Tag Archives: infinite-personal God

Paralyzed Christianity

Dearest hijas,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I haven’t forgotten about you and this blog, mis hijas, but, you know the story. Perhaps this review of Dr. John K. Reed’s “Rocks Aren’t Clocks: A Critique of the Geological Timescale” has been a bit overdrawn, no? Okay, perhaps, so let’s sum this all up and move on, right?

How does this boil down to the warp and woof of “your” Christian living? How does the rubber meet the road here? Why, for God’s sake, does this have anything to do with anything?

I hope you know by now, mis hijas, that for the sake of God and His character, this does have monumental ramifications. You live in the 2nd decade of the 21st century. You’ll probably be around, God willing, until the 7th or 8th decade of this century long after your Momma and I are gone. We live in a time where many of your Christian friends, pastors, and leaders are paralyzed. Paralyzed by the fear of looking foolish in the eyes of the world. Paralyzed by prognostications of the secular elite on the nature of reality. Paralyzed by secular critics that claim Christianity (especially young-earth biblical Christianity) is opposed to science.

These Christians are paralyzed because they won’t believe their own Bibles. They won’t believe that their own Scriptures speaks authoritatively about a universal and worldwide Flood in the days of Noah that explains the rock layers and washes away the millions of years (Gen. 6-9). They won’t believe that a ‘day’ is a ‘day’ just like we know them today (Gen. 1, Ex.20:8-11). They are paralyzed by current scientific announcements and purported data that says the earth is millions and billions of years old, not realizing the bias of the scientists that make these claims and the eyewitness testimony of the God who was there and wrote it down for us. They are brainwashed to believe the idea that rocks, acting as the pages of nature’s history book, are superior to the history of the Bible.

Such a state are we in, mis hijas.

But remember this, as Dr. Reed points out:

…Christian compromise has proven completely ineffective in stopping the secular juggernaut. Two hundred years of retreat is enough. Perhaps in the 1800’s, such views were more understandable. Today, they only aid and abet a secular culture by weakening principled opposition–all for the fleeting flattery of ‘intellectual respectability’. Deep time is inseparable from evolution. And both are inseparable from naturalism.

There is a web of deceit woven all through the secular worldview. Man and woman, born in rebellion to God, seek to use their own reason and the logical powers of their mind, to explain the nature of reality autonomously; apart from God and His revelation. Their whole being ‘shouts’ to them that there is a God; and not just ‘a’ god, but ‘the’ God of which the Bible speaks, and yet they fight with all their might to push this away. Paul in Romans 1 is very clear on this.

So the question becomes, “If the true nature of reality, the true history of Earth and mankind, is presented in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, especially in Genesis, why have so many Christians accepted and become paralyzed by secular history”?

Dr. Reed responds:

First, few realize they are compromising their worldview. Christianity was the default worldview of the West for so long that the possibility of a secular rival was unanticipated, especially a secular ‘scientific’ opponent rising out of Christianity’s own intellectual tradition. Second, the early secularists were smart. They claimed that there was no conflict with ‘true’ Christianity. The Bible was true as far as it went; it just didn’t talk about geologic time. Moses was ‘primitive’ and ‘unscientific,’ but he was still a nice guy. This scam worked, and the church was lulled into complacency. As time went by, young people were indoctrinated to not question prehistory and evolution.

However, the Bible, mis hijas, claims to be an accurate record and account of history, back to the beginning. It can’t find common ground with secular history that does not acknowledge God as Creator, all peoples on earth, past and present, from Adam and Eve, a worldwide and universal Flood in the days of Noah, and the incarnate Christ come to save us from our sin problem. Bank on it!

With love,
Dear ol’ Dad
Vaya con Dios, mis hijas

The Altogether Grand Other Who Speaks

Dear hijas,

The Judeo-Christian position for the answer to the problem of knowing is that of God’s self-existence, as well as self-contained knowledge existing in the triune Godhead before there was anything else. And by ‘anything else’, I mean everything that we see and observe on earth, in the skies with our telescopes, and under the seas with our cameras. This altogether grand Other, the infinite-personal God of Judeo-Christianity created ‘from nothing’ everything that is ‘there’, including man in His image. It is because He has spoken that the epistemological question is answered. The Judeo-Christian answer posits two levels of existence: God’s existence as self-contained, infinite, and personal, and man’s existence as derived, personal, and finite. We see the level of God’s knowledge as absolutely comprehensive, and the level of man’s knowledge which is not comprehensive, but derivative and reinterpretative. Our knowledge is rational because God is ultimately rational. So how does He speak?

Let me answer that question by telling a story. Suppose there is this altogether Grand Other who is omniscient in knowledge, omnipotent in power, omnibenevolent in love and goodness, perfect in every way our minds can conceive of perfection, existing as tri-unity: three Persons, one Godhead, sharing love and communion with each other before anything existed. Eternal, from which there is no cause, always having been there. Then suppose He created ‘from nothing’ everything that now exists, including man and woman and placed them on a rotating mass of ground (earth), spinning around a bigger mass of light(the sun), with other rotating and spinning masses in the skies above this man and woman He has created.

Now suppose, because He is infinite, everything else would be limited in contrast to His enough-ness, or infinite-ness. Man and woman are created as personal on the side of His personalness, yet finite as opposed to His infinite-ness. Would it be strange to think that this infinite, uncreated Personal, would not want to communicate to the created, limited personal to which He has created? To tell them of what He has done, the nature of the things around them, and something of Himself as their uncreated Creator? Of course, if this uncreated Personal were to communicate to this created personal, He would not exhaust Himself in His communication, but would tell her things that are true. He would not lie, for what would be the purpose?

It would also not be unexpected, if the uncreated Personal really cared for the created personal, to speak of things in a propositional nature; to communicate in the same way that the created personal communicates to other created personals. As a limited, finite reference point, the created personal if she began with herself, would not be able to know everything there is to know about everything if this uncreated Personal didn’t tell her those things. Of course, she wouldn’t know everything because that would make her God, wouldn’t it, but at minimum she would know those things that the uncreated Personal wanted her to know, and those things He wanted her to know would be true. Because He created the world she lives on, and the universe she lives in, He would also create in her a spirit of discovery; a rational mind to uncover other things about herself and the world around her. Her knowledge of those things would need to be in relation to Him; analogical to His knowledge though for them to be true to what is, and true to His creation of those things in the first place.

What we have in the above then, is exactly what the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, the Bible, claims for itself. It claims to be propositional revelation from the uncreated Personal to the created personal in verbalized form. God speaks, and we have His knowledge as non-created Personal, perfect and infinite, to tell us what He wants us to know as the created, finite personal.

Would it be wise to listen to what He has to say?

(Source: Francis A. Schaeffer, He is There and He is not Silent, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL, 1984).

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad

Is Anyone ‘There’ to Speak?

Dear hijas,

Is there anyone there to speak? What a simple and profound question. Does man, being finite, gather enough facts, enough particulars, and try to make her own universals, her own overarching unifying truth? Can she do this with her reasoning powers alone? Where does she start? Her life is only 80-90 years, can she just begin with herself? Or must she go back further than herself, gathering the knowledge of these things from past generations? But where does she stop unless she goes back to some beginning of all things? Is there an answer somewhere back there along the line, or must she go back to when it all began? And what beginning does she choose, an impersonal beginning, or a personal one?

You see, she’s trying to answer the question of who she is, of ‘what’ is this world she is born into, of what purpose or meaning for her existence, if any, there is, and how she knows. What does it all mean, what can I believe is true, and what is not true? This is the epistemological problem she faces, trying to make sense of all the particulars in her life, and tying them into one overarching unity. The one and the many, particulars and universals, diversity and unity. Is there an answer?

There is no satisfactory answer if she chooses the impersonal beginning. If she’s honest with herself, and this is right where she is, that’s what has caused the confusion in the first place. But if she begins with the personal, and the Judeo-Christian infinite-personal God, then there is someone there to speak. He’s personal, on the same side as she is personal, yet He’s infinite, to her finiteness. He is the creator of all else, and therefore does speak. He speaks about Himself, His character, His attributes, so that she can know who He is, not exhaustively but truly, and He speaks about history and the cosmos, so that she can know things about herself and the world around her. She has an answer to the nature of reality, to who she is, and to her existence and place in this vast universe. He speaks and answers her questions about meaning and purpose, about values and ethics, not exhaustively but truly. He speaks and answers her most deep and profound questions about life and death, and what happens after death. His answers bring the satisfaction that was missing for her. They make sense and are truly fulfilling. They bring peace to her troubled soul.

It is on the side of the personal-infinite God of the Judeo-Christian system, on the basis of propositional, verbalized revelation, that God speaks and provides these answers to her epistemological problem, the problem of knowing. He is the Creator, she is the creature, and it is on this basis that what He says will be true to what is. There will be no error, for everything comes from Him. The question of knowing is solved in Him and in what He has spoken and she can rest, satisfied that His knowledge is perfect knowledge.

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad

Made in the Image of God, but man fundamentally changed

heaven and earth

Dear hijas,

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1.1).

All things came into being by Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:3).

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created by Him and for Him (Col. 1:16).

We’ve been speaking to the question of the moral necessity, the second area of philosophical and religious thought. Specifically, in our last post, we found that the question of man’s cruelty to his fellow-man was not answered completely. We said that the personal answer of man being created in the image of God gives meaning and an absolute standard for man in terms of right and wrong because they are based on God’s character. We found that man is still cruel. We discovered though that man wasn’t made this way, but fundamentally changed himself. The question before us now, is how this happened.

The Judeo-Christian answer to the question of the moral necessity and man’s cruelty starts from Gen. 1:1 quoted above. The infinite-personal God of the universe created all else, including man, both male and female. Both man and woman and all of God’s created order was created perfect without sin; cruelty, jealousy, hatred, death, disease, corruption, any and all evil of any sort. At the end of God’s six-day creative work, He pronounced it ‘very good’. It was whole, complete, without flaw, just as the designer wanted it to be. So what happened?

Schaeffer puts it this way:

There was a space-time, historic change in man. There is a discontinuity and not a continuity in man. Man, made in the image of God and not programmed, turned by choice from his proper integration point at a certain time in history. When he did this, man became something that he previously was not, and the dilemma of man becomes a true moral problem rather than a metaphysical one. Man, at a certain point of history, changed himself, and hence stands, in his cruelty, in discontinuity with what he was, and we have a true moral situation: morals suddenly exist. Everything hangs upon the fact that man is abnormal now, in contrast to what he originally was (Francis A. Schaeffer, He is There and He is not Silent, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL, 1984).

This historic, space-time change in man is referred to as the Fall (see Gen. 3). Man fell from his original created perfection and is not what he once was. This abnormality explains man’s cruelty, his jealousy and hatred for others of his kind. It explains why man made in the image of God doesn’t mean that God is a bad God. It explains why man can be both noble and cruel at the same time.

So man is now abnormal from what he once was still means that he is abnormal still yet today, right? Man is not just metaphysically finite, but truly morally guilty. Can man get back to that state from where this turn happened? Is there a solution to take man back to where he once was before he became abnormal?

It is here, as Schaeffer describes, “that the substitutionary, propitiatory death of Christ is needed and fits in…we need a solution for our true moral guilt before the absolutely good God who is there.” That solution is Christ’s death and resurrection on our behalf.

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad

Made in the Image of God? Why cruelty and evil then?

Dear hijas,

We’ve been speaking of the ‘personal’ answer to the philosophical question of moral necessity. That on the ‘personal’ side of the equation in contrast to that which is ‘impersonal’, there is an answer in the infinite-personal God of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures who has made man in His image. It is in this infinite-personal God that morality is rooted and has meaning because God’s character is the standard by which to measure absolute right and wrong, nobility and cruelty.

But this leaves us with a question, doesn’t it? On the noble side of things we can see that man is noble, cares for his fellow-man and the things in the world around him because this is how we envision God to be. We envision God to be a good God, a caring God, a loving God, but on the cruelty side we find we are somewhat perplexed, quite greatly perplexed perhaps, and the question becomes “If man is created in the image of God, and yet is so cruel to his fellow-man, then doesn’t that imply that God Himself is cruel also?” In other words, if this personal-infinite God was the one that brought everything that exists into being, including man, and man is made in God’s image, then because we find man cruel it must follow that God is cruel as well.

How would you answer that question? It’s a very legitimate and logical question from the premise.

To answer this question, we might break it down into a couple of follow-up questions. Has man always been this way, or was there a change in God or man that brought about the current cruelty of man we see today and read in our history books?

The Judeo-Christian answer is that man as he is now, is not what he always was. Man has not always been cruel and evil. There was indeed a change in man, not God. God has never changed, but man in fact changed quite drastically. Who changed man then? Did God change man, or did man change himself? If it was God who changed man, then He must still be a cruel God.

Schaeffer answers it this way, “…man created by God as personal has changed himself–he stands at the point of discontinuity rather than continuity not because God changed him but because he changed himself. Man as he now is by his own choice is not what he intrinsically was. In this case we can understand that man is now cruel, but that God is not a bad God. This is precisely the Judaeo-Christian position”(Francis A. Schaeffer, He is There and He is not Silent, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL, 1984).

As to what that change was, and how it was that man changed himself, we’ll need to wait for our next post.

As always, I remain,

Dear ol’ Dad

Vaya con Dios mis hijas

On ‘Being and Existence’: the Rational ‘Personal’ Answer

Dear hijas,

In our last post we looked at the ‘impersonal’ answer to the metaphysical question of ‘being and existence’; to why something is there rather than nothing being there. The first answer we gave was evolution and its impersonal beginning. We must remember that any philosophical or religious system that falls into this ‘impersonal’ beginning ends up with the same set of problems. Can you think of any of the world’s major religions that start with an impersonal beginning? I can think of several: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Starting from the ‘impersonal’ these three major world religions are in the same boat as evolution. In fact, when one looks deeply, in most cases, they use some form of evolutionary–the force be with you– beginning. They have no real answers for where ‘personality’ comes from, nor the form and order and complexity of the universe. A great question for the impersonal-ist is “How can the impersonal produce the personal, or how does personality come from that which is impersonal?” Their typical reply: ‘Ah, umm, uhh, well….’

The problem remains the same with whichever impersonal beginning you want to start with, to wit, no true answers in regard to being and existence with its complexity, or as Schaeffer likes to coin it, no true answers to the personality or “mannishness of man”. Beginning with the impersonal, there is no meaning or significance to the diversity of any of the particulars (you, me, the leaf, the dog, the sun, the cat, the moon, the raindrop, the dustmite).

There is another rational answer however. This answer begins not with the impersonal, but with the ‘personal‘. A personal beginning to all that exists. In other words, that which is personal began everything else, the very opposite of beginning with the impersonal. And it is in this case, that man does have ‘meaning’ and ‘significance’. How?

What we’re speaking to here is the answer of a personal-infinite God who fills the philosophical need of existence and being. An altogether grand Other that is both personal and infinite on the high order of trinity and has brought into existence all that exists. For now we have an answer to ‘personality’, and to why man has meaning and significance. We have an answer to the form and order and complexity of the universe. And it is the Judeo-Christian God of the Old and New Testaments, not just any ‘god’ that fits this answer perfectly. The answer to the  metaphysical question we started with, ‘something there rather than nothing being there’, is that “yes, that ‘something there’ is the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible, He is ‘there’, and has created all else”.

Because He is personal, He gives personality to man. Because He is infinite and omnipotent, He can create all else. Because He is trinity, there is personal unity and diversity. There is no other answer. No other explanation or philosophical/religious system of thought answers the existence of the universe in its vast complexity and of man-as-man, as completely and fully as the Judeo-Christian system of thought. It’s a titanic answer, one we never need be ashamed of.

With the apostle Paul, we are ‘not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God…'(Rom. 1:16).

As always, I remain,

Dear ol’ Dad

Vaya con Dios mis hijas

Being and Existence; the Metaphysical Question

Dear hijas,

How does one set off answering the question I brought up in the last post from Sartre: that something is there rather than nothing being there?

In philosophy, this is referred to as the area of metaphysics (meta; after, along with, beyond, behind and physics; the science that deals with matter, energy, motion and force). In particular, metaphysics is the area of ‘being and existence’. Philosophers have long known that one of the fundamental questions of life is to be able to explain why we’re here at all, how we came to be here, why anything we observe in the world around us is there, and how it came to be there. In other words one can sum it up in terms of ‘being and existence’, and the question becomes ‘Why does anything exist at all?’ Subsets of this question then become myriad, ‘Why are we here on earth?’, ‘Why are the sun and stars out there?’, ‘Why are there fish in the seas?’  They can all be summed up in the question of ‘being and existence’, or metaphysics. So to label it is to call it: the metaphysical question.

Francis Schaeffer has said that ‘Nothing that is worth calling a philosophy can sidestep the question of the fact that things do exist and that they exist in their present form and complexity.’

So, what are the options for answering the metaphysical question? I’m sure you can think of several. Evolution with its blind, uncaused and random, time plus chance beginnings of nothing into something, and here I mean ‘absolutely nothing’, or a personal-infinite Creator God who has brought into being everything that exists. In today’s world, most people would fall into one of these two categories.

Please remember in this that both philosophy and religion deal with the same basic questions. The questions are not different, although the answers are different and in different terms. Both philosophy and religion are trying to answer the metaphysical question; the question of ‘being and existence’. The second thing we must keep in mind concerns the two meanings of the word ‘philosophy’. Philosophy on the one hand is an academic discipline that one studies in university and can get degreed in, and yet on the other hand there is a second meaning that we must not miss. For philosophy also means a person’s worldview. It is in this sense of worldview that all persons are philosophers, for every one of us has a worldview. No one can live without a worldview, and so ‘philosophy’ is universal in scope and therefore no one who is not a philosopher.

In order to answer the metaphysical question correctly; to see which answer best fits the facts around us will be the topic of our next posts.

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad