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.

Advertisements

If God Is Love Means The Father Eternally Loves The Son, Does God Is Judge Means He Eternally Judges The Son?

Source: If God Is Love Means The Father Eternally Loves The Son, Does God Is Judge Means He Eternally Judges The Son?

Augustine in the eighth book of On Trinity begins to talk of love as involving three substances: the lover, the loved, and love. Modern apologists like Ravi Zacharias have argued that the statement God is Love could only be true if God is essentially and eternally a Triune being: the Father eternally loves the Son through the Holy Spirit. Thus, it was not that God was all alone (a monad) before the creation and had nothing to love, but being the Triune inter-personal God, He ever existed as Love.

Of course, Augustine also talks about the possibility of loving oneself and sees three things involved in this as well: “when the mind knows itself and loves itself, there remains a trinity: mind, love, knowledge; and this trinity is not confounded together by any commingling”. However, in this mono-love, there is only one person, though one may divide the experience into the lover, the loved, and love. Loving oneself is not inter-personal, and therefore possesses no love act of self-giving and submission. Therefore, the concept of the Triune God as Love is considered significant.

One objection raised to this argument goes something like this: If God is love means the Father eternally loves the Son through the Spirit, does God is Judge means the Father eternally judges the Son through the Spirit? And this applies to all statements such as “God is jealous” or “God is a consuming fire”. Is the Father eternally jealous or eternally consuming the Son? The objection tries to reduce the argument to ad absurdum.

A few clarifications are necessary. The objection misses the difference between love and the other mentioned predicates. “Jealous” here is an adjective, not a noun. “Consuming fire” is metaphorical for the righteousness of God in His judgment. “Judge” is an office which stands in relation to the created world. The statement “God is Love” is not the same as “God is Loving”. When one says that “God is Love”, there is an identity of substance and not just participation in or possessing of an attribute. This cannot be predicated of any other being. For instance, one cannot say that Mr. A is Love; we only say Mr. A is loving in nature. To say God is Love is to speak in absolute and infinite terms. The statement “God is Love” points to God as the ground of all morality and personality. Note the following excerpt from a previous post:

There are at least three approaches to understanding Trinity.

The Rational Approach. … personality finds its best explanation in the personal nature of God, whose existence as three persons (I-YOU-HE Sufficiency) in one Godhead is the ground of personhood.

The Moral Approach. It seeks to find in the doctrine of Trinity a rational ground for the absolute nature of moral virtues, such as love, goodness, and joy. If God didn’t eternally exist in a subject-object relationship, then He would be amoral and morality would not be absolute. The doctrine of Trinity provides a rational ground for any discussion of morality with respect to its absolute nature…. [See Illustrating Trinity]

Love is the summation of morality and personality and morality cannot be dissected of each other. To be a person is to be moral. Therefore, the reality of personality and morality must find an ontological ground in an infinite inter-personal Beginning and End of all things. The Triune Persons cannot be FOUR since inter-personal sufficiency is sufficed by the I-YOU-HE tri-personal Sufficiency), or else infinitude would be reduced to finite polytheism without any essential unity. Thus, the revelation of God as Love is crucial to our understanding of every other contingent reality of moral personhood.

Is Fallenness Present As Opposite Sex Attraction In Some And Same-Sex Attraction In Others?

Source: Is Fallenness Present As Opposite Sex Attraction In Some And Same-Sex Attraction In Others?

Sometime back, a pastor and leader in a reputed apologetic ministry commented that temptation to him occurred in the form of same-sex attraction, emphasizing that Christians must not regard temptation as sin but fight against temptation. He then went on to state that the fallenness of humanity is common to all and that while depravity may be manifest as opposite sex attraction in some, it appears as same-sex attraction in him and others. His comments went viral on social media. However, I disagree with his latter theological comment. Let me clarify the reasons:

1. Opposite sex attraction is considered natural in the scriptures and in common human history as well. Perversions exist with regard to this in the form of incest, adultery, sadism, and the like. However, this is not the case with same-sex attraction. It is by nature unnatural and cannot be put in the same terms as opposite-sex attraction. The statement made by the apologist hints at an understanding of same-sex attraction as something that exists as congenital perversion, i.e.present from birth as a pervert orientation. I believe that this is theologically inaccurate. It not only suggests that perversion is not uniform but also that it is diversely transferred as particular sin-acts and not just principle at birth. The blame is thrown on original sin. The Bible, however, states that God fashioned all hearts alike, but humans have perverted their ways. Romans 1 doesn’t say that people became homosexuals because they were wired in that way. It says that they became so because they rejected God.

2. One must distinguish between addictive slavery to acts and dispositions of human nature. For instance, nobody is created with orientation to smoking. They get addicted to it by beginning to try smoking. Later, they turn slaves to it. Then, even after some accept Christ, the temptation to smoke may exist unless one is completely delivered. But, for one who has never smoked, this temptation doesn’t exist. It is not due to congenital depravity but due to bondage inflicted by acts. The same applies even to sexual attractions. The one in bondage needs deliverance from that form of perverse and unnatural bondage. Nobody is wired to specific acts of sin at birth. They get snared by their choices. Some bondage could even have resulted from not being able to recover from abuse.

3. The Bible also talks of evil spirits and temptation by the devil towards greed, murder, pride and sin. If someone is in bondage because of giving in to evil powers, that person needs deliverance by the Holy Spirit. One cannot resist the devil, however, unless one has submitted to God. And, when that happens, the devil will flee.

The only true kind of deliverance is spiritual. The battle, whether of attraction or addiction, is in the mind. The Bible calls for renewal of mind. It means to reject any psychological or pseudo-theological opinion that tries to shift blame on a “sinful nature” that cannot be removed. Deliverance is real. There are many cases of people who have been delivered and have absolutely no desire for say smoking or alcohol anymore. They can’t stand these. The songs of worship which were boring to them once are now sweet and refreshing to their souls. They can’t sit with the scornful talking worldly things. There has been a change of nature, change of appetite, change of disposition. But, they had to first take that first step, though seemingly weak, towards repentance and faith in the Savior. They also must choose to be renewed in the spirit of their mind.

What Is Wrong With Homosexuality?

Sodomites trying to attack Lot are striked blind by angels

The contention of being “oriented” argues from a supposedly ontological basis. Just because a person claims to be so oriented, gives him/her justification to act in the way he/she claims to be oriented. The premise is: Whatever is natural (or the nature of one) is moral and justified. However, there is a problem with this premise.

First of all, the objective nature of the claim has to be conclusively established — the claims themselves being subjective and the nature of the investigation being empirical makes this quite unrealistic.

Secondly, it is quite superfluous to assume that within members of the same species, opposed “natures” or “orientations” exist. Obviously, that defeats any attempt to definition. Originally, one understands what a man or a cat or an elephant is by nature. If any member of a particular species seems to be behaving differently or contrary to this nature, the behavior is considered to be unnatural. But, if a multiplicity of “orientations” were allowed as natural, the definition of what is natural suffers.

The Bible calls homosexuality as being “against nature”.

For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful,and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Rom 1:26-27)

Those who have no interest in the Biblical pronouncement, however, must explain their grounds for basis a moral argument for homosexual rights. Obviously, it will be self-defeating for them to accept the subjective “orientation” arguments. For, if they accept that, they would also be legitimizing every other form of sexual “perversion” (as we understand all such acts that are contrary to nature). [Check the Wikipedia List: List of Paraphilias]

For an atheist, the issue might be quite subjective and moral norms a matter of majority judgments. For instance, Bertrand Russel, in his debate with Father Copleston, argued that cases such as Hitler’s in which he felt his actions to be right may be compared to people who have jaundice and so saw things as yellow. But, if the jaundiced were the majority, their view would be considered “natural” and the others “unnatural”. Such an argument is ultimately self-defeating. How would a society in which everyone believed that murdering each other was good and protecting each other was considered evil be like? How about a society in which homosexuality is considered natural because the majority are homosexuals and heterosexuality is considered unnatural? In both the cases, if all other implications of the argument are worked out, there should be no human left to sustain the argument. Everybody will kill each other and sincere homosexuality would put an end to human reproduction, wouldn’t it? Certainly, something is wrong here.

Sadly, the “think-tanks” of liberation only want to sing the chorus of feelings and independence. These are their only absolutes that they fight for. But, how can one claim to have an answer without first working out all the implications of a problem? How can one have arrived at a conclusion without first following all the necessary steps involved in working out the solution of a problem? These are not “think-tanks”; these are choruses.

The word “homosexual” is malakos in the Greek Bible. It means:
1) soft, soft to the touch
2) metaphorically, in a bad sense
2a) effeminate
2a1) of a catamite
2a2) of a boy kept for homosexual relations with a man
2a3) of a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness
2a4) of a male prostitute

The word “sodomites” is arsenokoites in the Greek Bible. It means “one who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, homosexual.”

The Bible gives the judgment:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (1Co 6:9-10)

Source: What Is Wrong With Homosexuality?

Augustine On The Invisibility of the Trinity

Augustine of Hippo PortraitOne key challenge that Augustine counters in Book II of his On Trinity is the question regarding the invisibility of Jesus in His essential nature. The antagonists argued that Jesus as the Son of God was always visible to the Father; therefore, this visibility also implies mortality and changeability. Two texts that Augustine quotes are:

  • Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1Ti 1:17 NKJ)
  • He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. (1Ti 6:15-16 NKJ)

Augustine maintains that the invisibility of God means that the Triune God (Father-Son-Spirit) is invisible.

The antagonists argued that the Son was visible not only in flesh through His incarnation but even before that in Himself, and so visibly appeared to the fathers. And, since He was visible in His pre-incarnational existence, He was also mortal, they said. And, so they argued that 1 Timothy 1:17 speaks only of the invisibility of the Father. Further, in that same sense, the Holy Spirit is thought to also be mortal, because He also was visible once as dove and at another time as fire. Both the Son and the Spirit were visible to mortal eyes in various forms and various times, all implying, according to the antagonists, that both the Son and the Spirit were visible, mortal, and changeable; therefore, 1 Timothy 1:17 cannot apply to them but only to the Father.

Augustine begins by asking who the contenders think was walking in the Garden of Eden from whose face Adam hid. Was it the Father or the Son? Why not the Father, especially when the form of the narrative signifies no change of the Divine Person from chapter 1 to chapter 3. If we understand that the world was made by the Father through the Word, why not also accept that Adam saw the Father in a visible form. In fact, the visibility of the Father is not impossible in the same way as the audibility of Father was not impossible (as in John 12:28 and Matthew 17:5 when His voice is heard apart of the Spirit and the Son). Obviously, the voice was not of the Spirit; for, nowhere is Jesus called as the Son of the Holy Spirit. ‘But here, where it is written, “And the Lord God said to Adam,”‘ says Augustine ‘no reason can be given why the Trinity itself should not be understood.’

Augustine goes on to examine the theophanies to Abraham, Lot, Moses, the Israelites in wilderness, and to Daniel. Why not accept the three-person appearance to Abraham as the visitation of the Trinity, especially when none of them is shown to be lesser or greater to the other? Next, the two angels that appeared to Lot could be understood to be the Son and the Spirit, since They say that They were sent, and nowhere does it say that the Father is sent; however, He is the sender. The goal of Augustine is to show that visibility cannot be limited to only the Son and the Spirit, but even the Father can be seen as being visible at times. However, in His divine nature, the Triune God cannot be seen corporeally, “but we must believe that by means of the creature made subject to Him, not only the Son, or the Holy Spirit, but also the Father, may have given intimations of Himself to mortal senses by a corporeal form or likeness.”

____________
See Augustine On Trinity, Book II.