Scrambled Egg

I think there is a somewhat disturbing trend in the church today of completely confusing the Trinity.

I remember learning the lessions in children’s church that the Trinity is like an egg. In order to have an egg, you need a shell, a white and a yoke. None of the component parts are themselves a egg, and you can not have an egg without all three. If we use that analogy then the church is making scrambled eggs.

When you ask a child in almost any Sunday school, “Where is Jesus?” Most (of those who answer) will say, “In my heart.” But that is not biblical, Jesus is at the right hand of God the Father (1 Pet 3:22, Heb 12:2 among others). The Holy Spirit is the one sent to live in us.

When we pray, to whom do we pray? The examples of prayers we have in scripture are all to the Father. So often you hear prayers that start out to Jesus, “Dear Jesus,” shift to the Father, then drift to who knows where. Jesus said that we ought to pray to the Father in His name (John 15:16).

Maybe I’m nitpicking, but that is at least one thing I know I am good at. I also do not completely understand all aspects of the Trinity because the bible does not get into deep theological discussions about it. So that leaves us to endless debate about the exact roles of each. But at least we should get the obvious things right.

The Laboratory

What is the meaning of life? I do not mean in the biological sense, but life as in how we live it through time. This is question that has existed as long as man has had enough time between meals to think about it. Notice, the question is not, “What is my purpose here?” I think those have different answers. The purpose of life is to please our Creator.

But what is the meaning of it? Why do we have to go through it. Someone once proposed to me that “life is a filter.”

A filter lets certian things through, and blocks others. I believe that people are the things being filtered. Communion with God is the end goal, and only some people make it through. Life is the way in which people are seperated. We all have free will.

I think it goes beyond just a filter. Life is about change. Life is the laboratory where we are changed. Fitting with my Unified Field Theory we are all being affected by the forces around us. We are not just atoms moving around but complex spiritual beings who are being molded and shaped by events and the things around us.

So why is it important that we change? In order to fully appreciate freewill there has to be choice. Unfortunately for some, in order for the choice to be fully free, not everyone can choose the same thing. Everyone has taken part of the “other” side of the choice (Rom 5:12, Rom 3:23). God loves us, and without life, He could not save us from our choices.

I do not claim to completely comprehend it, but outside of creation (that is, time), change is impossible. Change, as we know it, implies time, just as does motion.

All praise be to Him, that He enables us to choose, and to change.

The Power of Prayer

Prayer changes us, not God. He knows what we are going to say. We need to hear it, dwell on it, hear others, listen to Him…

God knows what you are going to say. He knows the situation, whatever it might bet, better than you. He knows how you feel about it. You bring nothing new to Him as far as information goes. What you bring is yourself. You get on your knees and spend time with Him. That is what He wants. He does not want to be convinced.

I think one of the main issues that the Open Theists are trying to address is the power of prayer. They want to be able to change God’s mind. They want their prayers to change the world. The problem is, they have aimed in the wrong direction. Prayer is aimed at the individual, not God.

You may have seen it written on a billboard or bumper sticker: Prayer changes things. It does, it changes you. Guess who needs changing? It is not God.

James 5:16
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Prayer avails much. I think people misunderstand who it “avails” on. It is not God, it is us.

Let us look at a small example. I pray for the christians in Vietnam. They are being heavily persecuted. God knows this, I am not bringing Him any new information about their situation. So what is the impact of my prayer? I am not likely to ever talk to anyone there to let them know that I am praying. So that nullifies any form of encouragement that they might receive. Even if God is waiting for my prayer to act, there is no way for them to know, and therefore the only person affected by this prayer is me (or those with whom I am praying).

Prayer is talking to God. Like any relationship, my relationship with God requires communication. How can I say I love my wife if I never talk to her?

Prayer changes the people who pray. If you no longer require changing, stop praying.

Sick of Broccoli

A note on the title of this post, please go back and read Broccoli Is Good For You.

Predestination is clearly biblical.

Rom 8:29-30
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Note that the tense of the verbs at the end are the greek “aorist” tense. I think it is no accident that God chose ancient greek as a language for the New Testament (as to what His purpose is for English I have no idea…). So what exactly did Paul mean by “these He also glorified”. Had Paul been glorified? He did not think so (Phil 3:12). It was, therefore, not a concluded event. However, it was in his mind a foregone conclusion. God had/would complete it. It was a done deal. God knows who will be saved. Case closed (at least in my mind, and hey, its my blog).

Lets say I had a time machine, and I traveled to 2010 to watch the next world cup final. I would know the winner. What if I didn’t tell anyone that I had a time machine? Do you think FIFA would cancel the whole event because I already knew the winner? Would the players refuse to play? Would the fans not buy tickets? Would my knowledge affect the outcome? Not in the least. The players would still try their hardest (as we always hope they do) and it would be a legitimate competition.

Predestination does not mean deterministic. We still have freewill, and need to “compete.”

It seems that arguments against predestination are at the root of the Open Theism. But if predistination exists, what is the point.

The Voice Of God

What is “the voice of God?” How does God reveal Himself to us?

I think the answers to those questions depend on when you live. God is a historical God. His will, plan for humanity, is revealed over time. At the begining of time man was in direct communion with God. All man had to do to understand God was to ask. With the Fall, man was no longer able to do this and God set in motion revealing His will through history.

There are previous instances before Abram where God spoke to man, but lets begin with Abram because I believe that is where His covenant really begins. In Genesis 11 God “says” to Abram. It is a word used throughout the bible, but I think its meaning is modified by the time in which it is used. I think God really had to say it to Abram. “Hey Abram, get all your stuff and lets GO!” Abram had no tradition of anything on which to base this. I think God had to be very literal with him.

Through Abraham, then on through his decendants we continue to see a revealing of the will and character of God. Each one building on the last. By the time Jesus came on the scene they had volumes of Scripture to base their determinations about the nature and will of God. Then with Jesus, we have the completion of the plan of restoring communion with God. However, the plan is revealed, but it needs to be worked out in us (i.e. we have not attained it all yet). This “working out” started with the epistles and the Revelation, which ended scripture, but has not finished.

What is the point of all this? God still speaks today, but He uses the tools He needs at the time He desires. Do angels appear to men today? Probably, however, there is not the same need to have angels running around with messages as there was 4000 years ago.

It also tells us that God works through history. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Yet He is revealed more and more throughout history. Now that we have the complete “word of God,” we no longer require the audible words of God.

This may sound like a cop out. One might argue, “Its all made up, if God used to speak to people so obviously why does He not do this now?” However, I do not think that it is that hard to understand that there is much more to be learned from figuring things out yourself. Just take a way at how education works. You learn the basics, then you learn to build with the basics. The older you get, the less the teachers tell you, and the more they show you.

Red And Black Ants

What is meant by spiritual warfare? Who is at war? We are at war. 2 Cor 10:3 makes that pretty clear. Who, then, are we at war with? Eph 6:12 makes that also clear that it is not against flesh and blood but spiritual hosts. There is definitely a war going on, and I believe that lives are being lost. Because of that I also believe that we should prepare ourselves for battle as Paul exhorts Timothy 2 Tim 2:3-4.

Gregory Boyd has a book called God At War in which, because of his misunderstanding of time (see Nothing But Net or Broccoli Is Good For You), he misunderstands God’s roll in spiritual warfare.

When I was in high school I ran on the cross-country team. Every day after school I would change into my running clothes and head out to a nearby park where we warmed up and stretched. For a whole season one year, I passed two ant hills. One was black ants, large ones, not the tiny ones you find in your house. The other was slightly smaller red ants.

As you may know, red and black ants do not mix well. It was an all out ant war. Everyday I would stop and inspect the area. There was an actual front, and it moved every day. Ant parts strewn everywhere. Neither side seemed to be gaining the upper hand. However, one pot of boiling water, or a bottle of ant spray and I could have ended it in a moment. I did not end it, I wanted to see what the outcome would be.

To claim that God is at war is something like that. Hopefully, we have all read the end of the book and know how it turns out when God “finally” decides to join the fight. Its no fight at all.
Rom 8:31

Life is not about trying to see if God can win. That is a given. There are no unknowns for Him. Life is about seeing what we can make of ourselves. God gives us the tools for battle then sends us off for warfare. God has nothing to lose, except us, and it is our job to make sure He does not.

Anthropomorphism And Chaning Of Minds

There are many examples of anthropomorphism in the bible. For a simple example, take a look at Genesis 18. A great quote, speaking of God, “that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad…” Did God really have to “go down” and see?! That is absurd.

So when open theists point to scriptures that say that God “changed His mind” they are arbitrarily choosing which ones they determine are anthropomorphic and which are not.

Here is a little example of something similiar. My son comes to me and asks for a cookie (it just happens to be 5PM right before dinner). I say “no.” The next day he asks again (at the same time), and I respond “no.” The third day he asks again (at 7PM just after he’s finished dinner). I say, “yes, you may.” Did I just change my mind?

We change, God does not. Malachi 3:6 tells us as much. And in James 1:17 we have even more evidence.

This leads into two other ideas on which I would like to post. How does God speak to us? And what is prayer?

Broccoli Is Good For You

I went back and read my Broccoli post because I know it has direct implications on my current thinking. It is a good post. I had planned on expanding on it, but I think there is not much more to say.

Put simply, God knowing the outcome of a decision does not affect your ability to make it. You knowing makes a difference, but that is a good subject for another post.

A corollary, would be that the future, all of it, is knowable by God, not as a set of possibilities, but as a certainty.

Nothing But Net

Usually when you want to figure something out, there are really two good ways to do it; follow the money, or go back to the beginning.

God created the universe (for the purpose of this argument, this is a given). By extension He created the dimesions in which we live. Einstein’s special relativity (and even more in general relativity) show us that time is integral to the dimensions in which we live. It is often referred to as space-time. Think of it as the 4 dimensions we live in, the classic 3 of x,y and z axes, plus time. I could go into why time is integral in space-time, but you would either be bored or convinced you could get better information elsewhere.

If God is the creator of the universe, would He completely subject Himself to the confines and rules of His creation? I believe that He did, in the man Jesus, however, I beleive that God, the Father, does not. If we are to arbitrarily believe that God is subject to time (as is proposed by open theists), why would He also not subject Himself to the other aspects of space-time. Why would He also not be subject to the speed of light? These conclusions seem preposterous to me. I could do an exhaustive search of scripture to determine how many rules of physics God violates, but really what would be the gain?

A few years back there were some McDonald’s commercials with Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. They were playing a game to see who could win some a bag of McDonald’s food (with what they got paid, just to be in that commercial, is comical). The game was one of one-upmanship. Each one in order would do a harder and harder shot, each time calling it out. “Off the ceiling, bounce off the floor, bank, nothing but net.” On and on they went until they were outside the arena bouncing off cars and other buildings.

In my view, the creation of the Universe was much the same as a shot in those commercials. God said, “Off the Santa Monica Pier, off a green Sentra on Interstate 10, off Alpha Centauri, off United Arlines flight 128, off Mt. Rushmore, in through the west door of the Staples Center, bank, nothing but net.” Then He made the shot. At (Before? What are time modifiers worth here?) creation He willed, and it was. All the way down the most minute detail that you would be reading this now.

That is what I believe.

Open Theism

I was recently exposed third hand to some of the works of Gregory Boyd. He is a open theist. I am going to take some time in the next few days to outline some of my thoughts on the issue. I do not believe that his ideas are heretical, but I do think they can lead to some very dangerous conclusions.