Thursday, September 29, 2022

Both and

Most thoughtful Christians, reflecting on the biblical story, would say that God’s purpose for creation is both to display his glory and to display his love. However, inquiring minds tend to move in one direction or the other—as the controlling or main purpose. Those in the Augustinian-Calvinist tradition tend to read Scripture as emphasizing God’s glory and power and the world as the place for displaying them. The result can be an interpretation of everything in the world, even evil, as purposed by God for his glory. Those in the Arminian-Wesleyan tradition (and also going back to the Greek church fathers before Augustine!) tend to read Scripture as emphasizing God’s love and desire for relationship and the world as the place for experiencing them. The result can be a softening of God’s lordship and a sentimentalizing of God as needing the world for his own fulfillment. The solution, of course, is to hold the two purposes of God in creation together in tension.The Essentials of Christian Thought, 192 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
I tend (who am I kidding—I do!) read scripture through the Wesleyan-Arminian lens. But, I don't soften God's lordship! God created the world because he wanted to, not because of any need on his part!

And, the fact that prior to Augustine's arguments w/Pelagius, no church father (or mother) read it through a predestinarian lens just confirms in my mind that it is the correct one. But that's just an
</idle musing>

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Stop it!

And God intends to liberate the world from this “bondage to decay,” which is evidence of God’s continuing care for creation. In the meantime, humans live out their likeness to God by having dominion over the world, which means nurturing it, not dominating and exploiting it. The ecological crisis, insofar as it is humankind’s doing, which science indicates it is, is a violation of the ethical implications of the biblical narrative even if caused partly by Christians. Christianity itself, understood as what the Bible reveals about God and the world, forbids rape of the environment.—The Essentials of Christian Thought, 189

Monday, September 26, 2022

But don't worship it!

Ethically, then, the point of the creation story of Genesis and the entire Bible’s witness is the call to care for God is good creation while avoiding worshiping it. Idolatry is a major theme of the biblical narrative; it is the very root of sin and evil—setting creation or some part of creation up as God and worshiping it is wrong because God alone is Lord and creation belongs to him. At the same time, denigrating nature or any part of it as evil and/or exploiting it is wrong because it belongs to God and caring for it is part of what it means to be human.—The Essentials of Christian Thought 188 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
And this is the flipside of Friday's post. We don't exploit, but we don't worship creation either. We are stewards, called to care for it.
</idle musing>

Friday, September 23, 2022

Stop the exploitation!

God’s assignment of the human to have dominion never hints at permission to exploit, let alone ruin, nature; it remains part of the “image and likeness of God” and there is a call to care for creation and be God’s created cocreator in restoring it to its original intention.—The Essentials of Christian Thought, 188

<idle musing>
Indeed. I have never understood the mindset that thinks that because it is all going to go up in smoke anyway, let's assist in the destruction. From the time I was young, I was taught to conserve nature, to treat it with respect, to leave things better than I found them.
</idle musing>

Thursday, September 22, 2022

And the greatest of these is…

All of this presupposes something that sets biblical-Christian metaphysics radically apart from other belief systems about ultimate reality. Tresmontant stated it most concisely: “Christianity is a metaphysic of love." This is something speculative reason alone cannot know about ultimate reality—that its very being is love. And this is the reason behind and Within God’s self-limitations, self-determinations, and self—actualizations: God’s being as being-for-others. Does that mean, then, that God must create to have “others” to love? Not at all. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity, itself rooted in biblical narrative, even necessitated by it, means that God’s creative activity, including his self-limitations in relation to creatures, is a free expression of the fullness of the love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in eternity. If God were not triune, however, then creation would be necessary for God insofar as God is conceived as love.—The Essentials of Christian Thought 169 (emphasis original)

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

So, can God really change his mind?

Classical Christian theism, born in the cauldron of philosophized Christianity in the second and third centuries in the Roman Empire, reached its zenith in Anselm and Aquinas. Aquinas agreed that God, being absolute and ultimate in terms of reality, cannot change in any way and therefore cannot suffer—including feeling emotions such as compassion and sympathy. But classical Christian theism is not limited to early or medieval Christian thought; it still has its defenders in the twenty—first century in spite of being embattled. Very few Christian theologians except out-and-out liberal Protestants (e.g., process theologians) reject classical Christian theism entirely. Rather, following Dorner—a pioneer in attempting to return the Christian doctrine of God to biblical thought, separating it from Greek metaphysics that conflicts with that——many simply want to adjust Christian metaphysics “back to the Bible.” Most, this writer included, gladly affirm broad areas of agreement between the best of Greek philosophical theology and biblical revelation of God. At the same time, however, together with Dorner, Brunner, Cherbonnier, and other Christian critics of classical theism, I believe it important to base Christian metaphysics on the biblical narrative and not allow Greek or any other metaphysical thought to draw it away into extrabiblical speculation.—The Essentials of Christian Thought, 132

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

What do you believe?

The biblical narrative holds within itself an original, organic, synoptic worldview that answers life’s ultimate questions differently than numerous alternatives—most of which are still swimming around in our pluralistic culture and too often being soaked in by Christians and inappropriately mixed and mingled eclectically with their own native, biblical—Christian worldview.—The Essentials of Christian Thought, 82

<idle musing>
This is the foundational thesis of the book: There is a biblical metaphysic, and it is discernable. And that biblical metaphysic does not align with most secular metaphysics. Despite the fact that most Christians seem to think they can adopt whatever metaphysic they want, that is not a true Christian metaphysic.

I would say that most US Christians, of whatever variety, are default natualists in their metaphysic. They might say that they believe in God and Christ—they may even pray—but their default way of life betrays them. They don't really expect God to "show up." And when he does, they are surprised.

If you pray and don't expect to see an answer, what does that say about your faith? Or, worse yet, you don't bother because you think it's too trivial for God's attention, what does that say about your faith?

Ponder that as we continue through the book…
</idle musing>