I Have Started a Theology Thread

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Post by coco » Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:34 am

Thunktank wrote:
dasmokeryaget wrote:
coco wrote:
Del wrote:
coco wrote:What do you think of this:
Between what the words of the Bible say, and what abides in the infinite mind of the Creator, there exists an ISOMORPHISM. This is a congruity of form such that what is knowable to us is MAPPABLE to the information that exists in perfection in the mind of God, where there is infinitely more to know and each idea is infinitely more complex than what the Creator has made known to us. As God knows all things, there are no categories, systems of truth, or separable ideas. All things merge into one complete yet personal awareness. Since we finite beings can only know truth in parts, and must relate those parts with one another merging them into manageable ideas, God has made himself known in such a manner to us.
I think this writer imagines that the Bible is a completeness of everything that God wants us to know. As much as God wants us to understand anything, it is found in the Bible.

I don't know why he thinks this, since Jesus made no such claim about the Bible, and the Bible makes such a claim about itself.

As to the bolded part: B-(as in B) and S-(as in S). God made the categories of things. Truth and false, beasts and rational creatures, material and spiritual. It is strained metaphysical gymnastics to imagine that the reality which God made for our understanding is not the reality which God made.

God made eggs with a shell, a white, and a yolk. And God can tell these apart just as well as we can. There is no need to scramble an egg in order to see the egg as God sees it. And there is no need to scramble one's brain to see the egg as God sees it!
Feel free to step in, Wos.
Please.
Well, what do you guys (coco and Das) think of that quote?

I have mixed thoughts on it. I certainly agree with Del in that the Bible cannot and is not intended to be the sole keeper of knowledge concerning the salvation of mankind. In fact, I believe that creation to include human philosophy can help us know the Word much like the written word can. Of course the Word itself who is Truth does require revelation and the Bible reveals a great deal of that. In fact, the Bible is the Chief Tradition that shares with us that revelation of the Word. In the hierarchy of all systems and categories, the Bible ranks them all. Of course, we must not place the Bible ahead of the Holy Trinity itself our our special relationship with it.

On the other hand, I completely agree with the idea, that in fact, God does not think in categories or systems of truth. That it is us men that are limited to such means and that we do in fact require revelation to know that which God means for us to know about Him and our salvation. So we need the Bible, we need systems of theology and philosophy, we need Holy Traditions, we need God's creation to help us know that we have a creator. And chiefly, we need the revelation of the Word who became flesh for us. God is so awesome, in many ways beyond our ability to understand. Thank God that He gave us His Word, his prophets, His Traditions and the Bible! It helps us a great deal to know what we need to know.
The quote itself says nothing about the Bible being the sole keeper of knowledge concerning salvation. Del is trying a little too hard to hop on a hobby horse.

I found the quote while I was looking for something else, and while I had CPS open, and so I decided to bug Morley with it. It was a spur of the moment thing.

The quote is attempting to explain the relationship between our words and mental categories and God's words and mental categories. Most of us here would readily say that the Bible contains God's revelation. Yet, explaining the relationship between his thoughts and the human language used in Scripture is rather difficult, not only for us, but also for theologians throughout the ages. (Simultaneously, the guy who wrote this is taking a position on the philosophical problem of the one and the many as well as a position on God's simplicity, which I will not attempt to discuss here.)

First, the author seems to want to affirm that God's thoughts are beyond our thoughts. What God knows we cannot know completely as God knows it.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Second, the author wants to avoid the notion that there is no real relationship between human language and God's thoughts. If this were the case, the Bible would not really be revelation in the way we normally think of revelation, for then be unable to truly learn about God from the Bible.

So far, I am with him. I would like to affirm that we cannot ultimately know God's thoughts with the completeness in which he knows them. Like the author, I would also like to affirm that what we know about him, we know truly. It is worth noting that many in Christian history would simply say that we can know nothing of God's thoughts as he knows them, and that's just the way it is. Both the Medieval Nominalists and today's Postmodern liberals would take this stance, each in their own way.

Third, the author wants to say that the relationship between our words/categories of thought and God's words/categories of thought can be compared to a mathematical isomorphic map. This is the point where I start to feel a lot less comfortable, having gone no farther than differential equations in college. I will offer following and then let Rusty and G-A correct me and add to what I have said as necessary:

The thoughts that we express in words may be mapped on a one-to-one basis with the structures of God's thoughts, though God's thoughts are infinite and indivisible.

link to first-order model theory


If all of this fails to bug Morley, I shall try adding salt to my celery.
Last edited by coco on Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Del » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:23 am

I am down with the simplicity of God. This is the category of understanding in which we see that Goodness, Truth, and Beauty are one and the same in the mind of God.

My problem with the quote that the modern reader is too quick to think, "Well, if it is all the same thing to God, then differences and discussions really don't matter to us. I can think whatever I want, and no one can tell me that I am wrong. Truth is relative."

It is much easier and simpler and more true to realize that God made the hierarchies and the categories. The degrees of truth and untruth, good and not-good, beautiful and not-beautiful -- really do exist, creations by God that help us to understand God.

Systems of thought can reveal truth, and that is why we use them.

As to his isomorphic mapping -- yes, that makes sense... but not in a useful sort of way. Sure, every reality that we perceive is a point of thought in the singular mind of God. Whatever.

I am sorry that the author thinks that the Bible contains all of God's revelation. He has discarded consideration of all that God has revealed about Himself in his creation.

In particular, he misses a point in the Bible itself: "God said, 'Let us make Man in our image and likeness.'" Thus, the human mind and the human body are revelations of God about Himself.

Pope John Paul II offered numerous reflections on human nature and what our bodies tell us about God. This work is collectively called The Theology of the Body, and institutes are devoted to the study of this.

We love Scripture -- but squinting at Scripture Alone is a denial of so much that God has given to us.
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Post by coco » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:35 am

Del wrote:I am sorry that the author thinks that the Bible contains all of God's revelation. He has discarded consideration of all that God has revealed about Himself in his creation.

In particular, he misses a point in the Bible itself: "God said, 'Let us make Man in our image and likeness.'" Thus, the human mind and the human body are revelations of God about Himself...

We love Scripture -- but squinting at Scripture Alone is a denial of so much that God has given to us.
- He is not saying anything at all about Sola Scriptura here. That's not what the quote is about.

- People who do believe in Sola Scriptura do not say that the Bible contains all of God's revelation. They make a distinction between general and special revelation, and say that the Bible contains all of special revelation available to us in this age.
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Post by coco » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:38 am

Del wrote:...My problem with the quote that the modern reader is too quick to think, "Well, if it is all the same thing to God, then differences and discussions really don't matter to us. I can think whatever I want, and no one can tell me that I am wrong. Truth is relative."
Just in case anyone is wondering, this is most certainly not what author of the quote is saying... though it might describe some Postmodern liberal scholars.
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Post by infidel » Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:04 am

I'm with Del on the simplicity thing. People are quick to say that God's X is infinitely more complex than our X (for any value of X), and I can understand why they say this, but it seems to me like it's the exact opposite of what must be, in sort of a Zen way.
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Post by coco » Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:10 am

infidel wrote:I'm with Del on the simplicity thing. People are quick to say that God's X is infinitely more complex than our X (for any value of X), and I can understand why they say this, but it seems to me like it's the exact opposite of what must be, in sort of a Zen way.
So, in what way are our thoughts like God's thoughts? (Presuming of course, that you believe there is some resemblance)
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Post by infidel » Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:41 am

coco wrote:
infidel wrote:I'm with Del on the simplicity thing. People are quick to say that God's X is infinitely more complex than our X (for any value of X), and I can understand why they say this, but it seems to me like it's the exact opposite of what must be, in sort of a Zen way.
So, in what way are our thoughts like God's thoughts? (Presuming of course, that you believe there is some resemblance)
I don't know if there's a resemblance or not. I don't think that our thoughts are just simpler shadows of God's thoughts. And I'm not sure that God "thinks" in any that we understand the word. That sounds a lot like what Rusty has said God should be like. It kind of implies some some infinitely complex "mind" and that just doesn't sound right to me.

Isn't it when we stop thinking that we can hear the still small voice?
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Post by coco » Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:44 am

infidel wrote:
coco wrote:
infidel wrote:I'm with Del on the simplicity thing. People are quick to say that God's X is infinitely more complex than our X (for any value of X), and I can understand why they say this, but it seems to me like it's the exact opposite of what must be, in sort of a Zen way.
So, in what way are our thoughts like God's thoughts? (Presuming of course, that you believe there is some resemblance)
I don't know if there's a resemblance or not. I don't think that our thoughts are just simpler shadows of God's thoughts. And I'm not sure that God "thinks" in any that we understand the word. That sounds a lot like what Rusty has said God should be like. It kind of implies some some infinitely complex "mind" and that just doesn't sound right to me.

Isn't it when we stop thinking that we can hear the still small voice?
That would most definitely be Zen Buddhism.
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Post by Thunktank » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:18 am

Del wrote:I am down with the simplicity of God. This is the category of understanding in which we see that Goodness, Truth, and Beauty are one and the same in the mind of God.

My problem with the quote that the modern reader is too quick to think, "Well, if it is all the same thing to God, then differences and discussions really don't matter to us. I can think whatever I want, and no one can tell me that I am wrong. Truth is relative."

It is much easier and simpler and more true to realize that God made the hierarchies and the categories. The degrees of truth and untruth, good and not-good, beautiful and not-beautiful -- really do exist, creations by God that help us to understand God.
"[Paul] knows [God] in part. But he says, ‘in part,’ not because he knows God’s essence while something else of his essence he does not know; for God is simple. Rather, he says ‘in part’ because he knows that God exists, but what God is in his essence he does not know" (Against the Anomoians 1:5 [A.D. 386]). St. John Crysostom

I'm more concerned about God's essence/energies distinctions in the minds of other Christians. I believe most Christians do believe that God is "simple." But I do wonder if Christians find God to be totally comprehensible in nature, such as, is His nature pure energy. :wink:

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Post by coco » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:29 am

Thunktank wrote:
Del wrote:I am down with the simplicity of God. This is the category of understanding in which we see that Goodness, Truth, and Beauty are one and the same in the mind of God.

My problem with the quote that the modern reader is too quick to think, "Well, if it is all the same thing to God, then differences and discussions really don't matter to us. I can think whatever I want, and no one can tell me that I am wrong. Truth is relative."

It is much easier and simpler and more true to realize that God made the hierarchies and the categories. The degrees of truth and untruth, good and not-good, beautiful and not-beautiful -- really do exist, creations by God that help us to understand God.
"[Paul] knows [God] in part. But he says, ‘in part,’ not because he knows God’s essence while something else of his essence he does not know; for God is simple. Rather, he says ‘in part’ because he knows that God exists, but what God is in his essence he does not know" (Against the Anomoians 1:5 [A.D. 386]). St. John Crysostom

I'm more concerned about God's essence/energies distinctions in the minds of other Christians. I believe most Christians do believe that God is "simple." But I do wonder if Christians find God to be totally comprehensible in nature, such as, is His nature pure energy. :wink:
I can't think of any Christians that would say God is fully comprehensible.
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Post by Thunktank » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:40 am

coco wrote:
Thunktank wrote:
Del wrote:I am down with the simplicity of God. This is the category of understanding in which we see that Goodness, Truth, and Beauty are one and the same in the mind of God.

My problem with the quote that the modern reader is too quick to think, "Well, if it is all the same thing to God, then differences and discussions really don't matter to us. I can think whatever I want, and no one can tell me that I am wrong. Truth is relative."

It is much easier and simpler and more true to realize that God made the hierarchies and the categories. The degrees of truth and untruth, good and not-good, beautiful and not-beautiful -- really do exist, creations by God that help us to understand God.
"[Paul] knows [God] in part. But he says, ‘in part,’ not because he knows God’s essence while something else of his essence he does not know; for God is simple. Rather, he says ‘in part’ because he knows that God exists, but what God is in his essence he does not know" (Against the Anomoians 1:5 [A.D. 386]). St. John Crysostom

I'm more concerned about God's essence/energies distinctions in the minds of other Christians. I believe most Christians do believe that God is "simple." But I do wonder if Christians find God to be totally comprehensible in nature, such as, is His nature pure energy. :wink:
I can't think of any Christians that would say God is fully comprehensible.
That's why I specified "in nature." Or in form/make up or attributes of being.

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Post by mont974x4 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:42 am

The Bible says God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3). Does that mean it contains all there is to know about God? No. It means it contains all things we need in order to be saved and live in a manner worthy of our calling as His children.

That means that questions remain, and its OK. For example, it does not tell us why people would put salt on celery. Since this has no impact on any aspect of our salvation or sanctification it is OK to not have an answer.
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Re: I Have Started a Theology Thread

Post by AFRS » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:43 am

A_Morley wrote:It appears that I have never done so before and since it appears that one has to be neither sane nor sober to do so I decided to get in on the action.

Any questions?
Yes:
Are you sane?
Are you sober?

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Post by coco » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:58 pm

Thunktank wrote:
coco wrote:
Thunktank wrote:
Del wrote:I am down with the simplicity of God. This is the category of understanding in which we see that Goodness, Truth, and Beauty are one and the same in the mind of God.

My problem with the quote that the modern reader is too quick to think, "Well, if it is all the same thing to God, then differences and discussions really don't matter to us. I can think whatever I want, and no one can tell me that I am wrong. Truth is relative."

It is much easier and simpler and more true to realize that God made the hierarchies and the categories. The degrees of truth and untruth, good and not-good, beautiful and not-beautiful -- really do exist, creations by God that help us to understand God.
"[Paul] knows [God] in part. But he says, ‘in part,’ not because he knows God’s essence while something else of his essence he does not know; for God is simple. Rather, he says ‘in part’ because he knows that God exists, but what God is in his essence he does not know" (Against the Anomoians 1:5 [A.D. 386]). St. John Crysostom

I'm more concerned about God's essence/energies distinctions in the minds of other Christians. I believe most Christians do believe that God is "simple." But I do wonder if Christians find God to be totally comprehensible in nature, such as, is His nature pure energy. :wink:
I can't think of any Christians that would say God is fully comprehensible.
That's why I specified "in nature." Or in form/make up or attributes of being.
I can't think of any Christians that would say God's nature or attributes are fully comprehensible. Indeed, that's part of what the original quote is all about.

Let's think about God's attributes for a moment. Some of God's attributes we might call "communicable attributes," since they resemble ours in some way. God's love is not entirely different than our love. Yet, even a moments reflection should reveal that there are, nonetheless, some important differences between his love and ours. His is full and complete, whereas ours is depressingly finite.

So, in calling God's "communicable attributes" communicable, we have to add a qualifier: God's attributes are, in some ways, quite different than our own, and these differences are not fully comprehensible to us.

A similar situation exits with God's so-called "incommunicable attributes." God is infinite, which is quite different than us. Not only are we not infinite, we have never seen anything that is with our eyes. God's incommunicable attributes are the ways in which he is way different than we are, to which we quote the great theologian Jocose, "I can't relate™."

Yet, as with the communicable attributes, that isn't the whole story. Everyone, from the tribal Hewa to honored academics like Rusty and G-A, know perfectly well what infinity is. Odd, since they have never seen nor experience infinity. There is a sense in which God's infinity is known to us (by general revelation; Rom. 1:18-21) , as incommunicable as it may seem at first glance.

So, in all of this there is a difficulty. It is hard to explain how we can know God and speak truly about him. Given that human love is different than his, does the human concept of love really do any justice to God's love? Given that human mercy is different than God's mercy, can we say that our words and notions about mercy have any resemblance at all to God's concept of mercy? Some theologians, like the aforementioned Nominalists and Postmodern liberals, have cut the Gordian knot and said, "no." For those of us who would like to say that the knowledge that God has given us concerning himself is true knowledge, albeit analogous in some way, the path is more difficult.

The author I quoted way back when correctly identifies the nature of the difficulty, I think: Where lies the continuity between human words about God and God himself? Whether or not his answer (isomorphic mapping) is a good answer, I am not willing to say.


****

Wrapped up in this is the question of God's simplicity. When a theologian refers to God's simplicity, he is not saying God is simple. That would be silly.

Rather, when a theologian says God is "simple," that theologian is saying that God is not made up of parts. Coco and Thunk are made up of parts, body and soul... and divisions of our human bodies can be made as well: head, heart, hands, etc. God isn't like that. He is perfectly one in essence or being, and his attributes are not qualities added to his being (He is not the God who conforms to the external standard of love and mercy, etc.) but rather his attributes are him, God is love (1 John 4:9; see also John 5:26; 1:9; 14:26; I Cor 1:30; Jer 23:6).

This is where things get more confusing: God is love, justice, mercy, omnipotence, and all that, but the distinctions between these attributes are human divisions into parts that should not be taken to infringe on God's oneness. In God, all of these attributes are one.

God's simplicity is, as you probably already suspect, related to the difficulty noted above: When we talk about love, justice, mercy, omnipotence, and all that, what are we really talking about, given that these attributes look suspiciously like parts we divide God into as we think of him, or pieces that we have added onto his being?
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Re: I Have Started a Theology Thread

Post by Skip » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:03 pm

A_Morley wrote:It appears that I have never done so before and since it appears that one has to be neither sane nor sober to do so I decided to get in on the action.

Any questions?
See what you've started?

Well done.
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Re: I Have Started a Theology Thread

Post by coco » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:06 pm

Skip wrote:
A_Morley wrote:It appears that I have never done so before and since it appears that one has to be neither sane nor sober to do so I decided to get in on the action.

Any questions?
See what you've started?

Well done.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you... Morley's navel!

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Post by UncleBob » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:09 pm

coco wrote:Wrapped up in this is the question of God's simplicity. When a theologian refers to God's simplicity, he is not saying God is simple. That would be silly.
Wait a New York minute, here. Are you sayin' that God rides the short bus to school?
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Post by Del » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:17 pm

coco wrote:
infidel wrote:I'm with Del on the simplicity thing. People are quick to say that God's X is infinitely more complex than our X (for any value of X), and I can understand why they say this, but it seems to me like it's the exact opposite of what must be, in sort of a Zen way.
So, in what way are our thoughts like God's thoughts? (Presuming of course, that you believe there is some resemblance)
Whenever we look at a thing and say, "What is God's plan for this thing?" Then we are thinking with the mind of God.

We often look a thing and think, "How can I exploit this to my advantage?" This not God's thought.

Martyrdom is an example. We think of death and agony as something evil to avoid. The ancient martyrs understood that their deaths would give glory to God and bring Christ's Kingdom to our culture. Modern martyrs are still fulfilling God's plan, as wasted and senseless as it seems to us.

Modern sexual disorder is another example. Christians should see that sex is part of the marriage covenant, an act that unites the couple and participates with God in bringing forth new, immortal children. This is thinking with God.

There is almost no counting the ways in which modern culture abuses sex in defiance of God's plan.

The reason that God says (as recorded in Sacred Scripture) that "My ways are not your ways; My thoughts are not your thoughts" is to encourage us to think with the mind of God. God is NOT saying that we are unable to do so.
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Post by AFRS » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:28 pm

UncleBob wrote:Wait a New York minute, here.
So, how many angels can dance on the head of a New York minute?

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Post by Del » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:29 pm

AFRS wrote:
UncleBob wrote:Wait a New York minute, here.
So, how many angels can dance on the head of a New York minute?
Wait.... Do angels dance?
"Utter frogshit from start to finish." - Onyx

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." - Eph 4

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