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Belief in God in a World Explained by Science, part 1

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July 14, 2014 Tags: Christianity & Science - Then and Now, Earth, Universe & Time, Science & Worldviews, Science as Christian Calling

Today's entry was written by Jim Stump. You can read more about what we believe here.

Belief in God in a World Explained by Science, part 1

Note: BioLogos Content Manager Jim Stump recently gave a talk on science and religion at College Mennonite Church in Goshen, IN, the text of which we’re featuring this week. Today’s post is the first in this three-part series.

I’ve grown up and continue to self-identify as an evangelical Christian. I know that label carries a lot of baggage for many people, and the truth is that I often find myself at odds with the mainstream of American evangelicalism regarding politics and economic policies, the environment, music, and movies. So why, you ask, am I still one of them? I’m sure part of the answer to that is my family and community of origin: from them I imbibed the categories through which I view the world. And although I’ve evolved as a person and as a Christian over the years and my community isn’t always so crazy about claiming me, I still claim them and I actively work as only an insider can to help effect positive change in that community.

But beyond that, I believe that I’ve had an encounter with the risen Christ—the Logos—which has rendered me almost incapable of unbelief. I’m sure there are professionals who could perform a psychological analysis on me and quickly come up with other explanations for my religious experience that appeal to nothing supernatural. And I confess that I’m often equally skeptical of such claims when made by others. But my own first-person experience carries a justifying weight to it that requires more for me to abandon it than some possible “just-so” stories.

When I started graduate school, I thought that everyone who didn’t believe like I did must just be stupid, because my beliefs seemed so obviously true. Then I had a course called “Religious Epistemology” that was taught by a fairly well known atheist. It was his goal to show why every religious claim was misguided, and throughout the semester he made a lot of sense in giving alternate, naturalistic explanations for what religious people thought God was responsible for. After being in that environment awhile, I came to see why people found a naturalistic perspective persuasive. It was as though I learned to speak another language and could shift between them. But that isn’t a stable situation for one’s belief system and I could see there was an imminent crisis. Would I continue down the path that saw my faith as the relic of a bygone era, or perhaps double-down and cling to that faith fideistically?

Perhaps somewhat ironically, it was Carl Sagan who helped to save my faith. He had written a novel called Contact which was made into a movie and released that same semester of my religious epistemology course. I had heard that it addressed themes of faith in science and religion, and so one afternoon I left my library carrel and walked to a small theatre in a mall downtown Boston and watched the film by myself. The story is about a scientist in the SETI program who seemingly makes contact with some extraterrestrial intelligence. She has lived her life according to the code of empirically verifiable evidence. But in the twist to the story, her experience with the aliens did not admit of objective verification by others. In the conceptual climax to the film, she is put before a congressional investigation committee, because they have spent billions of dollars with seemingly nothing to show for it. The lead investigator thinks it has all been a hoax and persuasively constructs an alternative explanation for how things might have happened to account for the experience she had. The scientist is somewhat stunned and admits that it is possible she is wrong, so the investigator presses her to give up her fanciful story and admit that it never happened. She says she can’t, because the weight of her own experience won’t allow it.

I sat by myself in that movie theatre and wept at this somewhat silly science fiction story. I’m not sure if they were tears of joy or despair or relief. But in some sense I no longer felt threatened that there were really smart people who thought that my religious beliefs were silly. It wasn’t that I isolated myself from their criticisms; on the contrary, I plunged myself with new vigor into learning all I could about the world. But I saw that the same facts can look very different from different perspectives, and that the perspective of Christian theism had the resources to organize these facts in a way that does justice to them.

If you don’t already believe it, I don’t expect that any of this will convince you that I’m correct in believing that Jesus is the Son of God, that all things were created through him as the divine Logos, that he exists still today as the Cosmic Christ, and that he loves us all lavishly. I don’t think I can prove any of that to you with the methods of science or through philosophical argument. My aims here are somewhat more modest—namely to claim that someone can reasonably believe that stuff even while at the same time believing the findings of science today.

I suppose attitudes toward science can be added to the evangelical baggage I mentioned earlier: we’re too often threatened by what science claims and so we ignore it. But on the contrary, I fully believe that science is good, that an examination and study of the natural world should be encouraged, and that we don’t have to fear what we might find there. I’ll mention some science here, but for the most part I’ll take it as a given that the findings of science are largely correct (and I don’t mean some ersatz science which denies the amply confirmed theories of contemporary cosmology and biology). It is in this context that I seek understanding for the mystery of faith.

So, for my worldview and philosophy of life, I make the daring wager that ultimate reality is personal in nature. This isn’t quite the same as Pascal’s Wager, in which he said we’re better off betting that there is a God than not, since the payoff is way better if there is. I’m not doing that kind of cost-benefit analysis, but I do see like Pascal that the evidence either way from some supposed objective point of view is ambiguous, and it’s possible to construe that evidence for theism or for naturalism without completely flouting our rational duty. From inside Christian theism, though, I find it to be a more satisfying outlook on life, so I’ve committed to it and I’m attempting to work out my faith and come to understand it better from that perspective. It is not a blind leap of faith, since there are confirming evidences that can be produced when things turn out as you’d expect them to if reality is ultimately personal. And it is not immune from disconfirmations and even falsification when evidences are produced that challenge the way you’d expect things to be. I think naturalism works the same way for other people.

What do I mean by saying that ultimate reality is personal? Contrast it to the dominant ancient Near Eastern view that the natural realm was animated by personal beings, but ultimate reality was impersonal. The gods were part of nature and caused the things that we observe in nature, but they themselves were ultimately ruled by impersonal fate. It was the ancient Hebrew people who flipped this picture on its head: in their view there is a personal God who through his own free choice created a natural order that follows reliable laws. And this is what makes science possible. If you believe that the workings of nature are dependent on the whims of the gods, then there is no sense studying nature to try to understand it. This was hugely important as an impetus for studying science and is surely part of the reason why modern science developed in the Judeo-Christian West. But the question is whether science has now shown that there is no sense to positing a personal being at the level of ultimate reality either. Maybe it’s all just impersonal matter and energy. So the big objection to my daring wager of holding on to a personal God is that we no longer need that hypothesis. Here, then, is the central question of this address: if science can explain everything, then why do we still need to posit God? Isn’t God superfluous?

Join us tomorrow for Part 2 of this series!


Jim Stump has served as the Content Manager at BioLogos since August 2013. As such he oversees the development of new content and curates the existing content. Jim's PhD is in philosophy from Boston University where he wrote a dissertation on the history and philosophy of science. He is the author (with Chad Meister) of Christian Thought: A Historical Introduction (Routledge, 2010) and the editor (with Alan Padgett) of the Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). Jim is a frequent speaker at churches and other groups on topics at the intersection of science and Christianity.

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Roger A. Sawtelle - #85966

July 14th 2014

Beautiful and excellent testimony.

I really think that you have hit upon a very important question, Is God personal?

Christianity and esp. Evangelicals say Yes.  Traditional philosophy seems to say No, that the Source of Reality is impersonal.  Science has sided with philosophy. 

If there is a conflict between Christianity and Science, and I think that BioLogos is too facile in saying there is not, this is the issue that must be addressed. 

In my view the Trinity which establishes the Personhood of God by saying that God is BOTH ONE and MANY.  God is Both One and Complex. 

Now the question becomes a philosophical one as to how a Complex/One God relates to complex/one humans and to a complex/one universe.


g kc - #85967

July 14th 2014

Jim,

How ironic that your adoption of theistic evolution was guided by an atheist, and then solidified by a twice-divorced agnostic!

“I fully believe that science is good, that an examination and study of the natural world should be encouraged, and that we don’t have to fear what we might find there.”

I know for a fact that many who do not believe in evolution would sincerely say the same thing.

“If you don’t already believe it, I don’t expect that any of this will convince you that I’m correct in believing that Jesus is the Son of God, that all things were created through him as the divine Logos…I don’t think I can prove any of that to you with the methods of science or through philosophical argument.”

Do you think no means exist, which are rational and logical, to build the case for Christ? In other words, is evangelization reliant solely on ‘you either believe or you don’t’, that, to use your words, “ultimate reality is personal in nature”?

If so, what do you think Peter meant when he said “Always be prepared to MAKE A DEFENSE to any one who calls you to ACCOUNT FOR the hope that is in you…” [1 Peter 3:15]?

 

 

P.S.

I think you may have a typo: “immanent” crisis. Should be imminent?


Merv - #85968

July 14th 2014

G kc, I’ll be eager to see Jim’s reply for himself, but here is a thought or two, meanwhile.

“Either you believe or you don’t” does seem to be the case when one limits the evidence to scientific empirical evidence, and then demands a high bar nearing ‘proof’.  When the domain of evidence is expanded to include human testimonies of changed hearts and transformed lives—then there is a greater basis for the “starter material” of making a more powerful defense.  Not that somebody can’t have started with science, but their Christian faith could not subsist on that alone and must grow outward beyond mere science.

The most we can hope from science is the continued demonstration that nothing there has made Christian faith an irrational choice; but that in itself was not a scientific statement just as it’s negation is not either.  Hardly a ringing endorsement for theism to the hardened skeptic.  But for someone who has already been persuaded to think theistically on broader grounds, then much from science commends itself to that foundation.

So many American creationists have ironically let themselves be overdriven by the secular program of making science the final authority for determining truth.  I know they deny this and insist that God’s word is that authority, but when they continue to chase after scientific ratification for theological doctrines (rather than seeking harmony, which is different), they betray their own cause and cede something to this secularists that should never have been granted:  the notion that Truth must be material / physical truth before there can be any claim to truth at all…  In short, that all truth can be brought to the throne of modern science for adjudication.


James Stump - #85983

July 16th 2014

To respond to two of your criticisms of my post:

1.  I did say it was ironic that Sagan was influential in my faith journey.  I’m guessing that by restating it (and other comments you’ve left) that you think it is inappropriate to find wisdom in non-Christians.  My response is: I disagree.  Do you also criticize the Apostle Paul for his speech on Mars Hill?

2.  About 1 Peter 3:15, I think I have modelled it exactly.  It was a group of post-Christians who asked me to come and speak to them and explain why I continued to hold to orthodox Christian positions.  That is, they asked me to give reasons for the hope that I have in Christ.  This series of posts was my answer.  You might think that the reasons I’ve given are not good reasons, but they are my reasons.  And I also tried in that speech to model the second part of that verse (which is too often left ignored): to do so with gentleness and respect.


g kc - #85990

July 16th 2014

Jim,

“…you [g kc] think it is inappropriate to find wisdom in non-Christians.  My response is: I disagree.  Do you also criticize the Apostle Paul for his speech on Mars Hill?”

No, I wouldn’t criticize Paul for his speech on Mars Hill. But he wasn’t there “to find wisdom in non-Christians”, he was there to GIVE wisdom to them.

 

However, I applaud your acceptance of the post-Christians’ invitation. I hope it went well.

 

What is “post-Christian”?


PNG - #85993

July 16th 2014

I think what Jim was referring to was that Paul quoted 2 Greek poets in his message, Aratus and Cleanthes.


Tony - #85995

July 17th 2014

Hi Jim…

Thank you for sharing this account of your beginnings and experiences with Christianity and science—reading through it has elicited thoughts of where I began and the experiences I had with faith and reason.  Although different in some respects with your account there are similarities with my own personal trials and struggles.  One such point is the following statement you made:

“I believe that I’ve had an encounter with the risen Christ—the Logos—which has rendered me almost incapable of unbelief.  I’m sure there are professionals who could perform a psychological analysis on me and quickly come up with other explanations for my religious experience that appeal to nothing supernatural.”

Some years ago I had a somewhat similar experience akin to your account and since then this belief has remained with me and cannot be undone—it’s there for good!  I would have to say the risen Christ has taken-over my life.  Immediately following this experience—after it had been revealed to me that there is an intricate relationship between religion, spirituality, and psychology—someone close to me was hospitalized because of mental illness.  A meeting with a certain “professional”, in this case a psychiatrist, was scheduled.  During the meeting pertinent information relating to the person close to me was exchanged (to aid in the eventual healing process).  The psychiatrist was relaxed, leaning back in his chair, not a worry on his face, I was sitting in front of him with his desk separating us.  When I began to explain to him what I had come to understand concerning the relationship between religion, spirituality, and psychology his face dropped, his mouth opened, and I sensed that he began to feel very uncomfortable.  At this point he got up and began walking passed me toward the door of his office, which was behind me.  I also got up and walked toward him asking, where are you going?  He began shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t really answer—he was mumbling—as he opened the door.  We were now in the hallway of the hospital, his walk became faster turning to a fast pace.  He was now some ten feet in front of me turning his head back and forth to see, at the same time, where he was going and if I was still following him as he reached into his pocket for his keys, unlocked the door to the next section of the hospital at the end of the hallway and disappeared.  Here, I exited the premises of the hospital and never saw that doctor again—the patient was eventually transferred to another pavilion of the hospital.  After that engagement I had a profound understanding of the powerful knowledge I possessed.

The point of the story is simple—the psychiatrist (a professional) was not ready for who was to enter his office that day.  He obviously performed psychological analyses on many different people, on a daily basis.  However, I wasn’t a regular patient but rather someone who was enlightened with the deep secrets of his profession and how these secrets reveal the mystery of God through the interrelation of religious doctrine, spirituality, mythology, and lore.  The importance of this knowledge and the implications associated with it was well understood by the psychiatrist who couldn’t control his anxiety upon hearing it from an [ordinary] person from society.  Accordingly, I cannot say that he had come up with “other explinations” for [my] religious experience other than that it [was] supernatural.  This manifested in his break-down in composure and subsequent fleeing from the scene.  Usually, we hear of ordinary people who fear psychiatrists and not the other way around since this tends to bring them in contact with their essential-self—something many ordinary people try to avoid, at all cost.  Needless to say, I am not just an [ordinary] person—I am a Christian to whom the deepests mysteries of Christianity have been revealed.

To those of the community who ask; what are these religious, spiritual, and psychological mysteries?  Well…these have mostly been spelled-out already, and so far, BioLogos has given me a free pass to express my heart’s desire to reveal this truth that has been revealed to me.  Without the keys to open the doors to the secret chambers of knowledge the rapture will not be experienced.  It’s like the electrical grid—unless all the switches, fuses, and circuit beakers in the stations and substations are closed the city lights will not give their light and the people remain in the dark.  The light must shine like the sun in its strength!

Best Regards


James Stump - #85996

July 17th 2014

Thank you, Tony, for this story from your life.


g kc - #86001

July 17th 2014

Tony,

After my top 3 (evolution, cosmology, climate change/global warming), the field of psychology/psychiatry is probably next for its degree of being un-scientific. It’s filled with speculation and sometimes outright fraud. I’ve been reading about it for a long time now. Here are just some recent examples:

“Criticism of psychiatry has been growing for years – existing treatments are often inadequate, and myriad advances in neuroscience and genetics have not translated into anything better. Vocal opponents are not confined to the US. Last week, the new UK Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry launched a campaign claiming that drugs such as antidepressants and antipsychotics often do more harm than good.”

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25509-psychiatrys-scientific-reboot-gets-under-way.html#.U8fY2PldXT8

 

“It’s a totally new departure for us,” says Bruce Cuthbert, a clinical psychologist and director of the institute’s adult translational-research division. Insel notes that the NIMH spent about US$100 million on clinical trials in 2013, and says that more than half of recipient projects received funding without any requirement to examine the biological processes involved in a disease. In many cases, “if you get a negative result you have no idea why, and you have to try something else at random”, Cuthbert says. “It’s an incredible waste of money.”

http://www.nature.com/news/nih-rethinks-psychiatry-trials-1.14877

 

“‘What we found was that although the claims purporting to be based on neuroscience are very questionable, they are continually repeated in policy documents and are now integrated into the professional training of health visitors and other early years workers.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319114857.htm

 

Even CBS’ “60 Minutes” shed some needed light on depression and drugs. See the segment:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/treating-depression-is-there-a-placebo-effect/

 

P.S.

Believe it or not, I believe you can find studies of, and specialists in, “Evolutionary psychology”.


Tony - #86013

July 19th 2014

Hi g Kc…

I can somewhat understand where you are coming from concerning your view of psychology and psychiatry.  My comment to Jim, however, about these fields—as sciences and practices, was not intended as a defence for the adopted policy on the treatment of patients, for the pharmaceuticals prescribed for the general welfare of those involved, for the approach to how funds are spent or, for how the article of one of your links states, that “the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5)...The book’s definitions tend to lump patients together by symptoms, which often do not precisely map to what is wrong with their brains.”  There are definitely major problems with these issues, but, we must remember that we are dealing with, first: the human brain—one of the last ventures of human endeavor, second; a medical establishment and not strictly a scientific field, and third; incompetent, unethical, and corrupt individuals—where the case  may be.  Medical doctors, specialists, psychiatrists, psychologists etc., are ordinary people who have their own personal problems and are not exempt from personality, mental illness, incompetence, and unethical practices.  I have seen my fair share of rotten apples—especially at the highest levels of administration.  Thankfully, we have arrived at the eschaton, where God is making all things new.

  The reference I make to religion, spirituality, and psychology refers to certain truths hidden within the three schools of thought.  The ultimate reality concerning human behavior and how human beings treat one another, and the implications this has on the moral standing of individuals will be made clearer.  Psychiatry provides a map of the true structure and nature of the personality (ID, Ego, Super Ego) revealing the mechanisms behind human behavior.  Criminology a (branch of sociology) conducts research into crime and criminal behavior.  Through law enforcement society is kept in check and criminals are brought to justice.  The judicial system brings the criminal cases before judge and jury and imposes judgement and sentencing on the criminal offenders.  The penal system houses those who are condemned.

The mystical nature of one aspect of God and truth which is not understood by many is hidden in semantical constructs from different languages.  Sin is a religious word, it refers to the breaking of God’s Law—someone who breaks God’s Law is a Sinner.  Thus, a Sinner is someone who commits Sin.  Crime is a scientific word, it refers to the breaking of Society’s Law—someone who breaks Society’s Law is a Criminal.  Thus, a Criminal is someone who commits Crime.  If we acknowledge God as the higher-self, the [Collective Unconscious] that resides within mankind, the transparency that “God’s Law [is] Society’s Law” is readily seen and understood.  Through this etymological analysis it becomes clear that Sin is Crime, and the Sinner is the Criminal.  Those who fight crime are “God’s Mighty Angels”—again, I have seen my fair share of rotten apples .  My statement that “God’s Law [is] Society’s Law” is justified by the words of Romans 13:1-4:

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?  do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good.  But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

Accordingly, Devil is a religious word, its definition is “accuser, or slanderer—the supreme spirit of evil.”  Psychopath is a scientific word, its definition is, “a person with a psychopathic personalitiy, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.”  Needless to say psychopaths have no pity, mercy, or compassion for other people, their interest is only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others,  they exhibit no guilt and show no remorse for their shortcomings.  Fittingly, if we are removed from the [false notion] that [spirit beings] exist and do the etymological analysis we come to the appropriate and evident conclusion that the Devil and the Psychopath are the same being.  If a person befriends and associates with a psychopath that person can become consumed/possessed by the psychopath’s personality/spirit, if that person is inclined or prone to the personality.  The devil is not [one] being, however, the personality [is] one.  It’s like saying, “the psychopath is a wicked person”—I may be referring to the words “psychopath” and “person” in the general sense and be suggesting that [all] psychopaths are wicked people because all psychopaths have the same underlying personality.  Hollywood has portrayed the psychopath as the escaped axe toting mental patient.  In reality the psychopath can be found in all areas of society.

The etymological analysis of pertinent religious words continues with the word Repent, “to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past conduct,” and the word Regret, “distress of mind, sorrow for what has been done or failed to be done.”  To Repent of one’s Sins is to Regret one’s Crimes.  Similarly, the word, Forgive, “to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve,” and the word Pardon, “a release from the penalty of an offense; a remission of penalty, as by a governor,” are different ways of stating the same thing—to Forgive someone for his Sins implies to Pardon someone for his Crimes.  If these scientific and judiciary words are substituted for their corresponding religious counterparts when examining the bible [Ultimate Reality] will be understood and [Absolute Truth] will be established.

In reflection with these considerations is the consensus that was reached at the Council of Nicaea—the Christ or Messiah is fully man and fully God.  The Satan or Antichrist is alternatively fully man and fully Devil.  They exist on earth as [human] spirits/personalities and their respective armies stand behind them.  The Christ is Saintly who heads his army of Saints and the Satan is Psychopathic who heads his army or Psychopaths.  The battle for world control is now being waged.

If you can use your imagination to project your focus of consciousness way up into the sky and hold planet earth between your hands and use yet a little more imagination to look and see all the different divisions that human beings are grouped in—country, race, religion, language, gender, age, occupation, rich, poor, free, bond—you will agree that the opposites of good and evil exist in all these groups.  Again, if you focus and look down, upon the earth, you will see these buildings that we refer to as penitentaries—from the word penitence, “the state of being penitent; regret for one’s wrongdoing of sinning; contrition; repentance.”  Amongst the prison population [are] those who are truly remorseful who turn from their wicked ways and can be reformed—psychiatrists, psychologists, and the judicial system assess these considerations.  However, this is where the Devils are being gathered for the great and awful day of the LORD.  As police forces wage war in municipal populations, global allied forces are waging this war on the world stage as a whole.  Matthew 13:30 states, “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”  The days for the Satan and his psychopaths are numbered!


g kc - #86015

July 20th 2014

Tony,

I can’t say I fully followed your post, but a few things caught my eye.

“Thankfully, we have arrived at the eschaton, where God is making all things new.”

Are you saying we’re now in the eschaton, and that we (e.g. the world, our society, ourselves) have been getting better by God’s renewing? If so, I don’t see much if any evidence of it. What’s your evidence?

 

“Psychiatry provides a map of the true structure and nature of the personality (ID, Ego, Super Ego) revealing the mechanisms behind human behavior.”

As the examples I provided above indicate, psychiatry has been remarkably ineffective and has provided virtually nothing other than explanations which have no scientific basis, that have never been confirmed scientifically. Also, regarding the “id, ego, superego”, I thought I read that these creations of Sigmund Freud, along with most of his other ideas, had been discredited by the psych community long ago.

 

“To Repent of one’s Sins is to Regret one’s Crimes.”

Repent, especially in a Christian context, does not mean regret. Repent means changing one’s life in a righteous, Godly direction as a result of the regret.

 

“In reflection with these considerations is the consensus that was reached at the Council of Nicaea—the Christ or Messiah is fully man and fully God.  The Satan or Antichrist is alternatively fully man and fully Devil.”

I’ve never read of the Council of Nicea, or any councils or teachings of any Christian church which said that Satan was fully man and fully Devil. According to Scripture and traditional teaching, Satan is a spirit being, a fallen angel.


Tony - #86025

July 21st 2014

g kc…

My statement that “we have arrived at the eschaton where God is making all things new” does  not necessarily imply that “paradise conditions” will be immediately experienced.  The definition of eschaton, “end of the world, end of time, climax of history,” speaks for itself—the end of Satan’s rule on earth which is in opposition to the establishment of God’s Kingdom.  Essentially, and unfortunately, this suggests war and environmental catastrophe as earth goes through its “birth pangs” of new creation.  Hence, global events and conditions will be getting much worse before they get any better and God’s peace reigns upon the earth.

Revelation 16:1 states, “And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.”  [My] interpretation of scripture and world events suggests that this is now being fulfilled.  No one can deny that the world has dramatically changed since 911, 2001.  I recommend reading the whole of Revelation 16, where the Euphrates River being dried up is referenced (already fulfilled) and where the three unclean spirits spoken of coming out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet (has also, “likely”, already been fulfilled)—I will not comment on who these figures are.  The climax arrives with Revelation 16:17-19 which states, “And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.  And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.  And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.”  Again, [my] interpretation is that we are at the very precipice to the fulfillment of this final prophecy with the “seven angels” concerning the wrath of God upon the earth.  So, I believe we agree that (the world, society, and ourselves) are not getting any better but are actually becoming worse and that a “Major Global Change” is needed to make the world a better place for all?

Concerning the examples you provided on psychiatry being “remarkably ineffective” I would have to say that most people do not understand what is involved here.  Patients who have an underlying psychosomatic disorder must be distinguished from those who have a disorder of moral conscience—psychiatric or organic illness.  Psychoses stemming from personality disorders and psychopathy involve conscience—these, typically, cannot be cured with psychiatric/psychological treatment or medication of any kind because of the inherent freewill human beings possess.  Hence, because of the difficulty in assessing and ascertaining which individuals can and which cannot be reformed most are prescribed medication and psychotherapy.  This is where the “Skeletons in the Closet” and the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” syndrome play an important role in the attempt to bring to the open the problem issues and to transform the patients with moderate to sever forms of mental disturbance.  These psychoses produce deep and far reaching disruption of normal behavior and social functioning.  In the more severe cases of “psychopathy” individuals condemn themselves because they have not learned to and/or cannot show remorse, repent, or forgive themselves or others.  Psychiatry/psychology cannot, per se, transform persons who do not want to be transformed, they cannot be made, “new persons” with “new memories” with the ability for “new thoughts”—only the miracle of God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ can do that.  These explanations have no scientific basis and cannot be confirmed scientifically because they are philosophical rationalizations.

The “id, ego, superego” model explains remarkably well the ongoing processes involved with the strengths and weaknesses of my personality, and when assessing the strengths and weaknesses of other personalities it also explains, rather well, the processes involved with their personality.  I explain this more fully in the comments section of Ted Davis’ post “Is Creation From Nothing Obsolete” in my comment #85686 and is continued in comment #85694 with other pertinent information being discussed here.  Perhaps other Freudian ideas and creations were discredited, however, the “id, ego, superego” personality construct is definitely not one of them.

This peice is taken from Dictionary.com under Synonyms” “Regret, penitence, remorse imply a sense of sorrow about events in the past, usually wrongs committed or errors made.  Regret is distress of mind, sorrow for what has been done or failed to be done: to have no regrets.  Penitence implies a sense of sin or misdoing, a feeling of contrition and determination not to sin again: a humble sense of penitence.  Remorse implies pangs, qualms of conscience, a sense of guilt, regret, and repentence for sins committed.”  As stated above, “Regret is distress of mind, sorrow for what has been done or failed to be done.”  A normal healthy person with conscience does not like the feeling of “distress of mind,” or the feeling of “sorrow”.  Thus, if someone is guilty of a crime and regrets that crime he/she feels remorse “pangs, qualms of conscience” for having committed that crime and will show penitence, “a feeling of contrition and determination not to sin/crime again”.

Here, where I write, “In reflection with these considerations is the consensus that was reached at the Council of Nicaea—the Christ or Messiah is fully man and fully God.  The Satan or Antichrist is alternatively fully man and fully Devil,”  the second sentence should have read—Alternatively, in [my] opinion, the Satan or Antichrist is fully man and fully Devil—to distinguish [my] opinion from the consensus reached at the Council of Nicaea.  I apologize for the error.

Best Regards


Tony - #86026

July 21st 2014

g kc…

“According to Scripture and traditional teaching, Satan is a spirit being, a fallen angel.”

Revelation 18:23 states, “And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in the thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.”

You are aware what the bible is referring to here by [sorcery] right?  The majority of people on earth don’t have a clue!  The definition of the word [Occult] is “that which is hidden, concealed, or veiled.”  The definition of the word [Witchcraft] is the “bending of reality.”  Thus, a Witch is a [bender of reality].  How reality is bent makes one a good Witch or an evil Witch.  Someone who bends reality to place someone under a delusion is an evil Witch, someone who bends reality to remove someone from a delusion is a good Witch.  An evil Witch is a Sorcerer, a good Witch is a Wizard.  The teaching that God, Angels, Satan, Demons, and the Dead exist as spirit beings is a delusion that mankind has been placed under by the Great Sorceress of all time.  Wake up from the spell that she has cast! 

Later


Roger A. Sawtelle - #86061

July 25th 2014

For the record:

The First Council of Nicea was important because it condemned Arianism and began the process of forulating the Trinity.  The Second Council of Nicea condemned iconoclasm.

The Council the accepted the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ was the Council of Chalcedon. 

The two natures of Christ are God and human.  I do not know what the two natures of the Anti-Christ would be. 


Tony - #86064

July 26th 2014

Hi Roger…

Thank’s for the references to the first ecumenical councils and what they pertained to.  I appreciate this because there is important history here involving doctrine and the separation of the church. 

On the two natures characteristics, I would have to say that my example wasn’t exactly correct.  It should be stated as such—If the two natures of Christ or Messiah are God and human, the two natures of Antichrist or Antimessiah are Satan and human.  This would be the more correct diametrical difference.  The Christ’s primary intentions are based on revealing the ultimate truth and on establishing God’s Kingdom on earth—conversely, the Antichrist’s primary intentions are based on hindering the revelation of this ultimate truth and on thwarting the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth.

Some hold to the belief that Satan is the instrument of God, as alluded to in the story of Job—that God uses Satan to test man’s loyalty.  This may be true in respect to the inevitable universal principle of fate having caused this to be so.  However, Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet are still the enemy and will pay the consequences for all the blood that has been spilt on the earth. 

Kind Regards


Roger A. Sawtelle - #86069

July 29th 2014

Tony.

You began with the worldview of panentheism, which is a monistic worldview.  As I said to you before, this is a conceivable worldview, but its weakness is that it allows for no possibility for evil.  Pantheism and panentheism state that God is everything that is. 

Now you state that Satan is not God, and indeed is the opposite of God, so you have a dualism contrary to monism and panentheism. The book of Job does show that the universe is not under the direct control of God, not pantheistic.

Now most if not all Western thought is dualistic, based on the One and the Many.  Some prefer the One side of this conundrum, while others prefer the Many. 

I find the answer to this puzzle to accept both the One and the Many as ultimate, which is why God is Trinity. 


Tony - #86072

July 29th 2014

Roger…

If your reasoning is based on a faulty foundation your whole understanding will be inaccurate.  Panentheism is [not] a monistic worldview, whereas pantheism is.  Panentheism is dualistic in its worldview:

“Panentheism is a belief system which posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well.  Panentheism is distinguished from pantheism, which holds that God is synonymous with the material universe…While pantheism asserts that God and the universe are coextensive, panentheism claims that God is greater than the universe and that the universe is contained within God.  Panentheism holds that God is the “supreme affect and effect” of the universe.  http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/panentheism

The faulty reasoning in claiming that panentheism is monistic is what brings you to the false conclusion that panentheism does not allow for the possibility for evil.  The answer to the puzzle is accepting the correct definition of panentheism.  In my opinion, the universe [is] in direct control of God’s laws—rather, it is a part of the biology upon the earth that is not, but is under Satan’s control, for now.

To accept the One and the Many as ultimate truth [is] an aspect to the whole puzzle of reality—that God, the [One] resides in the [Many].  God is trinity because his plan for salvation demanded three aspects of his being for salvation.  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Adam, Jesus, and the Second Coming—born of Holy Spirit.  God incarnated as Adam, reincarnated as Jesus, resurrected, and will reincarnate as the third aspect of the trinity.  Myths, fables, and legends agree with this outlook and have been created for the specific purpose of pointing us in this direction.

In Hindu doctrine the concept of the Trimurati of Brahman conveys this idea with “the Hindu triad” Brahma the (Creator), Vishnu the (preserver), and Shiva the (destroyer).  Adam creates, Jesus preserves, and the Second Coming destroys the wicked upon the earth.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trimurti

In Ancient Egyptian civilization, the gods Amun, Ra, and Amun-Ra, commits to the principle of Father, Son, and union of Father and Son.  In the “Hymn to Amun-Ra” he is described as “Lord of truth, father of the gods, maker of men, creator of all animals, Lord of things that are, creator of the staff of life.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amun

In Greek mythology, the Moirai, also known as the Three Fates or simply the Fates “were the white robed incarnations of destiny…They controled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal from birth to death.”  Clotho spun the yarn, Lachesis measured its length, and Atropos cut it.  Adam gives life, Jesus measures its length, and the Second Coming cuts off the wicked.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moirai 

Later


Roger A. Sawtelle - #86073

July 30th 2014

Tony,

If God is the supreme affect and effect of the universe, then how can the universe be different from God?  Effect means “cause,” so the universe is the supreme cause of God by this definition, while effect means the result so the universe is the supreme result of God. 

An important logical problem here is:  Since God is more than the universe by this definition, how can God be the result or effect of the universe?  Does the universe think as God thinks?  If not, how can they be equal as this definition makes them and you make them by saying they are both eternal.

Just because your definition of God and the universe makes a distinction between God and the universe does not make it a dualistic view, because there is no place in panentheism for evil, because God has complete control of the universe.  However you claim that Satan has control the biology of the world “for now.” 

The obvious question is: Where did Satan come from?  and how did she gain the ability to take this power from God?  This is the basis of your dualism.  Logically your Satan must be eternal with God and the universe.

My guess is, that if your Adam is the incarnation of God the Father (which of course in fact he is not,) then your Eve must be the incarnation of Satan and the great Sorceress (which of course in fact she is not.)  There is no great Sorceress, but there are many pervayors syncreticism who mix Truth with falsehood in order to distort the worldview of impressional people.   

Your syncretism is clear from you using other traditions to illustrate the Christian Trinity, which they do not.  Also from these examples it is clear that I was correct in pointing to the Hindu faith is the prefered basis of the modern theory of an ossilating universe rather than Greek thought, even though they both originate in ancient Indoeuropean paganism.


Tony - #86107

July 31st 2014

Hi Roger…

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has an excellent article on panentheism and the terminology associated with it.  Section 1. on the “Terminology” highlights the main points on how “Classical or Traditional Theism” does not result in a productive theology of “ultimate reality”, and how alternatively, “modern ‘panentheism’ developed under the influence of German Idealism, Whiteheadian process philosophy, and current scientific thought” provides a more highly sophisticated worldview of the issues we are discussing.  Here is some of the content:

 

Theological terms as understood by panentheists:

1. Classical or Traditional Theism

The understanding that ultimate reality is a being which is distinct from the world and any other reality.  This distinction often develops into an ontological separation between God and the world that makes any interaction between God and the world problematic.

 

4. Immanence

God’s presence and activity within the world.  Panentheists assert that traditional theism limits its affirmation of God’s immanence by understanding immanence as the transcendent presence of the supernatural Being within the natural realm.  When this divine presence is understood as distinctly transcendent, God’s presence and activity within the world as natural is an intervention of the supernatural within the natural.  God, then, is absent from the natural except in specific cases of intervention.

 

Terms influenced by the German Idealism of Hegel and Schelling:

2. Perichoresis

The ontological intermingling of the members of the Trinity so that the Father is part of the Son and the Spirit, the Son part of the Spirit and the Father, and the Spirit part of the Father and Son.  Moltmann utilizes this concept to describe the presence of God in the world and the world in God.

 

Terms influenced by Whiteheadian process philosophy:

1. Internal and External Relations

Internal relations are relations that affect the being of the related beings.  External relations do not change the basic nature or essence of a being.  For panentheism, the relationship between God and the world is an internal relationship in that God affects the nature of the world and the world changes the nature of God.  Classical theism affirms an external relationship between God and the world in that God responds to events in the world but those events do not change God’s essence, necessary existence, or basic nature.

 

2. Dipolar

Refers especially to God as having two basic aspects.  Schelling identified these aspects as necessary and contingent.  Whitehead referred to God’s primordial and consequent natures meaning that God has an eternal nature and a responsive nature.  Whitehead understood all reality to be dipolar in that each event encludes both physical and mental aspects in opposition to a mind-body dualism.  Hartshorne identified these aspects as abstract and concrete.

 

Here the article gives numerous examples for the “in” of the term panentheism—(pan) meaning “all”, (en) meaning “in”, and (theism) meaning God.

“Although numerous meanings have been attributed to the “in” in panentheism (Clayton 2004, 253), the more significant meanings are:”

 

6. Mind/Body analogical meaning

The mind provides structure and direction to the organization of the organism of the body.  The world is God’s body in the sense that the world actualizes God and manifests God while being directed by God as different from the world.  Many, but not all, panentheists utilize the mind/body analogy to describe the God/world relation in a manner that emphasizes the immanence of God without loss of God’s transcendence.

 

7. Part/whole analogical meaning

A particular exists in relation to something that is greater and different from any and all of its parts.  The world is in God by participating in God’s being and action.

 

The link to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panentheism/

I’ll be posting the rest of my comment in answer to yours shortly.

 

Later

 

 

 

 


Tony - #86124

August 2nd 2014

Roger…

Concerning panentheism you state, “this is a conceivable worldview, but its weakness is that it allows for no possibility for evil because there is no place in panentheism for evil, because God has complete control of the universe.”  You should now be able to grasp that panentheism [does] allow for the possibility for evil and, therefore, has no weakness as a worldview—this is the only weakness you presented.

If there is further confusion on this point perhaps a brief review on the terminology of “dipolar” and “dialectic” from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is in order:

Dipolar “refers especially to God as having two basic aspects.  Schelling identified these aspects as necessary and contingent.  Whitehead referred to God’s primordial and consequent natures meaning that God has an eternal nature and a responsive nature.”  My interpretation of Schelling’s—necessary and contingent, and Whiteheads—primordial and consequent meaning of God’s basic aspects being referred to here is the energy/matter composition of the singularity and all of reality.  The “supreme affect and effect” of the universe.

You write, “The obvious question is: Where did Satan come from?  And how did she gain the ability to take this power from God?  This is the basis of your dualism.  Logically your Satan must be eternal with God and the universe.”

The [dipolar] concept is not reffering to the diametrical opposition of God and Satan.  Instead, energy/matter cooperate together in consonance.  The religious diametrical opposites of good and evil originate with biological evolution and mankind.  The development of consciousness and cognition of Adam and Eve and their struggle through trial and error to learn of the world around them inevitably introduced this diametrical opposition in the world.  The first account of premeditated murder in the biblical narrative of Cain slaughtering Abel set the forces of good and evil in motion.

Dialectic is “the presence of contradictory realities where the contradiction is overcome by including elements from each of the contadictory elements in a synthesis that is more than the combination of each member of the contradiction.  Whitehead’s understanding of God’s redemption of evil by placing an evil event in the context of good events expresses a similar understanding although he is not as explicit as Hegel in understanding all of reality as a dialectical development.”  One would have to conclude this is where syncretism plays a role in reconciliation through the redemption of mankind.

The syncretism of science, religion, and language will systematize our understanding of reality beyond what we know from our sense perseptions through knowledge of the origins of the universe and its laws, the nature of existence and being as such and, the origin, nature, and limitations of knowledge.  This is the cosmological, ontological, and epistemological harmonization of the metaphysics and philosophy itself.

The words of the prophet Isaiah state well who the main character of evil is, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.  They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this [the man] that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms.  (Isaiah 14:12-16)  He is a man!  [Emphasis Mine]

Roger, it would have to be said that your example, in the attempt to make sense of this diametrical opposition, is incorrect.  Panentheism posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature.  The article on panentheism at http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Panentheism  under the section - Panentheism and Religion - Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity states, “God’s energies maintain all things and all beings, even if those beings have explicitly rejected Him…By this token, the entirety of creation is sanctified, and thus no part of creation can be considered innately evil.  This does not deny the existence of evil in a fallen universe, only that it is not an innate property of creation.”  Hence, your statement, above, that “Satan must be eternal with God and the universe” in the attempt to make sense of this diametrical opposition, is also incorrect.  The Great Sorceress that I was referring to, above, in my comment with g kc, is none other than “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”  She, very much indeed, exists, to counter your statemenat, “There is no great Sorceress.”  The power of Satan resides with her.  Revelation 18:23 states, “And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for [by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.”  [Emphasis Mine]

 

Later


Tony - #86125

August 2nd 2014

(Continued)

Considering why it is that most people have such a difficult time to comprehend the perspective I (and many others) hold concerning God, the Christ, and Absolute Truth comes down to the following reasons pertaining to two classes of people:

First are those who intentionally repress reality to avoid it being consciously affirmed to themselves, then there are those who are determined to prevent reality from being exposed to others—as if they can prevent God’s Truth from being revealed.  The reasons for these can be many - the fear of losing the power, authority, and riches they possess.  Perhaps they are advanced in years or have an illness and are approaching death, and do not want their belief system challenged.  They may have been sinners (criminals) or are sinners and cannot forgive themselves and change their way of life, therefore, they evade and push truth aside at all expense.

The second class involves those who simply cannot grasp the philosophy, theology, and science behind the reasoning of this [Truth].  The reason for this, I strongly believe, is that the people in this group make the error of drawing their reasoning from the beginning of the biblical narrative instead of the ending.  If one commences their reasoning with the conclusion of the biblical narrative the [Truth] will become clear.

Beginning an investigation with a false assumption will lead to a false conclusion—alternatively, beginning with the [True] conclusion will lead back to the [Correct] assumption of the [True] beginning.  It is basic common sense, however, the error of accepting an [Intelligent Designer] philosophy from the outset of one’s reasoning is problematic.  This [False] assumption without supporting evidence is not the way science is accomplished.  Instead, the investigation should begin with the facts of science, the present circumstances the world is in, and what is being done to improve social global conditions.

Hence, asking the question—what is the [True] conclusion of the biblical narrative? is what is pertinent in ascertaining the [Truth] of God’s story.  The bible is God’s story, but it is also mankind’s story.  How does the biblical drama end?  Is it not in a final battle between the forces of good and evil?  Does it not end with the triumph of good over evil and the creation of new heavens and a new earth?  A world where there will be no more war, crime, death, pain, or sorrow.  This can only be achieved in one way—through the reincarnation and arrival of Christ and his presenting himself unto the [four beasts and the four and twenty elders] who make up the Kingdom of God on earth which was in the making and prepared since he came unto us the first time in the first century.  It has been revealed unto me that the [four beasts and the four and twenty elders] of Revelation chapters 4 and 5 are agencies, organizations, and nations which together form the alliance of the Kingdom of God—read it.  The King James Version of the bible kept the distinction of the “four and twenty elders”, whereas other versions of the bible state the “twenty-four elders”.  This is important in understanding the interpretation of the revelation.

The book of Revelation was written in symbolic form, in the presentation of a dream.  With knowledge of the higher-self, the collective unconscious, an understanding of lucid conscious dreaming, the astral plane, and dream interpretation the picture of the revelation to God’s Truth and what the prophets were all about becomes clear.  I know who God is, and I know who Christ is, born in a long line of prophets who walked with God.  With knowledge and understanding one gains wisdom and insight—it is simply so clear when one has the applicable knowledge and understanding.

Best Regards


Roger A. Sawtelle - #86126

August 2nd 2014

Tony,

We began with God and the universe.  Are the one or many?

Panentheism says they are one and your quote that the universe is the effect and affect of God reaffirms that. 

Now you are trying to say that God is dipolar. That still makes God One, and it does not make God and the universe one as panentheism claims.  God is not dipolar.  God is Trinity, as the Church has said.

What you have is a lot of speculation with no facts to back it up.  Christianity begins with the revelation of the Bible and Jesus the Messiah.

God has proven that God’s Word is true and faithful.  You and your syncretism have proven nothing


Tony - #86131

August 4th 2014

Roger…

According to you, what is the trinity?  We know that Jesus is the Son.  The Holy Spirit is God’s active force—the comforter who was sent to the apostles.  Who is the Father?   


Roger A. Sawtelle - #86140

August 6th 2014

According to you, what is the trinity?  We know that Jesus is the Son.  The Holy Spirit is God’s active force—the comforter who was sent to the apostles.  Who is the Father?  

Tony, 

Your question seems to show a surprising lack of understanding of the Christian understanding of the Trinity. 

First of all the Trinity is not a What, the Trinity is a Who and that Who is God.  God is the Trinity and the Trinity is God.  The members of the the Trinity are each God individually and together. 

Certainly you know that the First Member of the Trinity is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and all that is.  God the Father is also the Judge of all human beings.  God the Father created the universe, but the universe is not God which is the difference between theism and pantheism or panentheism.

The Second Member of the Trinity, Jesus, is the Savior Who died to redeem all humanity and history.   He is also the Logos Who gives the universe Structure, Purpose, and Meaning.  

The Thrid Member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is the relational Member of the God.  God the Spirit is Agape Love, Who creates, sustains, and redeems the universe, life, and humanity.

God is not Dipolar.  God is Trinity Who creates, sustains, and redeems, which Panentheism cannt do.  


Tony - #86144

August 6th 2014

Roger…

Your question seems to show a surprising lack of understanding of the Christian understanding of the Trinity.

I am simply trying to understand your position and where you are coming from.  “According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there are approximately 41,000 Christian denominations and organizations in the world.”

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is a doctrine—the doctrine is not God, God is what the doctrine describes.  The members of the Trinity doctrine are each God individually and together because they each attain Godhood in their specific period in time.  God’s Holy Spirit fully possessed the persons of Adam, Jesus, will fully possess the third person of the Trinity doctrine.  One God three persons, three persons one God, the incarnation and reincarnation of the Soul.

No matter how many times you state that panentheism says that God and the universe are one will not change the true definition of panentheism.  God and the universe are one in the sense that they are dipolar and function together in unison.  Panentheism teaches that God is the eternal animating force behind the universe, it does not teach that God is the universe.  The universe is nothing more than the manifest part of God.  God is spirit/energy, the universe is physical/material.  Elucidated in this way, one can grasp the fact that since God is spirit he cannot also be physical.

With this understanding, God can be One, Dipolar and Trinity, and still abide by the Judeo-Christian tradition in fulfilling the final prophecies of Ezekiel, Daniel, Jesus, and the Revelation, etc,.

Later

 


Tony - #86147

August 6th 2014

Roger…

“The Council of Chalcedon,” Wikipedia states, “was a church council held from October 8 to November 1, AD 451….The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century.  Many Anglicans and most Protestants consider it to be the last ecumenical council.  The Council of Chalcedon was convened by Emperor Marcian, with the reluctant approval of Pope Leo the Great, to set aside the 449 Second Council of Ephesus which would become known as the “Latrocinium” or “Robber Council”.  The Council of Chalcedon issued the ‘Chalcedonian Definition,’ which repudiated the notion of a single nature in Christ, and declared that he has two natures in one person and hypostasis; it also insisted on the completeness of his two natures: Godhead and manhood….The Council is considered to have been the Fourth Ecumenical Council by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church (including its Eastern Catholic Churches), the Old Catholics, and various other Western Christian groups.  As such, it is recognized as infallible in its dogmatic definitions by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches (then one church).  Most Protestants also consider the concepts of the Trinity and Incarnation as defined at Nicaea (in 325) and Chalcedon to be orthodox doctrine to which they adhere.  However, the Council is not accepted by several of the ancient Eastern Churches, including the Oriental Orthodox of Egypt, Syria, Armenia, Eritrea, Ethiopia.  The Oriental Orthodox teach “The Lord Jesus Christ is God the Incarnate Word.  He possesses the perfect Godhead and the perfect manhood.  His fully divine nature is united with His fully human nature yet without mixing, blending or alteration” which has been misunderstood as monophysitism, a belief which the Oriental Orthodox Church strongly disagree with.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Chalcedon

“The concept of hypostasis as the shared existence of spiritual and corporal entities has been used in a number of religious and intellectual settings.  The word hypostasis means underlying state or underlying substance, and is the fundamental reality that supports all else….In Christian theology, a hypostasis or person is one of the three elements of the Holy Trinity….This consensus, however, was not achieved without some confusion at first in the minds of “Western” theologians, who had translated hypo-stasis as “sub-stantia” (substance.  See also Consubstantiality) and understood the “Eastern” Christians, when speaking of three “Hypostases” in the Godhead, to mean three “Substances,”  i.e. they suspected them of tritheism.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypostasis_(philosophy_and_religion) 

“Monophysitism, Greek “only, single” and “nature,” is the Christological position that, after the union of the divine and the human in the historical Incarnation, Jesus Christ, as the incarnation of the eternal Son or Word (Logos) of God, had only a single “nature” which was either divine or a synthesis of divine and human.  Monophysitism is contrasted to dyophysitism….which maintains that Christ maintained two natures, one divine and one human, after the Incarnation.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monophysitism

“Dyophysitism is a theological term used in understanding how the divine and human are related in the person of Jesus Christ, an area of study known as Christology.  The term comes from the Greek and literally means “two natures.”  Two natures refer to a human nature and a divine nature that exists in the one person of Jesus.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyophysite

“Miaphysitism (sometimes called henophysitism) is a Christological formula of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and of the various churches adhering only to the first three Ecumenical Councils.  Miaphysitism holds that in the person of Jesus Christ, Divinity and Humanity are united in one (“one”) or single nature (“physis”), the two being united without separation, without confusion, and without alteration.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myaphysite

“Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced be Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople….The doctrine….emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus.  Nestorius’ teachings brought him into conflict with some other prominent church leaders, most notably Cyril of Alexandria, who criticized especially his rejection of the title “theotokos” (“Bringer forth of God”) for the Virgin Mary.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestorianism

“Eutychianism refers to a set of Christian theological doctrines derived from the ideas of Eutyches of Constantinople) Eutychianism is a specific understanding of how the human and divine relate within the person of Jesus Christ (that is, Eutychianism is a Christology)....At various times, Eutyches taught that the human nature of Christ was overcome by the divine, or that Christ had a human nature but it was unlike the rest of humanity.  One formulation is that Eutychianism stressed the unity of Christ’s nature to such an extent that Christ’s divinity consumed his humanity as the ocean consumes a drop of vinegar.  Eutyches maintained that Christ was “of” two natures but not “in” two natures: separate divine and human natures had united and blended in such a manner that although Jesus was homoousin with the Father, he was not “homoousian” with man.”  http://en.wikipedia.org.wiki.Eutychianism

It’s clear and not very difficult to ascertain why the Original Church split into today’s 41,000 Christian denominations and organizations, and why there is so much confusion in its ranks on doctrine.  This really does picture the biblical story of the building of the “Tower of Babel,” where man, in his state of confusion, attempts to reach God.  It’s simply pathetic!  Roger, I do have pity for you, for how confused you are concerning the Trinity and Ultimate Reality.

Best Wishes


Roger A. Sawtelle - #86160

August 9th 2014

Tony,

Thank you for your concern, but as you should know, pity is not a productive emotion.  I really do not need it or want it because I have been born again through the Holy Spirit. 

Many people, it appears including you, do not understand the power of the Holy Spirit to cut through the confusion of this world.  The power of God in the Trinity, which includes the Spirit, is not dependent upon this world or even the Church. 

Even so the Church does believe in God the Trinity even though we do not always agree in the details.  This is appropriate because we live by faith and not by sight or knowledge. 

Christians are saved by grace though faith.  If you do not have the Holy Spirit in your life, you need to be saved.

Sadly you have chosen to expose the supposed disunity of the Church rather than demonstrate how the Trinity is not true.  That is not a productive response to my point of view.

Understanding life is not easy or simple.  If you have something positive to contribute to this understanding, I would like to hear it. 


Tony - #86161

August 9th 2014

Roger…

Concerning the pity thing, I was going to add something else but then decided otherwise, because I thought, it should already be understood—Someone who is born again and abides within Christ already has God’s approval and acceptance.  As you rightfully state, disagreement in “the details” is not critical in being saved if we have and live by faith through grace.

I am aware of the power of the Holy Spirit to cut through the confusion of this world.  I agree that God’s Power or Spirit is not dependent on the world since his Spirit existed before the creation of the world.  However, his Holy Spirit [does] depend on the world and the Church.  This is how God’s Spirit becomes Holy—through the emotions of the human heart.  The emotions did not exist prior to the creation of the world and the human heart, thus, the “Holy Spirit” did not exist either.  The “Spirit” becomes “Holy” through life’s experience and the “pure thought of love.”

Above, where I asked, “According to you, what is the Trinity?  We know that Jesus is the Son.  The Holy Spirit is God’s active force—the comforter who was sent to the apostles.   Who is the Father?”  You stated, “Your question seems to show a surprising lack of understanding of the Christian understanding of the Trinity.”  I responded, “I am simply trying to understand your position and where you are coming from.”  This is why I mentioned that “the Original Church split into today’s 41,000 Christian denominations and organizations.”  Your understanding of the Trinity can be different from someone else’s understanding.  For example, “God’s Church of God” does not believe in the Trinity, neither do “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”  For things to become productive we need to understand eachother’s worldview.

Later


Roger A. Sawtelle - #86162

August 9th 2014

Tony wrote:

This is how God’s Spirit becomes Holy—through the emotions of the human heart.  The emotions did not exist prior to the creation of the world and the human heart, thus, the “Holy Spirit” did not exist either.  The “Spirit” becomes “Holy” through life’s experience and the “pure thought of love.”

Tony,

Things may be clearer now.  It appears that you see God as Absolute as do many.  I do not.

In Exodus 3 God tells Moses that God’s sacred personal Name is I AM WHO I AM or YHWH for short.  This means that YHWH God can and does do whatever YHWH chooses to do.  At the time YHWH is telling that YHWH has hears the cries of Israel and is send Modes to liberate them through the exodus.

Later we read that God (the Father) so loved the world (through the Spirit)  that He gave His only (God the) Son so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish. 

Also “God is Love.”  1 John 4 twice.

God first loved us, and it is only through God’s forgiveness that we can love God and others.  As I have said the Holy Spirit is God’s power of Love. 

Love is not an emotion, it is a relationship.  This means that YHWH God is not Absolutre as philosophers define that term.

Your understanding of the Trinity can be different from someone else’s understanding.  For example, “God’s Church of God” does not believe in the Trinity, neither do “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”  For things to become productive we need to understand each other’s worldview.

To understand something you need to define what you are talking about.  When Christianity was new people began to discuss Who Jesus was. 

Christians defined Him as the Messiah and the Son of God.  Jews rejected this definition, Christians separated from the Jews. 

This does not means that Jews are not God’s people, but they are not Christians and they understand salvation differently from the way Christians do.  Muslims also claim to be God’s people, but they are not Christians because they reject Jesus as the Savior and the Son of God.   

Now there are several “Churches of God” and some of them may be “Oneness” churches which have dubious doctrines of the Trinity, which I am not familiar with.

However I am familiar with the Jehovah’s Witnesses who believe that Jesus was nether a human being nor God, but an angel in the flesh.  This doctrine is totally at odds with Christianity and results in a cult-like legalistic sect. 

Understanding is accurately deefining what is and then dtermining the relationships between what is.  YHWH God IS WHO GOD IS, and God is Love and relational, so God is not Absolute.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all God, so they are all equal and all Love and relational.

I am trying to explain my worldview.  What I hear from you is a negative response, but little positive explanation of what you believe. 

     

 

 


Tony - #86165

August 10th 2014

Roger…

“It appears that you see God as Absolute as do many.  I do not.”

Philosophically “absolute” implies, “The ultimate basis of reality.  That which is totally unconditioned, unrestricted, pure, perfect, and complete.”  The philosophy of Hegel suggests “absolute” is “That towards which all things evolve dialectically.”

According to this definition, I hold the view that God [is] “the ultimate basis of reality.”  Also, God, “who interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well,” as per the belief system of panentheism, “dialectically evolves towards that which is absolute.”  With regard to “that which is totally unconditioned, unrestricted, pure, perfect, and complete,” in my opinion, I’ll have to say that God is “unconditioned and unrestricted” in working towards that which is “pure, perfect, and complete.”  We must remember, God is still in the process of creating.  Accordingly, I believe this view abides by the philosophy of theistic evolution.

I am correctly interpreting your position, right, where you state, above, that you do not “see God as absolute,” implying that you do not see God as “the ultimate basis of reality?”  Are you suggesting that God is not “unconditioned, unrestricted, pure, perfect and complete” or, that God is not “that towards which all things evolve dialectically?”  I don’t understand why you would say that you do not see God as absolute.

On another note, Exodus 24:15-18 states, “When Moses went up on the moutain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai.  For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud.  To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.  Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain.  And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”  My understanding of the “cloud and fire” above Mount Sinai is that it was a volcano.  The Hebrews that followed Moses out of Egypt believed that God lived on the mountain, however, Moses having been raised and educated with the knowledge and wisdom of Ancient Egypt was well aware that Mount Sinai was a volcano.  Moses was surely versed in the “philosophy” and “science” of the wise men of Egypt.  Up on Mount Sinai, Exodus 3:14 states, “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  Accordingly, we have the tetragrammaton—YHWH, God’s holy name.  My understanding and opinion, as I am sure you are already aware, is that YHWH is the “Higher Self” or rather the “Collective Unconscious.”  We can communicate, through back and forth dialogue with God, as Moses and the Prophets did.  However,  many pray but do not listen and hear God’s answers in response.  This is because they have learned to pray but have not learned how to listen. 

Apart from my questions on clarity of whether God is absolute—I have a few more.  Is my understanding correct that you are a proponent of “intelligent Design?”  Through the scriptures it is openly clear that in the last days Jesus will return.  I believe that we are at the very pinnacle of the “Great Tribulation.”  Do you consider that we are now in the last days?  Do you believe Jesus will return in the flesh, or in spirit only?  Where do you believe Jesus will return from?

Roger, you stated, “I am trying to explain my worldview.  What I hear from you is a negative response, but little positive explanation of what you believe.”  My comments, in the forum, have completely laid out my worldview and opinions.  If there is something that is not clear you just have to ask and I’ll answer.

Later


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