Powers, Original State, and Theodicy

As I sit in my room I have a picture hanging on my wall. It is a picture of a tree. A person looking at it will see a tree in different seasons depending on what angle she looks at it. This shows that the main picture can be set while the details will change context. I think the same applies with reality. There are interesting cases in the New Testament where God acted, such as speaking, and yet a majority of people heard natural noises. For instance John 20:28-30, “Father, glorify Your name!” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said it had thundered.” Others said that an angel had spoken to Him.” In response, Jesus said, “This voice was not for My benefit, but yours” The crowd heard thunder when the Lord of Host spoke directly.

The natural question here is “why”. I believe it is the state of peoples’ heart which determines what they can hear/see. I wouldn’t be surprise if God spoke directly often, yet most don’t hear him due to the hardness of their hearts. Holiness has a direct power that many wouldn’t guess immediately.

Dallas Willard argues that Genesis shows that man is supposed to have dominion over animals and in fact Adam, when he was in a pure state, did have obedience from the animals. If that is the case, then perhaps there are other powers that we are missing with our loss of innocence. This has ramification for the problem of natural evil. It gives a stronger case for skeptical theists because are natural state of holiness was better equipped to handle at least one natural aspect, animals. Thus, there is no reason that it couldn’t have handled other natural disasters, like Jesus calming the storm. Perhaps, humans never had that ability. But it is hard to say with any certainty given what we do know about Genesis.

All this to say. I believe God has way more in store for us through holiness than we can even imagine.

Know the Word

‘Tis of great use to the sailor to know the length of his line, though he cannot fathom all the depths of the ocean.” (John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited by Roger Woolhouse, P 58) 

John Locke had a different purpose for that quote then what I shall use it for. This quote is directly relatable to the word of God and God himself. I may not know the depths of His majesty, but I can be well aware of the tool that allows me to navigate His glory. In short, the Bible is the line and God is the sea. Though God’s depth exceed the oceans so does the word exceed the line. There is no limit to depth we can swim in seeking after God. In that, lies the beauty that Lord’s joy will ever be new. 

Jesus’s Soul

My last post was about an apparent contradiction between Substance Dualism and the God-man. I argued that Jesus had only a few options regarding a soul when becoming incarnate and each of them led to a contradiction of either fully God and/or fully man. However, if God’s soul and man’s soil are of the same kind of substance than there is no dilemma. For Jesus could just keep his soul and it would be like a man’s soul. 

Substance Dualism and the God-man

Substance Dualism is the view that there is both a body and a soul/mind. I believe most Christians believe something along the lines of what C.S. Lewis proclaimed, ” you are not your body, you are a soul and you have a body”. This is a rough paraphrase, but works to show the point he was making. All this means is that our soul is essentially what and who we are. Now God is typically considered to have a soul before entering the world. Lastly, Jesus is considered both fully God and fully man. 1. Man is essentially his soul. 2. God has a soul prior to coming in the world. 3. God is fully man and God. 4.When God becomes incarnate he either gains a human soul in addition to his old soul, replaces his God soul with a human soul, or simply keeps his God soul. 5. Any option in 4. contradict premise 2.. Thus, 1. Must be false. 

I am not comfortable with rejecting substance Dualism, but I am not sure what else can be done currently. 

What can and cannot be meant by “God loves Satan”

In a previous post I critiqued the idea that God loves Satan. That post was inspired by Tyler McNabb and William Craig defending that God does love Satan. Here I will expound what can and cannot be meant by “love” in this context. There are several possibilities: (1) God loves Satan df= God is actively attempting to bring Satan closer to Himself through a redemptive process.

(2) God loves Satan df= God wishes the best for Satan and would bring him to redemption if possible

(3) God loves Satan df= God has goodwill towards Satan

I believe (1) has no plausible defense. Revelation 20:10 shows the devils fate, ” And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (KJV) This verse also suggests against (2). Does God really wish the best for Satan if He will be tormented forever? Perhaps, there is some kind of theory of justice where this is the best for Satan, but any kind of theory that suggests that will be dubious. And it reasonable to assume that God could keep Satan simply locked up in chains. If that is the case, there is something a little less than torment suggested by this verse that God can do. In addition, it is odd to suggest that God loves a person if redemption was possible. For example, if I had a sister God would love her. However, I don’t have a sister and thus, there is no one for God to love. But if conditions were different and I had a sister then redemption would be possible and God would want her to be saved. But she does not exist, so redemption is not possible, and there is no love. But, Satan does exist. However, there is no reason to suppose he is capable of redemption. Thus, we are left with definition (3). Which states God wishes Satan would have chosen differently (at best). If this is what they mean by love, I think their definition of love is weak. God has always shown love by actions of revealing and healing.  In the same way, when people speak of God’s love they mean that God is active and drawing them closer in addition to wanting what is best for them. Given that there is no adequate definition of love for Satan defended, I can only conclude this love isn’t for the full agape love most people mean.

Ethics without Christ

The other day a friend wonder what ethical beliefs would Christians not believe in if they thought Christianity was false. In other words, what beliefs in ethics do you hold only because of Christianity. Unsurprisingly, many said things regarding homosexuality or early abortions. But sadly, though not surprising, none responded with loving your enemy. I think this is because the majority of Christians don’t seriously hold that belief though it is more essential than the two listed above. I know that I hold the belief to die for my enemy only because of Christ. And that was the first thing I thought to lose if Christ is not risen. But as I reflected on this even more, I realized something else. Some of these same Christians say that they love the devil, because God loves the devil. This seems to be a complete warp on everything. Christians openly saying they love the devil and would kill their enemy. I can only conclude that Christidom is in trouble, with a very sad heart. 

A Problem for the Classical View of Divine Foreknowledge

One problem every Christian must deal with is why the world is not a better place. There are certain conditions in the world which are great, but many that are not. One of the more striking problems for Christians is the belief that only a remnant will be saved. This is found both in the Old and New Testament. Narrow is the path to heaven, but large is the gate to Hell. Many will try to enter the narrow gate, but few will find it (Matthew 7:13-14). When that belief is connected to the belief that God knows all future actions, we have a problem. Why would God create a world where the majority of the people would not be saved? One answer could be that He could not create any world better than this one. This may come in the form of trans-world depravity. I find this implausible. What reasons do we have supposed that God could do no better than this world? The traditional concept of God seems that He would have enough power, knowledge, and creativity, to make creatures that would choose what is right (If He could foreknow their actions). On the whole, it seems very plausible that God could have created a world where the majority of people would have been saved. As long as that is correct, there are only a few moves one can make: (1) God has created multiple worlds, (2) reject the traditional idea of divine foreknowledge, or (3) bite the bullet. I am open to either (1) or (2). Perhaps God has created multiple worlds and this world was one of the less good ones, but still better to create than not. However, for those who reject (1), they must come to the belief that the traditional view of God’s foreknowledge is mistaken.