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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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Relationships are like Vehicles

Yesterday I spent about $287.00 on my Honda Odyssey. Don’t get me wrong, I love my van. I never thought I’d say that, but it’s true! I like it way better than the ’03 Ford Explorer XLT that I had previously. The only vehicle that still holds a place on my list of vehicle love is my very first – ’86 Toyota Tercel straight drive. The CD player was worth more than the car itself. Ahhhhhh… oh! Where was I? Oh yeah!
I love my van. The problem is that it doesn’t repair itself. I have to change the oil, replace the brakes, tires, change the transmission fluid, seemingly ad infinitum. If I didn’t do these things, the vehicle would run well for a while, but eventually things will begin to break, which cause other things to break, and before long I no longer have a vehicle but something more akin to hell-on-wheels. One has to maintain their vehicle if they want it to function properly and for any length of time. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2011 in Family

 

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Chasing the Moon

Okay, I watched Despicable Me with my boys last night as it just hit RedBox yesterday. It’s a cute movie, and was a great way to express the fact that we are relational beings.

Gru was on a quest to be the world’s best villain, but deeper than that, he had a childhood dream to fly to the moon. He obtained 3 orphan girls as part of his scheme to obtain a shrink ray so he could not only fly to the moon, but shrink it and take it home. He had developed a plan that literally promised him the moon, and he succeed! He had the moon in his hands! But something had happened, the girls had shown him love and he responded in love. The girls were in danger and Gru traded the moon for the three little ones.

You know what’s so profound about this little story? Why it touches our hearts. Our entire culture is consumed with obtaining things. I deal with people on a daily basis who can’t afford their mortgage payments because they keep spending their money to buy other things that are not a necessity of life. They have an insatiable desire and somehow think they are owed whatever pet luxury they have a hankering for. There are men who are working their life away to have nice possessions or be considered successful and their families are practically fatherless. And along comes Despicable Me – a story of a man who obtained the moon and traded it all for the love of three little children. A man who realized that possessions don’t hold a candle to relationships. We are relational beings, and we are created for a relationship with our Maker. We try to fill this with other things, refusing to be bound by the yoke of committing to recklessly loving our God. Instead, we trade His easy yoke for one that takes us to the grave. Either way we will commit to something, either way we bind ourselves to something, we promise our love to something. Like a man who refuses to marry as he doesn’t want to give up his joys of freedom, is incapable of enjoying the joys that come with marriage. Either decision is a yoke that binds us to it, and keeps us from other things.

So how is it that as one watches Despicable Me they all agree that he made the right choice? Why is it that we all sympathize with Gru and, if he had not surrendered the moon,would have called him an insensitive, despicable, self-centered, jerk? What is it that causes us to not view those little cartoon children as a mere nuisance, as one would an ant that must be squashed before he gets into my sweet tea glass?

The Creator of you and the moon desires a relationship with you and gave more than the moon to show His love for you. The Creator became flesh and He took the sin of the world on Himself and carried it to the grave. Jesus, God incarnate, took our sins upon himself and all the wrath they brought – full force – and He absorbed it all so that we might live. God did this that He might be just and the One who justifies him who has faith in Christ Jesus.

Are you still chasing the moon?

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2011 in Culture, God, Jesus Christ

 

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