You are here‘God of the gaps’ did my dead faith in

‘God of the gaps’ did my dead faith in

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By Virgil - Posted on 12 May 2008

by Virgil Vaduva
An article by my dear friend Jared Coleman was posted here recently and I promised a response in the spirit of generosity rather than criticism and debate. Jared’s article was more a description of his journey and the place where he is now, which is a place where he has become not only disenchanted with Christianity but has become convinced that God may not even exist at all. And while Jared’s article was not meant to be scholarly or not even an attempt by him to convince anyone of his position, I wanted to answer some of his concerns and issues he brought up in the hope that I can touch his heart and perhaps simply let him know that he is not the first or the only one to struggle with the problems he mentioned. Writing this article was a strange experience, mostly because for the past few days I continuously ran across atheism-related issues, something which never happens to me, but it’s another link in the strange chain of events I’ve experienced lately. This (hopefully) wraps up a “twilight-year” for our family. A year ago I was in a major car accident and I have been in constant back pain since; then I find out that someone I really respect is leaving his wife and his family for another woman, and then someone else I know is seemingly on the brink of doing the same thing; for whatever reason I got passed over for a major promotion at work, after which our three month old unborn baby was lost; then to top it all off, I hear that a very good friend of mine has turned to atheism.

As incredulous as it may sound, perhaps the God of the gaps is speaking somehow? But what the heck is he saying, because I can’t make anything out; if anything, it sounds like “stop moving you bug, you are messing up my maniacal magnifying glass game!

First, I admire Jared for being willing to share his article with all the folks reading this website. It takes a lot of courage to open up as he did before a bunch of people like us, knowing that we will rip everything he wrote apart in order to find something wrong with what he said, mock him or opportunistically use his words to prove each other wrong.

Secondly, while I am not trying to slam Jared for being wrong, I do want to hold his feet to the fire for some statements he is making, otherwise his approach would be a hit-and-run, and nobody likes dealing with that kind of stuff.

The third point is that this article is not for Jared alone; it is for everyone who struggles with those issues. I am not arrogant enough to pretend I have all the answers but I hope I have some. Admitting to have doubts and struggles is the first step towards getting help, and we all need it.

Recently I was browsing through the unending list of TV channels and I stopped for a few minutes to watch the legendary Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson. I have seen this film a couple of times and I just happened to tune in when Isabella, the French princess of England was discussing the Wallace rebellion with her aide Nicolette, when she was being told that Scotland was in chaos because a Scot wanted to avenge the death of his lover:

Nicolette: Et cacha le cadavre de sa bien-aimé dans un endroit secret. Ça c'est l'amour non? (He fought his way through the trap and carried her body to a secret place. Now that's love, no?)

Isabella (resting her head against a column and looking at the skies): De l'amour? J'en sais rien. (Love? I wouldn't know)

The princess of England, one of the most powerful women in the world was enchanted by Wallace’s story of love; a man pursuing the impossible to fight for his dead lover. She did not have the love of Wallace as a princess, because she did not know love, in that nobody loved her passionately as Wallace loved his fiancée. What a mystery to be charmed by! And of course, it’s by no accident that a discussion about amour it taking place in French, the language of love and lovers! But I’ll get back to this later.

In his article, Jared justifies his slide into atheism with a mixture of self-realization, lack of progress, materialized doubts, and empirical observations about Bonhoeffer’s God of the gaps (which is not really Bonhoeffer’s) that is slowly shrinking into nothingness as a result of scientific progress. When labeling himself, Jared even borrows from Derrida saying that “he rightly passes for an atheist.” But Jared is only focusing on one side of the argument, namely the unknown. People like Henry Drummond and Dietrich Bonhoeffer himself already dealt with this well enough, although defensively. Bonhoeffer wrote: “How wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don't know; God wants us to realize his presence, not in unsolved problems but in those that are solved[1]

But even if I grant Jared the “gaps theory” I cannot see a problem; as I already mentioned to him in a previous comment, the gaps we face are in a very real sense the same doubts and mysteries which we have faced as humans from the beginning of our existence. Relegating God to the mysterious or even to the “doubtful” is not something new or something to lose faith over. The doubts and mystery therefore are nothing to fear, but are what we need to embrace, whether or not we find God in them. This compliments Bonhoeffer’s position well giving us a comprehensive perspective of the contemporary, whenever the contemporary may be, so paradoxically there are answers in the unknown, not necessarily religion. Famed philosopher Petre Tutea also dealt with this effectively: “Mystery represents the only form which frees me from the personal struggles, the cosmic perspective of the infinite and of death…In another context I affirmed that dogma is a revealed mystery (Lalande)[2] Jared should not be surprised that I eagerly embrace both the known and the unknown and find great comfort and fulfillment in both; I feel no need to defend either one because I have no stake in modernism.

The problem therefore is not necessarily an empirical one, but a dogmatic, personal one: a personification of our individual and eternal struggles between certainty and doubt, between the individual and the group. And this is where I feel like I failed Jared, and in fact I feel responsible for his slide to some extent. I encouraged Jared to explore his doubts, confront certainty and question the status quo. The problem is that I left him there. Doubts, just as faith, should be expressed and confronted as a community, not as individuals. I don’t want to be arrogant enough to imagine that I have that much influence on one’s thinking, but I am hoping that at least now Jared is listening. Operating under the unconscious herding behavior, modern Christianity has epitomized the condemnation of doubting and of doubters. Commenting on this, Robert Prechter says, “Falling into line with others for self-preservation involves not only the pursuit of positive values but also the avoidance of negative values, in which case the emotions reinforcing herding behavior are even stronger. Reptiles and birds harass strangers. A flock of poultry will peck to death any individual bird that has wounds or blemishes. Likewise, humans can be a threat to each other if there are perceived differences between them.”[3] Psychology professor Irving Janis from Yale University also studied the methodology of decision making in modern political settings and concluded, “In general, the greater the number of those in the decision maker’s social network who are aware of the decision, the more powerful the incentive to avoid the social disapproval that might result from a reversal…the greater the commitment to a prior decision, the greater the anticipated utilitarian losses, social disapproval and self-disapproval from failing to continue the present course of action and hence a greater degree of stress.[4]

This kind of behavior has prompted a vast majority of believers to internalize doubt for fear of being castigated, therefore allowing them to fall victims to their very own Sunday-morning-manifestations of Descartian propositional knowledge statements: I know, therefore I believe! i.e. When we all know, we believe! It is therefore no surprise that Jared wakes up one morning proclaiming: I do not know, therefore I do not believe! If that is the Christianity Jared would be rejecting, then I join him saying: that is bullshit-religion and I do not want a part of it or of its god. But he is not; Jared is rejecting the known mysterious gaps or the “known unknowable” under the label of ignorance, so in essence no level of not-knowing will ever be acceptable in that context; at least that is the consistent consequence of his position.

Not surprisingly therefore, it is uncertainty, which Jared rejects empirically as the un-knowable, while certainty and the knowable become the de-facto philosophical litmus test for an existence of God. But is there that much value in the knowable or is Jared exchanging one prison for another? Even Bertrand Russell agrees that this approach is not workable: “The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse to questions, and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected.”[5]

And if I can take this line of thinking to its consistent end, should Jared continue to invoke empiricism as his reason for rejecting God, he should consistently also reject his-self as a result; it is a necessary and natural conclusion. Hardcore empiricist David Hume argued – quite effectively in my opinion – that the self is elusive and not-evident through our number of sense perceptions: “When I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perceptions.”[6]

Anyone using empiricism as a basis to leave faith needs to explore all the implications of this kind of approach and explore further even the more contemporary studies of self identity, like the work of Derek Parfit which stands in opposition to Descartes’ rationalization of self-doubting as proof of self-existence: I think does not necessarily mean that I am. In essence, Jared first needs to convince himself that he exists before he becomes convinced that God does not.

In addition, as I already hinted above, Jared has created a false dichotomy between empiricism and faith, which is readily apparent to anyone reading his article and comments. I would agree with the supposition that “empiricism is detrimental to faith” if no additional reference points were available to us. But we do not exist in a vacuum; therefore the claim is neither analytic nor demonstrable. Jared’s statement “empiricism is detrimental to faith” fails itself on empirical, experimental grounds! His empirical experiences are his own only, not mine or yours, otherwise “frogs are detrimental to faith” would also stand. His personal incredulity argument fails fallaciously: empiricism was detrimental to my faith; therefore it is mutually exclusive to faith. In this same context, Jared also mentioned something to the effect of “God never answered my prayers, thus God does not exist.” This argumentum is ad ignorantiam and cannot stand. And Leonard Sweet said, “Belief is Plato; faith is Jesus.” So where does mystery stand or fall?

The suggestion is that the weakness of religion in general and Christianity in particular is to be found in its mystery (also referred to as “ignorance” by Jared) and its propositional truth, but I should point out that the power of Christianity (at least postmodern Christianity) is found not in the propositional truth of the religion itself or even the religious writings themselves, but since “there is nothing outside of the text,” in the power of the story, or the narrative. After all, even Lyotard acknowledged the narrative power and characteristic of Christianity, as James K. A. Smith recognized and wrote in this context: “Christian faith – unlike almost any other world religion (with the exception of Judaism) – is not a religion simply of ideas that have been collected. The faith is inextricably linked to the events and story of God’s redemptive action in the world: Christian faith rests on the work of the Word, who ‘suffered under Pontius Pilate,’ and that work can only be properly proclaimed by being narrated, by telling a story. The notion of reducing Christian faith to four spiritual laws signals a deep capitulation to scientific knowledge, whereas postmodernism signals the recovery of a narrative knowledge and should entail a more robust, unapologetic proclamation of the story of God in Christ. This is why the Scriptures must remain central for the postmodern church, for it is precisely the story of the canon of Scripture that narrates our faith.”[7]

The intriguing thing about this interaction with Jared is the fact that Jared on one hand claims that empiricism, the unknown, the gaps, did his faith in while on the other hand he readily accepts that there will always be things we will be unable to know empirically. I know that Jared does not mean to come across as disingenuous, but such position is philosophically unassailable and seemingly disingenuous. One cannot simply make empirical demands and shrug-off the failure to deliver answers. If the existence of God fails because of a lack of empirical evidence, then no number of gaps should be acceptable. In fact, what is the line where one can say: that is an acceptable level of ignorance or mystery? When and where is Jared willing to draw that line, and on what basis will be line be drawn?

For me, the power of faith is in its mystery, so paradoxically the gaps are there to balance out my inherent thirst and desire for cold certainty. The tension has always been there and it will always be there; it is seemingly an essential part of our existence. It is the unending ocean and its mystery which motivates us to build ships to sail; it is the mystery of the space which motivates us to build rockets to soar into space and it is the mystery of faith which motivates us to kneel down in prayer before an unseen God. Derrida himself recognized that “believing implies some atheism, however paradoxically it may sound.”[8] We can then reason that Derrida would lend credence to the idea that “atheism implies some belief, however paradoxically it may sound.” So Jared can rightly pass for a true believer still, however paradoxically it may sound, especially when “all true belief needs to be exposed to absolute atheism.”[9]

In relation to the assessment that his life would be no different if he did not believe in God, there is little new to this disconnect between faith and life that he is experiencing. The modern Christian understanding of justification as being “by grace alone” is almost always implying that one’s faith has nothing to do with what kind of person he is and how he lives his life. This is what Dallas Willard calls “the gospel of sin management” – the idea that essentially, the message of Christianity is concerned only with how to deal with sin. “Life, our actual existence, is not included in what is now presented as the heart of the Christian message, or it is included only marginally.”[10] Again, it is this version of Christianity that Jared is railing against. But this version is wrong, impotent, and irrelevant; the narrative of the Kingdom is not about sin management or about waking up on the correct side of the bed every morning. It rather is about emulating a Creator within our own realms of influence, namely our homes and families. Being unable to observe a change in one’s life as a result of being a follower of Christ has a lot less to do with one’s religiosity or faith and a lot more to do with one’s willingness to exert a Creator’s influence in the lives of his family members, as a Husband, Wife, Father or Mother. The story is not about me as a closed-system ego; the story is about me as a Creator-Father. The results of “belief in God” may not be readily apparent from the sin-management perspective; but how is Jared doing as a husband and father? Perhaps Jared is closer to God than he realizes; his relationship with his wife, his love for her is (whether he likes it or not) a manifested difference in his life of his “belief in God.” So yes, God is speaking French (I am speaking figuratively here of course), the language of love, and many of us are getting pretty good at learning it; we may consult a lexicon or grammar book once in a great while, have a hard time conjugating verbs, but that does not change the story: we still are Lovers, Fathers, Husbands, all fighting for love. Nothing short of emulating the Divine story: Cet amour? Je le sais tellement bien! (That love? I know it so well!) And Jared does too; he just doesn’t see the progress he wants and expects!

But Jared’s demand of progress from faith is not unreasonable at all, at least outside of the sin-management framework; it is not unreasonable to ask “what do I get in exchange?” It is in fact what Jesus taught: Have faith and you will grow and progress in your understanding, your relationships and your lives…your entire world and existence will improve – faith, just as doubt, is a mass human activity as I already pointed out above. But progress, for lack of a better word, is never steady, it is rather punctuated. To again quote socionomist Robert R. Prechter, Jr., “...were there no fluctuation, there would be no progress...progress must include setbacks and net change over time. From the point of view of a participant, punctuated progress is the only kind of progress that is possible to perceive.”[11] While Prechter is writing in the context of stock markets theory and prediction, the principle applies to all facets of our lives. Using the Ralph Nelson Elliott’s wave principle, it becomes evident that progress can only take place at a minimum pace of “three steps forward and two steps back,” giving us a net progress that many may not be satisfied with. The repeating 5-3 wave sequence is everywhere around us and it reflects the Fibonacci sequence, so there you have it: sound empiricism at work all around us, empiricism which Jared can use to justify both, his faith progress or lack thereof; unfortunately Jared chose the latter.

Despite what the God of the gaps idea is implying, and despite what Jared is getting out of it, the paradoxical quest for knowledge is always confounding: the more we know, the less we understand. I want to be the last to speculate on reasons for this, but when I look at Jared’s journey I do not see him sliding back into atheism at all. I rather see Jared sliding back into modernism, demanding certainty, demanding linear progress, demanding absolutes he ultimately knows none of us can ever deliver—he set us, and himself up to fail, not maliciously, but perhaps unknowingly (how ironic that I have to use that word now). Jared – I am saying in jest of course – is a backsliding postmodern, not a backsliding Christian. He is rejecting a modern god who is dead, and belief system that is bankrupt. Just as I do, he is rejecting a modern, apologetic Christianity that has become a set of statements which are intellectually assailable or intellectually defensible, thus intellectually fallible.

To subtly restate something I already said, God was dead, and Christian modern-intellectualism killed him; the good news is that the mystery brought my dead faith back to life. I hope the same will be the case for my dear friend Jared Coleman.

Footnotes:

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

[2] Petre Tutea, Intre Dumnezeu si Neamul Meu (Between God and my Nation), p. 54

[3] Robert R. Prechter, Jr., The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior and the New Science of Socionomics, p. 156

[4] Irving Janis (1972), Victims of groupthink

[5] Betrand Russell, The Value of Philosophy

[6] David Hume, A Treatise on Human Nature, Vol. 1, p. 534

[7] James K. A. Smith, Who is Afraid of Postmodernism, p. 75

[8] Jacques Derrida, Atheism and Belief, 2002 Toronto “Other Testaments Conference”

[9] Jacques Derrida, Atheism and Belief, 2002 Toronto “Other Testaments Conference”

[10] Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, p. 41

[11] Robert R. Prechter, Jr., The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior and the New Science of Socionomics, p. 28

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Jared,

I have read your blog and Virgil's response. I do have a relatively simple question that comes to mind.

Would you be a professing Christian if the Resurrection of Jesus Christ actually happened?

If not, why not?

Perhaps this event (if it happened) would be a "gap" in your view? Do you expect resurrection from the dead to be explained scientifically at some point in the future?

I assume that you deny the Resurrection of Jesus actually happened, but, as I see it, this raises a difficult problem for you. It boils down to this question:

"What evidence do you offer that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ did NOT happen?"

If you want to understand my question more fully, please consider this article:

http://74.255.56.30/blog/?p=84

Blessings,

Tim Martin
www.beyondcreationscience.com

Barry's picture

Hi, Tim.

See the comment that I made to Rich above about the resurrection. I lost my faith without even thinking about the resurrection, although the same changes in outlook which made me an unbeliever do make me doubt the resurrection as well. I can't say that I would definitely be a Christian if I believed in the resurrection, but it would sure make matters interesting if I did. In other words, there are so many problems that I have with my former religion that even faith in the resurrection would not overcome them all.

As far as evidence that the resurrection did NOT happen I can only say that one does not prove a null hypothesis. By the way, I did read that article and it had an interesting and true point or two, but the statement that the onus is on the unbeliever to prove that Jesus wasn't raised is not one of them.

we are all in this together

Seeker's picture

So Jared,

Were you ever a Preterist? I assume you were or you wouldn't be here, but that may not be the case.

What was it that brought you to Preterism?

When you see the OT types with their fulfillment in the NT (and beyond with Josephus), doesn't that make you see that there is SOMETHING there?

Do you think all that was a coincidence?

Do you really think creation, and all the order there is in it, is an accident?

Does order come from chaos? Does a tornado go through a junkyard and a 747 come out the other end?

I don't know how you could think there is the possibility that there is not a God given the fact that (I think) you saw preterism just because He hasn't spoken to you. You, yourself said you stopped praying a long time ago. Is it any wonder that you slid in this direction?

I'm praying for you.

Seeker

Starlight's picture

Tim,

What is interesting is that someone who wants to seriously refute the gospel of Jesus Christ must claim that the hundreds of years of the development of scriptures from Moses to the NT were simply the grandest of conspiracies foisted upon the Jewish people.

In DeMar’s example of Thomas Jefferson ridiculing the literature of the NT it is obvious to those of us who have researched that literature that Jefferson’s statement was arrogantly based upon a very ignorant and simplistic understanding of the language. It’s the same age old problem that all examiners of scripture run into, they predispose that the literature is simple and straightforward never considering that a due diligence investigation of it might turn their presupposition on its head.

How many non believers care to examine the complexity and intermeshing of the writings of the Old and New Testaments? We see that this very complex and meticulous literature fosters a multifaceted and underlying story from the beginning to the end and actually comes together in perfect harmony from its very inception until its consummation. Who could envision seperate men collectively writing an Aesop “type of fable” that spans the centuries and turns out to be true. We have 1500 years of consistency and continuity come alive in a way that none of them could envision completely. No one could see the whole until it had been fully revealed in its physical and spiritual manifestation.

And skeptics want us to believe that men could conjure up such a vision and keep it going and that would not have its fruition until hundreds of years later. The absurdity of such an endeavor and proposition is mind boggling. Otherwise it would indicate that ancient men were much more brilliant then is contemporary man in devising such long term mythical schemes. On top of that, parts of the message are so complex that aspects of the story disappeared again in time as the millennial pass by only to resurface once more when that dross of obscurity is burned away in our contemporary times.

People want us to discount these observations and set them aside as luck or whatever as they can’t answer this question adequately themselves. These writers were all together in this one big conspiracy to mock mankind over the course of hundreds if not thousands of years. And we are expected to just yawn and move on and think oh that was interesting.

Jared, I’m afraid the evidence is simply overwhelming for those who want to know. I will say unequivocally that those of us who recognize these truths are left in awe of what transpired. And people want to tell me that studying just makes you more jaded well if I’m jaded from seeing the big scheme from a careful examination bring it on.

Blessings

Norm

ts53's picture

I very much second that!

Jared, I pray you will not conclusively close the door on these things, but that you will be patient and let wisdom take its course.

Ask God to guide you to the truth. There's certainly nothing to lose in doing so, and everything to gain. Be patient, and place your trust in him!Consider it all joy, my brethren,
when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result,
so that you may be perfect and complete,
lacking in nothing.
But if any of you lacks wisdom,
let him ask of God,
who gives to all generously and without reproach,
and it will be given to him.
(Jam 1:2-5)

[Cast] all your anxiety on Him,
because He cares for you.
(1 Pet 5:7)

Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything
by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God,
which surpasses all comprehension,
will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus.
(Phil 4:6-7)
Yours in Christ,
-Travis

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Virgil:

I am very unimpressed; you have beaten down a straw man. I don't even know where to begin, because while you acknowledged in your opening paragraph that my piece (which was written for my friends who read my blog) was descriptive in nature and not meant to be an argument, you then went on to force my statements into a logical structure of your own creation so that you could then destroy this structure. For example, I never said anything like, "God never answered my prayers, thus God does not exist." Actually, I said, "I had long since abandoned prayer because it seemed useless: first, because this 'God of the gaps' had no more gaps, and second, because empirically I learned that both good and bad things happened to me whether I prayed or not, and seemingly in the same proportion." Forcing my description into the form of a logical argument is misleading and makes me look foolish (as if I think I can prove that God does not exist!). When you asked if I would mind if you wrote a response to the things that I said I didn't realize that you were going to respond to a bunch of things that I hadn't said, or I would have responded that I indeed did mind.

Another case in point: I am not the Cartesian that you make me out to be. Nowhere in that piece did I demand certainty. Actually, I just searched for the word "certain" in the original and it is nowhere to be found - not only did I not demand it, but I didn't even mention it. I never even used the word "evidence", although I could have - but even if I had, to ask for evidence is NOT to demand certainty. You are not the first person to make me out as a backslidden postmodern as soon as I talk about reason or evidence in regard to my lack of faith. WTF? This apparent identification of reason with modernism scares me... is reason not valuable at all to a postmodern? I am (almost) speechless. Did you not read that my favorite philopsopher is still Michael Polanyi? I thought you had read Personal Knowledge. Do you think think that I forgot about the problem of induction?

Yet another example that you have made a straw man: you said,
"In relation to the assessment that his life would be no different if he did not believe in God, there is little new to this disconnect between faith and life that he is experiencing. The modern Christian understanding of justification as being “by grace alone” is almost always implying that one’s faith has nothing to do with what kind of person he is and how he lives his life. This is what Dallas Willard calls “the gospel of sin management” – the idea that essentially, the message of Christianity is concerned only with how to deal with sin. “Life, our actual existence, is not included in what is now presented as the heart of the Christian message, or it is included only marginally.”[10] Again, it is this version of Christianity that Jared is railing against. But this version is wrong, impotent, and irrelevant; the narrative of the Kingdom is not about sin management or about waking up on the correct side of the bed every morning. It rather is about emulating a Creator within our own realms of influence, namely our homes and families."
The reason that my life would be no different, as I made perfectly clear, was due to 1) the God-of-the-gaps nature of my faith, and 2) the fact that my morality was derived from humanistic rather than religious sources. I had long since jettisoned a "sin management" theology in favor of the sort of theology which you subsequently described, and so it had nothing at all to do with this realization of mine. In other words, I realized that I was motivated to volunteer at our local homeless shelter by simple humanistic compassion, even though my theology called me to join with God in this work of love. You act like my problem was just that I never understood the Gospel. I did not reject the modern gospel of salvation by grace alone as ultimately bankrupt. I rejected a Gospel which is probably indistinguishable from the one you believe as extraneous because I didn't need it in order to be a better person. I thought you knew me better than this?

There is more that I could say, but I'll end here because I want to get back to enjoying my vacation. I just felt compelled to point out how poor a response this is to what I wrote as soon as I could. This was not a generous reading of me, my friend. I'm not angry with you or anything, but I do wonder what you hoped to accomplish with this response, and if you achieved it. As I said, I am quite unimpressed. I look forward to having that phone conversation with you when I get back. Take care, my friend.

Parker's picture

Jared:
The reason that my life would be no different, as I made perfectly clear, was due to 1) the God-of-the-gaps nature of my faith, and 2) the fact that my morality was derived from humanistic rather than religious sources.

Parker:
Jared, I hope you will consider that the "gaps" thesis is invalid to begin with. God is the God of what has been filled in, not mere "gaps" in present knowledge. Knowing how a seed works does in no way remove an Intelligent designer of a seed any more than knowing how a gas engine works removes Toyota. (Unless you believe that matter creates and designs itself out of non-matter by random accidents.

Jared:
I had long since jettisoned a "sin management" theology

Parker:
I don't know what led you to abandon a sin reduction theology. Sins are the evils that men do to one another that make life hell on earth. Thus, the cure is the replacement of sinful acts with justice, as is Christianity's mission.

Jared:
I realized that I was motivated to volunteer at our local homeless shelter by simple humanistic compassion

Parker:
The entire notion of "humanistic compassion" is linked to Christianity and its compassion for the weak, the poor, the outcast in the form of orphanages, hospitals, etc. This entire industry originated from Christianity. You have mistakenly thought of it as something not Christian in origin.

Jared
I rejected a Gospel... because I didn't need it in order to be a better person.

Parker:
The concept of wanting to be a better person arises from the Theistic belief that man is separate from all other living beings and thus has inherent inalienable rights that cannot be violated in acts like killing, rape, incest, theft, etc. Jefferson himself recognized that human rights come from God and have no other possible explanation. So if there is no God and man is merely another animal, we ought to define killing and rape and theft as proper human-animal behavior and even necessary for the survival of the species (as did Hitler with his eugenics experiment.)

vento's picture

Amen, Parker.

It's ironic that atheists like Hitchens say we Christians live by two sets of "books", when it is in fact, them that rest on the foundation of Christianity for the way they actually live, and expect others to live. They are the ones "cooking the books." Thankfully, most of these folks don't live by their professed beliefs of atheistic/ materialism. But, as you point out, there are some that have.

Thanks,

Scott

Parker's picture

Absolutely correct, Scott. Hitler was acting out a darwinian experiment on humanity using eugenics. (Planned parenthood did the same thing to exterminate blacks and "undesirables" of the race. Atheists can do this because they don't have any basis for rights and equality of all living humans.)

If there is no god, then Hitler was merely a fit animal doing whatever his random synapses told him to do. He was a good animal, like the sharks and the lions are good animals. If there is no objective standard of proper or improper acts for random matter, then it's absurd to say Hitler was a "bad" animal just like it's absurd to say a lion is a "bad" lion.

Virgil's picture

Jared, I don't want to ruin your vacation, so I'll post one or two quick paragraphs and leave it at that.

Ask yourself honestly the question: is there anything anyone can say or do to convince me that there is a God and he is the God of the Bible? If the answer to that question is no, then we are wasting our time, both you explaining your reasons and me pissing you off in response; and as far as you being pissed off, I am glad you are there because I think you still care.

As for you taking offense to my statement that you are not an atheist, even though you claim so, (I think this was in reply to Tom's comment above), I do so simply because you yourself invoked Derrida who plainly said that "I am an atheist" is a ludicrous statement to begin with. One cannot "be" an atheist - one can only rightly pass as one.

What I was hoping to accomplish was the same thing that everyone else replying to you and commenting here was: to reach your heart and mind and point you to the Creator. Make you look foolish? Not a hint in my brain of anything like that. I only have love and respect for you brother!

Barry's picture

Virgil:

I'm as open-minded as I ever have been, so I think it would be possible for someone to change my mind. However, I don't think that it would be easy and it would most certainly take some time. Also, I don't know what exactly would convince me, which is a good question in and of itself. So, I think the only people wasting their time would be those who have unrealistic expectations for such conversations.

By the way, you didn't piss me off. I thought I said, "I'm not angry with you or anything [emphasis newly added]."

we are all in this together

SuperSoulFighter's picture

First, I admire Jared for being willing to share his article with all the folks reading this website. It takes a lot of courage to open up as he did before a bunch of people like us, knowing that we will rip everything he wrote apart in order to find something wrong with what he said, mock him or opportunistically use his words to prove each other wrong.

Yikes! I hope that's not how others see us here, Virgil. I certainly don't see this kind of reaction to open honesty being the standard at Planet Preterist, but certainly one always runs the risk of being villified for publicly declaring doubts of the nature Jared outlined in his article. I really hope we are capable of - and actually engage in - much more generous, open, charitable dialogue than your statement seems to indicate. After all...that's the primary value of this site.

John

Scotty's picture

Virgil,
I grow tired of the loose use of superlatives, but I feel justified in saying: "This article/response is AWESOME!" Like you, even though it seems to frustrate some, I daily grow more comfortable in my faith by embracing the words of Paul, expressed with complete conviction to Timothy, when he wrote: "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness" (1 Tim. 3:16). For Paul there was no modernistic inconsistency between the fact that "God is" and that "God is mystery."

While those who know me know that I appreciate the power of logic and reason, the god who is limited to syllogistic definition and enterprise is the god we see in the mirror. I believe that is witnessed in no greater way than the incessant judgmental disposition of many within the ranks of preterism toward those who do not define faith issues in agreement with their faith definitions; even though, their faith definitions have been steadily changing and morphing for years. A process that they intuitively know-if they're honest-is far from finished.

There was for Paul no contradiction between a rock solid conviction that "God was manifested in the flesh,justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory" and "great is the mystery of godliness." He was convinced of both propositions, even though by modernistic (and Jared's) definitions, what Paul says is self-contradictory.

It would appear to me, at least from a purely philosophical framework, that Jared (whom I love and respect) cannot say, as it seems he wants to say, that "I am an atheist." To do so would require the very foundation/type of knowledge that he claims the "absence of" has led to his rejection of God. I'm sorry Jared, you can't have it both ways. The doubt that leads you to say "god isn't" is the same doubt that honestly must lead you say "God just might be." At best Jared's article is a portrayal of an activist agnosticism at worst an indifferent one. I'm hopeful it's the former.

Jared your doubts and search do not frighten me, although from other perspectives it saddens me. My prayer (heartfelt hope for you agnostics) is that our transparency regarding our own struggles and connection with doubt, yet with an end result of greater faith will keep you digging, searching and knocking my Brother.

With Love, Respect & Friendship
Jack Scott

flannery0's picture

Virgil,

Thank you for this. I can't tell you how close to home this hits for me.

(btw, thank you, Tim, for your very comforting and inspiring comments, which directed me to read Virgil's piece.)

Only 2 weeks ago, one of my best friends came out to me as an atheist. I suppose the greatest comfort and hope I can take from the conversation is that we were even closer by the end of it. There is hope because I am not just going to "leave him there". I especially hope everyone listens to this because it is critical:

"...The problem is that I left him there.Doubts, just as faith, should be expressed and confronted as a community, not as individuals...Operating under the unconscious herding behavior, modern Christianity has epitomized the condemnation of doubting and of doubters. Commenting on this, Robert Prechter says, “Falling into line with others for self-preservation involves not only the pursuit of positive values but also the avoidance of negative values, in which case the emotions reinforcing herding behavior are even stronger. Reptiles and birds harass strangers. A flock of poultry will peck to death any individual bird that has wounds or blemishes. Likewise, humans can be a threat to each other if there are perceived differences between them.”[3]"

May we all lose our religion if our religion is causing us to peck each other to death.

Thanks again, Virgil.

KingNeb's picture

Paradoxical unknown knowables, empirical punctuated gaps and stock market psychobabble asise....Jared, it's quite easy:

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Testimony Concerning the Son of God

6 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

......

We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

......

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

......

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

......

Jared, some real heart to heart talk in plain english. You are man who questions God's word. You are man who has forsaken what God says about reality and think that you can someone figure it out on your own. You are deceived.

Screw Bertrand Russell, screw Derrida, screw Petre Tutea, and screw punctuated progress.

Put down the books, pick up your Bible, read what God has to say about your condition, throw yourself at His feet and ask for the gift of faith and repent.

If the simplicity of the Gospel offends you or anyone else here, so be it. But God has spoken Jared. You know this and you know where to find Him...it is as simple as that.

You either believe what God has said or you don't.

thereignofchrist.com

Ransom's picture

You either believe what God has said or you don't.

That would be simple, Jason. But doing what you just said presupposes 1) that there is a God, 2) that God has said something, 3) that what he said is knowable, 4) that we know exactly what He said; thereafter, it becomes a matter of "just believe or don't".

Now, what I really want to understand about your position is how one acquires the presuppositions of presuppositionalism? Some guy just decides, "I'm going to presuppose this stuff, all arguments to the contrary be damned"?

Rather, I suspect that in your schema the elect just come pre-packaged with those presupps set in place, or maybe they are time-released to develop (super)naturally. Is that correct?

Virgil's picture

I'll amen that one! Screw Calvin, screw Clark, screw Van Til, man! Believe the Bible!

KingNeb's picture

Great Virgil, something we finally agree on. Yes, ultimately, screw man.

"Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ."

Believe Him.

thereignofchrist.com

Ed's picture

Jason,
I am not looking for an argument, and I agree with you that we are to believe Christ; however, since MAN wrote the bible, we must presuppose that these men who wrote it were actually inspired by God (even though we are told that they were - but again, we presuppose).

Presupposition is fine, but at the same time, it takes reason, observation, logic, etc. to conclude that these particular books collected to make up our scriptures were indeed the correct ones. There is a provable history for this, and although we must presuppose much along the way, there IS evidence - and it is NOT wrong to consider that evidence.

ed

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

KingNeb's picture

Ed,

And what good would that do? I mean, let's just say that you spend the next 30 years of your life building up a 'case for Christ'. Let's just say that after 30 years of reason, observation, logic, archaeological digs, study of church history and so on that you finally come to a point where you say, "ok, I John is authentic".

Guess what? You are right back around to the question where i, as a presuppositionalist, started from and patiently waited those 30 years for you to come back to and answer...here's what John said, do you believe it or not?

Faith is a gift from God. It's not something we muster up from within after building up confidence in our 30 year study on the empirical evidences for Jesus.

Fine, if you want to spend your time looking into that, then go ahead. But at the end of the day, Jesus, through those very Scriptures, will stare you right in the face and ask, "Who do you say that the Son of Man is?”

And some scholars, after 30 years of looking at the evidence, will say, “John the Baptist, others will say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” And they'll plop down their 30 years of research for "proof".

And Jesus will look at you Ed and ask again, “But who do you say that I am?”

One guy was asked that and he replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven."

At the end of the day Ed, that is the question you and everyone else has to answer.

Jared, at this moment, rejects the testimony of this Christ and there will be consequences.

I would not be loving and caring for Jared if i told him otherwise.

thereignofchrist.com

mazuur's picture

"Faith is a gift from God. It's not something we muster up from within after building up confidence in our 30 year study on the empirical evidences for Jesus."

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven."

I don't see the word "faith" in Peter's reply. All I see happening is Peter coming to the realization, because of all He saw Jesus do (which was all from the Father) that Jesus was the Christ. He could have then chosen to reject that and not place any faith in Jesus.

I can believe something to be true, and still reject it. I simply choose not to trust (place my faith) in it, which could be for millions of different reasons.

Christ was physically raised from the dead for a reason. It was so we would have physical (empirical) evidence he was who he said he was and that he could deliver on what he promised. That is why I know I can trust (place my faith) in him.

In fact, that is why Jesus told John the Baptists' followers to go back and tell John he was right about Jesus. Jesus told them to tell him, the blind see, and the deaf hear. In other words, look at all the evidence around you dude.

Faith and trust are the same. I chose to trust in Jesus because if he can raise himself from the dead, I'm sure he can do the same for little ole me.

-Rich

-Rich

Ed's picture

Jason,
And I proclaim that truth everyday, in spite of fire-breathing zealots claiming elsewise. Funny thing is, I've been a Christian for 27 years, and never once doubted the veracity of scripture.

However, I maintain that UNDERSTANDING scripture takes maturity, which means TIME. Some presuppositionalists, I fear, expect maturity at conversion - "BELIEVE IT OR YOU'RE DAMNED!" I don't think that's possible.

FWIW, I agree with you that Jared needs to hear the truth. I have no problem with what you said to him - my problem is what you claim about the rest of us.

ed

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

KingNeb's picture

Believe what or be damned, Ed? I think you're just throwing generalizations up.

But i really don't even want to get into that. My post wasn't to the 'rest of us', it was to Jared.

thereignofchrist.com

Ed's picture

"Believe what or be damned?"

That which the presuppositionalist presupposes.

"My post wasn't to the 'rest of us', it was to Jared."

Statements are not made in a vacuum, Jason. You have made it clear in past postings that you have no use for so-called "empiricists." In your original post on Jared's post, you claimed that losing our faith is the logical conclusion to being an empiricist, which you falsely claim Tim, Jeff, me, et al. to be. Therefore, you WERE speaking about us.

That's fine though. As I said, I agree with you statement to Jared. There have been times where my faith has been tested like this - I've gone so far as to have contemplated suicide (after my first wife left me and the kids). God used the kids to "stay my hand" by showing me how MY death would affect them, after already losing their mother.

You might not like to hear it, but scripture was not a factor in that experience - God used "secondary means," or as JL would call them - witnesses of His grace. Those witnesses were my children. I slowly returned to the faith, going to church, and THEN heard the word that led me to repent of my thoughts of suicide.

It was God...I'll presuppose that, and confess it. But, without the spirit of God, the words in that book, no matter how powerful, or presupposed about, mean little to nothing to those who read them. God uses His word (truth) and the spirit to communicate His grace. Sometimes He starts with the spirit, rather than with the word - that's just the way He chose to do it.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

KingNeb's picture

Again Ed, i'll pass because it "appears" to me that you're just looking to fuss over something i didn't intend, plus, i don't even recognize most of what you write as being my position on things.

thereignofchrist.com

Ed's picture

Okay, that's fine. Like I said, I didn't want a fight; believe it or not, I'm trying to clear up this seemingly never-ending argument about empiricism vs. presuppositionalism.

But, if you don't recognize what you have stated in the past, then I'm not sure what the fuss was all about.

ed

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Virgil,

In all the years I have hung out here at PP and have read your articles, I can honestly say that I have not seen anything so powerful than what you have put together in this article.

Thanks for your effort. I do not know what the full effect of this will be (nor does anyone since PP is an open forum), but this article is stellar.

Modernism has committed murder in order to dissect. A living, experiential faith is the key to the practice of resurrection in our lives at the very times when we sense death and demoralization. Life is dynamic and full of twists and turns.

The way this world works is profound and mysterious. That is not to say it is unreasonable or chaotic. God made it to work this way, even with the potential for death and pain from the very beginning. Can you imagine a world where there was no struggle or danger or awe? Would you want to live in it?

I wouldn't.

Jared's story is serving a wider purpose...

Blessings

Tim Martin
www.beyondcreationscience.com

P.S. FWIW, I would call David Hume a skeptic, not an empiricist.

Virgil's picture

Regardless how we see Hume, I hope Jared sees the same value you saw in my comments. I also hope many others see the strength of postmodern Christianity when dealing with those very real and important issues not just Jared is facing.

I like how you said it: "Modernism has committed murder in order to dissect."

JL's picture

Well done Virgil.

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

Ozark's picture

God is a Person, not a theory. Why not treat Him as such? The scriptures more than suggest the God is a God who is intimately involved in our lives. We see new testament imagery such as the vine and the branches and the temple of the Holy Spirit that illustrate just how close God is. We see Paul’s great discourses which describe our participation in Christ. If the scriptures are true, God is never absent. He never stops giving Himself to us. However, we may not recognize His presence. His hand upon our lives may not look like we think it should.

Years ago I was in the midst of an illness that seemed to have no end in sight. It had lasted two years. I was tired, broken down, and not living was beginning to look more appealing than going on. I had fought the “good fight of faith,” but I didn’t have any left. I still recall one of the strangest prayers I have ever prayed. I told the Lord I thought He was a SOB, and I was not going to believe in Him anymore. Telling God you are not going to believe in Him anymore may seem like a contradiction, but I thought if God was a Person who was really there, I wanted to let Him know what I thought of Him.

You would think God would reject such an arrogant outburst. He didn’t. All I can say is that He acted like the God who wrote the Sermon on the Mount. He showed up. He loved someone who at that moment hated Him. He made Himself known to someone who had no faith left. This was a beginning of a shift in my understanding of how to relate to God.

I used to think that God never answered my prayers. It seemed that the things I wanted most in life, He went out of His way to make sure I didn’t get them. However, I began to see in the midst of not getting what I wanted God was giving me something far greater, Himself. Likewise, I can confidently say that all my great efforts to get close to God or to find God have been failures. Yet, in the midst of my failure, He was giving Himself to me. If I had gained what I wanted, I never would have the kingdom. If I was a success at religion, I never would have known grace. If I was a success at theology, I never would have known God.

God’s hand never looked like I thought it should. God never did what I thought He should do. Instead, He acted like God and gave Himself to someone who was doing His best to replace God. God’s hand was there. I just didn’t recognize it. God’s love was real. I just couldn’t comprehend it. Now, increasingly, it is becoming all I see.

You look at how God treated His servants in the Bible, and you might be tempted to think God hated them. Moses had his years as an insignificant sheep herder. Joseph spent time in an Egyptian prison. David lived in caves just after the Lord had promised him he would live in a palace. And Paul! Read all that happened to him. He was beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked. Think about the shipwrecked part. God sends you somewhere, and He does not even bother to get your ship there. You could easily conclude that God did not like the guy or that God just wasn’t around. Yet, we know the end of the story.

Perhaps these are Jared’s years in the cave, the time it looks like God is not there. Yet, we know He is. At the right time, God will tap our brother on the shoulder, and say “Here I am.” At that moment Jared will see that God is there, and that He has always been there.

tom-g's picture

Virgil,

Who is the person that is more loving and caring for Jared's eternal soul?

A person who believes Jared never had faith? By accepting Jared's own words of his personal identification as an atheist, and in his failure to ever mention the person and name of our Lord Christ Jesus, the name that is above any other name, the only King of Kings and Lord of Lords as the only one in whom faith exists. The only one at whose name every knee bows in Heaven, in earth and under the earth.

Or, those who give hope preaching man's philosophies. Fortunately we are not left in doubt from God's word. In his second letter, Peter tells us 2:20-22 the answer to that.

I for one, sincerely hope that you and Jared are wrong, and that he did not once have faith. For it is far better that he had not known the way of righteousness than to be entangled in the pollutions of the world again. His latter end as one who had faith and left it to return to atheism is too horrible to contemplate.

Tom

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Neither the person who rejects my self-identification as an atheist nor the one who questions my previous faith is acting lovingly, or wisely, I think. I'm not going to make a big deal about it because it really is minor, but I do find both to be offensive, and probably others like me do too.

chrisliv's picture

Oh,

More false dichotomy:

"Neither the person who rejects my self-identification as an atheist nor the one who questions my previous faith is acting lovingly, or wisely, I think... but I do find both to be offensive..."

If you think it's really minor, how can everyone here be guilty of all of those derogatory things?

To be consistent with your professed atheism, how can you really be offended by Christians showing you so much attention?

Both contemplations are valid, i.e.:

Did Jared stop being a Christian when he denied being a Christian?

Or, was Jared not a Christian, but only thought he was (self-deception), before he renounced his supposed faith?

Both contemplations demonstrate concern, love, and wisdom, I think.

Nobody really likes to hear criticism, even when it is constructive. I mean, you initiated this, so I see no reason for you to deserve the role of Victim.

Why don't you just tell us all, right now, if it is possible, if you believe that you ever were really a Christian, or if you now see that you only thought you were, but now you know better.

Of course, God is the ultimate arbitrator on such matters, but, along with behavioral observation (see 2Tim. 2:19), the next best authority is you, Jared.

Did you turn on the Faith once, then turn it off?

Maybe you only thought you did that?

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

Jer's picture

I'm not playing a victim at all: I said it was minor. Nor did I offer a dichotomy: I never said those were the only two possible options. Here is a third option, and one that I wish you and others would choose - accept the fact that I once really believed in Jesus as much as you now do, and that with equal reality I now do not.

chrisliv's picture

Well,

If you later become a Christian, again, I guess we can all speculate about if you were a True Atheist, before.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

Virgil's picture

I really don't see how this benefits Jared or how it adds to the conversation here?

JL's picture

Virgil,

I suspect Jared is the most likely person to laugh at this little joke. It is rather funny, but I'm not in the mood either.

Blessings,

JL

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

chrisliv's picture

Well,

It's humor, Virgil.

You've heard of that?

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

Virgil's picture

Chris, I understand that, but honestly I don't think this is a good time for it. Don't take it personally or get upset - I am mourning over Jared's decision.

davo's picture

Virgil: Don't take it personally or get upset - I am mourning over Jared's decision.

Why then Virgil are you taking it personally… mourning. From what I gather, Jared is STILL your friend i.e., you haven't "lost" him, unless you deem him so – he's just taken a different direction in thought that has let to certain other conclusions. They may not be yours or my conclusions, but inevitably they are based on his "perceptions" etc. I suspect what Jared has really come to doubt and consequently reject is the god and jesus "religianity" has presented him…

Whether our conclusions be right or wrong, God and His grace toward us are far above them all.

davo

Starlight's picture

Davo,

Question: If Virgil lived circa AD30-70 would it be appropriate for him to mourn Jared's turning from faith in God/Christ?
Would it simply be a sentimental issue?

Norm

davo's picture

Norm… maybe that is a question only Virgil could answer. I wasn't so much thinking in terms of "sentimental" issues etc, but more in terms of looking at what Virgil has… an enduring friendship Jared, as opposed to what he apparently doesn't have i.e., someone who necessarily believes exactly as he does. One sign of true friendship is where adherence to near similar beliefs doesn't become the determining factor for the maintaining of such friendships.

davo

PS: thinking of you and yours at this difficult time Virgil.

Starlight's picture

Davo,

The question was intended as a more general inquiry into why *YOU* would think it would not bring a profound sense of loss when as a believer found that someone you cared about has left “life” with God. It just seemed from your post that you were discounting that primary focus of the Bible. And by the way I agree completely with Virgil and Tim, but my question was specifically for you as to your belief.

I simply used the time between AD30 and 70 as a specific example because I have seen you discuss before that this period was more of the focus of “being saved physically” and that many of us confuse spiritual salvation with a physical salvation. I was interested in whether you did indeed define salvation primarily in that time frame.

I gathered from your response that belief in God is somewhat discounted by you. I hope that was not your intention as again that relationship with God through belief is the basis of the origination of Adam and Seth in their likeness to God (Gen 4:25-26 5:1-3) and sets the path for Adam’s and Eve’s offspring finding renewal in the complete Image of God/Christ. This is contrary to Cain’s curse (Gen 4:12-13) where he was driven from the “land” and “hidden from God’s presence” and from his working the spiritual “ground”. I see no removal of Cain’s curse in Revelation 22, only Adam’s and Eve’s.

Any one who doesn’t come to God is to be mourned according to scriptures as like Cain they are “hidden from His presence” and separate from “life” with God.

Norm

davo's picture

Starlight: The question was intended as a more general inquiry into why *YOU* would think it would not bring a profound sense of loss when as a believer found that someone you cared about has left “life” with God.

Norm I don't doubt, diffuse or negate the sense of "loss" that one can experience in like situations, however "mourn" is such a strong word conveying the essence of total loss – well as sad as it is for Virgil to see someone he cares about take what seems to be a somewhat radical path from that previously taken, perhaps all is not lost and in the framework of friendship perhaps, deeper bonds can be forged as apparent contrary ideas are explored and beliefs respected etc – IOW all may not be "lost" – hence my initial reservation if you will over the term "mourn"; though that of course probably rightly reflects/ed the depth of Virgil's angst.

Starlight: I have seen you discuss before that this period was more of the focus of “being saved physically” and that many of us confuse spiritual salvation with a physical salvation. I was interested in whether you did indeed define salvation primarily in that time frame.

I don't necessarily pit one against the other, it is clear however in scripture that "physical" deliverance IS a vital and key element to NT "salvation" WHEN viewed through a consistent prêteristic lens e.g., Mt 10:22; 24:13 et al – the acknowledging of this aspect which is mostly overlooked does not negate what you are calling "spiritual salvation" but recognises like "the coming wrath" its historical context.

Starlight: I gathered from your response that belief in God is somewhat discounted by you.

I'm amazed Norm how you so often read this base and wrong assumption into so many of my posts, when countless times in the past when you've done this very thing I've clarified and told you otherwise. This seems to be your mental-block that sees you often claiming theological triumph over universalism, yet leaves you totally flat-footed when it comes to dealing with pantelism, simply because you cannot see and get past your take on universalism. Universalism like your Partialism understands "salvation" primarily in terms of post mortem. Pantelism understands "salvation" primarily in terms of pre-mortem – be that physical OR spiritual; it doesn't deny post-mortem but believes the BIBLICAL emphasis is primarily THIS LIFE.

Starlight: Any one who doesn’t come to God is to be mourned according to scriptures as like Cain they are “hidden from His presence” and separate from “life” with God.

What scripture/s do you have in mind that indicate that "any one who doesn’t come to God is to be mourned" beyond its applicable context. Don't get me wrong, IMO knowing His Presence and His Life is beyond comparison. But as for Cain, he was clearly STILL without question cared for and protected by God's divine decree [Gen 4:15]. And are you not forgetting that even the first covenant man was "cast out" – but was he abandoned?

Being "in" or "out" of God's "presence" can most definitely be likened to being "in" or "out" of God's "covenant" – covenant was all about those called to serve as kingly priests. YOU KEEP AVOIDING THIS NORM – covenant call was all about covenant service. Thus pantelism has NO problem universalising "the covenantal call of God" to ALL those in covenant ALONE – that's an obvious given. Another obvious given should be – apart from to God himself, to WHO do you suppose covenanted Israel as God's elect kingdom of priests were to minister, themselves?? C'mon Norm you can do better than this.

davo

Starlight's picture

Davo said … “ Why then Virgil are you taking it personally… mourning. From what I gather, Jared is STILL your friend i.e., you haven't "lost" him, unless you deem him so – he's just taken a different direction in thought that has let to certain other conclusions.”

Davo when you respond with your explanation as you did in your last post you seem to make some sense but you also continue to make statements above from your original post that appears to be diametrically opposed to what you say you believe. Many would read the above section and deduce that you aren’t as concerned about those who reside outside of “life” with God as one should be. You appear to be “almost” chastising Virgil for too strongly “mourning” that loss. Sometimes I don’t think you realize how you come across in some of your dialogue. I don’t mean to be harsh with you Davo but it’s really hard to know what you believe at times and I could chalk it up to my own limiting perceptions but I’m not the only one who seems to have problems knowing where you stand on some issues. As an example let’s also look at your following statement.

Davo said … “What scripture/s do you have in mind that indicate that "any one who doesn’t come to God is to be mourned" beyond its applicable context. Don't get me wrong, IMO knowing His Presence and His Life is beyond comparison. But as for Cain, he was clearly STILL without question cared for and protected by God's divine decree [Gen 4:15]. And are you not forgetting that even the first covenant man was "cast out" – but was he abandoned?

Davo I would repeat the same question to you, how you would support the idea that those who are outside God’s covenant aren’t to be mourned. Paul says that those Gentiles previously were without hope and without God in Ephesians.

You say that you don’t discount His presence but again you are seemingly making conflicting statements. You simply appear to want to have it both ways. Cain was already out of the Garden but now HE WAS OUT OF GOD’S PRESENCE COMPLETELY, how can you say that he was cared for when he is beyond Gods presence; that appears to be a contradiction. Also can you theologically explain what that care (the mark) of God for Cain implies spiritually? You see Cain was DRIVEN FROM THE “GROUND” which is indicative of Adam and his special creation with God. Those who worked the ground were doing so in the “EARTHY” limited spiritual manner. Adam’s ground was cursed but his work would produce spiritual food albeit through the imperfect (thorns) earthy manner that the Adams was to endure until Christ. Cain had no partnership in working the ground period as He was now excluded.

Davo, maybe you can more fully define what priestly service means in your eyes. What good does it do those who are outside that service? Is your idea different than the one conventional "religianity" has to offer? Doesn’t historic "religianity" seek to bring others who are “lost” into the fold of Christ which renews perfects and redefines the old Adams bringing them into the presence of God on an even higher plain than the old Adams could ever attain.

1 Cor 15: 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48 AS WAS THE EARTHLY MAN, SO ARE THOSE WHO ARE OF THE EARTH; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as WE HAVE BORNE THE LIKENESS OF THE EARTHLY MAN, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

There was no bearing the likeness of the “EARTHY ADAMS” of those driven from the “ground” like Cain instead those who believe bore Adam’s “earthy” approach to God. This was the imperfect way to God overcome by Christ spiritual way.

I get the idea from you that man without God is not as big a dilemma for them as one might think. Maybe it goes back to the way that you read Genesis and may mistakenly see “all” men created in the “image” of God and take some security or comfort for those outside of Covenant. I just wonder if you have not picked up on Kurt Simmons and Amie’s method of universalizing Adam as all mankind with God’s finished “image” without realizing the implications. Adam was created out of a spiritual wasteland devoid and chaotic and Paul highlights that problem specifically in 1 Cor 15 where he demonstrates that Adam as the “EARTHY MAN” is not a metaphor for mankind in general.

Mankind in general (Cain and non God fearers) was described on an even lower plain than was Adam. Adam was a believer as was Seth but he sought God on his own terms which turns out we all do when we try to approach God through our own efforts. The image of God described in Gen 1:26-27 is the ultimate final consummating creation of the “EARTHY” ADAMS not mankind in general. Only the “Adams” could be renewed from likeness unto the full image of God/Christ. The “Adams” were only those who call upon the name of the Lord, those who do not are simply outside the story of redemption until they chose to be like the Adams and become transformed through Christ. Our bible translations do us a disservice by translating “adam” as mankind throughout the bible as we lose track of the separateness of the unique and exclusionary meaning it entails. It is very similar to how “erets” (land) is translated into the universalizing “world” thus misleading the readers.

I don’t believe we can read the story of Cain who moved on without God’s presence as a story that should not be mourned and avoided. Look at the fruits of Cain’s city building; man without God is a spiritually dead life. It is indeed something to be mourned and avoided at all cost.

The question for you Davo is do you passionately mourn for those outside of Christ? I hope we all do.

Norm

davo's picture

Starlight: You appear to be “almost” chastising Virgil for too strongly “mourning” that loss. Sometimes I don’t think you realize how you come across in some of your dialogue.

Yes looking back I can see how one "might" read it that way – you apparently did. That was far from my intent however. I guess these are the vagaries of communication on the web etc. It is possible that even I read more into Virgil's "mourn" – for me "to mourn" is to bewail someone's death [which probably comes from the nature of my work]. So my response was actually intended as a challenging encouragement to "not give up" because all is NOT TOTALLY lost where there is "friendship" – the very basis of any relationship.

Where there comes any fracture to a relationship the one area one can work on to help restore these things is that of friendship – hence my words to Virgil. Looking back I can see Virgil's choice of word "mourn" probably most aptly described the depth of consternation he was feeling for Jared, or what Virgil perceived Jared's position to be etc, so I can accept that now.

What has transpired since however is the very same thing in that you have read all manner of other vagaries into what I've said and interpreted them as contradictions – misunderstandings and misconstrual on your part would more be the case.

Starlight: Davo I would repeat the same question to you, how you would support the idea that those who are outside God’s covenant aren’t to be mourned. Paul says that those Gentiles previously were without hope and without God in Ephesians.

You first need to answer my question – you specifically said: "Any one who doesn’t come to God is to be mourned according to scriptures…" – I say to WHAT Scripture's do you refer? or is this just argumentive rhetoric for affect? I know the OT prophets "mourned" much over the consequences to befall the "covenant people" due to their covenant disobedience etc; even Paul wished he could be accursed IF such would see his covenant brethren turn and be saved from the impending wrath. But even on the other side of the coin we see that God's saving grace towards NON covenant people was not always contingent upon concerned covenant ministers – Jonah's reactive displeasure towards God over His "saving Nineveh" is a case in point [Jon 4:1-3]. So Norm… not that I'm disagreeing, but I'd like to hear the scriptures you have in mind relative to this "mourning".

So once again Norm, the lack of concern inference drawn from your "how you would support the idea that those who are outside God’s covenant aren’t to be mourned" like many of your statements is totally off the mark. As for Paul's words to the Gentiles who formerly had "no hope and without God in the world" – prior to the ALL inclusive Gospel the Gentiles had NO active place in Godly service, far from it, but being excluded "from the covenants of promise" as God's kingly priests; that changed in Israel's covenant renewal where the segregating walls came down. Far from Paul "mourning" here Norm it is the exact opposite, he was celebrating their INCLUSION – you need to consider the context further.

Starlight: You say that you don’t discount His presence but again you are seemingly making conflicting statements. You simply appear to want to have it both ways. Cain was already out of the Garden but now HE WAS OUT OF GOD’S PRESENCE COMPLETELY, how can you say that he was cared for when he is beyond Gods presence; that appears to be a contradiction.

It ONLY "appears to be a contradiction" due to your inability to read my posts properly without skewing things according to your paradigm. Did you not read how God placed a protective "mark" over Cain – HOW you can think that this was NOT God's grace in action speaks more about your "limitarian" theology than anything else. Another biblical example: Ishmael was "driven out" – YET God protected and provided for him because He had made a covenant promise to bless him [Gen 16:10-12; 17:20; 21:12-13, 17-20]. To be sure, it was not the covenant call of service Israel was blessed with [Gen 17:19, 21], BUT it was without dispute God's demonstrated and covenanted grace nonetheless. Please actually read those texts Norm.

So then Norm… I trust you will be able to understand what I'm about to say: To NOT be "in God's presence" means NOT to be called into His priestly covenant service. It's THAT simple. It's not universalism it's pantelism. Thus to be "out of His presence" = to be out of the Divine covenant call to serve. It is not a contradiction rather it is biblical and it is common sense. You yourself say as much – "Cain had no partnership in working the ground period as He was now excluded." IOW, Cain had no part in the covenant work of God, i.e., he was not called to serve.

Starlight: Also can you theologically explain what that care (the mark) of God for Cain implies spiritually? You see Cain was DRIVEN FROM THE “GROUND” which is indicative of Adam and his special creation with God.

It implies God's grace EVEN UPON those NOT chosen to serve AS God's covenant people – as per the likes of Cain, Ishmael, Esau or even the Ninevites etc. For example: God's dismissiveness towards Esau as stated by Paul in Romans was not that of a rancid personal hatred, but rather needs to be seen and understood in terms of redemptive history – God's redemptive story, i.e., Esau was NOT one CHOSEN or ELECTED for such a high covenantal calling. God's "hating Esau" [Rom 9:13] means God had no regard towards Esau in relation to the outworking of the Divine redemptive plan through covenantal service. It does NOT mean Esau or whoever else was or will be eternally damned upon death, NO – it ALWAYS was about "covenant service". This hyperbolic reading of Paul's expressed hatred is further evidenced elsewhere where Jesus himself gives the injunction to "hate" even ones very own father and mother, wife and children, brother or sister… [Lk 14:26]. Again this is an embellished hatred relative to covenant commitment with NO demand of caustic or personal abhorrence.

Starlight: Davo, maybe you can more fully define what priestly service means in your eyes. What good does it do those who are outside that service? Is your idea different than the one conventional "religianity" has to offer?

"Conventional religianity" be it universalism or partialism is about post-mortem security or the lack thereof, period. Pantelism is universalistic [inclusive] in that it agrees with the Bible that all men are reconciled to God. Pantelism is also partialistic [exclusive] in that it agrees with the Bible that all men are NOT called to serve God. This is pictured so plainly in Israel's story – God's covenant people chosen as His called ones to serve His world. Through Israel's covenant renewal then ONLY those professing faith towards Christ are "saved" and thus having "eternal life" – understanding that these things are PRESENT LIFE realities pre-mortem, and speak of a vital covenantal relationship with God IN THIS LIFE as per Jn 17:3; 10:10; 20:31; 1Jn 5:13. This IS a life of SERVICE as the NT in particular SCREAMS out. Can you not see it Norm…?

Pantelism agrees 100% that being "in Christ" is all about being "in covenant" = in the City. Where pantelism DEPARTS major time from traditional Partialism, be that ECT or Annihilationism and even traditional Universalism, is the blind assumption that to be in the covenant / city means getting to heaven when you die – Pantelism views "getting to heaven" as a non-issue as that issue has ALREADY been settled by Christ on mankind's behalf in the Cross-Parousia event. So I say again Norm… PANTELISM SAYS that coming into the covenant / city was and is all about coming into PRIESTLY SERVICE – what I've described elsewhere as being "saved to serve". Thus being saved is not about where some go post-mortem [position], but what some do pre-mortem [purpose]. And so the purpose of priestly service – to love God by serving others [thy neighbour]. And a major part of that is sharing the gospel of reconciliation – letting people know that God is at peace with them BECAUSE OF the faithfullness of Christ.

"Universalism" basically believes you can have a connection to God in whatever form YOU please, be that through Buddha, through Mohamed or through Krishna… etc, or through whatever other "man-made" means or religion on the face of the earth. Pantelism however in agreement with the bible says that Jesus is the ONLY mediator and Saviour between God and man. Now this being true there need be no fearing the likes of falling for Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism… or whatever or whoever else parading itself as the next panacea – there is simply no need be in fear of these things. Why? – Because there is absolutely NO trading Jesus for Buddha or Mohamed or anybody else AS THE WORLD'S MEDIATOR AND SAVIOUR. Krishna NEVER claimed to be a mediating saviour; why would I change to Buddha as my mediating saviour, something he NEVER claimed to be – this goes for ALL man-made religious philosophies.

Again, why would I feel the need to become Moslem or Jewish or any other thing when no other religious leader other than Jesus Christ EVER claimed to be here to redeem the world? THIS was and is Jesus' unique message and mission. All the way through the NT rightly declares that Jesus IS the Saviour of the world – Pantelism believes this without feeling the need to whittle away God's grace to suit other precious dogmas; which IS exactly what Partialism [in whatever form] does. Pantelism on the other hand is more prêteristically consistent in its inclusive approach to the scope of God's reconciling grace upon ALL humanity through Israel's redemption, and yet understands that the salvific priestly call to Godly service was and is exclusive to only certain ones – this IS the striking difference in the whole Partialist—Universalist debate; the very thing you Norm and so many other prêterists STILL don't get.

davo

Starlight's picture

Davo,

Thanks for the well written and detailed response. You realize though you can drop about ninety percent of your post because it is just restating much of what most of us agree with as well. You typically like to construct large amounts of straw men sideshows in your presumptions concerning what myself or others believe.

Davo personally I find you as one of our better posters here at PP and one of the most logically accurate. But like the rest of us you tend to bring some misconceptions concerning others that you should probably drop from your pronouncements as they are just over simplifications of people’s views. Our whole discussion and difference revolves basically around your following statement.

Davo said … “Pantelism is universalistic [inclusive] in that it agrees with the Bible that all men are reconciled to God.”

Davo this is where you and I part company. The bible does not preach that all men are reconciled to God. This is a figment of your biblical imagination and a “universal” reading of scriptures out of their proper context. Your whole premise is based upon this one assumption of yours. This is the “FOUNDATION” of the difference between your “Pantelism” and what you decry as “partialism”. You are simply using diversionary rhetoric to obscure clearly that you adhere to a biblical Universalistic view of reconciliation for “all” men.

Why you want to pretend to distance yourself from a Universal classification is because you simply don’t want to be labeled as a non biblical Universalist. You do not have to spell out the difference between the two anymore as I believe most of us understand that difference and it is not really germane to the discussion. Davo you have simply acknowledged what everyone recognizes and understands about your position so your continued denial of what you obviously believe borders on a ruse. Let’s call a spade a spade Davo. You’re a biblical Universalist whether you like the term or not, you just need to get your mind around having to wear that reality instead of denying it.

Your position that “all” men have been reconciled to God is just flat out biblically unproven and not provable IMO. Now that you have fully come out of the closet let’s get down to how you go about proving that “all” men are reconciled. The burden of proof is on you Davo. I have made my presentation in these last two posts detailing that this “all” business is misguided because the bible is about the “adams” of creation who are brought into the presence of God. You didn’t address any of that point in your response most likely because of its lengthiness which is understandable. But this is the crux of the theological difference between our views in my estimation. The rest of your discourse about our being wrapped up in the post mortem is simply a diversionary tactic that you pile in with your discussion to sidetrack the real issue of a proper biblical accountability on your reasoning.

I challenge you Davo to lay out a “solid” biblical understanding why “all” men have been reconciled. I don’t think you can because it’s not there. By the way if you plan on using Romans 5 as your proof text be careful because the context is about “believers, the Adams” of the bible and not about “all” men in general. You should review carefully my last two posts which will help demonstrate this point.

Davo there is no need to answer any of the other questions until this foundational issue is dealt with as most would become moot once we answer this point.

Norm

davo's picture

Starlight: Davo this is where you and I part company. The bible does not preach that all men are reconciled to God. This is a figment of your biblical imagination…

I'd rather side with the figment of Paul's "biblical imagination" on this one:

2Cor 5:19 God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

We already know from the preceding verse that the "us" of this verse were duly reconciled as part of the greater world – and in the following verse, a fulfilled message they were then commissioned as "ambassadors" to spread.

Starlight: Let’s call a spade a spade Davo. You’re a biblical Universalist whether you like the term or not, you just need to get your mind around having to wear that reality instead of denying it.

Lol… I'm intrigued then Norm that you haven't also made the same claim for me being a "biblical partialist" – seeing as I plainly stated: "Pantelism is also partialistic [exclusive] in that it agrees with the Bible that all men are NOT called to serve God." The truth is Norm, you ONLY "see" what you want to see but REFUSE to "see" what you don't want to believe.

Starlight: Now that you have fully come out of the closet…

C'mon Norm you're simply posturing because you're stuck for answers to my post. I've said nothing new that I haven't said for at least two years now. You see Norm what I deny is all the non-biblical notions attributed to the phrase "biblical universalist. IF "biblical universalism" was understood in terms of Israel where Paul's comprehensive and inclusive universalism pertained to Israel's redemption, i.e., "all Israel" then Paul's "universalism" I agree 100% with. Paul shows this was God's catalyst to reconcile the world as per Rom 11:12, 15.

Now I happen to believe in "the Virgin Mary", though not to the degree Catholicism venerates her – I am however beyond Romanism, but if it meets a need feel free to call me a Catholic. I also believe in "election", though apply it wholly and solely within its biblical framework – I am beyond Calvin, but if it meets a need feel free to call me a Calvinist. I definitely believe the inspired Paul when he claims "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself", in whatever context you want to put that it has a universalistic scope – I am beyond universalism, but if it meets a need feel free to call me a universalist.

Starlight: Your position that “all” men have been reconciled to God is just flat out biblically unproven and not provable IMO.

As long as that stays in your "opinion" Norm then you're safe :).

Starlight: I have made my presentation in these last two posts detailing that this “all” business is misguided because the bible is about the “adams” of creation who are brought into the presence of God.

Let's run with the implications of your thus far INCONSISTENT calvinistic "adam's" proposal; and to be sure, a re-badged and re–packaged Calvinism IS all that you are proposing, i.e., a limited atonement.

As for your "earthly Adam" scenario; Adam's sin like Cain's sin saw Adam cast out from the presence of the Lord FIRST – so your comparative parallelism is on shaky ground straight off in trying to make Adam a "believer" [saint] and Cain a "non-believer" [sinner]. They were BOTH sinners and BOTH received God's grace variously – as I scripturally demonstrated, but as yet again you ignore.

Starlight: Mankind in general (Cain and non God fearers) was described on an even lower plain than was Adam.

Here you go again Norm… making biblically unsubstantiated blanket claims. WHAT scripture says so? Is this going to be yet another one of your poor efforts where you refuse to give the text while claiming scriptural credence?? The reality is Norm that you do not understand the various "all's" of scripture. You are stuck in your negative rut thinking that one narrow definition applies to "all" of them.

All Israel being redeemed is narrow – the consequences of this was broad. IOW it wasn't one as opposed to the other as your Partialism is claiming, but rather one BECAUSE OF the other. You see "biblical partialism" is identified as those called of God, i.e., the narrow group or "world", to minister ON BEHALF OF the all group or "world" – or as Paul describes and distinguishes in Rom 8:19, 22 "the creation" AND "the whole creation".

THIS IS THE PRIESTLY PATTERN OF SCRIPTURE replicated in the "first-fruits" sacrifice that you continue to deliberately ignore and have NEVER had an answer for; as often as I post it you run from it… it's time to stop running away from it and deal with it Norm.

Starlight: I challenge you Davo to lay out a “solid” biblical understanding… By the way if you plan on using Romans 5 as your proof text be careful because the context is about “believers, the Adams” of the bible and not about “all” men in general.

Norm I don't need to appeal to Rom 5 for "all men in general" – what I've shared above testifies to that already. However, I don't have an issue with Rom 5 as per your Partialistic reading of it IF you stay consistent with your hermeneutic. IOW, "all" stays meaning "all" for ALL those in priestly covenant. How then can this work?

"Sin and death" were always in the world of mankind, typified in terms of "chaos and darkness" – "mankind in general" was not "condemned" because there was no law – and thus NO sin-death. "Mankind in general" was in effect ignorant and thus innocent. Out of this wild and dangerous wilderness God chose Adam [Israel] and placed him-her [male & female] in a protected Garden [Promised Land]. By this unilateral act of God was Adam [Israel] consecrated as priest/s by law [covenant] to the world out of which he-they were taken.

Adam's [Israel's] contravening of God's covenant law through covenant sin brought covenant death – this bought covenant fall. Thus the consequent covenant condemnation applied ONLY to covenant people. THUS IF your brand of "Covenant Creationism" truly seeks to keep Paul's "all" language of Romans 5 CONSISTENT as applying to ONLY one group, i.e., those in covenant, then in keeping with such consistency you will likewise apply Paul's Romans 3 "for ALL have sinned" and Romans 6 "the wages of sin is death" ALONE to those of the covenant – please do not be hypocritical Norm, stay CONSISTENT, don't flip-flop and UNIVERSALISE Paul here.

This then Norm should bring to you the realisation therefore that those OUTSIDE of covenant experienced NO "covenant death" because they committed NO "covenant sin" because they were NEVER under ANY "covenant law" – and thus NOT subject to the sanctions of "covenant condemnation". All Adam [Israel] had to be was God's "vice-regent/s" [Adamites] to God's wider world of men, out of whom they had been taken for the world's ultimate benefit. IOW, Adam's [Israel's] mandate was the BLESS THE WORLD wherein the rest of God's creation dwelt. Covenant faithfulness ultimately was fulfilled through Christ and His first-fruit saints – the few [those called] ON BEHALF OF the many.

Thus Norm IF it is ALL covenant then it MUST be ALL covenant – and we know that those in covenant SERVE – what I've been saying ALL along. You see Norm… even your CC WHEN held to a CONSISTENT form ultimately brings you to the inclusiveness of Pantelism. ;)

davo

Starlight's picture

Davo,

Brother you and I are in harmony on some issues and I fully recognize your strong knowledge and biblical scholarship. But the “one” item that we disagree on is foundational to ultimately understanding scripture fully and consistently in IMO. I do not infer derogatory attributes toward you because we differ on this important point but this is simply an exploration of biblical principles and we have to let the proverbial chips lay where they fall.

Davo I believe you understand the biblical “world” in the same mistaken connotation that affects our futurist brethren and are implying more than the biblical standard calls for.

Let’s see if we can demonstrate this from an examination of Paul’s writings and Genesis 2-4.

First we have Paul in 1 Cor 15:48-49 describing exactly who will be redeemed from the body of Death which originated with Adam. The victory over death is unmistakably attributed to those who were from the collective body of death; there should be no debate over that issue. If one pays close attention to verse 48 & 49 you will see that “THOSE” who will bear the likeness/image of the “earthy man” are the “only ones” who will bear the likeness/image of the “Heavenly Man”.

48 As was the earthly man, SO ARE THOSE WHO ARE OF THE EARTH; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And JUST AS WE HAVE BORNE THE LIKENESS OF THE EARTHLY MAN, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

This section of Paul’s does not allow for the general world at large in any form to be included as those who receive that victory over death. You see the “death” was a covenantal death that was only applicable to those in the “earthy” likeness of Adam. There is no theological wiggle room to work mankind at large into this scenario below no matter how hard one may try. The only way to do so is to Universalize the “earthy” designation to all mankind at large and you and I both know that is not who Adam represents. In Rom 5:12 the discussion is not that sin was imputed to mankind in general but that “sin” was imputed to those who walked seeking God under the inadequate means of the “earthy Man” of Adam’s approach and failure.

Adam was formed out of the “ground” to work it, (covenant with God) and later on with the giving of the Law we have the “Adams/Jews” pursuing God in the same fleshly manner. This is where Paul picks up his “earthy” designation. It is the manner of the Old Covenant of works and has nothing to do with farming or the physical realm but is an imperfect man oriented “works mentality” of trying to walk with God. Those who came to know and worship the one true God would be those who were of the “earthy” Adam that is until the Christ comes to bring the spiritual as a replacement for the “working” approach. This is why when you read that sin entered into the world you need to catch yourself and not fall into the trap of the biblical literalist who read “WORLD” as all inclusive.

The world of sin and death was the world of the Old Heavens and earth covenant beginning with Adam which was passing away. This is the same mistake you make in trying to attribute “WORLD” to 2 Cor 5 and not take into the account the proper context of what “world” is under consideration. There is no way that one can attribute the discussion in 2 Cor 5 to the world at large when it is taken in context which happens to be comparable to 1 Cor 15’s discussion. You are simply carrying forth the same mistaken principle that those who read 2 Peter 3 in a literal manner do regarding the physical world. There is a reverting back to this same faulty habit to fortify your premise. Let’s look at the context of 2 Cor 5:16-19.

NKJ 2 Cor 5: 16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet NOW WE KNOW HIM THUS NO LONGER. 17 Therefore, IF ANYONE IS IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATION; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD TO HIMSELF, NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESPASSES TO THEM, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Davo a Preterist understanding of “world” in the biblical covenant context does not infer “world” in verse 19 to the world at large per your universal application. The context of this whole section is stating a similar message of 1 Cor 15 in that knowing God through the Flesh will be no more and that the covenant world of fleshly Israel is the “world” in question here. This is the “world” that is being reconciled to Christ. Davo all one needs to do is a simple word search on “world” in the NT and notice the overriding context of the meaning of world. Most folks read world just as you are doing and not in the biblical context of the Old Covenant world meaning. You will get quite a different perspective when you start reading “world” in this Preterist method otherwise you end up with an unnatural futurist or Universalist misapplication of “world”.

Davo lets now examine your critique of Adam and Cain and review your statement.

You said … “As for your "earthly Adam" scenario; Adam's sin like Cain's sin saw Adam cast out from the presence of the Lord FIRST – so your comparative parallelism is on shaky ground straight off in trying to make Adam a "believer" [saint] and Cain a "non-believer" [sinner]. They were BOTH sinners and BOTH received God's grace variously – as I scripturally demonstrated, but as yet again you ignore.

Davo this is where you are lacking in your grasp of the biblical symbolic language deployed by the author to impart the theological meaning. Lets compare the language and meaning from both Adams curse and Cain’s curse.

First we have Adam’s curse.

Gen 3:17 … "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." …23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Next Cain’s curse.

Gen 4: 11 "Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 "When you cultivate (work) the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth." 13Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is too great to bear! 14 "Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me." … 16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Now look at some of the specifics and notice the difference. Remember Adam is the “earthy of the Ground” Old covenant model which becomes transformed according to Paul in 1 Cor 15.

Adam … Cursed is the ground .. painful toil you will eat of it … produce thorns … will eat until returns to the ground … banished from the Garden … to work the ground …

Cain … Cursed from the ground … work the ground will not yield its strength … driven from the face of the ground … Gods face will be hidden … Cain went out from the Presence of the Lord.

There is a stark difference between what happened to Adam as contrasted to Cain. First for Adam the ground was cursed (spiritual works of righteousness are inadequate) while in Cain’s situation he was cursed “from” (or removed from) the ground. In other words he had no access to even Adam’s weakened spiritual approach. In Adam’s “earthy” approach at least it would yield spiritual food although it would be through pain and thorns. We know this was the case for the “earthy” as God provided skins to cover their spiritual nakedness. This was provided later through yearly animal sacrifices by the High Priest. Cain and Gentiles would have no access through any other workings of their own and God wasn’t providing them with any other way. This is why Jesus came only to the lost sheep of Israel.

In conclusion Adam was only banished from the Garden, while Cain was hidden from Gods face and went out from God’s presence. Davo there is tremendous theological difference between these two situations spiritually. Also one should recognize that Adam and Eve represent prophetically Christ and the church while Cain and Abel represent the non believing Jews and believers who again will be murdered by their jealous older brother who was of the Devils evil seed.

Jude 11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, … 14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all,

1 Jn 3: 12 not as CAIN, WHO WAS OF THE EVIL ONE and slew his brother And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. 13Do not be surprised, brethren, IF THE *WORLD* HATES YOU.

Matt 8: 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

You see the similarity that the biblical writers drew with the story of Cain and like Cain they (the unbelieving Jews) face separation from God and as Cain says it is more than I can bear.

Davo said … “You see "biblical partialism" is identified as those called of God, i.e., the narrow group or "world", to minister ON BEHALF OF the all group or "world" – or as Paul describes and distinguishes in Rom 8:19, 22 "the creation" AND "the whole creation".

Of course we are Christ ambassadors to the world at large as we are part and parcel of the Body of Christ and we reign in spiritual dominion as all other powers and dominions have been defeated. Let’s look at your reference to Romans 8 now.

(Rom 8:19 for the earnest looking out of the CREATION DOTH EXPECT THE REVELATION OF THE SONS OF GOD; 20 for to vanity was the creation made subject -- not of its will, but because of Him who did subject [it] -- in hope, 21 that also the CREATION ITSELF SHALL BE SET FREE FROM THE SERVITUDE of the corruption to the liberty of the glory of the children of God; 22 for we have known that all THE CREATION DOTH GROAN TOGETHER, AND DOTH TRAVAIL IN PAIN together till now.

Davo the creation was the Old Heavens and Earth beginning with Adam, and I don’t for the life of me understand how you can misconstrue that the whole creation was somehow other than the Heavens and Earth of Old Israel. You might want to check with some other Preterist about this instead of futurist that it appears you are relying on. You realize of course that the travailing in pain is in reference to Eve the mother of all the living and is prophetic of the church/bride of Christ.

Davo said … “Sin and death" were always in the world of mankind, typified in terms of "chaos and darkness" – "mankind in general" was not "condemned" because there was no law – and thus NO sin-death. "Mankind in general" was in effect ignorant and thus innocent.

Sin and death were not always in the world of mankind. Sin and death are only an attribute of the Heavens and Earth fall of Adam and you absolutely cannot substantiate that sin and death were in effect before Adam and his fall. This is another great misstatement of yours Davo. You are correct that there was chaos and wilderness but it was a spiritual void with no man to work the ground. Davo Adam’s implementation into the Garden was to work the spiritual ground. This means he was the first that sought after the one true God. There can be no relationship with those who do not know the one true God. Look at the end and beginning of Genesis 4&5 and pay close attention to what is being said there.

Gen 4:26 … THEN A BEGINNING WAS MADE OF PREACHING IN THE NAME OF JEHOVAH. 1 This [is] an account of the births of Adam: … 3 And Adam liveth an hundred and thirty years, and BEGETTETH [A SON] IN HIS LIKENESS, ACCORDING TO HIS IMAGE, and calleth his name Seth.

Seth was the son of Adam who was made in the likeness but not yet the complete image of God and who was to also work the covenantal spiritual ground. Seth was made in Adams likeness and Image but neither of them at this point was God’s full image bearers because of the fall. The seed lineage of those who were the first to call on the name of the lord were eventually to have their “earthiness” glorified fully with Gods/Christ complete image at the consummation of the Ages. This idea of yours that sin and death were precursors to Adam goes straight against scripture and is again a miscalculation. Men were not innocent before God revealed his purpose as they were simply just as Paul describes as men residing in darkness without God or Hope.

Yes Davo you are entirely correct I do apply Rom 3 and Rom 6’s ”all” strictly to the Old Covenant Heavens and Earth as Paul was dealing with both Jews and Gentile believers who were coming into covenant together. Just look at the context of Rom 3 that you quoted.

Rom 3: 20 wherefore BY WORKS OF LAW SHALL NO FLESH BE DECLARED RIGHTEOUS BEFORE HIM, for through law is a knowledge of sin. 21 And now apart from law hath the righteousness of God been manifested, testified to by the law and the prophets, 22 and the righteousness of God [is] through the faith of Jesus CHRIST TO ALL, AND UPON ALL THOSE BELIEVING, -- for there is no difference, 23 for all did sin, and are come short of the glory of God – 24 being declared righteous freely by His grace through the redemption that [is] in Christ Jesus,

You see Davo the context is about those who were trying to obtain righteousness by works whether by Jew or Gentile. Even in the Old Testament the Gentiles who became God fearers were those who came in contact with Jews and were preached to about the one true God. See Jonah and the conversion of Nineveh and Nebuchadnezzar and Daniels influence upon his coming to know the one true God. The story is never about Gentiles or Jews being righteous just because. They were not in relationship before Adam nor are they after Christ without coming to Him.

Davo there is no Pantelism in your sense of the idea described in the bible, but yes we are called to serve the greater world and to reach out and tell the good news to the world at large. That is our calling and always will be and I agree with you to a large extent that we must not get wrapped up in looking down the street at an after life. Indeed Christ did bring to us life everlasting to be embraced in the here and now. With that I can agree.

Norm

davo's picture

Starlight: Davo I believe you understand the biblical “world” in the same mistaken connotation that affects our futurist brethren and are implying more than the biblical standard calls for.

No Norm you simply believe such based purely on your oppositional assumptions. I agree with Tim and Jeff's reading of "world" as laid out in their book, specifically pages 332-336. However, unlike yourself Norm, I would ALSO agree with Tim and Jeff when they say: "We do not claim that every case of "the world" and "the earth" refers to a strict covenant context…" p.342.

Starlight: The victory over death is unmistakably attributed to those who were from the collective body of death; there should be no debate over that issue.

I agree… and am somewhat surprised you felt the need to repeat it.

Starlight: This is why when you read that sin entered into the world you need to catch yourself and not fall into the trap of the biblical literalist who read “WORLD” as all inclusive.

It WAS "all inclusive" of THAT "covenant world" – again that you "think" I said otherwise shows your lack of attention.

Starlight: This is the same mistake you make in trying to attribute “WORLD” to 2 Cor 5 and not take into the account the proper context of what “world” is under consideration. There is no way that one can attribute the discussion in 2 Cor 5 to the world at large when it is taken in context… … Davo a Preterist understanding of “world” in the biblical covenant context does not infer “world” in verse 19 to the world at large per your universal application.

Again Norm… this is where you are talking about "a Preterist understanding" BUT actually NOT properly understanding it yourself and so not holding to it. My "universal application" as you would have it is applicable to ISRAEL, i.e., universal in relation to Israel – THAT is what you are struggling to see through your "universalism" bent. Like as I stated previously, I agree 100% with Paul's universalism as it applies to Israel – THAT of course had other divinely predetermined "inclusive" conclusions that I alluded to referencing Romans 11 etc, of which I appreciate you disagree.

Thus 2Cor 5 IS about "covenant context" YET applicable other than how you are ascribing it. Understanding the prior context shows it is about covenant Israel and Christ and the first-fruit saint's ministry to and ON BEHALF OF their brethren; a ministry that found fruition through covenant renewal – as promised by God through the OT prophets:

2Cor 5:14-19 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died [in Him]; and He died for all [i.e., all Israel], that those who live [the first-fruit saints] should live no longer for themselves [as was typical under the OC], but [in service] for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh [OC]. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh [OC], yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation [new Israel]; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us [first-fruits] to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world [of Israel] to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them [Rom 11:26b-29], and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

This "word of reconciliation" that came to include the Gentiles was TO ISRAEL as per Rom 11:1-2, 11.

Starlight: Cain and Gentiles would have no access through any other workings of their own and God wasn’t providing them with any other way. This is why Jesus came only to the lost sheep of Israel.

I'm not sure you are totally aware of what you are saying here Norm… you're actually making my point that the tailored focus of Jesus' redemptive ministry toward Israel, that is, on Israel's behalf, had the direct correlation of bringing in the Gentiles, i.e., "salvation is of the Jews".

Starlight: You see the similarity that the biblical writers drew with the story of Cain and like Cain they (the unbelieving Jews) face separation from God and as Cain says it is more than I can bear.

And what does God in His grace do to this ungrateful reprobate – God provides protection for him by way of "a sign" or pledge [Heb] guarding his miserable life. As I said before, this was nothing in comparison to the calling of covenant, but it clearly demonstrates that man outside of covenant is not entirely out of earshot from his creator. Or as Jesus pointed out:

Lk 6:35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

Starlight: Davo the creation was the Old Heavens and Earth beginning with Adam, and I don’t for the life of me understand how you can misconstrue that the whole creation was somehow other than the Heavens and Earth of Old Israel. You might want to check with some other Preterist about this instead of futurist that it appears you are relying on.

Perhaps Norm you will see more clearly what I'm saying HERE – about the third paragraph down. You see as distinct as Israel was through covenant from the wider world, she was duly placed in covenant for the world's sake – that's why she was a kingdom of priests; God's light in God's world; something Jesus as 'true Israel' actually fulfilled and reignited and commissioned in the first-fruit saints. Don't you see – Adam [Israel] being taken out of the dust of the earth [humanity] was fashioned in Christ to go BACK OUT to bless the world. What happens in Genesis happens in Revelation – where we have healing life ministered via believers BACK OUT to those beyond, i.e., "the nations" – of which those "saved" were the true representatives of, reflecting what you rightly said: "…we are part and parcel of the Body of Christ and we reign in spiritual dominion…"

Starlight: Sin and death were not always in the world of mankind. Sin and death are only an attribute of the Heavens and Earth fall of Adam and you absolutely cannot substantiate that sin and death were in effect before Adam and his fall. This is another great misstatement of yours Davo. … This idea of yours that sin and death were precursors to Adam goes straight against scripture and is again a miscalculation.

You are too hasty in your proclamations Norm… I didn't say such was "in effect", but present they were – you CANNOT logically have a supposedly non-existing sin or death "gaining entrance" in the covenant world from a vacuum. These things simply gained traction or "came to life" through "covenant law" and enabled so "covenant death" [Rom 7:9]. Further, are you aware that "evil" was likewise present "before the fall"? Not only that – let me quote you something in a similar vein: "Physical death existed, outside the boundaries of the garden, at the very least, in order to serve as a spiritual warning to Adam. Death had to exist before the fall if Adam was to be informed in some manner about what God meant by the threat of death." p.217 of Tim & Jeff's book. This is in kind with what they say elsewhere in their book about the spiritual truths that underlie the physical realities etc. So Norm… as for "misstatements" and "miscalculation" you might like to reconsider WHO can substantiate WHAT.

Starlight: Men were not innocent before God revealed his purpose as they were simply just as Paul describes as men residing in darkness without God or Hope.

Someone without law is indeed "innocent" – this says nothing to their being "ignorant" of law – they had NO law. Man outside of covenant Adam was exactly that, innocent. Covenant SIN ONLY became an equation due to covenant law – this is consistent Covenant Creationism Norm, I implore you to stick with it.

davo

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