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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Defining Reality

I have a strange view of reality, at least in matters of faith and practice. It is my aim to define reality as the Author of reality does. It makes sense to me that the Creator of all that is would know what is actual, what is real. So I figure that it would be a good idea if I would define reality as He does. Most importantly, given that He is God and I am not, I should definitely allow Him to define what He is rather than assigning my own views.

Since I believe that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16-17) (I know, right? "Where does Stan come up with these wild ideas?"), it is my position that God, speaking through His Word, defines reality for me. Thus, I try to take Him at His Word. I try to agree with Him in matters like morality, doctrine, practice, and especially His nature. So, if God was to tell us, "I am a green rubber duck living on Pluto", I would have to conclude that He is a green rubber duck living on Pluto. (He hasn't told us that. Relax.) By the same token, if He was to tell us that He was like a green rubber duck living on Pluto, I would conclude that He is not a green rubber duck living on Pluto, but that His existence had some parallels to the idea. We call it a simile, and the "like" term means that it does not mean that He is that, but is like it in some sense. That is, I try to take God at His Word, whether it is direct or indirect, metaphor or hyperbole, doctrinal or proverbial, historical or poetic, however He means it.

This, of course, is not on the list of "things that engender warm feelings from others". You will read things like "I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things." (Isa 45:6-7) and people will want to backpedal from it. "Oh, no," they'll tell me, "that doesn't mean what it says. We all know God doesn't create darkness or calamity." Except He says He does. We're good with "God is love" (1 John 4:16), but we're not going to let that "calamity" thing stand. When John claims for God "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them" (John 12:40), obviously either he was misguided or we're not understanding because God doesn't do that. Except that God seems to say He does. We're delighted with the "vessels of mercy" idea (Rom 9:23) but abhor the "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction" notion (Rom 9:22). That tells us that God's will -- His desire -- is "to show His wrath and make known His power." Oh, no. Not God. Except God appears to disagree with our "kinder, gentler" version of Him.

I find that the more I read His Word and study what it says and compare it to itself and figure out what it means, the more things I need to change in my thinking. It's just as if I need to be in the constant process of renewing my mind. Go figure. But if I am going to let the Author of reality define reality for me, I think this process is a necessity indeed. I doubt, in fact, that I'll see the end of it in this life. My bottom line is this. I don't want to be one of those oxymorons who hears God say, "This is the way; walk in it" and I respond, "No, Lord."

1 comment:

Bob said...

i remember the challenge offered in philosophy 101
"we cannot know reality apart from our five senses" sounds profound. well the may be right, but being apart from our five senses, means we are DEAD people. so again another word game.
the name of the Game is to challenge everything you think you know about life and reality, then tear that down and reconstruct a new perspective. sounds great but the only problem is that those that do the reconstruction are mis-managing minds with great skill. oblivious to any contradiction; they teach "Truth does not exist"