Monthly Archives: October 2012

Another response: the problem is the water, not the boiling

Hi Lydia,
Like I said, I think on the surface, it (Calvinism) makes so much sense.  And because of that, people generally judge a book by its cover.  They don’t need to go deeper in discovering the logical fallacies, because they are so sure that there is a good answer for it.  To go thinking about it just proves you are prideful and not trusting that God knows more than you (even if you disagree…who are YOU, Oh man….to judge God?).  When we decide that our reason MUST be how we have faith in God (and it MUST…I don’t care what they think), they throw you out as a heretic.

I would never be accepted back in my old SGM churches.  I consider this a badge of honor.

John Immel was the one who said first that Calvinism appeals to intelligent people.  I added that it appeals to good and humble people, too.  That’s what makes it so insidious and hard to dismantle.  So many smart people who love to humble themselves before their “benevolent” gnostics. Exhibit A: Bret Detwiler.  Clearly a good man, humble, leader, and rank doctrinal hypocrite.  But people give him a past on the hypocrite bit because he SEEMS so good and humble. Those that approve of Brent are functionally no different than those who approve of CJ.  They NEVER question the metaphysically and epistemologically irrational doctrine, thus, they wind up no better than they were before.  They leave the church, or the church leaves SGM, and the WAYS never change.  Abuse is still there, it only takes a little longer to manifest itself because people are at the moment hypersensitive to the OUTCOMES of heavy handed application of the doctrine.  But not the doctrine.  So, the frog jumps out of the boiling water into cold water, which then slowly starts to heat up again.  The frog never understands that it is the WATER that is the problem, not the heat.  The boiling is the natural evolution of the water itself when the “heat” (doctrine) is applied.  The frog needs to understand that to avoid the boiling, he or she needs to avoid the water altogether.

Also, on a side note…sorry I haven’t posted more on election and free will.  I am wrestling withe the time conundrum.  I mean, I feel my theory is sound, but in pursuing the time question, I stumbled upon something that has occupied my thinking.  I have a good friend who is an astro physicist in the field of relativity, and I want to run it by him.  It would explain why the universe is expanding in physical, not necessarily metaphysically terms (but, there IS some metaphysics implied)…this is not some pipe theory.  I think it has merit, but I need to make sure it is theoretically possible before I post more on election/free will.  I need to be sure that my definition of how we view time is correct according to physics.  This takes TIME!  Ha, ha.  In the mean time, I think I’ll post a bit more on my views on SGM and Calvinisms hypocrisy in general, as a function of their poor metaphysics.  That is ALWAYS fun.

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Response to LydiaSOP–Blame the SGM DOCTRINE; and knowledge of Good/Evil

Hi Lydia,

Excellent post. You are very right about the whole “check your brain at the door” mentality. The irony is that Calvinism appeals to smart people. Many of my friends in SGM are quite bright and successful. How they can apply rational thought to their jobs, for example, and yet completely throw up their hands in the face of theological nonsense is a mystery to me…except to say, I did it too; and my excuse was that I just didn’t think about it too deeply. I think on a superficial level, Calvinism has done such a good job of creating such HIGH face value, that people just assume the theological fundamentals must be just as sensible. I guess what I’m trying to say is that people can readily grasp the inconsistencies and the non-logic when they are faced with it; the problem is that they rarely are; and thinking about it for themselves is not something that really appeals or occurs to them. Occasionally, something will explode, like Brent’s wikileaks bag of flaming poop thrown at the figurative door, and a few people will step back and take pause and take a gander at the doctrinal premises. But even then, it is rare that people actually challenge the presumptions. Look at the anti SGM blogs…practically NO ONE is questioning the doctrine. And I mean NO ONE. Why?! Well…seems to me that they are still listening to their pastoral “authority”. One of the first things Detwilier did when he hypocritically attacked his spiritual superior is categorically deny doctrine had ANYTHING to do with the rank abuse and corruption of the SGM leadership (because if he concedes doctrine is at fault, he knows he then becomes culpable for the very corruption he is railing against; so for Brent, it literally CANNOT be the doctrine, or he’s never pastoring again). So…a pastor said it, he’s the authority (even subconsciously), and so, , viola! Guess what? It’s not the doctrine. Because the Calvinist says so. The SGM churches leaving…well, THEIR pastors say or imply that they are being doctrinally consistent, so, voila!! And guess what? It isn’t the doctrine…again, because the (twice hypocritical!) Calvinists say it isn’t. Those who have EVERYTHING to lose by blaming doctrine are the ones who are believed when they say “It’s not the doctrine…” and “You are the worst sinner you know” doesn’t mean what you think; it means what WE think, and what we think will change depending on the situation; so we’ll tell you what it means and when.  You can just show up and nod and tithe.”

Gross me out, people.

The surreality just keeps going and going. It’s still the same old story. There is only a problem if the Calvinist PASTOR says it’s a problem. If they say it’s not the doctrine, then it’s not the doctrine, despite aaaaaaaaalllll of the in-your-face evidence that proves it IS the doctrine.

Whatever. That’s why I started this blog. I got so fed up with being told “don’t debate doctrine here…there’s more pressing matters to attend to”. So, I’ll debate doctrine on this blog, even if it’s just me and a few others. It doesn’t matter where doctrine is discussed…it must be discussed. DOCTRINE is what must be dismantled, everything else is just a symptom. That’s a fact. Mark my words, in SGM, nothing will change. In the churches leaving, it will be even worse than it was before they left. Unless they renounce the doctrine, they are twice hypocrites and they WILL be twice as corrupt. If you are sill in SGM and you want to keep your doctrine, my advice is to go to an SGM church that is still in SGM. You’ll be better off.

In terms of Genesis 3…yes, I have thought a lot about that. It seems to me that the problem arises when Adam and Eve know “Good and Evil”, as you mentioned. I wrote about this in my large essay (of which I’m posting bits and pieces here on this blog). I won’t go into too much detail because I’ll make the whole subject a post eventually once I get through the election/free will bit, but for me, it has to do with the fact that, once they were aware that there was in fact GOOD and EVIL and that that “law” comprised the moral nature of their existence, then good and evil became FUNCTIONALLY real to them…that is, from that point on, they were no longer judged by their innocence of the law, but by their obligation to it. They lost the moral “neutrality” of NOT knowing good and evil…and it is that kind of morality, the mere GOOD in the absence of any EVIL that is God’s standard because it is what defines HIS moral existence. So, even if Adam and Eve were to do GOOD, it is only good insofar as the EVIL they understand via the moral law gives GOOD its goodness (its contextual meaning). So, as judged by the law, there is always good AND evil implicated in everything they do. Again, even if they were to do only good, that good is not morally neutral, it is only good insofar as it is given meaning via to the existence of evil…doing what you are supposed to do is DEFINED by what you are NOT supposed to do…they are inexorable, and vice versa. Thus, the sacrifice of Christ restores man to his position of moral neutrality…or innocence. Which is the morality of God: GOOD only, absent ANY reference of EVIL.

Prologue to Unraveling Election and Free Will: Considering Time

(NOTE to readers:  Post has been revised and edited; however, this process is still ongoing…forgive any grammatical errors or confusing details/explanations/discussion, etc.)

Before we begin to unravel the “paradox” (which is really nothing but an impossible contradiction…as the Calvinists teach it anyway) of free will versus election, we must first begin by taking a philosophical look at the nature of time.  For unless we understand time as it relates to us and as it relates to God, there can be no ultimate reconciliation of these two seemingly clear biblical ideas…that is, again, free will of man versus God’s “election” of certain men or women to salvation before they were born because God is omniscient AND omnipotent.

Man’s culpability and God’s omnipotence Man are both ideas that can be scripturally acknowledged by looking at various texts that, at least ostensibly, speak directly to them and declare them, thus, both “biblical”.  But what isn’t so clear is the relationship between these two ideas.  Therefore, the doctrine of election (or some use the term “predestination”…I understand that, strictly speaking, there are some differences in the meaning of these two terms, however, for the purposes of this essay, I will consider them the same thing) is born in an attempt to frame these ideas in a way that they can be understood to be both at practical, if not wholly explainable, work within the lives of Christians as they walk out their faith.

It is hard to reconcile the two, and in truth, election does more to obfuscate the issue than clarify it, but, having said that, it isn’t hard to imagine why church scholars and philosophers and theologians the world over have found it necessary to develop a doctrine that at least in some way explains how these two ideas work together and how they are to be perceived and applied.  The only other option, it would seem, is to live out our life of faith with the glaring problem of contradictory scriptural theologies defining our very faith itself; and moreover, defining the nature of our very existence.  Can we or can’t we?  What is the answer?  How do when explain it when the seekers of life inevitably ask us to do so?  How do I know that I know what I know?  How do I know if I’ve truly chosen what I think I’ve chosen?  It’s kind of hard to feel at ease in such an instance, for many of us at least.  The solution, as it appears in many schools of thought, but particularly Calvinism, is, again, the doctrine of “election”.  That God predestines you before you exist, period, because He is God and He is Holy…and you are decidedly NOT.  This is the salve that is supposed to sooth the inquisitive soul of the believer so that he or she can move on to the “more important” work of the faith. No need to wrestle with such heady questions…questions which, as we all too commonly hear, have plagued man for hundreds of years.  The implication, of course being: who are YOU to try to figure it out.  Best if you leave that to the doctrine of “election” and move on.  It’s easy.  God chose you because He CAN, because He’s God.

The only problem is, of course, that doctrine of election doesn’t really do anything at all except to highlight the problem; to make it even more apparent.  The doctrine is really simply a formalized version of the question.  That is, it is the declaration that the question IS in fact the ANSWER.

This being the case, the issue always seems to boil down to the same old debate:  Are you an Arminian or are you a Calvinist?  Do you believe that man has utter free-will to do as he pleases and that the idea that God “elects” anyone to heaven or hell is merely a figment of poor bible interpretive methods and/or an issue lost in translation, so to speak; or are you one who feels that man is depraved, would never freely choose Christ and thus must be compelled, or “elected”, by God for salvation; thus, the idea of free will, because of the sinful “nature” is also merely a product of poor interpretive methods, or the mere fantasy of a group of believers who wish to elevate hope over reason; to say that sinful man can actually, in any way, effect his eternal reward for righteousness.  Preposterous.

This is almost always where it ends up.  Now, since we know where it ends, then, how do Christians then proceed down their path of moral obligation in the face of such contradictory doctrines to that obligation like “election”, or proceed to tell God that they can choose good just fine, thank You very much, and will, in spite of their “obvious” inability to do ANYTHING that isn’t tainted with sin at its ROOT, effect our own salvation when we are good and ready.

Now, the more moderate, or less fundamental, as it were, of Christian thinkers, be them functional Calvinists or Arminians (and by functional, I mean those not bogged down in the details of their theology’s root doctrinal inconsistencies and hypocrisies, because they either don’t care, don’t know, or can’t know (i.e. do not possess cognitive ability to discern the inconsistencies and contradictions unless pointedly spelled out for them; which, given the prevalence of neo-Calvinist churches in the U.S. for example, isn’t happening all that often) generally fall into the category of:

1. They both are true

2. They both seem to contradict one another

3. It really doesn’t bear much explanation beyond that, because the fact is that God can do anything, thus, we just have to live with it and move on, focusing on what we can explain (which, I should add, if you are a Calvinist, isn’t much, by definition, except:  I am sin.  God does not like sin.).

As an aside, I even had a friend appeal to eastern religious philosophies and their acceptance of and incorporation of “paradoxes” into their world views as how he managed to reconcile the seemingly contradictory ideas.  It seems as though there are those who won’t even hesitate to venture out of Christianity itself for answers to the contradictions that Christianity seems to present.  Now, I have no problem with doing this…I have nothing against eastern religions except that I think they are false.  But having said that, I do struggle with the idea that ANOTHER religion has to explain why mine doesn’t make sense, ostensibly.  I think my religion does make sense, frankly, and I intend to prove it by using the metaphysics of reason and logic; which, as I have said I believe, is the SOUL of man itself, and which, by the way, I do not accept is an appeal to merely western schools of though on epistemology.  I hold that the roor premise of reason, defined in my other posts, is particular to MAN, and by man I mean ALL men and women.  Culture and religion and custom are irrelevant.  What matters is the ABILITY to grasp abstract concepts.  The metaphysics of reason are worth knowing not because they are cute, or they are fun, or they make one appear a really deep thinker.  No, it is because without them man cannot exist, period.  And neither can a Creator.  I don’t care what you believe about who God is…it is His HOW that cannot change from one group to the next.  Anyone who claims otherwise puts his or her faith in nothing except faith itself, which is nothing. But that’s okay, because faith is something, and that faith will always concede my premise.  So, though men believe differently, they are rational whether they admit it or not.  That’s THEIR paradox.

In this essay, I appeal to neither the doctrine of election nor of free will, but rather, the idea that both are each other; that is, they exist in symbiosis.  With one, you must have the other, and also, then, the converse would be true.

First, let me begin where I probably should have started already:  with a cursory definition of the terms “free will” and “election”.  Of course, I realize that I have already essentially defined election, however, I will repeat myself; for repetition can be useful, and even more so in my posts, I’m afraid, due to their tedious nature.

Election is the doctrine that says God is purely responsible for deciding who gets saved, plain and simple.  God elects people before they are born to be saved, period.  You are going to heaven because God chose you (though most Calvinists will not concede that the choice to save you is arbitrary, they cannot offer any reasonable explanation; on the contrary, they often, ironically, harp on the idea that there is in fact NO reason that you should have been chosen at all; so, though they may not concede it’s arbitrary, they often argue that it really is, whether they know it or not) to go, and for no other reason, not even your accepting Christ; for it is argued that your acceptance is first due to the power of the Holy Spirit to give you a faith that you cannot resist….now, of course, Calvinists would argue semantics, but what this means and what the root of the logic is, is still unchanged, despite their many equivocations and protests: the God accepts Himself on your behalf.

The reasons behind this have to do with the idea that fallen man is, by nature, in rebellion against God and thus, without the Holy Spirit’s deliberate choosing of man on behalf of man, man–that is, the “elect”man–would never choose God of his own volition.  Thus, again, anyone saved must first have been “elected” by God.  Man had no functional part to play in his salvation except for adding his “sin”.  That is the Calvinist argument.  (Needless to say there are a host of metaphysical problems with this idea, beyond just the issue of God choosing “for” man.  Suffice to say, for now, that this idea of election is a ladder of interchanging rungs of contradiction and redundancy.)

On the other hand, tree will is the idea that man possess the functional and rational capability to know God and to accept Him as Savior by which he may inherit eternal life with God.  People who hold to the idea of “free will” over election generally argue that accepting Christ is not a “good work” and thus does not fall into the category of “works” which the Apostle Paul declares impossible by which to be saved.  The tertiary understanding is that man is both free to do good and evil, and thus may garner the praise or condemnation of God in a just sense (that is, a metaphysically and morally consistent (reward for good, punishment for evil, culpability of man depends on man’s ability to obey, which must be innate and real, otherwise, justice may be legally consistent (God can do whatever He wants; He’s God), but not necessarily morally consistent), because man can, in fact, independently do true “good” and true “evil”, and does not rely upon the Holy Spirit to make a work good, per se; that is, the Holy Spirit is not necessary to make a work “good”; it’s goodness is found in man’s obedience to the moral standard, not in the perfunctory status of man IN Christ AFTER salvation, and that the obedience is rooted in man’s ability to reason, not in the Holy Spirit’s compelling man to do “good” which he could not otherwise do, for reasons that 1. man cannot do good, for even his good works are bad, and 2. any good work man does is only via the Holy Spirit, thus, man is NEVER doing any good himself, so all good he does is really God doing for him.

The idea of free will has little trouble metaphysically.  I have always maintained that in order for man to exist, he must be free to know good and to choose it as a function of his innate ABILITY.  Otherwise, man is removed from the equation.  He is a puppet of the inexorable force of his sinful nature, which he cannot help, or the inexorably force of the Holy Spirit, which he cannot help.  Man is thus both saved and condemned for the exact same reason:  because he exists…because he IS, period.   (The Calvinists dispute this by referring to Adam’s sin; however, this means that as a consequence of Adam’s sin, God revoked, apparently, Adam’s free will, thus, again, who is ultimately responsible for Adam’s “sin nature”? All consequences of the fall are from God,by definition.  One cannot argue that Adam of his own free will stripped his free will.  This is an impossible contradiction.  Only God can remove free will by substituting one “core”of man’s “ability” with another.)

The problem, as I can deduce, with the idea of free will is that it does not adequately explain how God’s omnipotence plays a role.  God knows, and surely if God knows then God, by definition, must have DONE as well…God cannot know unless it actually BE, for it is impossible (though this is an idea that MUST be explained in detail, and it will be) for God to guess, predict, or even think theoretically.  The ability of God to think is the power of God to create…He needs no language, He only needs to conceive, and the conception becomes TRUE.  Predestination, insofar as we definite as God knowing, and thus, declaring, must mean there is purpose for those who are saved, and that this purpose was consciously known and declared by God at the beginning of creation.  This is the definition of predestination.  But free will as a doctrine does not account acceptably for this definition. That is a considerable problem, even in spite of free will’s metaphysical consistencies, and its appropriate and just reason for punishment and reward.

Moving on to context.

As I said before, the nature of my argument depends on the proper context.  And this is nothing special, for this is the case with everything that has ever been created.  Creation is itself contextual.  It is contextual to itself as a created thing, and the components of it are contextual to their environments and situations, and even the Bible and revelation of God, Himself, is contextual to creation.  as is the case with everything that has been created, I submit).  And the context is, of course, time.  Time is the idea that forms the ground upon which the ideas of “election” and “predestination” rest.  And it is this topic to which we will now turn.

It is my firm belief that the reason for the contradiction of free will and predestination has to do with the inappropriate application of man’s sequential, temporal existence in space to BOTH ideas, but specifically the idea of “election”.  In other words, we box the doctrines into our understanding of time.  And, as we are dealing with a God who is, by definition, omnipresent, any discussion of ANY doctrine which predicates the interpretation of it to the understanding of man’s time continuum seems quite doomed, logically and metaphysically, from the start.

Now would be a good time to confess that I am decidedly NOT a physicist.  Therefore, I freely admit that the following ideas of time are merely rooted in my personal understanding of metaphysics as it relates to my faith and the facts that:

1.  Man’s physical and psychological existence is, quite obviously, dependent on the concept of sequential causes and effects which are both allowed and limited by space.  For all thoughts and actions are given both ability and meaning by this idea that time is sequential movement (action/cause and effect/ect.. Note:  I hesitate to say “linear” time because, in accordance with my theory, man’s action may yes, be in a sense linear, I am concerned that the use of this term would create an understanding of some how a “straight line”; and what I say is that the line need not be straight, necessarily, but merely sequential.  Meaning, that the line can physically go up, down, left, right, curved, circular, diagonal, forward or even backwards in space, it just cannot go inward on itself…again, physically speaking.  Metaphysically, this will be, yes, linear time; going forward, NOT backward.  But physically, again, the proper terms are “outward” and “inward”, and so the line of action or sequence doesn’t always have to be straight.  So, I prefer the term “sequential”, because it works well regardless of whether we are speaking physically or metaphysically.)

And…

2.  God’s existence is NOT dependent on sequential existence within a certain confine of space by which He is allowed to act.  That God is His own space, and is not bound to a sequential temporal existence BY this fact, and thus, all of His actions can occupy the SAME space at the SAME moment, by definition.  Since He is His own space, He has all the space He needs in Him, do do whatever He wills, and as much as He wills, which is everything that is HIM; and thus all of his actions are within the confines of Himself; thus, it follows, again, that all actions and movements of God are done in the same space at the exact same moment.  In other words, God is by no means bound to the physical law that two or more things cannot occupy the same “space” at the same “time’.  He only occupies Himself, and thus, all His actions are in the same space, at the same moment, because God does not need physical movement as WE understand it to act, like we do.    He cannot move in Himself because any talk of movement implies external space, which He does not need, because all of His space is Himself, which is, by definition, infinite, and all is Him.  There is no space in Himself that is not Him, so all His acts occur simultaneously…because they must.  Any talk of of any other way immediately implies that God needs “space” or “room” to move, and if every part of God IS God, it MUST be that every act of God happens simultaneously in the same space.  Metaphysically, there can be no disputing this unless we forfeit the idea that God is omnipresent, and that that omnipresence constitutes all of Himself, and there is nothing besides Him in which he must “move”.  If we forfeit this, then God is no longer God.  Thus, this metaphysical argument MUST be true; if it is not, we are not talking paradox, we are talking imperfect Creator, and thus, we are no longer talking the God of Israel, or Christ.

Therefore, when speaking of any topic that implies “time” in some way or another, we must be careful that we frame the idea within a correct understanding of how “time” relates to us versus how it relates to God; and to recognize that time is a necessary function of our ability to exist, and it has absolutely, conversely, nothing to do with God’s ability to exist.  God is not limitless time or limitless space, then.  He is NO space and NO time, by definition.  Space and time are manifestations of our reality, that exist in order that man can act.  They have nothing to do with how God exists; for He needs nothing to exist except for Himself.  Thus, God will and can never subjugate himself ultimately to our concept of time.  Before ANY explanation of a topic like “election”, or “foreknowledge” can take place a correct understanding of this must be apprehended.  We must remember tat God is outside of anything in creation, including time.  This will fundamentally effect any doctrine that claims that God can “know something before it occurs”. By definition, temporal terms like “before”, or future, past, etc., cannot apply to God.  The Bible may speak of terms such as these, however, one will notice that the Bible is speaking of man’s existence…man’s reality, that is, not Gods.  “Before you were born, I knew you”.  Is a true statement, however, the “before” applies only to man, not God.  For it is true that before YOU were born God knew YOU; but this doesn’t necessarily imply that God was there BEFORE as well.  There was a “before” to your existence, but in terms of how God exists, there was never a time he was “before” you.  Time is not how God exists, therefore, the concept of before has no meaning to God.  You are what you are what you are, and always are to God.  The idea of before and after is LIMITED TO CREATION.  But this, of course, does not make time merely an illusion.  As I have already stated, the idea of time is how we exist.  We are a series of sequential actions, both physically and mentally.  Because we cannot occupy the same space at the same time, our existence necessitates our reality.  This being the case, we do create our reality by acting in accordance with our ABILITY to act; that is, things are actually effected because WE actually do them.  Thus, the entirety of our IS, as a function of how God understands us, is also made up of the choices that WE made in service to that IS.  You cannot separate the reality of the outcomes of our choices with the reality that God exists in a perpetual state of present.  And though we may see our choices and actions “of the future” as not yet existing–and truly they do not, until they do…that is, until we make them–these choices that we will make, and are not existing until we make them, as a function of our sequential reality, are, in fact a REAL aspect of our entire existence, to God.  The sequential aspect to our existence–and this is important–is only real in OUR reality, in OUR creation.  It has absolutely nothing to do with God’s existence.  God is outside of our sequential existence.  This does not mean he cannot interact with us, it simply means that our concept of time is never applicable to God.

Having said this, we understand that God always sees us in our moment.  He also sees all the choices we have made, and knows the outcome because all of those choices are in fact, truly, and utterly parts of us, in the same way as our eyes, or hands are parts of us.  When he sees us, he sees all our choices, already made. And those choices are, in fact inevitable…but they are inevitable, not because God “fore ordained them”, but because WE made them.  They are a part of us like our hands and feet.  They are US, they are not God.  God foreordained our existence, and created us, yes, and in such a way, it can be said that God in a sense fore ordains our actions; however, those actions are actions that WE took, in order that they are actually US, and not God.  So, when God created us, he also created the choices that WE made.  But, this doesn’t mean that WE did not make them.  What is important here is to understand that we cannot divorce ourselves from our choices anymore than we can divorce ourselves from our physical bodies.  They are part of what makes us, US.

The question then becomes, of course: how then is God not ultimately responsible?  He made our choices like He made our bodies, therefore He must be to blame for all we do.  Clarification:  He created us, and in doing so, He created our choices; however, it must be understood that WE are the ones who MAKE the choices.  God created our ENTIRE existence, and the choices we make are part of that existence, however, that doesn’t mean we didn’t actually DO the choosing.   He created us, and he created us having made the choices WE made.

But how is this possible?  Well, this is where our temporal existence comes into play; and as far as I can tell it is the only metaphysical explanation that fully implements man’s obvious free will and abililty to effect his reality and his choices with God’s omniscience and omnipresence.  Put simply, it is “time” which makes this metaphysically possible. When God created “time”, that is, created us in order to function as a series of actions predicated on abstract concepts, sequentially manifested, He created the ability to reconcile man’s culpability with His conscious knowledge and experience of EVERYTHING.

So, how does time make this possible?  How does time make this very tedious and confusing but metaphysically NECESSARY idea of man’s free choice coupled with God’s creation of us, including the choices we make?  The answer is found in a simple theory I constructed, and which I call: Retroactive Inevitability of Choice (RIC).  And that is the topic of our next post.  Following that, more on “time”, and those subsequent posts will incorporate the metaphysical understanding of time, and RIC.

(NOTE: As I stated previously, the fact that God can quite easily interact with creation as a function of our understanding of time; however, we must always realize that that interaction does NOT imply limitation.  Simply because he can interact with man on man’s level, does not imply that his is bound to our laws of space and time.  For God can certainly control his power, but He cannot forsake it so that it becomes moot to Him. This would constitute and impossible contradiction of Himself by Himself, and is not, thus, logically or metaphysically possible.)

Reason as the Metaphysical Foundation of Job’s Lament

(Note:  If you haven’t read Job before, or its been a while, going back and reading or re-reading it again is a good idea prior to reading this post.)

“Oh, that I knew where I might find Him; that I might come to His seat! I would present my case before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments.  I would know the words which He would answer me, and understand what He would say to me.  Would He contend with me in His great power?  No! But He would take note of me.  There the upright could reason with Him, and I would be delivered forever from my Judge.” – Job

Before I move on to the predestination/free-will contradiction, which I intend to unravel shortly, I would like to give a biblical illustration of the use of reason (the “reference ability”, as I term it, or soul) in understanding the Creator and how He relates to man.  I say illustration, not proof, for two reasons.  The first is that it is not the intention of this blog to be a Bible study.  On the contrary, I intend to prove my theological premises via my innate sense of reason, rooted in logical metaphysics.  I will use the Bible to iterate or reiterate, or to provide an example of the metaphysical premise I am defining and defending for the purposes of enlightening myself and readers to how this premise may look when practically applied via our religion and our faith (which is based, again, on reason, as I have explained somewhat (but will do so more later) in a previous post).  But I do not desire use the Bible as proof of my philosophy; for to do this would constitute an obviously circular argument and, further, would move me into the direction of my Calvinist friends, and others, where the assumption is that the Bible doesn’t have to be particularly logical, or metaphysically consistent, or non-contradictory, because it’s either too lofty (ironically) to be judged as needing to conform to the logic of reality, or because it is too spiritual, and thus, stands in stark contrast by definition to logic or reality…thus, it is granted something akin to massive artistic license under the guise of “inerrancy”.  Note that the logical conclusion of both of these arguments leads to the same place:  the bible doesn’t NEED anyone to illustrate or to organize a logical metaphysical premise for its truths because it is the Bible; the Bible can be used to prove itself.  Even attempting such a feat is, in some circles, is an exercise in rank heresy.  Obviously, I completely disagree.  This is the kind of “logic” that drives people from the religion, no to it.  But that never seems to deter the more fundamentalist members of our religion from  from appealing to “infallibility” in defense of their own particular interpretations, and when responding to metaphysical (or logical, or theological) disagreements. “The Bible said it; I believe it; that’s the end of it”, is the sum of many people”s philosophical concern in regards to their Christian beliefs.  While I can respect that this is a comfortable and uncomplicated view to hold, it is decidedly not the point of this blog.

Now, to reiterate, I define reason essentially as you will find it explained in Wikipedia.  In summary, it is that faculty of man by which abstract, conceptual truth can be known, and the outcomes of its contextual applications can be apprehended by the senses, that the mind may (also by the r-ability) grasp this truth (or, one might call it, in metaphysical terms: law, e.g. natural laws, mathematical laws, consistent cause and effect interactions laws, etc.) so that it may be understood to indeed be true (though, not necessarily permanent…for a “law” as apprehended by man’s reason does not need to conform to the idea of perpetuity; man’s reason allows him to continually see relationship between cause and effect outcome, and declare that cause and effect rational, even if it isn’t constant, meaning, perpetual. (For example, you dislike the Red Sox, but you are at a game in Fenway Park and so decide to root for them anyway just this once, because your very best friend, with you, is a fan).  The fundamental aspect of man’s reason is its ability to see the relationship as being a truth, or law, regardless of how permanent that relationship may be.)  Thus you could argue that reason itself is the utter TRUTH (and I do argue it) that is the reference for all the other truths, no matter how small, large, short or long term, temporal or eternal.  And these truths of course, are stacked, and parsed by the same reason, so that rooting for a team you dislike is a reasonable exception to another axiom, which is referenced by another, rooted in another, and so on and so forth.

In this post what I will submit is this:  that Job’s appeal to God’s mercy and his friends’ understanding and sympathy is an appeal to reason.  Job is a book about a man struggling with the metaphysics and rationale of what he is enduring, according to the truths he fully knows and comprehends.  Note how in his soliloquies there is never a hint of the idea that he could be misunderstanding that which he knows must be true about himself and God.  He is fully convinced in his own mind that he has full grasp and awareness of the rational, cause and effect metaphysics of the truths of his relationship with God; and of God.  This, of course, flies in the very face of Calvinist theology, where man can never presume upon his understanding of anything about God.  No, Job never questions his own epistemology.  He knows what he knows and fully believes that he does, indeed, know it.

Understanding of how he knows what he knows and the truth of what he knows is never something he calls into question (take note, his friends DO…which, in light of my fifteen years as a devoted Calvinist fully immersed in the doctrines of total depravity and inability of man, I find extremely enlightening and interesting).  His knowledge of God and his metaphysical and rational understanding of God and His goodness–according to his well-understood concepts of right and wrong, just and unjust, etc.–is something Job simply presumes.  Now, though I would argue that his friends do not consistently presume this (at least once Job is forced to explain that he knows exactly what they know, and believes what they believe about God and that they are not “better than [him]”), it does seem as though, in the course of the discussions, all the parties involved at least have a general understanding that they are proceeding from agreed upon standards of truth, and that the focus of the debates  is the interpretation of the unfortunate events which have constituted Job’s demise, and not on defining exactly how they know who and what God is.

Thus, as far as Job, the man, is concerned, the book is purely about an individual who is judging God and what he sees by appealing to the truth of metaphysical rationality.  So, what I am saying is that man’s reason forms the singular basis for his fundamental understanding of how he relates to his Creator.  It is why man can even know Him in the first place.  It is reason that allows man to even grasp the concept of a Creator in the first place.  Reason itself, in the form of the the soul, precedes even God in man’s consciousness.  I’m not making a quantitative statement on degree of importance, I am simply pointing out the fact that reason is itself the very beginning of man and everything he understands.  This being the case, we begin to understand just why and how Job was so utterly tortured in his mind; why he writhed in as much exasperation as he did in pain.  Why he longed that the day he was born had never been.   Because, I submit, if God no longer fits into man’s reason…if the Creator of all and all truth removes himself from the framework and structure of man’s reference ability, then all men are by definition functionally insane.  There can be no point to their existence because there can be no point to ANYTHING at all, including God, because, without reason, or rather, in the case of irrelevant reason (meaning God functions outside of rational metaphysics/understanding) life, by definition, as a function of the divine work of the Creator, becomes not only irrelevant, but in a way, a literal living hell.  And I believe that this formed a significant part of Job’s torment.  He could not psychologically cope with the idea that God could decide to remove Himself from rational understanding according to logical metaphysics and the ability to recognize truth/laws in the form of abstract, conceptual truths; could remove Himself from His own laws which Job could, by virtue of reason, know and depend on consistently.  With that gone, Job realized that his life could mean nothing; and he lamented his birth.

In the book, Job fully acknowledges two things:

1. That God is always supreme; what He wills comes to pass, regardless of what may be a moral or rational truth; what may be metaphysically or pragmatically reasonable.  As the Creator, Job recognizes and concedes that this is entirely God’s prerogative; and He is just and good for doing whatever He does because He is God.  Job recognizes that the supreme truth of God being the Creator of everything means that God is always good, even outside man’s understanding, reason, or moral assumptions. (I hesitate to say “truths” here, and prefer assumptions, even though this word may not be completely appropriate…one must be careful; the point is that God can do anything He wants, and He is still just and good, because God’s justice and goodness is a function of Himself, not on laws or ethics that are applicable for man’s created context.  I trust we can leave it there and say safely that the point has been made.)

2. God is not acting towards Job in a way that is consistent with God’s metaphysical truth; and by this I mean that God is acting in a way that could not possibly be true, because, by God acting contrary to metaphysical reason which Job understands must be true for God to be God, then God cannot BE God.  That is BE all powerful and all supreme and all perfect.  For the nature and truth of God demands that He act according to the metaphysical truths that make His existence possible.   Being perfect means that perfection must be a truth that man can acknowledge, and it must have meaning, and thus, God cannot defy that meaning and still be God.

You may see a contradiction between these two points, and you see correctly.  They are both true, but on the other hand, this is of course impossible.  It is truly a contradiction that no logic or understanding of man can rectify.  And if you see this, you are astute, and you begin to understand Job’s psychological torment.  Both ARE true, and yet, this cannot make any sense but that man is born to be functionally insane; to exist in a world where reality is a dream, and the surreality of dreams passes for reality.  Where there can be no distinction between up and down because even though they may be “true”, they are meaningless, and cannot, then, be trusted.

This is the heart of Job’s misery, I believe.  Worse than even the physical torment and the loss of his family.  When we have reason by which we can grasp the eternal truth of God, everything has a perspective.  We understand that the anchor of the universe is comprehended, and thus, even in the midst of great tragedy, we can find order and sense and comfort.  When God removes Himself from our ability to reason, our reference ability, then the physical gives way to the addition of emotional torment, followed inevitably by madness.  All life is twisted, and in Job’s case, an enigma of a nightmare with no code to break into the light of the understanding of it.  A maze of horror with only one dead end after another.  Put this way, we can understand better his long, and sometimes scarcely coherent, anguished monologues.

Job is constantly making pleas for God to be who He is.  That is, to judge Job according to what He Himself is rationally culpable; to the abstract truths to which He, by virtue of being God, must obligate Himself in order to be, in fact, God.  In order for God to be God, He MUST respect the rational truths which man has grasped by his innate and God-given reason.  Without God adhering to this reason, man’s existence is pointless, and God becomes the Creator of the redundant.  And as such, He makes Himself a hypocrite.  Job cannot suffer this thought, and so cries of anguish and pleas to God for justice are all that is left for him to do.  Job begs to be treated in a manner in keeping with the GOOD he understands, by his reason, which he doggedly adheres to, and insists that he has done, in accordance with God’s commands and God’s rational and metaphysical truth.

We see ultimately that, at the end, Job does not forsake God.  But I think the reason isn’t what one may at first suppose.  Upon first glance, and superficial introspection, we assume that Job’s trust in God is merely a conceding of the supremacy of God to do whatever He wants to do because, of course, it is a prerogative of His omnipotent “office”.  But I do not think it is this at all.  Instead, I believe that Job makes a conscious decision that he will trust God according to, not in spite of, what he (Job) understands to be metaphysically reasonable in regards to God.  He will trust that in order for God to actually be God, and to be all the omni-plus things that are inherent to God, God MUST act according to Job’s rational and real metaphysical understanding of God’s truth, and that, this being the case, there MUST be an explanation for his predicament that fits this proper understanding of God, even though it seems as though God is not keeping to His own metaphysical obligations.  That is, again, those things which MUST be true in order for God to be who He is.

Job recognizes that the only solution to his misery–the only shred of rational understanding to bring comfort–is to trust that God is not, in fact, a hypocrite.  That what is happening must somehow be a function of God’s rational truth, not in spit of it or in opposition to it.  Job will not forsake God based on THIS, and not on anything else.  And this premise has two aspects to it.

The first is that God cannot be God if He is not metaphysically consistent, thus, forsaking God would be a moot and irrelevant move on his part.  God can have no power or bearing upon Job’s temporal or eternal future, and so forsaking him is a less viable option than attempting to reason with Him.  It is nonsense on top of misery.  And the second is that forsaking God would be, for Job, an act of acquiescing to the very thing he is refusing to accept: that God can act unjustly, contrary to what he knows to be reasonably true based on his correct understanding of who God is, in light of the righteousness he (Job) has done.

The moral (or, perhaps, one of the morals, I should say…though, it may indeed possibly be THE moral) of the story of Job is that when faith in God means directly rejecting what we know to be real, based on the the inherent reason we have been given, innately, by God–that is, on what we understand of reality–then what we really are doing is rejecting that very same faith.  Outside of reason, then, there can be no faith.  Without reason, there is nothing by which we can ever trust God.  God’s very existence becomes irrelevant to man; and therefore, God cannot, in fact, be God.

Faith no longer has any foundation by which it can be reasonable.  And if it isn’t reasonable, then there can be no expectation of consequences of that faith whatsoever.  There can be no trust that anything is true at all, including God.  If the Creator removes Himself from how man conceptually organizes his world and his ideas so that constant, knowable outcomes can be integrated, then man’s very existence, and ALL the laws which man grasps by his reason become utterly pointless.  And if they are pointless, then they are laws without meaning.  And laws without meaning are ultimately truths that do not serve.  And a truth that does not serve is not a truth at all.  A truth that cannot be trusted to effect any outcome of any significance is not really “true”.  This is because a truth or law is designed to help man organize his world.  If his Creator has pulled Himself away from the truth that organizes creation, how are the truths any longer true? The original intent of any law or truth is eliminated at its source: the Creator.  The purpose for creation itself is gone, thus, all truths cease to be true, because creation cannot functionally exist.

So faith itself, absent an anchor of reason, which to me IS the soul, becomes a capricious, purposeless idea.  The Creator has removed Himself from being a rational object of faith.  Thus, faith is dead.  And this is what Job refuses to concede.  And the irony is that when we trust in God’s metaphysical TRUTH and refuse to surrender it to appeals for irrational “faith” based on our submission to blindness and inherent ignorance or madness (such as proffered by Job’s “friends”), we are able to exhibit real, effective, and rational faith.  Faith in God truly becomes faith that God is who He is, and does what He does for the benefit of Himself and man, based on conceptual truths that are factual and real and that man can grasp because in order for God to be God and Creation to be what it is–which is, essentially, to exist–these abstract rational truths/laws MUST be true and man MUST have innate ability to access them.  In this way, we can trust that He will never stop being perfect.  In other words, we can trust that He will never stop being God.  And because He is God, He will never violate man’s reason.  For a violation of man’s reason is a violation of Himself.

And this is why Job would not reject God.

Don’t worry! This is just the ground work! :-)

I know that I have advertised that my site will be dedicated to dismantling the faulty and contradictory metaphysical premises of Calvinism and reformed theology in general.  In order to do this, certain philosophical foundations must be laid.  With the posts on “ability” what I am trying to do is convey the idea that in order for man to exist as a creation of God, he MUST be fully able in and of himself.  The preceding posts are an explanation of HOW that is.  Coming up will be a focus on WHY.  If we don’t start with how, though, the why is of little use.  But the why is very, very important.  As I said, the root of all of this will be to not just to show, but to prove that reformed theological assumptions are simply not metaphysically possible, and that by applying them, we both undo God and man.  Of this, I am thoroughly convinced.

Now, I recognize that many of you have already arrived at the conclusions regarding the inconsistency of Calvinist theology, and its fallacy as evidenced by the disastrous practical consequences it inflicts upon the masses.  But dismantling their metaphysics/philosophy by using your OWN to prove them wrong, though, will eliminate the single greatest tool the Calvinist demagogues have:  their ability to define the interpretive premises of every debate…the doctrine that drives the actions.

Notice how almost every argument you engage in with a Calvinist starts with you assuming their very metaphysical premises (e.g. man is sinful at his root/total depravity; cannot do “good” until after conversion; has a “free” will driven by an external “sin” nature (thus, making it not free at all), “original sin”, predestination/free-will paradox, and thus, free will must always give way to God’s greater power of “control”, that God functionally “controls” His creation, and “creates” futures that we just walk through, or not, according to His whim…and on and on).  Once we explain why we will no longer concede their faulty premises by countering with our own better metaphysical premises that they must accept, dismantling the doctrine and marginalizing their theology should be elementary.

Now, one final thing.  In my blog I will soon (once the posts on ABILITY are finished…which, the one below this post should be the last I have to say on the matter, unless some astute reader poses a great question or objection; incidentally, a LOT of what I just wrote on the matter came from a great bit of constructive criticism to a post of mine by Nick from Scotland over at the Wartburg Watch…many thanks to him)…anyway, I will next unravel the free-will/election “paradox”. I will prove that these doctrines are not paradoxical, but are, in fact, symbiotic.  That is, one drives the other; they cannot exist apart, and THAT is why you see them throughout the Bible.

Now, many view this as a futile endeavor…a secondary issue at best, a paradox we have to live with.  However, I could not disagree more.  It is a primary issue of the greatest import, in that by dismantling it, and showing how both are not simply metaphysically true but both MUST (and yes, free will) be true will, I believe, amount to the single greatest blow to reformation theology that is out there.  If it can be metaphysically proven that man MUST have free will, then everything from total depravity to inability to “election” crumbles.

It all started with a little conversation I had with a friend when I was 18 (more like an argument).  This discussion was forgotten for many years, until recently, where musing extensively on it has culminated in a theory I call: Retroactive Inevitability of Choice.

That’s next.

-Argo

Differentiation Between Reference Ability/Reason/Soul and the Observable Ability of the Biological

As I continue to wrestle with the issue of what is it that defines who man is; what is his soul, and as I argue the case that it is, in fact, ABILITY which is the root TRUTH of man, I continue to be unsatisfied in how I have heretofore explained the separation of this ABILITY from the biological…from the physical body of man, because it is so readily apparent that these two ideas “being able” and the body are inextricably linked. Though we are dealing with two different concepts, I am not wholly unaware of the relevance of the “if/ then” equation when talking biology and ability. And yet, I’m not settled on this. For man to be able to DO, it must be said thus: man must be able to do what he is able to do. And though this seems like semantic trickery, all I am trying to get across is the idea that there must be some kind of driving power behind the doing of the body…even if that “thing” in this life, is abstract. However, after pondering for a good bit of the afternoon, and musing upon my previous posts on the subject, I feel that I have arrived (at least to me, anyway) at a platform whereby I can relatively clearly articulate what I mean by ABILITY and why it is what I describe it as, and why also, it can be said that this ABILITY is also man’s soul, and the thing which is at the root of man, and makes him wholly separate from his Creator, and utterly culpable for all of his actions in accordance with God’s moral truths. What is less clear still, is the pragmatic structure of the soul; though, at the very least, I feel that I have discovered a clear and equal dichotomy of it, although I’m not entirely sure where these two parts of the soul fall into the equation, before or after the body, or both. But I hope to arrive at some conclusion about this soon. At any rate, what I have concluded is that there are two categories to man’s ABILITY: the rational, and the empathetic. Both of these find their root in abstract reason, and both are so important to the healthy spiritual make up of an individual that a destruction of either one (a topic upon I have already written while musing upon empathetic reason and rational reason), which I maintain is typically–except in the case of mental incapacity (e.g. insanity, cognitive impairment)–destroyed purposefully (though perhaps not permanently), by the individual so that they are culpable to God and man for the fallout; and which prevents, or is a large contributing factor to the prevention of, a person accepting Christ as Savior, and prevents him or her from carrying out those commands which are duly based on love, which of course, are the ones germane to the faith…that is, the two greatest commandments (love God, love your neighbor). So, empathy and rationality are, again, the paramount abilities of the soul. So much so that without either or both, a biologically functional individual (e.g.. one not insane, impaired) resembles more an animal than a human. And I mean this not facetiously, but that their views on others and the world are more akin to instinct and a forsaking of abstract conceptual reality in favor of something, at least philosophically, catering more to the gratification of immediate desires. That is, more of superficial “cause and effect” operative premise, as opposed to operating within the understanding of real abstract concepts which must, in order to be satisfactorily fulfilled, necessarily deny “self” to some significant degree. (By the way, I propose that REASON is why we can deny self as a matter of personal philosophy, unlike the animals; which may deny self, but are not habitually or consciously doing this. And, yes, neither are most people in a literal sense, however, I submit that “being human” regardless of culture necessitates a conscious awareness that we are oftentimes doing things that we’d prefer NOT to do. I’m not convinced that an animal is able to be so consciously aware of any “self-denial” we may observe in them. Anyway…I’m likely getting ahead of myself. I will present my theory that reason IS the SOUL shortly, and this may make more sense.)

I accept as axiomatic that man’s ABILITY needs a body for it to be manifested. But recently, I have come to the conclusion that ABILITY needs a body, not necessarily for itself to be manifested, but so that “ability” (lower case), can be manifested in the form of “doing” or “acting” or even “thinking” or “conceptualizing”. So, in that sense…that is, in the sense of the lower case “ability” I am content to concede the “if/then” premise. That is IF there is a body, THEN there must be ability. So, in a sense, I’m admitting that yes, ability = body (or the biological) in a certain context.

But only in the sense of the lower case “ability”, that is, again, the manifestation of the “doing” of the body, according to the biology of the brain which drives all the doing. But here is where I split, and here is where I continue to support my previously stated notions of ABILITY, albeit with more clarity (which is as much for me as for anyone else…so that I may be more at ease about the clarity with which I have grasped this subject). However, before that, here are a few illustrations to clarify what I mean by the relationship between ABILITY, or SOUL, and the BODY (which includes the brain, which houses the mind) and “ability”, which is manifested as both the “rational” and the “empathetic”. (Note: Diagram to come)

Note in the figure the use of the term REFERENCE ABILITY (or R-ABILITY). That is, the SOUL is the ABIILTY by which man’s rational and empathetic abilities, the “practical” abilities (those that are manifest by the body as “action/doing”) are able to function from an awareness—or “grasping of”–and understanding of real and true concepts so that the outworking of man’s “ability” is rendered true to the senses, and efficacious so that the work of man may be seen and understood by the senses to be in keeping with conceptual truth.

Now, I also accept that the term REASON may be another synonym with SOUL or R-ABILITY, in a very real sense. And what I mean by that is this: I submit that REASON is not just part of the SOUL but IS the SOUL (and you’ll note the external label: REASON, with an arrow pointing to REFERENCE ABILITY). Or better illustrated: REASON = R-ABILITY = SOUL/SPIRIT (and each label should always be included in the equation, for each label has a broader meaning which is both useful and applicable; but, in another sense, they can certainly be interchangeable, for they are the same thing, again, each with a unique angle on how to describe that thing). For it is REASON that allows man to grasp objective, conceptual, abstract TRUTH. According to Wikepedia, which offers as good a definition as any, reason is:

“Reason or “reasoning” is associated with thinking, cognition, and intellect. Reason, like habit or intuition, is one of the ways by which thinking comes from one idea to a related idea. For example, it is the means by which rational beings understand themselves to think about cause and effect, truth and falsehood, and what is good or bad.”

This being the case, I finally decided that indeed I would no longer hesitate to fully embrace an idea I had several months ago when I began pondering the metaphysical logic of the Christian faith- in response to the strange and contradictory metaphysics of Reformed Doctrine, specifically, Calvinism, of which I adhered to for the better part of 15 years. This idea was: that the beginning of every human being, regardless of who, what or where they were/are was reason. The beginning of man is reason. For said another way, and to reiterate what I’ve already stated, reason is simply the soul of every human alive. Reason is what makes man, man; and the lack of reason is what makes the animals the animals, and the rest of creation the rest of creation. Reason is the soul which allows us to grasp conceptual abstract TRUTHS, not the least of which is our God, the Creator. It is how we are eternal…that is, it is our R-ABILITY which cannot be made UNABLE. It is how we realize that we are both part of creation, and yet separate. It is how we are culpable for our actions in this life and whatever lives are yet to come, in whatever bodies they will be lived in. This reason is our R-ABILITY. It is the ability by which man is able to do whatever he can do, as a function of his WILL, in accordance with, or against his physical body, or emotional needs or whatever other practical temporal thing may drive him or the rest of creation. This ability to reason is the eternal soul of man. It is the TRUTH by which all things are accepted as true, including God’s truths, and God Himself, as well as faith, and everything. Even blind faith is a function of reason…an act born out of rational thought and decision; though pragmatically irrational, perhaps, but rational according to the TRUE understanding of what is “right” or “good”, etc., to the individual…what constitutes what is reasonable to him, and even him alone (e.g. why some people like chocolate ice cream and others vanilla…for every preference is preferred because the person decides it is reasonable; the act of eating one is more pleasurable than the other, thus, almost instantly in such a case, the abstract concept of “preferable”, based on reason, is born as a function of the R-ABILITY, which is why man liking something is different than an animal liking something. To the animal, there is no abstract, conceptual truth which drives this—a concept recognized as such, and could be, for whatever reason, willfully violated in favor of some other reasonable abstract truth; and again, this is not the case with animals. Self-denial of an animal or self-choosing, or preference, or want, or whatever, is a fundamentally different thing for a human than an animal because for a human the driving understanding of WHY is the conceptual, abstract TRUTH of WHY, understood ultimately as a conceptual, abstract truth/law, and able to be willfully manipulated as such (adhered to, violated, etc.), as a function of the R-ABILITY which is, again, the SOUL, and REASON.
And this is why I submit that man is wholly separate from God, and yet culpable to His TRUTH. It is not because God’s TRUTH is man’s objective standard (and even if it is, how do men recognize it as such? By their own objective TRUTH…their R-ABILITIES). It is because man’s TRUTH, man’s R-ABILITY, his REASON, which is his SOUL, recognizes God and His TRUTH, as being in whatever sense to the individual, reasonable, and thus, should be chosen (or not chosen, in accordance with the “reasoning” of the individual, which is reference by the R-ABILITY the same way “choosing” God is).

And this choosing, then, is a function of both the empathetic and rational “abilities”, which is employed under the understandings of conceptual, abstract truth which is referenced by the R-ABILITY. The love of self/God/family/others/life/etc. and the reasonable-ness of God and His power to be and do what He declares He is and does. Every man and woman alive appeals to reason. It is the SOUL of man.

Now, it must be understood that I am not implying that the concepts themselves are IN the r-ability (heretofore to be spelled lower case, as well as “reason”, or “soul”…with the understanding that the prefix “r” is excluded from “ability” when I am referring to that ability which is inherent to the body/biological). I am not implying that man is born with all conceptual truth inside himself, innately, and is relying upon the biology to access it. No, concepts are a function of the external world, real, and able to be grasped as an objective “thing” so to speak. The reference ability of reason is the ability to understand these concepts and accept them as being what they are: truths. Without this r-ability, man is more an animal than human being; a function of instinct, not reason. This definition of r-ability is why not all men accept the same concepts as being TRUE. I define reason as the ability to grasp abstract concepts, recognize them as such, and not the concepts themselves. And not all men find the same concepts reasonable (e.g. for cultural reasons; reasons of personal taste or preference), however, it is by this reason that more than one man can agree that something, whatever it may be, is, in fact, a conceptual, abstract truth, and is how one man can accept that something is an abstract, conceptual truth by the tangible manifestation of IT, or a consequence of IT, which is apprehended by the senses, even if no one else does (the fact that you are the only one in the world who likes peanut butter and mustard sandwiches doesn’t mean it is less of a reasonable truth…something you choose because it is an abstract truth, which is realized by the sense of taste as being pleasurable). That is the ability which makes man, man.

This is the operative conclusion that I have arrived at. I welcome anyone to disagree…admittedly, this is just a theory. However, in light of the understanding of reason which academics and scholars have arrived at (based on my study…which is not necessarily comprehensive), I believe that reason can certainly be classified as what I call the “reference ability”, and thus, the “spirit” or soul, which is the eternal ability by which man must first exist, and which is the core of man and which, then, being the utter end of man, cannot be rendered “unable”. The eternal ability…the IS of man, as I call it.

As far as descriptors of this ABILITY go, I have no problem interchanging the labels: r-ability; soul/spirit; reason. Depending on the point I am making, one term may be better suited than another based upon the nuances of meaning. Having said that, there is a clear reason why I choose to use several terms to describe this core of man.

If we simply use soul, then I fear that an underestimation of what the soul is capable of will ensue. It is not some wisp of a ghost, moving this way and that through the eternal ether until it is provided a body by God so that the minor abilities of reason and empathy can function as a product of the biological structures. It is the root core of man which gives reference to his entire understanding of everything; because, at the end of the day, with man, everything is a concept of one kind or another; judgments are always being made in regards to what the senses perceive, and the soul provides the individual with a frame of reference by which he or she can “know” if the outcomes of the body are in accordance with “truth”. However, I do feel that the use of term “spirit” is helpful in conveying the eternal nature of this r-ability.

If we simply use the term “reason” to describe this ability, I feel the danger is that we ascribe too much of this meaning to the biological structures which formulate thought and then proceed to action. That is “reason” seems too temporal in its implication, while really the idea is that “reason” is eternal; it is the innate r-ability of every single person which designates that person as a human, as opposed to an animal, or some other life form. If we use a term that lends itself to more biological underpinnings of “understanding”, then what will happen is that the human-ness of certain individuals (cognitively impaired, children, infants, etc.) will be undermined, I fear, and truncated. This is not at all what I am arguing, which is why I do not necessarily prefer the term “reason” along, but rather r-ability, which seems to me to better describe a characteristic that every human being has, regardless of who they are or what their condition. The fact of the matter is that every human is FULLY human, regardless of their biological state. The limitations of their biology will only limit the practical out-workings of the lesser rational and empathetic abilities (not necessarily in equal measure, though…depending on the particular status of the individual); it will not limit that which makes them fully human…their core, their r-ability. The limitations of the body will only make it more difficult for them to access the reference. But this, of course, is no fault of their own, and as such they are either not culpable at all for their actions (including thoughts, physical acts, etc., etc.), or are only somewhat culpable…insofar as they CAN be by the biological functions they are allowed in their state. I have not yet determined exactly to what extent certain states or disorders limit culpability, but I do have believe that by virtue of reason and of LOVE (more on this later)—that is, our empathetic abilities, which make proceeding in compassion in all we do possible, even in cases where the strict letter of the Christian “law” may be violated—and on the neurological and psychological/psychiatric sciences, we can make reasonable assumptions about the level of culpability of persons.

As always, when in doubt, we should of course employ our empathetic ability and err on the side of mercy.

Now, it may be that the argument is somewhat difficult to “prove”, however, any philosophical argument is difficult to prove, as metaphysics, by definition, are not always validated by the scientific method, and “hard” data. However, as creatures of innate reason, it is axiomatic that “love” and “mercy” and “justice” are real concepts, and that we are able to grasp them in their truth, and so, in this way, I utterly accept this as being unquestionably and infallibly TRUE: that all people are fully human, and are subject to all rights and expectations of love and mercy that we are obliged to as rational creatures. To deny this, it is my belief, means conceding that humans are, in fact, mere animals, and that all human life and action is entirely meaningless, and thus, contradicts our very existence. If we deny the right of the label “human” to anyone, then we are not fit to call ourselves rational creatures, capable of doing anything with meaning, let alone label ourselves Christians. For me, it all comes down to culpability. For example, it is popular to describe a sociopathic murderer as “not human”, however, this is really not the case. The sociopathic monster is either not “insane” and thus, is utterly culpable for his crimes before God and civil institutions charged with regulating the larceny of people and property, or he is truly insane and, though dangerous and needing removal from rational society, is not culpable for his actions (or culpable in whatever part) due to biological constraints which are not his fault, nor are anything which he could have consciously prevented. (Incidentally, this is why I feel (unlike many of my Calvinist friends) the schools of psychology and psychiatry are so vitally important. These sciences must be the practical arbiter of such matters. Otherwise, humans are likely to suffer at the hands of vacillating and capricious “opinions” when it comes to these kinds of issues; and human history shows the horror time and again which results from human beings substituting opinions and religious interpretive assumptions for reason and fact.

At any rate, to help clarify my point, I have created these simple illustrations: (Note: Diagrams to come)

This is a useful illustration for understanding the relationship between the body and the soul, which is reason. The r-ability is separate from the body, and thus must be undiminished, and so it can be said that the human core is unchanged…however, as a function of the body, the r-ability cannot be accessed in the event of diminished physical body (brain/cognition as a function of biology). The circle which represents the body may become larger or smaller to illustrate degrees of impairment. So, I maintain that the primary r-ability is indeed separate from the body, yet no less real and true. In fact it is the IS of man, so that, again, all people can be considered fully human. Fully human is a function of the soul, not the body. If it is the body, then we concede that impaired persons are not fully human. And the rational conclusions of this mindset are too horrific for words.

On the Physicality of Ability (is an abstract thing “real”?)

The argument I have heard in opposition to my concept of man’s Ability being the core of his existence is that only “hard” nouns are real.  By this, I mean, those things present in the physical environment, which are not apprehended by abstraction.  That is, the physical comes first, and then the abstract concept follows…in other words, everything real in regards to what man can do must stem from biology, because Ability is abstract, thus, it MUST by a byproduct of the physical (the argument then really is that all truth flows from the tangible; which, of course, is very problematic from many people, not just people who believe in God).  For if abstract concepts are only real insofar as they are products of the physical, then, where does that lead us?  Man IS God.  However, if we agree that abstract concepts (like laws of nature, for example) are real and true and exist APART from man, then we must agree that, at least theoretically, that “Ability”, apart from physical biology, could certainly be true and real even though the concept is abstract.

At any rate, the idea, if I have it correctly, is that one starts with the hard noun (as I call it) and then what develops is an agreed upon abstract concept to describe some aspect or some “other” meaning from this thing.  Thus, the premise is that the abstract concepts are not really “real”.  The only thing that is real is what can be apprehended by the senses.  So, Ability, because it can only physically be apprehended by the senses when it is “doing” or in action, is not real, but merely a conceptual byproduct of the natural, physical thing…the hard noun.  So, biology comes first, then the ability…which seems strangely opposite:  what this is saying is that biology must act before it is ABLE to act; and this seems to me to make less sense than saying biology acts because it is first able to do so.

So—moving on— Ability is the “hole” which is an imagined, abstract byproduct of the physical body.  There is no power which drives the “doing” that is not first stemming from the physical body…the biology of the human.  The functional premise is that nothing we cannot readily perceive with our five senses actually exists.

That, to me, is a very literal interpretation of reality, and it calls into question just how then, abstract concepts can be realized as things which can be apprehended with the five senses.  If abstract concepts are not real, how is a concept fomented in the mind, and then realized as a product?  Case in point: language.  By using the above argument, one could say that language is not real.  It is only the byproduct of the physical actions, moved by biology.  However, if it is not real, then how is it organized in the mind?  How can something so non-existent be so literally apprehended, and effect such real, tangible outcomes?  And thus we are left with the problem of this:  if something is abstract, thus not real, how can it be true?  By definition, something that doesn’t exist cannot be true.  It cannot be anything, by definition, and thus, how is it possible?  So we need then to understand what we mean when we speak of the concept of “real”.  How do we define “real”?  If by real, we mean only the tangible universe, then any abstract concept, from language, to mathematical formulas, to ideas, to philosophies to whatever anything is not real. And yet, if they are not real…if they are merely holes in existence, then how can they effectuate what is so obviously grasped by the physical senses.  Walk outside and see a building…have a conversation via text…express a feeling in language.  If the abstract concepts which made these things possible and physical realities are not real themselves, then how is it they form such an integral part of our physical universe?  So we need to understand that the laws which are abstract, but which can create functional, physical reality which proves itself true by virtue of apprehending the product via the senses MUST be just as real as the biology which grasps them.  Thus, concepts which are apprehended by the mind (not NECESSARILY created by the mind) are as real as anything in the physical universe.  For if nothing abstract could be real, then by definition, it could not translate into anything real, either.  For it is impossible for the non-existent to produce something that exists.  Biology (man’s mind) uses the REAL concepts it grasps to create.  It doesn’t create the concept, in order that it be real, so that it can be employed in the creation of something physical.  This makes no sense.

In this way, then, one can argue that man’s Ability (what I call the root of his existence), is real, and is REALIZED by biology, not CREATED by biology.  Biology cannot create something not real, and then function with tangible, logical, consistent outcomes as though it were real.  If biology created ability, then ability could not be abstract (and what we would be saying, again, is that biology must act first BEFORE it is able to act…again, a logical and philosophical contradiction).  For the physical cannot create a REAL abstract concept (something not apprehended by the five senses), for if it could, then what we are saying is that the biological can create other-worldly (for lack of a better term) concepts (can create something out of nothing).  However, I argue that this is impossible.  The only PRODUCT of the physical must be something that is also physical.  Thus, abstract concepts are discovered by biology, and proved as being real and true by the tangible product they produce in the world…what man creates is the physical, which is a result of true and real laws and concepts which he has grasped by his innate ability (reason, being one)…which is itself the reality (though, in this life, it may well be abstract) that makes man’s DOING of anything possible, including the grasping of true conceptual realities.  This goes back to Locke’s work on Human Understanding.  The human mind is something which discovers the truths of the world, abstract and physical…it is not something which creates truth.  And as such, again, man is a product of the very real abstract concept of Ability, by which he discovers.  If Ability does not come first, but only the biological, then I argue man cannot apprehend any truth, and thus, could not create as a function of employing conceptual, abstract ideas.  He would exist as the animals exist.  As a function of creation, not as a function of God and himself; and moved by instinct only, and not able to employ any “truths” in the abstract sense.  The biological cannot function unless it is ABLE to function.  It is this Ability, which drives its action.  To argue that ability is not real because it is an abstract concept is to argue that man creates the abstract laws of all the universe and creation instead of discovers them.  If this is true, then we make man, God.  Man creates something out of nothing, by definition.  This is not in keeping with what we know to be true of man, and logic, and is certainly not in keeping with the Christian faith.  Ability must be present before man can exist as a physical entity capable of producing anything “real”.

On the Metaphysical Problem of Annihilation-ism

A thing (meaning, an object or even, in some instances, an abstract concept which is agreed upon universally and apprehended by the senses, like “hard”, “smooth”, and so on) can only effect an occurrence (change, event, etc.) according to its natural abilities.  It is not able to act against what it is able to do, by definition:  it does what it does and can do no more.  Beyond that, any effecting of anything else is not possible.  The end of anything is its ability to do whatever it can do.  Beyond its ability lay nothing else.  Anything beyond ability is an external force, and if a thing is moved by an external force beyond its ability, then the thing is THAT external force, and is not itself at all.  This of course is contradictory.  It is impossible to speak of two separate things:  if the first thing IS the second thing, then there is only the ONE thing, which is the first thing, and so on and so on.  Thus, if the end of a thing is not its OWN ability to do what it can do, then it is not itself, and thus, it is impossible to speak of it actually existing at all.  To do so constitutes an impossible contradiction (which, incidentally, is why God controlling all things and, specifically, predestining man, is metaphysically irrational and impossible, and cannot be true: if man is not himself, then he is the power which compels him; he is an extension of God, and does not exist).  For a thing to exist in the metaphysical sense, it must be the function of its own ability.  If it is the function of another’s ability, then it does not exist as itself.

For example, black can only become white if the change in color is a function of the object which IS colored…that is, the color is not the root object in question, but the thing which is of the color black, and when we speak of black becoming white what we mean is that the object that is colored black becomes colored white. The constant is the colored object.  We speak of that object changing color; we do not mean that black itself, changes to white, because this, of course, is impossible.  (E.g. a black felt hat left in a car all summer long becomes white in color because the dye in the fabric undergoes fading.  The constant then, is the hat, not the color…the hat itself does not change, but the color does, as a function of the constant thing: the hat).  You see, black itself cannot decide to become white because the end of the color black, as a object concept, is its ability; and its ability is simple:  to be black.  It cannot BE white because then, it would no longer BE black, thus could no longer BE at all.  So its not possible, we are saying, for it to still be ITSELF, and yet, be white.  Black is as far as its ability will take it.  To say that it can be white means we say that black can be both black and white simultaneously, which of course, is impossible.

If the color black could decide to be white, and thus be white, then what we admit is that we are not talking about the real conceptualization of the color black at all.  Black would not be black, but it would really be a certain innate something else and THAT is the constant thing which can be both in a state of being black, or in a state of being white.  Thus black would REALLY exist as something that possessed a nature that was utterly separate from black, the color.  For the object in question to be BLACK (that is the end truth of itself is the ability to be BLACK), it can exist as nothing beyond the state of the color black.  It is impossible for it to be white because, again, that would constitute a contradiction to itself, and thus, it could not exist at all.

This same concept can also be applied to man’s “ability”.  Man’s ability is the metaphysical term I use for “spirit” or “soul”.  It is the very beginning of man.  It is what makes his existence possible, metaphysically.  Man’s ability is thus defined as:  whatever man is able to do is a function of his innate ability.  There is nothing beyond man but his ability to do whatever he does.  If there is something that exists beyond man’s ability, then man is not man, he is merely a function of the external force which usurps his ability.  Thus, ability becomes an illusion, and so does man.  Without true, unmolested ability, with absolutely nothing beyond THAT, man is a lie and does not exist.  I understand there is much more to be said here, and that by speaking of “ability” like this, in this metaphysical sense, I may be getting ahead of where I should be on the blog, but it is what it is.  I do not think it is a difficult concept to grasp, though I do realize that it can be argued, and I will post more on the subject of “ability” later.  Needless to say, I firmly believe the Calvinist doctrine of “inability” to be metaphysically contradictory and thus, must be false.  That is my premise.

At any rate, the core of man’s existence–his essence–is the innate ability to do any and everything he does.  Now, if we believe that there is such a thing as annihilation-ism (the concept whereby man and his soul/spirit/ability are destroyed from existence…meaning, they are functionally un-created), what we are saying is that man’s ability is able to become UNable.  Ability can BECOME inability.  Naturally, I argue that this is impossible for the same reason that black cannot also be white.  If man’s root is his ability, then man stops with that ABILITY.  Thus, it is impossible for man to move to a state of inability, which is what annihilation-ism is saying.  Man’s ability cannot decide to become unable because the operative nature at the most fundamental level of ability is to be ABLE.  For ability to become inability the fundamental nature of man must be something beyond ability by which it can be unable.  There MUST be a constant thing, which is changed.  If that constant thing is, in fact, ability, then by definition, there can be NO such thing as inability, which means that man cannot cease to exist in the “able” sense, but his ability (which I say is the spirit, or soul) MUST be in fact, eternal.  It cannot be annihilated.  IF ability is in fact the end, or soul, of man, then there is nothing beyond that, and ability cannot become unable because if we say that it can, what we are saying is that ability can be both able and unable at the SAME time.  Which is, of course, literally and metaphysically impossible.

Everything man does, I argue, he does via his ability.  There is nothing beyond that.  Ability must be eternal because by definition, it cannot be unable.  Man’s soul was created to perpetually exist. Annihilation-ism implies that somehow, by his ability, man can decide to un-create himself, which is, in fact, a huge logical fallacy.  Ability/created cannot also = inability/uncreated at the same time.

Now, I understand the natural objection to my argument.  The natural objection says that it is not man doing the un-creating, it is God.  God is annihilating man, not himself.  Here is my counter argument:

The purpose of man is to exist according to his ability.  The purpose of man cannot be changed by man because man’s purpose is found in God (as opposed to the rest of creation’s purpose, which is found in itself, to provide an environment for man’s ability to be effectuated and realized), which is, again,to be himself, by pursuing God–which constitutes utter freedom of self.  God is utter freedom by definition; the more like God, the more man is free to be himself.  God, then, does NOT create man that he may be uncreated according to an act of his ability (that is, man’s ability).  Thus, the same metaphysical principle discussed in detail above still applies.  God does not respond to a choice man makes as a function of his ability by rendering man unable, for what that would naturally imply is that man is, in fact, using his ability to compel an outcome whereby that ability becomes inability.  A = B = C.  Man’s ability = reject God = man is annihilated is the same as saying man’s ability = man’s inability.  God can no more act in a metaphysically impossible way than the rest of all of the heavens and creation, for doing so constitutes that He is in fact a creator of the redundant and irrelevant, and is thus a hypocrite, and CANNOT be, in fact, God.  To say that man can provoke annihilation of his ability by his own ability is a logical and metaphysical fallacy.  It is clear then, that God will not oblige annihilation-ism in order that He may not be seen as the the creator of the metaphysically nonsensical.  If God is truly the author of man’s ability, then ability is the end and beginning of man, and as such, inability cannot be ever effected.  In short, God created man’s soul to be eternal, regardless of whatever choices man makes as a product of his ability.

The conclusion of all of this is, again, that man exists to be eternal not to be uncreated.  I would caution all of us who name the name of Christ to be careful that, in the interest of showing compassion and love to others, which I feel is the motivation behind the concept of annihilation-ism (at least in some), that we do not somehow minimize the urgent need of Christ for the world.  To preach annihilation-ism what we are saying is that there is no judgment; for regardless of when that annihilation comes, the result is nothing, and by definition, the punishment then for sin is nothing at all.  If God does not reject (punish, enact a consequence, etc., etc.) forever, then the fact is that ultimately there is no consequence for sin, which is contradictory to the faith.  If man can be uncreated, then all that man does, including sin, is forgiven without Christ, which, again, is impossible, by the very definition of what it means for a Christ to exist.   I don’t mind re-evaluating the concept of hell, but we must be careful about proclaiming that it does not exist at all, or that the judgment of God is a false concept, which is exactly what we do when we proclaim annihilation-ism.  By definition, if man becomes nothing, then there is NO judgment.  The judgment of man cannot be nothing, because that constitutes irrational contradiction.  Non-existence is not a consequence of anything; again, it is simply nothing.

Correction: a “consequence” of nothing-ness is NOT forgiveness. For if man does not exist, then by definition, there is nothing there to forgive. And, also, nothing to condemn. The point being that man’s soul’s purpose is God, and will always be God (for there was PURPOSE in man’s creation), and therefore, the soul does not pass away unless God passes away. If God uncreates a person, then He is a hypocrite. He created man’s ability to be able, not to be un-able.

Addendum: (response to question from another poster on another blog; and clarification)

My posit is that if a soul exists, then it is that by which men are able, meaning the soul is ABILITY.

I do not have a problem looking at ability as actually existing (I guess in the “platonic sense”, as Nick pointed out)…I do not view it as merely an abstract by product of the biological. This is a very difficult issue for either side to argue. What I’m saying is that merely pointing out that ability needs a body (the biological, in this case…meaning, this life), one cannot automatically declare that the idea that ability isn’t real, nor is it metaphysically feasible. If you line up a bunch of guys in a row, you can’t tell which is the race car driver. You need to put them in a car to see that. Merely taking away the the car isn’t proof that the ability to drive doesn’t exist, and is merely a “hole”, that is, a product of the tangible. It just shows that without the car, it cannot be manifested. That isn’t a perfect analogy I realize, but I do think that it is just as large a stretch to declare that just because you can’t see ability without the body, then it MUST be merely a function of the body…that is, the assumption is that the body comes first in the process.

So, I argue that the ability of the person to race cars is REAL. And what I’m saying is that the end of man is the capital A “ability”, which is equally as real, but is broader because it encompasses ALL that man can do, which is what defines Man as Man. It is the end of man, and the beginning, and I would call that ability “soul”. And what I argue is that if that is truly the root of man, meaning, his functional core, then it is the constant. Take away everything else, and you are left with man’s ABILITY. And if that is all there is…if that is the IS of, man, then there can be no such thing as INABILITY. So, ability is simply the word…like, for example, God you would call TRUTH, but the fact is that TRUTH implies FALSE. But when we say God’s TRUTH, what we mean is just God. God’s truth, without “false” is really just God Himself. And when I say man’s ability, I mean simply “man”. So if man = ability (which is my assumption here),then man MUST be eternal because, again, ability cannot be UNable. Because if we say that it is, then we say that man can be both ABLE and UNABLE at the same time, which is impossible. Just like black cannot BE white because ITSELF is BLACK. Black is the end of black…so to say black can become white, we say that black can BE white at the same time. Impossible. If something is going to change color, then the constant, the ITSELF, has to be separate from the color. A hat can be both green or blue, but its still a hat. The hat cannot be a frog at the same time it’s a hat.

The root thing is the thing in question; is the constant (if the “hole” were the constant, then yes, the “hole” would be a real thing, because there would be nothing else beyond “hole”)…so, yes, a body can be alive and then dead but the soul cannot because the soul cannot be able and unable at the same time.

Finally, to use the Bible for a change, Jesus said that we should fear the One who can destroy both body and soul, not just those who can kill the body. To me, the Christian premise is that body and soul are separate. And if that is so, I argue that the soul is immortal.

On the Inerrancy and Infallibility of the Bible

On the Inerrancy and Infallibility of the Bible:

When we try to fit the commands, or the truths of the Bible into a context where it doesn’t belong, then by definition, the truth stops being the truth. Or better said, the truth loses its practical relevancy, and it becomes moot. In the context where the command or truth is applied is where the truth reveals itself as being true. When applied wrongly-in the wrong context-the truth becomes useless; for in that circumstance, the truth malfunctions, and the outcome is disaster. “Inerrant” implies that regardless of where and how applied, the truth will always be seen to be true…that is, regardless of context, the truth will be realized (e.g. God Himself, can exist utterly without context, in only Himself, and His truth will ever be realized by the one to whom it ultimately matters…God; I would also add to this very short list of things able to be realized in and of themselves, outside of any context, man’s “ability”). Any truth or command that depends on application in proper context for its realization as “true” or “right” is NOT inerrant, for the application of it is subjective to man and the Holy Spirit, who enlightens man as to how and where to apply God’s truths and commands. Again, applied in the wrong context, the truth becomes fallacy for practical purposes. This can never be said of any “inerrant thing”…if a thing needs qualification in order to be declared inerrant or infallible, it is, by definition, not inerrant or infallible (applying the command “do not work on the Sabbath” to healing a sick human being, or “do not steal” to a man starving to death, is improper context, and makes a mockery of the command). An inerrant truth never becomes folly; thus, it can never be subject to context.

All commands in the Bible then, and truths, are subservient to man and his context, through the knowledge and power of the Holy Spirit; and ultimately subject to the greatest command and truth “love God”, which is, of course, the cornerstone of man realizing his utter freedom according to his innate ability. For God loves Himself before anything else, and so should we…for this is freedom; this is being perfect.
From this it logically follows that everything in creation is subject, not to the Bible, or to God’s commands or truths, but to God Himself. God is the first thing sought (and the result is the next greatest command “love your neighbor”, which is how we practically apply the first greatest command), because He is truly the only inerrant and infallible thing…and creates, by definition, the context by which His commands are applied. He is never context Himself…He is I AM. So everything is subject to Him, even His own commands and truths are subject to Him…meaning, is subject the greatest command: Love God. Anything that is NOT God is subject to Him. The commands of Christ/God are subservient to Himself. So, again, the commands of God and the truths of God are not inerrant because of two things: 1. They are subservient to Him; which means they are subservient to the greatest command of loving God, and 2. They are only realized in MAN’S context.

So, we need to redefine how the commands and truths of the Bible look and how they apply to our context, which will be inherently different from people who lived 2000 years ago or more. Any command that needs to be re-interpreted for the context of man implies that the command is FOR man, not man for the command (which, of course, completely alters the nature of the command; though, on its face it may look like mere semantics). Meaning, man applies the command or truth to his life in a way where the command is most efficaciously realized…which means, truths and commands are tools of man, and thus cannot be inerrant or infallible, but are subjective to the application in man’s particular, individual context. The infallibility comes in in the form of the Spirit, who guides man in interpreting the command in Spirit and Truth so that the result is that this truth is actively realized, and faith in GOD (not the truth, necessarily) is strengthened. So, once again, we see that the commands or truths of the Bible (incidentally, it is important to realize that the commands of God are NOT God Himself; this is a metaphysical truth with HUGE implications, obviously) are only realized within the confines of certain man-made contexts, and thus, it becomes obvious that any command or truth which must operate thus is not, then, infallible, because infallible in the metaphysical sense means that the infallible thing derives its truth only from itself, never from the context of the fallible.

The infallible thing can be of no practical use to man because the infallible thing must force everything to conform to IT, regardless of who, what, where, or when, and as this is by definition, impossible for the fallible thing to do (which, is of course, everything that is not the infallible thing). So, if this is in fact the idea behind the commands and truths of God, there is no way creation can even exist; if its purpose is to conform to the infallible, the it is impossible for creation to BE (this is a good time to express another metaphysical truth: the fallible can and must only be a creation of the infallible). So, if the idea of creation is that it has to conform to an infallible thing, God could never have created it. Thus, the Bible cannot be infallible. If it is, then it is of no more practical use to man, in and of ITSELF, than God is. The reason the Bible is useful is precisely because it is NOT infallible or inerrant, but is ultimately subject to man for its purpose and usefulness. If the Bible is infallible, then man’s existence is contradicted. We would do well to remember that the basis of tyranny, as we see in the Bible where Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for their lack of love when it came to healing on the Sabbath, is to make man for the command instead of the command for man.

I would also add that the concept of “inerrant” is irrelevant when applied to the Bible. It is a word which serves no purpose and is meaningless in the context of discussing the Bible. It is a non-concept…really, a tool of despots. I submit that when speaking of the Bible, we cannot even make this term mean anything rational. What are we saying, exactly, when we declare the Bible inerrant. We are really saying nothing. The idea of inerrancy does not affect faith in any way, but, again, is only useful for men bound and determined to declare their views and interpretations of what is “orthodoxy” as being infallible TRUTH, and thus on par with God Himself. Imagine the power this gives man if his followers are convinced thus.

What does it mean to filter our life through the Bible? (I’ve heard this several times in the past.) If all the answers to life’s questions and complications are found in the Bible, where exactly does God come in? If the Bible is inerrant, what do we need God for? The truth is either so obviously self-evident, or so beyond our ability to understand and apply that God would become a non-entity in our lives(we have the Bible, he’d say…what do you need Me for?) From the idea of just filtering our lives through the Bible, it would seem clear that all we need to do is read the Bible and do it. Well, this kind of thinking may be useful when building a cabinet or a swing set, but comprehensive world philosophies simply cannot function this way, and I’m surprised at how many people view the Bible like a talisman this way. Man becomes an extension of an inanimate object…a book by which he must filter himself, his very wants, needs, talents, ideas, essence, and SOUL through.

However, the truth is closer to the other way around. The Bible is filtered through man and man’s God (Holy Spirit). God’s linguistic revelation to man does not necessitate the enactment of the logical and metaphysical fallacy of the revelation being inerrant. The truths and commands of the Bible must conform to the greater moral truth that is God’s love and man’s life and will. Man’s free will cannot be trumped by the Bible when that will is being applied in service to the greater moral truth of man’s utter inalienable right, as evidenced by his very creation, to LIVE and to BE himself, according to all his ability, when that will does not violate the two greatest commandments, which imply and apply moral restrictions on the larceny of another human being. One does not have the right to force another person into bondage, or to curtail their right to own themselves or be themselves in service to some command or truth of the Bible when that person is in no way violating the physical and spiritual/emotional property of another human being (which is the root of the two greatest commands). The Bible is helpful instruction, and the Holy Spirit will and does convict individuals of Biblical points according to their unique circumstances or needs. But “authority” in regards to controlling or owning another in service to some scriptural command or truth or interpretive method or understanding or opinion is simply not Biblical; it is a lie. For this larceny and oppression, Jesus had much to say. The Bible is NOT a club to bludgeon people with. PEOPLE are more important than the Bible and all the revelations and commands therein. And if this is true, then the Bible was never intended nor implied in itself to be infallible or inerrant. No, God first; then man. That is Christianity. The Bible is just a book. A great, helpful, inspired book…but loving God and human beings is more important than dogmatic adherence to any Biblical command or truth. Not that obedience is not important…it is just fundamentally less important than your fellow man.

“I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
-God

Welcome to Unreforming Theology, where Enlightenment Philosophy meets Christianity

[Dearest reader,

Please, mind my tone.  I apologize in advance.  I’m passionate, not angry.  Like so many of us, my “tone” often gets lost in the blogging shuffle for obvious reasons inherent to the written word.  Please understand that, no matter who you are, I love you, I do not hate you, even though you may hate me…and though we may disagree, and our disagreement may be heated, remember, even though you may reject my words and my views, I do all this because I love human beings.  Those whom God loves, who He created out of love, and saved out of love…human beings, who are relevant and can please God in ways that no other created thing can.  Human beings whom God thinks very much of, saved or unsaved, who are not totally depraved, and not necessarily inclined to sin, but are created in His likeness, born in freedom and free to be who they are and to do what they do, apart from any possession of any other force, and worth the sacrifice of the innocent Christ, who died to bring us back to our position of innocence, who (that is, man) before the Fall and after was and is God’s most precious creation.

-Argo]

[Note:  In my blog I will often use the noun “man” when speaking about humanity.  This is an all inclusive term I use when I’m referring to “humanity” in general.

Incidentally, my official position is that men and women are of equal worth before God, and neither is created to be in submission to the other, and both are free to pursue any and all interests or roles in their lives, with talents and desires that span the broadest ranges, given grace to pursue by God, even to the work of Christ in ministry, and that nothing but man-made tradition and poor exegesis of scripture pose a stumbling block to the inherent freedom of women. I further believe that this view strengthens our witness and living-out of the the Gospel, and does not hinder it.  To use doctrine as a means to relegate a human being to a “role” or a “title” is oppression, and counter-productive to the Christian faith.]

What I intend to do here is prove that reformed theology, in particular Calvinism (and many ideas or beliefs that stem from this kind of philosophy, which many currently take as given, and even perhaps believe it is NOT reformed at all, but merely “biblical”), is simply theologically and philosophically false.  I do not offer merely an opinion, but I seek to offer ideas that are better because they are true and reformed theology is not.   These ideas are going to understandably be hard for many people to swallow (e.g. the Bible is neither inerrant nor infallible; there is no such thing as biblical or spiritual “authority”, and that any such philosophical understanding of authority is false.  All authority is is the power of one to force another into doing something against their will.  Authority then in the spiritual sense is lie…there is only freedom and force; thus, any such talk of authority only implies force, and force is never given to compel spiritual agreement in the Bible.  There is no obligation, only willing acceptance that the outcomes of one idea are better than another.  Obligation, if it is to be obligation at all, is still dependent upon the willingness of the one to whom obligation is implied.  The individual decides whether or not they are obligated, not any “authority”, and whether or not consequences outweigh the cost of obedience.  God never forces or possesses, thus, any MAN proclaiming his right and power to do this is a liar.  So when your local Calvinist pastor or elder (or whatever term in vogue is at the moment) makes a plea for his authority, recognize this as a lie and ignore it.  Reject any claims to false philosophical ideas that have nothing to do with being a Christian).

I’m not trying to sensationalize.  I’m not trying to shock people.  I’m simply unraveling the theological ideas that have for far too long been accepted as orthodoxy and biblical when they are not, and which serve only one useful purpose:  destroy the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of human beings, and thus to destroy humanity in service to “doctrine”.
Yes, I intend to use lots of words.  Yes, I heartily intend to nitpick to death ideas and themes.  Yes, I do admit that the philosophical ideas I will be discussing are hard to understand; but, still, I accept them as axiomatic, and further (in the Enlightenment vein of this blog) I maintain that reason is the only way we can relate to God and ourselves, and therefore, if our understanding of our faith contradicts what is rationally shown to be true in real life, it needs to be re-examined and a new conclusion drawn.  I utterly maintain that our faith was meant to be reasonable; and I reject the idea that any core doctrine of the Christian faith resides in contradiction.

To end this introductory post, here are two quotes:

“When the ancient world was in its last throes, the ancient religions were overcome by Christianity.  When Christian ideas succumbed in the 18th century to rationalist ideas, feudal society fought its death battle with the then revolutionary bourgeoisie.  The ideas of religious liberty and freedom of conscience merely gave expression to the sway of free competition within the domain of knowledge.”

-Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, “The Communist Manifesto”

“Thus, it would seem that both the Communists and the Calvinists agree: Christianity is incompatible with the American concept of liberty, which is based on the philosophy of the Enlightenment.  I agree that they both fully believe this, and that their philosophy supports this argument; I also agree that it is false.”

-Argo