Re: God's history (Was God the interactor)

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Sun Sep 04 2005 - 18:44:01 EDT

We begin the same place, with the authority of scripture on matters of
faith and practice. We also agree that the interpretation of the first
chapters of Genesis requires input from science. A majority of our
brethren in the United States disagree with the latter. There are other
matters of hermeneutic where we agree, others where we disagree. On this
general basis, you seem to have adopted the view that what is not
revealed in scripture is left open. What I have seen of dogmatic theology
is not always this restricted. And I am not speaking of liberal flights
of fancy which "rode madly off in all directions." The orthodox may
restrict themselves to Christian doctrine or New Testament theology, but
don't have to. For that matter, there are some dear souls who don't have
the wits to understand orthodoxy.

If you want to accept only what the scriptures say (hermeneutics
included, of course), that's OK. I am committed to combining the various
claims into a coherent whole. It is not a pastoral necessity, or even
benefit. But incoherence in any area is not beneficial, no matter how
popular it may be. I contend that there are contradictions in many
attempted descriptions of the deity and try to point them out. If there
is a mismatch between the biblical revelation, science and my attempt to
associate them, I've failed. But I don't see how a time-restricted deity
can claim, "Before Abraham was, I am," and the other claims about the
Word, etc.

On Sun, 4 Sep 2005 16:13:26 -0400 "George Murphy" <>
Comments in red below.

----- Original Message -----
From: D. F. Siemens, Jr.
Cc: ; ;
Sent: Sunday, September 04, 2005 12:28 AM
Subject: Re: God's history (Was God the interactor)

I contend that I take the implications of the Incarnation fully into
account in connection with God's involvement with the world. The
difference between us is that you take a single view, the terrestrial
one, and I insist that it is necessary philosophically to consider the
timeless and the temporal views. However, I see intimations of an
unacknowledged divine viewpoint lurking in the theology of the cross.

It is clear that God created the universe, which existed for some 13x10^9
years before human beings appeared on the earth--unless we're dealing
with a multiverse, in which case we have no time scale for an origin.
When did the Trinity recognize that human beings would need a Redeemer?
When did "they" understand the cost, the Incarnation and crucifixion?
When did the Godhead decide that I am glorified? When did God recognize
that the universe had to be sustained at 8:40 PM MST 3 September 2005?

Analyzing these questions so as not to spout nonsense requires
recognition that the human temporal view has to be distinguished from the
timeless view of the Almighty. Moses clearly looked forward to a
Redeemer, while we look back to Calvary. In contrast, God is the eternal
Redeemer, not involved in an afterthought when man turned up in his

"The timeless view of the Almighty" is not available to us. It might be
more accurate for you to say "The timeless view of humanly constructed
philosophical theism."
All we know of God is what God has chosen to reveal to us, which is to
say the history of Jesus - and that of Israel which leads to it - to
which scripture bears witness. Philosophy & science can be used to
understand revelation & its implications but they must play a subsidiary
role. In contrast, on this topic (I do not say in other matters of
theology) you are starting from philosophical assumptions about God's
timelessness &c & then trying to understand revelation in that context.

It is not at all my purpose to say that God created the world in the time
of our world or that God is limited by our time. I am only saying that
the Incarnation, if taken with full seriousness, means that God can allow
himself to be affected by our temporal existence and in fact has done so.
 We can then go on from there to talk about creation &c but in doing that
have to recognize that that is somewhat speculative & that we not have
information about it from "the timeless view of the Almighty."

Since human beings and their environment have to be redeemed where they
are, the Second Person emptied himself to be born in Bethlehem. One thing
this means is that he abandoned his glory, and his holiness was "toned
down." Recall that Isaiah, having a vision of the thrice holy God, cried
"Woe!" In contrast, wicked men did not hesitate to try to stone Jesus,
and finally scourged and crucified him. These things happened in time
according to the eternal will of the Father. This is history from the
human viewpoint. But if the Word WAS in the beginning, if the saints are
elect BEFORE the foundation of the kosmos, etc., there has to be a
different look as well. Our language is not suited to express this
difference. But philosophers have to try.
Granting all this for the sake of argument, it doesn't follow that God is
utterly changeless in all regards.

Is this surrendering to Greek thought and denying the Hebrew? Can't be.
It simply recognizes that a temporal deity cannot be the Creator; that a
Trinity in time does not have an eternal purpose, but one Person entering
time is the Redeemer. I can view the history of redemption in time, for
it unfolded in scripture. But I need a different, difficult viewpoint to
understand creation /cum/, not /in/.

I have no interest in defending the phrase "temporal deity." But the
Word who became flesh is the creator. That's where you have to start.

Just why must my image of the living God be based on my getting older all
the time? Why should I put the Creator /in tempore/? Only the Word became
flesh ?in tempore/.

& again, the Word who became flesh /in tempore/ (I assume your ? is a
typo for /) shares the divine nature. I'm sure this isn't what you mean
but it sounds as if you're arguing that the deity can be only 1/3

I'm not sure we're covering any new ground at this point.

Received on Sun Sep 4 18:50:41 2005

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