Monthly Archives: July 2011

God and Time

I ran across an interesting article by theologian Jack Cottrell: Understanding God: God and Time

The article speculates about God’s relation to time, and the nature and extent of his foreknowledge.  Is God timeless (outside of time)?  Or does God experience time in some sense (everlasting)?  Cottrell argues that God does experience time, but that he is metatemporal – God experiences his own time, and also created our time.

Relating to God’s foreknowledge of our universe, Cottrell argues for something that he calls the noetic “big bang”.  God foreknew what would happen in our universe when he decided to created it, but not before.

Just as the universe (supposedly) began at a single point of space and almost instantaneously exploded to form the massive universe we now observe, so did God’s foreknowledge of the entire history of the universe begin at a single point of time and then expand in a kind of noetic “big bang.” This noetic “big bang” or explosion of foreknowledge was an event in the life of God, an event that occupied “X” amount of time.   Before this event, God had no knowledge of this actual world; after this event he knows its entire history. Since the knowledge occurs prior to the actual creation of the world, it is true foreknowledge.

We should stress that what God foreknows is not the unfolding history of a self-contained universe, with God himself being just an observer of what created causal forces (e.g., free will) will bring about. Rather, this is the time when God makes his decisions and plans regarding his own intervention into the unfolding historical process, or else regarding his deliberate permission to allow the created causal forces to proceed unhindered. The history that unfolds in God’s mind is not just the world’s history; it is his own history too.

In this event of the noetic “big bang,” as God is determining when and how he will intervene in our history, in a sense he is thinking more new thoughts, i.e., making new decisions concerning his own actions. In another sense they are not really new, since from all eternity he has had a complete knowledge of all possible worlds and all possible contingencies, and has eternally known his own potential responses to whatever contingencies will ever arise. So during the “big bang” process God does not have to ponder or weigh possible.

So Cottrell largely agrees with the Open Theist – that God exists in time, but also with the Classical Theist – that God has exhaustive foreknowledge of the world he created.

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Filed under foreknowlege, Jack Cottrell

Stuff Liberal Christians Like (Satire)

The following is an attempt at humor about stuff liberal Christians (LCs) like. Sometimes I identify with the LC, so don’t take this too seriously.  And if it hits too close to home, here’s a post you might appreciate more: Stuff Young Calvinists Like.  Any similarities between the two lists are entirely coincidental. :)

Stuff Liberal Christians Like

Approved Media.  All LCs follow the Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and NPR.  In that order. Following approved media indicates that you are an original thinker.  The Daily Show receives the highest honors.  It is watched religiously by all LCs, although they would object to the term “religious”  as used in that context.    It is preferable to watch approved media on your laptop rather than live on TV.   Watching TV indicates an addiction to entertainment,  plus the money used for your cable subscription could have been better spent on something worthwhile like fair trade coffee or Obama 2012.  It is considered acceptable to listen to NPR live, as long as you read the Huffington Post at the same time.  LCs also enjoy Bill Maher, but this requires a qualification.  LCs strongly approve of Maher’s vulgarity and his misogynistic treatment of conservative women, however, his blanket hatred of anything remotely deistic is a minor cause for concern.  If  you replace “remotely deistic” with “fundamentalist”, this concern goes away.  LCs also believe that you are a victim of propaganda if you like Fox News, Drudge, or Glenn Beck.  Only the narrow minded listen to one side of the story.

Being Authentic.  LCs place an extremely high priority on being authentic.  You prove you are authentic by getting a tattoo, refusing to listen to contemporary Christian music, and by shopping at a co-op instead of Walmart.

Drinking Alcohol to Relax.  If an LC asks what you do to relax, the correct answer is: “I like to have a glass of wine, and watch the Colbert Report online.”   Make sure to point out that you’re only drinking one glass, and take care to correctly pronounce “Colbert” in French.   They will smile and tell you that they prefer to drink light beer,  listen to NPR, and read Bishop Spong.  When it comes to relaxation, the correct answer always involves alcohol and approved media.  Frequent references to alcohol help LCs prove that they have thrown off the legalism of their parents.  This rule isn’t applicable to Catholic LCs.

Cursing Like a Sailor.  All LCs curse.  Dropping the F-bomb is a great way to parade one’s spirituality.   Swearing is also used as a way of indicating one’s strong commitment to social justice issues.  Thus it is important to swear only in the correct context.  Here are some examples:

*BLEEP* They canceled the curb side recycling program! [Correct usage]

*BLEEP* My power bill has doubled since last year! [Incorrect usage]

Notice how the correct example addresses a social justice issue.  That’s because curb side recycling impacts the poor, but rising power rates do not.

Barack Obama. LCs love Barack Obama. This is because of the color of his skin, not the content of his character.  Of course, an LC will not admit this up front.   If you ask an LC for specifics about what he likes about Obama, he will give you a disdainful look.  If that doesn’t shut down the discussion, he will scream something about WMD’s and the evils of a theocracy.    If you point out that Obama started several new Middle Eastern wars, and is spending your kid’s money today, he will accuse you of being a racist.

Rob Bell.  LCs love Rob Bell.  They particularity appreciate that he writes at a 5th grade reading level, in pithy one sentence paragraphs.   LCs have read all of Bell’s books, and will often trot out this fact to impress you.  What they neglect to mention is that it took them all of 15 minutes to read everything Bell has ever written, and that they did this while simultaneously listening to NPR.  While LCs like Bell, they detest Mars Hill.  LCs believe that all mega churches are evil.  An exception cannot be made for Bell, even if he does wear cool glasses.  LCs also despise the other Mars Hill run by Mark Driscoll, for obvious reasons.  Driscoll is the worst kind of species – a fundamentalist complementarian who also drinks and curses.  This messes up all of the LCs’ meta-narratives.

Palestine.  The LCs position on Palestine is best understood by addressing an uncomfortable demographic fact.  Most LCs are white.  LCs experience a lot of self-hate over being part of a privileged group, and wish that they were a non-Jewish minority instead.    LCs are always looking for ways to appear sympathetic to the plight of minorities (posting Facebook statuses is an excellent way) while at the same time taking great care to do nothing that might risk their own privileged status.  The easiest and most non-threatening way to accomplish this goal is by placing the blame on Israel for the Palestinian conflict.  If Israel would submit to Muslim control, all violence in the Middle East would end, and the world would become a peaceful place.  LCs are also irritated that Israel even exists, because it’s an indication that God keeps his promises, and that all that end times crap just might be true.

The Word “Progressive”.  LCs hate to be called liberal.  The word conjures up images of overweight gray-haired white male politicians from Massachusetts.  LCs prefer to be called “progressive”.  Don’t confuse the two terms.  Liberals take money from the rich.  Progressives make sure that no one gets rich.

The NRSV.  The NRSV is the preferred Bible translation for LCs.  It uses gender neutral language, Calvinists hate it, and you can get it with the apocrypha.  LCs haven’t actually read the apocrypha, but it’s important for them to have a Bible that contains it, as it gives evidence of their ecumenical spirit.

Important disclaimer: I’m 1/64 Cherokee. It’s very important for LCs to be aware of that fact, as it gives me carte blanche to write posts like this. :)

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Filed under humor, satire

Letting the Dog Out and Compatibilism

This morning I slept in.  It was delightful.  Unfortunately while I was sleeping in, our dog Largo was following his nature.  He needed to be let outside so that he could take care of business.  But no one let him out.  So, he went into the corner of the basement and…well you can probably guess what he did.

So, the question arises, whose fault is it that Largo made a mess in the corner?  Was it his  fault?  Or was it my fault?  The compatibilist and libertarian answer this question differently.

The compatibilist says that free will lies in following one’s nature, thus it was Largo’s fault.   Largo  has been commanded to do his business outside.  Largo broke the command, and “chose” to relieve himself  in the basement instead.

The libertarian says that free will lies in having genuine choices, thus it was my fault.  Largo could not have done other than what he did.  He was not culpable for breaking my command because (without my assistance) he did not have the option to keep it.

Who do you think is right?  Was Largo’s mess his fault, or mine?


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Filed under Calvinism, free will

Why I’m a Methodist by Dr Timothy Tennant

Dr Timothy Tennant from Asbury Seminary is doing a series entitled “Why I am a Methodist and an Evangelical”.  Good stuff, be sure to check it out.

Intro
Prevenient Grace –  “salvation is impossible without a free and prior act of God on behalf of the sinner.”
Means of Grace – Remaining in faith and avoiding antinomianism.
Conversion – transformation
Sanctification – The importance of holiness in the life of the believer
Discipleship – “learning to echo the entire rhythms of the Christian life”
Missional Movement – “Actively serving the world”

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Filed under Holiness, sanctification, Wesleyanism

Come Home – by Heidi Jackson

A song by my daughter Heidi. There’s some pretty good Arminian theology in there.  :)

Verse 1
Look at your reflection on the wall
Look at your reflection in the mirror
This is who you are. This is you.
This is the one God has chosen
This is the one God loves
God loves you, God loves everyone

Pre Chorus
And if you want to be forgiven,
forgiven of all your sins
Then you can ask to be forgiven
‘Cause you know the answer is
Yes! Yes! Yes!
Chorus
So come home. Come as you are
Come Home, comes as you are
God doesn’t care what you have done
So come home

Verse 2
Don’t look back at what you may have done.
Don’t look back at what you have done wrong.
That’s not who you are, that’s not you.
God is always waiting for you
God will not stop loving you.
God loves you, God loves everyone.

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Filed under music

Brian McLaren Likes Francis Schaeffer

Looks like McLaren is a Schaeffer fan.  Who knew?  And I agree with him that Mark Driscoll is a bully.

Article (Washington Post)

When I was a young evangelical Christian coming of age back in the early 1970’s, I remember feeling that there were two paths before me. One was legalistic, anti-intellectual, combative, and rigid. The other was missional rather than legalistic, reflective rather than anti-intellectual, communicative rather than combative, and supple rather than rigid.

I chose the latter path – represented by an array of figures and organizations from C. S. Lewis to Francis Schaeffer to John Stott, and from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to the Jesus Movement to Evangelicals for Social Action to Sojourners.”

On a somewhat related note, Frank Junior is a bully too.

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Filed under General Interest

Debate on the Five Points of Calvinism – Video

The Society of Evangelical Arminians has posted a link to a recent debate about the five points of Calvinism. It was between Arminian Dr. Phil Fernandes and Calvinist Chris Comis.

The debate took place on June 22, 2011 – at  Grace Community Church in Auburn, Washington.  The video can be found here.  There is also audio  available at this website: Institute of Biblical Defense (see the sermon link on the side).

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Filed under Arminian Audio, Arminian Video