Monthly Archives: August 2016

Universalism

If one believes that there is nothing a person can do to be saved, it is then incoherent to say there is something one must do in order to be saved; and that, believe.

Quite simply, God is goodness itself. We are icons of God, and since God is actively present in the world, we are drawn to that which is good. That presence is called grace. That draw is called “pistis” in Greek, translated as faith (not episteme). Atonement is found in participation with the good; the “hilasterion”, the “place of atonement”. The experience of doing good, which is atonement, is transformative. This is salvation.

There is always this idea of individual and general resurrection in theology and this is what most equate salvation with. This, then, is the former, individual salvation. For humanity, and given the Jewish understanding of temple practices, Jesus is the High Priest and his sacrifice is for all people and the act itself, regardless of what anyone thinks, feels, believes about it, is expiation. To depart from that idea is to not understand Judaism nor the relation between Israel and Jesus. General resurrection is, on this view, humanity’s response to God’s restoration of the world through mankind itself, made possible through Christ.

Grace and faith are gifts from God, efficacious entirely, for salvation. These are universal because God is omnipresent and he has created us all, bent toward the good. If so, then “pistis Christou” implies salvation is though the faithfulness of Christ, not faith in Christ.

One cannot decide what to believe about Christ or about God; we always believe what we think some case is. To say belief (episteme) is required for salvation is to say Adam is superior to Christ because damnation is most certainly universal but salvation is not. Too, putting belief as a requirement for salvation is to begin enjoining ideas of gnosis. In that case, one ought to read Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies” for insights on such ideas; ideas that have ultimately encroached and embedded themselves in Christianity as many understand it today.

We are icons of God. We are sacraments of God through Christ any time we enjoin the good. We in God and God in us, each time we do. Transformed with each encounter. To coin a phrase from Eastern Orthodoxy and the early church fathers, the teleology being “theosis”.

There is little reason to scripturally suggest epistemic beliefs — propositions about God and Christ that must be believed on command, on coercion, on threat — get us anything but fear and certainly not salvation.

Where, after all, is a single doctrine or creed from Jesus the Nazarene?

Just a thought.

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Two Universes …

Two identical universes exist except one has a god and the other does not. If there isn’t a way to distinguish between the one with a god and the one without, then there’s no way to tell what sort of universe we live in. That means it is mere lipservice saying that any feature of reality is dependent on the gods; be that math, logic, morality, life, order in the universe, existence itself, etc.. God, then, is all that is dubious.

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Trinitarianism: A Reprise

“I believe in the Trinity.”

What is the Trinity?

“The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same thing, and are three different things.”

So if Fido, Spot, and Rover are the same dog and at the same time, not the same dog, which of those two statements can I believe, because they’re contradictions together?

“Well, ultimately, the Trinity is a mystery.”

Ok, but the whole point of the doctrine is to tell us how God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit relate to each other. So, what you’re saying is that the Trinity in fact doesn’t tell us about that relationship at all since folks cannot explain it, saying it’s a mystery?

“Well, no.”

Then will you explain it to me?

“I already did.”

Doublethink isn’t an explanation. It simply is our ability to think two contradictory statements are independently true, for the fact and only for the fact that we don’t know which is false. That’s like “All numbers have a square root” and “A number multiplied by itself always results in a positive value”, and then pondering “What’s the square root of negative 1 then?!”. The solution to that, by the way, is literally an “imaginary number”. Is the “Trinity” in theology the “i” of mathematics? If so, “i” can be precisely explained using basic algebra in the context of maths. Is the “Trinity” precisely explainable in the context of theology?

“No.”

So when you say “I believe in the Trinity”, you don’t even know exactly what you mean, given the Trinity doesn’t explain one relationship, but two contradictory relationships between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit?

“It’s a mystery!”

Indeed it is; a mystery why some folks believe it.

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New Developments

I have to wonder how many folks studying the history of Christianity and the variety and plasticity of its emerging ideas are able to continue to be content with any of them, having in mind that in fact there is ultimately one set of sentences that come in a final form we’ll eventually all speak as Christians, because I certainly can’t.

It seems the best we can say is there’s a reason in scripture, if interpreted just so, or a reason from tradition, or from some epiphany to think about Jesus one way versus another. However, neither scriptural interpretation, nor tradition, nor revelation can be what matter unless and only in the case that any of these push us into an experience of life. If it is only for the reason and the sake of exegesis, tradition, or of revelation, exactly into what should it be pushing us but themselves?

When we speak of God or Jesus then, we are necessarily speaking about human well-being and then subsequently asking ourselves, and answering, how God and Christ are concerned about the very same thing.

If there’s more to the conversation than this — that there is but one way to have the conversation at all — such as the entire affair of Christianity is instead a dozen, specific, particular propositions that must be believed, assailablity irrelevant, then such a theology has little to do with a seemingly universal Jesus of Nazareth and more and more to do with the utterly inconsequential.

Just a thought.

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The Truth Of Truth

If it is true that language is an expression of ideas alone, then truth is only a way of talking about what we’re thinking, be it English, maths, music; and if untrue, we must answer what care the universe has of dangling participles, of gerunds, or of construction and in innumerable human ways of noise-making.

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A Problem Of Prayer

​P1) God is omniscient; knowing all that is possible to know.
P2) God is perfectly rational.
P3) God can act however He will.
P4) God cannot do what is logically impossible to do.
P5) God is able to accomplish everything He wills.
C1) Whatever God does, it is from the best reasons to act one way versus the other.
C2) God cannot be perfectly rational and act on inferior reasons.
C3) Everything that happens is necessary to accomplish God’s will, else it is not true that God is perfectly rational or that God is able to accomplish everything He wills.
P6) Prayer is a request for change.
P7) If a prayer is answered, it is because what was asked was already what God willed, since God cannot act on inferior reasons and all that happens is necessary to accomplish God’s will.
P8) An impersonal God will not answer prayer.
P9) A God is personal if He interacts with His creation.
P10) If prayer is answered, prayer is the reason for some phenomenal change, else prayer was not the reason for the change and is only coincidental to it and was not answered.
C4) Prayer can only be answered if God is personal and if God’s will is participatory with creation and where the future is undetermined; such that God can answer prayer and God had no intention of acting otherwise prior to prayer and the outcome of granting the prayer doesn’t violate God’s will.
C5) If God answers prayer, there is no definite future, only possible futures rather than a singular, determined future.
C6) Because God is omniscient, the future is necessarily unknowable, if prayer is answered.

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Truth And Faith

​Truth isn’t correspondence to reality. However, that’s the common idea on the street. But, what test can we conjure to see how our language comports to it?

Truth is a grade. It is an “A” given to any sentence we feel justified to assert more than any other. Justification is through deliberation, which all hangs on “reason to assert”. We have nothing to say about truth because it entails to, and only to, a conversation about justification.

Positivism was abandoned long ago, and though you can hear folks like Hawking and Mlodinow cry “Philosophy is dead”, one can’t help but laugh when the next idea they utter is “new”, but is restated 1870’s Peircean Pragmatism, and is philosophy rather than science. All we can say is that belief is justified by whatever reasons we’d like, by whatever methods leave us most comfortable, most satisfied.

If faith is supposedly belief without reason, then how is the desire to have something be true any different than the desire to know what is true? The only difference is the reason for faith is that one wants to obtain in the future while other propositions speak to what has obtained.

And to be consistent with theories of knowledge, blind faith is exactly akin to the principle of “benefit of the doubt”, where one doesn’t know what to believe but must believe something because belief is action and the outcome has moral implications.

So as it regards the world we live in, faith is a proposition about the way things ought to be, whether that be that a certain kind of God should exist, or whether or not one will be hopeful or dreadful about what kind of world we’re creating to live in, or whether or not a person, discounted by nearly the whole of society, is worth you loving just the same.

At the heart of epistemology is this: we only know ourselves because of our relation to other things; reality is our mirror. So then, we want to know what the case is with reality so we can know ourselves as clearly as we can. This makes all inquiry a moral, ethical enterprise. Being human, being self-aware, conscious, entails to being an agent with a will. In that case, we also learn about ourselves through the kinds of things we desire. So then, in all matters of faith, this too is a moral, ethical enterprise because especially in this case, we are responsible for the kind of world that results from our belief “that it will be so” as opposed to “it is true that this is so”; two very similar propositions but one far more existentially urgent.

That sense of urgency, by the way, is why people don’t think of truth in terms of sentences, but instead as some property of things in the world. There is no truth property and capital “T” truth is just the reification of the desire to know things as they are. There is only reality and what we choose to say about it and intersubjective agreement on the best way to talk about it. In the end, truth may best be seen as the ethical conversation about the way things are, and faith similarly seen as the ethical conversation about the way things should be.

Faith is a desire about an outcome. Truth is a desire about an outcome. They differ only in timing; a belief about what will be and a belief about what is.

Just a thought.

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On Christianity …

Christianity is not one small idea everyone agrees on but instead, Christianity is one big idea that no one can agree on except to say that Jesus is always in our image; Jesus is the image of the selves we want to become; Jesus atones through that image.

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The Idea Of God

​All in philosophical terms, our thoughts are contingent to reality; something about reality itself and humanity give rise to the idea of some “Big Other”. That idea cannot be created out of a vacuum, so no one invented it. However, that doesn’t mean there is or isn’t a God. Moreover, the idea of God starts as a concept from this perception. From concepts come images. All images of God are man-made, invented. These images are what folks have in mind when taking about God. This image cannot signify the “Big Other” we have the impression exists; the one transcends the other. And in that case, we literally have no idea what we’re talking about when we talk about God at all. But, this at least explains why we’re thinking about gods in the first place.

Theologically, it is God’s active presence in the world (grace) which creates faith (pistis, persuation to the good, conscience) in humanity, and the idea of God becomes a more concrete image as we participate in the good. It is our iconic likeness to God which resonates the tuning fork of faith. The idea of God emerges from the experience of good in the world. The concept of God being goodness, then the images of God we have are coming from the atoning encounter with God as an experience of doing good. That encounter being utterly transformative, salvation is the result. This is the Jewish theology of Participatory Pedagogy, the Islamic theology of Fitrah, and the Christian theology of Natural Law.

In the end, if there are two universes that are identical except one has a God and the other doesn’t, how would we tell which one we lived in?

We can’t tell, and moreover, this illustrates there is no fact of the matter about reality one can point to and say it proves God or even implies God. No matter how queer reality or how long the odds for any phenomenon, these are all actual. God is the only dubious idea in the mix.

Unless Protestants come to grips with faith and employ reason rather than fantastic stupidity, Christianity will continue to be seen as absurd and continue to see people leave it and the rest, keep a rightful, healthy distance from it.

If there is no experience of God, then there literally is no reality of God in any practical or meaningful sense. If some theology exists which speaks of everything else but how to encounter God, it has no practical value at all. Perhaps it’s good for church membership; who cares about church membership.

There’s no big mystery about why we think about the gods. There’s no big mystery about how it crossed our minds to begin with. But if we are not sacraments, visible signs of God in the world, why the idea of God should linger would be the biggest mystery of all. 

Just a thought.

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