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    The Big Picture

    Someone recently described me as somewhat left of middle towards the process theology end of the spectrum (if there is such a thing). I wrote this to set the record straight.


    Let me say first of all that I completely disavow the process theology of AN Whitehead – bi-polar godism as it is often called. I believe that God and his creation are distinct. I do not believe that the universe is a part of God’s being.

    Having said that, the fact that God has participated in history in the man Jesus should lead one to consider that God is much more involved in the created world than the standard dualistic theistic model would suggest. That model is somewhat Platonic and makes truths such as the incarnation difficult to fit. There are many ‘mysteries’ (euphemism for inconsistencies) in the dualistic model and it is my belief (ethic, if you like) that speculation at this level is likely to be fruitless. It is clear from the New Testament that the pantheistic model would also be beneficial as a means of conveying truths about God. This is surely incontrovertible: the logos of John is clearly a reference to the Stoic (Stoicism is a form of pantheism) logos or reason, the binding force that gives all matter meaning. Paul himself was well acquainted with Stoicism, having been born in a city that was a stoic stronghold and a lot of his teaching about our unity in Christ is explained in pantheistic terms such that our unity is not merely a unity of mind but a participation in his being.

    Again, I’m in no way saying that Christianity is pantheistic, just that there are various models that Christianity could fit into if you wanted one. This is actually a great point for evangelism. None of the models work but all of them have points that can help us to understand the New Testament teachings. Thought systems such as pantheism or dualism or perhaps even process theology, can act as analogies of Christian truth.

    As to process theology, AN Whitehead does not have exclusive rights over the use of the word ‘process’. But openness theology is fundamentally relational (which is its similarity with stoicism) and since that relation must be dynamic, it has to be concluded that openness advocates that an open world necessarily implies that the world is in process. This is in direct contrast with the Calvinistic view of the world as having been already pre-fabricated by God and hence is completely closed. But to suggest that because I believe in this kind of openness, it means that I favour process theology as such, is way off the mark.

    But the strong dualistic system in which Calvinism is located also has faults, the main one being that in it, God is completely ineffable. How many times have you heard a Calvinist say “But God is beyond logic!”? You can’t argue with that can you? Because the better your arguments, the more your counter party will insist. He seems to delight in that fact that it does not make sense. I despise this kind of thinking because it is anti-intellectual, but it is a natural consequence of the strong dualistic thought system. Because you can’t really know anything about God, no consistency is required in your beliefs. In this world-view, God is so different to us and his thoughts so far above ours that he is illogical whenever we are logical and logical whenever we are illogical. Everything is arbitrary and meaningless.

    My version of openness seeks to redress this by asserting that God and his creation relate consistently with each other and openly. This makes communication between God and man possible and meaningful. It also implies that the future of that relationship is not fixed. This is a bigger issue than that of God’s relationship with man or individual people. It means that the whole system of both God and his creation can be viewed as one single coherent system. But this is only a logical issue, not a physical one. It does not mean that I am a pantheist or a panentheist. It does not mean that I think of this single system as in any sense greater than God. It does mean that there is purpose and rationality (= meaning, order, logos) to our existence whereas with the strong dualist view, there really is no purpose in the creation of the world. They say that it is for God’s greater glory that he has made everything the way it is but that always has sounded hollow to me because we can never understand or appreciate what that glory may be. It is all about God and not about us at all. If we are to be valued as human beings we don’t want to be told that we are valuable just because someone arbitrarily decides that we are. We need to understand that we are valuable in ourselves. Similarly, we need to appreciate that our relationship with God has its own benefits now and that we have a foretaste of heaven now. Within Calvinism, specifically its location in the strong dualistic thought system, what we are now will be lost completely, which devalues everything we do. An open relationship with God values us. Moreover, an open relationship between God and the created world values the world as a whole and gives rise to such beautiful things as purpose, responsibility and righteousness.

    It also makes sense of the cross because the cross is the proof that God is open, that he is willing to accept the consequences of his own love for us. It is the same as ‘The word became flesh’: the proof of God’s open love became reality. It wasn't mere words, mere theory. Under Calvinism, the cross is actually unnecessary because God could have made the world any way he wanted from start to finish. He would have dictated the terms of the existence of the world. This is why the cross has always been a mystery in reformed theology. It can never overcome the fundamental barrier of its arbitrary nature.


    Any comments appreciated.
    Last edited by Desert Reign; April 25th, 2013 at 11:29 AM.
    Total Misanthropy.
    Uncertain salvation.
    Luck of the draw.
    Irresistible damnation.
    Persecution of the saints.

    Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
    (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

    RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
    Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
    Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

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    I can appreciate your observations and logic, as one who has been a Christian for over 50 years I have studied and asked many of my own questions. After an event God brought into my life, I began some biblical research that lead me to a much needed and broader understanding of who God is and who we are as his creation. The result of my research, was founded in my 27 year study of the nature of God and man that answers many of your questions and observations, then placed in my book. Whether you agree with my conclusions or not I think you would find interesting the study that may help in your pursuit of the truth.

    Made in the Image of God: Understanding the Nature of God and Mankind in a Changing World (ISBN: 978-1-936076-78-9)

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    theophilus (February 27th, 2016)

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    You should be a Christian Apologist because you keep Apologizing for everything.

    This whole thing can be summed up in the verses...


    Ac 17:27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him,

    and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

    Ac 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being;

    as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.


    1Co 12:6 And there are diversities of operations,

    but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

    1Co 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also

    himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

    Eph 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
    GOD HAS PROMISED US IMMORTALITY

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcetc View Post
    I can appreciate your observations and logic, as one who has been a Christian for over 50 years I have studied and asked many of my own questions. After an event God brought into my life, I began some biblical research that lead me to a much needed and broader understanding of who God is and who we are as his creation. The result of my research, was founded in my 27 year study of the nature of God and man that answers many of your questions and observations, then placed in my book. Whether you agree with my conclusions or not I think you would find interesting the study that may help in your pursuit of the truth.

    Made in the Image of God: Understanding the Nature of God and Mankind in a Changing World (ISBN: 978-1-936076-78-9)
    Spam / advertising. This is a discussion forum, mate.
    Total Misanthropy.
    Uncertain salvation.
    Luck of the draw.
    Irresistible damnation.
    Persecution of the saints.

    Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
    (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

    RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
    Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
    Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OMEGA View Post
    You should be a Christian Apologist because you keep Apologizing for everything.
    Sorry.

    This whole thing can be summed up in the verses...
    Ac 17:27
    Ac 17:28
    This is the bit that is important:

    as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
    Who were these poets and what was their message?
    Total Misanthropy.
    Uncertain salvation.
    Luck of the draw.
    Irresistible damnation.
    Persecution of the saints.

    Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
    (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

    RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
    Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
    Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

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    Adapted from stuff done for church Bible study:

    There is a hymn I learnt not long after I became a Christian. The chorus goes
    He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives in me
    He walks with me, he talks with me
    Along life's narrow way
    He lives, he lives, salvation to impart,
    You ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart.
    Perhaps you can remember some of the verses. They are about the closeness of Jesus to us.

    I know some of you are uncomfortable with notions that God is not eternal or omniscient or omnipresent. The Bible says that God is almighty and therefore there is an obvious benefit in placing our trust in him. If he were not, then I guess none of us would be here. However, that is not the same as saying that God is not a part of this universe or that he is so totally different to us as to be effectively incomprehensible and unknowable.

    Try to imagine what it would be like being married to a husband who knows everything... in fact who can do anything. What would you ever do for him? How would you speak to him? What could you tell him? How would you react if he not only could do anything but that he actually does do everything that ever happens?

    For the Calvinists and many other Christians, all the things that we ourselves do are illusions. Or they are of little worth. The Calvinist in particular would say that indeed everything we do is worthless.

    God is present in this world and is very much ready and willing to have a relationship with us if we are willing. It is not just a legal relationship or a mathematical one but a living one, as between a husband and wife, as between two brothers, as between a father and his children. Such a relationship is dynamic and productive. The alternative is static and is more like the chappy who got the one talent and buried it to keep it safe.

    My desire is for Christians to have a relationship of living faith, like the one referred to in the old song. In this relationship, we will see many more answers to prayer, more dedicated sacrificial service, we will see much more evangelism, more miracles and more healing. Not that we particularly want these things for themselves. But we want the kingdom of God to increase through us. This static Greek image of God is not conducive to that kind of spirituality. If you go to a random church with reformation beliefs such as a Baptist church or a typical Anglican church and listen in on their prayer meeting (if they even have one) you will find it full of reticence and uncertainty. Most of the prayers start with 'If it is your will Lord...' or much of the prayer is about finding out what God's will is. Because people are afraid to ask for what they themselves want in case it is not God's will and they are disappointed and their prayer was a waste of time and emotional energy. And they fundamentally feel that their own wills really do not come into consideration. It is somehow problematical to ask for anything in prayer at all because what God wills has already been determined and prayer is solely for the benefit of those who pray - as a means of helping them to feel in touch with God.

    Jesus has already given an answer to this issue:

    Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. 21 So He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." 23 Jesus said to him, "If you can believe? All things are possible to him who believes." 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!" 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, "He is dead." 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" 29 So He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting."
    Last edited by Desert Reign; May 9th, 2014 at 05:25 AM.
    Total Misanthropy.
    Uncertain salvation.
    Luck of the draw.
    Irresistible damnation.
    Persecution of the saints.

    Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
    (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

    RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
    Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
    Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Reign View Post
    Someone recently described me as somewhat left of middle towards the process theology end of the spectrum (if there is such a thing). I wrote this to set the record straight.


    Let me say first of all that I completely disavow the process theology of AN Whitehead – bi-polar godism as it is often called. I believe that God and his creation are distinct. I do not believe that the universe is a part of God’s being.

    Having said that, the fact that God has participated in history in the man Jesus should lead one to consider that God is much more involved in the created world than the standard dualistic theistic model would suggest. That model is somewhat Platonic and makes truths such as the incarnation difficult to fit. There are many ‘mysteries’ (euphemism for inconsistencies) in the dualistic model and it is my belief (ethic, if you like) that speculation at this level is likely to be fruitless. It is clear from the New Testament that the pantheistic model would also be beneficial as a means of conveying truths about God. This is surely incontrovertible: the logos of John is clearly a reference to the Stoic (Stoicism is a form of pantheism) logos or reason, the binding force that gives all matter meaning. Paul himself was well acquainted with Stoicism, having been born in a city that was a stoic stronghold and a lot of his teaching about our unity in Christ is explained in pantheistic terms such that our unity is not merely a unity of mind but a participation in his being.

    Again, I’m in no way saying that Christianity is pantheistic, just that there are various models that Christianity could fit into if you wanted one. This is actually a great point for evangelism. None of the models work but all of them have points that can help us to understand the New Testament teachings. Thought systems such as pantheism or dualism or perhaps even process theology, can act as analogies of Christian truth.

    As to process theology, AN Whitehead does not have exclusive rights over the use of the word ‘process’. But openness theology is fundamentally relational (which is its similarity with stoicism) and since that relation must be dynamic, it has to be concluded that openness advocates that an open world necessarily implies that the world is in process. This is in direct contrast with the Calvinistic view of the world as having been already pre-fabricated by God and hence is completely closed. But to suggest that because I believe in this kind of openness, it means that I favour process theology as such, is way off the mark.

    But the strong dualistic system in which Calvinism is located also has faults, the main one being that in it, God is completely ineffable. How many times have you heard a Calvinist say “But God is beyond logic!”? You can’t argue with that can you? Because the better your arguments, the more your counter party will insist. He seems to delight in that fact that it does not make sense. I despise this kind of thinking because it is anti-intellectual, but it is a natural consequence of the strong dualistic thought system. Because you can’t really know anything about God, no consistency is required in your beliefs. In this world-view, God is so different to us and his thoughts so far above ours that he is illogical whenever we are logical and logical whenever we are illogical. Everything is arbitrary and meaningless.

    My version of openness seeks to redress this by asserting that God and his creation relate consistently with each other and openly. This makes communication between God and man possible and meaningful. It also implies that the future of that relationship is not fixed. This is a bigger issue than that of God’s relationship with man or individual people. It means that the whole system of both God and his creation can be viewed as one single coherent system. But this is only a logical issue, not a physical one. It does not mean that I am a pantheist or a panentheist. It does not mean that I think of this single system as in any sense greater than God. It does mean that there is purpose and rationality (= meaning, order, logos) to our existence whereas with the strong dualist view, there really is no purpose in the creation of the world. They say that it is for God’s greater glory that he has made everything the way it is but that always has sounded hollow to me because we can never understand or appreciate what that glory may be. It is all about God and not about us at all. If we are to be valued as human beings we don’t want to be told that we are valuable just because someone arbitrarily decides that we are. We need to understand that we are valuable in ourselves. Similarly, we need to appreciate that our relationship with God has its own benefits now and that we have a foretaste of heaven now. Within Calvinism, specifically its location in the strong dualistic thought system, what we are now will be lost completely, which devalues everything we do. An open relationship with God values us. Moreover, an open relationship between God and the created world values the world as a whole and gives rise to such beautiful things as purpose, responsibility and righteousness.

    It also makes sense of the cross because the cross is the proof that God is open, that he is willing to accept the consequences of his own love for us. It is the same as ‘The word became flesh’: the proof of God’s open love became reality. It wasn't mere words, mere theory. Under Calvinism, the cross is actually unnecessary because God could have made the world any way he wanted from start to finish. He would have dictated the terms of the existence of the world. This is why the cross has always been a mystery in reformed theology. It can never overcome the fundamental barrier of its arbitrary nature.


    Any comments appreciated.
    I believe you are not sufficiently examining the "Personhood" of God represented by the "Word" of Himself Who had a form.

    If God's intention (and I believe was and still is) was to propagate His "Personhood" throughout His creation, human flesh was the only way He could accomplish it simply because the blood of humankind could only be that which could advance God's desire. The"Word", the form/image, the very expression of Himself, Mose' saw, the One Whose Glorified Body was without blood until Mary birthed "a Body prepared" for Him Whose Name was Jesus; Who is the "Ancient of days".

    Since His resurrection, the Gloried Jesus Christ is without blood testifying to the fact of His success in establishing the necessary bloodline for 'new born' man's enablement to do enter into that same state of being..

    Is not the 'serious' Christian, the one who realizes the cross is more than what is preached about it, by faith, presently seated with Christ in Heavenly places? Is this not by the Faith of the Son of God, in union with the Father per John 17:3ff and Gal 2:20 KJV (only)? I think so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cross Reference View Post
    I believe you are not sufficiently examining the "Personhood" of God represented by the "Word" of Himself Who had a form.
    It was intended to be a big picture summary of openness. How would this affect my ideas?

    If God's intention (and I believe was and still is) was to propagate His "Personhood" throughout His creation,
    Why would it be important for him to propagate his personhood? How would this differ from simply creating a world that reflected his character?

    human flesh was the only way He could accomplish it simply because the blood of humankind could only be that which could advance God's desire.
    I'm afraid I don't understand your sentence.

    The"Word", the form/image, the very expression of Himself, Mose' saw, the One Whose Glorified Body was without blood until Mary birthed "a Body prepared" for Him Whose Name was Jesus; Who is the "Ancient of days".
    Is this the answer to my first question above? I am still not sure how this is significant to the OP.

    Since His resurrection, the Gloried Jesus Christ is without blood testifying to the fact of His success in establishing the necessary bloodline for 'new born' man's enablement to do enter into that same state of being..

    Is not the 'serious' Christian, the one who realizes the cross is more than what is preached about it, by faith, presently seated with Christ in Heavenly places? Is this not by the Faith of the Son of God, in union with the Father per John 17:3ff and Gal 2:20 KJV (only)? I think so.
    I can't make head nor tail of this I'm afraid. If the serious Christian realises something about the cross, then that realisation is important. If it is important then it should be communicated to others (i.e. preached). So it makes no sense to say that what a serious Christian realises about the cross is more than what is preached about it. I might be wrong but it sounds to me as if what you are saying is that your version of the cross is serious and that others should realise it too. I'm not saying that it isn't, just that I don't understand it.
    Total Misanthropy.
    Uncertain salvation.
    Luck of the draw.
    Irresistible damnation.
    Persecution of the saints.

    Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
    (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

    RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
    Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
    Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

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    In my NASB Bible in Genesis chapter 3 there is a chapter heading THE FALL OF MAN which precedes the narrative of how Adam and Eve disobeyed God and became mortal.
    That heading is the only time in the whole Bible where the phrase 'fall of man' occurs. Of course, that heading is not really in the Bible at all. It is just a comment added by the editors. It is not even a translator's comment (as far as I can guess). Because translators don't add comments like that. It is simply not their job.

    The idea of a fall is quite old and certainly predates Calvin. But let's pass over the history and just look at the passage itself. Is it a fall or isn't it? If it is, what is it a fall from and what to?

    Of course reformation theologians like their own slant on it but it is basically the same idea from ages past. Namely that Adam was perfect and immortal but then fell to becoming sinful and mortal.

    I can think of several flaws in this concept. However, that is because I am used to questioning basic concepts. Most people are not used to it and take it as read that this is a completely basic truth.

    ************************************************** **

    My first question mark over this supposed basic principle is that in order for Adam to have sinned, he needed to be sinful in the first place. Now most realists, like me, would say that you describe a person as sinful if he sins. A person who doesn't sin is not described as sinful. This is a practical solution based on reality. If a person does something in reality then that is what the person is like. If he merely says that he is a Chelsea fan but never watches them play or never checks to see how they are doing in the league and put some emotional energy into following them, then he isn't a Chelsea fan at all and his words are meaningless.

    However, Calvinists (who are essentially idealists) think that concept exists independently of reality. They think that a person sins because they are sinful. In other words they believe that there is a reality (a Platonic reality) that exists somewhere in hyperspace which is expressed by the general truth such as 'man is sinful' and that when man does actually sin, that is a mere expression within history of the reality that exists in the concept of man's sinfulness. I hope that's clear. Sorry if I didn't explain it well. In fact, the whole of history, the whole of the physical world is, for the Calvinist, not reality in itself but an expression (or expressions) of some eternal concept or concepts.

    Here is the big problem for the Calvinist who insists that man sins because he is sinful and not the other way round. Adam sinned. But if he sinned because he was sinful, then he must have already fallen into a sinful nature before the so-called fall happened - a manifestly absurd position to adopt.

    ************************************************** ***********
    My next point is less argumentative and more evidence based. If we look to the conclusion of the narrative in chapter 3, we see that God stationed an angel to guard the entrance to the garden for the express purpose of preventing the man from eating from the tree of life. We can assume from this that the man had never eaten from that tree before. So he wasn't immortal before.

    This is a stunning idea. One that challenges all our unquestioned assumptions about the nature of man and the purpose of the cross and the meaning of salvation. But, before he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he wasn't mortal either. Mortality was the consequence of eating from that tree.

    The text is quite clear about this. We can naturally ask, if he was neither mortal nor immortal previously, then what state was he in? This is a fair question and the narrative would be incomplete without dealing with this obvious issue. That is why the narrative fills the gap by stating expressly
    25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

    This sentence is the real heading of the narrative (and belongs at the start of chapter 3 rather than the end of chapter 2) because it explains exactly the issue that I mentioned before. Adam and Eve were like innocent children; they were neither mortal nor immortal. They were completely uninvolved in moral issues. Their only purpose in the narrative is to make a choice one way or the other (and do what they were told, to look after the garden, just as all children must). Of course the serpent was there to take advantage of the situation and the rest is history, as they say.

    A lot more could be said about this but I just want to emphasise now that there was not a fall, but a wrong choice. Man became mortal by nature, not sinful by nature.
    Last edited by Desert Reign; May 4th, 2014 at 06:37 AM.
    Total Misanthropy.
    Uncertain salvation.
    Luck of the draw.
    Irresistible damnation.
    Persecution of the saints.

    Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
    (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

    RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
    Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
    Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

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    On the subject of sin...

    Openness declares that our relationships are what they are in themselves, not what they are defined to be. Before Christ, God gave Israel the law and henceforth his relationship with Israel was defined in the covenant. Breaching the law gave rise to certain earthly punishments. Some people think that there is a universal law or heavenly law that gives rise to eternal punishments in an analogous way. The problem with this idea is that there are too many people laying down laws as if they were somehow absolute. I would say there is no such thing. The Law of Moses pointed to God's righteousness, not to another set of laws. For instance, the command not to harvest into the corners of your fields reflects God's righteous concern for the poor. You can keep the law easily enough, but if you go around defrauding the poor and taking advantage of the weak, your keeping the law of harvest is not going to earn you any points in God's good book.

    God's righteousness is not law. It is in the heart or nowhere.

    When we were separate from God, we were like subjects in any country. We have to keep the law of that country or we will be punished. There is no direct relationship between us and the king. All our activities are governed (defined) by the law. But when we are saved through Christ, we are like the king's own family. The law no longer applies to us because we are friends, not subjects. When ordinary people who are without God act unrighteously, they incur his anger and build up a store of judgement against them. But when the saved (on occasions) act unrighteously, God does nothing (or maybe he might raise an eyebrow or send us a fellow believer to put us on the straight and narrow) because we are his sons and his friends. He knows that our hearts are righteous. Our sin no longer condemns us. This privileged position has been won for us by Christ on the cross.

    By the way, feel free to comment. Loads of people have viewed this thread, does that mean that you all agree?
    Last edited by Desert Reign; May 12th, 2014 at 06:38 AM.
    Total Misanthropy.
    Uncertain salvation.
    Luck of the draw.
    Irresistible damnation.
    Persecution of the saints.

    Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
    (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

    RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
    Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
    Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

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    theophilus (February 27th, 2016)

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    This is an interesting thread. There is too much content to comment on it in a reasonable amount of time. In general I think you are over-correcting from Calvinism. Some of the things you reject are Reformed errors, but some are sound classical theology. For starters, here is a question:

    What is the place and extent of transcendence in our understanding of God?

    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Reign View Post
    A lot more could be said about this but I just want to emphasise now that there was not a fall, but a wrong choice. Man became mortal by nature, not sinful by nature.
    Genesis certainly says that man became mortal. St. Paul certainly says that man became sinful.

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    theophilus (February 27th, 2016)

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    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    For starters, here is a question:

    What is the place and extent of transcendence in our understanding of God?
    Thanks for your comment, Zippy.

    My understanding of transcendence is simply the Biblical view of transcendence taken from such passages (when read in their proper contexts) as
    God is not a man that he should lie (God is not fickle but is stedfast)
    My ways are not your ways (God is morally pure and consistently righteous)
    A day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day (God's plans reach much further than man's - man might be concerned with details but God sees the big picture; man may look at generalities where God looks at details - both are true.)
    There is nothing here about God being so totally removed from the world that he is unknowable.
    Other passages abound:
    The woman at the well: Spirit and truth (means that God is not restricted to specific places as if he could be owned by any individual or sect - even Solomon understood that, it wasn't new teaching).
    Etc.
    Etc.

    Genesis certainly says that man became mortal. St. Paul certainly says that man became sinful.
    I could guess which Pauline passages you are referring to but I'd invite you to be more specific as I don't want to create a straw man.
    Last edited by Desert Reign; May 13th, 2014 at 07:13 AM.
    Total Misanthropy.
    Uncertain salvation.
    Luck of the draw.
    Irresistible damnation.
    Persecution of the saints.

    Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
    (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

    RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
    Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
    Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

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    theophilus (February 27th, 2016)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Reign View Post
    Someone recently described me as somewhat left of middle towards the process theology end of the spectrum (if there is such a thing). I wrote this to set the record straight.

    Any comments appreciated.
    I'm not sure I understand everything as you do, but I do not disagree with you; however, IMO, one cannot come to the conclusions that you have reached without abandoning much of what the 'church' teaches. Therefore, within the 'church', a prerequisite for coming to your conclusions is that one must believe that one's current ideas may be wrong; as long as one believes he is right, he cannot believe that which disagrees with what he believes.

    What you have posted cannot be believed by others until it is experienced by them; it cannot be experienced without truly seeking truth. Truly seeking truth cannot happen if I already think I have found it.

    You mention those who say, “But God is beyond logic!”. I agree; they have no reason to seek Truth, to them He can't be known. They will never see what you are saying; it's a foreign language.

    This is the first time I've read this thread, but I'll be watching.

    Thanks

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    theophilus (February 27th, 2016)

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackbirdking View Post
    I'm not sure I understand everything as you do, but I do not disagree with you; however, IMO, one cannot come to the conclusions that you have reached without abandoning much of what the 'church' teaches.
    Thanks BBK. I first abandoned Roman Catholicism. I became a Christian through being RC so I have no beef against it. I simply disagree.
    But when I left it, it was not with the intention of donning the mantle of some other denomination; that is why it was with great consternation that I was questioned about my beliefs by some theology lecturers at a theological college I was thinking of attending and told that I was an evangelical.

    That name, even though not representing any particular denomination, made me feel uncomfortable. I was already free; I already had Christ, what more did I need?

    I did the theology degree, which was of course highly beneficial, however, in terms of personal faith, it left a lot of questions unanswered that I would have expected to be answered at that level. So I was quite disappointed with that. Considering it was a semi-partisan, broadly evangelical / reformed college, I'd have thought they could have done a better job at explaining the logic of reformed theology. Of course at degree level you are supposed to think for yourself but even so it was disconcerting, like they were missing something obvious.

    So I basically spent the next maybe 15 years thinking about the issues on my own and came up completely independently with some principles that I at that time gathered under a broad heading that I called 'open endedness'. When I started to write some of it down, believing I was the only person who had ever gathered together such thoughts as a coherent belief system, I started to share it on what was then a new phenomenon, debate forums. I then learned that others had also been thinking along the same lines and that collectively this was known as the openness movement.

    I am very exacting when it comes to arguing and logic. This is because I strongly desire truth and I will not accept second best in that area. In my humble opinion, openness theology is much more coherent than reformed theology.

    I'd add that even Catholic theology, in terms of its teaching on predestination and election, is better than reformed theology. Catholic theology basically concludes by being mysterious about it. It says 2 things that appear to be contradictory. It sits on the fence. That is better, in my view, than Calvinism which doesn't sit on the fence but makes out God out to be a hateful arbitrary megalomaniac or Arminianism, which makes God out to be lacking in direction and subject to the wills of others.

    None of that was of course acceptable to me anyway so it is a little academic but I say it just to give you a feel for the way it all hangs together.
    Total Misanthropy.
    Uncertain salvation.
    Luck of the draw.
    Irresistible damnation.
    Persecution of the saints.

    Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
    (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

    RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
    Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
    Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

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    theophilus (February 27th, 2016)

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    What is openness really about? It is about dynamic relationship.
    I wrote this for another blog site:

    In Genesis 22, the scripture states that God tested Abraham. This statement is repeated in the letter to the Hebrews. The outcome of the test is that God declares 'Now I know that you fear God'. One of my Calvinistic interlocutors insisted that 'God was not learning anything here' and that the purpose of the event was that Abraham could learn. It is amazing what presuppositions can do to our reading of scripture.

    In my experience, though, merely debating on the meaning of various verses and their contexts is endless. So I also try to point out the presuppositions that are governing the interpretations in the hope I can make progress towards sound and open belief.

    The problem that Calvinists have with open theists is simply that it seems to them that the open theist God does not know anything at all. He did not know what Abraham would do before he did it. He must always be waiting to see. He must always be reacting.

    Some open theists say that God chooses not to know, others that he simply does not know. Neither of these notions seems satisfactory to me either. We need to look at our presuppositions too!

    The Calvinist is assuming a) that the entity Abraham is an entity that is capable of being completely defined, b) that it is possible to predict from this definition what Abraham would do in any given context and c) that God is fully aware of the definition of Abraham and hence is able to make perfect predictions as to his actions.

    Often, the open theist's answer is merely to dispute c) but really, presuppositions a) and b) are far more significant. If a) and b) were true, then I would expect c) to be true anyway and if a) and b) were true and c) was false, then I would probably revert to a reformed theology. It somehow doesn't seem to be worth arguing much over. The battle (and it is a battle in most cases) has been turned into an arena where the Calvinists feel a lot stronger.

    My method is to admit that yes God does know everything under point c) (at least for the time being as it will require some clarification) but to turn back the discussion to the real issues of a) and b) for it is these that are at the heart of openness.

    The point is that God's knowledge of Abraham is one of relationship, not of objectivity. God knows Abraham as he experiences him. This is dynamic knowledge, not static knowledge. Because Abraham is an open being he is a priori undefinable. He is what he is in relationship to God, to others and to the world. We can say things about him after the event but not before the event. For example if Abraham stops eating figs, we can say as a matter of definition that Abraham doesn't eat figs. Or if Abraham starts arguing a lot with everyone, we can then say that Abraham is argumentative. We don't just look at him and say that he is argumentative. We can't know that just by looking at him. Even if we could see into his mind, it would not tell us what we want to know. The only way we can know if he is argumentative is if he argues with people. We don't say it and then wait to see if it will happen. Our knowledge of Abraham is mediated by our experiences of him and the statement 'Abraham is argumentative' is not an absolute truth but rather one that is formed as a summary of those experiences. Hence we say that knowledge is relational.

    The point about the test of Abraham is that God wants to go through that particular experience with him. God is still in charge, he still knows everything he needs to know about the situation. He is in a positive relationship with Abraham and wants to develop that relationship. Nothing is ungodly or less than godly about this situation. Indeed, the idea that God's knowledge of his people is the relationship he has with them, seems far more godly to me than if God makes a prediction of our every action based on an absolute and static view of us as individuals.
    Last edited by Desert Reign; May 14th, 2014 at 06:36 AM.
    Total Misanthropy.
    Uncertain salvation.
    Luck of the draw.
    Irresistible damnation.
    Persecution of the saints.

    Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
    (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

    RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
    Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
    Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

  30. The Following User Says Thank You to Desert Reign For Your Post:

    theophilus (February 27th, 2016)

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