Re: Fw: Underlying assumptions

Richard A. Knopp (rknopp@prairienet.org)
Tue, 10 Dec 1996 14:52:48 -0800

Murphy wrote:
> SNIP
What I
> am arguing is that God has created a world which, _as much as possible_
> [comment on that in a moment] can be understood "from the inside" -
> i.e., by rational creatures on the basis of their observations and
> reason. I.e., the universe can be understood "though [or, if you
> prefer, "as if"] God were not given." This is a consequence of
> a. the goodness of creation ("functional integrity" &c), and
> b. God's willingness to have creatures able to understand the
> world without giving him credit for it - the divine kenosis.
> God is willing to be counted "unnecessary" - which is where
> the theology of the cross comes in.
> SNIP
> SHALOM,
> George

George et al:
I agree that God is "willing to be counted 'unnecessary'"--indeed many
count Him just as that. If some do, then clearly God is "willing" to allow it
(assuming He could, if He chose, to make it otherwise).
But I am interested in knowing, especially from those who take the
"functional integrity" approach, how does Paul's statement in Romans 1:18-32
fit in? It appears that Paul concedes that many will, in fact, regard God as
"unnecessary" (e.g. they do "not see fit to acknowledge God any longer" vs.
28).
But this condition does not at all appear to be one which Paul is
commending. Rather, Paul's response here is not to give a justification for
the cross, but to claim that somehow God IS recognizable in and through
creation. Those who can't (or more properly won't) acknoweledge his necessity
are charged with substituting for God, through human speculation, their own
explanations for what is in nature. Such people "suppress the truth" (vs. 18)
and have exchanged it for a "lie" (vs. 25); they are "futile" and "foolish"
(vs. 21-22); and they are given over by God to have "depraved" minds (vs. 28)
and to do all sorts of unrighteousness (vs. 29-31).
To be honest, I am more open to this functional integrity perspective
than I ever thought I would be, but this is one theological context that really
raises concerns. If I adopt a view of "functional intregrity" that ironically
offers me no "functional difference" between explaining the world
naturalistically and having to appeal to the creative hand of God, how can I
assure myself that my new perspective is not exchanging "the glory of the
incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and
four-footed animals and crawling creatures" (vs. 23)? If I think that it's
*acceptable* to explain the world "from the inside," how can I be confident
that I am not, in essence, giving "hearty approval" to those who do not honor
God as God because they fail to "see" Him in his created world (vs. 32,20-21)?
Though I certainly don't think Paul was intending to address our
specific questions over young earth creationism, progressive creationism, or
functional creationism, my theological antibodies are aroused when I consider
the possibility that one way to be "foolish" is by interpreting the evident
presence of God in such a way as to reduce it to speculations "from the inside"
which focus on birds, four-footed animals, and crawling creatures" (vs. 22-23).
I THINK I know what an advocate of functional intregrity would say
about Romans 1, but I want to HEAR it and be open to new insights. At this
point, however, it seems to me that the view of the ID progressive creationist
has a more plausible hermeneutic of Romans 1.

-- 
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Richard A. Knopp, M.Div., Ph.D.
Prof. of Philosophy & Christian Apologetics
Lincoln Christian College & Seminary
100 Campus View Drive
Lincoln, IL  62656

"If God didn't exist, He would want us not to believe in Him."

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