Re: God the interactor (was God the tinkerer)

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Mon Aug 29 2005 - 17:47:47 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "D. F. Siemens, Jr." <>
To: <>
Cc: <>; <>
Sent: Monday, August 29, 2005 2:36 PM
Subject: Re: God the interactor (was God the tinkerer)

> On Sun, 28 Aug 2005 22:22:15 -0400 "George Murphy" <>
> writes:
>> I've been quite busy for the past week & have just glanced at the
>> posts in
>> this thread & its predecessors. But it seems to me that most of the
>> discussion has badly missed the point because it has failed to take
>> the
>> Incarnation seriously enough. God has become a participant in the
>> history
>> of the universe & therefore in its temporality. It isn't possible
>> to wall
>> this off as involving "only" the Son: He is /homoousoious/, "one in
>> being,"
>> with the Father. That God can "interact" with time-bound creatures
>> is is a
>> basic aspect of the Christian faith, obscured only because people
>> insist on
>> retrofitting it to /a priori/ philosophical notions about God.
>> Shalom
>> George
> I was wondering when we'd hear from you. It looks to me as though you
> are viewing the incarnation from the human viewpoint. God didn't scratch
> his head when Adam fell and figure that he'd have to become the redeemer.
> He didn't wait until you were conceived, or born, or baptized, or reached
> the age of accountability, to determine that you were one of the
> redeemed. It's common to say that foreknowledge and predestination were
> settled in "eternity past." But there is no past, present or future in
> God's eternity, for it is of a single piece. His eternity differs from
> ours, which is endless time, whereas his is timeless. Mixing eternities
> leads to confusion.

1st, it would be nice if you would provide the scriptural references that
define God's eternity in contrast to ours.

Then although election took place "before the foundation of the world"
(Eph.1:4), God became incarnate in our world circa 4 B.C. Of course that is
said "from a human viewpoint or not" but incarnation in the fullest sense
means precisely that the 2d Person of the Trinity became a participant in
human history and can be viewed "from a human viewpoint" just the way Joe
Schmoe can be. & when he died on the cross circa A.D. 30 it was an
historical event that affected God.
The assumptions that God is utterly timeless, immutable in all ways and
totally impassible are mere philosophical assumptions which clash with the
biblical picture of God. Of course there are a few verses like Mal.3:6 &
Jas.1:17 that speak of God not changing but it's the height of arbitrariness
to insist that these must be understood in the broadest & most literal
fashion while all the texts that speak of God loving, hating, repenting &c
can be treated figuratively. Of course there are ways in which God does not
change - God's fundamental character & faithfulness - & the few verses that
speak of God as unchanging can be understood in this sense. But the source
of belief in God's utterly immutability is Greek philosophy, not Mal.3:6 &
Jas 1:17.

> I see a similar problem in the discussion of God's transcendence and
> immanence. The latter is usually viewed as his presence in time, whereas
> I believe that it should be seen as there being no time outside of his
> purview, support, control, providence, or whatever other term
> characterizes the relationship. The normal view involves a restriction on
> God; the latter, on creation. The matter is too subtle to be relevant to
> our prayers, but philosophical analysis makes much of minutiae.
> As to /homoousoious/, are you suggesting that the Father became
> incarnate? This could skirt the patripassian heresy. Any discussion
> involving the Trinity will probably provide statements that mislead.
> Ultimately we are dependent on revelation, but finite human beings
> interpret it.

My reason for mentioning the homoousion is that if God really did experience
death on the cross, if Isaac Watts got it right when he wrote

    Forbid it Lord, that I should boast
    Save in the death of Christ my God,

then the 2d Person of the Trinity - is capable of suffering & contact with
perishability. & since the Son is homoousious with the Father & Spirit, the
divine /ousia/ must be capable of such suffering & contact. (Of course
part of our problem is the need to make some contact with the language of
substantialist metaphysics in which these doctrines have been expressed.)
This is not "patripassianism" in the traditional sense, for the Father (&
Spirit) were not crucified. It is better described as "deipassianism," &
not only with reference to the cross. Having said that, I think it is
correct to say (with Moltmann, Juengel & others) that the Father suffered
the loss of the Son in the event of the cross.

We are indeed ultimately dependent upon revelation in such matters & should
stick to it & not let ourselves be deflected by our common sense ideas of
what God must be like.

Received on Mon Aug 29 17:51:06 2005

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