Monthly Archives: June 2016

God Doesn’t Make A Difference

What is the difference between abandoning our gods and abandoning our thinking about the gods? When God transcends reality, our frame of reference for all thought, God cannot be known. When God is imminent with reality, God is literally ordinary and then, indistinguishable from it. These being the apophatic facts of the matter, god-talk cannot be about the gods; only what we think about them.

God-talk is ultimately only about human well-being. In that case, “God is love” is an idea soon to materialize. It is quite a moot point to tell a person they need to, or don’t need to abandon their gods. To see, participate in, create and do what love is, whether called “God” or just a brute fact about how people are geared, is what no one abandons or what destroys us when we do.

Ways we talk about why we’re the way we are and any talk of gods that doesn’t lead to human well-being, doesn’t have a practical value at all; we cannot act on these things. Any idea, any talk that does lead us to a deep concern with human well-being does matter, it makes a difference and God isn’t the key ingredient or even a necessary one. Inasmuch as poetry is necessary for human well-being, so is God; which is to say neither are and, god-talk is tantamount to poetry.

We are only required to engage in the experience of life. We are not required to talk or think about gods. Making life matter, matters. God doesn’t make a difference. You do, however. How you will is up to you and that may or may not include ideas of the Divine.

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God Must If I Just …

The unthought will say, “It’s all about faith. You can’t work your way to heaven. You can’t do anything to be saved, but you can be saved if you believe. All we need to do is believe!”

All we need to do? There’s nothing we can do to gain salvation, including believe. Grace is a gift. Faith is not epistemic belief but “pistis”: persuation, a draw to God — “God” being synonymous with “the good”. Faith is a gift. Grace is too and for all man, is God’s active presence in the world. Because of our likeness to God, faith is a consequence in all mankind in the presence of God’s grace; like the resonance of tunning forks, we are drawn to the good.

To participate in the good is to be transformed by the experience, to find atonement there, the result being salvation; God’s intent (logos) for man from the beginning being for us to be as Christ was in the world (hodos), revealing and discovering the truth (alethea) of our full nature, and this is life (zoe).

No belief nor work puts God in debt to any man, thinking “God must if I just.”

There’s a way to be in the world. We’re all drawn to it. “Being there”, being that way in the world, is the aim of Christ. There are no other beliefs about Christ which matter; they have no bearing on “getting you there”; not virgin births, not Jesus’ divinity, not resurrection, not Trinities nor anything else. These ideas bring no one closer to the experience of the good than not having them at all. And while we can reflect on these things and relate them to beliefs about the world we can actually act on, in themselves they are not proper beliefs at all if beliefs are defined as synonymous with action and attitudes toward action, which epistemologists assure us belief is.

We don’t know how God or Jesus make things right; hence the overabundance of theories of atonement, soteriology, eschatology, christology. What we have is the assurance from scripture that all of that is their business, and we have promises like that if we own our faults, they’ll be forgiven. We have in Christianity only a hopefulness about these beliefs, because of them. But inasmuch as they are efficacious for anything else such as atonement or salvation, they are not. As for being like Christ in the world, God is light and anyone can reflect it regardless of whatever else they may believe, or disbelieve. That is atonement and in the experience of it, salvation.

Just a thought.

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Soteriology From The Tree You Eat From

Several things come together from various ends to suggest what we ought to think about belief as a means to salvation, from History and Philosophy and Psychology to scripture, culture, and language.

1) Pistis is faith.
2) Pistis is not belief (episteme).
3) No one can choose what to believe; what is believed is always what one thinks the case is.
4) All exceptions to 3 are when the case admittedly cannot be known and choice is of the “benefit of the doubt” variety and chosen — all such choices being by definition, dubious — because we must, given that
5) Belief is action, an attitudinal disposition toward some state of affairs.
6) There can be no evidence for deity, only abductive inferences about the world.
7) Logic doesn’t entail truth and its predicate, from premise to conclusion, is reasonableness.
8) Sound arguments for or against God are easy to make and are accepted outside of logical arguments.
9) God-talk cannot be about God since we have no frame of reference to conceive of God but the reality he transcends; all such talk is speculation and projection.
10) There is no moral compulsion in Christian life exclusive to the Christian that the rest of humanity lacks or disavows; in other words, there’s no reason to think choosing to believe something about God or Christ is at all necessary.
11) Belief (episteme) cannot be a requirement of atonement or any soteriology, given 9 and 10.
12) Belief (basic, persuasion, disposition) is a gift from God; this is pistis but it is not about beliefs (episteme) at all related to God in terms of soteriology.
13) Belief, pistis, is required for both atonement and salvation.

Explained, it is God’s active presence in the world (grace) that draws all humanity to himself; which is to say that God is the good, goodness. That draw is from our likeness to God, and resonance to it and with it is the persuation to act toward it (pistis). It’s not a matter of faith versus works. There’s nothing to believe in this sense and nothing to do.

Because of grace and because of faith, both of and from God to all humanity, we choose to act and we act freely. When we act toward the good we are transformed by the experience of enjoining it, and less so when we do not and by varying degrees. Atonement need no other sense to it than this, and indeed scripturally, there is no other statement about atonement that accounts for the point of existence, of choice, why judgement exists and why love stands as “that other tree” in the garden, and especially the idea that God is love and just.

Soteriology is left then, and to combine John’s gospel with Abelard: Jesus is the logos, hodos, alethea, and zoe. In plain English, Jesus is the way (hodos) God intended (logos) all humanity to be in the world (zoe), and Jesus is the truth (alethea) of what humanity is, its full revelation. Departure from Abelard is ontological however. Better behavior is not the end. A way to be, existentially, in the world is.

It seems that whether or not one even knows of Jesus the Nazarene or even has God in his mind at all, or even disbelieves there are deity or even denies deity exist, he may indeed be atoned and have salvation even still. To deny this is to suggest that God is not the good or that goodness is apart from God, it’s to deny that the goodness we find in all people is the result of God’s active presence in the world and, likewise to deny their actions toward the good are not a response to faith, a product of God’s grace, both gifts to all. To deny this is to deny the Holy Spirit too, which is the only sense in which God can be blasphemed. Affirming God is the good and to see the good in others but say these are not in God is to deny the obvious work of the Holy Spirit in their lives; blasphemy here is representing God as something he’s not.

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