Sunday, September 30, 2012


This post is intended to answer the questions left by the last. In brief: how is it that the world is full of existent sinners that do not feel the wrath of God poured out on them? We are kept alive because God desires to work in us to our good, which is found in his glory. How then does God glorify himself in our good when we are sinful? By showing his power to make us righteous.

Christ came, in the incarnation, fully human and fully God. He came as a new representative. As our representative, representing us as only a human being can, he did choose to seek all of his joy in the Father, he dealt with the wrath of God, taking the righteous punishment for our sins, as only the infinite God is able to do in a finite period of time.

Yet this new representative, Jesus Christ, does not represent all of those who come after him, but only those who claim him. Where Adam represented us all because he was first, Jesus represents those who are made in him, who choose him. Yet we are all sinners, our wills are turned against God, we do not want to be in Christ, unless our eyes are opened to the fact that only in Christ can we find true joy. Our sin payed for, we may now see God, and our wills may be pointed to him, our desire may then become to seek our joy solely in the will of God.

Therefore, by accepting by faith the salvation that Christ has bought us, we are found in him. Being found in him we are being made like him, for, being in him, the Spirit of God is in us, and he is shaping us into the image of Christ, that we might desire the things of God. Also, being in him, we share in his righteousness, and therefore our sins are no longer counted against us. His atonement has payed for all our sins, regardless of when they are, were, or will be. Why should a God who exists beyond time be bothered that our sins were committed before we believed? As all of time is present to him, so all our sins. If all our sins are present, so also all our sins are payed for.

"For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." (Romans 8:29-30) So we are justified by faith in Christ's work on the cross, and also glorified. As God is beyond time, he may say that our glorification has already happened, and as he is beyond time, he is accomplishing it now, in sanctification. Justification is, in a sense, the beginning of our lives in Christ, and glorification the end. So those who begin in Christ will also end in him.

Which is greater: the craftsman who can make a thing, but cannot then fix it if it breaks, or the craftsman who, having made an intricate device, when it breaks, is able to fix it? And which is better: the father who rejects his child when he goes against his will, or the father who loves the child enough to bring him back into the family, and is patient to teach that child what his will is?

So we who were in the wretched state of sin are now made new by our father, the master craftsman, and he will by all means keeps us, Christ will not lose any of those given him by the Father. Where before we were lost and acting according to our own desires, now we are found, and, by the power of God working in us, our wills are being made new that they might seek the will of God, which is our hope. Where before we had no desire to seek that which would bring us most joy, now we are found in him who brings us all joy, to the glory of God.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Human Nature & The Fall

This post probably should have gone before the last one. In that post I said that "Humans are, essentially, spirits in material bodies, have a desire for companionship, and find their joy in doing the will of God." So this post will attempt to provide support for those assertions, in the opposite order of how I stated them. Then I will try to pick at what happened in the Fall.

Our Joy in the Will of God

God does everything for his glory. It glorifies a thing more to find joy in ascribing value to it than to not. Therefore, God, in making us to glorify him, must have created us to enjoy him, for that glorifies him more than if he created us such that we enjoy some other more than him. Beyond this, and particular to humans, we may choose whether to seek this joy or not, and this makes us moral beings.

Desire for Companionship

First, there is the obvious. If we are created to enjoy ascribing value to God, then we are created for being with God. There is more to our desire for companionship than merely our companionship with God, however, as can be seen throughout scripture where God says "it is not good for the man to be alone" as well as those encouragements to gather together. This is not solely because we are weak by ourselves--God is powerful enough to empower us without working through other people--so there must be some reason behind creating us such that we desire companionship with other humans.

God is trinity, and, as I have said before, his nature is expressed more in something that looks more like him than in something that looks less like him. Thus the Christian community's being one in Christ is a kind of glance at the oneness of God.

Second, God's work for us is interpersonal, and so, for the same reason as he has expressed his attributes in creation to begin with, he desires, and, I would argue, causes it to be the case that his work for us be expressed in our actions toward others, which requires there to be actions toward others. Even if there had been no Fall, and thus no salvific act, this would be good reason for God to say "it is not good for the man to be alone," since God has created the world, and especially humans, made in his image, as an expression of himself, and thus we ought to have some way that we can express the relational attributes of God.

Spirits in Material Bodies

This one gets debated a lot. There is still a lot of back and forth on the issue in christian philosophical journals. On the other hand, the belief that God is an immaterial spirit is not greatly debated. For the same reasons that he must be beyond time, he must be beyond space. Matter is always constrained by space, if it were not it would not be much of matter. If there was some material thing which existed homogeneously everywhere, then it would just as well be immaterial. But who says God is homogenous? He is beyond time, and therefore unchanging. By the same logic, his being beyond space means that he is homogenous.

So God is immaterial spirit. What about us? We are made in the image of God. We show God expresses his spirit-ness by creating spiritual beings, not just angels and such, but in the world, his great tapestry, he has created humans to especially show his nature in the world. Thus, we are spiritual beings.

The Fall

The Fall is that event where the first man, Adam, as our representative, chose not to seek his joy in the will of God, and thus sinned. The question, then, is what God did in response to Adam's sin, and, since he represented all of us, what God did in response to our sin in Adam.

As we rejected God, so he allowed his rejection, to a degree. Not, in his mercy, entirely, for to sin is to seek the absence of God, and for God to be entirely absent from us would mean the cessation of our existence. Yet God did withdraw himself from us. God seeks his own joy, and our sin is an affront to him, it flies in the face of his will, so he shows us what it is to be without him, but only a small taste. His love of himself is such that he would not destroy that which he created for his own glory, instead he upholds our essential being. What, then, is the result of this withdrawal of God from us?

Our joy ought to be from God, but he has hidden himself from us. When we are born we do not notice him, though he stands over us, and under us, holding us up. And because we do not see the true object of our joy, we seek other objects of joy, continuing to say that there is no God, as fools, since we only exist because of God's grace. So our wills are all shot through with desire for things that are not worth desiring to such an extent as we desire them, and this is a sinful nature. Now, it is true that we may still choose to seek our joy in God, but our wills are no longer free to do so, they are caught up in so many other desires that are too powerful for it to free itself from. So we live for various things. Good things, but not God, and therefore our living for them is evil.

From this altering of our wills, so that we cannot find the true source of our joy, the right motive for our lives, it follows that we do what is bad for us, we desire some things too much, and others too little. We seek reason at the expense of charity, or renown at the expense of others' lives. We seek to be loved, or to love, but do not know what it is to truly love rightly, for we do not really know what others need, because we do not have it ourselves.

So... because God has withdrawn himself from us, we are wretched. Would that he had withdrawn entirely, that we could not offend him so! But he has not destroyed us, and he has kept us for a reason, he has surely not abandoned us, yet our sin demands that he abandon us. What is the answer to this paradox? Why are we sustained though we sin? How is it that God endures our sinful existence? He must either make us new or display his whole wrath upon us, and if it is only to display his wrath on us, why the wait? In addition to this, I have claimed that one must take the whole scope of what God does before one can necessarily see the wholly good of this world, that it is the best of all possible worlds, though it is full of sinful beings. How can this be?

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Incarnation

Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. The question, of course, is how? Well, why not say that he has the essential characteristics of God, and at the same time the essential characteristics of a human being? This, then, requires one to figure out what those are, and requires that they not contradict.

God is, essentially, in perfect union with himself, the one who created all that was created, who had no cause outside of himself, who is an infinite spirit, and is morally perfect. It may also be said that he is omnipotent and omniscient.
Humans are, essentially, spirits in material bodies, have a desire for companionship,
and find their joy in doing the will of God. It may also be noted that humans react to existence temporally.

I see no reason that Christ could not have all of these characteristics. It seems to me that there is no reason to assume any connection between the size of a spirit and the size of the body which that spirit might be in. I do not think that it is necessary to say that Christ necessarily had the ability to act atemporally while in time, though he may or may not have been aware of events atemporally.

It is enough, with respect to Christ's temporality, to say that he was able to have a certain sort of anxiety, being human, despite knowing how things would turn out. This does not seem strange to me, because it seems that there are times when it may be appropriate for a human to be anxious in a certain sense of the word. It does not seem to me that it is a sin to be anxious in that sense, but only to keep that anxiety, rather than to give that anxiety to God who works all things to our good and his glory. And Christ did give his anxiety to his Father, and, having done so, prayed "not my will, but yours, be done" (Luke 22:42).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Justice of Hell

How can a finite being commit a sin worthy of eternal punishment? I have been accustomed to giving an answer along the lines that because God is infinite, any sin against him is an infinite sin, any failure to give him the glory he is due is to rob him of an infinity of glory, and thus to commit an infinite sin, and that an infinite sin is worthy of likewise infinite punishment.

If our failure to give God infinite glory is a sin, then how can any finite being but sin? The question that follows from the above answer is this: "how can a finite being give an infinite amount of glory to anyone?" We do not have an infinite amount of glory to give. But God does. God has expressed his glory in creation, and when we say that each part of creation is glorious, and credit that glory to God, and not to creation in and of itself, then we are still only giving God the glory that we can ascribe back to him that he has shown us, and he has not shown us all of his infinite glory, so we still cannot glorify him infinitely.

Yes, we can say, "God is infinitely glorious," but can we truly ascribe to him infinite glory? Is it even hypothetically possible? Is there a way to conceive of Adam and Eve ascribing infinite glory to God before eating the fruit? To say God is most glorious, and to live in such a way that says the same, would be to ascribe the most glory to God. Is it possible to prove that the most glorious thing must be infinitely glorious, then?

He is omnipresent because otherwise where is was not would cease to be.
He is omniscient because in him is all that is true.
He is omnipotent because he made all things.
He is omnibenevolent because to be otherwise would be to deceive, and the creator cannot deceive.
He is all happy, in and of himself, because otherwise he would be dependent on some other for his happiness

But these are "all"s, not "infinite"s, and besides, none of those are his glory. Right? Well, wrong, actually. His omnipresence is an infinite presence, because otherwise there would be a "beyond God" which would thus not be sustained by God, and thus cease to be. As an infinite being, there is an infinity of things to know about him, and therefore his knowledge of all truth is a knowledge of an infinite number of truths. His omnipotence is infinite potency, because otherwise there would be some thing that he could not do, and therefore he would not be all powerful, but all powerful except that thing that makes him not infinitely powerful. He is infinitely good and happy for similar reasons as he is infinitely powerful. Now, his glory, or worth, consists in these things, i.e., his infinite knowledge (omniscience), infinite goodness (omnibenevolence), and infinite happiness in and of himself (See Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World).

Therefore, as finite beings, we ought to ascribe to God all the glory we are capable of ascribing to him, both by our words, our deeds, and our thoughts. To do otherwise is to say that some other is infinitely glorious and therefore God, and thus to say that God has some amount of glory that is less than infinite. This is to ascribe infinitely less glory to him than he deserves, and thus to commit an infinite sin. Sin is worthy of judgement in respect to how great the sin is, therefore an infinite sin is worthy of infinite judgement, and, as we are finite, we may not bear that judgement all at once, but must bear over time. The punishment being infinite, and our being able to bear only a finite amount at a time, it thus takes an infinite amount of time for us to bear the judgement of our sins.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Quantum Mechanics

or Scalar Reality and Two Conceptions of the Trinity

Scalar Reality

Our tendency is to think of things as either being or not-being, i.e., reality as binary, either on or off; but there was a time when reality was thought of as scalar. A scalar variable is one that can go from positive to negative infinity, whereas a binary variable either is or is not.

Whereas originally scalar reality might have been argued for by means of dust bunnies (you are more real than a dust bunny, obviously), since I don't find that argument compelling my argument for scalar reality is based on quantum mechanics.

In quantum mechanics, an unobserved object acts as a waveform, but, when observed, collapses into a particle form. The reason Schrödinger's cat is both dead and alive, and neither dead nor alive, is that, until it is observed, the waveform for the inside of the box, including the cat, represents a probability of whether the cat is dead or alive, not a certainty. When one looks inside the box the waveform collapses into either the dead-cat particle form, or into the alive-cat particle form.

With most objects, if one looks and sees what it is, then looks away, and thus causes it to revert back to a waveform, then looks back at it, one would be surprised if it changed drastically as this idea seems to suggest. However, the waveform holds a probability of the object being in any given state. Suppose the probability of it being a potato is 99.99999999999%. Well, then almost every time one observes the object, it will be a potato. Suppose another object whose waveform has a 95% chance of collapsing into a potato. Which object is more of a potato? The first. Suppose it were collapsing into existent vs. non-existent rather than potato vs. non-potato. The first would then be more existent, and thus more real.

The Trinity

These are two conceptions of the Trinity, I do not hold to either one very tightly, nor am I certain that they are mutually exclusive (though they may be), and the second is more of a metaphor than a true explanation (better than the three leaf clover, though).



Suppose one has a thought of an unicorn. For that thought to be had, it must be, and therefore any thought has some form of existence. It does not seem to have a 100% chance of existing, however. If there were no horses, it is unlikely that one's concept of a unicorn would be the same as it is. However, one's idea of a horse is much clearer than one's idea of an unicorn, after seeing horses and interacting with some. The idea becomes more and more clear, and would appear to be an idea that is more there, more real. Thus, the more clear the idea, the more details one can think of concerning that idea, the more real the idea is.

Suppose God the Father, then, holds in his thought his idea of himself. Being God, this idea must be a perfect idea of himself, and therefore, be a real idea of himself. This idea must be so real as to stand forth as another being, the Word, the Son. God, then, having perfect love for himself, has perfect love for this being, and this love, too, will be so perfect as to stand forth as a third being, the Holy Spirit.

God being eternal, none of this implies that any of the members of the Godhead are not eternal. Both the idea and the love being perfect it does not imply that any are less God, nor that they are separate, i.e., three gods. They are all one person, yet they are distinct persons.


Suppose a waveform that stands outside of time with three possible particle states. Should it interact with the world, or the world with it, such that it be observed, it will seem to collapse into one of the three states. It being outside of time, it may interact with the world at any given point of time innumerable times. It need not collapse into the same particle state every time, either. Thus, if God is considered as if he were such a waveform, and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the three possible "particle states" so to speak, then each member of the Godhead is equally God, yet are not equally each other.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stoicism is Hedonistic

In case there is ever a competition for two ideas that are seen as most different being argued to be compatible with each other...


"Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you die." That is the general impression that most of us have of hedonism. It isn't an especially reliable impression, though. The basic idea behind it is that only pleasure is inherently good, and only pain is inherently bad, which does not necessarily lead to drunken revelry. Still, I'm not using it that way here. What I am talking about is the idea that what one ought to do and what will bring oneself the most pleasure are identical. A pure hedonist would say that what makes a thing good is that it is pleasurable, but this softening allows that something else causes it to be good and to be pleasurable, and that they therefore always coincide. Thus, a thing is good if it brings pleasure to oneself, bad if it brings pain to oneself, and a thing is pleasurable to oneself if it is good, and painful to oneself if it is bad. So, Pain if and only if bad, and pleasure if and only if good. Note that, whereas utilitarianism is about maximizing pleasure for all who are affected, hedonism is just about maximizing one's own pleasure. It does not necessarily make any claims about what will do that, though.


Stoics ignore the outside world, sleep on concrete pallets, and live on bread and water. At least, that's the image that the word brings up. Again, the principle does not necessarily imply such extremes. Stoicism is grounded in the idea that one's happiness ought not be dependent upon circumstance. You might get unlucky, but why should you be unhappy about something you have no control over? Stoicism does not so much involve an idea of what is good, but it does imply certain attribute that "The Good" must have. By itself, stoicism says that we ought to regard things only with respect to their actual worth. On the whole, stoicism says that one ought to find some basis for one's happiness that will not change with respect to one's ability to gain happiness from it, and that has the most actual worth. Secular stoicism tends to place a person's happiness in the reason we all have at our disposal, as it is the most valuable aspect of our selves, but Christian stoicism suggests placing it in God. ought to Your house burns down? You lose your job? You're charged with, and found guilty of, a crime you didn't commit? Your child dies before you? These things, your house, your job, your reputation, your freedom, your child, are not yours, they are granted as gifts by God. Be glad he had the grace and mercy to allow you to have them for a short time. One's happiness ought not be in one's house, job, reputation, freedom, or child. One's happiness ought to be found in God, who is constant.


At this point the point of similarity ought to be coming into view. Stoicism says to have one's happiness be independent of what happens, hedonism says that the good and the pleasurable are the same. A Christian stoic says one's happiness ought to be found in God, and a Christian hedonist says that what is good will be pleasurable. Thus, a Christian Stoic Hedonist will say that one ought to find one's happiness in God alone, and that this manner of living will give the greatest pleasure to oneself.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Basis of Morality and the Problem of Evil

The timing of this post was completely unplanned. I simply got to the point that this was the next topic to tackle, and happened to have time today, in case anyone wondered.

The Basis of Morality

Recently, I showed that God must be the most valuable thing existent. All ought to ascribe value to things with regard to their actual value, therefore all ought to ascribe God most value of all, since he is most valuable. Furthermore, all ought to ascribe to God all value, since he created all that has value. Worship may be defined as the ascribing of ultimate value to someone or thing. Thus, all ought to worship God.

How does one ascribe value to a thing? One might merely state that the thing is valuable, but if one proceeds to ignore that thing, then people will assume that you are merely saying that, and that you do not actually believe it yourself.Thus, one must act out of a motive of seeking that which is valued. If it were merely to act in those ways that would show that one valued the object, then it could still be faked. If it could be faked, then one could lie in order to do good. But earlier I suggested that God must be entirely honest. Does it show that one values a thing if one does that which is contrary to that thing's purpose? Therefore, to do good is to be motivated by a desire for that which is most valuable.

The Problem of Evil

I have mentioned before my dislike for defenses against the problem of evil that make God seem less powerful than he may be. I have also shown that, from a certain perspective, we do not have freewill. Thus, a defense against the problem of evil must not rely on human freewill in that perspective, nor make any of God's attributes to be less than they may be. It will be helpful to examine the issue from the perspectives of God's transcendence and his immanence, separately.


God must act in such a way that he does not cause evil. This is relatively simple when one focuses on his transcendence, since he may create all the events at once such that the ideal outcome is provided, and therefore God acts with utmost desire for himself. Thus, taken as a whole, across all of its duration across time, this is the best of all possible worlds.


This leaves explaining the problem of evil when one focuses on God's immanence. This is not so much of a problem, however, because the perspective from which one may not rely on human freewill was the perspective of God's transcendence. Thus, the traditional freewill defense may be given from this perspective.

This traditional freewill defense supposes that God has given us freewill, and that this freewill is worth the risk of our sin, and that Adam sinned by misusing his freewill. This language does not appear to be open, having denied freewill from one angle. However, in so far as God is in time, and responds to human actions, freewill is granted to us. The language of "risk" may be unacceptable, but if so, then it is because God knows that the end result will be the best of all possible worlds, which is worth whatever finite amount of suffering is experienced before then. The last part of the defense, that Adam sinned by misusing his freewill, may thus stand so long as it is noted that freewill is granted us by God from this perspective.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Transcendence and Immanence: Salvation

First, in this post, there is small piece showing how God's omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience follow from what has been said before. The rest, i.e., most, of this post is working from the transcendence/immanence differentiation that I spoke of before, and suggesting a view of God that is (I hope) in some ways consistent with both Calvinist and Arminian language.
In previous posts I have suggested that God is beyond time and that he created all that exists. I have also suggested that causing a thing to begin to be and causing a thing to continue to be are identical from a perspective outside of time. The other thing I have suggested, that will come up in this post, is that God is both inside of and outside of time, similar to air being both inside of and outside of a room.


From his creating all that is, it follows that he has the power to do whatever he wants to do with all things, for it would be as simple as removing a thing and placing in its stead another thing identical in all respects but that which he chooses to change. It also follows that there is at least a sense in which he is everywhere, since he must act on all things in order to keep them existent. He must also know all things, for he made all that is. All things were made from the outflow of his attributes, thus all truth is in his being. Thus, he has the attributes of omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience.



Now, as God is outside of time, when he creates, what he creates is not created at a specific point in time, but rather, it spans a duration, all of which is created equally and simultaneously, as it were, by God. Each event, each decision, each change in position of each atom, everything is created as it is at each point in time by God. His causation of the world, both in its beginning and in each moment afterwards, are, in a sense, one and the same act of creation. Our prayers and our good works and even our sins only exist by his creative power. (I will deal with morality in the next post so as to show how God may yet be not the author of sin, and therefore still holy)

Yet God is within time. Time cannot keep God out of the world, indeed, if it did then all within it would cease to be, for without God's sustaining power all things cease to exist. Thus God, being in time, reacts to and is affected by his creation. Creation must therefore be orderly, and God must not be impassive to what occurs in creation, but react according to what occurs.

When God, outside of time, creates the world in all its moments, he therefore also creates it with his reactions to our movements. Those movements were created by God, however, and therefore he is not affected except in such ways as are according to his will. As he is in time, though, he reacts to our movements, yet his nature is not altered by our actions, but what he does because of his nature is different because the circumstances are.

Calvinism and Arminianism

Thus, as God is outside of time, he has predestined some to salvation, and some to damnation. God as in time, however, must be seen as reacting to our decisions, i.e., those who accept him are saved, and those who do not are damned. Yet God has, in his being outside of time, chosen some to be saved, some to be damned. At the same time, so to speak, he has opened salvation to any who would receive it, for in time there is a sense in which the salvation and damnation of those who will be saved and damned has not yet happened, and so the offer is given to all without bias and all are able, in a sense, to respond to the call, for in the sense that God is in time he is not causing the future to be as it will be, though as he is outside of time, he is causing it to be as it will be, or is, tense-less verbs would be nice for this.

It must not be said that these are different parts or aspects of God. I suggested thinking of it earlier as akin to Christ's nature as wholly man and wholly God, but I am second guessing that suggestion now. It may be better to say that it is a matter of perspective. God is eternal. Yet God is also responsive. It is not that these are separate, but actually that they both are and do not hinder each other. From God's point of view it may well be that understanding his transcendence is all that there is to understand, and that it contains his immanence, or that the distinction is false from his perspective. From a human point of view, however, it is a useful way of holding these two attributes of God together. As we live, God will almost always appear to be primarily immanent, and inside time,largely because we are inside time. God being outside of time is not contradictory with the appearance of God as inside of time, and understanding that God is outside of time is a comfort for many, and provides courage because we know that the victory is won. At the same time, this conception allows for an emphasis on the responsibility of humans, yet without that responsibility in any way entailing any sort of lack of sovereignty in God.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I AM: Honesty and Motive

This is, in part, an expansion of the short argument in the post "Theocentrism" on God, the creator, being centered on his own glory. It is also, in part, an argument for the inherent trustworthiness and honesty of God. It then ends with a return to the ending of the last post, providing more reason for God's grace and mercy from his sustaining himself.

God's Trustworthiness

Keeping in mind from the last post that God is unrestricted by time, God's inherent nature is therefore unchangeable, for change is not possible for a thing that always is. Now, suppose that God were not trustworthy, that he lied. As he is all that necessarily is, and all else is dependent on him, he must lie about himself. We expect nature to tell us about God because God made it, and thus he must have made it in accordance with his nature, his desires, what motivates him. To lie in creating the world, then, would essentially require him to do that which he, by his nature, desires not to do. Now, as, for God, as a being unconstrained by time, to cause a thing to begin to be and to cause a thing to continue to be are identical, so God, in maintaining creation, must also show his nature as God. Now, when God enters into creation in some sense, whether in the incarnation or by the words of the Scriptures, this must be a part of his causing the world to be a certain way. Thus, any way in which God affects creation is his revealing of himself, and if he acts according to his nature (else it would not be his nature, in which case it would never have been his nature, but what he acts on would be, in which case he is found to, in fact, be acting according to his own nature), he is honest. Now, if he says something about creation that is false, then he lies about his honesty, calling himself dishonest, if indeed he created creation in another way than he did, according to his nature. Thus, his word is truth, and his acts must be according to who he is.

God's Chief End is His Own Glory

In general, people are willing to pay more money for the ability, time, and knowledge to produce a thing than for the thing itself, though, in many cases, this includes the cost of the relevant education. Even a thing that we would never wish to have, or those things of which we might say "you would have to pay me to take that," we are more willing to be taught how to make it and given the time and materials to do so. People enjoy eating, as well as, it has been suggested, bowel movements. Good luck selling the finished product, though. Would you prefer to be given a blank book, or have the time, energy, ability, and motivation to produce a blank book? In paying for an education, you expect to produce things to pay for it, none of which will be equal to the worth of the education. In fact, one might state the actual value of the education based on how much more money one makes than one otherwise would. Thus, the ability to produce a thing appears more valuable than the thing produced.

God, then, as creator of all, having all that is required to make everything that is, is therefore the most valuable. This is, then, inherent to the nature of the Creator, that he is worth valuing. Now God, being honest, must call himself such, and this he does. For what else is worship but the ascribing of ultimate value to someone or something? So he tells us to ascribe to him all glory, to worship him. Indeed, if we were made for this, then it is the best that we might possibly do. This is our highest good, then, for God must have made us for his own glory, seeing that he made all things for his glory, for that is the point of all that he does.

Creation's Relation to its Creator

God, in creating the world created it in accordance with his own nature, which he values. He therefore values it, for he values himself and it is made in accordance with himself. Thus his acts toward himself are exercised toward creation, for the very reasons they were exercised toward himself.

Yet the creation fell. The question of why will be discussed later, but for now it is enough to note that the world is not as it was, wholly and purely showing forth, pointing toward, God's own nature. Yet it holds an image, a shadow of what it was, and is therefore still the recipient of God's acts toward it for God's glory. Why it does not hold more of what it was may be drawn from his justice, his acting against the denial of his glory. Thus, as the creation was an expression of God's nature God sustained it in being, yet as the creation rebelled, following its ruler, Adam, God removed its being, causing it to be less than it was.

Thus, seeing that God sustains himself, it must be supposed that, from the same motive, he sustains all he created, from which follows: grace and mercy to the world.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I AM: Grace and Mercy

This post is an approach to the nature to God from a philosophical point of view beginning with attempting to make the "unmoved mover" argument for the existence of God make sense. Thus, the trajectory begins at "How can there be an unmoved mover?" and ends with an exploration of what the resulting argument/answer leads to.

Why is There a God?

Everything conceivable object, or being, or thing, or concept, falls into one of two categories: caused or uncaused. Whatever prime mover is believed in, whatever one believes exists first, must still be in one of these two categories. Now, it seems reasonable to think that a thing, having been caused by a certain input of energy, requires no more energy to cause it to cease to exist.

Now, if a thing or being is uncaused, that is the same as saying it was caused by nothing. Shall we say that the prime mover is such? That seems to lead to a belief that the prime mover, whether chance (which is nothing), or science, or God, may cease it or his existence for no reason. A Christian who is living for God, with the hope of a new heaven and new earth, cannot suppose this of God.

On the other hand, can a Christian say that God is caused? If he were caused by another, then he would not be God, but instead the one who caused his existence would be. If he was not caused by another, and he was not caused by nothing, then what can we say? That he caused himself? But a thing that does not exist cannot cause, and a thing that already exist no longer has any need to cause itself.

The solution seems to be to assume that God simultaneously causes himself and comes into being. Both must be after the other, however, but our notions of time do not allow for such. Thus, suppose God to be unconstrained by time. Just as we say he is omnipresent in space, so also in time. Thus God, being, chooses to be. An eternal present in which God makes himself be existent.

Avoiding Exploding Brains


It is helpful at this point to point out two relevant ways in which a thing may be caused. This is required to get to the point where the conclusion of that last paragraph may be expressed satisfactorily by a being limited by time.

First, a thing may be caused to begin to be. This is the only way that the word was used in this post up to now. Cause leads to effect. Lives that were not before, begin to be. This does not seem to fit what is meant by God causing himself, at least not quite.

Second, a thing may be caused to continue to be. Breathing is part of what causes humans to continue to be. But if God only causes himself to continue to be, the question of whether he is caused, or uncaused, or some third option, remains unresolved.

Since God is supposed, at this point, to be unconstrained by time, it is now efficient to look at what these two types of cause become without respect to time. Without time, there cannot be truly said to be a beginning, nor a continuing. There is no before. The two types of cause become identical. Truly God, by no power but his own, IS.

How Should we then View Him?

Since we exist within, and are constrained by, time, talking about God as he is, unconstrained by time, is difficult to say the least, especially when talking of God causing himself. It would also be nice to see whether this idea of God's relation to time is useful, apart from providing some explanation as to why God introduces himself as I AM WHO I AM.

It is important to note that God being unconstrained by time does not mean that he is not in time. I am sitting in a room. There is air outside this room. There is also, of course, air in this room, or I would be getting out of it instead of typing. In the same way, God is in time, but he is also outside of time. He is beyond, or unconstrained by time. There is still a distinction between the two, which I note largely because it is likely to come up in future posts. This distinction, which, along with his being omnipresent and near to us, becomes important in some ways to understanding who God is. His omnipresence and his being outside of time are a large part of his transcendence, while his nearness to each of us, and his being in time, are a large part of his immanence. These are not different persons of God, Though Christ coming as God with us is in many ways because of God being immanent. It is closer to how Christ is fully man and fully God.

What does God's causing of himself look like to us? From our point of view, he already is. He created creation, past tense. If he is the sustainer of his own being, then he is the ultimate sustainer. It is easily supposed from here that it is in his nature to sustain. He sustains his people, he sustains the world, even the most wicked are sustained by God, as is shown by the fact that they do not cease to be. Thus God's grace and mercy flow naturally from his being the source for his own being.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Picture of Salvation in Exodus 3

This is the chapter in which Moses gets derailed by God from his shepherding of sheep to shepherd Israel, i.e., the one with the burning bush. The event itself is not necessarily Moses' conversion, but I think it draws a fitting picture of what is going on in it.

First, there is the burning bush, then Moses sees it. He is the only one around to see it, we are explicitly told that "the angel of the LORD appeared to him," (verse 2) i.e., Moses. So the bush is specifically for Moses to see and, it would seem, for him to be drawn toward, which he does. Who wouldn't? I suppose someone with a phobia of fire, or bushes, might not have, but that misses the point. Here is a strange appearance that would draw crowds in that day, not having advanced special effects and pyrotechnics, and it is in the middle of nowhere. Moses does not appear to have been seeking God, and the bush appears to be there whether Moses wanted to find God or not. So Moses comes out, sees this amazing thing, and did what anyone in his place would do "And Moses said, 'I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.'" There may be a sense in which Moses could have not gone to see the burning bush, but if so, it is the same sense in which most people could not take a raise without any bad side effects (as having to move, etc., might be). In the same way, in salvation, the one who was lost--wandering the wilderness, not even, necessarily, wanting to see God--sees a great light, a strange glory, and, though it may feel like a choice, it is a choice with no question as to what they will choose.

Despite the unsurprising nature of Moses reaction to seeing the bush, the text says "When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said 'Here I am.'" So there does seem to be some sense in which God responds to our actions. This does not seem to me to be a difficult thing to resolve, although it seems worth its own post. In short, God is beyond of time, as the transcendent God, but this does not mean that he is not also in time. There is a sense in which he is God with us, and in that way he acts as is right for him to act given what has happened up to a point in time.

God then introduces himself to Moses. Verses 5 affirms God's holiness and verse 6 reminds that he is the same God as has been working to bring this people into being. Verses 7-9, then, express God's compassion on his people. In verse 10 God calls Moses, telling him what he now wants him to do. Moses has already come to God, he does not need to do this thing. Except that God is able to be the power for Moses to do it, as is shown in the following verses. This is similar to a Christian being saved. We are told to do things, but our power to do those things is entirely God's power. Thus, the response to sin is to seek that God would use his power "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)

Sunday, September 2, 2012


I mentioned in the last post that I wanted "to offer a Christian philosophy that attempts to be as centered in the glory of God as possible," but did not explain where I was going or what I mean by that. Some of it may be gleaned from my explanation of how Christian philosophy is a branch of theology, but this post will draw out more of the why for it.

God is centered on His Own Glory

A short argument adapted, with small changes, from Edwards. God created everything. Therefore, whatever is valuable was made by God. The ability to create a thing is more valuable than the thing itself. Therefore, God is the most valuable "thing" of all. God is just, therefore he does what it is right to do to that which is most valuable, i.e., seek with all his being to obtain it in its fulness. To seek with all one's being to obtain a thing is to center one's life, i.e., one's self, on that thing. Therefore, God is centered on himself.

The Glory of God is the Nature of God and Our Good

Jonathan Edwards argues, in The End for Which God Created the World (The link goes to John Piper's God's Passion for His Glory, the second half of which is Edwards' The End for Which God Created the World. Piper chunks it into sections and explains what some of the more archaic language means, which makes it somewhat easier to read), that,
"The whole of God’s internal good or glory, is in these three things, viz. his infinite knowledge, his infinite virtue or holiness, and his infinite joy and happiness. Indeed there are a great many attributes in God, according to our way of conceiving them: but all may be reduced to these; or to their degree, circumstances, and relations." (paragraph 268, p. 244, emphasis in original)
So, to be centered on God's glory is to be centered on his nature which is identical to being centered on him. Extending the short argument above to its climax, then, God is centered on his own glory. God created all things, therefore, there was nothing to force him to act in any manner except his own nature. Thus, God did exactly what he willed, making what it was in his nature to make. From the short argument above, then, it follows that all things were made to glorify God. But the world is now fallen, in sin, yet it is still true that a thing is good (on its own, only,) in respect to how well it fulfills what it was made for. We shall still only find true, lasting happiness in doing that which we were created to do: glorifying God, that is, being centered on him, his glory.How this is to be found is likewise glorifying to God, for it is by Christ that we come to glorify him, though in our sin we wanted nothing to do him, indeed, we wished he did not exist. So, by the grace of God, by the work of the Spirit within, we come, through Christ, to see God's glory and therefore glorify God.

From this it follows that in seeking, or being centered in, that which is not God, we are not seeking even to know what our own good is, let alone to get it. In fact, it would seem that philosophy that is not centered on God and his glory is not Christian philosophy.

Where "Christian" Philosophy Might Not Be Christian

It seems best to focus here, not on where I disagree with prominent christian philosophers, though I use some as an example, but instead on the main attitude I fear they may have left behind in getting to those places: humility in understanding. Some who agreed with the entirety of this post up to this point may disagree with what is in this portion, hopefully any such disagreement will be by virtue of a different reading of scripture.

It seems that some philosophers, seeing that they cannot understand how something could be true, assume it to be false. The place this stands out most to me is open theism's assuming that God cannot be both personal and beyond time, and therefore denying what has usually been understood by his eternality, removing one of (in my opinion) the best explanations for divine foreknowledge and his unchanging nature, and offering little solace to believers in the midst of trials. This is certainly not a new charge to the ideas of open theism. My fear is that philosophers may save God's goodness and personal-ness at the expense of any meaningful sort of sovereignty. I believe it is better to suppose we merely do not yet know how God's person-ness and goodness interact with his sovereignty and eternality than to deny or lessen the import of any of his attributes, especially those most easily drawn from scripture, similar to how many affirm Christ's nature as the God-man, entirely God and entirely man at once, or God's nature as three persons in one, without necessarily being able to explain how these things are so. My frustration with modern philosophy was born from trying to find an answer to the problem of evil, and finding it difficult to find an answer to it that began with the nature of God, rather than merely explaining how the argument did not go against the orthodox understanding of his nature or suggesting that the orthodox view was wrong in some point, by virtue of its not being able to hold up at some point because it contradicts, say, his goodness or other attribute that people like (I fear a similar reaction is going on in response to the existence of hell--an overemphasis of God's lovingness to the detriment of his justness).

I reject many of these ideas for more reasons than merely that I fear they are born from a philosophy that is not centered on God, but those reasons can wait for a post specifically on those topics. For now, it is enough to note that christian philosophy seems to be ready to veer away from the nature of God as the nature of God, and toward the nature of God as would least offend modern sensibilities. A sort of Moralistic Therapeutic Deist philosophy of God, is what I fear we will end up with in the long run. This whittling down of God will quickly lead to an ineffective gospel, as the cross loses its reason for being and God loses his power to save the more we remake God in our own image. We must be careful to submit ourselves to the Spirit, humble ourselves before the Word, and listen first to God, as only by his grace may we come to the truth.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Obligatory Introductory Post

It seems like blogs are supposed to have their first post be some sort of introductory post. That post is supposed to tell what the blog will be about, the author's aims in writing the blog, and perhaps how often they plan to post. Thus, about: whatever I happen to think about long enough, i.e.,  philosophy, theology more generally, and possibly worldbuilding. Aim: to not write blog-post-sized Facebook statuses about theology (as I've approached at times), to show what I am thinking to whoever finds it interesting, and especially to offer a Christian philosophy that attempts to be as centered in the glory of God as possible. How often: no plan, as stuff comes out of my fingers it may end up posted here. I do not plan to post for the sake of posting. I would very much like what I post here to be helpful, and to that end it seems best to only post about what I find myself needing at the time, or about things that I have had more than a mere week to consider, and, ideally, both. This does not necessarily mean that I won't post much. I am creating this blog because I have recently, and increasingly, wished I had a blog on which to post various things.

A few explanations of what I mean by certain things.


Philosophy and theology

Although majoring in philosophy, I view philosophy as, properly, a branch of theology. God being the creator and sustainer of all that is, even us, his nature, therefore, when seen, i.e., when  rightly and fully and deeply understood, has in it the perfect explanation of how and why and what and to what end all things are, even matters of epistemology and aesthetics, as well as matters of ethics, metaphysics, and all else. God being the answer, in a sense, to these things, successful philosophy seeks God. Now theology is often described as the study of God, so what is the difference between successful philosophy and theology? I would suggest that the largest difference is in which sphere, or mode, of thinking the practitioner prefers, or engages in most. This distinction may only truly exist in religions that have strong roots in some scripture.

Christian theologians study God primarily from the text of the Bible. Thus, when asked a question, a theologian will consider various passages of scripture and how they relate to the matter at hand. He will then put those passages together, attempting to find how they fit together. This is not bad at all, in fact, all theologians ought to study scripture well, in order that there might be a wealth of material for him to draw on, aided by the Spirit.

The difference with Christian philosophers, specifically, is that they tend to think of realities that are implied at a much deeper level in scripture, as well as those that seem to be implied merely by looking at how the world is. Not deeper in the sense that they are closer to truth and holier, but deeper in the sense that scripture does not place them in front of the reader as it does other things, such as God's more obvious attributes and the commandments. This is also not bad, it is still exegesis of the Word of God, which is still truth. The philosopher does have a harder challenge in some ways, however. A philosopher must not forsake the written Word for the sake of the world, and he must remember that the world is not as it was made. The world is fallen, and so, there are places where a common sense exegesis, even without flaw apart from the fact that it forgets the fallen nature of the world, would teach falsehood. A philosopher must also remember that his own reason is flawed. Not that a theologian (as is more commonly thought of) is safe from this manifestation of pride, but it becomes a greater threat to the philosopher because he deals with the art of reasoning in a way that makes it appear less dependent on the grace of God. The common theologian has the scriptures before him more often, and is therefore often reminded that even his premises come from God. The philosopher ought to meditate on the his own nature as both a created and fallen being before a holy and perfect God, remembering that in God is all truth, and in the philosopher is no truth except that which God has granted to give to him.

It should be noted that the philosopher is a theologian, and, as such, ought to be thinking in scripture, just as the Christian theologian ought. It is a great encouragement to find oneself writing on some topic and find at some point that another has reasoned in a similar manner, in a similar way, then, it is encouraging to find oneself coming to conclusions and pressing statements that are themselves expressed in scripture.


World Building

A hobby that I dabble in, Tolkien called it "sub-creation" referring to how he thought of it as an act of worship to his own creator. As God has created us, so, in a similar way, Tolkien created Middle-Earth. For myself, worldbuilding is where I imagine how things could be, ideas, cultures, etc. As it stands in the list of things I might post about, it gives me an excuse to post about, really, anything. We'll see what becomes of it, if I even end up posting about it.


The Title

I suppose it is almost obligatory: an explanation of why I chose the title. The short answer is: I am in both worlds. The most obvious sense of this is that I am saved, and so I am both a citizen of another world, completely certain that I will see that kingdom, as far as worry it is as good as done: I am as good as there, yet I am in this world, excitedly--even anxiously--waiting for God's kingdom to come. A second way: I've joked about living in an ivory tower, and I enjoy dense philosophical writing, but I have been given a gift in that I really care about people. I would pull an all-nighter without regret to comfort someone, but I would be irked if I had to pull an all-nighter for a school project. Another sense is that I worldbuild, which is partly because I tend to ask questions that are entirely devoid of consequence in reality. In this way I am entirely not here, yet the questions are brought up by things that are here.

What I mean by "a Christian philosophy that attempts to be as centered in the glory of God as possible," I will leave for another post, which will likely touch on what I see as common, or dangerous, inclinations in at least some areas of christian philosophy.