Philosophies Regarding God



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  • Philosophies Regarding God

    This is taken in part from a dialogue with Dr Thomas Williams, Professor of Catholic Studies and Professor of Philosophy at University of South Florida.

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    I often wonder why scholars and philosophers try to decipher the person of God with human reason when the Creator is not subject to our linear laws, thus outside our scope of comprehension? I think of the Calvinist or as philosopher Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius (lovely name) reflects and presents predestination and irresistible grace, how no matter what we do, it was meant to happen, good or bad. To me, it is a doctrine from a very constrained ideology, trying to shape God's positional attributes to ourselves with NO frame of reference. I find the more I study Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, Scotus and other revered men who shaped todays Christian concept of God, the less we really know about Him. Many discussions about the Creator renders some philosophies to seemingly little more than children grasping at straws.

    Boëthius calls the stars “perfect order” because of our limited visual perspective of consistently placed stars in the night sky. Yet we know the universe is a chaotic spasm of time distortions, black holes and supernovas, whereas the Crab Nebula (M1) alone has a wildly erratic distortion field up to 100 light years wide and expands at a rate of about 1,500 kilometers per second. If our universe is a tumult of chaos, although subservient to natural laws, why do we assume that our infinite creator is floating in a temporal dimension of proverbial bliss? We do know that the Creator breathed life forth and that same breath is still in motion daily, through the cycles of species and life as we know it.

    Have you ever stopped to ponder that three of the four earth's spheres team with life? Earth, air, and water contain all manner of life forms stocked by the Creator, but the forth matter fire, does not. Our physical forms rely on the three for life, however fire is not a part of our composition. Earth is solidity; water is cohesion; fire is temperature; air is motion; and space is the fifth element or spatial dimension that accommodates the other four active elements. Of all this, God is not physically intertwined, but still the Creator of it. Therefore, from nothing created can we comprehend God, but rather it all reflects God.

    Taking one element "air" for example. While a gust of wind might pleasantly cool the body on a hot day, a sister trail from that same gust might have originated from a tropical storm which destroyed a city. In every direction, we have these same opposing dichotomies at work. 216,000 babies are born in a celebration of life, but in the same day cycle, 50,000 perish from starvation, malaria and even more to abortion. Therefore, are we to say God is aware and compliant with evil since he knows what bad will happen? This is the story behind Job and the tests from Lucifer. This is the story behind Joseph, what was contrived in evil was in the end for good. David fled like an alien for a number of years, living in caves, even though he was anointed. This is also the fundamental premise of the Calvanist, and they have comprised nearly all the great leaders in Christian history. All this flies in the face of the New Age and the Joel Osteen chant, "God is your servant, he wants you to feel happy and to fulfill your dreams."

    I think the reason mankind staggers about, trying to understand the Creator is they try to define Him from their limited (temporal and spacial) thinking. Some things are simply too awesome to grasp. I loosely view God as coexisting in 4 equal points with no positional point of origin. Our laws require 4 equal points (quaternions) with a 5th point of origin, thus linear time or 4-dimensional Euclidean space. Mathematically 4 dimensions: 3 spatial + 1 time (like). Discard or neglect the time, and what are you left with is mathematical equation that is possible, but no physics can be sustained.

    I am sure that all these finite ponderings are vain at best… equal to anyone trying to define God. We can’t even begin to understand the Supreme Being until we realize he is beyond our laws and equations. I interpret this is why Christ said in Matthew 18:3, "except you come unto the Father as little children, you shall in no wise enter in."

    That’s it from me for now unless someone perpetuates dialogue.

    Many Blessings!

  • #2
    Can God be known

    Mat 7:22 Many will say to Me in that day, Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your name, and through Your name throw out demons, and through Your name do many wonderful works?
    Mat 7:23 And then I will say to them I never knew you! Depart from Me, those working lawlessness!

    As the verse above states its about relationship. The universe points to God but is not God.

    I would rather spend time with a beautiful woman trying to get to know her rather than sit with her family and friends discussing her in the third person. And is that not what mankind is trying to do ever since?

    Do I spend time trying to decipher you by studying a half eaten sandwich you have left behind or just go and communicate to you face to face?

    You can delete this post if you feel it miss's the point.

    God bless


    • #3
      Oh no... Watchman, I enjoy your feedback and will not delete your comments. Everyone here has the right to express their thoughts.

      With the above post, I was trying to stir a deeper appreciation of God. I think of 1 Corinthians 13:11 "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." Paul continues in Hebrews 5:12-14 and says:

      12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
      13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
      14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

      If I continue consuming only milk as a maturing child after a certain age, I will get weak and develop iron deficiency anemia. The same applies to the Christian experience, we are to naturally progress into deeper teachings, the meat of the Word. Paul said we are to "examine ourselves" and to "search the scripture diligently." All this is the growing process.

      Personally, as a child, I perceived God as a gray haired old man sitting in a big chair. Why? Because the art presented by great artists like Michelangelo Buonarroti through "The Creation of Man" or Andrea del Castagno depiction of "God the Father." Even today, in prayer, I may catch myself falling back into the erroneous concept, trying to humanize God in my natural mind.

      Michelangelo Buonarroti "The Creation of Man" from Sistine Chapel ceiling

      It was only by searching the scriptures and by study of the writings of Augustine, did I realize my childhood perception of God was only a visual contrivance of mortal man. Even Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, taught that God was merely an ascended human. How foolish and to what human error do we hold because of the traditions of men! All Christians should be ardent to dig deep as to know the truth, in order to dispel myths and false premises.

      Hieronymus Bosch "The Last Judgement " tryptic middle panel

      Take for example Dante Alighieri's epic poem "Divine Comedy: Inferno Part I." It may not mean much to us today, but when it was written in the early 14th century, the allegory was taken at face value and became the medieval explaination for the biblical presentation. Like the "Divinci Code", there was enough scriptural references mingled with fantasy, that few could distinguish where one began and the other ended. Even today, thanks to paintings from masters like Hieronymus Bosch, who produced art depicting Dante's allegories, making people think that demon's will torment souls in Hell. A little scripture study and you find that commonly held Christian belief to be in error.

      Seriously, the traditions of man has warped the Christian mindset for too long. Of course, the opposite extreme is to become too consumed with details that don't matter, which is the ending summation of the above outline


      • #4
        knowing God

        This is a very deep subject indeed!

        I noticed some time ago that out of all the films that I had seen which involved aliens, monsters, vampires, enormous reptiles and new strains of disease, that the outcome was always the same.
        And it was that mankind always overcomes in the end. Even over vastly intelligent superior life forms or beings that are super human and live for centuries.

        To me it indicates that man is full of pride and seeks to overcome and dominate everything in it's path.
        That Man is the supreme being. I believe that deep down Man seeks to examine God in order to control and dominate Him (Hense the man-made religions).

        Of course its foolishness, but so was Satans plan to be like the Most High. As we study the scriptures then the heart of God is revealed to us only as we are able to handle it and as we seek earnestly. Can a cat understand the concept of windows xp? So I believe God has to change us to be able to fellowship with Him and recieve His truths otherwise we like the cat are unable to comprehend.

        How can we possibly understand God who made planets, the cosmos, millions of stars, and also nose hair. Unless God enlightens us then we fumble in the dark picking up piece's of dirt and saying ''Are you God''. We cannot reach up and grap hold of God but Thanks be to God that in His mercy He stooped down to touch us.


        • #5
          Interesting reflections Watchman I like the cat understanding Windows XP

          I had a fellow brother who emailed me asking why I thought is was necessary to distinguish what was fables from that which is true. His tone was that it was vanity, and that a Christians should be content with being simple in their understanding. To one degree yes, simple as children to just accept, but no, mature in the faith distinguishing error from truth. The following were my quick comments, which might deserve better thought.

          "My only concern about any person or group of person's who fervently hold onto a false position, refusing to consider the possibility of error, is that it is fertile ground for replication. If I insisted that a person must speak in tongues to show proof of the Holy Spirit, then my whole theology would come under scrutiny by a discerning Christian, and wisely so. If I insisted Saturday is the only true Sabbath, and those that did not worship on that day were in error, then I might be labeled as belonging to a legalistic cult, as the Seven Day Adventists often are. The difference between truth and error is not a vast chasm, but a razors edge.

          I can go to church, say all the right things, and expound doctrine that impress all who hear, but if I hold onto a pet sin in practice, I only fool myself to say I am right with God. It only takes a little leaven to make the dough rise as Christ said. It only takes a worm in the apple to make it unfit to eat. I suppose a person can take the time to cut around the worm breached section and eat the remaining good, but who would? No, the single corruption makes the whole apple unfit for consumption. Paul was so adamant about this in his letters, that not one heresy or false premise should be tolerated. He rebuked Peter for getting up when the Gentiles sat at the table because fellow Jews did too.

          Why do you think the modern church is so ineffective during the past centuries? Compromise of truth, one leads to another. I have read books published in the 1600 to 1800, and the theme is common, the outcry about compromise among the brethren. This is why I am so vigilant to study the truth for myself, and in doing so have unveiled my own false beliefs, errors that the church holds to blindly. Like the misuse of tongues, it is common place among many charismatic's, and you would think someone would finally say enough is enough. Well, many have, but people don't want to rock the boat, so they tolerate it. Paul did too to a certain extent, but he was clear about proper use, which is essentially ignored today.

          Paul would become very upset if he knew the historical church glorified his letters as infallible doctrine. He wrote in his letters, "woe is me, I am undone, I am the worst of sinners." Although the Holy Spirit did indeed author the truth he wrote, it was still through the fallen instrument of man. We sin by worshipping the Bible as infallible as the Catholics do their holy relics as somehow mystically endowed. It is idolatry to glorify the men who wrote it, the pages contained, or the book. The content... the truth contained should be revered, not the book. I think it wonderful when a traditional church stands during the reading of scripture, that is well founded respect for the truth declared. The point is, anything of this world is corrupted and nothing more so than mankind upon it.

          Hope all that makes sense. Love the truth but do not glory in the instrument that relays it. Even Christ in his perfection sought no glory in himself, and he WAS LIVING TRUTH. Truth is spirit it is not substance. Once anything becomes tangible in this sphere of time and space, it is corrupted by nature. This includes the Apostles, the writers of the Bible, even Christ had the corruptible in the flesh. However, his humility and submission to the Father was all that which kept him pure. If Christ would have yielded to Satan in the desert, he would have been the greatest evil ever. Satan would not have attempted to tempt him least the potential existed. As the scripture say, Christ was like us in all manners, familiar with temptations and suffering, but without sin. He was the triumphant overcomer of that which is fallen, He understood this. So you see, all is corrupt that exists, only the Spirit is pure, that which is not subject to our physical realm."

          To Christ be the Glory, for his personal sacrifice is sufficient.


          • #6
            As a young naive christian I belived that everyone in church loved God, that all leaders were seeking the Kindom of God, that all teachings were truth even the one's I did not understand, that everyone who said ''Thus sayeth the Lord'' was led by the Holy Spirit.
            It has been a long painful experience to find that it was otherwise.
            Mat 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
            I did lack wisdom and many other traits.
            Sadly the enemy(satan) is in the camp(church) and has been there a long time sowing false doctrine, planting his people in key positions and persecuting the true believers.
            Not trying to destroy the church but control it from within.
            When Nehemiah was re-building the walls of Jerusalem, he was constantly threatened with attack by Sanballet(satan)
            Nehemiah faced traps and enticement to comprimise.
            Sanballet even used fellow jews(christians) to try and ensnare Nehemiah. Neh 6:10-12
            In the end did Sanballet destroy Jerusalem. NO.
            He had one of his own planted right in the centre of the city, right in the centre of the Temple Neh 13:4
            The things of God were throw out and the things of the enemy moved in. Neh 13:5-8.
            The temple was contaminated and needed to be cleansed. Neh 13:9
            All because of relationship or compromise with the enemy. Neh 13:4
            Its still the same today.
            Therefore we must watch and pray and test.
            God bless.


            • #7
              Response to a good article.

              Bravo to such a well written article on such a difficult concept to grasp. How does one even begin to define or comprehend God? We as humans have only scratched the surface on understanding our own self, the world, and the universe. How can we even begin to understand such a grand composite of God? Sure we get tiny glimpses while reading the bible and through experiencing the Holy Spirit. I can only understand that God is the perfection of what He should be, and only He truly understands how vast that perfection really is. God did not create evil, evil is simply a world without God. Just like there is no such thing as cold, cold is simply a lack of heat.

              I think it is very important to understand these concepts and not to put God into a box, because He is so beyond that. When we begin to grasp some truth and realize how big and powerful He truly is, we then can begin to form a realization of how we should fear HIm. But at the same time know that such a powerful composite of Life in which we conceptualize God truly cares and loves such a weak force like myself. The same God who places mountains, sends comets into a galaxies gravity, and bends time still manages to care about me. In fact the latter is the reason for the existence of this universe.


              • #8
                I liked your comment "God did not create evil, evil is simply a world without God. Just like there is no such thing as cold, cold is simply a lack of heat."

                Augustine was a Platonist, and wisely explained that evil is a privation. Where there is a lack of good, evil exists. Evil is where goodness ought to be. As a substitute in this void, evil is the lack of: measure, form and order.

                I think it makes sense. God created the universe, it was all good. The fall occurred and mankind was forced to depart from the perfect, to dwell in the imperfect. In this, mankind was permanently separated from perfect good for the balance of their physical life.

                We all strive for happiness, it is fundamental. We never fail to pursue it, we merely make misguided choices in that pursuit. If we lack love for example, we may seek substitutes such as physical stimuli which in turn alienates us further. In our self pursuit, we are immediately selfish from birth on, driven by what it takes to please me. We mature in age, but the pursuit remains the same. This self-love or pride is an enmity against God’s attributes and person. God seeks to restore us to himself by means of a perfect humble sacrifice to counter a prideful and rebellious nature in those who receive it. The good replaces the evil, the evil being a lack, the good being the substance sought. If we continue in sin after our conversion, it is because of not comprehending our provision, but not for a lack of substance.

                On the third post (#5), I need to clarify something before someone swoops down on me J Where I wrote “…even Christ had the corruptible in the flesh. However, his humility and submission to the Father was all that which kept him pure.” My comment could easily be mistaken for adoptionism. This is an early position held by the Ebionites, Abelard, Duns Scotus and others through the centuries. The belief held that Jesus was born merely human and that he became divine later in his life, only after the baptism and the befalling of the Holy Spirit. I could potentially accept this, because the Gospel of Mark and some the Pauline letters portray some adoptionist concepts. So did the Shepherd of Hermes, a papyrus text bound with the Codex Sinaiticus. However, the main problem with the position is the immaculate conception would have to be stricken from scriptures. The divine conception is taught to have given Christ a superior fabrication of the inward man. Even though his body was flesh, his inward man was not given to the sin nature, thus his perfection. The baptism that proceeded his ministry was as Christ said, for the purpose of obedience. Following this event, the Holy Spirit anointing was the empowerment that embellished His already resident deity nature. As clarification, I do hold to the church’s teaching on this matter, not the minority who were deemed heretics. Without the divine nature from birth, he would have not been the Masiaḥ or Khristos, the anointed one or one appointed by God.

                Thanks for your contribution to this difficult subject!


                • #9
                  God Is All

                  I have often been amazed at folks that have dismissed God or placed him high above them, in the past or far away. In essence, he is always closer than the very air we breathe. He knows our every thought and hearts intent. He knows our desires, our weaknesses and strengths. He knows all about us from birth to death. He is in the beginning and at the end of time. He is as far as we can travel, if we span the universe, he is there too. Even hell exists within God, only because there are no boundaries outside of God. God is a spirit, and we must worship him in spirit and in truth. He knows our thoughts and intents; hence he knows our truthful or untruthful worship.


                  • #10
                    Who Is God?

                    At the very least, I'll venture to say we may never fully understand God. I am not sure God intended for us to actually try to do that.

                    For years I have had this conception of God, almost like a prompt from somewhere else. God, being the perfection he is, and constant throughout time and space creates the perfect companion. That is actually man!

                    I Peter 1:12 KJV states: " Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into."

                    How is it that God will give to us something that the angels desire, and yet withhold it from them? Unless he has a purpose for us that the angels can not attain, I can't understand why.

                    Some time ago after reading the above passage, the scripture came to mind " And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:" Genesis 1:26 KJV

                    I have wondered and pondered at what the image and likeness of God is until the scripture stood out: "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Revelation 22:17 KJV

                    The angels were created to serve God; Lucifer was created with enough pride to rebel against God. If Lucifer had a choice to rebel or not to rebel, then God would not be in control, but if Lucifer was created and destined to fail, then we would have a choice. If we were created in the "image and likeness" of God, as in to choose freely, then we were created above the angels who were created to serve. If God had stopped when he created the angels, his creation would have only served him because he created it that way. Consider that Abraham was considered the "friend of God". If God created the angels to serve him and Lucifer to rebel, then he could have easily created us with a choice to serve or not to serve, in which he did. By doing so, he created, by design, a family that can not be broken. I have never found anyone that would agree that God could ever be lonely nor have a desire for friendship. The very thought of such a thing to most folks means that God would not be all powerful. I tend to disagree because if we can have these feelings, we associate them with love, not necessarily the works of the flesh. We desire family and community, we desire friendship and kinship. Why would we not think that this is also a "likeness" from God? So if God created some angels to serve him, and some to rebel, and man to redeem, he has created a family of kinship. The awesome beauty is that for God, his entire plan was complete before he began. I can only imagine, through faith, that the creation of angels, fall of Lucifer, creation, fall and redemption of man were all complete within God before he started creating.

                    We are created in the image of God (“God [is] a Spirit: … John 4:24) KJV) and after his likeness (state or quality). It is a wonderful thought that God created us that we may both know and love him. An even more splendid thought is that he loved us before we were created. Consider that when a man and a woman join in marriage, they seek mutual love, not created love. Love which is demanded is servitude and slavery, but love which is unfeigned is wonderful and everlasting.


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