Nature of Reality, Nature of Man, 4) Worldview, in the Image of God
In the Image of God
God had created man in his own image, in the image of God created he man. And what a marvelous creation we are, as is all of creation integrated together to run almost (not quite) without further interruption.
He placed us in a well integrated “natural” world where things run pretty but not perfectly well when left alone, and he gave man reason, rational thought (not philosophers) to deal with the daily things we all deal with.
He created real beauty, real freedom, and real common sense, according to Thomas Reid.
So the first things we learn about God are that he is an all-powerful creator who is at once an engineer and mathematician, physician and artisan, a person that, when he spoke he used a pleural term of himself, “Let us make man in our image.”
We are told of the God who loved and wanted to love more, and created a physical universe within the vast space empty of at least this kind of matter and created it and us using his own energy and creativity.
Used here, in this manner, “energy and creativity” is not analogous to anything, it is not a metaphor, it was energy from the all powerful creator God. It was his energy that he applied laws to capture and contain it into a format not seen before (at least to our knowledge and his revelation) he formed matter.
Now, if you want to get into the physics, I believe the luminiferous aether, now called dark energy and dark matter, likely already existed. And, if so, then the Bing Bang needs to be reconsidered (more likely a more recent white hole, not a black hole), and the Higgs Boson is what releases when we reach absolute zero, and so the Quarks degrade to dark matter, ergo the first and second laws are preserved as are dimensions and domains.
But I digress.
The Holy Scriptures, the Bible, to be sure, tell us of and about God in ways most simply gloss over and ignore because of our denominational presuppositions, those worldviews we have learned in church and in the general language built around classical theology.
Non-Christians also filter ideas through presuppositions to see if they fit their understanding, but we Christians too have them and filter what the Bible tells us through them to determine what we will accept and what we will reject about God from his own revelation.
If this idea shocks you, so much the better.
He made Barrels of wine, but not these barrels. Lodi, California
Is the Wine in the Bible Really Wine?
I am not going to read “deeper” meaning into the Biblical text than is already there, nor am I going to proof text to prove my points, rather I am simply going to ask you to accept what it tells us about man and God in the common language we read it in using common sense. For all the subjects I can foresee discussing in this forum, the Bible and thinking about it is quite adequate.
Ask yourself if the Bible makes a statement, say, statement “A” and we have five denominations that claim “A” isn’t really “A” that might come up with explanations we will call “A” “1A,” “2A,” “3A,” “4A.”
Just from this simple illustration, which one is correct? Well “A” is correct, common sense tells us this even though, say, explanation 1 is 1700 years old, explanation 2A is 600 years old, explanation 3A is 300 years old, and explanation 4A is fifty years old, it is still answer “A” that is correct because it is what the original author intended to say, which is all that matters.
It matters not how old the false ideas is, it is still false. It matters not who believed it, it is a true statement or it is a false statement.
No matter how you look at it, A=A, and it is not something else, and there is no middle ground, and that will imply certain things while the other four false answers (above) will imply other things not implied in the original text.
We as Christians need not feel the need to conform to twenty first century historical naturalistic scholarship nor feel we need to be accepted by those academics who deny God, but we ought also to state the same for theologies, long entrenched and holding error for millennia that claim supremacy of age or volume or size, and agreement with the teaching of their time when those very academics, as they are now, are not Christian at all.
To this subject, the Temperance movement as it started out was good. The word means to control your drinking, it was against excessive drinking and I would state, we all ought to be against such excess, but to hold that idea you need to allow normal alcohol consumption. The movement in Scotland, of all places, turned against spirits, distilled alcohols, and then it morphed into an abstinence movement about ten years later.
Here you have crossed a line and have real issues with the Bible. You need some pretty hard eisegesis (private interpretation) to get there. You need to ignore that Israel always uses wine at Passover, which was converted into the sacrament of Communion, The Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist according to your particular denomination. However, three years prior you need to deal with the very first miracle Jesus performed, the wedding feast at Cana.
The Lord God Almighty made wine for the people's enjoyment because they had already consumed the reserves provided. .
Other False Worldviews
Why ought I add to my theology the false and misleading academic paradigms of naturalism when they are actually and demonstrably false?
Why should I add non-biblical sources of supernaturalism?
Should we have added rationalism (man, starting from himself and without revelation trying to understand himself and the universe) when it was raging through Europe just decades ago?
Should we have added nihilism or modernism? How about Celtic naturalism called Wicca? Or other supernaturalisms such as eastern mysticisms, or any other?
We have revealed knowledge from God. That is the basis for our belief that the Bible is true.
Which form of naturalism or non-biblical supernaturalism should creep into our theology, and at what age, what time in history is it OK to make an amalgam or admixture out of the whole of Christianity?
Is that ever acceptable? No, absolutely not. Any mixing in of alien ideas to Christianity is sub-Christian and unacceptable: sola scriptura. And this is so precisely because the Bible is complete, it is the whole picture, the whole philosophy, theology, metaphysic that we need and we need no other.
The shifting sands of godless ideas has no relationship to man using his rational mind to understand the world though experience but with divine revelation as the very basis for understanding his metaphysics.
Why then did the early church turn to Plato?
Great question! I am so glad you asked!
It started before Roman Catholicism both in the church and in the country of Rome, but was swept into it and amplified through that organization and its political ties to Greece and Greco-Roman philosophies and science such as Ptolemy with an earth at the center, but center bottom of a very round universe.
By the way, the universe is flat, not round as the Bible states twice, and against modern science until 2003 when the WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) satellite proved Isaiah and David in the Psalms were right three thousand years earlier. Science had followed a Greco-Roman idea that the universe was round for much of that time.
We don’t have a round universe and Isaiah told us that. Some three hundred years later the Greeks using rationalism (the false idea that man can start from himself without revelation and discover everything) decided the universe was made of concentric crystal spheres, and the universe remained round for the next 2500 years. (It isn’t round, it is relatively flat (anisotropic) and spread out, and spreading out more, also claimed by Isaiah c 800BC and then Hubble in 1929AD.)
We, speaking corporately, ought to have learned the lesson of Galileo, that naturalistic philosophies (Ptolemy in that case following Aristotelian naturalism) do not wed well with Christendom (Catholicism in that case). Instead of learning that the Roman church split and gave over the study of nature to a new holy grail of natural philosophies, what we would call natural sciences. This was categorically the wrong response at the wrong time, and persists today.
Why cannot the common man, using his God given reason, hopefully well trained and conditioned to think rationally, apply this mind to divine revelation and understand without any one of the hundreds of theologies exactly what is meant in the scriptures?
It is my belief he can. “Ah! But you were Presbyterian, and the Scottish version, though moderated in Scotland returned in the US to its Calvinistic roots and sees man as totally depraved and unable to even think about God. How can that be?”
Calvin (actually more or less Beza, his protégé) taught an Augustinian theology developed through Augustine’s Greco-Roman roots and not his Christian youth. He was brilliant and so brilliantly argues many false points on behalf of Aristotle, Plato and the other Greek philosophers the Apostle Paul warned us about. He didn’t listen.
Why isn’t it, as Thomas Reid argued, sufficient for the common man to derive things from simply reading and thinking about the scripture? Why do theologians and pastors, priests and Bible study leaders constantly tell you, in essence, “I know that’s what it says, but that isn’t what it means?
They ring very loudly of Hume’s convoluted philosophy where things are really not what they seem, rather, need some explanation. “I have special knowledge,” said he. “From what source” said I? And you are left with whichever theological system of thought that the person was taught in a direct chain back most likely to Augustine, et al.
“But,” said he, “I have the Holy Spirit as my guide.” “So do I,” I replied. He thought and posited, “But I don’t like the school you derive that from.” “What is your point” said I?
That mighty work of God, of Jesus, of the Holy Spirit to create and preserve the Word of God for our use in understanding God and man standing in his image ought not require a thousand year old theology and body of work, nor presuppositions about what it says before reading it.
What of that literate person who merely picks up his Bible and reads it, can he not understand it in plain English and come to the conclusion that he must be saved?
Jesus chose fishermen.
OK, there was that one attorney (Saul of Tarsis).
But that is the point, that was the torch Guttenberg lit without even knowing it, that common man could read and understand the Bible. But man, created in God’s image has a god complex and forms bodies, called denominations that define what you will believe, exactly as did the church we rebelled against six hundred years hence.
This is not to say they ought not be listened to nor that they have nothing to add to the discussion but whenever you engage with someone locked into a particular denomination the usually bring up their own church fathers, or the interpretation of their church relating to a specific verse or passage as opposed to simply reading it to see what it says. Are they higher authorities than the Word of God?
I think not.
Are they superior to rational mankind?
Why, no, they are a group of just such beings that have entrenched a dogma that is perpetuated with some, but insufficient reasoned defenses to protect the teaching from changing.
But what if it is wrong?
Then it needs to be changed. But you will never arrive at this from looking at their system of thought in an otherwise intellectual vacuum, free of other thoughts.
Is it not the very point of theology, systematic or otherwise, to weed out error rather than to defend an error? Where has rational discourse gone? Why are not these issues being debated, but rather, we see them simply being defended and almost all are very uncomfortable rocking the boat so to speak (sorry for the metaphor but sitting on a ship at this very moment and it is rocking a bit).
People who question whether something is right or not are ostracized and told they ought to leave if they with to use rational thought, it isn’t allowed here.
Is there any wonder Christianity today is not seen as being rational when those seeking rational answers are outcasts?
Oh, how many have I come across who, for lack of a well reasoned answer turned away from their church for want of intelligent conversation and discussion about intellectual problems?
How many people have died without adequate answers because the local evangelical has informed them of their total depravity and inability to think properly?
People with a masters or doctorate are not as likely as the feeble minded to accept that false idea about man’s fallen state. They will make other errors, so let’s not commit the expert fallacy.
What we call common man or the average man remains as he always has been a rational moral thinker, the very reason all people feel inadequate since the fall, that guilty feeling we have which is justified until we are saved but which persists after we are saved and sanctified by obedience to his word, that is the evidence that we are rational and moral and fallen. Let’s focus on the rational aspect and how that interacts with a specific set of emotions, happiness. (Next post.)