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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Who Does God Worship?

We all know that we're supposed to worship God. We (Christians) are clear on this. We get it. Anything else is idolatry. But, just like the kid who asked his dad, "Who made God?", do you ever ask "Who does God worship?"

At first look, of course, the question is ridiculous. Well, both of them. Because no one made God and God worships no one. Or, at least, that's how we might respond. But if you look at how people -- Christians -- think, I'm not so sure that is an accurate reflection of their actual beliefs.

There have, on multiple occasions, been discussions here over Human Free Will, capitalized because of the view that seems to hold that God sovereignly surrenders His Sovereignty to Human Free Will, elevating that Will over His own. The claim is happily made and maintained that God has tied His own hands, so to speak, in order to allow humans their uninfluenced choices because this is higher in God's estimation than His own plans and desires. I would submit to you that this is precisely God worshiping.

Worship is defined basically as "worth-ship", assigning worth to something. It is an expression of reverence and adoration. It is a "bending of the knee", a bowing to that which you value. So a man might set aside his family to make more money and this is worship, assigning greater value to money than to family. A woman might set aside her own wishes to please her husband and that is worship, assigning greater value to her husband's pleasure than her own. And God might set aside His own plans and desires in order to let Humans exercise their Free Will over against His own. That, too, is worship.

What do you suppose it is? What element of the creature makes the Creator bow? What is it about Human Free Will that causes the Sovereign to surrender sovereignty? What makes the absolute freedom of choice the ultimate value, even over God's absolute freedom of choice?

I have to say I don't understand this. I don't see it in Scripture. I don't see it as rational. I don't see it as godly. I don't believe that anyone created God because God is eternal, the uncaused Cause, the uncreated Creator. And I don't believe that God worships His creatures -- neither for their "Human Free Will" nor for anything else about them. I believe that God rightly places the highest value in that which is of highest value -- Himself. Anything else would be nonsense.

So, who do you think God worships?


Josh said...

You don't see it in Scripture? The entire central story of the Bible is this story. He set aside his divinity and became Man. God prioritized the salvation of Man over his own divinity. He entered into messy humanity, to save those whom he loved. God assigned worth to Humanity on the cross. In a previous post you stated that "God isn't man," or something along those lines. That is false. God is Man. Jesus was, and still is, Man. Man as we are supposed to be.

Stan said...

Josh, no, I don't.

It looks like you're saying, "Stan, you're wrong. The Bible certainly does teach that God worships Man's Free Will" or even "Man". Is that your position? Does God value His creatures more highly than He values Himself? Are we (or something about us) His highest interest?

I do not believe that Christ became human to save us for our sake because He just valued us so highly that He couldn't bear the loss. I obviously believe that Christ became human to save us, but I find in Scripture it was "to the praise of His glorious grace" (Eph 1:6, 12, 14). We aren't saved because we are just so lovable; we are saved "to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers." (Rom 8:29) At least, that's what I see in my Bible. You see God holding us in the highest regard, even over Himself?

As for "God is not a man", you'll have to take that up with Scripture. I didn't say it; I quoted it (Num 23:19; 1 Sam 15:29; Hosea 11:9). You'll have to go with "Scripture is wrong" or find some way to correlate it, but "Stan, you're wrong" by itself won't cut it. And taking me out of context isn't helpful toward a reasonable discussion.

Josh said...

I would agree that God worships man, but only by your definition of worship as "assigning worth to something." God is the only one that can assign worth to something, and God HAS assigned worth to man. He called man "very good."

You say we aren't saved because we are lovable, but John 3:16 seems to say otherwise. God does love the world and the people in it. Maybe you are right, we aren't lovable, but for some reason God loves us anyways. Maybe as you say he saves us to show his "glorious grace," or maybe it was to conform us to the image of his Son, or maybe both. I don't deny God's glorious grace, or the call to be conformed to the image of his Son, but it also seems to be that God DOES love us.

I apologize for taking you out of context. It just struck me as a strange statement, and seemed like it came to bear on this conversation. Your point seemed to be we can't hold God accountable to man's standards, because God isn't Man. What is the implication of the incarnation, on this train of thought? It seems to me that God becoming man should change our interpretation of those passages. God gave man the standard (Law), then came to Earth and lived perfectly by the standard He had set. It also says that Jesus was the EXACT imprint of God's nature. If it was Jesus nature to follow this law, wouldn't it be God's nature to follow that law also?

Craig said...

Clearly, since man's fee will is the most important thing God has to deal with, God must ascribe enough worth to man's free will to sustain the claim the He worships it.

Stan said...

I suppose it is fair to say that "worship" as "assigns value to" only works if the value assigned is higher than other values. In the examples I offered, a man who values money over family could be said to "worship" money. That doesn't require that he assigns no value to family; it's just significantly less. It is this question of comparison of value in view here. The argument appears to be that God considers Human Free Will of higher value than His will. That's placing humans -- at least their ability to choose without influence -- as more important than His own. Like Craig says here.

There has been much confusion over John 3:16. A real problem occurs with the word "so". Many (most) see it as a quantity and will even give us the verse this way: "God loved the world so much that ..." As it turns out, the word is not a quantification, but a qualification. We might say, "You need to do this task just so." The text actually says, "God loved the world in this way ..." (I mentioned this to a group once and a Spanish-speaking guy said, "Hey, yeah! That's how my Spanish Bible says it!") So it isn't a mention of how lovable we are, but what He did. In what way did He "love the world"? He gave His Son so those who believe would have everlasting life. That says nothing about "mankind"; it speaks only of "whosoever believes".

Yes, God loves us. We need to be careful that we don't carry that beyond the truth to "because we're so intrinsically valuable" or "because we're so lovable" or "because He just couldn't afford to lose us" or the like.

If you look at the "God is not a man" text, it simply means He's not like us. He's not. Even after the Incarnation.

David said...

I understand salvation to merely be a byproduct of God demonstrating His glory. We are not the object of salvation, we are the means to demonstrating glory. And to say that God loves us enough to save us doesn't mean He loves us more than His glory. You love your wife, you love your kids, you love your parents, but they are all in different ways and different amounts. God didn't sacrifice anything of Himself to save us. He saved us to demonstrate His glory, and that love for Himself has spilled over onto us.

Stan said...

I'm not sure "byproduct" is the word I'd use, but certainly a component. God wishes to demonstrate His glory. He can do that quite well by gratuitously saving humans. (That was extreme shorthand.) I agree.

David said...

True, byproduct is probably not the correct word, but we our salvation is a means to the end, not the primary goal, which I think many Christians don't know and would disagree with.

Stan said...

I agree.

Josh said...

Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God loved us while we were still sinners. Doesn't that seem to indicate a love for ALL mankind? Even those still in their sin that haven't received salvation. Also, at creation God said man was very good.

In Luke 13:34 Jesus says, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing." This clearly shows a love for those that don't believe.

Then there is that pesky command to love our enemies. Why would God command us to love our enemies, if he doesn't love his enemies?

The Bible also clearly states that God is Love. Not just loving towards believers.

If the key purpose in salvation is to bring God glory, in your opinion what would bring God more glory: A person that freely chooses to follow and believe in God or a person that was created with only the ability to follow and believe in him?

As to your point that God is not like us, I disagree in part. Jesus demonstrated a God that was willing to become like us. So in obvious ways God is not like us, but in others he is very much like us. Jesus was an actual man and experienced humanity, and Jesus is still a man in a glorified body.

Stan said...

What I said was that John 3:16 was not talking about a quantity of love; it was talking about a quality. And that quality is not "open for everyone because they're so wonderful". I didn't say God doesn't love everyone. What I said was that God doesn't love all human beings in the same way. Yes, He loves all humanity in some sense. He gives rain to the just and the unjust and so forth. Not denying that.

Having said that, no, Rom 5:8 does not claim that He loves all mankind. It refers to "us", those who benefit from Christ's death. Sure, it refers to those who have not yet received that benefit, those who will but haven't yet. But the "us" does not refer to "everyone".

As for your question about bringing God most glory, you've offered what is referred to in logic circles as a strawman argument. I don't know anyone who claims that there are people "created with only the ability to follow and believe in him". But, of course, you start from a different place than I do. You assume all people are able to choose freely practically anything at all without regard to God, their nature, or much else. The Bible says no one seeks for God, no one does good, humans are hostile to God and dead in sin and blinded by Satan and incapable of understanding spiritual things and you believe that none of this is actually true because we are all capable of choosing God and, in fact, many do. I don't fault you for it. It's a popular notion. As for my opinion, if it is the case that humans freely choose God over all that I just listed, it speaks stunningly well of any human who is able to overcome so much deficiency and provide the final key that saves them. God couldn't do it without them. They accomplished it for Him. As one preacher has said, "God did 99.9% and you did the last 0.1%." That last step was the final one, the only one that completed God's hope and dream of having you in His kingdom. Well done! And, frankly, in my view something to boast about. When the angels stand around you in heaven and say, "What was it that made the difference? Why did you accept Christ when given the gospel but your neighbor did not?", you can say, "I was smarter" or "more savvy" or "wiser" or "more spiritually attuned" or ... something better than those who fail at it. You can. I can't. From my side, it's "There was nothing in me worth saving and nothing I could do to fix it and He did it all." No room for "me". No room for boasting.

On your disagreement that God is just like us, I'm sorry that we'll have to disagree. I'm not surprised, mind you. I'm disappointed that you're comfortable with that given the Scriptures that say otherwise, but your version of "sovereignty" is a human version and your version of "omnipotence" is a human one and your version of "omniscience" is a human one, so I'm not surprised that your version of God is "just like us". But I'm pretty sure you did not mean that at all, so I'm not clear on why you're disagreeing. Even when you say He's in a "glorified body" you agree that He's not just like us. So ...?

Josh said...

As far as I can tell it is not a strawman argument. Most people wouldn't say it the way I did, but that is how they understand God even if it isn't verbalized that way. Could you or any believer been different from God's perspective? Everything has worked out perfectly according to God's controlling hand and Sovereign design. This has to be true all the way down to individual salvation, right? It has been all mapped out, the blueprint is finished, the book has been written. You were selected from the beginning of time, and your neighbor was not, right? From the beginning of time the elect were chosen, individually chosen, and from birth the rest were condemned. Am I missing a nuanced portion of your view?

Stan said...

Most people (like you) don't believe in the Sovereignty of God, so I think most people would say it the way you did, except that yours was an explanation of why God is not Sovereign (like I believe).

The "strawman" occurs in the wording: "created with only the ability to follow and believe in him". The wording requires absolutely no capability of choice in the creature. I know of no one who actually believes such a thing. (I'm sure they are out there; I just don't know of any.) The actual position is "created with the ability to choose", but that the outcome would be precisely what God intended. Now, that equates to "no choice" to you, I know, but I don't follow your logic on that point. As we've danced around about before, if I offer my child a cookie knowing what choice he will make and he certainly makes it, it is still choice. It is not my control or some sort of coercion; it is choice.

I believe, then, that God gives everyone the choice. Most (biblically, "many") won't choose God; some (biblically, "few") will. Biblically those who do choose God were enabled by God (biblically, "granted") to do so. He enables, they choose, the outcome is as God intended. No coercion. No force. Your view requires that none of this qualifies as "free will" (with lowercase letters) and God is obligated to keep His hands off if free will is to exist at all. Further (the point of the post), your view requires that God values Human Free Will above His own will since He limits Himself in order to enable Human Free Will ... along with all the other attending issues (He doesn't know, He won't interfere, He isn't absolutely Sovereign by choice, etc.).

The truth is, given your a priori position that free will CANNOT exist if God interferes, intervenes, or even knows perfectly what choices will be made, so obviously you cannot concur. I get that. What I'm waiting for is an explanation of how this is not God giving higher value to humans than to Himself.

Josh said...

1. You say Man has been "created with the ability to choose"
2. Choice by definition requires at least two real options.
3. God has settled beforehand that only His option will come to pass in any given human choice.

Therefore, at least from God's perspective, choice doesn't really exist.

I understand that from man's perspective there is an "appearance" of choice in your view. And of course no coercion would be necessary if everything was settled from the beginning of time before creation.

As to the point of your post:
1. God prioritized Himself and His will.
2. His will is to allow man to choose Him, or not.

Therefore, it appears as if Man's Free Will has trumped God's, but in reality this is exactly what God willed.

Stan said...

Okay, now we're clear. "Yes," you are agreeing, "God is choosing to value Man's Free Will over His own." At least that's straight.

As for your syllogism, you and I differ on the definition of "real options", so you and I will not be able to come to an agreement. You don't consider it "real" if God knows in advance what it will be. Your call. And your call further demands that God cannot be Omniscient, Sovereign, or Omnipotent. Your call. We disagree. You settle for omniscient (He knows more than anyone else, just not what will be actual), sovereign (He Sovereignly sets aside His Sovereignty in favor of Man), and omnipotent (He self-limits His power). You're happy with that. I see it all as direct violation of clear Scripture and all historical understanding of Scripture and God. Welcome to your option. I cannot go there.

(I'm a bit confused by your conclusion there. God achieved what He willed as long as what He willed was to let Man have His will. If Man's Will defies God's will, He has achieved His will. If God wills "that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:6), for instance, and you decide not to, He achieves His will. In other words, if Man's Free Will negates a promise of God, that's okay because that was God's will. I'm not getting it.)

David said...

Let me swing this analogy by you, Stan, in regards to free will. Whenever you read a book or watch a movie, do you blame the characters for their actions or the writer? Sure, we can ask acknowledge that the writer is ultimately responsible, but our initial reaction is to talk about how the characters acted, not how the writer made them act. We are characters in God's story. We are responsible for our actions, but God is in control of the story.

Josh said...

Man's Free Will is only an aspect of God's will. God is not sidelined to watch everything play out. God is active in the world and will always be faithful to his promise, no matter what we decide or do. I don't understand your hang up.

David, If I was arguing against your analogy (which I would), I would make two points. First, no sane person would actually blame the character for their flaws or sins. Maybe as we watch we get "upset" at what characters do, but in reality they only acted off of the writers script. Second, If this analogy is true, the only glory God deserves is the Academy Award. What a small God. He wrote the script (I am not underestimating the magnitude of this), we acted it out, done. Oh yeah and all those people God scripted as "bad" guys, they get an eternity in hell for their reward.

Stan said...

" God is active in the world and will always be faithful to his promise, no matter what we decide or do."

Nice thought, I know, but if God's will, as you have determined, is to give Man's Free Will sovereignty, then there is no way that can be certain. In fact, it contradicts what you've been saying about known outcomes and all. My hang up? It contradicts Scripture. But that's just me.

David said...

How can He be beholden to our will and still guarantee that He can accomplish His goals without interfering? Biblically, He doesn't postpone His Will so that we can be lucky enough to be a part of it. Jesus' arrival was at the preordained time, not when humanity allowed Him. And if He doesn't interfere with our will, how much of a monster was He to have forced Mary to carry and deliver Jesus without asking first? Or when He hardened Pharoah's heart to keep the Israelites from leaving? There are lots of places where God has directly overwritten our will. By your standard, those were horrible things for Him to do, violating free will, even if the outcome was preferable.

As for my analogy, like all analogies, direct scrutiny finds flaws, and I was positing it to see how it worked. And the purpose of His story isn't to give Himself glory, nothing can be added or taken away from God, but to demonstrate His glory. By your standard, God is obligated to save some because He loves us more than He does Himself.

And I still haven't seen an answer to the question Stan asked, when you get to heaven, what made you choose God when millions of others that were given the same information did not? What made you so special? And how is that not something (even a .1% effort) to boast in? When it is our will that saves us (though we're clearly not saved by our will, biblically) how are we not able to say we merited our gift? We did something (believe) and we received what was due us for our action (saved).

It may feel harsh to say that all those "bad" people are predestined to hell, but biblically, there are fewer problems to answer for than your view. Salvation is an unmerited gift. Faith is an unmerited gift that allows us to overcome our natural inclination to hate God, to overcome our spiritual deadness, to hear that which can only be heard by the spirit (which, if you are paying attention can't hear when it's dead). We all agree that the Bible says we must make a choice. But it also CANNOT be denied that the Bible also says that we are incapable of choosing God without His intervention. Since we agree that the Bible is true and without contradiction (since it can't be true if it is contradictory) then we have to some how reconcile these two opposing facts. Your side decides to ignore those passages because it feels bad that God would create billions to have no ability to enter heaven. Our side allows both sides to mix together logically and understandably (see any other post Stan has done on free will for references) even though they may upset our sensibilities, but we believe that Scripture is more important than our feelings, so we must submit to what Scripture clearly teaches (and it clearly does teach it or this theology would not still be around for most of Church history). Fine, we disagree, but that's because we have different worldviews. We believe our reasoning and emotion should agree with Scripture. You believe Scripture should agree with our reasoning and emotion.

Josh said...

God has directly overwritten our will? Mary says “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me.” Before God hardens Pharaoh's heart, Pharaoh hardens his own heart. Exodus 8:32. When God hardens Pharaoh's heart it isn't overwriting his will, it is solidifying what is already there. Can you please cite me all of these many places where God overwrites the will of man?

Did I misrepresent your analogy? You think God is like the author of a story. We are the characters. The story has already been written in detail and completed. Some are saved and some are not based on how they were scripted to be from the dawn of time. To present your view, the analogy doesn't fail. If you are going to walk back your analogy, then you are going to walk back the way in which you actually see God represented in the Bible.

If you accept an expensive gift from someone, do you go around boasting about the excellent way in which you accepted the gift? Of course you don't. It seems to me I would be more apt to boast in the fact that God chose me over another person. If God offers a gift to all, and I accept it, where is boasting?

Whether you believe what I am saying or not, don't you really live that way? Don't you live like your decisions matter, and choices made today actually affect what happens tomorrow? Don't you act like the moment you were saved, was the moment you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior? Don't you choose to evangelize to all, as though they all had the ability to be saved? Don't you pray for healing, or circumstances to change, and actually believe they can?

Stan said...

God told Abimelech, "It was I who kept you from sinning against me." (Gen 20:6) It was Christ who knocked Paul to the ground. Saul neither approved the Spirit that came upon him (1 Sam 11:6) nor the evil spirit (1 Sam 16:14). When Balaam's donkey ran off the road (Num 22), where was Balaam's choices? Neither Mary nor Joseph were given the option not to be the parents of Jesus. Mary concurred after the fact. The Bible is full of God's intervention in human choices.

"If you accept an expensive gift from someone, do you go around boasting about the excellent way in which you accepted the gift?"

Apples and oranges. This gift could not be given to you unless you allowed it. More than that, you could not allow it unless you overcame everything in the human being that prevents you from allowing it -- sin nature and all. Given the fact that this excellent gift is offered to everyone and so few accept, there must be something special about those who choose in God's favor against human nature.

And why do you keep saying that I believe that our decisions don't matter? I keep affirming that we have free will and that God uses our wills and still you keep suggesting I think otherwise.

David said...

Biblically, my choices matter. Prayer matters. Just because the outcome is predetermined doesn't mean I'm no longer responsible for my actions. Neither of our theologies allow us to not evangelize. I can't know who God has ordained and you can't know who will overcome their sin nature. It is a false dilemma to say that since we don't know who we shouldn't even try. We also don't know how God will do it, maybe my words are what God uses, or my life, or maybe I'm just that starting seed that someone else expands on. I can't know. But neither can you. And neither of us has reason not to, not because of this theology.

Do I believe circumstances can change through prayer? What kind of nonsense is that? Your entire last paragraph has nothing to do with what we're saying. Of course choices made today have effects for tomorrow. The difference between you and I is that I believe that my choices won't change God's plan on any way. He's not hoping I make that choice. He knows the choice I'll make, and if it is counter to His Ultimate Will, He won't allow me to make that choice.

Josh said...

I admit from our perspective everything looks as though we have choices. This is true from both your theology and mine. My issue is not from our perspective, but from God's perspective. From God's perspective our theologies differ greatly. From my theology God still sees our choices as choices. He knows us intimately. He knows every thought we have ever had and action we have ever taken completely. With all of this information God can almost perfectly know what will come to pass. Through all these choices He does interact with man in a variety of ways (burning bushes, speaking, angels, spirts...etc.), but man is still free to choose. In your theology, there is no real choice from God's perspective. So, to my point about whether or not decisions matter. It comes from this idea. Sure, from our human perspective decisions matter, but from God's perspective only my view holds that as true. In actuality God isn't active at all in your view, he has set things in motion and they will play out according to plan.

Doesn't it seem disingenuous for God to create a world in which we all believe (our perspective) we can choose A or B, when in reality(God's Perspective) they have all been predetermined?

Stan said...

You're right. Our theologies differ radically. At its core, yours agrees with the original thought in this post that God in some sense values Human Free Will above His own ultimate will; mine doesn't. You find great relief knowing that God achieved His will in letting humans do whatever they wanted and I find it appalling to think that He would bow to His creation in that way and that He would so value His creation as to refuse to prevent harm simply because Human Free Will is so valuable. We routinely limit the free will of people who choose to harm others -- we call it "incarceration" -- but God does not. I find no comfort in that God. You also have a linear God, responding to events and all, while my version has God outside of time and not stuck in Man's time process. "Isn't active"? That's a gross misunderstanding. And, of course, the ongoing problem for me is this God of yours who is not what all of Church history and all of historical orthodoxy has held as true -- a Sovereign, Omniscient, Omnipotent God. I'm still confused at the numbers of people who come up with new theologies thinking that, up until they showed up, the Holy Spirit failed to do His job.

That's fine. I don't suppose you have the ability to move any more than I do. For you, it can only be "choice" if God doesn't certainly know the outcome. For me, God knowing the outcome doesn't change the fact that I chose. I had two (or more) possible choices and chose one and just because God knew perfectly which it would be, it doesn't negate the freedom of my choice.

As such (our mutually exclusive, entrenched positions), you will always ask questions like "Doesn't it seem disingenuous for God to create a world in which we all believe (our perspective) we can choose A or B, when in reality (God's Perspective) they have all been predetermined?" and I will be baffled because I had real choice and God used it.

Josh said...

"I'm still confused at the numbers of people who come up with new theologies thinking that, up until they showed up, the Holy Spirit failed to do His job"

Is it your position that we have all truth? At what point did that happen? At Pentecost?

Your idea of God as outside of time is a Platonic philosophy. I will admit that it was adopted by the Western Church with minor alterations through Augustine, but this view isn't Biblical. I am sure it would be possible to start with that philosophy and read certain passages to mean that, but I can't find a text that explicitly says this.

Stan said...

"Is it your position that we have all truth?"

Jesus said He would send His Holy Spirit to lead His own into the truth. At Pentecost? No, I don't think so. Probably at the end of the Apostles, once Scripture was penned. Your contention, I suppose, is that all Christians for all time have always gotten wrong this whole "Omniscience of God" thing until this recent movement came on the scene (just using that as an example)?

"Your idea of God as outside of time is a Platonic philosophy."

Your idea of God as limited in knowledge isn't biblical; that doesn't stop you, does it? You apply a "preset" -- "Free will cannot exist if God knows perfectly what our choices will be" -- and then figure out how to rearrange Scripture to match. The a priori is not from Scripture. I say, "God knows all things past, present, and future (because that's exactly what the Bible says) and God's time is not our time (because that's exactly what the Bible says), so God is not in our time structure." I didn't get it from Plato. I believe that God is the uncreated Creator, the unmoved Mover. Aristotle posited the same thing. I didn't get it from Aristotle.

Josh said...

My contention would be that all Christians for all time have gotten something wrong. I heard a quote one time that I think is true. "We will all have enough heresy when we get to heaven to make us blush" It seems that from the beginning of the Church there has always been diversity in belief. How do we decide who has it right, and who doesn't? It seems strange that you think everything was completely revealed by the end of the Apostles. The verse says we will be guided into all truth. I don't see a time-frame in which that is going to happen in scripture.

You personally didn't get it from Plato or Aristotle. You got it from the Church's historical interpretation of scripture, or Church History as you call it. The Church's historical interpretation of scripture has been heavily influenced by western civilization, which was heavily influenced by Plato and Aristotle. So every time you appeal to Church History, you are appealing to the influence of Plato and Aristotle.

Stan said...

Scripture contends that there will always be heresy ("false prophets"). There will always be something wrong. My contention is that revelation ended at the end of the Apostles in the form of Scripture. I don't mean that Christianity had arrived at all truth. As false prophets arose and offered false teachings, the Holy Spirit produced from the existing Scriptures answers to new heresies. An example. Prior to the 4th century there wasn't much discussion about the nature of Christ. When Arius argued that He was just a man, the question had to be settled and it was. That wasn't "new revelation", but it was a question that hadn't been argued before. It would be my contention, then, that the truth has always been present and believed amidst constant heresies because the Spirit has made it so. Your view requires that He ... well ... hasn't done a very good job. A bit of a screw up, actually. But, it's okay; we'll get it straightened out some day. Too bad those 2,000 years of Christians didn't have someone as attuned to the truth as we are today. But I suppose the Spirit has just been waiting to find someone willing to know the truth, eh?

Why do people do this? I read my Bible and come to the conclusion that we are chosen to be saved and people tell me, "You got that from Calvin and Augustine." No, I just told you ... I read my Bible and come to the conclusion. I read my Bible, see that God knows all things, past, present and future, and that a thousand years is as a day to God and I conclude that God is not in our time structure and you tell me I did not get it from my Bible, I got it from Plato and Aristotle, heresy that the Church embraced. Why is everyone so sure I can't read or understand my Bible?

Well, clearly, you and I have different Gods. Mine is Omniscient; yours is just really, really smart. Mine is Sovereign; yours sovereignly surrenders His sovereignty to His creation. Mine insures His own actually have the truth even in the midst of heresy; yours does not. Not small differences, really.

Bob said...

i noted that there is a lot of great discussion about Man's freewill and how it may or may not affect God's sovereignty. so far the discussion is great. but here is one point to consider.

John 3:3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

So if we are born from above, by the Spirit, and we don't know where it comes from or where it is going, how can we assert that some how we play a part in the process?
if we played no part in our first birth, then why should we assume we can play a part in second one?
unless the Spirit comes upon us and gives us new life, we are dead in sins and trespasses.

Josh said...

You read the Bible and come to conclusions? That seems great on the surface, but impossible in reality. Everyone reads everything through their own eyes and past experiences. You can not read the Bible without being influenced by teachers you have had, cultural experiences...etc.

"A thousand years is but a day to God," says nothing of God's position relative to time. The point if very literal, a thousand years to God is like a day to me. To come to the conclusion that God is outside of time takes a much greater leap. A Philosophical leap.

"His own actually have the truth." That is a serious claim. If one doesn't believe exactly as you do, can they still be "His own."

Stan said...

This form of communication is tedious, at best. And, in fact, when you and I come from such vastly different angles at something, it is unlikely (impossible?) for us to grasp what the other is saying. You know, like you aren't grasping what I'm saying.

You believe that the Holy Spirit has failed throughout the history of the Church to lead His people to the truth. I believe that there have always been believers who have the truth. I believe in what I will term "the scarlet thread of truth" has existed from Christ through today. Some have come to it. Some have left it. New facets -- different views from different sides that don't diminish or correct, but merely enhance it -- have come along. But it has always been there. If I cannot trace my understanding of Scripture back beyond me ... back to times before me ... then I question my understanding. You believe that this is not true, that the Holy Spirit has allowed, in the case of Open Theism, for instance, 2,000 years of Christianity to be absolutely wrong on what it teaches and now, in this latter day, the correction has arrived and the Holy Spirit finally managed to get through to someone. Two radically different points of view.

Truth be told, I cannot grasp God and time. I know He is immutable, but beings in time change. I know that God's sense of time is not mine. I know that He sees the end from the beginning and knows every day of my life before I live it. But, then, you don't agree with that, so how will I get any of that across to you?

Look, since you won't take me at my word and you won't accept that I can read the Bible and come to conclusions, why in the world are we discussing this stuff at all? You believe I am deceived at best and a liar at worst. Why bother? I know God is Sovereign; you disagree. I know He is Omniscient; you disagree. I know He is immutable; you disagree. And you want to clarify fine points when you don't think I can read my Bible and come to conclusions and you do not believe that the Holy Spirit leads His own into all truth? Makes no sense. I'm done with this topic.

Josh said...

I am sorry you are frustrated. I always enjoy our back an forth, but it seems we have come to the end. Thanks again for your time and the respectful tone you take when addressing my concerns. I like what you have said about the scarlet thread that has been enhanced by new facets through time. You seem to think our views are miles apart, but in reality I think we are closer than you would think. We may disagree on peripheral issues, but in fact the scarlet thread of Jesus Christ as savior has always been at the center of our conversations. Thanks again Stan and David. God Bless.

David said...

"You read the Bible and come to conclusions? That seems great on the surface, but impossible in reality. Everyone reads everything through their own eyes and past experiences. You can not read the Bible without being influenced by teachers you have had, cultural experiences...etc." Don't let Glenn see that. He came to his understandings without any outside influence whatsoever.

I agree that a healthy debate is always good for both sides. Stan's probably not done with the topic itself, but the round and round of missing the point. The two views are radically different and come from different starting points and go on different directions, so neither will ever come to an understanding of the other. You come from a place of it doesn't feel right so it must not mean what it says and we come from a place of it says it and our feelings should align with it.

And the scarlet thread doesn't necessitate that every believer will agree with every truth every time. We are flawed and run by our emotions and our struggle with our sin nature. But if something can be traced and maintained through history, even with our flaws, it indicates that God is involved. We believe the Bible because of its consistency despite the different times and different authors. The same goes for the work of the Spirit keeping us in the truth. Something radically new is questionable because it falls outside of the verifiability given to us of time.