Who Should Have Grace?
A hearty "Amen" from this 5-pointer.
* "doctrines of grace" refers to Reformed theology or Calvinism in particular.
Living the ancient faith of Christ in today's world.
Here’s the quick summary: Thomas Schreiner stated in his book that the most basic theme of the New Testament is, “God magnifying himself through Jesus Christ by means of the Holy Spirit." Ben Witherington responded by saying that this implies that “God worships himself”. He argues that man was created in the image of God to be “other-directed” and that the fall made us to be “narcissistic” implying that for God to seek His own glory would be likewise narcissistic. He also claims that the notion that God seeks His own glory is an attempt to “recreate God in our own self-centered image.” The argument has underpinnings in the Reformed/Libertarian Free-Will debate.
There have been many bits spilled already over this and I could hardly add to the discussion. However, I find that Ben Witherington’s contentions first indicate a misunderstanding of God’s purpose in creation and second incorrectly equate God’s nature with our own.
If God is the Creator of all there is, then this creation fully exists according to His purposes and intentions. What does it mean that God is “glorified”? Is He to be glorified only to Himself? To be fair, the statement in Schreiner’s book is a reference to the true revelation of God in the New Testament. Does Witherington claim that the New Testament does something other than reveal God to us? Does it reveal God to be anything other than glorious? At this, if God created all that is, including the human race, would He have created us for any reason that didn’t glorify Himself? If so, then we would have to say that God is the author of sin. If God created sin, or at least the possibility of sin, then how could we not say that in some way God intended to use sin, or the possibility of sin, to His glory? Can we separate His glory from His purposes?
If God is the Creator and he created us with a will of our own, whether or not we agree that our will has any autonomy aside from God’s creation, then God’s purposes are bifurcated from our own. If God is the Creator and we are not, then His purposes are not equivalent in any esteemed value to ours. We may have an account in the bank, but God created the bank as well as the mint. He also serves as the foundation for the value of our deposit. The glory and purpose God gives us cannot in any way be compared to the glory and purpose of God. This goes beyond a mere category error. It is not merely a difference of degree. God’s glory, purpose and will are absolute. Ours are temporal and contingent on His. There is no comparison.
Read through Timmy’s list that I’ve linked to above and keep these things in mind.
Today is the SciFi channel's Enterprise marathon. I've watched a few of them between the initial run and the re-runs on SciFi, but I haven't gotten into the series like I have some of the others. The series doesn't appeal to me because of the overt propaganda the writers have embedded in the action. The most obvious is the political similarities between the wise and lovable Doctor Flox and the platform of one of our political parties. He often discloses things about his people that resemble current political ambitions or anti-moralistic sentiments that are otherwise flawed. For example, he addresses the issue of marital commitment as thought the concept was immature. It is more “enlightened” to have multiple sexual partners. The manner in which he shares this information parallels arguments currently made in the U.S. public arena. However, the flaws in the arguments are not discussed except to be mis-portrayed as straw men. On top of this, the ostensible “maturity” of Flox's race is presented as a group that we should emulate. Flox is only one example.
I just watched a double-episode where Dr. Noonian Soong, the creator of Data and his brother Lore, had followed in the footsteps of the genetic engineers that created Kahn (discovered in the original series). At this point in time, he had created some “children” of his own. They were fighting over the fate of some genetically engineered embryos. Sound familiar?
Right now, I'm in part two of another two-parter that involves the framing of the leader of a Vulcan religious sect. The difference between the sect and the religious system upon which the rest of Vulcan society and culture are founded is a dispute over the accuracy of the copies of the writings that the founder left behind. Implicit in the storyline is a common textual criticism of the Bible, that we cannot be certain that the copies we have of the Bible are accurate. The further implied conclusion is that we cannot be certain of the veracity of what we have.
Many of the refutations of these arguments I read are adequate, but not very refined. To be sure, the Bible reveals the truth about ourselves. Inasmuch as we admit to this truth, we realize the intrinsic veracity of the scriptures. This is the rub for those who do not wish to accept the truth.
The question remains, however, whether we can know the scriptures are given by our Creator. I've gone into this before, but the question remains. It is a matter of philosophical reason. It is one thing to reason that if I have one apple and obtain another, I now have two. It's altogether...well...the same thing - to realize that there is a unified eternal first cause. The only difference is in degree. One can incorrectly reason that 1+1=3. It's less likely because the intelligence required to arrive at the correct answer is considerably low. The intelligence required to wade through the derivation of the attributes of the first cause to where one can logically conclude that the Christian scriptures are accurate is considerably high. Add to that the motivation of many to distort the rationale and it becomes sociologically burdensome to agree on it. This, by the way, is the source of the disagreement over the precise meaning of the scriptures even among those of us who agree that they are accurate.
As it is, Captain Archer has brought to the Vulcans the original writings of the founder of Vulcan society as well as his “katra” - his mind (just like Dr. McCoy did with Spock's katra in the movies). Well, we don't necessarily need the original manuscripts of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures to determine their accuracy – or veracity. It was nice for the fictional Vulcans, but the truth is that if our Creator bothered to leave word for us of the Truth, we would expect that He would preserve the veracity of that word.
Labels: Star Trek Bible