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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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    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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    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 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
    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."
    You really shouldn't speak for Calvinists as you are demonstratably incompetent to do so. Your biased generalities based on anecdotal experience is beneath a person of your obvious intellect. You are becoming the Robert Pate / Jerry Shugart of OVT. You bore me as they do. But you can be so much more if you read and interpret scriptures with an open mind.
    Last edited by Saved.One.by.Grace; June 28th, 2014 at 01:03 PM. Reason: typo
    Eph 2:8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God's gift --
    Eph 2:9 not from works, so that no one can boast.
    Eph 2:10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. [HCSB]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saved.One.by.Grace View Post
    You really shouldn't speak for Calvinists as you are demonstratably incompetent to do so. Your biased generalities based on anecdotal experience is beneath a person of your obvious intellect. You are becoming the Robert Pate / Jerry Shugart of OVT.
    Sad, but seemingly the case. Sigh.

    Persons constructing straw men of the Calvinist's views by claiming we operate from the same presuppositions they do and therefore believe about our beliefs what they believe about our beliefs leaves no hope for honest discussion.

    If persons would avail themselves of an accurate Scriptural summary of our beliefs, e.g., WCF, with a nice exposition of the same here, much clarity would ensue. Unfortunately some prefer to just parrot others in discussion forums and not dig deeper to know accurately.

    AMR
    Last edited by Ask Mr. Religion; June 22nd, 2014 at 12:32 AM. Reason: Added link to Shaw's exposition
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saved.One.by.Grace View Post
    You really shouldn't speak for Calvinists as you are demonstratably incompetent to do so. Your biased generalities based on anecdotal experience is beneath a person of your obvious intellect. You are becoming the Robert Pate / Jerry Shugart of OVT. You bore me as they do. But you can be so much more if you read an interpret scriptures with an open mind.
    Intellect, trapped and locked within the confines of humanism, can only be opened by the light and revelation of the Holy Scriptures. DR has not only left the "church" but proves to be blind and deaf to God's Word.

    Therefore, there will be no meeting of minds or intellect, between he and regenerated Christians.
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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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    LIFETIME MEMBER Desert Reign's Avatar
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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.
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    Irresistible damnation.
    Persecution of the saints.

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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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    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Reign View Post
    The idea of a fall is quite old...
    Is it a fall or isn't it?
    If it is, what is it a fall from
    and what to?

    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...

    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.

    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.

    And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed... Adam and Eve were like innocent children;

    There was not a fall, but a wrong choice. Man became mortal by nature, not sinful by nature.
    There was a decision that was wrong, indeed a wrong choice, as you say, and the Man and the Woman ate of the Fruit of the Forbidden Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil... That decision, followed by the actual eating, caused Death to reign over man... And in the fear of death, rather than the Awe of God, man sins... "For all have sinned..."

    And this because in doing what he did, Adam turned away from the Source of Life by Whom as a child he was living... And the only alternative to Life is death... And in that day, Adam died to Life and lived to death... As God had warned him, Adam died that day...

    But what was his MOTIVE?

    No one ever discusses WHY Adam ate of the Tree... Calvinists proclaim DISOBEDIENCE, and indeed it was, but WHY such a disobedience? Was it just arbitrarily flaunted? Or did the serpent deceive? What did he offer Adam?

    What Son does not wish to become like his Father? Tall, strong, wise and filled with love? And this is what the Serpent used to deceive Adam, for he said that by eating of the Tree, knowing Good and evil, Adam would become AS GOD...

    And was not this tree in the MIDDLE of the Garden? Is it not CENTRAL to God's Plan for creation? And so did Adam eat, believing the lie that God was keeping His God-ness to Himself by His forbidding of Adam from eating that fruit...

    But the simple fact is that Adam was not yet READY to know Good AND evil... And he would NOT be ready UNTIL Christ had walked the earth, and man had partaken of His Divine Nature by Grace... For then he would have eaten of the Tree of Life, without having partaken of evil, and then evil would have no hold on him...

    You see...

    And this is what we DO when we repent by turning from evil in this world of the rule of death, turning instead to God, and are Baptized unto purity and partake of the Tree of Life, Christ Himself, Who hung on the Life Creating Tree... The Holy Cross...

    I hope this was helpful...

    Arsenios

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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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    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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