On Equivocality …

To be clear, given the incomprehensibility of God, there is no difference between belief in God and belief in the beliefs we have about God.

That means when someone rejects your beliefs, it doesn’t mean they think there are no gods, nor does it mean they have another set of beliefs instead of yours.

That means that when you assert something as true of God, you are only asserting your beliefs about God are true, your ideas.

That means when you say you have faith in God, it is not God you have faith in, but that you have faith in your own ideas about God.

That means that when you say a person can be certain something is true about God, you’re abandoning any concept of mystery and faith and instead, you’re telling someone else your ideas about God are unassailable and equivocal; impossible though, given an incomprehensible God.

To be sure, ideas about God are important, but only in the sense that we act on what we believe … and none of these beliefs are otherwise worth having. Too, none of these matter except in the case any one of them causes us to bear fruit should we believe it.

If fruit is the only means by which we can judge and all else are fiats that our ideas about God are true of God, then the story of God, and of Christ for the Christian, needs to open its discourse far wider than it has allowed thus far.

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9 thoughts on “On Equivocality …

  1. K. Q. Duane says:

    So, anybody’s idea of God is true? I don’t think so. That’s why the Bible is our only source of truth about God. There can’t be thousands of individual interpretations of God, or the true God disappears in the melee.

    • Steven Hoyt says:

      no idea of god is true. saying the bible is the source of truth is merely say-so. many day the same of their holy texts. not only can there be thousands of interpretations of god, there indeed are. and using phrases like “true god” is only a “true scotsman”.

      god is transcendent and as a result, ineffable. the basis of all abrahamic faiths is this apophatic tradition. further, secular philosophy agrees with that tradition.

      • K. Q. Duane says:

        You’re an unbeliever with very twisted viewpoints. I can’t imagine how, or why, you came to these preposterous, and convoluted, conclusions but they automatically disqualified from any serious discussion about our Christian God.

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        thanks for judging me. actually, i’m a christian and a student of philosophy and theology for more than 30 years now. i’m sure your basis of belief and your beliefs themselves are equally footed on something solid. far be it from my mind that you merely grew up in a faith you interested yet never examined but superficially.

        cheers.

      • K. Q. Duane says:

        You don’t sound like a Christian. You sound like someone who’s not sure WHAT he believes in. There is NOTHING superficial about the knowledge needed to understand God. It is a deeply innate experience and you either believe in Him, or you don’t. He is simple God to grasp and He is with me day and night as I plow through my earthly responsibilities to my family, neighbors and community. He is there for me ALL of the time, to counsel me during good times and, more importantly, to console me during difficult times. I don’t need to hyper analyze Him because I am made in His image and likeness. That’s a pretty simple concept to understand.

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        that is a simple understanding. funny that only you require christianity to be more than that … for you, it has to be more, lest you’re fine with having no need of christ at all, since like you, hindus, jews, muslins and so on, describe god in the exact same way.

        no, for me, it doesn’t get any simpler than noting no one knows god because he transcends and that in that case, all a person is entitled to say are things taken on faith, including “god is” at all, much less whatever else folks want to finish that sentence with.

    • Steven Hoyt says:

      Equivocal God-talk leaves us in total ignorance about God. At best, one can only feel, intuit, or sense God in some experiential way, but no human expressions can describe what it is that is being experienced … [As for univocal] Our understanding and expressions are finite, and God’s are infinite, and there is an infinite gulf between finite and infinite. As transcendent, God is not only beyond our limited understanding, but He is also beyond our finite expressions.

      (Norman Geisler, ‘Systematic Theology, Vol. 1’, Bethany House Publishers, 2002, pg. 615)

      … when we speak of God by using the word ‘God’, we do not understand what we mean, we have no concept of God; what governs our use of the word ‘God’ is not an understanding of what God is but the validity of a question about the world [Why anything at all?] … What goes for our rules for the use of ‘God’ does not go for the God we try to name with the word. (And a corollary of this, incidentally, is why a famous argument for the existence of God called the ontological argument does not work.)

      (Fr. Herbert McCabe, ‘God Matters’, Continuum, 2005, pg. 6)

      For if the existence of such a god were probable, then the proposition that he existed would be an empirical hypothesis. And in that case it would be possible to deduce from it, and other empirical hypotheses, certain experiential propositions which were not deducible from those other hypotheses alone. But in fact this is not possible. It is sometimes claimed, indeed, that the existence of a certain sort of regularity in nature constitutes sufficient evidence for the existence of a god. But if the sentence “God exists” entails to more than that certain types of phenomena occur in certain sequences, then to assert the existence of a god will be simply equivalent to asserting that there is the requisite regularity in nature; and no religious man would admit that this was all he intended to assert in asserting the existence of a god. He would say that in talking about God, he was talking about a transcendent being who might be known through certain empirical manifestations, but certainly could not be defined in terms of those manifestations. But in that case the term “god” is a metaphysical term. And if “god” is a metaphysical term, then it cannot be even probable that a god exists. For to say that “God exists” is to make a metaphysical utterance which cannot be either true or false. And by the same criterion, no sentence which purports to describe the nature of a transcendent god can possess any literal significance.

      (A. J. Ayer, “Language, Truth, And Logic”, Dover, Second Edition, 1952, pg. 117)

      To exist beyond the sphere of natural law means to exist beyond the scope of human knowledge; epistemological transcendence is a corollary of ‘supernaturalness’. If a god is a natural being, if his actions can be explained in terms of normal causal relationships, then he is a knowable creature. Conversely, if god can be known, he cannot be supernatural. Without mystery, without some element of the incomprehensible, a being cannot be supernatural – and to designate a being as supernatural is to imply that this being transcends human knowledge. Epistemological transcendence is perhaps the only common denominator among all usages of the term “god,” including those of Tillich, Robinson and other modern theologians. While some “theists” reject the notion of a supernatural being in a metaphysical sense, it seems that every self-proclaimed theist – regardless of his particular use of the term “god” – agrees that a god is mysterious, unfathomable or in someway beyond man’s comprehension. The idea of the “unknowable” is the universal element linking together the various concepts of god, which suggests that this is the most critical aspect of theistic belief. The belief in an unknowable being is the central tenet of theism, and it constitutes the major point of controversy between theism and critical atheism.

      (George Smith, ‘Atheism: The Case Against God’, 1973)

      In our times, an authentic faith in God only seems to be possible in the context of a praxis of liberation and of solidarity with the needy. It is in that praxis that the idea develops that God reveals himself as the mystery and the very heart of humanity’s striving for liberation, wholeness and soundness. The concept of that mystery, which is at first concealed in the praxis of liberation and of making whole, is only made explicit in the naming of that concept in the statement made in faith that God is the liberator, the promoter of what is good and the opponent of what is evil …

      (Edward Schillebeeckx, Theologian, Professor of Theology and History of Theology)

      • K. Q. Duane says:

        Good Lord! No wonder you’re confused. Your resources sound like they are on LSD trips! God is NOT that complicated to understand, or for that matter, to relate to. Come back down to earth and READ the Bible, which God himself gave us, instead of reading something made up by a self-aggrandizing human. God is right there, in plain sight! You don’t have to stretch your imagination to see Him.

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        theologians are self-aggrandizing? philosophers too?

        funny you miss the quotes i posted. no one knows god. if you thing good is simple to understand, that’s only because you’re simple minded.

        god didn’t give us the bible. men wrote it. it was not dictated. men interpret what it says.

        as i said, i’m sure i have at least en equal grasp of scripture as you.

        if all you plan on being here is insulting and condescending, don’t bother with further comments.

        and, thanks again for being judge and jury. given that’s the fruit of one tree, we know the results and, which tree that is.

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