Isaiah 48:16 Commentary

Isa_48:16 Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there.” And now the Lord GOD has sent me, and his Spirit.

In Isaiah 48, God states they does not make secret decrees. Everything God decrees God decrees to people. The purpose is so that the people can both understand what God is doing and see that God is actually accomplishing the things God states He will do. A key element in this system is that nothing God decides is decided in secret. That would negate the purpose of the decree.

This pushes against theology of divine, eternal decrees. God does not decree in secret, but to people.

Roger Olson on God’s Sovereignty

From A Relational View of God’s Sovereignty

A relational view of God’s sovereignty begins not with philosophical a prioris such as “God is by definition the being greater than which none can be conceived” or “If there’s one maverick molecule in the universe, God is not God” but with God as the personal, loving, self-involving, passionate, relational Yahweh of Israel and Father of Jesus Christ.

This God is not aloof or self-sufficient in himself or impassible. His deity, as Barth taught us, is no prison. And as Jürgen Moltmann has taught us, his death on the cross is not a contradiction of his deity but the most profound revelation of it. And that because this God is love.

Does this all mean that God needs us? Not at all. This God could have lived forever satisfied with the communal love shared between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but he chose to become vulnerable in relation to the world he created out of the overflowing of that love. Is that just a metaphysical compliment unnecessarily paid to God or a truth necessary to the biblical story of God with us? I would argue it is the latter. A God who literally needs the world is a pathetic God hardly worthy of worship.

The key insight for a non-process relational view of God’s sovereignty is that God is sovereign over his sovereignty. The missio dei is God’s choice to involve himself intimately with the world so as to be affected by it. That choice is rooted in God’s love and desire for reciprocal love freely offered by his human creatures. None of this detracts in any way from God’s sovereignty because God is sovereign over his sovereignty. To say that God can’t be vulnerable, can’t limit himself, can’t restrain his power to make room for other powers, is, ironically, to deny God’s sovereignty.

Worship Sunday – Jesus Walking On The Water

Oh my, oh my, oh my
What if it was true?
And oh my, oh my, oh my
Tell me, is it true?
Did he, did he, did he
Die upon that cross?
And did he, did he, did he
Come back across?

Jesus walking on the water
Sweet Jesus walking in the sky
Sinking sand, took my hand
Raised me up and he brought me up
I can hold my, my, my head high

Will I, will I, will I
Be true to my birth?
And will I, will I, will I
Give what I’m worth?
Oh yes sir, yes sir, yes sir
I come when you call
And yes sir, yes sir, yes sir
Jesus, my all-in-all

2 Chronicles 32:31 commentary

2Ch 32:31  And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart. 

In 2 Chronicles 32:31 Hezekiah’s reign is at an end. God has saved him from death (verse 24) because he has prayed to God. But God still is not sure about his loyalty. Verse 25 and 26 describe this wavering. In verse 31, God tests Hezekiah to “know all that is in his heart”. God is setting up a situation to see how Hezekiah will act, presumably due to Hezekiah’s past fickle behavior. This is a fairly clear instance of nescience, God testing to know. This is of an individual and at the end of his life. He fails the test, as recorded by 2 Kings 20:12-13.

Frethheim on Metaphor Interpretation

Steering between these two poles, how does one move from metaphor phor to essential definition? By interpreting “along the metaphorical grain” and not contrary to it, by “following the thrust of the anal- ogy.”18 If one moves against the natural implication of the metaphor, one is misinterpreting it. At the same time, while the metaphor primarily generates insight into the divine reality at the basic thrust of the analogy, it also does so more indirectly at those points where it is discontinuous with the reality which is God.

Terence E. Frethheim. The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective (Overtures to Biblical Theology) (Kindle Locations 195-198). Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Beautiful

Beautiful robes so white, beautiful land of light
Beautiful home so bright where there shall come no night
Beautiful crown I’ll wear, shining with stars o’er there
Yonder in mansions fair, gather us there
Beautiful robes, beautiful land
Beautiful home, beautiful band
Beautiful crown, shining so fair
Beautiful mansion bright, gather us there
Beautiful thought to me, we shall forever be
Thine in eternity when from this world we’re free
Free from its toil and care, heavenly joys to share
Let me cross over there, this is my prayer
Beautiful robes, beautiful land
Beautiful home, beautiful band
Beautiful crown, shining so fair
Beautiful mansion bright, gather us there
Beautiful things on high over in yonder sky
Thus I shall leave this shore, counting my treasures o’er
Where we shall never die, carry me by and by
Never to sorrow more, heavenly store
Beautiful robes, beautiful land
Beautiful home, beautiful band
Beautiful crown, shining so fair
Beautiful mansion bright, gather us there

Isaiah 40:21 commentary

Isa 40:21  Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 

In Isaiah 40:20 the prophet chastises Israel for setting up idols “that will not move” over God. He then follows this statement with further condemnation. Israel has “from the foundations of the Earth” understood who the real creator is. The language mirrors that of omniscience. If a reader wants to take this in a wooden sense, the people have knowledge that at least dates to the creation of the world if not eternal knowledge.

But a natural reader of the text will read this as a generalization. God has made Himself apparent to Israel (and perhaps the world) since the world was created. The knowledge is new knowledge that is generated within people as they observe the world. It is old knowledge in the sense the information is out there to be “understood”.

This generalization, if applied to God, would certainly find itself in lists of omniscience prooftexts. Other “foundations of the Earth” prooftexts, such as 1 Peter 1:20, regularly make their way into such lists. But when such language is used of man, the text is naturally read and forgotten. The chance phrase, which would be critical in the context of God, is not even noticed.

Servetus and His Ideas on the Trinity

From On the Errors of the Trinity book 6:

You will (if you have examined your capacity with the sober judgment of reason) easily recognize the knowledge of God which we obtain through CHRIST. For in himself God is incomprehensible; he can be neither imagined, nor understood, nor discovered by thinking, unless you contemplate some aspect in him. And the likeness of Christ and the Person of the Word are just this. For the impersonated oracle of God, the Person of Christ, as I have said above, which was with God, was God himself; nor was there in him any other aspect than that.

From On the Errors of the Trinity book 7:

With regards to filiation among divine beings, and the divinity of CHRIST, and hypostasis of the Word, questions are usually asked which I shall clear with a few words. I say that from the beginning there was among the divine beings a filiation, not real but personal. The Son was the Word; the Son was not real but personal, in so far as it was the Person of CHRIST. Nor is he in Scripture ever called Son, but an eternal kind of generation is attributed to CHRIST, and the things that were in the law were a shadow of the body of Christ. Yet some dream here of an emanation of a conception, or a Word, from the divine mind, by means of an emanating filiation…

But in God, within, there are no goings forth, nor emanations; but CHRIST was formed beforehand in the divine mind. There was a certain way of keeping himself which God arranged in himself in order that he might manifest himself to us; namely, by representing in himself the likeness of JESUS CHRIST, for all this was foreordained for exhibiting the glory of CHRIST. And John did not say that the Word emanated from God, but it was in God, the Word was God.

Bavinck on attributes not applying to God

For precisely because God is pure being— the absolute, perfect, unique, and simple being— we cannot give a definition of him. There is no genus to which he belongs as a member, and there are no specific marks of distinction whereby we can distinguish him from other beings in this genus. Even the being he has, so to speak, in common with all creatures does not pertain to him in the same sense as it does to them (univocally), but only analogically and proportionally.

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2 (p. 95). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Did Trouble Me

When I close my eyes, so I would not see,
My Lord did trouble me.
When I let things stand that should not be,
My Lord did trouble me.
Did trouble me,
With a word or a sign,
With a ring of a bell in the back of my mind.
Did trouble me,
Did stir my soul,
For to make me human, to make me whole.
When I slept too long and I slept too deep,
Put a worrisome vision into my sleep.
When I held myself away and apart,
And the tears of my brother didn’t move my heart.
Did trouble me,
With a word and a sign,
With a ringing of a bell in the back of my mind.
Did trouble me,
Did stir my soul
For to make me human, to make me whole.
And of this I’m sure, of this I know:
My Lord will trouble me.
Whatever I do, wherever I go,
My Lord will trouble me.
In the whisper of the wind, in the rhythm of a song
My Lord will trouble me.
To keep me on the path where I belong,
My Lord will trouble me.
Will trouble me,
With a word or a sign,
With the ringing of a bell in the back of my mind.
Will trouble me,
Will stir my soul,
For to make me human, to make me whole.
To make me human, to make me whole.

Genesis 41:32 Commentary

Gen 41:32 And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about.

In Genesis 41:32 Joseph is called to interpret Pharaoh’s dream (Genesis 41:16 credits Joseph as receiving his dream interpretation information from God Himself). In the interpretation, God has sent Pharaoh a warning about an impending famine. A curious feature is the fixity of the event. The dream twice occurs, which assures God’s intention will not change. God “will bring it about”.

The language suggests not all God’s plans as fixed. God will not “bring about” all His revealed intentions, but certain indicators will show observant watchers which ones are fixed. The famine is revealed as an intention. God is specifically credited as the agent controlling the famine.

The point of this verse appears to be to ward against petitionary prayer. The famine is not going to be avoided, so best use knowledge of the future to change the future. Instead of starvation, the people can choose abundance. The people can subvert impending doom.

Exultation of Sehetep-ib-Re

From THE STORY OF SI-NUHE, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament

“Well, of course, his son has entered
into the palace and has taken the inheritance of his
father. Moreover, he is a god without his peer. There
is no other who surpasses him. He is a master of understanding,
effective in plans and beneficent of decrees.
Going forth and coming back are in conformance with
his command. He it was who subdued the foreign
countries while his father was in his palace, and he
reported to him that what had been charged to him had
been carried out How joyful is this land which he
has ruled!

Exultation of Aton

From The Hymn to the Aton, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament

How manifold it is, what thou hast made!
They are hidden from the face (of man).
O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone:
All men, cattle, and wild beasts,
Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings.

Worship Sunday – Jesus Is Just Alright

Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright
I don’t care what they may say
I don’t care what they may do
I don’t care what they may say
Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
Jesus is just alright
Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright
I don’t care what they may know
I don’t care where they may go
I don’t care what they may know
Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
Jesus, he’s my friend; Jesus, he’s my friend
He took me by the hand; Led me far from this land
Jesus, he’s my friend
Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright
I don’t care what they may say, I don’t care what they may do
I don’t care what they may say, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah

Psalms 139:16 Commentary

Psa 139:16  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 

Psalms 139:16 is typically read as if it is describing a book in which every day of every person’s life is written from all eternity.

A person’s days are numbered in advance and recorded in God’s book “when none of them as yet existed” (Ps. 139: 16; 31: 15; 39: 5; Job 14: 5).

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2 (p. 318). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Gregory Boyd offers four reasons that the determinist reading of this text is not given:

First, even if this verse said that the exact length of our lives was settled before we were born, it wouldn’t follow that everything about our future was settled before we were born, and certainly not that it was settled from all eternity. God can at some point predetermine and/or foreknow some things about the future without eternally predetermining and/or foreknowing everything about the future. We must be careful not to outrun what Scripture teaches.

Second, the fact that the literary form of this verse is poetry should strongly caution us against relying on it to settle doctrinal disputes. The point of this passage is to poetically express God’s care for the psalmist from his conception, not to resolve metaphysical disputes regarding the nature of the future.

Third, the Hebrew in this passage is quite ambiguous. yamtsar) First, the word translated in the NRSV as “formed” (can be interpreted in a strong sense of “determined” or in a weaker sense of “planned.” Second, the subject matter of what was “formed” and written in the “book” before they existed is not supplied in the original Hebrew. It is thus not clear whether what was planned were the days of the psalmist’s life or rather parts of the psalmist’s body. The King James Version is an example of a translation that decided on the latter meaning. It reads, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Ps. 139:16). Though this wording is a bit awkward, it has the advantage of being consistent with the rest of this psalm and especially with the immediate context of this verse. Psalm 139 is about God’s moment-by-moment, intimate involvement in our lives. The verses immediately preceding verse 16 describe the formation of the psalmist’s body in the womb. Indeed, the first stanza of verse 16, “Your eyes beheld my unformed substance,” also concerns the intimate awareness the Lord has of the psalmist even before he’s formed. An interpretation of this verse that continues this theme seems most appropriate, whereas one that inserts an unrelated reference to the psalmist’s future seems out of place.

Finally, even if we choose to take the subject matter of what is “formed” and “written” in this verse to be the days of the psalmist’s life (not the parts of his body), this does not require us to believe that the length of his life was unalterable. Scripture elsewhere suggests that what is written in the Lord’s Book of Life can be changed (Exod. 32:33; Rev. 3:5). Hezekiah’s success in getting the Lord to “add” fifteen years to his life supports this perspective (Isa. 38:1–5), as does the Lord’s self-professed willingness to alter decrees he’s made in light of new circumstances (Jer. 18:6–10). The notion that what God ordains is necessarily unalterable is foreign to the Hebrew mind.

Boyd, Gregory A.. God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God (pp. 40-41). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

John Calvin, surprisingly, takes the view that this verse is not about predestined days, but about fetology:

16. …Interpreters are not agreed as to the second clause. Some read ימים, yamim, in the nominative case, when days were made; the sense being, according to them — All my bones were written in thy book, O God! from the beginning of the world, when days were first formed by thee, and when as yet none of them actually existed. The other is the more natural meaning, That the different parts of the human body are formed in a succession of time; for in the first germ there is no arrangement of parts, or proportion of members, but it is developed, and takes its peculiar form progressively.

Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 12: Psalms, Part V, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com Psalm 139

In short, there is good evidence, even from Calvinistic sources, as to why this verse is not a prooftext for determinism.

Exhalations to the pagan deity Enlil

From The Hymn to Enlil, from Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament:

Enlil whose command is far-reaching, lofty his word (and) holy,
Whose pronouncement is unchangeable, who decrees destinies unto the distant future,
Whose lifted eye scans the land,
Whose lifted beam searches the heart of all the land—When Father Enlil seats himself broadly on the holy dais, on the lofty dais,
When Nunamnir [another name for Enlil] carries out to supreme perfection lordship
and kingship,
The earth-gods bow down willingly before him, The Anunna humble themselves before him, Stand by faithfully in accordance with (their) instructions.
The great (and) mighty lord, supreme in heaven (and) earth, the all-knowing one who understands the judgement,

When in his awesomeness he decrees the fates,
No god dares look at him,

Not (even) a god can behold your countenance.

Who are the judge (and) decision-maker of the universe
Your noble word is as weighty as heaven, you know no opposition,

The lofty one, whose words are firmly grounded,
Whose command and favor are unalterable,
Whose pronouncements is all enduring,
Whose plans “confirm the word”—
Oh Great Mountain Enlil, exalted is your praise.

On Ancient Contempt of the Material World

What I have tried to show in this chapter is that contempt for the human condition and hatred for the body was a disease endemic in the entire culture of the period [first few centuries CE]; that while its more extreme manifestations are mainly Christian or Gnostic, its symptoms show themselves in a milder form in pagans of purely Hellenistic education; and that this disease found expression in a wide variety of myths and fantasies, some drawn from Greek, others from oriental originals (often with a changed meaning or a changed emphasis), while others again are apparently new.

E. R. Dodd, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety

Worship Sunday – Wasteland

I’m the first one in line to die
When the cavalry comes
Yeah it feels like the great divide
Has already come
Yeah I’m wasting my way through days
losing youth along the way

Oh if God is on my side
Oh if God is on my side
Yeah if God is on my side
Then who can be against me

There was a greatness I thought for awhile
But somehow it changed
Some kind of blindness I used to protect me
From all of my stains
Yeah I wish this was vertigo
But it just feels like I’m falling slow

In this wasteland where I’m livin’
There is a crack in the door filled with light
And it’s all that I need to get by
In this wasteland where I’m livin’
There is a crack in the door filled with light
And it’s all that I need to shine

All of these people I meet
It seems like they’re fine
Yeah in some ways I hope that they’re not
And their hearts are like mine
It’s wrong when it seems like work
To belong all I feel is hurt

Romans 15:14 Commentary

Rom 15:14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

In Romans, Paul describes his read as filled with “all knowledge”. This is in context of a critique. Although the Romans have “all knowledge”, Paul “reminds” them of some points about the Gentiles. Contextual, the “all knowledge” is either a limited scope (e.g. you have pretty much all the theology I can teach) or “tongue in cheek” (i.e. you think you have pretty good knowledge of the issues, but I am going to remind you of something you are missing). The phrase, although if taken about God would certainly be a prooftext for omniscience, is anything but.

Does God Change His Mind

From a paper on if God Changes His Mind:

CONCLUSION
Does God change His mind? It all depends. If He has decreed a certain course of action or outcome, then He will not retract a statement or relent from a declared course of action. Verses stat-ing or illustrating this truth must not be overextended, however. Statements about God not changing His mind serve to mark specific declarations as decrees. They should not be used as proof texts of God’s immutability, nor should they be applied generally to every divine forward-looking statement. If God has not decreed a course of action, then He may very well retract an announcement of blessing or judgment. In these cases the human response to His announcement determines what He will do. Passages declaring that God typically changes His mind as an expression of His love and mercy demonstrate that statements describing God as relenting should not be dismissed as anthropomorphic. At the same time such passages should not be overextended. God can and often does decree a course of action.26

Worship Sunday – The Transfiguration

When he took the three disciples
To the mountainside to pray,
His countenance was modified, his clothing was aflame.
Two men appeared: Moses and Elijah came;
They were at his side.
The prophecy, the legislation spoke of whenever he would die.
Then there came a word
Of what he should accomplish on the day.
Then Peter spoke, to make of them a tabernacle place.
A cloud appeared in glory as an accolade.
They fell on the ground.
A voice arrived, the voice of God,
The face of God, covered in a cloud.
What he said to them,
The voice of God: the most beloved son.
Consider what he says to you, consider what’s to come.
The prophecy was put to death,
Was put to death, and so will the Son.
And keep your word, disguise the vision ’till the time has come.
Lost in the cloud, a voice. Have no fear! We draw near!
Lost in the cloud, a sign. Son of man! Turn your ear.
Lost in the cloud, a voice. Lamb of God! We draw near!
Lost in the cloud, a sign. Son of man! Son of God!

Fretheim on Metaphor

Having noted the central importance of metaphor in any study of the God of the OT, a sketch of the meaning and use of metaphor which informs this discussion needs some attention.4 A basic definition tion of metaphor is in order, first of all. Black’s formulation is help- ful:5 “A memorable metaphor has the power to bring two separate domains into cognitive and emotional relation by using language directly appropriate to the one as a lens for seeing the other.” In other words, a conventional understanding of a matter (e.g., a body, a parent) becomes a window through which we can gain insight into another matter, usually less well known (e.g., the church, God). A metaphor always has a duality of association: the surface associations, drawn from life as experienced, and the analogical association. But insight into the latter can be attained and, indeed, retained only by reflecting on the former in relationship to it. Such insight comes, not only through observing what is similar between the two terms, but also through that which is different. Crucial to a proper understanding ing of a metaphor is the recognition of both similarity and difference.

Terence E. Frethheim. The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective (Overtures to Biblical Theology) (Kindle Locations 155-162). Kindle Edition.

Rushdoony on Platonic Dualism

The belief that mind and body are two alien substances had a deadly effect on the psychology of man. It led to the belief that man is a “prisoner” of the body and therefore either must war against it, or seek escape from it if his mind is to be free. The true philosopher ought not to care about the pleasures of eating and drinking. In Plato’s Phaedo we read that “thought is best when the mind is gathered into herself and none of these things trouble her — neither sounds nor sights nor pain nor any pleasure, — when she takes leave of the body, and has as little as possible to do with it, when she has no bodily sense or desire, but is aspiring after true being.”[32]

Rushdoony, R. J.. The Flight From Humanity: A Study of the Effect of Neoplatonism on Christianity . Chalcedon/Ross House Books. Kindle Edition.

Cicero on Zeno’s Idea of God

‘I come now, Balbus, to the philosophers of your school.* Zeno* proposes that the law of nature is divine, with the power of enjoining what is right and of forbidding the opposite. How he lends life to this law—and we certainly require a god to be a living creature—we fail to understand. He also says elsewhere that the upper air is god; but can we fathom a god which is without feeling, a god which never confronts us in our prayers, aspirations, or vows? 36 ‘In other books he states his belief that there is a kind of reason which pervades the whole of nature and is endowed with divine power. This same power he assigns also to the stars, and to the years and months and changing complexion of the years. In interpreting Hesiod’s Theogony* (which means ‘The Birth of the Gods’), he dispenses totally with customary notions of the gods. He does not regard Jupiter, Juno, Vesta, or deities similarly named as among the company of the gods, but teaches that these names by a sort of symbolism have been pinned on things without life and speech.

Cicero. The Nature of the Gods (Oxford World’s Classics) (p. 16). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.

Ehrman on Why Jesus was Executed

From Why Was Jesus Crucified? [gated link]

What is clear is that Jesus was killed on political charges, and nothing else. Many people seem to think that Jesus ran afoul of the authorities because he committed blasphemy or offended the religious sensitivities of the Jewish leaders of his day (Pharisees, e.g.; or the Sadducees of the Sanhedrin; etc.). But in fact, the Romans didn’t care TWIT about Jewish blasphemy or about internal Jewish disputes about doctrine and/or practice. Moreover, the record is crystal clear what the charges against Jesus were. They were political in nature. He had been calling himself the King of the Jews.

Free books against Calvinism

Archive.org is hosting a metric ton of books countering Calvinism: link

Excerpt from A Cultish Side of Calvinism:

Profoundly different views of God. This is what lies at the heart of the matter —not relatively nontheological issues like styles of music or liturgy but the grave position of holding onto different views of God. In the pursuit for truth, amid obstacles and rabbit trails, one should always remember that the heart of the matter is indeed different views of God.

Worship Sunday – Satta Massagana

There is a land, far, far away
Where there’s no night, there’s only day
Look into the book of life and you will see
That there is a land, far, far away
That there is a land, far, far away

The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords
Sits upon his throne and He rules us all
Look into the book of life and you will see
That He.. rules us all
That He.. He rules us all

(..)

The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords
Sits upon his throne and He rules us all
Look into the book of life and you will see
That He.. rules us all
That He.. rules us all

There is a land far, far away
Where there’s no night, there’s only day
Look into the book of life and you will see
That there’s a land, far, far away
That there’s a land, far, far away

Satta Amassagana Ahamlack, ulaghize
Satta Amassagana Ahamlack, ulaghize

Ulaghize..
Ulaghize..
Ulaghize..
Ulaghize..

Luke 23:34 commentary

Luk 23:34  And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 

The second half of Luke 23 depicts the crucifixion. Simon is tasked to carry the cross for Jesus to “The Skull”. There he is hung, two criminals on either side. Jesus, without any prompting in the text proclaims “forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus is proclaiming a standard of forgiveness that is based on ignorance. Individuals have an excuse for actions if they are ignorant of what they are doing. In the case of the crucifixion, the Jews believe they are executing a blasphemer. The Romans believe they are executing a insurrectionist. Both groups are ignorant of the full extent of their actions.

Gnosticism and the divine

From Gnostic Cosmology:

Not all Gnostics considered themselves Christians and Gnosticism seems to have originated apart from Christianity, but those who did synthesize the two movements considered Jesus the divine being who delivered the gnosis that redeems humanity. As the messenger from the divine realm, though, Jesus had to be completely spirit; the divine could inhabit material flesh. So Gnostics had to explain why Jesus appeared human. One solution was to claim just that-he only appeared human. Referred to as docetism [5], this view held that Jesus put on act of seeming to hunger, to eat, to thirst, to bleed, to die, as he taught his disciples the saving gnosis. The insight was only for the elect who carried the divine spark and so Jesus feigned humanity-as Paul says, Christ came ?in the likeness of sinful flesh? (Romans 8:3)-to conceal the revelation from the non-Gnostics (Ehrman 167). For the same reason Jesus taught in parables, concluded them by saying ?Let he who has ears to hear, hear,? referring to the hidden truth that the elect could find in the parable; and later explained the meaning of the parables to his disciples in private. The parables themselves often depicted the ?kingdom of heaven? as something, such as yeast or a treasure, which one hides [6]. As the anti-Gnostic writings of ecclesiastics including Ireneaus and Tertullian reveal, proto-orthodox Christianity, which would eventually win-in terms of numbers of followers-the intense and polemical theological battles of the second and third centuries, defined much of its theology through conflict with other Christian groups (Filoramo 4). And it declared docetism a heresy at the Council of Chalcedon in 423, deciding that Christ was ?fully human, fully divine.?

Worship Sunday – Love At The End

Out of The Gaslight
Off the roads we’ve traveled on
Down by the wayside
Against the sheen of a Babylon
I’ve seen an empire
Taste the tempest of a gathering strong
But I found love at the end of the world
My rabbit’s running
On the street hot heels of Rome
My hour’s coming to reconcile with the dawn
I’m on the brink
I’m on the brink
I’m on the brink
But I found love at the end of the world
Tell the reaper
Tell the repo man
I’ve got nothing that belongs to him
Ruin pushes rubble in the city of sin
But I found love at the end of the world
Out of the goodnight
I was born into your arms
Like you’re my country
Like you’re the hills where I belong
Out of that goodnight (I’m on the brink)
I was born into your arms (I’m on the brink)
You are my country (I’m on the brink)
Like the hills where I found love at the end of the world
Tell the reaper
Tell the repo man
I’ve got nothing that belongs to him
Ruin pushes rubble in the city of sin
But I found love at the end of the world

Valentinus on Gnostic Regeneration

From Fragment H found in Clement of Alexandria:

For the many spirits dwelling in the heart do not permit it to become pure: rather, each of them performs its own acts, violating it in various ways with improper desires. And in my opinion the heart experiences something like what happens in a caravansary. For the latter is full of holes and dug up and often filled with dung, because while they are there, people live in an utterly vulgar way and take no forethought for the property since it belongs to someone else. Just so, a heart too is impure by being the habitation of many demons, until it experiences forethought.

Allogenes on God

From Allogenes:

Since it is impossible for the individuals to comprehend the Universal One situated in the place that is higher than perfect, they apprehend by means of a First Thought – not as Being alone, but it is along with the latency of Existence that he confers Being. He provides everything for himself, since it is he who shall come to be when he recognizes himself. And he is One who subsists as a cause and source of Being, and an immaterial material and an innumerable number and a formless form and a shapeless shape and a powerlessness and a power and an insubstantial substance and a motionless motion and an inactive activity. Yet he is a provider of provisions and a divinity of divinity…
But concerning the invisible, spiritual Triple-Powered-One, hear! He exists as an Invisible One who is incomprehensible to them all. He contains them all within himself, for they all exist because of him. He is perfect, and he is greater than perfect, and he is blessed. He is always One and he exists in them all, being ineffable, unnameable, being One who exists through them all – he whom, should one discern him, one would not desire anything that exists before him among those that possess existence, for he is the source from which they were all emitted. He is prior to perfection. He was prior to every divinity, and he is prior to every blessedness, since he provides for every power. And he a nonsubstantial substance, since he is a God over whom there is no divinity, the transcending of whose greatness and beauty …

Valentinians on God

From Zostrianos:

[…] enter […] the abundance […] those who […] I will speak my mystery to those who are mine and to those who will be mine. Moreover it is these who have known him who is, the Father, that is, the Root of the All, the Ineffable One who dwells in the Monad. He dwells alone in silence, and silence is tranquility since, after all, he was a Monad and no one was before him. He dwells in the Dyad and in the Pair, and his Pair is Silence. And he possessed the All dwelling within him. And as for Intention and Persistence, Love and Permanence, they are indeed unbegotten.

Worship Sunday – Rest Yes Indeed

Lord you know how often I’m confused
and you know how often I’ve been used
But I keep my mind on you unless
I should be disturbed and lose Your rest

Often I am robbed of peace of mind
Often I’m tempted to be unkind
Try to keep my mouth shut ’cause it’s best
focusing my mind on You means rest

kum-bah-yah-yay-ay-ay-ay (8x)

I have lived a life of careless ease
I’ve been doin’ whatever I please
ignoring what your Word says is best
and the things that You say will bring rest

now I’ve turned and I’m facing the light
and I’m living life with all my might
I know being near You is the best
Love God and your neighbor, be at rest

kum-bah-yah-yay-ay-ay-ay (8x)

I’m leaning on your arm, yes indeed Lord
Oh without your arm I can’t make it
no I won’t make it O Lord, no indeed, hmm.

I’m leaning on your love, yes indeed Lord
Oh without your love I can’t make it
no I won’t make it O Lord, no indeed, hmm.

I’m leaning on your arm, yes indeed Lord
Oh without your arm I can’t make it
no I won’t make it O Lord, no indeed, hmm.

I’m leaning on your joy, yes indeed Lord
Oh without your joy I can’t make it
no I won’t make it O Lord, no indeed, hmm.

I’m leaning on your arm, yes indeed Lord
Oh without your arm I can’t make it
no I won’t make it O Lord, no indeed, hmm.

I’m leaning on your Word, yes indeed Lord
Oh without your Word I can’t make it
no I won’t make it O Lord, no indeed, hmm.

I have lived a life of careless ease
I’ve been doin’ whatever I please
ignoring what your Word says is best
and the things that You say will bring rest

now I’ve turned and I’m facing the light
and I’m living life with all my might
I know being near You is the best
Love God and your neighbor, be at rest

Jeremiah 18:23 commentary

Jer 18:23  Yet you, O LORD, know all their plotting to kill me. Forgive not their iniquity, nor blot out their sin from your sight. Let them be overthrown before you; deal with them in the time of your anger. 

In Jeremiah 18, Jeremiah is sent to preach to a people group which hates him. He calls on God to judge these people. Interestingly, Jeremiah prays that God punish them “in your time of anger”. Dealing with them in God’s time of anger is meant to increase the severity of the punishment. This suggests that Jeremiah believes that God’s emotional disposition is one input into God’s actions. Jeremiah is highlighting God’s passions.

Calvinists in South Africa

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle talks about the Boer Calvinists:

while to their corruption they added such crass ignorance that they argue in the published reports of the Volksraad debates that using dynamite bombs to bring down rain was firing at God, that it is impious to destroy locusts, that the word ‘participate’ should not be used because it is not in the Bible, and that postal pillar boxes are extravagant and effeminate.

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. The Great Boer War . Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Yahweh

Yahweh, Yahweh
Ancient One yet you’re here today
Ageless One, Changeless One
Showing love to all generations

Show us your glory, oh Lord
Let your goodness pass before us
Right before our eyes

And we will worship, and we will bow down
And we will call you Lord
And we will kneel before the maker of the universe
And we will call you Lord

Yahweh, Yahweh
Faithful One, you have shown us the way
Through the years, through all our lives
You have shown you are faithful to the end

You were faithful to Abraham you were faithful to Moses
You were Faithful to David and your faithful to us Today
We lift up are hearts to see your power and majesty
We open our eyes to see glory and your beauty
We worship you Yahweh
We worship you Yahweh

Psalms 55:23 commentary

Psa 55:23 But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.

In Psalms 55:23 David describes how God will bless the righteous and punish the wicked. An interesting phrase in employed against those who God will strike down. They will not “live out half their days.” In Job a similar phrase is used. Man’s days are determined and he cannot pass:

Job 14:5 Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,

The figure of speech being employed in both these scenarios is that man has an upper limit on his lifespan. Man can grow old and die. No one is immortal. He lives out his days when he dies at old age. When he dies young, he does not live out his days. Neither phrase speaks towards determinism. The Israelites were not seeing a man’s life as fated and dying young as subverting that fate. Instead, the most natural take-away is that a fated lifespan was not an available position in Israelite theology so much so that it didn’t factor into their discussions of human life.

George Smith on Infallible Knowledge

There is another irritating problem with the idea of omniscience: it contradicts the attribute of omnipotence. If God knows the future with infallible certainty, he cannot change it— in which case he cannot be omnipotent. If God can change the future, however, he cannot have infallible knowledge of it prior to its actual happening— in which case he cannot be omniscient. (This is similar to the issue of in what sense, if any, God can be said to have free will. Does God know his own future decisions? If so, how can those decisions be free? Perhaps God does not make decisions. If so, how can the idea of volition apply to a being with no decisions— and hence no choices— to make?)

Smith, George H.. Atheism: The Case Against God (The Skeptic’s Bookshelf) (pp. 74-75). Prometheus Books. Kindle Edition.

George Smith on Fatalism and Omniscience

Theologians have devised a number of unsuccessful ways to reconcile omniscience and free will. One method is to argue that God’s foreknowledge does not “impose” itself on the course of events, and God knows a free action “according to the nature of the event itself— which is free.” This, of course, solves nothing, because it evades the central issue. How can an event be “free” in the first place, if God has infallible knowledge of it prior to its happening? Another approach has been to argue that “God does not exist in time at all” —but this serves only to strengthen agnosticism. Other attempts at reconciliation are similarly unimpressive, so it seems that the Christian is forever plagued with the dilemma of preaching a religion of salvation to a world of men who, according to the doctrine of omniscience, are nothing more than automatons.

Smith, George H.. Atheism: The Case Against God (The Skeptic’s Bookshelf) (p. 74). Prometheus Books. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Glorious Day

I was buried beneath my shame
Who could carry that kind of weight?
It was my tomb
‘Til I met You

I was breathing but not alive
All my failures I tried to hide
It was my tomb
‘Til I met You

You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day

Now Your mercy has saved my soul
Now Your freedom is all that I know
The old made new
Jesus, when I met You

I needed rescue, my sin was heavy
But chains break at the weight of Your glory
I needed shelter, I was an orphan
Now You call me a citizen of Heaven
When I was broken, You were my healing
Now Your love is the air that I’m breathing
I have a future, my eyes are open
‘Cause when You called my name
I ran out of that grave

Jeremiah 15:6 commentary

Jer 15:6 You have rejected me, declares the LORD; you keep going backward, so I have stretched out my hand against you and destroyed you— I am weary of relenting.

Jeremiah 15:6 portrays a sense of exasperation. The scene is that, like much of the Bible, God is preparing to judge Israel. This time God will carry through without showing mercy, because He is “weary” of “repenting”. He has been burned by leniency in the past. He has repented but Israel has not taken note and reformed in the long term. Jeremiah is an answer to this continual disappointment. This time is different. This time God will not listen to their pleas.

Not only does this verse show that God’s vision of the future is continuously thwarted by failed expectations in man, but it shows that these failed expectations are taking an emotional toll on God. God is not immutable, impassible, nor does He know the future in any exhaustive sense.

Oord on not Thinking of Ourselves as Machines

From Interiority over Mechanism:

Perhaps the best overall framework to make sense of creatures as possessing interiority is the organismic philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead.[2] Instead of regarding existence as comprised entirely of substances ricocheting off one another steel balls in an arcade game,

Whitehead believed we and all beings are fundamentally experiential. He agreed with William James who said existing beings are “drops of experience.”[3]

Thomas Berry identifies the interiority issue when he says, “the universe is composed of subjects to be communed with not objects to be exploited.”[4] Subjects have interiority.

We make better sense of both simple and complex creatures if we place priority upon mentality, response, choice, valuing, and more. The mechanization mentality ignores or even denies these capacities fundamental to organisms. We must place interiority before mechanism.

Worship Sunday – Is He Worthy?

Do you feel the world is broken?
Do you feel the shadows deepen?
But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through?
Do you wish that you could see it all made new?
Is all creation groaning?
Is a new creation coming?
Is the glory of the Lord to be the light within our midst?
Is it good that we remind ourselves of this?
Is anyone worthy?
Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy of this?
He is
Does the Father truly love us?
Does the Spirit move among us?
And does Jesus, our Messiah hold forever those He loves?
Does our God intend to dwell again with us?
Is anyone worthy?
Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave
From every people and tribe
Every nation and tongue
He has made us a kingdom and priests to God
To reign with the Son
Is He worthy?Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Is He worthy of this?
He is!
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
He is!
He is!

NET Bible notes on Isaiah 57:15

Isaiah 57:15 New English Translation (NET Bible)
15 For this is what the high and exalted one says,
the one who rules forever, whose name is holy:
“I dwell in an exalted and holy place,
but also with the discouraged and humiliated,
in order to cheer up the humiliated
and to encourage the discouraged.

57:15 a tn Heb “the one who dwells forever.” שֹׁכֵן עַד (shokhen ‘ad) is sometimes translated “the one who lives forever,” and understood as a reference to God’s eternal existence. However, the immediately preceding and following descriptions (“high and exalted” and “holy”) emphasize his sovereign rule. In the next line, he declares, “I dwell in an exalted and holy [place],” which refers to the place from which he rules. Therefore it is more likely that שֹׁכֵן עַד (shokhen ‘ad) means “I dwell [in my lofty palace] forever” and refers to God’s eternal kingship.

Worship Sunday – When I’m with You

These are the things that I need to pray
Because I can’t find peace any other way
I’m a mess underneath and I’m just too scared to show it
Everything’s not fine
And I’m not okay
But it’s nice to know
I can come this way
When I’m with you
I feel the real me finally breaking through
It’s all because of you, Jesus
Anytime, anywhere, any heartache
I’m never too much for you to take
There’s only love
There’s only grace
When I’m with you
Yeah, when I’m with you, yeah
Nobody knows me like you do
No need for walls, you see right through
Every hurt, every scar, every secret you just love me
Everything’s not fine
And I’m not okay
But it’s nice to know
I can come this way
When I’m with you
I feel the real me finally breaking through
It’s all because of you, Jesus
Anytime, anywhere, any heartache
I’m never too much for you to take
There’s only love
There’s only grace
When I’m with you
I’m breathing in
I’m innocent
It’s like my heart’s on fire again
I’m not afraid
I’m not ashamed
I’m safe when I am with you
I’m breathing in
I’m innocent
It’s like my heart’s on fire again
I’m not afraid
I’m not ashamed
I’m safe when I am with you
And so I’m here just as I am
Bruised or broken
I don’t have to pretend
When I’m with you
I feel the real me finally breaking through
It’s all because of you, Jesus
Anytime, anywhere, any heartache
I’m never too much for you to take
There’s only love
There’s only grace
When I’m with you
When I’m with you
I’m breathing in
I’m innocent
It’s like my heart’s on fire again
I’m not afraid
I’m not ashamed
I’m safe when I am with you
I’m breathing in
I’m innocent
It’s like my heart’s on fire again
I’m not afraid
I’m not ashamed
I’m safe when I am with you

Malachi 2:17 commentary

Mal 2:17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

In Malachi 2, the prophet implores the people to turn to God. The people have become faithless, being led by the priesthood. They have become partial in their judgments, exchanging the truth for a lie. God counters all of Israel, charging them to do good. God has been wearied by their continuous evil, and furthermore their misrepresentation of that evil as good. God is misrepresented to others, and this hurts God viscerally. This is a text of extreme mutability. God can be hurt by words.

Calvin Confirms There Were Many Open Theists in His Time

On the Providence of God, in so far as conducive to the solid instruction and consolation of believers, (for, as to satisfying the curiosity of foolish men, it is a thing which cannot be done, and ought not to be attempted,) enough would have been said, did not a few passages remain which seem to insinuate, contrary to the view which we have expounded, that the counsel of God is not firm and stable, but varies with the changes of sublunary affairs. First, in reference to the Providence of God, it is said that he repented of having made man, (Gen. 6:6,) and of having raised Saul to the kingdom, (1 Sam. 15:11,) and that he will repent of the evil which he had resolved to inflict on his people as soon as he shall have perceived some amendment in them, (Jer. 18:8.) Secondly, his decrees are sometimes said to be annulled. He had by Jonah proclaimed to the Ninevites, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” but, immediately on their repentance, he inclined to a more merciful sentence, (Jonah 3:4-10.) After he had, by the mouth of Isaiah, given Hezekiah intimation of his death, he was moved by his tears and prayers to defer it, (Is. 38:1,5; 2 Kings 20: 1,5 cf. II Chron. 32:34.) Hence many argue that God has not fixed human affairs by an eternal decree, but according to the merits of each individual, and as he deems right and just, disposes of each single year, and day, and hour.

Institutes 1.17.12
Calvin, John. The John Calvin Collection: 12 Classic Works . Waxkeep Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Calvin on God’s Purpose for Evil

Moreover, we must add, that although the paternal favour and beneficence, as well as the judicial severity of God, is often conspicuous in the whole course of his Providence, yet occasionally as the causes of events are concealed, the thought is apt to rise, that human affairs are whirled about by the blind impulse of Fortune, or our carnal nature inclines us to speak as if God were amusing himself by tossing men up and down like balls. It is true, indeed, that if with sedate and quiet minds we were disposed to learn, the issue would at length make it manifest, that the counsel of God was in accordance with the highest reason, that his purpose was either to train his people to patience, correct their depraved affections, tame their wantonness, inure them to self-denial, and arouse them from torpor; or, on the other hand, to cast down the proud, defeat the craftiness of the ungodly, and frustrate all their schemes.
Institutes 1.17.1

Calvin, John. The John Calvin Collection: 12 Classic Works . Waxkeep Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Exodus 33:5 Commentary

Exo 33:5  For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.’” 

In Exodus 33:5, Israel has just rebelled against Yahweh at Mount Sinai. Israel was purged twice, once by sword (32:28) and once by divine plague (32:35). Those who are left do not wear ornaments because God commanded that they should not. The text indicates the purpose of refraining from ornamentation is that God might “know what to do with you”. This appears to be a test. God will further decide how to treat Israel based on their behavior. Will Israel show repentance and sorrow? Will they show hardheadedness?

Albert Barnes writes: That I may know … – By that sign of their repentance Yahweh would decide in what way they were to be punished.

Worship Sunday – Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!

The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! He who died,
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!

The Bible tells me so.
The Bible tells me so.

Jeremiah 13:11 commentary

Jer 13:11  For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the LORD, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.

In Jeremiah 13, God commands Jeremiah to don a loincloth then bury it. When he digs up the loincloth later, it is ruined. This illustrates God’s relationship with Israel. In Jeremiah 13:11 God says He “made” Israel cling to Him. God attached Israel to Himself such that they would be His people, but they rejected God’s plan and God’s efforts. Relationships require two parties engaged in mutual free will relationships. Even God is unable to make someone love Him.

Augustine on Fate and Immutable Chain of Causes

Now, against the sacrilegious and impious darings of reason, we assert both that God knows all things before they come to pass, and that we do by our free will whatsoever we know and feel to be done by us only because we will it. But that all things come to pass by fate, we do not say; nay we affirm that nothing comes to pass by fate; for we demonstrate that the name of fate, as it is wont to be used by those who speak of fate, meaning thereby the position of the stars at the time of each one’s conception or birth, is an unmeaning word, for astrology itself is a delusion. But an order of causes in which the highest efficiency is attributed to the will of God, we neither deny nor do we designate it by the name of fate, unless, perhaps, we may understand fate to mean that which is spoken, deriving it from fari , to speak; for we cannot deny that it is written in the sacred Scriptures, God has spoken once; these two things have I heard, that power belongs unto God. Also unto You, O God, belongs mercy: for You will render unto every man according to his works. Now the expression, Once has He spoken, is to be understood as meaning immovably , that is, unchangeably has He spoken, inasmuch as He knows unchangeably all things which shall be, and all things which He will do. We might, then, use the word fate in the sense it bears when derived from fari , to speak, had it not already come to be understood in another sense, into which I am unwilling that the hearts of men should unconsciously slide. But it does not follow that, though there is for God a certain order of all causes, there must therefore be nothing depending on the free exercise of our own wills, for our wills themselves are included in that order of causes which is certain to God, and is embraced by His foreknowledge, for human wills are also causes of human actions; and He who foreknew all the causes of things would certainly among those causes not have been ignorant of our wills.
City of God (Book V)
Chapter 9.— Concerning the Foreknowledge of God and the Free Will of Man, in Opposition to the Definition of Cicero.

Ambrose on the Omniscience of Jesus

118. But if you are willing to learn that the Son of God knows all things, and has foreknowledge of all, see that those very things which you think to be unknown to the Son, the Holy Spirit received from the Son. He received them, however, through Unity of Substance, as the Son received from the Father. He, says He, shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine and shall declare it unto you. All things whatsoever the Father has are Mine, therefore said I, He shall receive of Mine, and shall declare it unto you. [ John 16:14-15 ] What, then, is more clear than this Unity? What things the Father has pertain to the Son; what things the Son has the Holy Spirit also has received.
On the Holy Spirit, Book II

Ambrose on Active Omniscience

194. I ask then, whether He had this knowledge by reason of His Being, or by chance? For all knowledge comes to us either through nature, or by learning. It is supplied by nature, as for instance to a horse to enable it to run, or to a fish to enable it to swim. For they do this without learning. On the other hand, it is by learning that a man is enabled to swim. For he could not do so unless he had learned. Since therefore nature enables dumb animals to do and to know what they have not learned, why should you give an opinion on the Son of God, and say whether He has knowledge by instruction or by nature? If by instruction, then He was not begotten as Wisdom, and gradually began to be perfect, but was not always so. But if He has knowledge by nature, then He was perfect in the beginning, He came forth perfect from the Father; and so needed no foreknowledge of the future.

195. He therefore was not ignorant of the days; for it does not fall to the lot of the Wisdom of God to know in part and in part to be ignorant. For how can He who made all things be ignorant of a part, since it is a less thing to know than to make.
Exposition of the Christian Faith, Book V

Worship Sunday – I Will Fear No More

Every anxious thought that steals my breath
It’s a heavy weight upon my chest
As I lie awake and wonder what the future will hold
Help me to remember that You’re in control
You’re my courage when I worry in the dead of night
You’re my strength ’cause I’m not strong enough to win this fight
You are greater than the battle raging in my mind
I will trust You, Lord
I will fear no more
I will lift my eyes
I will lift my cares
Lay them in Your hands
I’ll leave them there
When the wind and waves are coming
You shelter me
Even though I’m in the storm, the storm is not in me
You’re my courage when I worry in the dead of night
You’re my strength ’cause I’m not strong enough to win this fight
You are greater than the battle raging in my mind
I will trust You, Lord
I will fear no more
I will fear no more
I will fear no more
No power can come against me
‘Cause You have overcome
No darkness can overwhelm me
‘Cause You’ve already won
No power can come against me
‘Cause You have overcome
(Oh-oh-oh-ohh, oh-oh-oh-ohh)
No darkness can overwhelm me
‘Cause You’ve already won
(Oh-oh-oh-ohh, oh-oh-oh-ohh)
You’re my courage when I worry in the dead of night
You’re my strength ’cause I’m not strong enough to win this fight
You are greater than the battle raging in my mind
I will trust You, Lord (Trust You, Lord)
I will fear no more (Fear no more)
I will fear no more (Fear no more)
I will fear no more
I will fear no more
I will fear no more

1 John 5:14 Commentary

1Jn 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

The consistent Biblical message is one of God hearing prayer. God responds and reacts to prayer. The one who prays can influence and get God to respond. This suggests active listening, real time recalculation, and a genuine care towards humanity in God.

Augustine on Omniscience

6. When the wicked man departed from me, I knew him not [ Psalm 100:4 ]. I approved him not, I praised him not, he pleased me not. For we find the word to know occasionally used in Scripture, in the sense of to be pleased. For what is hidden from God, brethren? Does He know the just, and does He not know the unjust? What do you think of, that He does not know? I say not, what do you think; but what will you ever think, that He will not have seen beforehand? God knows all things, then; and yet in the end, that is in judgment after mercy,
Expositions on the Psalms (Augustine)

Clement of Alexandria on Omniscience

For God knows all things— not those only which exist, but those also which shall be— and how each thing shall be. And foreseeing the particular movements, He surveys all things, and hears all things, seeing the soul naked within; and possesses from eternity the idea of each thing individually. And what applies to theatres, and to the parts of each object, in looking at, looking round, and taking in the whole in one view, applies also to God. For in one glance He views all things together, and each thing by itself; but not all things, by way of primary intent.
The Stromata (Book VI)

John of Damascus on Foreknowledge and Freewill

We ought to understand that while God knows all things beforehand, yet He does not predetermine all things. For He knows beforehand those things that are in our power, but He does not predetermine them. For it is not His will that there should be wickedness nor does He choose to compel virtue. So that predetermination is the work of the divine command based on fore-knowledge. But on the other hand God predetermines those things which are not within our power in accordance with His prescience. For already God in His prescience has prejudged all things in accordance with His goodness and justice.
An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith

Worship Sunday – A Song Of Confession

For the things we’ve done and left undone
For the ways we’ve wandered from your heart
Forgive us, we pray
Forgive us, we pray

For the idols we put on Your throne
For the loves we choose above Your own
Forgive us, we pray
Forgive us, we pray

Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy on us, on us

For the lies that we clutch to our chests
For the fear that wants to steal our breath
Forgive us, we pray
And give us Your grace

Forgiving God, forgiving us
Forgiving God, forgiving us
Forgiving God, forgiving us
Forgiving God, forgiving us

2 Chronicles 7:14 commentary

2Ch 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14 is part of a larger narrative where Solomon completes the temple. God appears to Solomon in a dream (“by night”) and tells Solomon that God will respond to His people’s prayers now that a temple exists where His “eyes and heart will be perpetually”. God is confirming His commitment to His people to respond and listen to their prayers and act accordingly.

Heidl on Christian Platonism of Origen and Augustine

From The Influence of Origen on the Young Augustine:

Origen and Augustine are two giants – some would say the two giants – of the early Christian theological world. Each of them pondered fundamental questions of belief in a world marked by suffering and imperfection. For each the interplay of Divine justice, Providence, grace, human freedom and the love of the Creator for creatures was a problem that demanded a cosmic solution. Both addressed this problem with one eye on the Bible, the other on contemporaneous philosophical discussion. Addressing the most sophisticated critiques of Christianity, each contested the claim that later Platonism was most appropriately melded with traditional Greco-Roman religion rather than with Christianity.

Worship Sunday – Spirit of God

Spirit, gift from the Father, Spirit, fire of love
Come now, just like you promised
You said you’d come, Spirit of God

We are humbled before you, watching, waiting for you
Hungry with expectation
We know you’ll come, Spirit of God

Breathe on us Spirit of God
Breathe on us Spirit of God

You can come like the wind if you want to
You can burn like a fire in our hearts
You can shake everything til it trembles
You can whisper the songs of your love
We know you’ll come
Spirit of God

Luke 5:22 Commentary

Luk 5:22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts?

In Luke 5:22 Jesus is described as acquiring knowledge. This is contrary to claims that Jesus was omniscient (often claimed from prooftexts such as John 16:30). Jesus, in Luke, “perceives” events and thoughts as they occur in real time. He learns about them. The text doesn’t give the method of acquiring the knowledge. Jesus could have read their body language, heard their murmurs, or even had direct access to their thoughts. In any case, Jesus gains the knowledge.

Enns on the Messy Parts of the Bible

From when God stops making sense (or, my favorite part of the Old Testament):

But for Psalms and wisdom literature, life isn’t black and white. Life is messy, unpredictable, and often makes no sense.

These books take issue with the storyline and its moral. They interrogate the black and white script and conclude, “Life isn’t that straightforward.”

Job loses everything he has except his life. The script (e.g., Deuteronomy) says that such calamities are by God’s hand, a response to disobedience. Yet we learn from Job that this is not the case.
Ecclesiastes questions the “world order” God has made: nothing we do matters, since we all die and are driven to the point of madness at the thought of our futile existence.
A number of psalms lament God’s absence in the world. Like Psalm 73–where the author can’t get his head around how a just God can allow the wicked to prosper.
Or Psalm 89–where God is in effect called a liar for promising that one of King David’s descendants would always be on the throne in Jerusalem and then allowing the Babylonians to kill off the last of David’s royal line and take the people captive.

Oord on God Creating Plans not Blueprints

From Providence as Improv, Jazz, or Family

Plans but No Blueprint
Many timeless theologies assume the God outside time predetermined creation’s current events and future outcomes. Or they assume this timeless God foreknows – in some mysterious way – precisely how history plays out.

Because God either foreordains or foreknows every occurrence, timeless God theologies typically think of providence like a detailed divine blueprint. This blueprint portrays all events in advance.

Theologies that believe God and creation are in process deny God foreordains or foreknows exhaustively. The future is open, they say, and the present becomes what a timefull God and creation decide. There is not detailed divine blueprint.

Worship Sunday – Forever You

Even in a world
Where nothing stays the same
There is still a truth
A truth that still remains

Forever You will always be
Our God on high, the Lord in me
The King of hope, the Lord of love
The Prince of peace, the Lamb of God

Even though the heart
Always seems to change
There is still a love
A love that stays the same

You will always be exalted
King of Kings and Holy Father

Secular Scholar on Yahweh being known through act

From Friedman, Richard Elliott, Who Wrote the Bible:

The chief pagan god in the region that was to become Israel was El. El was male, patriarchal, a ruler. Unlike the other major god of the region, Haddu (the storm wind), El was not identified with any particular force in nature. He sat at the head of the council of the
gods and pronounced the council’s decisions.

The God of Israel was Yahweh. He, too, was male, patriarchal, a ruler, and not identified with any one force in nature. Rather than
describing him in terms of nature or myths, the people of Israel spoke of Yahweh in terms of his acts in history—as we shall see.

Calvinist Prays for Something that Prayer Wont Help

From Beg God to Move Again:

History shows us that there is no exact prescription for revival. It is an act of the sovereign God, and we can’t dictate what he should do and when he should do it. I have been praying for revival in Sri Lanka since 1975. Only once, while attending a conference, have I seen something close to revival. But I continue to pray that, in my lifetime or after, the Lord would send his showers of blessing upon our people through revival.

Reknew on Active v Passive Knowledge

From How People Misunderstand Open Theism

I’m always puzzled as to why many defenders of the classical theism spin the debate with open theists as a disagreement over the perfection of God’s knowledge. For example, they publish books with titles like How Much Does God Know? (Steven Roy) and What Does God Know and When Does He Know It? (Millard Erickson). Since open theists believe God always knows everything, why do they continue to argue as if we don’t?

Part of the explanation, of course, may be simple propaganda. My sense is that, while spinning the debate as about God’s knowledge rather than the nature of reality certainly is advantageous for the purpose of propaganda, the critics who argue this way also seem to sincerely believe what they’re saying. How can this be?

While researching some ancient philosophers who influenced theologians like Augustine and Boethius, I uncovered something that may help explain this curious phenomenon. Let me briefly explain.

First, Plato argued that we see not by light entering our eyes (as we now know is the case) but by light proceeding out of our eyes (Timaeus 45b). For Plato, seeing is an active, not a passive, process. Since knowledge was considered to be a kind of seeing, Plato also construed knowing as acting on something rather than being acted upon (Sophist 248-49). I’ve discovered that this mistaken view of seeing and knowing is picked up and defended by a host of Hellenistic philosophers.

Second, several Neoplatonistic philosophers (Iamblichus, Proclus and Ammonius) used this theory of eyesight and knowing to explain how the gods can foreknow future free actions. They argued that the nature of divine knowledge is determined not by what is known but by the nature of the knower. Since they assumed the gods were absolutely unchanging, they concluded that the gods knew things in an absolutely unchanging manner, despite the fact that the reality the gods know is in fact perpetually changing. This allowed them to affirm that the future partly consisted of indefinite (aoristos) truths (viz. open possibilities) while nevertheless insisting that the gods knew the future in an exhaustively definite, unchanging way.

Mormon on the Insecurity of Calvinism

From Kwaku El, The Insecurity of Calvinism:

And perhaps such a personal insecurity resonates well with the God of Calvinism, a God that needed to prove his power, a God that created the world to boast in his own glory. A God that wasn’t secure in himself; and had to resort to bragging. A God that only loves the Calvinist or Christian, who’s theology the Calvinist approves of, and a God that only sent his son to die solely for the Calvinist or Christian, who’s theology the Calvinist approves of.
In this theology all naysayers can be disregarded. It isn’t that your theology is cruel, it isn’t that the beliefs hold a selfishness and anger toward the world, it’s just that God created them not to understand, and you’re simply better. All who disagree were made that way, but you were made to be one of the elect.

Isaiah 30:1 Commentary

Isa 30:1 “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the LORD, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin;

Throughout the Bible there is a reoccurring theme of people’s rejections of God’s plan and an implementation of their own. God laments Israel departing from His plan. In Isaiah 30, in exasperation, God reminds Israel of His work on their behalf in Egypt.

This verse overturns ideas of divine meticulous control of all events. Far from God controlling all things, God is thwarted. The people go their own way, and not God’s.

Rabbi Sacks on Hebrew Storytelling

We owe virtually all our abstract concepts to the Greeks. The Hebrew Bible knows nothing of such ideas. There is a creation narrative – in fact, more than one – but there is no theoretical discussion of what the basic elements of the universe are. There is an enthralling story about the birth of monarchy in Israel, but no discussion, such as is to be found in Plato and Aristotle, about the relative merits of monarchy as opposed to aristocracy or democracy. When the Hebrew Bible wants to explain something, it does not articulate a theory. It tells a story.

Sacks, Jonathan. The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning (p. 44). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Shed on the Decrees of God

From a Calvinist Systematic Theology:

The Divine decree is formed in eternity, but executed in time. There are sequences in the execution, but not in the formation of God’s eternal purpose. In his own mind and consciousness, God simultaneously because eternally decrees all that occurs in space and time; but the effects and results corresponding to the decree occur successively, not simultaneously. There were thirty-three years between the actual incarnation and the actual crucifixion, but not between the decree that the Logos should be incarnate and the decree that he should be crucified. In the Divine decree, Christ was simultaneously because eternally incarnate and crucified. “The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world,”

William G. T. Shedd. Dogmatic Theology (Kindle Locations 5417-5422). Monergism Books. Kindle Edition.