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Nature of Reality, Will the Real YHWH Please Step Forward, 15) The Bible vs Augustine

Updated on January 27, 2015

Teaching systems change over time

Ideas develop, are taught to others, and then either grow in popularity or die.
Ideas develop, are taught to others, and then either grow in popularity or die. | Source
Then ideas start to interact and influence each other at specific points. Augustine infused Greek thought into church doctrine, contaminating it.
Then ideas start to interact and influence each other at specific points. Augustine infused Greek thought into church doctrine, contaminating it. | Source
New ideas pop up and are too often added into church doctrine. The question is, how do we root those out of our belief systems? Sola scriptura, that's how.
New ideas pop up and are too often added into church doctrine. The question is, how do we root those out of our belief systems? Sola scriptura, that's how. | Source

The Bible

The Bible is reliable, and did not change over time and through many translations as has often been the charge, but we have one Bible and 800 denominations all claiming something different about God and the Bible. Logically, they cannot all be right. In fact, at most only one set of ideas about God can be completely right.

When the Bible tells you something, you ought to believe it because if you don’t you are likely to either be proved wrong, make bad choices, or simply die misinformed and that has a really bad consequence (see the Bible).

More than that, the farther you recede from exactly what it tells you the less likely you will be attractive to the lost person seeking a relationship with God.

God is an objective being. As such, he really exists and really has only one set of true things that can be said about him, so, part of our job as humans is to try to define, as accurately as possible, what those true things are and what they are not. This is theology, the study of God. There are two possible sources of information about God, those are 1) God himself and 2) humans either making up ideas, or deviating from direct revelation from God.

Where do we get that revealed information? From the Bible itself, it really is easy to read.

Wait, there is more.

God is the only necessary being. In other words, his being is not contingent on someone or something else. In philosophy, the term “necessary” means he must be, he necessarily is. Sounds much like the meaning of the tetragrammaton YHWH, doesn’t it? Simple translated it means “I am” or “I will be.” In Greek they would say, “ego eimi” and in fact, that is exactly what Jesus said repeatedly when they asked him if he were the son of God, and they picked up stones to stone him for blasphemy, that is making himself equal to God in the language they were speaking, and everyone understood this. He was claiming he is not created, he had no beginning and he will have no end, he necessarily exists, is self-existent.

Note that both of those terms (“beginning” and “end”) involve time, as does the statement “God is now here,” which demands he be in time and also in the dimensions that yield location, specifically height, length, width, and any others required.

The Word "Eternity"

The word eternity means “endless time” and does not mean “existence without time,” as it is so often and irrationally used (irrational because it breaks the laws of logic, rationality), and Augustine used it this way (see below). “He is outside of time, he is in eternity,” I have been told this over and again.

Time is the metric, the measurement of the duration of something that exists. The only things that cannot be measured by time are things that do not exist.

“Eternal” means indefinite, or continuing time, that is, the duration does not stop.

Augustine says below “what He foreknew and arranged before all time.” But since eternity is a description of time without end, this is an absurd statement, but we hear it frequently. Also, without time you cannot “arrange” anything. No verbs can be used if there is no time.

Let’s do a simple logic equation: Eternity = “time without end,” now replace one equivalent term with the other and repeat that phrase as: “He is outside of time, he is in time without end.”

See the contradiction?

Since A=A this is a valid replacement to understand the term, or, in this case, the contradiction. He cannot both be in and out of time. It is simple logic applied directly to the text.

If you are going to use words, learn what they mean. Please. If not then stop using words, you are confusing yourself and others.

The Greek philosophers that Paul warned us about disagreed with these statements. They pictured the Ultimate Being, as they called the top of their pantheon of gods, as kind of a marble like inanimate being that could not learn, interact or even so much as twitch because he was out of time.

We might want to rephrase this analogy into the mid Roman period since they used Greek philosophy and they invented concrete and it really is more like concrete since they formed this being the way they saw fit, and, once completed, could not move. Mind you, this is not “chooses not to move” rather “cannot move.” He is incapable of moving because he has no place to move and no time to move.

Again the term “the unmoved mover” was a Greek invention, not Christian, not Jewish. Now explain to me how that can be true, that is, something that doesn’t move can cause something else to move?

We have no examples of this on earth and none in the scriptures.

This is a Greek idealism that is false, however the church swallowed this idea in its entirety and all of its logical implications, the God of Augustine and Calvin cannot even learn anything new even if that new thing is a choice another free will agent makes. The reasoning, according to the Greeks is that if Zeus could learn, then he would be flawed because he did not already know it was going to happen. Just like the Greek philosophers, we define what perfection is then cram God into our standard.

Do you think I am kidding? You never read The City of God?

Lest you think I am exaggerating about Augustine not only the acceptance of the Greek idea that nothing about God can change, allow me to quote in its entirety from Augustine’s The City of God, Book 22 Chapter 2. (Fortunately his “book” and “chapters” are much briefer than we use today.)

Augustine The City of God, Book 22 Chapter 2 (emphasis is mine):

It is true that wicked men do many things contrary to God's will; but so great is His wisdom and power, that all things which seem adverse to His purpose do still tend towards those just and good ends and issues which He Himself has foreknown. And consequently, when God is said to change His will, as when, e.g., He becomes angry with those to whom He was gentle, it is rather they than He who are changed, and they find Him changed in so far as their experience of suffering at His hand is new, as the sun is changed to injured eyes, and becomes as it were fierce from being mild, and hurtful from being delightful, though in itself it remains the same as it was. That also is called the will of God which He does in the hearts of those who obey His commandments; and of this the apostle says, "For it is God that worketh in you both to will." As God's "righteousness" is used not only of the righteousness wherewith He Himself is righteous, but also of that which He produces in the man whom He justifies, so also that is called His law, which, though given by God, is rather the law of men. For certainly they were men to whom Jesus said, "It is written in your law," though in another place we read, "The law of Iris God is in his heart." According to this will which God works in men, He is said also to will what He Himself does not will, but causes His people to will; as He is said to know what He has caused those to know who were ignorant of it. For when the apostle says, "But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God," we cannot suppose that God there for the first time knew those who were foreknown by Him before the foundation of the world; but He is said to have known them then, because then He caused them to know. But I remember that I discussed these modes of expression in the preceding books. According to this will, then, by which we say that God wills what He causes to be willed by others, from whom the future is hidden, He wills many things which He does not perform.

Thus His saints, inspired by His holy will, desire many things which never happen. They pray, e.g., for certain individuals-they pray in a pious and holy manner-but what they request He does not perform, though He Himself by His own Holy Spirit has wrought in them this will to pray. And consequently, when the saints, in conformity with God's mind, will and pray that all men be saved, we can use this mode of expression: God wills and does not perform,-meaning that He who causes them to will these things Himself wills them. But if we speak of that will of His which is eternal as His foreknowledge, certainly He has already done all things in heaven and on earth that He has willed,-not only past and present things, but even things still future. But before the arrival of that time in which He has willed the occurrence of what He foreknew and arranged before all time, we say, It will happen when God wills. But if we are ignorant not only of the time in which it is to be, but even whether it shall be at all, we say, It will happen if God wills,-not because God will then have a new will which He had not before, but because that event, which from eternity has been prepared in His unchangeable will, shall then come to pass.

Can you see the double speak here? Can you see here how the Word of God is undermined and the meaning changed to conform to the presuppositions of Augustine, that is, his worldview? Can you see how those presuppositions are Greek in origin and filter the Biblical information through those presuppositions?

You can see and read this same type of machinations in today’s apologists who are not rationally defending the Bible, rather are defending the Greek idealisms about Zeus. Do you see how he claims that things do seem to be against God’s will but actually are not? Allow me to snip some of these highlighted quotes to put the thought together. So you can see these are unchanged I will leave them as they are emphasized above:

. . .which seem adverse to His purpose do still tend towards those just and good ends and issues which He Himself has foreknown. . . when God is said to change His will. . . it is rather they than He who are changed. . . though in itself it remains the same as it was. . . "But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God," we cannot suppose that God there for the first time knew those who were foreknown by Him before the foundation of the world; but He is said to have known them then, because then He caused them to know. But I remember that I discussed these modes of expression in the preceding books. According to this will, then, by which we say that God wills what He causes to be willed by others, from whom the future is hidden, He wills many things which He does not perform. . . But if we speak of that will of His which is eternal as His foreknowledge, certainly He has already done all things in heaven and on earth that He has willed,-not only past and present things, but even things still future. . . He has willed the occurrence of what He foreknew and arranged before all time . . . , but because that event, which from eternity has been prepared in His unchangeable will, shall then come to pass.

Augustine claims:

  1. Even though the Bible tells us God changes his will, his mind, his intent, and he “repents” it really means that we are changed. Then why didn't he just say that?
  2. When the Bible says you became known to God, it is means that he had foreknown you before he created the world, he just made you aware of it. Why didn't he say that?
  3. When the Bible tells us it is God’s will, it means that God changed your will in eternity past. The meaning of each phrase is equivocated to conform to the worldview of Augustine which is Greek in origin. Augustine changed the Word of God to conform to Greek thought. Remember, just after this quote he uses the phrase “before all time” and so, “eternity past” doesn't mean eternity=time without end, rather eternity=existing without time. Huh? It doesn't mean what the word really means, it means the opposite? It can’t be both ways, meaning time without end and life without time.

So what existed, that is “before” time? (Apologies for using a tensed word, but we really can’t discuss timelessness without using time tensed words, go figure). Nothing existed according to the Greek philosophers except God and his will who then formulated every single minute event that would happen in the future, and then implemented it. Do you see why he thinks God’s will cannot change, because everything is eternally predestinated? What then, is sin? The Bible tells us it is the violation of the expressed will of God. If then God’s will cannot be violated, how is it we are punished for that which God planned?

The question is, is this reasonable in the light of the Biblical revelation? No, it is not, the Bible explains itself, line upon line. God created no other commentaries beyond the sixty six books of the Bible.

It isn't OK to inject into the Biblical narrative ideas from other religions because we like the way they sound. It isn't OK to equivocate what the Word of God tells us about himself. It isn't OK to re-write the Bible.

Ask yourself what makes Augustine qualified to change the terms (equivocate) found in the Bible? Equivocation changes the meaning of a term. So, stated differently, what makes Augustine, and anyone else, qualified to change the Bible?

Of course the answer is, nothing qualifies him to do so. So his “explanations” actually change the Bible meaning in the same manner Jefferson changed it by eliminating the verbiage indicating Jesus was deity.

If the only difference is, we like what Augustine did and dislike what Jefferson did I would submit that you have just made the Bible meaning subjective to the whims of the listener. What if I likes Jefferson? Is it our whims and desires, impulses or notions that determine the subjective meaning of the Bible or is it the Bible that is the absolute, the thing we claim is true as is? You cannot both hold that the Bible is objectively true and then accept Augustine’s equivocations of its meaning because he was a good rhetorician.

Having said that, more than those before or after him, he set the color of understanding for the Catholic Church and then the Protestants who did not protest enough to get away from this teaching.

On Half Dome's Bill, Yosemite

My brother's Photo of me. Don't tell me I don't know what a 2000 foot overview looks like!  I am always on the leading edge, what can I say.
My brother's Photo of me. Don't tell me I don't know what a 2000 foot overview looks like! I am always on the leading edge, what can I say. | Source

A Two Thousand Foot Overview

Let’s do a brief fly-over of the Bible. Not the entire Bible, because at ten thousand feet you can’t read it, right? But briefly review things about God and the Bible in your memory.

Have you every heard the (false) idea that the God of the Old Testament is not the same God as is in the New Testament? We simply reject that out of hand, but having said this, why do others insist on it?

Simply put it is because in the Old Testament we see some judgmental sides of God. In the light of modern culture I need to defend the word “judgmental.” We all need to, on a daily if not hourly basis exercise good judgment, and make judgments about people and their actions. What humans rightly kick against is passing eternal judgment, that is condemnation on another person.

It is not my job to determine the eternal status of another person. However, on things lesser, it is, I judge whether I like or dislike a person or their actions and attitudes, and this is proper and good. It is also unavoidable. Even the person telling you that you have no right to judge is judging you.

This is what is wrong with cursing as person by saying “Damn her!” You are asking God to damn the person to hell. That’s what damnation means and why we spell the word damn as opposed to dam.

Well, one of the things we rightly judge is whether some idea about God is god or bad and whether it is true or false.

It is, however, God’s job to judge, he is the sovereign, the judge of the quick and the dead. He can do this on the spot or at the “Final Judgment,” it’s his choice and right.

It is true that the God of the Bible seems to be different from Jesus, God incarnate, and that this judgment or verdict, decision or finding, sentence or conclusion can be seen by all simply by reading the Bible.

What they are seeing is the change in behavior, is it not? If not, the you tell me what causes people to think that there is a change regardless if they understand that to be different gods or simply the change in God’s pattern of responses.

There seems to be a change in what God tells us about himself, about his actions, attitudes, and even his programs, first, working directly with people, then choosing a nation, then choosing an open group (the church). There seems to be a casual inference. No, I need to correct that, it is the Bible that is true and every man a liar: There is a casual change in the manner in which God works. Hundreds of conditional promises are made “if you do this, then I will do that.” Everyone understands the opposite or antithetic view of that conditional promise, to wit, “if you do not do this then I will not do that.”

But what about worship? Isaiah 6:2-3:

Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory.

Then again in Revelation 4:8 the only other appearance of six winged “angels” (the common name for various creatures):

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about [him]; and [they were] full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

The rest of the chapter actually reveals my point, Rev. 4:9-11:

And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Angels who appear to people and the people bow down correct them and tell them not to worship them, worship only God.

Jesus accepted worship.

Why does God want worship from the beings he creates? The Calvinist or Augustinian will claim that it changes people’s attitudes about God, and they will deny it changes God, but then, how about the angels, cherub, and seraphim? Does it change them?

What happens to you when you receive praise from someone? It makes you feel good! Apparently it makes God feel good also.

How about emotions? Does God display the personality characteristics of emotions?

God expresses happiness with his creation in Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, and quite the opposite, unhappiness he is said by Paul to be “not well pleased” in I Corinthians 10:5.

Many times he has expressed anger, the very reason people contrast the Old Testament with Jesus in the New Testament, as he did in Numbers 22:22 “God’s anger was kindled.”(See also Jos 23:16, Jdg 2:12, Jer 7:20, 42:18.)

He expressed wrath in Romans 9:22 and in Revelation 14:10. That is a strong emotion. But then destroying the world over sin is also a strong action or reaction.

God is spoken of as being jealous in Deuteronomy 6:15:

For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

That is strong emotion resulting in strong action.

He is displeased in I Chronicles 21:7, but he is the rock, or stable, one that can be depended upon in Psalm 78:35, but indignant in Jeremiah 10:10, and 50:25, then Ezekiel 22:13 and Revelation 14:10, and utter abhorrence in Leviticus 26:44 and Amos 6:8.

We have positive emotions again in the New Testament where he expresses or is said to be love itself, see Romans 8:39 and Ephesians 2:4 or 1 John 2:5, and 4:7-20. He is gracious in 2 Chronicles 30:9, Psalm 86:15, but expresses hatred in Ezekiel 35:11 and Amos 6:8 “I abhor the excellency of Jacob,” we are told.

We are told in one place that he does not repent, and in a different place that he does, and this happens more than once in Jonah 3:9-10 where we find

God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them

then in Amos 7:6 and Jeremiah 26:13,

Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.

This clearly states that God’s response to us in time is conditioned by our free morally significant choices. He shows stubbornness in Ezekiel 24:14 where he refuses to repent.

Again though, we have positive emotions of grief (Ephesians 4:30 “grieve not the holy Spirit of God”) and compassion (Deuteronomy 30:3, 2 Chronicles 36:15, Psalm 86:15), patience (Rom 15:5, Rev 1:9), long-suffering (Exd 34:6, Num 14:18, Psa 86:15, Rom 9:22, 1 Pet 3:20), and joy (Zeph 3:17, Mat 25:21-23, 1 Tim 1:6), and so, the fruits of the Spirit directly reflect some of God’s emotions and characteristics.

So the Bible is filled with God’s emotions, which makes sense if we are created in his image, this is where we get emotions.

Look through that list again, is there a change anyplace? Not in God’s character, but in his state of emotion?

No you say?

You believe there is no change of emotion from happy to unhappy, from anger to patience, from jealousy to love?

You would logically have to claim there are really no emotional states at all because you would be claiming that happy=unhappy, than anger=patience, and that jealousy=love (not the result of a kind of love, but love itself).

You do realize then that there is also nothing negative about raving jealousy because it is the same, the equivalent of raging love.

This is absurd and if you believe that you are being irrational as they are opposites, and each is a situation where there is an excluded middle and contradiction, it cannot be both ways.

See why we started with logic?

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