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Category Archives: Jesus Christ

God – Personal or The Ultimate Stick in the Mud?

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I am doing a group study on the topic of Open Theism. The group I am in has agreed to read three books (1 pro-Open Theism and 2 pro-Classical Theism): Greg Boyd’s “God of the Possible”, John Frame’s “No Other God”, and Norman Geisler’s “Creating God in the Image of Man?”. While it is difficult for me not to go into detail of all the arguments among the three that I have found convincing or failing, I will resist the temptation. I just want to focus on one from Geisler’s book. Dr. Geisler founds his book on “Aquinian” reasoning (he takes the first 25% of his book to argue for his position in this manner). He uses the philosophical works of Thomas Aquinas to “prove” that God must have certain attributes if He is in fact really God. (This seems odd to me for one who should be letting the God of Scripture be defined by the Scripture He inspired.)

In illustrating how an immutable God can have a genuine relationship with humanity he employs the analogy of a pillar and a man. Dr. Geisler states,

“Thus, when there is a change in the creature there is no change in God. Just as when the man changes his position from one side of the pillar to the other, the pillar does not change; only the man changes in relation to the pillar.” (“Creating God in the Image of Man?” – pg 33)

The pillar is such because it is stationary (representing immutability). This pillar stands there, like a stick in the mud. And this “stick-in-the-mud” pillar is analogous (in Geisler’s mind) to God.

stickinthemudTo Dr. Geisler, this constitutes a genuine relationship between persons. The human relates to the stick, and we describe this relation through prepositions: above, beside, behind, beneath, beyond, around, etc. Geisler argues that when Scripture says God changes, it is not God that actually changes but man’s position to God that has changed. From man’s perspective the stick has changed, but the stick has always been the way it is, it is just the man seeing the stick differently or relating to the stick differently; but the stick has not changed. Aside from the problem that Geisler dismisses these passages as anthropomorphic with the ease of a Jedi mind trick; it affirms that there is no real, personal relationship with God. God does not feel, does not change according to the actions of the beings around Him. If God appears to be angry, it is just because we are on the angry side of God. We need to reposition ourselves to God. The analogy goes like this: If we would relocate ourselves away from the ugly side of the stick over to the bloomingly beautiful side, then to us it would appear the stick has changed. But it hasn’t, for it cannot change, because if the stick were to change then the stick would not be the ultimate stick as it would be somehow affected by man and thus relationally dependent on man. Geisler even states, which is the common view of classical theism, that prayer doesn’t even change God.  He states,

“It is utterly presumptuous for mortal man to believe that their prayer actually changes God. Instead prayer is a means by which God changes us and others.” (“Creating God in the Image of Man?” – pg.87)

The stick must not be affected by anything around it. It is just there, in the mud, unemotional, unmovable. The epitome of a loving relationship, right?

This Harvy Dent view of God is the price one pays to maintain the “classical” view of God. There is no real relationship. There is HarvyDentmerely the immovable, unaffected God that we must play ring-around-the-rosie with in order to stay on His “good side”. An unmoveable deity that speaks to us as if, and acts as if, He changes and is affected by our actions and prayers, but Who is really quite the opposite. A god who is a misleading, immovable, stick in the mud.

That is not the God revealed in Scripture.

That is not the God revealed in Jesus.

 

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2014 in Apologetics, God, Jesus Christ

 

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Love Is Hard

I have a confession, my wife and I are Netflix junkies. Oh, yeah! We Neflix! It’s an epidemic. It’s a word.  One of the shows we have recently gotten hooked on is Once Upon A Time. One of the episodes Snow and her daughter, Emma, are discussing the choice of letting the Evil Queen die while saving the rest of the town or attempting to save the Evil Queen (who has repeatedly and ruthlessly committed murder, and manipulated, lied to, and tortured everyone without exception) along with the town while running the high risk of failing and everyone dying. Emma reminded Snow of how Snow had killed Korah (The mother of the Evil Queen) in order to save those she loved. Snow’s repent-full and loving reply was that at that time she had done wrong, for she had chosen to do what was easy, not what was right. She admitted that there were other paths to take but she chose to take the easy path and take a life in order to spare a life(s) instead of one of the more difficult paths that would spare the life of her enemy and the ones she loved. In this scene, Snow displayed a pure heart that was filled with nothing but love. And my mind immediately ran to the teaching of Jesus we have recorded in Matthew 5:43-48 Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Christian Life, Jesus Christ

 

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The Defining Character Trait of God

“The price you paid for us has fully been accepted,

Because of your shed blood we cannot be rejected.”

This is the the beginning lyrics to a bridge in a worship song. Who is the one who has paid for us? Jesus – The Son of God. Who is The One Who would reject us if not for Jesus? God The Father. Sadly many hold to, and some adamantly defend, the view of this Father God who needs to be pacified by some sin-payment before He will be willing to forgive the sinners. (Which one has to ask if that’s really forgiveness at all since payment was still exacted… but another topic for another day, perhaps.) The idea propagated in the song (Penal Substitutionary Atonement) is founded upon the idea that God’s defining Character trait is holiness, and that since God is holy, He cannot just forgive sin. The belief is that God’s primary attribute is holiness. Yes, God is love, mercy, just, BUT above all HE IS HOLY! It is this holiness that demands He not merely forgive sin, but exact payment for sin. A verse of Scripture used to support the idea of God’s dominant holiness attribute is Isaiah 6:3 “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” The thought is that nowhere else in Scripture is it said God is thrice anything. Never does it say, “God is love, love, love.” or, “God is mercy, mercy, mercy”; therefore holiness wins out in the attribute battle. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2014 in God, Jesus Christ

 

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Keeping Israel in the Gospel

   I was raised to believe that there is a marked distinction between Israel and the church. Not merely that they are slightly different in some aspects, but rather they are two separate entities. I was instructed to hold the distinction so markedly that it was to essentially believe that God has two separate “peoples”: Israel, and then a side group called the church. Like many things I was taught to believe, I questioned in light of Scripture and I no longer hold that position. I do find it interesting that I was taught to believe that God had temporarily set Israel aside and is working through the church for a while and will pick Israel up again later; now that I no longer hold to that dispensational ideology those very people who essentially believe in a “temporary” supersessionism (the church replaces Israel) accuse me of believing supersessionism, which I do not. My primary aim is to lay out why I do not believe any form of supersessionism, and hopefully assist in clearing up a misconception that is propagated in dispensational circles, many times as a ploy to keep people from studying the Scriptures on this matter. Many a child has been confined to their bed by the fear of the imagined monster in the closet (or underMonster-Closet the bed, or behind the coat on the door, etc). It is my aim here to show that there actually is no “monster” and thus dispel the fear that may keep children of God confined to their dispensationalism. If one chooses to be a dispensationalist then it should be because they are convinced by Scripture, not a default stance they hold out of fear of being a heretic by believing/examining another perspectives. Also, this is not meant to be exhaustive, merely an exercise to show that a Covenantal view of Scriptures does not necessitate taking a “replacement” view of Israel… quite the opposite, actually. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2014 in Church, Jesus Christ

 

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Punishment vs. Discipline

I had the blessing of teaching the 3rd grade boys Life Group something today that I didn’t learn until I was 30 years old – The difference between punishment and discipline. For 98% of my life, those two words were grossly conflated (actually, the definition of “discipline” was almost completely dropped), and the problem it created was massively screwed up view of God. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2013 in God, Jesus Christ

 

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Seeing Thing Upside Down

There is a considerable amount of talk floating around among Christians in the social media world concerning comments that Pastor Mark Driscoll made in regards to the belief many Christians hold concerning Jesus’ teaching to “love your enemies”. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in Christian Life, Discipleship, Jesus Christ

 

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Love… As Christ Loved…

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her” ~ Ephesians 5:25

A verse often cited at Marriage conferences and retreats. A passage often given to counsel husbands who are tired of the marriage they are in. A verse used at weddings as part of the vows or as a commission from the minister to the groom. A verse, due to it’s familiarity, that is often not really thought of too deeply. Hopefully this is not one of those times. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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