crescent city connection at night
8/27/2006 01:40:00 AM
Comments: 0 Post Comments
friday foto: nola street car
8/18/2006 10:42:00 PM
Comments: 0 Post Comments
gcp 2: god, infinity, and eternity
8/16/2006 11:25:00 PM
Before I can really delve off into a discussion about the Great Christian Paradoxes, I have to lay a foundation from which I will work. A foundation of any attempt to construct a logical argument is called a premise. A premise is something that is shown or assumed to be true, and can be axioms or conclusions from other logical constructs. An attempt to understand God requires a premise of God as revealed in Scripture. For the extent of this work, I will be talking about the orthodox Christian understanding of God.

All the attributes of God have a common thread, and that is that God is both infinite and eternal. No other attributes of can be exist without these two attributes. It is difficult to describe that which is infinite. Really the only thing I can do is describe what an infinite God is not. I can't say he is 6 feet tall or 120 pounds. I can't say he is 14 years old. I can't say he lives at 125 Maple Street. These types of attributes don't apply to God. Although we can't attach a number to God, we can get a understand how finite we are to him. The Bible attests to how God can count the stars and name each one of them (Isaiah 40:26, Psalm 147:7). Scientist can only estimate that there are 10 billion stars in the galaxy alone, and that are probably 10 billion galaxies in the universe .If you multiply 10 billion times 10 billion, you get ten followed by 20 zeros. At least this number is comprehendable and countable but it really has no practical application. Yet God can come up with that many names for each star. Naming the star means that God isn't merely assigning a number to the stars, but he has intimate knowledge about each star. Such concepts show the magnitude of God compared to that of man. This is just one way of showing how infinite God is to man. The psalmist and the writer of Isaiah appeal to the heavens as a comparison to God's greatness, and they didn't have the advanced telescopes and radios we have today to peer even deeper into space then these ancient observers could. The vastness of the universe still baffles astronomers, and God is still its maker and still yet greater.

By eternal, I mean that God has always existed, and will always exist. Eternity is an immeasurable about of time. I can't say when God was born, or when God will die. He existed in eternity past and will for eternity future. God's eternal existence is one of the most well founded doctrines in the Bible. We know that God existed before the foundation of the world. He would have had to in order to create it. The Bible opens in Genesis 1:1 with God. He then creates the heavens and the earth. Over and over primarily in Psalms, the Bible affirms he is everlasting. In Hebrew, the phrase we translate "Everlasting to Everlasting" (1Ch 16:36, Ps 41:13, 90:2, 103:17, 106:48) is a way of overemphasizing the point through repetition, like when we say "for ever and ever." The writers are going to great lengths to assure us that God is everlasting, or eternal. The New Testament is filled with the same sort of imagery of an eternal God. John 1:1 starts like Genesis affirming that in the beginning God existed. Revelation 1:8, 21:6 and 22:13 affirms that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last respectively. This is essentially saying God is the beginning of all things and the end of all things. He existed before all things began and he will exist beyond when this world will cease to exist. Isaiah 41:4 affirms that God was before all things and will be after all things. God's eternal existence is hardly refutable. What most people have problems with is not God's eternal existence, but God's knowledge of events to come. I bring this up here to that there is no confusion between God's eternal state and his knowledge of eternal events, which I will address under omniscience.

Eternity can manifest itself in many ways. First, there is the traditional way that eternity has been understood, and is typically attributed to Galileo as Galilean Relativity or presentism. He asserts that the only time that exists is present, and that the past and future do not. This makes time a progression: a succession of events with one event being preceded by another and followed by another. This is the position of St. Augustine, who proposed that the present is like a knife's edge that splits the past and the future. Another proposition is that all of eternity exists all the time all at once. This means that the events of yesterday (relatively speaking) are still happening and the events of tomorrow are happening at the same time. This, then, makes time constant, but seem fluid to the observer who is passing through. This theory of time is afforded in the modern theory of general relativity. It is difficult to see how events of yesterday to continually occur without ever changing. It's kind of like a film strip from a movie. To the observer, it is motion, but in reality it's a sequence of still frames that make something appear to be in motion. If this model of time is true, then God is still creating the world at the same time Jesus is dying on the cross and raising from the dead and coming back. This post is done and being started at the same time too. The problem with this thinking is there is no way to empirically prove it or deny it, thus making it where it cannot be falsified. This doesn't mean that it is wrong, but it is of little practical value. I don't know that I can reject it, but I certainly cannot do anything else with it.

Stemming from the same theory of relativity is that time slows down for a given object the faster that object moves through space. If one were to put a clock on rocket and accelerate the rocket, then the clock itself would tick slower than a clock on earth. This phenomenon has been shown to work and has been detected on satellites orbiting the earth at high speeds. Rather than view this as time ticking by, I think it is best to view this as a slowing of the second law of thermodynamics, which says things move from a higher state of entropy to a lower state of entropy over. It is in essences slows the aging process. Two identical events could occur, but one may take 1000 years (relative to earth) to complete if it were happening near the speed of light while another make take 10 seconds. In both events, the cosmological clock has been ticking at a steady rate. This cosmological time is a time table for the entire universe, so is in essence not bound to the universe or its effects, but rather the universe it bound to it.

St. Augustine proposed that God is not bound by time in that he exists outside the confines of time. We are part of a physical universe, and time is also part of that physical universe. God, being the author of that time, is not bound to time, but rather controls it. This means that the cosmological time table is a part of God's time table. We don't know if relativity works or if it how God chose to design the universe accordin to relativity. It may, but seems to create a problem with how we see the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus though. He is always dying, always dead, and always resurrecting. There is no biblical explanation for this view. The time table presented in scripture is one of the Galilean school, and that is that the only time that exists in the universe is the time at the present. Because of this, I accept it. In scripture though, we do know that God is still in control of time, has knowledge of the future, has always existed in the past, and will be there when time as we know it ends.
Comments: 0 Post Comments
gcp 1: an introduction
8/08/2006 11:48:00 PM
This post marks the beginning of a new series of post I am going to writing. I am going to deviate for some time from practical theology into more philosophy, but I hope to bring this back around to the practical side as the series begins to conclude.

The series I am writing is going to be on the Great Christian Paradoxes. As I see it, there are 5 paradoxes that have perplexed theologians and philosophers for millennia:
  • The origin of God
  • the problem of evil
  • the Trinity
  • the hypostatic union
  • the existence of free will and God's sovereignty.
Some of these paradoxes are unique to the Christian faith and others are universal paradoxes that all faiths struggle with. Some of these topics may take more than one post, particularly the problem of evil, which I plan to spend a lot of time on.

To clarify, I define a paradox as a situation that seems to be contradictory, but may yet still be true. One such is this: A Cretan says "All Cretans are liars". If the statement is true, then the Cretan who said it is not a liar, and not all Cretans are liars, and if the statement is false, then all Cretans would not be liars, except him, thus making the whole thing contradictory again. There are many types of paradoxes, but generally speaking paradoxes cannot be worked out using classical logic.

The purpose for writing this series is multi-faceted. First, I want to gain a better understanding about how logic applies to the realm of theology. Second, I want to have a consistent, synoptic understanding for all the paradoxes in question. Third and perhaps the practical aspect of all this will be that I want know what kind of statements I can and cannot make about God. I am not looking for solutions to these paradoxes, and after doing some initial thinking a reading, I'm not sure that I will be able to make any definitive conclusions about them, but hopefully, I will be able to make some general observations about the nature of God and how all these things work together.

This is probably the boldest ambition I've ever taken concerning theology, and I hope I see it through to completion. I'm already overwhelmed by the magnitude of the undertaking, and it keeps getting bigger the more I read, because the mountain of questions keeps growing larger and larger.
Comments: 0 Post Comments
love 2: the responsiblity of love
8/04/2006 11:43:00 PM
Wow it's been a while since I've posted on this thing. That may be anew record, but who cares?

Anyways, apart from being a slacker and not posting, I wanted to finish a post that I started about two weeks ago on love. The post talked about the cost of love and and I noted how the Good Samaritan had no regard for the victim's background, proceeded long term and short term care, and did it at great personal expense. The principles show that the man had compassion, and it cost him something. Next I wrote about the mystery of love, and how absurd it really is to practice love according to human standards. Our nature is selfish, and love is counter-natural.

I left out part of the passage from John 15 intentionally, mainly because I wanted to reflect on it a little more. I was taken by some of the statements that Jesus made concerning the relationship of the disciples to himself and the mission that he gave to them. If you recall, these statements are made in the framework of "Love each other," the commandment that Jesus gave to them.

The first thing of note is the is dichotomy that Jesus is painting in this passage. The dichotomy is between slaves and friends. Slaves to the ancient Hebrews were not slaves in the context that we think of slaves. Slaves to us are people who are owned by somebody else and work for that person for no wages. Slaves to the ancient hebrews were usually not slavery for a life time, but to pay off some sort of debt. They would indenture themselves to a person as a slave for a given number of years, usually seven. At the end of those seven yaers, he could opt to remain a servant to the master or be set free. The slaves were more or less employees of their master, but they didn't have anything of there own and would usually live in quarters provided by the master. Being an employee, the relationship was a business relationship . An employee doesn't know all the affairs of the master. Usually, they have a touch and go relationship, where the employee does what the master tells him to do, and they never talk about anything other than those matters.

A friend on the other hand is something more. The word used to describe friend by Jesus in the Greek means a more than just a mere acquaintance, but a deep, intimate relationship between two people. By calling the disciples friends and not just servants means that he has a deep relationship with these guys. He had given them more than just an assignment, but also he has told them why they were given the assignment and all it entails. He taught the disciples all that God had revealed while he was on earth. They knew more than the commandments--they knew the commander, his purposes, and why these commandments were so important.

A second thing of note is that the disciples didn't choose Christ, but that Christ chose them. The disciples were Jesus' hand picked instruments to take the gospel to the world. However you take this (as a Calvinist, Armenian, or something else) it seem to me that Jesus is speaking pretty plainly when he notes that he chose them, and explicitly says that they didn't chose Christ. The work was entirely Jesus' doing. Jesus also told them that they would bear fruit. The Bible notes two kinds of fruit: fruit of the Spirit and fruit in terms of more people coming to faith in Jesus. The verb "go" is coupled with the word "bear". Jesus says "go and bear fruit" While it is uncertain which type of fruit Jesus is talking about, it both can apply. Spiritual progeny and fruit of the spirit are both things that requires time and cultivation. Both are active, thus "going" activities. Being Jesus' handpicked fruit bearers means that they would be carrying his name. In addition to understanding their status with Jesus (friends) these men understood who and what they were represent: God himself. They had to bear his burden and his name! That is a huge responsibility!

According to tradition, all but one of the apostles died a martyr's death for the sake of the cross. They knew the cost of love, and they also knew the responsibility too. Being a friend of Jesus was no small task, and by being his friend and obeying him, they suffered greatly. They were Jesus' chosen few to bear fruit in the world. These men and women had the responsibility to bear Christ's name. We should "Go and do likewise."
Comments: 0 Post Comments