Systemizing Reality

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It has come to my attention that I have developed an interest in analyzing the “systems” present in many different facets of life.  While It would follow that many things in life do have an absolute design and structure, the pursuit of exhaustive comprehension of a subject reveal other serious questions — such as whether we are capable Continue reading

Scientific Theological Terminology

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There is a recognized language of science.  Empirically discoverable components are: Hypothesis, Theory, and Law.  These have a inductive or deductive order that they follow to a more concrete conclusion.  This process takes unassuming and objective approach to the discovery how things work in our universe.  While technically science is limited to empirical discoveries, science has methods that are applicable in other disciplines that may contribute to more clarity on a matter.  Theology has a likewise similar analogical tradition: Doctrine, Theology, and Law.

Just as an interpreted component of the universe is conceived as explanatory in the science fields, theological/biblical interpretation likewise moves from tentative local doctrines, to a highly scrutinized theological framework.  If, and only if, the framework appears to remain in all possible scenarios, science would classify such as thing as a law — a universal truth of the physical universe.  However, theology is dealing with much of a different type of experimental analytical process.  Theology approaches the development of doctrines through one of several types of filters, which not every theologian agrees on.

Some theologians acknowledge Scripture alone to bear authoritative capacity on the forming of doctrinal hypotheses, however, even with an exclusively Biblical hermeneutic, several factors contribute to how doctrines are arrived at.  Once doctrines are determined, they usually augment greater theological corners that have stood the test of time in theological tradition.  Consider the tenants of Protestant Calvinism, Arminianism, or Catholicism.  Even these clearly delineated theological corners are rooted in prior interpretive development through the careful study and prayerful consideration of theologians who have come before.  Several of these theological frameworks overlap in many areas, and some lack coverage that others may hold.  At the third level, theologians are, like philosophers, interested in arriving at the absolute truth.  Truth has been called the correct description of reality.  This is an undisputed goal of every theologian, as all acknowledge there was one things were done.

However, the nature of human reason limited the true arrival at truth.  Epistemological confidence is an evasive mist.  Different theological systems are the best conclusions we have in the field of theology.  Furthermore, God is said by many to exist outside of our frame of reference, potentially existing in spectrums that we are unable to perceive of.   Scientific methods are very limited in comprehending a being who exists outside of a physical existence, or simultaneously in physical spirituals realms.  Science have been able to speculate based on the microscopic discoveries of molecules, atoms, quantum physics theories, but these are indirectly observed, since man has to use tools that were developed with the assumption that what is being observed is the correct way to observe/interact with it.

Systematic theology has a very appealing status for modernists, as it leads to conclusions that are beyond theological models of interpretation, they intend to define who God is and how He works.  The difficulty with this is that the Bible reveals a story rather then a theological dissertation.  God didn’t ever what man to understand the laws that He created the universe with; He wanted us to interact in loving intimate relationship well.  The bible is full of stories where God is a character interacting with man.  This statement is, of course, biased.  There truly is no such thing as genuine objectivity, leading to a tentative conclusion that our attempts at reaching a clearly defined and exact law of the universe is not appropriate, nor really a primary goal God had intended for mankind.

Insipriational Source:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/dana/dox/scientific_method.html

 

When the dog bites, When the bee stings…

When_the_bee_stings_banner.png“Life’s just tough” someone says. “It’s the way things are.”, or here’s my favorite one “It’s always been this way. So I find what looks like a roach in the cupboard one evening, but when I reach for it, “ouch!” It was a bee. I couldn’t believe it (partly because it February 1st at the time of this writing), and second, why in the cupboard?! So as I study theology, I get this returning nag of a feeling that something isn’t right here… Did God create this creatures to cause pain? To devour their prey, to lay eggs inside of the still-living corpses of caterpillars?1 What about sin, death, agony? I have left out a lot (not necessarily on purpose, but it is still a good show of proportional contrast). There is a lot of ugly things in our universe, and it was not always so (Gen. 1:31a, Rom. 5:12, 6:23). What did it look like before, and what changed? In chapter 3 of Genesis, there is a conversation that takes place – and it isn’t between God and man, or man and women. It is between the women and a serpent:

 

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”  The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

 Genesis 3:1-7 (NASB)

 

Was the sin in the grasping of fruit? Was the sin in biting into an apple? What about the fact that Eve was talking to a serpent?! Now the Earth was still a new place, but I have a hunch that this would’ve still seemed a bit out of place for her. As a result, God put a curse (as a result of sin I suspect – their fault for God issuing said curse) on, in sequential order, the serpent, Eve, and then Adam. Notice though, the curse given to Adam:

 

Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”

 (Genesis 3:17c-19 NASB)

 

Several points can be drawn from this. 1) The ground has now been cursed, 2) Though he was made from dust, it is only now dust is now the place he will return – this curse of “dust to dust” is in direct response to his particular involvement of the sin done here (and further thought, what if the other curses were given, but not the last?) Now what may have been missed is the first curse though. The curse given to the serpent, who represented the animal kingdom here, yes? (Gen. 3:1):

 

“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field…”

 (Genesis 3:14b)

 

Did you catch it? The animal kingdom (and the other kingdoms under man I presume) took the hit. So now they are following the Gen. 9:6 rule, or “self-preservation”. When trust is compromised, God allowed all creation to enter into a self-preservation mode. They could no longer trust mankind to take care of them without reservation. The Dominion mandate could still be carried out (Gen. 1:28; 2:19-20).

 

Creation groans (Rom. 8:22). But consider further what must have needed to take place, since Genesis records that Adam lived to be 930 years (Gen. 5:5)! So something changed after this point, even though death now limited our time on earth. It was the flood God sent (as a result of a nearly *perfect evil in all but one man (Gen 6:8).  God would now restrict normal human life to 120 years (Gen. 6:3) Notice also, the present of angels (Gen. 6:2), just as in the garden. It is important to consider that the influence of sin was already present in the garden. The very first sin in creation is recorded in Ezekiel 28:12b-19, but in particular:

 

“You were the anointed cherub who covers,
And I placed you there.
You were on the Holy mountain of God…
By the abundance of your trade, your were internally filled with violence,
And you sinned; therefore I cast you as profane from the mountain of God.”

 (Ezekiel 28:14, 16a NASB)

 

Lucifer, once a beautiful cherub on God’s holy mountain,

Committed the treacherous first sin of pride – in the very presence of God.

 

Sin has been with us for *almost* the dawn of creation. It was there in the garden, when Eve took the bite from the apple right? Well, technically, it was the intention in her mind to forego the loving instructions of the Father God. Sin is, as some would define it, an intention of the heart. And sin produces death, but this was not in the heart of God, and continues to be His mission to remove sin from existence (Rev. 21:4). So, while sin and death are presently an inevitable reality, don’t presuppose it defines reality.  Your worldview hangs in the balance.  It wasn’t something God planned in order to save us from it with more death in some brutal way, meticulously orchestrating it into His own justice system so we can escape with a cool memory of “life from scars”. This is a deception mentality that reaches as far back as the garden, and the words of the serpent:

 

…you will be like God, knowing both good and evil…”

 (Genesis 3:5b)

 

God meant us to grow upwards in intimacy, not downwards in order to double back upwards. He has been calling us to remember that life ever since that day….

References:

 

 

 

1 Absurd Creature of the Week

Know What You Believe

“I had a desire to articulate a mentality I have of modern evangelical Christianity.  Being the nature of a blog such as this, the content of this post are opinions, and to be considered as such.”

There is a lot of Christians today that look for churches that “preach the word of God”.  This is so ambiguous that it simply can mean many things or nothing at all…  The Word of God, first off, is both a associated with the Judeo-Christian scriptures, and the Spirit of God.  But we also know that Jesus is called “The Word” on more than one occasion (John 1).  It is also clear, after any amount of time studying the Bible, that the translations from the original languages into their modern, English (or other) language(s) lends to the reality that God’s Word can be taken both literally, and figuratively, and can be taken to lesser-or-greater extend in many areas.  In fact, many areas are well understood as poetic in nature (Psalms), and often the prophets spoke it was is often considered symbolic language.

Interpretations

But aside from the different obviously-external genres of Judeo-Christian Scripture, there are grammatical differences in translation that offer varying insights into the translation of the message of Scripture.  But wait, there is also the word-for-word literal comprehension of Scripture, or message-based comprehension of Scripture.  It has often been considered wise to have a balance of both literal and messaged based comprehension of Scripture.  Since the written word of God is so open to interpretation, it is prudent to lean on what has been widely-accepted as correct by theologians of antiquity.  Doctrines held by Augustine, Clement, Origin, Calvin, Arminius, and John Wesley.  But since their words are not divinely inspired by God, they are to be only considered as supplementary to Scripture.

Knowing the Voices

Of course there is always the voice of the Holy Spirit.  It is His voice that speaks now in tune with what we have in divinely-inspired written form.  But this is very much personal revelation, and a universal theology cannot be considered by the individual revelation.  It is also important to consider the history, and personality making theological claims about God or interpretations about His written (or spoken) word.  Psychological, mental, emotional, or physical factors play into the interpretation of one of history’s oldest and most-highly critiqued books.

Setting Presuppositions

The task of arriving at a presupposition on any one topic on Scripture is something that doesn’t happen lightly.  Often, it happens when the individual is still young.  Often, theology is taught in Sunday school, church services, or Sunday morning sermons.  Without individual study and research, the persuasiveness of the speaker or curriculum can set an early precedent in the hearer which can be further hardened and indoctrinated as time passes.  And later scholarship can be biased to interpret certain passages based on one particular perception of God.  This is quite troubling.  Good well-meaning people are led to believe things about God or the Judeo-Christian scriptures that are often more akin to oral tradition then they are of actual divinely-inspired content.

Collections by Men

In fact, truth be told, the Judeo-Christian cannon we know so well today was actually the decided-on-and-accepted decisions of men in councils in progressive measure.  They arrived at the eventual 27 books of the New Testament and the 39 books of the New Testament later at about 397 in the Council of Hippo in Carthage North Africa.  One difficulty with accepting Scriptures is the fraternization of men in recognizing them as authoritative.  It helps to acknowledge that the recognize Scriptures were already considered divinely inspired by God, and they will simply adopted into an officially recognized volume of books (Biblical canon).  Clearly, recognizing the fact that men collected and organized the works is reason enough to look at the history of the church in order to understand the “hands-off” status of creating the original content from pure imagination.

Having said this, some content in the New Testament is actually historical in nature, and other content is meant as encouragement.  While historical accounts can be corroborated with archeological and contemporary historical accounts of parallel events, symbolic and admonishing words leave much open to interpretation.

Individual Scholarship

The objective student of God, Jewish/Christian religion, church history, or Judeo-Christian Scriptures needs to consider the peripherals surrounding the subject they are specializing in.  And if every Christian needs to go to the Scriptures to see if these things are true (Acts 17:11), then they need to look at the context of where Scripture comes from, the culture it came out of, the oral traditions that have been perpetuated by early readings and understandings of Scripture, and then come to their own conclusions.  Finally, God is still active today, rather than the deistic perspective, which says that God started things in motion and has not involvement in the affairs of men. So our relationship and experience with God affords us some personal conclusions about who God is, and what His written and spoken word is, as well as how it applies…  Know what you believe, and why you believe it.