Archive for February, 2006
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
In the book of Colossians, Paul instructs the believers that they should "forgive" each other "as the Lord" has forgiven them. This is a high calling–forgive even as God has forgiven! However, the immediate question comes to mind: what does it mean to forgive "even as" God has forgiven? Penal substitutionary atonement (PSA) theory holds that all sin creates a "penalty" which must be "paid" in order for the sin to be forgiven. As all of humanity has sinned, PSA theory asserts that all owe a "penalty" for said sin, a penalty which must be paid if forgiveness is to be actualized. But to whom must the penalty be "paid?" Surely it is not Satan, for it is inconsistent to say that forgiveness of sins is secured upon paying off the devil. Therefore, the only one to whom the payment can be due is God.
So then, PSA theory holds that humanity owes a "penalty" for its sin to God. As the penalty requires satisfaction, only payment of the penalty will secure forgiveness. Moreover, PSA theory asserts that More >
1. PSA theory asserts that sin incurs a "penalty."2. This penalty is based upon God's decision concerning sin.3. God's decision in this matter is free and in accordance with God's will, as there is no force which compels God to choose or act in one way or the other.4. God has determined that the penalty incurred from sin terminates in the death of the sinner.5. God has determined that this penalty cannot be mitigated unless satisfactory payment is rendered.6. God has determined the terms of the penalty;7. It is also God to whom satisfaction must be rendered.8. All humanity has sinned and incurred the penalty of death.9. Satisfaction for this sin can only be accomplished by full satisfaction of the penalty–the death of every sinner.10. God has determined that satisfaction of penalty must be rendered by those to whom it applies.11. Christ has experienced death, and mysteriously unites the universal sin of humanity within a singular death.12. And God has accepted Christ's death in the place of multitudes of sinners, counting his singular death efficacious for remitting the universal penalty due for innumerable sinners.13. As already stated, no necessity determines the free and willful decisions of God.14. If God decrees More >
I have recently been doing a fair bit of thinking about the 2 cardinal "omni" statements about God: omnipotence & omniscience. As a student of theology and philosophy, I have attempted to critically analyze these ideas, approaching them from myriad angles, trying to see them in many different lights. However, the more I look at them, the more I am becoming convinced that they are actually quite unuseful–at least theologically and philosophically.
For example, consider "omnipotence." Prima facie, this concept suggests that God can do or accomplish anything (without qualification). While this is a potentially helpful way (for humans) to think about God in the midst of the contingencies of finitude, from a philosophical standpoint such a declaration is actually quite absurd.
For example, there is the trite question: "Can God make a rock so big that even God can't lift it?" Well, it would seem that this is impossible. After all, if God can make something that is beyond the powers of God, then God–in creating such a thing–would be actually proving that God is, in fact, not God. And yet even this conclusion is absurd, for such would be postulating that that which is more powerful (the rock) More >
Recently, I have participated in many discussions regarding the current controversies surrounding "evolution vs. Intelligent design." As I have read, replied and stood back from the discussion to simply observe, I have noticed some interesting things.
Confusion of Terms
On both sides of the issue, there are severe misunderstandings about the terms and definitions which the other side employs. For example, many antagonists of intelligent design (ID) wrongly conflate the same with a rigid, literalistic 6-day, 24-hour interpretation of the Genesis creation accounts. While ID is championed by many who also affirm the literalistic interpretation of Genesis, ID itself cannot be reduced to this. Rather, ID merely states that the complexity of the physical universe which we inhabit is such that it must have been designed by an "intelligent" power, force, etc. However, the identity of this "intelligence" is not necessarily identified, and could range anywhere from an advanced alien intelligence from another universe to a supernatural sweet potato.
Equally, proponents of ID and creationism often make a similar mistake by equating big bang cosmology and biological evolutionary theory with atheism. This, of course, is not surprising, as many of those sympathetic to ID locate the identity of the intelligence More >