must be a justice and mercy by which we conform. If there is no supreme Justice then there is no injustice. In closing, consider the following popular quote by C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity.

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too--for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist--in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless -I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality--namely my idea of justice--was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.