Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

So I was having a conversation the other day concerning the nature of God (the Father specifically) and if we will ever be able to see him. My conclusion was no.  Let me explain why. 

Scripture teaches that God is a spirit (Jn. 4:24), and is invisible (Col. 1:15), and that no man has ever seen God (Jn. 1:18, I Jn. 4:12). A couple of questions arise from the aforementioned statements and Scripture references.

  1. What is a spirit?
  2. Can a spirit be perceived by the physical senses?

What is a spirit? The term is a very misunderstood concept in today’s culture. It usually evokes images of translucent, ethereal beings that float through the air and pass through walls. However this is not so. Indeed, if such ethereal beings existed they would of necessity be physical since they reflect or produce light (they can be seen) and float through the air (have some relation to the laws of physics).  A spirit is a non-physical substance, a mind without a body. God is a spirit and is thus non-corporeal. The reason why no one has ever seen God is because He is invisible by definition. You cannot “see” (discern with the physical eyes) a Being that is not material.

The question remains however: Will we ever see God? Yes and no. We will see (with resurrected, physical eyes) Jesus Christ who is the “image of the invisible God”. However, I do not believe that we will ever see God the Father. I am not saying that God cannot manifest himself in visible ways (the various theophanies in Scripture), nor am I saying that we will not perceive God in other ways beyond the five senses (perhaps one of these perceptions is something like Husserl’s eidetic intuition). I just don’t think that is metaphysically possible that we will ever be able to see Him with our eyes. To say so is a category error (to physically see a non-physical being).

So what difference does it make? I believe that this matters for two very important reasons.

  1. God’s prohibition of making graven images: Scripture makes it clear that it is just as much a sin to make and worship an image of Yahweh as it is to make and worship the image of any other god. Why? Because God has no image but one; which leads me to the second reason why this whole line of reasoning is important…
  2. God has visibly manifested himself in Christ. Jesus is the only person of the Godhead who possesses a body. He is the image of God, and to seek to worship any other image is idolatry. In short, the incarnation of Christ demonstrated God’s appreciation of the material and his value of the human body. The ancient Gnostics, who were engrossed with the matter-despising teachings of neo-platonism, could not appreciate this fact.

Well, I hope this is intelligible. I’d be really interested in hearing other opinions on this subject. Maybe I’ll write some more about it in the future when I can give more thought to it.


J. P. Moreland, well-known evangelical philosopher/theologian, purportedly dropped a bombshell at the recent annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.  Despite the sound and fury, however, it seems to me that everybody has really missed the point of his paper which is really not that controversial after all.  I’m not giving any hints because I want people to read it for themselves.  And to all the Moreland detractors out there, do try to read beyond the title of the paper.

p.s. Chris over at Nihil Fit has produced an excellent summary of the paper and the consequent controversy it ignited.

Question. What do you get when you mix hare-brained consumers with a business market that is terrified of frivolous law suits? That’s right! STUPID WARNING LABELS! Here are a few of my favorites. 

  • Windex: Do not spray in eyes
  • Dremel Electric Rotary Tool: This product not intended for use as a dental drill
  • Dial Soap Directions: Use like regular soap
  • Old Spice Red Zone Deoderant: Use only on underarms (What about embarrasing forehead odor?)
  • Zantac 75: Do not take if allergic to zantac
  • Bic Lighter: Ignite lighter away from face (I actually knew a guy that lost half his moustache to a Bic)
  • Komatsu Floodlight: This floodlight is capable of illuminating large areas, even in the dark
  • Mattress Warning: Do not attempt to swallow (The warning tag or the mattress?)
  • Auto-Shade Windshield Visor Warning: Do not drive with sunshade in place. Remove from windshield before starting ignition (I love this one, cuz you know there are people out there who have actually tried this)
  • Hair Dryer Warning: Do not use while sleeping (Again, you probably know someone who has tried this)
  • Rowenta Iron Warning: Never iron clothes on the body (Okay, I actually tried this…I’ve still got the scar to prove it!)
  • Hershey’s Almond Bar Warning: May contain traces of nuts
  • 500 Piece Puzzle Instructions: Some assembly required
  • Bag of Fritos: You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside (No purchase necessary to those with X-ray vision)
  • Nytol sleep aid: Warning: may cause drowsiness
  • Package of Fisherman’s Friend throat lozenges: Not meant as substitute for human companionship (i.e. there is not a REAL fisherman’s friend inside!)
  • Toner cartridge for a laser printer: Do not eat toner
  • Heated seat cushionWarning: Do not use on eyes
  • Rat PoisonWarning: has been found to cause cancer in laboratory mice (So that’s how that stuff works!)
  • Container of salt Warning: High in sodium

Proud to be an American!

*Warning: Staring at this blog all day may lead to posterior discomfort and lack of social life.

I am convinced that one of the primary reasons why cultural relativism (the belief that morality is defined by one’s culture) is such a preferred ethical system in our modern society is due to our promotion of tolerance as being a major (if not the major) virtue. In short, people want to adopt a philosophy of ethics that seems to be intrinsically tolerant of other cultures morals and beliefs. However many people don’t understand that being a cultural relativist does not necessarily mean that you are tolerant of other cultures.

How’s that? Well, since CR says that morality is defined by your culture, suppose that you live in a culture which asserts that you are morally obligated to be intolerant of other cultures. According to the tenets of CR, your being tolerant would be an immoral behavior. 

It’s also interesting to note that the only way that you can be tolerant in the true sense (which means that you do not force those with whom you disagree to adhere to your own beliefs) is that you must accept objective moral truth yourself; this is due to the fact that – as a cultural relativist – it is impossible to disagree (in a moral sense) with other cultures. Think about it…

The One Ring

Anyone who knows anything at all about me knows that one of my favorite books is The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Not only is the late Prof. Tolkien’s book a tremendous work of mythopoeic fiction, but it also communicates some very important moral truths that are subtly woven into the storyline. Take, for example, the nature of evil as presented in LOTR. When it comes to explaining what evil actually is, one is left with two primary options, one of which teaches that evil is a positive reality, that is, evil exists as a thing in itself. The theological implications of this idea are devastating and could be laid out thus:

  1. God created everything in existence.
  2. Evil exists.
  3. Therefore, God created evil.

The conclusion of this argument strays far from the teaching of orthodox Christianity and makes God out to be the source of evil as well as good. This presents a quite a conundrum.

The other major option for the explanation of evil presents just the opposite of the aforementioned definition (which, incidentally, is known as the Manichaean concept of evil). The other option (known as the Boethian, Augustinian, or correct option 🙂) presents evil as the privation or absence of good and is the exact way that Tolkien presents evil in his book. Is it any wonder that the chief bad dude (Sauron) is called the Dark Lord? Darkness does not have substantial existence: what we call “darkness” is the absence of light. Or when Frodo is pierced by the evil blade of the ring wraith and is afterwards plagued by a deathly cold? “Cold” is the absence of heat. Perhaps the whole idea can best be summed up in the words of Frodo himself while speaking to Sam about the origin of the monstrous orcs:

“The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own. I don’t think it gave life to Orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them…”(Return of the King p. 190).

So what exactly do we learn from all of this? Well, for starters, God cannot create evil! What we call “evil” is actually a privation of God’s goodness. Furthermore, not even Satan (Sauron) himself created evil in a substantial sense, he merely perverted the good things of God to his own selfish ends.

I’ve never blogged before.  I’ve often wanted to.  It is New Years Day and blogging was not one of my resolutions.  I really didn’t make any resolutions this year.  Tired of resolving in general.  I resolve enough on my job and with my kids.  Resolved an argument between these little people just a few minutes ago.  One wanted some chewing gum because the other got some.  I just told the gumful to share with the gumless.  So I resolve all the time.  Don’t have energy to resolve myself.  Perhaps Jesus will resolve me ’cause so far I’m not too resolved.