Apologetics · CEC · Philosophy · Religion

Populist Christianity: Part 4

Preface Note:

This post, unlike the others, is meant to provide a staging ground for the more philosophical debate surrounding theology and the existence and manner of God. First, some assumptions. #1: God exists #2: God is One – obviously held in the Christian Trinitarian view. Lastly, this post is meant to challenge current “systems of Divinity” concerning the nature of God. This post is not to say that I am not a true believer, but meant to rather open one’s mind up to what, and why, they truly believe concerning the nature of the Godhead. As before, all previous preface notes apply. Any Scripture used, if any, will be taken from the NRSV.

Populist Christianity, Part 4

Classical Theism, True or False?

What does Classical Theism have to do with modern Christianity? Everything… Most devotees of Christianity, even some pastors, avoid the discussion on Theism. Why is this? Is it because with Classical Theism certain logical conclusions must be reached, or is that in truth, Classical Theism has failed. So, since I have posed to questions, what does Classical Theism (from now on CT) have to say about God.

1. God is One
2. God is a creator (and The Creator)
3. God is Omnipotent
4. God is Omniscient
5. God is Omnibenevolent
6. God is Omnipresent
7. God is Ultimate and Absolute
8. God is Impassable and Immutable
9. God is Ultimately necessary

First, my personal believe is that God transcends space and time, as well as human reason and understanding. To say this, completely negates the previous nine statements the CT claims are attributes of God, but even so, it does allow for some to be affirmed through Scripture. The problem arises when one tries to affirm all nine with Scripture, and when does, that person discovers that not all of what the Classical Theist believes can be found or based upon Scripture, at least through human reason and understanding. Now saying all of that, I will grant that these nine “articles” are not the only articles or statements related to CT, but to me, these are the basic core principles related to, and concerning CT.

To the ones that can be affirmed through Scripture:
1. God is One
2. God is a creator (and The Creator)
3. God is Omnipotent
4. God is Omniscient

– Knowing all possibilities
6. God is Omnipresent
7. God is Ultimate and Absolute
9. God is Ultimately necessary

Now, obviously the ones left out are the ones I would say cannot be logically understood, or completely agree with the Scriptures.

5. God is Omnibenevolent
8. God is Impassable and Immutable

Now, this will probably get me in trouble, but here is my “reasoning”

First, Omnibenevolent, or “All-good.” The first problem with this is the fact that one is attributing a quality to God that one cannot fully understand himself, nor exists outside of the mindset of human reason. Good and evil, for a Jew, Christian, or Muslim, only exists, at least in the mind of man, due to sin. Therefore, it seems even more unreasonable to attribute a concept to God that man only knows because of sin. Granted, Scripture states that, first by the serpent, and then by God Himself, that “man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:22a), but what truly is that knowledge. Also, if God, being the Creator, and being All-powerful, knows both “good and evil,” does that necessarily attribute one, or even both qualities to the Godhead? I would argue that the “knowledge” of good and evil would be attributed to aspects of creation, and therefore not able to transfer to the Godhead, since God is not created, or creatable, therefore God can neither be all-good, or even all-evil, or even “half-and-half.” Mankind is created in the image of God, but did not have the knowledge of God, and even with the “eating from the tree,” still did not have the full knowledge of God, man only gained the knowledge of good and evil, and this, not because God choose to give it to him, but because man choose to rebel against the commandment of God, and sin.

Secondly, with the knowledge of “good and evil,” man therefore knows the difference between “right and wrong,” or more correctly, the difference between the Will of God and the Will of Man, or rather, in Adam’s case, the will of the serpent. Throughout the scriptures, men die, men kill, whole peoples are destroyed, and so forth and so on, many times by the commandment of God Himself. The “moral” man of the modern world would argue that this proves that God is not All-good. I would agree, but for different reasoning. God cannot be described as all-good in our understanding, and as before, the term good ro evil cannot even reasonably be applied to God, but, God functions in His Will, and therefore even further transcends the nature of good or evil.

My conclusion on the benevolence of God then reaches my only conclusion. To attribute the term “good” to God, though nonsensical in trying to describe the “attributes” of God, does make sense in the matter of devotion. For if man desires to completely follow the Will of God, and as long as one does so, no matter what happens, it is good, for it is the Will of God. Yet, as humans, in our one reasoning, one would never conclude that a massacre, or a fire, or a hurricane, or anything else one would say is “evil,” could be “good,” if it falls inside the Will of God, then the “goodness” of the action transcends human understanding, and therefore is good to God, no matter the consequences in the realm of human understanding. Therefore, in a twisted form of nature, based upon the ultimate Will of God, one can claim that God is Omnibenevolent, yet one cannot base it soley on human understanding and reasoning.

Lastly, God is Impassible and Immutable. To say this, one would have to claim that God cannot change, nor can God feel remorse, or be sorry. This does not reconcile with the Old Testament. Amos 7 clearly shows God “relenting” and changing His decision to destroying Israel. Also, if God can not “change” or “feel” then there would be no need for God to create humans to worship Him, nor would there be any need to pray. For, if God already knew what He was going to do, and already knows what is going to happen, and God cannot “change,” or “relent,” then prayer, or even repentance would not be necessary, in fact, it would, at least to human reasoning, be fruitless and a waste of time.

I will grant, the Will of God remains the same – yesterday, today, and forever, and yet, the Scriptures allow for God to have compassion, have wrath, and even show His love for the world by sending His Son. If God cannot feel pain or anguish, then God would have never had wrath, for why would God be angry if He is incapable of feeling? Also, if God cannot feel pain, then the giving of the Son by the Father would have no significant sacrifice for the Father, for He would not be able to feel the loss of His Son.

The giving of Christ also brings another problem with the inability for God to change. For if God cannot change, then the Godhead did not become humanity, for humanity would have always been apart of the Godhead, therefore the Incarnation would have no true significance, for if Christ, as the Son of the Father, and apart of the Godhead, was always fully human, then humanity, in its purest sense, then one could claim the divinity of all humanity. Now granted, one can argue that since man was created in the image of God, i.e. the Godhead, then the human element would have been eternally existent, yet, if this is the case, why would Christ need to be born, if he was already fully human.

If God cannot change, or feel, why would God care? Even further, why would God even create? What would be the point? Why would God even need Will? Why would God desire to be worshipped – for if He cannot change, nor feel, then what would be the point? Personally, for me, I’d rather serve a God with the ability to change and feel, then serve one who cannot. Granted, the “changing” or the “feeling” that God experiences may not be able to be described by human logic or reason, but based upon Scripture, I believe it is safe to assume and believe that God has the ability.

My final argument for God having the ability to change, is, if He cannot, then He is not All-powerful. Man is certainly not all-powerful, yet, man can change – man can feel sorry, repent, feel love, feel joy, and so forth and so on, so, for God to be All-powerful, he must have the ability to change, for if He does not, and He is bound by not being able to change, then God is not All-powerful. Again, The Will of God is a constant, but as mentioned before, what is that Will? That Will is the desire for all of mankind to be saved and to experience the Presence of God – to live in that presence. Again, this argument debunks predestination, and therefore gives God the attribute of being All-powerful, and the ability to change.

JZ Holloway

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