Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dogma Debate - [Rufus]

Troy/Vincent/Splash (and anyone else I've missed),

Thanks for the feedback on my post about the relationship between Creators and Creation and me and ants. You certainly hit on the salient scriptural points that challenge my opinion. But, and that's why I stress this is not a cop-out, that is the very nature of my point; whatever the answer(s) is(are) they are definitely out of my current intellectual grasp, and that just may be the nature of the relationship. Or, as with children, it may be that I can figure it out as I mature spiritually and we, as God's creation, can figure it out.

That's also why I liked the analogy with string theory and extra dimensions. Even though scripture says certain things that may seem very explicit and direct further understanding may lead us to comprehend that those statements can be true while still allowing for alternatives that seem otherwise contradictory. Some things have a dual nature and that dual nature may currently be beyond our comprehension.

As proof of this possibility I can think of no better example than the 12 men Christ personally chose as ambassadors for his teaching. They walked with the Man, spoke with Him. Listened to all His teachings and they still did not get it! It wasn't until the Holy Spirit descended on them that it clicked, and even then there were internal disputes about some of the details. Christ must have chosen these men because they were the best and brightest available, yet, even after first-hand living, breathing exposure to the Word, the Way, the Life and Light they did not understand. Maybe the separation between our intellect and God's is not as great as me and an ant but it is obviously very, very great. The one real world example we have of hand-picked men living with God on Earth shows us that direct exposure to His teachings was not enough for them (even them!) to understand His message. And we have example upon example of prophets being directly told by God that He cannot reveal His nature directly to us. To use a ridiculous analogy, it's like the Krell computer in "Forbidden Planet." We get a burning bush, a small sliver of God. If we got the whole thing in one swell foop we could not handle it.

The devil can quote scripture to suit his purpose. Just as you have quoted scripture that seems to state the answers are knowable, you all know I can quote scripture that directly makes it clear they are not. The Bible is full of contradictions. It's a great book full of wonderful, wonderful advice, history and spiritual guidance, but it also has some nonsense.

One thing we all seem to agree on is that God has given us the ability to live the life He wants for us if we so choose. Your choice tells you that if certain rules are not followed, to the letter, then salvation is lost. I read the same book and see a Man who, when challenged by Pharisees and Rabbis with dogma and doctrine repeatedly, consistently stressed another way.

"Whatsover you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto Me." I'm not God, but if I were I'd be much happier with a man who spends an hour ministering to a sick child than a man who spends an hour kneeling on a cushioned pew in a gilded, air-conditioned cathedral. Since God is infinitely more compassionate and infinitely less selfish than I it is impossible for me to understand why He would judge the first man lacking, and the second virtuous.

Oh yeah, whomever made the reference to Pascal's wager... Great stuff! I love that philosophical exercise. I have used that many times to convince my more "logically" minded friends they ought to give church a chance. Why do we buy lottery tickets? We know the odds of us winning are almost zero. Because the pay off in comparison to the minimal amount ventured is so immense.


Splash said...

"...I liked the analogy with string theory and extra dimensions..."

But my point in bringing it up was that such things only help to clarify the murkier things in light of what IS explicitly given. The essentials of a life lived acceptable to God are clearly, explicitly laid out for us in Scripture. Those we're to accept. The implications BEYOND can be debated and perhaps better understood with helps such as this. But only in the sense of aiding the truths clearly given.

My concern is the way people treat God like a cosmic Mr. Potato Head, picking and choosing His sensibilities and attributes, making Him in our image rather than the way it actually happened. A God who can be fashioned to whatever we're most comfortable with is no God at all but, quite literally, an empty idol. Which is what I fear you may be doing with Him. (And ironically, is exactly what Obama's disciples are doing with him -- just believing he's what they want him to be, completely blind to his deeds, words and record...or lack thereof in the Senate.)

The starting place has to be the revealed Word. The lack of a high view of scripture is suicide. You're a philosophical boat adrift in an open sea without it. The Bible is a gift given mankind to mark the foundations. Far from containing "nonsense" (could you elaborate, btw?) and "contradictions," it's remarkably clear in many of the areas you seem to suggest are not. There are no contradictions, only paradoxes.

Your "ministering to a child/gilded pew" conundrum is covered in several places in the Bible. God DOESN'T favor empty man-made religiosity over actions that validate faith. Which also happens to be why Christ opposed the Pharisees. They had added to the Law hundreds of impossible-to-maintain rules that blasphemously elaborated on what God had commanded Moses to codify.

The answers are there. Maybe you just need to give the scriptures another good, thorough look with an open, prayerful mind.

Rufus T. Firefly said...


I don't want this to sound flippant, I freely acknowledge you are better versed on the subject than I, but I think I understand your concerns and I am not in the God as Mr. Potato Head camp. I agree that there is a very specific path to salvation as set out in the Gospels. What I'm saying, and I know this sounds nonsensical, that's why I reference the analogies about physics, is our understanding of the path may be what's lacking. When a train goes by a clock on that train moves slower than my wrist watch and a ham sandwich on that train weight more than the ham sandwich in my hand. The differences are so minute (due to the relatively slow speed of the train) that they are effectively immeasurable, but that is reality. That's really happening. When I see a passenger in the train window holding a ham sandwich there is nothing in my abilities (my senses and brain) that will ever lead me to think her sandwich weighs more than mine, or her wristwatch ticks more slowly. But they do!

That's why I point out the almost complete lack of understanding the apostles had of Christ's message until the Holy Spirit came upon them, AND, even post pentecost they Apostles had debates and disagreements about important components of the faith.

Can we ever truly understand it? Maybe. (You say definitely, I say perhaps). Are an understanding of the scriptures necessary to understand? Probably. (You say definitely, I believe it's the best resource, but I also believe some can come to the truth via other methods, but even if that's possible I believe it's extremely rare.)

But, like the Theory of Relativity, this stuff is rocket science! Your typical High School math student ain't gon'na understand the Theory of Relativity. It takes years of hard, rolling up your sleeves, post graduate math and physics work to get it. I think it's the same with salvation. It didn't even come easily to the Apostles who learned directly at the feet of the Rabbi.

Troy said...

Just one quibble... The Bible contains paradoxes -- but not inconsistencies I believe. Even the stuff that seems barbaric is explicable if put not context (I mean that generally -- not in relation to anything you've specifically written). It's a subtle but important distinction because contradictions can't reconciled -- paradoxes can (even if we can't figure them out).

I still think we have enough to run the race as Paul says. We may not have all the particulars, but there's enough revealed about the character of God to know that He gives chances and warnings and specific enough orders -- though not always complete -- as we would define that.

btw... I like the name of the blog -- wish I'd thought of that. ;-)

Troy said...

And since my blog is basically a vanity project with my wife as and my mom as readers can I call The Dead Pool?