Looking Up from Heaven

Young Boy: If we go to heaven and look up, will we see the blue sky?
Pastor: (Smiling) We will need to go to heaven to know that. 🙂

~Simple Living~

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Abstract Vs Concrete God in Human Reason Vs Experience

Rational a priori categories possess properties of unity, transcendence, immutability, infinity or universality, and necessity (see Epistemics of Divine Reality for supportive arguments). On the contrary, empirical categories possess properties of plurality, immanence, flux, finitude or particularity, and contingency. No doubt then, rationalization of being leads to abstract theologies such as monism and non-dualism, while empirical approaches are characteristic of concrete theologies such as polytheism and spiritism.

Both these extremes are actually forms of atheism since in both God is not the transcendent wholly other being who created the universe. In the former, God is just the abstract substratum of this illusive phenomenal world, while in the latter, God (or gods) is part of the phenomenal world.

Theologians err when they try to analyse God and His experience in either abstract terms or in purely empirical terms only. Western theology based on Aristotelian philosophy suffers much from confusions around the conflict between the abstract and the concrete. The conflict is evident in issues such as the arguments for divine existence, the attributes of God, the meaning of Trinity, and issues regarding the divine and human natures of Christ.

Perhaps, it is too much for any limited human to not recognize that theology is not mathematics. The mind can discover mathematical principles through pure reasoning, but one cannot know God apart from God’s revelation of Himself. And, we only see Him now as in a blurred mirror and do not yet see Him as He is. Faith is not unreasonable, but faith also cannot exist without the revealed word.

Toward the Tithe and Beyond | Desiring God – Review

http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/toward-the-tithe-and-beyond

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John Piper presents 7 Biblical reasons for tithing in this article. Quite contrary to the teaching of John MacArthur that Christians don’t need to tithe since they pay taxes to the government, Piper sees tithing as vital to a Christian’s being part of the Kingdom work. Tithing is also an antidote against covetousness, he says. Piper’s 7 Reasons reminded me of David Jeremiah’s 7 Reasons for tithing. Clearly, again contrary to what MacArthur teaches, Jesus made a distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God. The book of Malachi that encouraged tithing against robbery of it so that there would be food in the house of God was not written to people in the theocratic times before the monarchy. Clearly tithing is not tax-paying. Piper’s article and appeal is a needed one in an age when Mammon tries to steal the true and total devotion that only belongs to Christ. Piper’s illustration from John Wesley’s life is touching indeed.

Take John Wesley for example. He was one of the great evangelists of the 18th Century, born in 1703. In 1731 he began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. In the first year his income was 30 pounds and he found he could live on 28 and so gave away two. In the second year his income doubled but he held his expenses even, and so he had 32 pounds to give away (a comfortable year’s income). In the third year his income jumped to 90 pounds and he gave away 62 pounds. In his long life Wesley’s income advanced to as high as 1,400 pounds in a year. But he rarely let his expenses rise above 30 pounds. He said that he seldom had more than 100 pounds in his possession at a time.

This so baffled the English Tax Commissioners that they investigated him in 1776 insisting that for a man of his income he must have silver dishes that he was not paying excise tax on. He wrote them, “I have two silver spoons at London and two at Bristol. This is all the plate I have at present, and I shall not buy any more while so many round me want bread.”

See Also
Should I Give Tithe

Some Self-Defeating Philosophical Positions

Scientism – The principle that only scientifically verifiable statements are true is itself not scientifically verifiable.

Skepticism – The statement that truth cannot be known is itself a statement considered to be true, which by its own verdict cannot be known.

Logical Positivism – The principle that only empirically verifiable statements can be true is itself not empirically verifiable.

Kantian Phenomenalism – If causality is just an a priori mental category imposed on sense data, then the whole enterprise of trying to account for what causes the experience of phenomena becomes self-defeating.

Relativism – The statement “Only relative truths exist” poses as absolute truth, which is self-defeating.

Subjectivism – The statement that we cannot know the objective world is itself an objective claim.

Religious Pluralism – The view that all religions are fundamentally the same is itself an exclusivist, not pluralist, position.

God And Ultimate Origins by Andrew Loke – Review

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God and Ultimate Origins: A Novel Cosmological Argument

Andrew Ter Ern Loke

Springer International Publishing, 07-Nov-2017 – Philosophy – 200 pages

God and Ultimate Origins lucidly compacts a gigantic breadth and depth of philosophical and scientific research on the concept and fact of causality and its importance for the cosmological argument. Students of philosophy will note that, in modern Western Philosophy, it was primarily Hume who first set torch to the common sense notion of causal relations. Kant, who claimed that Hume’s writings woke him from his dogmatic slumbers, attempted a salvage of causality by devising an epistemic system that suggested and provided proofs for causality to just be a priori, which also means that it is how the human mind connects events subjectively in the form of a necessary connection. As such, this notion of subjective causal interpretation could be devastating to the cosmological argument. However, the fact that Kant needed causality to account for understanding causal relations seems to beg the question. In other words, stating that the a priori category of causality causes us to interprete data as causally related is an attempt to look for objective causes of our concepts while at the same time treating causality as just a subjective mental mold for processing raw data.

While to some it may seem that Kant dealt a death blow to the cosmological argument, the objective necessity of and inescapability from causality makes the cosmological argument as realistic as any research in empirical science. Andrew Loke capitalizes on that. He first makes a sweeping survey of the most important issues related to the cosmological argument, particularly the Kalam Cosmological Argument, and observes how each objection has been or could be rebutted. Then, noticing that the KCA as well as the Thomistic argument do continue to invite more objections from theories of time and issues of actual infinities, he tries to combine the both by offering a novel argument which he illustrates with a simple analogy of a series of train cars drawn by an engine. Of course, he observes that there could be disanalogies between the illustration and the idea of causal series. However, he does his best to answer each and tries to explain why his argument has a greater advantage over the others. He also musters a number of scientific research findings to reinforce the a posteriori part of it and displays patient and arduous labor in freezing a wide ocean of research into this 200 page book. The book is a must read for any student of the philosophy of religion or Apologetics who wishes to be updated with the breadth of scholarship in arguments in favor of theism. We hope Springer can make the book available at a lower cost so that it can be buyable in countries where a fair price of a book should not be more than $12.