Monthly Archives: March 2016

Inigo And Fezzik Talk Theology

There is no idea we can have about God that is ultimately not absurd. The reason for this is because God is incomprehensible and all statements about God are purely logical. Insofar as they go, to delay hitting absurdity (which all purely rational ideas do as a matter of fact), we have to be consistent with our terms.

An example is whether or not God can do what is logically impossible to do, such as creating a rock too heavy for Him to lift. Another is whether or not God can know what is logically impossible to know, such as the future.

So, if God is omnipotent, we can only mean God can do all things logically possible to do. If God is omniscient, we can only mean God knows everything logically possible to know.

Sure, God may be able to do things we don’t know or know things we can’t, but in trying to say God even knows things that haven’t even happened and may not ever happen, we haven’t said anything. We’ve said essentially at that point that whatever we say about God is only true when it isn’t absurd and when it is, nothing we’ve said about God matters at all because we have appealed to “mystery”; that which we cannot make rational sense of. It makes as much sense as saying God is omnipresent and literally meaning that God is everywhere, even where He is not!

So, these terms belong to us and we cannot have a double standard. We have no justification to say God knows “everything” and can do “everything” or is “everywhere”. That is unless we say, “There is nothing beyond God and God is in all things.” Unless we say “God can only know what is logically possible to know, which means God does not know the future.” Unless we say “God can only do what is logically possible to do, which means creating very heavy rocks is, but omnipotence by definition means asking if He can make one He can’t lift is an incoherent thing to ask.” Otherwise, we absolutely have no idea what we mean by calling God omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent!

“The rock thing makes sense, and the ‘being only where you are’ thing does too, but God CAN know the future! He has a plan, right!?”

The one has nothing to do with the other!

If what we use to define all things is logic, and if it is logically impossible to “know” the future, then it is incoherent to say God “knows” the future or that omniscience is defined as not only knowing everything possible to know, but things that also cannot be known.

Just as I plan on going home from the store, I know I will go home from the store. Since it is logically possible to get home from the store, and if I’m omnipotent, nothing will prevent me from going home from the store. I know what I WILL do AND I have no idea about anything that may happen on my way home from the store. I WILL make that happen. That is what I know. That it WILL happen entails NO commitment to “knowing” the future like illogical thinkers think it does.

Too, this has implications. If God is truly impassible and immutable, then no prayer ever prayed has any effect on God at all! However, not tying omniscience to determinism (ie knowing the future), God has a plan and you are a vital part of it. God will still make it home from the store, but on the way home, he may have good reasons to change everything that could have happened along the way to getting there. If God is maximally rational, then God can only logically will what is best to will, and will is determined not by events but by ethics and means, as we always hold that any ends God has are good.

In that kind of thinking, God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, impassible, and immutable if and only if God is not deterministic but dynamic instead; responsive, collaborative with creation; if and only if God cannot know the future and can change His mind.

We are not entitled to any other rational view because the terms used are not logically applied and we literally don’t mean what we mean by them, or they outright contradict other terms we are using; such as a God who can forgive, being offended or having a debt owed, when God is defined as immutable or impassible or determined.

Augustine addressed these issues over a thousand years ago, and it seems only Process Theology still finds value in making coherent statements about God. The rest, in no uncertain terms, revel in claiming to know God by certain terms that when pushed to their logical ends, are abandoned by saying “No, you don’t know that! God’s a mystery!” To wit, I can only say “You’re absolutely right, but that absolutely means that if you believe THAT, then you cannot claim to know anything about God at all.”

This is Inigo telling Fezzik, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

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A Simple Theology

When we participate in doing good, we inevitability change. We waste time and energy wondering if we were by nature already inclined to do good or inclined to do otherwise. More is wasted fretting about why and how it is we do good, or do otherwise.

It’s plainly obvious that doing good matters, we all in some way try to do good, and we change in the process.

It isn’t any act we do that matters. The act cannot change us. What does is the experience of doing what is good, doing what is not. This is where we find ourselves, our nature, and any connection to the Divine at all; God not being an act of goodness either but like us, why we would do good at all and our experience of participating in it. God is the mystery of what we see as the good. That mystery is revealed in our experience of humanity as we become in response to participation.

The theological ribbon from Old Testament to New is all that is efficacious in scripture; that a narrative gets us to respond.

So I say indeed, Jesus is the truth of humanity born of the wisdom of participating with God; and we call her (Mary), “Blessed art thou among women”. Such wisdom is blessed, and “virgin”, or “young woman”, and “annointed one”, or “logos”, “Son of God”, “alethea” is the fruit; be that Jesus, or you or me transformed. Indeed, the import of sacrifice is the life of participation. And whatever resurrection there may be, certainly it is God honoring its promise in us as we take in the widow, the orphan, the sick, the needy, the least among us. Resurrection is what we become in response to goodness.

In as much as people take literally, historically, virgin births, walking on water, talking snakes, a sun stopped in its tracks, or Jesus coming back to life on the third day of his death, if the symbols of any of these things are removed, then anything important about any of them has been destroyed. That is because what remains are mere beliefs, none of which entail any action at all except the rather cavalier, easy, and selfish act of believing such things are propositionally true in order to only do good for ourselves; to gain heaven rather than to lose ourselves in the humanity and Divinity of service to others.

Just a thought.

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A Question

If you had one question you could ask God, is there another more important than “What should I do?” Since no other question has an answer that changes anything, of what value can they be? And have we as modern day “believers” squandered the chance to ask the question since God has given the answer to you and to me in the fact of that we exist and how we do? Instead, we have idolized every other question as “What should I believe?” As expected, we have nothing to show for it. But in asking God “What should I do?”, haven’t we frustrated God since his continuing answer from the beginning is “Do what you already know to do!” We modern day “believers” squander the chance that matters at all because both are still idolatrous, predicated on answers from God in order to act at all. We literally already know better than to have to ask.

Just a thought.

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The Onto-Who?!

It is said that “I am not what you think I am; You are what you think I am”, and given this aphorism must be even more applicable to an incomprehensible God than to comprehensible human beings, then the question of God is very telling.

What kind of person would say of God that he requires blood, belief, and baptism in order to right the cosmic wrong He allowed in His creation?

If I am willing to risk the eternal damnation of such a God because it literally is a deplorable view of God and humanity I do not except and vehemently reject, what does that say of me?

If it turns out that God is in fact exactly as those have imagined, then holding the idea that ontological arguments for God are meaningful … such thinking has no value at all for I scarcely doubt we’ve ever created such a horrific monster as this God; and all aims of ontological arguments are the extention of our own characteristics in a perfected sense. And so, either this God exists and is so beneath any sense of perfection we have and we literally can and do conceive of something greater than God, or, this notion of God cannot stand under scrutiny of any ontological argument for the existence of God at all.

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The Epic Of Failure

Presuppositionalism is a plague of intelligence. It recognizes in its own existence that God and all god-talk must be presupposed true, argues that conclusions about God and god-talk are true (which is odd since it’s already presumed), projects that all inquiry operates this way, and pretends in an Oscar worthy performance that nothing about God is presumed at all.

Things like logic, morality, that the earth has an orbit or any other natural happening in the universe are facts. We presuppose nothing about them at all. We do not think of them in any minimal sense because we’ve reduced in any way. From our minimal understanding, we justify anything else we’d like to believe about them. However, it is never because we first believe and then presuppose the belief true.

We have no new, unjustified beliefs but instead, through the process of inquiry, have real reasons to see things differently, and from that, new beliefs are formed. Too, those beliefs are accepted after further inquiry proves them out.

Presuppositionalism at heart is no more than an intellectual failure to be able to reason at all and in the end, admits to itself in the most stark way, there’s literally no real reason to believe there are gods or that any god-talk is more than just talk. It is the largest disservice and insult to the human mind and to the reality of God that I can possibly imagine.

To suppose or presume something true is to begin with the admission that what is being supposed or presumed is completely dubious. To presuppose is quite a different matter. It’s to fiat for literally no reason at all, the presupposition is true and unassailably so. It’s no wonder it has such a wide appeal among those least concerned with the study of God or theologies which actually embrace reason, facts, reality, and what they must find uncomfortable in their psychology; faith and mystery, self and discovery.

This epoch in Christian thinking is one of monumental failure.

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The Reprise Of The Cross

Easter is coming …

It’s funny that even in the rethinking of the cross during this time of year, many haven’t rethought theology enough to recognize the cross is traditionally important but not theologically important as some central facet of the Gospel; given what each New Testament author places emphasis on in different things such as baptism, the birth, the cross, the resurrection and each author not giving much of a nod to anything else; Mark, Matthew and Luke, John, and Paul respectively.

For me, I find nothing redeeming about the cross or its associated theologies. If I am to be like Christ, if Christ is to be found in me, then resurrection doesn’t entail to a cross or to right beliefs or actions. It sums up in my experience with God, discovering my will is His will when my desire is to love and I act on that desire. Christ has then risen in me and I too am the logos of God (God’s wisdom and intent for humanity from the beginning; the Greek meaning and philosophy behind the word itself).

No idea about God matters if it drifts from the centrality of that end, or if it doesn’t lead in some way to a real encounter with the divine. Theologies about the cross do nothing for us. Either “It is finished” and there’s nothing for us to do about it, or it devolves into a worship of beliefs which are all historically dubious and still, nothing we can act on.

What else of any import can it mean to confess “Jesus is the Lord of my life” than “I am becoming as I was intended to be”? In any other confession, there simply is no other import than tradition and community. And just supposing Jesus is the Lord of anyone’s life, we ought to consider then that the evidence of it is a confession of living, not saying. In that case, there are far more Christians in many communities less the title, and far fewer in those that profess the namesake merely through its traditions.

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A Birth …

Sometimes the full implications of an idea don’t hit you until much later. At Christmas this year, I posted about the Jewishness of the birth of Christ; the symbols in the narratives.

Again, the traditional Hebrew thought about humanity isn’t at all focused around the nature of man or in earning salvation, be that through “proper” or “correct” beliefs or through acts going by the category of “righteousness”. It is centered around the idea of fullness of human life through participation with God.

The symbols in the birth narrative, to remind, reflect that idea through Mary, a young woman which is wisdom, and Jesus, the logos of God, and the in between, the space between wisdom and truth, being Mary’s participation with God; the center of that tradition.

Thinking about how we generally ask ourselves what Jesus would do, or having in mind we need to emulate or “be like” Christ, I think it’s a mistake. In doing so, what we seek to do is find justification in acts, however closely they do or do not resemble Christ.

If Christ is an event, or some experience, in our inner-lives, then in the process of “becoming Christ” (which is the basis of that line of thinking) we have no good way toward it. Action cannot easily do more than hasten an experience. It’s difficult, though not impossible, to understand the mind of Christ that way I suppose, aside from the natural difficulty in saying we understand our own minds much less someone else’s. I don’t think many would want to suggest that Christianity is about some peculiar beliefs and being good actors anyway, but this is the thrust of it for many.

Instead, taking the Jewish tradition, we aren’t figuratively guessing what Jesus was about. We only ask “What did Mary do, and what happened because of what she did?” and the answer is clear. Our theology rights itself then because when we participate with God, Christ is born in us; that wisdom that sees the reality, the truth of things. We needn’t seek Christ as Christ is the consequence of God in our lives. And rather than chasing after “Jesus behaviorisms”, we act within the reality we now understand within ourselves.

There are more theological implications but that’s likely to bore most folks to death. Maybe this will ripple for you at least while you chew on it.

Just a thought.

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God, The Object

If there is one idea that would ever change your entire view of theologies you hold dear, I can’t imagine it being more profound than that God is not an object.

God is not the thing(s) you are not, and, God is not the thing(s) you are. He is not “here” nor is He “there”. Every conception of God in Christianity save a previous few, are entirely based on an unconscious anthropomorphic reaction. The reaction is to conceiving of some mystery that is similar — God “exists” — but “other”. The result is that all our language and theology objectify something which cannot be objectified.

To be brief in my words and to suggest something about God and His relation to us, this artist gives a perfect analogy. What she paints is a young girl. That image is not the young girl, nor any of the colors or shapes or spaces in-between. There is something the artist has experienced. As she paints, what she makes of it becomes a revelation to both her and others watching her work through the process.

God is whatever God is. God is to us a reflection of experience. God is truly the art of humanity, but if and only as we flesh out that image while continually being in participation with the “event of God”; where our humanity comes into contact with reality and seeks the good in it.

At the end of our lives, whatever gods have been found in us spill across the canvas of our own lives. God cannot redeem it then and leaving a work of art behind entails to being aware each moment is a stroke that can either be brilliant, or a mar.

God isn’t the art. God is not an object. God is how we’ve expressed a mystery in our lives. God is a revelation of ourselves.

Have a watch …

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Where I First Saw The Light …

When you think “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it”, you are, I’m afraid, functionally illiterate. If I ask how certain you are in your description of undoubtedly the central symbol in Christendom, “Absolute” may be your response if this is your mentality.

“STAUROS denotes, primarily, an upright pale or stake. On such malefactors were nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauroo, to fasten to a stake or pale, are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed cross.”

W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1981, Vol. 1, p. 256.

Vine describes our familiar symbol is of Chaldean origin, adopted from the pagans by Christendom in the third century C.E. as a symbol of Christ’s impalement.

To “Walk humbly with your God” includes your psychology, and certitude is psychology alone. It includes your own estimation of what you think of the Bible and how you approach reading it.

Now image once more that I ask about your certitude in your understanding of salvation.

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The Cross: A Practical View

If what the world wants is Barabbus and it costs us our humanity — Jesus, as humanity in its fullness — then there on the cross it will hang. It is after we kill it something rises in our sensibilities; “Why in the hell did we do that?!”

What Jesus had been saying and doing all along is what you find out you wanted, once you got what you wanted, which was Barabbus! Living to that end, the life of Christ, for that kind of world, Jesus has risen and we’ve lifted him off the cross, alive in us.

Just a thought.

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