Worship Sunday – I’ll Fly Away

Some glad morning when this life is o’er
I’ll fly away
To that home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by
I’ll fly away
Just a few more weary days and then
I’ll fly away
To that land where joy will never end
I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by
I’ll fly away
Oh I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by
I’ll fly away

Cathrine Booth Affirming God Learning Truths

From Papers on Practical Religion:

There is a sense, doubtless, in which trial reveals us to God; makes manifest to Him, what is in our heart. Perhaps someone may object, and say, no, no; we need nothing to make manifest to God what we are, He understands us perfectly. He knows what is in man, and needs not anything to tell Him. True! and yet He says of Abraham, “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.” And to the Israelites. “And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldst keep My commandments or no.” Now God knew that Abraham feared Him, and He also knew how far Israel would keep His commandments, but He did not know as a matter of actual fact, until the fact transpired. He must have the latent principle developed in action, before he could know it as action.

Justin’s Closing Appeal to the Greeks

From Discourse to the Greeks:

CHAPTER V.–CLOSING APPEAL.

Henceforth, ye Greeks, come and partake of incomparable wisdom, and be instructed by the Divine Word, and acquaint yourselves with the King immortal; and do not recognise those men as heroes who slaughter whole nations. For our own Ruler, the Divine Word, who even now constantly aids us, does not desire strength of body and beauty of feature, nor yet the high spirit of earth’s nobility, but a pure soul, fortified by holiness, and the watchwords of our King, holy actions, for through the Word power passes into the soul. O trumpet of peace to the soul that is at war! O weapon that puttest to flight terrible passions! O instruction that quenches the innate fire of the soul! The Word exercises an influence which does not make poets: it does not equip philosophers nor skilled orators, but by its instruction it makes mortals immortal, mortals gods; and from the earth transports them to the realms above Olympus. Come, be taught; become as I am, for I, too, was as ye are. These have conquered me–the divinity of the instruction, and the power of the Word: for as a skilled serpent-charmer lures the terrible reptile from his den and causes it to flee, so the Word drives the fearful passions of our sensual nature from the very recesses of the soul; first driving forth lust, through which every ill is begotten–hatreds, strife, envy, emulations, anger, and such like. Lust being once banished, the soul becomes calm and serene. And being set free from the ills in which it was sunk up to the neck, it returns to Him who made it. For it is fit that it be restored to that state whence it departed, whence every soul was or is.
[emphasis mine]

God’s Decision Making After Creation

By Brian Wagner:

Calvinism has two main problems defending the premise that all things were predetermined by God before creation. First, they must admit words like determine, plan, and chose when used for God in Scripture must be anthropomorphic since they do not believe God does any sequential thinking required in the meaning of those words. But second, they must admit that God was not honest when in Scripture He says that He still makes choices, plans, and determinations after creation.

Exodus 33:5 (NKJV) 5“… I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do to you.” [To fit determinism God should have said – “… because I already know what to do to you.”]

Deut. 12:5 (NKJV) 5“But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.” [To fit determinism it should read “God chose”] [This word “chooses” is in the imperfect tense in Hebrew. It is translated “shall choose” in the KJV, and found in 21 more times for future divine choosing in Deuteronomy – See 12:11, 14, 18, 21, 26; 14:23, 24, 25; 15:20; 16:2, 6, 7, 11, 15, 16; 17:8, 10, 15; 18:6; 26:2; 31:11. Twice it is used for man’s future (23:16, 30:19). Either “chose” or “has chosen” was used 8 times in Deuteronomy (4:37, 7:6, 7:7, 10:15, 14:2, 16:11, 18:5, 21:5) for God’s previous choice of Israel or the tribe of Levi, but there is no indication in any of those passages of a choice made before they existed or before creation. (The KJV mistranslates the imperfect in 12:21).

2 Chr. 6:5-6 (NKJV) 5‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. 6Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’ [To fit determinism it should read “I had already chosen”]

2 Chr. 7:16 (NKJV) 16For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. [To fit determinism it should read “before creation I chose”]

Psa. 25:12 (NKJV) 12Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. [To fit determinism it should read “He has chosen”]

Psa. 65:4 (NKJV) 4 Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple. [To fit determinism it should read “You have chosen”]

Psa. 75:2 (NKJV) 2 “When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly.[To fit determinism it should read “Because I have chosen”]”

Jer 18:11 (NKJV) 11 “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ’ ” [To fit determinism it should read “I devised a plan”]

Mic 2:3 (NKJV) 3Therefore thus says the LORD: “Behold, against this family I am devising disaster, From which you cannot remove your necks; Nor shall you walk haughtily, For this [is] an evil time. [To fit determinism it should read “I devised a plan”]
Luke 22:42 (NKJV) 42…saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” [To fit determinism it should read “Even though it is not Your will”]

1Cor 12:11 (NKJV) 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. [To fit determinism it should read “as He willed”]

Heb 4:7 [NKJV] 7…again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” [To fit determinism it should read “He designated”]

Worship Sunday – Sing it from the shackles

Sing it from the shackles
Sing it from the chains
Sing it from the trenches
Sing it through the pain
There’s a song rising up
Can you hear the freedom sound
Sing it from the shackles
We’re gonna sing it loud

You’re my deliverer
You tear down the prison walls
When my heart needs a miracle
You will come through
You’re my deliverer
My anthem throughout it all
When my strength and my fight is gone
I know You will come through

You’re breaking off rejection
You’re breaking off the shame
You’re breaking off addictions
In the power of Your Name
There’s a song rising up
Can you hear that freedom sound
Sing it from the shackles
We’re gonna sing it loud

Let the darkness
Hear our praises
From these ashes
We’ll see victory

Chains are worthless
They can’t hold us
From these shackles
Show Your glory

Worship Sunday – Your Name is Power

You’re the only answer to the darkness
You’re the only right among the wrong
You’re the only hope among the chaos
You are the voice that calls me on
Louder than every lie
Our sword in every fight
The truth will chase away the night
Your name is power over darkness
Freedom for the captives
Mercy for the broken and the hopeless
Your name is faithful in the battle
Glory in the struggle
Mighty it won’t let us down or fail us
Your name is power
Your name is power
I know it is written, hope is certain
I know that the word will never fail
I know that in every situation
You speak the power to prevail
Louder than every lie
Our sword in every fight
The truth will chase away the night
Your name is power over darkness
Freedom for the captives
Mercy for the broken and the hopeless
Your name is faithful in the battle
Glory in the struggle
Mighty it won’t let us down or fail us
Your name is power
Your name is power
When you speak you scatter darkness
Light arrives and heaven opens
Holy spirit
Let us hear it
When you speak the church awakens
We believe the change is coming
Holy spirit
Let us see it
When you speak you scatter darkness
Light arrives and heaven opens
Holy spirit
Let us hear it
When you speak the church awakens
We believe the change is coming
Holy spirit
Let us see it
Your name is power over darkness
Freedom for the captives
Mercy for the broken and the hopeless
Your name is faithful in the battle
Glory in the struggle
Mighty it won’t let us down or fail us
Your name is power over darkness
Your name is power in the chaos
Your name is power

Cutting Through the Fog of Calvinism launch

A new website is being launched on Calvinism, Cutting Through the Fog of Calvinism. An excerpt:

Once upon a time, an automobile manufacture designed a luxury car with expectations of record-breaking sales. But the care was not without controversy. At highway speeds, the hood assembly would flip up and smash into the windshield. Newspapers ran stories, jokingly calling it the “flying hood car”.

Auto dealers found customers asking: “is this the flying hood car?” Salespersons were instructed to say “You must be thinking of a different car, because this unit doesn’t have a hood. What it has is an upper engine cover.”

One day a potential customer instantly recognized the car. The salesman corrected him saying: “You must be thinking of a different car because this unit doesn’t have a hood, what it has is an upper engine cover.” But the customer insisted he saw the car in the newspapers. The salesman now frustrated insisted: “I’m sorry sir you must be mistaken”. But still the customer would not relent. At that point the unhappy salesman accused him of misrepresenting the car and politely asked him to leave.

Worship Sunday – O God Forgive Us

We’ve prayed the prayer with no reply
Words float off into the night
Couldn’t cut our doubt with the sharpest knife
Oh, oh God forgive us
Silence isn’t comfortable
We want drive through peace and instant hope
Our shallow faith it has left us broke
Oh, oh God forgive us
Oh, oh God forgive us
A slave to our uncertainty
Help us with our unbelief
Oh, oh God forgive us
Young and old, black and white
Rich and poor, there’s no divide
Hear the mighty, hear the powerless, singing
Oh God forgive us
Oh God forgive us
A slave to our uncertainty
Help us with our unbelief
Oh, oh God forgive us
With our white flag sailing in the night
Eyes pointed to the sky
Hands up and open wide, open wide
With our white flag sailing in the night
Eyes pointed to the sky
Hands up and open wide, open wide
With our white flag sailing in the night
Eyes pointed to the sky
Hands up and open wide, open wide
With our white flag sailing in the night
Eyes pointed to the sky
Hands up and open wide, open wide
Oh, oh God forgive us
A slave to our uncertainty
Help us with our unbelief
Oh, oh God forgive us
Run wild. To risk everything. To hold nothing back.
To lay it all on the line: your reputation, your success, your comfort.
It’s that moment when fear is overcome by faith. Live free.
It’s not the liberty to do whatever you want whenever and wherever you want,
But rather it’s living in accordance with the author of humanity
And finding freedom by connecting with the creator who conceived you.
Let the light flood into your eyes for the first time.
Feeling the blood course through your veins, finding the truest version of yourself
By knowing the one who knows you even better than you know yourself.
Love strong. Because you were first loved. Because without love we all perish.
Because the earth and the stars can and will pass away, but love, love will always remain

Brian Abasciano on James White on Acts 13:48

From Brian Abasciano, “A Reply to James White Concerning His Faulty Treatment of the Greek and Context of Acts 13:48”

James White responded to my brief article, “James White’s Faulty Treatment of the Greek and Context of Acts 13:48” on his “Dividing Line” radio program of March 8, 2015. As a minister and biblical scholar, I welcome review and critique of my writings. This allows all of us to refine our thinking and scholarship as we move forward in our own spiritual and scriptural understanding. As the saying goes, “Theology is done in community,” and as a community we engage each other for correction and sharpening of our understanding of God’s word and discovery of aspects of the text of Scripture and its background that we might not have considered before. However, I have to confess that I found White’s response to be disappointing and weak, long on rhetoric and short on substance. One of White’s main tactics was to pepper his comments with ridicule and expressions of shocked incredulity.

Worship Sunday – On the Rock

I can see the clouds roll in
I can feel the winds, they try to shake me
I will not be moved
My feet are on the rock

I can feel the waters rise
I can hear the howling lies that haunt me
Fear won’t hold me now
My feet are on the rock

When I feel my hope about to break
I will cling to Your unchanging grace
Let the waters come and the earth give way
I’ll be dancing in the rain
My feet are on the rock

I can see the morning light
I can feel the joy on the horizon
Here my faith is found
I stand on solid ground

When I feel my hope about to break
I will cling to Your unchanging grace
Let the waters come and the earth give way
I’ll be dancing in the rain
My feet are on the rock

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
So stomp your feet and clap your hands
Our feet are on the rock

When I feel my hope about to break
I will cling to Your unchanging grace
Let the waters come and the earth give way
I’ll be dancing in the rain
My feet are on the rock

12 Point about Calvin’s Murder of Servetus

1. Heresy was never established as a crime in Geneva. The crime of Blasphemy (not to be confused with Heresy) had always been punished with exile in Geneva.
2. Calvin, when the Catholics had power, argued heresy was not a death penalty offense (Institutes). After killing Servetus, Calvin reversed his stance (Defense of the orthodox faith in the sacred Trinity), and edited out of new editions of the Institutes his earlier position.
3. Calvin’s companion, Castellio was horrified at Calvin’s bloodlust against Servetus. Castellio argued the above points, plus Castellio argued for a principle of free speech.
4. Servetus did not write or speak in Geneva and therefor broke no laws of Geneva. He was a visitor, punished for thought crimes.
5. Calvin bragged about executing Servetus in his Defense of the Orthodox Faith and in a letters to Marquis Paet.
6. Before Servetus was murdered, Calvin wrote to Farel and Viret his intentions to kill Servetus.
7. Calvin had god-like power in Geneva. In 1552, the Senate of Geneva decreed the Institutes were “God’s doctrine”.
8. Testifying to his power in Geneva, Calvin also personally had revised the Civil Code of Geneva and also the Geneva Confession of Faith (1536).
9. The court (laymen led town counsel) originally was only considering exiling Servetus, until Calvin appeared in court. Calvin convinced them to increase the penalty to death, more than the maximum that the blasphemy laws allowed.
10. Calvin personally argued to the layman court, that the Bible condoned putting Servetus to death.
11. Calvin also ensured Servetus would be denied legal counsel.
12. Calvin ensured Servetus’ request for appeal be denied, and thus denied Servetus’ case to be heard by lawyers.

Worship Sunday – Big House

I don’t know where you lay your head
Or where you call your home
I don’t know where you eat your meals
Or where you talk on the phone
I don’t know if you got a cook
A butler or a maid
I don’t know if you got a yard
With a hammock in the shade
I don’t know if you got some shelter
Say a place to hide
I don’t know if you live with friends
In whom you can confide
I don’t know if you got a family
Say a mom or dad
I don’t know if you feel love at all
But I bet you wish you had
Come and go with me
To my Father’s house
Come and go with me
To my Father’s house
It’s a big big house
With lots and lots a room
A big big table
With lots and lots of food
A big big yard
Where we can play football
A big big house
Its my Father’s house
Ibidibidee bop bop bow whew! yeah!
All I know is a big ole house
With rooms for everyone
All I know is lots a land
Where we can play and run
All I know is you need love
And I’ve got a family
All I know is your all alone
So why not come with me?
Come and go with me
To my Father’s house
Come and go with me
To my Father’s house
It’s a big big house
With lots and lots a room
A big big table
With lots and lots of food
A big big yard
Where we can play football
A big big house
Its my Father’s house
It’s a big big house
With lots and lots a room
A big big table
With lots and lots of food
A big big yard
Where we can play football
A big big house
Its my Father’s house
Come and go with me
To my Father’s house
Come and go with me
To my Father’s house
It’s a big big house
With lots and lots a room
A big big table
With lots and lots of food
A big big yard
Where we can play football
A big big house
Its my Father’s house

Augustine on what he learned from the Platonists

From Confessions:

Therefore You brought in my way by means of a certain man—an incredibly conceited man—some books of the Platonists translated from Greek into Latin. In them I found, though not in the very words, yet the thing itself and proved by all sorts of reasons: that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the

(16) Being admonished by all this to return to myself, I entered into my own depths, with You as guide; and I was able to do it because You were my helper. I entered, and with the eye of my soul, such as it was, I saw Your unchangeable Light shining over that same eye of my soul, over my mind. It was not the light of everyday that the eye of flesh can see, nor some greater light of the same order, such as might be if the brightness of our daily light should be seen shining with a more intense brightness and filling all things with its greatness. Your light was not that, but other, altogether other, than all such lights.

(17) Then I thought upon those other things that are less than You, and I saw that they neither absolutely are nor yet totally are not: they are, in as much as they are from You: they are not, in as much as they are not what You are. For that truly is, which abides unchangeably. But it is good for me to adhere to my God, for if I abide not in Him, I cannot abide in myself. But He, in abiding in Himself, renews all things: and Thou art my God for Thou hast no need of my goods.

(18) And it became clear to me that corruptible things are good: if they were supremely good they could not be corrupted, but also if they were not good at all they could not be corrupted: if they were supremely good they would be incorruptible, if they were in no way good there would be nothing in them that might corrupt. For corruption damages; and unless it diminished goodness, it would not damage. Thus either corruption does no damage, which is impossible or—and this is the certain proof of it—all things that are corrupted are deprived of some goodness. But if they were deprived of all goodness, they would be totally without being. For if they might still be and yet could no longer be corrupted, they would be better than in their first state, because they would abide henceforth incorruptibly. What could be more monstrous than to say that things could be made better by losing all their goodness? If they were deprived of all goodness, they would be altogether nothing: therefore as long as they are, they are good. Thus whatsoever things are, are good; and that evil whose origin I sought is not a substance, because if it were a substance it would be good. For either it would be an incorruptible substance, that is to say, the highest goodness; or it would be a corruptible substance, which would not be corruptible unless it were good. Thus I saw and clearly realised that You have made all things good, and that there are no substances not made by You. And because all the things You have made are not equal, they have a goodness [over and above] as a totality: because they are good individually, and they are very good all together, for our God has made all things very good.
(19) To You, then evil utterly is not—and not only to You, but to Your whole creation likewise, evil is not: because there is nothing over and above Your creation that could break in or derange the order that You imposed upon it. But in certain of its parts there are some things which we call evil because they do not harmonise with other things; yet these same things do harmonise with still others and thus are good; and in themselves they are good. All these things which do not harmonise with one another, do suit well with that lower part of creation which we call the earth, which has its cloudy and windy sky in some way apt to it. God forbid that I should say: “I wish that these things were not”; because even if I saw only them, though I should want better things, yet even for them alone I should praise You: for that You are to be praised, things of earth show—dragons, and all deeps, fire, hail, snow, ice, and stormy winds, which fulfill Thy word; mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars; beasts and all cattle, serpents and feathered fowl; kings of the earth and all people, princes and all judges of the earth; young men and maidens, old men and young, praise Thy name. And since from the heavens, O our God, all Thy angels praise Thee in the high places, and all Thy hosts, sun and moon, all the stars and lights, the heavens of heavens, and the waters that are above the heavens, praise Thy name—I no longer desired better, because I had thought upon them all and with clearer judgment I realised that while certain higher things are better than lower things, yet all things together are better than the higher alone.
…Turning from that error it had made for itself a god occupying the infinite measures of all space, and had thought this god to be You, and had placed it in its heart,91 and thus had once again become the temple of its own idol, a temple abominable to You. But You caressed my head, though I knew it not, and closed my eyes that they should not see vanity; and I ceased from myself a little and found sleep from my madness. And from that sleep I awakened in You, and I saw You infinite in a different way; but that sight was not with the eyes of flesh.

(21) And I looked upon other things, and I saw that they owed their being to You, and that all finite things are in You: but in a different manner, being in You not as in a place, but because You are and hold all things in the hand of Your truth, and all things are true inasmuch as they are: nor is falsehood anything save that something is thought to be which is not. And I observed that all things harmonised not only with their places but also with their times; and that You, who alone are eternal, did not begin to work after innumerable spaces of time had gone by: since all the spaces of time, spaces past, spaces to come, could neither go nor come if You did not operate and abide.
…So that when I now asked what is iniquity, I realised that it was not a substance but a swerving of the will which is turned towards lower things and away from You, O God, who are the supreme substance: so that it casts away what is most inward to it and swells greedily for outward things.
…Inquiring then what was the source of my judgment, when I did so judge I had discovered the immutable and true eternity of truth above my changing mind. Thus by stages I passed from bodies to the soul which uses the body for its perceiving, and from this to the soul’s inner power, to which the body’s senses present external things, as indeed the beasts are able; and from there I passed on to the reasoning power, to which is referred for judgment what is received from the body’s senses. This too realised that it was mutable in me, and rose to its own understanding. It withdrew my thought from its habitual way, abstracting from the confused crowds of phantasms that it might find what light suffused it, when with utter certainty it cried aloud that the immutable was to be preferred to the mutable, and how it had come to know the immutable itself: for if it had not come to some knowledge of the immutable, it could not have known it as certainly preferable to the mutable. Thus in the thrust of a trembling glance my mind arrived at That Which Is. Then indeed I saw clearly Your invisible things which are understood by the things that are made;101 but I lacked the strength to hold my gaze fixed, and my weakness was beaten back again so that I returned to my old habits, bearing nothing with me but a memory of delight and a desire as for something of which I had caught the fragrance but which I had not yet the strength to eat.

(26) Now that I had read the books of the Platonists and had been set by them towards the search for a truth that is incorporeal, I came to see Your invisible things which are understood by the things that are made. I was at a standstill, yet I felt what through the darkness of my mind I was not able actually to see; I was certain that You are and that You are infinite, but not as being diffused through space whether finite or infinite: that You truly are and are ever the same,115 not in any part or by any motion different or otherwise; and I knew that all other things are from You from the simple fact that they are at all. Of these things I was utterly certain, yet I had not the strength to enjoy You. I talked away as if I knew a great deal; but if I had not sought the way to You in Christ our Saviour, I would have come not to instruction but to destruction. For I had begun to wish to appear wise, and this indeed was the fullness of my punishment; and I did not weep for my state, but was badly puffed up with my knowledge. Where was that charity which builds us up upon the foundation of humility, which is Christ Jesus?119 Or when would those books have taught me that? Yet I think it was Your will that I should come upon these books before I had made study of the Scriptures, that it might be impressed on my memory how they had affected me: so that, when later I should have become responsive to You through Your Books with my wounds healed by the care of Your fingers, I might be able to discern the difference that there is between presumption and confession, between those who see what the goal is but do not see the way, and [those who see] the Way which leads to that country of blessedness, which we are meant not only to know but to dwell in. If I had been first formed by Your Holy Scriptures so that You had grown sweet to me through their familiar use, and had come later upon these books of the Platonists, they might have swept me away from the solid ground of piety; and even if I had remained firm in that disposition which for my health Scripture had taught me, I might perhaps have thought that the same disposition could have been acquired from those books if a man studied them alone.

Brown on Augustine’s Christian Platonism

From the introduction to Sheed’s translation of Augustine’s Confessions:

We follow Augustine as he thought himself out of this dilemma, in Rome and Milan, like a man gasping for air. At last, in the summer of 386, he broke free. A few nameless books, written by nameless “Platonists translated from Greek into Latin,” were lent to him by a nameless intellectual—“a certain man—an incredibly conceited man” (VII.9.13). (Books that really changed Augustine’s mind, like the friends whose departures had really cut into his heart, remain nameless: a source of much fruitful frustration to the modern scholar, but characteristic of the whole tone of Augustine’s narrative of this crucial time.) Within a month or so, the system which we now know as the Catholic Platonism of Augustine slipped into place.

Bavinck on the Purpose of Creation

The world plan is so conceived by God that it can radiantly exhibit his glory and perfections in a manner and measure suited to each creature. It is a mirror in which God displays his image. It is the creaturely reflection of his adorable being: a finite, limited, nonexhaustive, yet true and faithful reproduction of his self-knowledge.

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2 (p. 347). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

On Reading Plato

From The History of Philosophy, from the Beginning to Plato:

If this is so, then we need to steer a middle course: neither should we assume that Plato takes literally all the many ideas that he develops through his characters in the dialogues (which would be dangerous on any account), nor should we attempt to eliminate altogether what may seem to us the more fantastic and apparently poetic elements among them. (Indeed, for some Neoplatonist and Renaissance interpreters the latter probably take us closer to the core of Platonism.) We must remain aware that Plato’s philosophical writing is a complex matter, and that his motives as a writer may sometimes directly affect the content of that writing, as indeed may his chosen literary form. Thus, for instance, particular dialogues will often follow out a particular line of thought to the exclusion of others, which it is difficult to bring in within the fiction of a particular conversation (the treatment of immortality in the Symposium is one clear example; see above).

Cicero on Plato’s Contradictory Ideas of God and Footnote

Cicero:

‘It would take too long to recount the self-contradictions in Plato.* In the Timaeus, he states that the father of the universe cannot be named; and in the books of the Laws, that we should not investigate the nature of god at all. As for his claim that god is wholly incorporeal (as the Greeks say, asomaton), what such a nature could possibly be is inconceivable, for it would inevitably lack sensation as well as practical wisdom and pleasure, all of which we associate with our conception of gods. Plato further states both in the Timaeus and in the Laws that the universe is god, and that so are the sky, the stars, the earth, our souls, and the deities we inherit from ancestral tradition. Such views are clearly false in themselves, and wildly self-contradictory. 30
Cicero. The Nature of the Gods (Oxford World’s Classics) (p. 14). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.

Footnote:

Plato: for the citation from the Timaeus, see § 19 n.; the quotation from the Laws (7. 821) totally misrepresents Plato’s own view, for in that passage he is presenting the common notion of Athenians which he proceeds to contradict, here and elsewhere (Laws 9. 966) arguing that astronomy should be studied as a work of piety. There is justification for the claim that Plato’s god is incorporeal; as for his lacking pleasure, Plato attacks the notion that gods enjoy pleasure (Philebus 33b), which for Epicureans is the highest good. It is true that in his Timaeus Plato makes the stars gods, owing their immortality to the will of the Demiourgos; and in the Laws, Ouranos (heaven) is the supreme deity, and the stars are the adornments of the gods. It is possible to make these views consistent by identifying Ouranos with Demiourgos as labels for the creative Mind; but Plato’s pronouncements are poetic and speculative, not to be subjected to the literal interpretation employed by Velleius.
Cicero. The Nature of the Gods (Oxford World’s Classics) (p. 154). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.

Cicero calls Plato a god among philosophers

Cicero, two times, refers to Plato as “god”. Likely stealth mocking Plato’s revered status during Cicero’s lifetime (@ 50BC):

‘Here we must lend an ear to Plato, the god so to say among philosophers.*
Cicero. The Nature of the Gods (Oxford World’s Classics) (p. 58). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.

And

In those books which you commend you complain of the absence of Scaevola among the speakers. Well, I did not withdraw him without a set purpose, but I did exactly what that god of our idolatry, Plato, did in his Republic.
[link]

Calvin on Simplicity and Servetus

Moreover, those phantoms which Servetus substitutes for the hypostases he so transforms as to make new changes in God. But the most execrable heresy of all is his confounding both the Son and Spirit promiscuously with all the creatures. For he distinctly asserts, that there are parts and partitions in the essence of God, and that every such portion is God. This he does especially when he says, that the spirits of the faithful are co-eternal and consubstantial with God, although he elsewhere assigns a substantial divinity, not only to the soul of man, but to all created things.

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

Worship Sunday – Revival Anthem

Spirit fall down
Start a Holy riot
Fill this place now
With the tongues of fire
Break the strongholds
Come and unleash heaven 
Burn within us
Make us bold as lions

This is our revival anthem
Can you feel the darkness shaking
Oh, we are the dry bones rising 
This will be our great awakening
This is our revival anthem

Fill our hearts, Lord
With a Holy danger
Lead us beyond
Our fear of failure
We’ll fight the good fight
In Your strength and power
We’ll take back the night
Victory is ours 

We will praise You when our hearts are breaking
Praise You when our world is caving
We will not, we will not be moved
We will praise You till we see Your kingdom 
Greater things are surely coming
You are God, and You are on the move

Worship Sunday – I Will Worship You

When I am losing
When I am broken
When I am sinking like a stone
And it feels like I am alone
I will worship You
When I am so scared
Life is unfair
When I am tired to lose my way
When I am feeling so ashamed
I will worship You
You are the anchor to my soul
Draw me to you and soon it go
Only love can make me whole
Jesus I worship you
Jesus I worship you
When I am dancing
When I am hopeful
When I am feeling mercy’s hand
And I’m living life again
I will worship you
When chains are broken
When heal it’s coming
When you will forgive me my heart
This is my brand new start
I will worship you, yeah
You are the anchor to my soul
Draw me to you and soon it go
Only love can make me whole
Jesus I worship you
Jesus I worship you
Halleluia
Halleluia
Halleluia
I got to run
You are the anchor to my soul
Draw me to you and soon it go
Only love can make me whole
Jesus I worship you
Jesus I worship you
Jesus I worship you

Oord on the Coronavirus

From God’s Will and the Coronavirus

Many who claim God causes or allows the Coronavirus will see some good that comes from our current crisis. They’ll point to stories of self-sacrifice or the good that comes from people cooperating to combat this pandemic.

Upon seeing the good that comes from the pandemic, some will use a “greater good” argument. “We’ve learned something valuable from the Coronavirus!” they might say. “This pandemic has taught us we don’t need all the stuff we thought we needed.” “It took a virus for us to learn to slow down and focus on what’s important.”

Good things will come from the evils we currently face. Count on it. But we shouldn’t say God causes or allows evil for this good. It isn’t part of some predetermined plan.

Working with a diseased creation, God works to wring whatever good can be wrung from the wrong God didn’t cause or allow.

Instead, we should think God squeezes some good from the bad God didn’t want in the first place.

God never gives up on anyone or any situation. Working with a broken and diseased creation, God works to wring whatever good can be wrung from the wrong God didn’t cause or allow.

Calvin on Simplicity and the Trinity

For the essence of God being simple and undivided, and contained in himself entire, in full perfection, without partition or diminution, it is improper, nay, ridiculous, to call it his express image, (charakte). But because the Father, though distinguished by his own peculiar properties, has expressed himself wholly in the Son, he is said with perfect reason to have rendered his person (hypostasis) manifest in him. And this aptly accords with what is immediately added, viz.,that he is “the brightness of his glory.” The fair inference from the Apostle’s words is, that there is a proper subsistence (hypostasis) of the Father, which shines refulgent in the Son. From this, again it is easy to infer that there is a subsistence (hypostasis) of the Son which distinguishes him from the Father.

The same holds in the case of the Holy Spirit; for we will immediately prove both that he is God, and that he has a separate subsistence from the Father. This, moreover, is not a distinction of essence, which it were impious to multiply.

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

Worship Sunday – Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art
High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

Augustine the Committed Neoplatonist

From Ultimate Reality according to Augustine of Hippo by Roland Teske:

Toward the beginning of this century Prosper Alfaric touched off a storm of protest when he claimed that both morally and intellectually Augustine of Hippo was converted to Neoplatonism in 386 ratherthan to the Gospel (Alfaric, I 9 I 8, p. 399), even adding that, if he had died shortly thereafter, he would have been remembered as a committed Neoplatonist, slightly tinged with Christianity (Alfaric, 1918, p. 527).

Josephus on Omnipresence in 1 Samuel 20

From Antiquities Book 6:

8. But Jonathan heard these last words with indignation; and promised to do what he desired of him, and to inform him if his father’s answers implied any thing of a melancholy nature, and any enmity against him. And that he might the more firmly depend upon him, he took him out into the open field, into the pure air, and sware that he would neglect nothing that might tend to the preservation of David; and he said, “I appeal to that God, who, as thou seest, is diffused every where, and knoweth this intention of mine, before I explain it in words, as the witness of this my covenant with thee: that I will not leave off to make frequent trials of the purpose of my father, till I learn whether there be any lurking distemper in the secretest parts of his soul: and when I have learnt it, I will not conceal it from thee, but will discover it to thee; whether he be gently or peevishly disposed. For this God himself knows, that I pray he may always be with thee: for he is with thee now, and will not forsake thee; and will make thee superior to thine enemies; whether my father be one of them, or whether I my self be such. Do thou only remember what we now do: and if it fall out that I die, preserve my children alive; and requite what kindness thou hast now received, to them.”

Worship Sunday – Jesus Paid it All

I hear the Saviour say
Thy strength indeed is small
Child of weakness, watch and pray
Find in Me thine all in all

Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete
Jesus died my soul to save
My lips shall still repeat

O Praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead
O Praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead

AW Pink on God Controlling Everything

Is it not clear that God foreknows what will be because He has decreed what shall be? God’s foreknowledge is not the cause of events,
rather are events the effects of His eternal purpose. when God has decreed a thing shall be He knows it will! be. In the nature of things
there cannot be anything known as what shall be unless it is certain to be, and there is nothing certain to be unless God has ordained
it shall be.

-AW Pink, The Sovereignty of God

Spurgeon on God controlling everything

“I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes – that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens – that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence – the fall of . . . leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.”

― Charles Spurgeon

Worship Sunday – In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

Matthew 7:11 Commentary

Mat 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Matthew 7:11 is the conclusion of a section labeled by the NKJV as “Ask, and It Will Be Given”. The immediate point is that all individuals have to do is ask, and God will provide. Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. God responds to the prayers of His people. This is reaffirmed in verse 11, in which the text affirms that God is not going to give people suffering in response to their prayer. God is much better than evil people who treat their children well. God is a good God who treats His children very well.

This entire section is a commentary on the mindset of Jesus. God is the God who responds to prayer. He is not the Calvinistic God who makes His people suffer, but responds with good gifts. The relationship aspect of prayer is in the forefront of Jesus’ mind.

Fox on Ambrose’s Platonism

In general, Ambrose shared the Apostle Paul’s low opinion of the ‘foolish philosophy’ of this world, but there was one exception: Platonism, with its unworldly emphasis. In a series of brilliant studies, the late Pierre Courcelle showed that phrases adapted and culled from the Platonist Plotinus are present in surviving texts of several of Ambrose’s sermons, those datable, probably, between 386 and 387.26 Whether or not Ambrose ever read Plotinus directly, these statements relate him to the Platonist milieu which is traceable among Augustine’s new ‘friends’.

Fox, Robin Lane. Augustine . Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

Rosicrucian Digest on the Goal of NeoPlatonism

The ultimate goal of human life and of philosophy is to realize the mystical return of the soul to the Divine. Freeing itself from the sensuous world by purification, the human soul ascends by successive steps through the various degrees of the metaphysical order, until it unites itself in communion with the One.

Bindon, Peter. Neoplatonism: Rosicrucian Digest (Rosicrucian Order AMORC Kindle Editions) . Rosicrucian Order, AMORC. Kindle Edition.

Matthew 8:10 Commentary

Mat 8:10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!

In Matthew 8:10, Jesus encounters a Centurion who believes Jesus could heal his servant remotely. Jesus “marvels”. This is a gentile who believes Jesus has more power than even the natives of Israel. The marveling suggests this is news to Jesus. Despite some depictions of Jesus as Omniscient, the text of Matthew portrays him learning and even being surprised.

Worship Sunday – God of Rest

Vengo a adorarte, vengo a cantarte
Vengo a decirte que eres mi Dios
Dios poderoso, Dios del descanso
Mientras cantamos aqui Tu estas

You are the one who sees all our needs
You are the one who provides
You are the peace that our souls receive
En Ti podemos descansar

God over our striving, God over our sleep
God over our struggle, our work and our rest
God over our future, God over our history
God over our family, our people, our land
God over our striving, God over our sleep
God over our struggle, our work and our rest
God over our future, God over our history
God over our family, our people, our land

When we lift You up, You lift us up
When we lift You up, You lift us up
When we lift You up, You lift us up
En Ti podemos descansar

Matthew 18:14 Commentary

Mat 18:14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

In Matthew 18:14, Jesus concludes a section on God’s love for children. In verse 10, Jesus describes what very easily could be a concept like a guardian angel. These angels petition God on behalf of the children, so attempts to hurt children have special weight and heightened consequence.

God wills that no children should “perish”. Presumably this means the children are hurt physically or spiritually. This is God’s desire, but the context reveals that God doesn’t always get what He wants. Sometimes people hurt these children. Verse 10 describes individuals “despising” the children. Verses 11 and 12 describe God reclaiming lost sheep. God’s desire is to bring all the lost into the fold. This is worth celebrating.

Craig Drurey – Signing Off

From the recently deceased Craig Drurey:

As the church, we have often described the Bible as God’s story. Indeed, it does reveal God’s interaction with creation. However, I think we leave out an important segment that God values when we describe scripture in this way. A more helpful way would be to describe scripture as not only God’s story, but our story—the story of how humanity has interacted with God.

In this view, God would never authoritatively dictate the words to be written, the books to be canonized, or our interpretation as we read today. Absolutely, God was, is, and will continue to be fully involved in the process of scripture. However, just like the Roloff family, God invites and desires full human interaction with scripture. The uncontrolling love of God makes for a much more beautiful view of scripture—a view where scripture is not only fully God but fully human. Scripture takes on the sometimes flawed humanity but still reveals a loving God perfectly.

John Vervaeke on the Biblical God of an Open Future

From: Ep. 3 – Awakening from the Meaning Crisis – Continuous Cosmos and Modern World Grammar

ancient Israel’s significant psychotechnology is understanding time as a cosmic narrative of a story – the invention of using a story through time as a way of explaining the cycles of the cosmos – the infinite cycle is onerous, it is boring, you want to get free from the cycle! doing the cycle forever, is terrifying, you want nirvana, release from the cycle, because there is no purpose to the cycle! – the great disembedding combined with the invention of a time driven story (beginning, change, end) has the future open, your actions can change the future – you can now participate with god, in the ongoing creation of the future – stories operate on meaning and morality – the moral content of your action decides how things are going to go – this is why the god of ancient Israel is such a different god – before axial, gods were gods of places or functions, there is no significant moral arc – the god of the old testament, is a moral arc not bound to time and place – exodus, the Israelites are embedded within the everyday world, god comes and liberates them to the real world, a journey to a future to the promised land, a god that moves between time and space, a god to future, that is why god has no name at the start – when Moses asks god his name, finally, god responds with, which has been poorly translated since, “I am the god of the open future, and you can participate with me, in the story of the ongoing creation of the future, to resolution or off course” – we still take courses in universities – we go to the cinema, to see stories, of how the future could be made

Cocker on Contradictions of Zeus

It is also true that the Homeric Zeus is full of contradictions. He is “all-seeing,” yet he is cheated; he is “omnipotent,” yet he is defied; he is “eternal,” yet he has a father; he is “just,” yet he is guilty of crime.

And yet there are passages, even in Homer, which clearly distinguish Zeus from all the other divinities, and mark him out as the Supreme. He is “the highest, first of Gods” (bk. xix. 284); “most great, most glorious Jove” (bk. ii. 474). He is “the universal Lord” (bk. xi. 229); “of mortals and immortals king supreme,” (bk. xii. 263); “over all the immortal gods he reigns in unapproached pre-eminence of power” (bk. xv. 125). He is “the King of kings” (bk. viii. 35), whose “will is sovereign” (bk. iv. 65), and his “power invincible” (bk. viii. 35). He is the “eternal Father” (bk. viii. 77). He “excels in wisdom gods and men; all human things from him proceed” (bk. xiii. 708-10); “the Lord of counsel” (bk. i. 208), “the all-seeing Jove” (bk. xiii. 824). Indeed the mere expression “Father of gods and men” (bk. i. 639), so often applied to Zeus, and him alone, is proof sufficient that, in spite of all the legendary stories of gods and heroes, the idea of Zeus as the Supreme God, the maker of the world, the Father of gods and men, the monarch and ruler of the world, was not obliterated from the Greek mind. 167

Cocker, B.F.. Christianity and Greek Philosophy (p. 122). Oia Press. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Let Your Mercy Rain

God, You have done great things
God, You give grace to the weak
And bless the brokenhearted
With a song of praise to sing
You reached down and lifted us up
You came running, looking for us
And now there’s nothing
And no one beyond Your love
You’re the overflow
You’re the fountain of my heart
So let Your mercy rain
Let Your mercy rain on us
God, You have done great things
God, You give grace to the weak
And bless the broken hearted
With a song of praise to sing
You reached down and lifted us up
You came running, looking for us
And now there’s nothing
And no one beyond Your love, Your love
You’re the overflow
You’re the fountain of my heart
So let Your mercy rain
Let Your mercy rain on us
You’re the faithful one
When the world’s falling apart
So let Your mercy rain
Let…

Dolezal on Bruce Ware being an Open Theist

Second, when Ware says that God “actually enters into relationship with his people,” he means that God is somehow moving along with them in a correlative sense in which He has voluntarily opened Himself up to being affected (i.e., acted upon) and thus changed by the creature. Even if God happens to be the one willing and controlling all of these relational changes, it is still an ontological openness in God to some further determination of (accidental) being for which Ware is arguing, though he may not be fully self-conscious of having embraced ontological mutability. Insisting that these changes in God do not affect God’s nature seems irrelevant. No change that has ever touched a creature has produced a real change in its nature either—in its matter or in its being as a particular creaturely suppositum, yes; but in its nature as such, no.38 Again, the driving conviction seems to be that anything less than correlative relationality would not count as meaningful interaction between God and His moral creatures. This is the heart of theistic mutualism, and it motivates a key part of Ware’s appeal to his open theist counterparts.

It is crucial to understand that Ware’s dispute here is an in-house disagreement with his fellow theistic mutualists. He shares common ground with process and open theists on the question of being and becoming in God. Like them, he endorses the idea of a God who is subject to alterations of being—thus, for Ware, God is becoming in some respect. But in conceding that God is moved by His creatures, Ware does not accept the open theist claim that intelligent creatures are sometimes the independent, autonomous, and original source of change in God. Freewill theism, which Ware rejects, offers a different explanation regarding the source of ontological change in God. This is where the quarrel lies for Ware. He is concerned with the author ultimately responsible for the changes in God, not whether or not God undergoes change.
Dolezal, James E.. All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism . Reformation Heritage Books. Kindle Edition.

Pettazzoni on Wisdom Literature Omniscience

We find that in the Wisdom literature the chief object of the divine omniscience is man, the human race in general and its deeds and thoughts, its actions and meditations. On the other hand, divine omniscience appears in the Wisdom literature as more complete than in the Psalms. In the latter, indeed, it does not reach the world of the dead, but stops, so to speak, at the threshold of the lower regions. Yahweh, more or less of choice, knows nothing of the dead:

Raffaele Pettazzoni, The All Knowing God, p 102

Pettazzoni on relative Omniscience

The omniscience of Yahweh, if we consider it, not theologically, as an abstract attribute of Deity, i.e., as absolute omniscience, but historically in its concrete, though imperfect formulation as relative omniscience, is so organically connected with the particular and well-defined ideological complex which makes up the figure of Yahweh himself that it is difficult to suppose it has a different origin. In the conscience and the history of Israel,Yahweh is the wakeful, avenging, ”jealous” God, the wrathful God who judges and punishes. Now a God who punishes is a God who knows. Yahweh’s omniscience has for its principal object the doings of mankind, and his punitive sanction is often exercised by means of weather-phenomena. Universal vision and knowledge and punitive sanction are complementary aspects of the figure of Yahweh, and another complementary aspect is his abode in the sky ( cf. the Tower of Babel, Gen. xi. 1 /qq., Jacob’s ladder, Gen. xxviii. I2 sqq., also I Kings xxii. xg, etc.). It is from the sky that he sees what men are doing, and from the sky that he sends his chastisement.

Raffaele Pettazzoni, The All Knowing God, p 108

Worship Sunday – Yahweh

Spirit of Jesus
Living within us
Never to fail or forsake
Unending promise
Heaven inside us
Whispers the sound of Your name

Holy, Holy is the Lord
Worthy to be praised
Yahweh
Fire rising in my soul
All consuming flame
Yahweh

Filled with Your wonder
Here I surrender
Held in Your mystery of grace
Calling me closer
Waking desire
Coming alive in Your name

Holy, Holy is the Lord
Worthy to be praised
Yahweh
Fire rising in my soul
All consuming flame
Yahweh

He who was and is to come
Is the One who lives in us
The great I am
Yahweh

Holy, Holy is the Lord
Worthy to be praised
Yahweh
Fire rising in my soul
All consuming flame
Yahweh

Fretheim on the Meaning of Genesis 6

God’s regretful response assumes that humans have successfully resisted God’s will for the creation. For God to continue to interact with this creation in the wake of such defiance involves God’s decision to continue to live with such resisting creatures (not the response of your typical CEO). In addition, God’s regret assumes that God did not know for sure that this would happen (as elsewhere, see Gen 22:12; Deut 8:2).32 Moreover, the text provides no support for a position that claims God planned for the creation to take this course. What has happened to the creation is due to human activity, not divine. At the same time, God bears some responsibility for setting up the creation in such a way that it could go wrong and have such devastating effects.

While this story does recharacterize the divine relationship to the world, it also makes clear that God is not simply resigned to evil. God must find a new way of dealing with the problem of evil. Two complementary directions are taken:

(a) For God to promise not to do something again entails an eternal self-limitation regarding the exercise of divine freedom and power. God thereby limits the divine options in dealing with evil in the life of the world. And, given the fact that God will keep promises, divine selflimitation yields real limitation. The route of world annihilation has been set aside as a divine possibility. Divine judgment there will be, but it will be limited in scope. And hence no simple retributive system is put into place; sin and evil will be allowed to have their day, and God will work from within such a world to redeem it, not overpower the world from without. This divine direction with the world is developed further in 9:8-17.

(b) Genesis 6:5-7 makes the bold claim that this kind of divine response means that God will take the route of suffering.33 For God to decide to endure a wicked world, while continuing to open up the divine heart to that world, means that God’s grief is ongoing. God thus determines to take suffering into God’s own self and bear it there for the sake of the future of the world. It is precisely this kind of God with whom ancient readers are involved, and it is primarily the divine commitment to promises made that they need most to hear.

Fretheim, Terence E.. God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation . Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Fretheim on Genesis 6

The focus of the present text is signaled by the repeated conviction about human sinfulness that brackets the account (6:5; 8:21) and the associated disclosures regarding divine sorrow, regret, disappointment, mercy, and promise. God appears not as an angry judge but as a grieving and pained parent, distressed at developments (6:6-7); yet, the judgment as initially announced is thorough and uncompromising (“I will blot out” in 6:7 allows for no exceptions). This inner-divine tension is resolved on the side of mercy when God freely chooses Noah (6:8). Noah, whose faithful walk with God is exemplified by his obedience (6:9, 22; 7:5, 9, 16; 8:18), including his stewarding of the animals (see 1:28), becomes a vehicle for God’s new possibilities for the creation (anticipated in the announcement of 5:29).

Fretheim, Terence E.. God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation . Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Fretheim on Evil and Creation

59 I believe that the consistent witness of the Old Testament is that sin and evil do not have their origins in God nor are they written by God into the structures of the universe. Sin and evil have their origins in the human will, not in God or in God’s plan. At the same time, when sin and evil do enter into the life of the world, they do not become constitutive of what it means to be human (or any other creature). That means that we are not so permeated with sin and evil that we cannot name such forces or work against them. At the same time, it needs to be said that evil is a powerful reality in the world and has become systemic, built up over time into the very infrastructure of creation. A reclamation of creation will be necessary.60

Fretheim, Terence E.. God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation . Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – My Glorious

The worlds shaking, with the love of God
Great and Glorious, let the whole earth sing
Let it sing
The worlds shaking, with the love of God
Great and Glorious, let the whole earth sing
And all You ever do, is change the old for new
And people, we believe that…
God is bigger than the air I breathe
And the world we’ll leave
God will save the day, and all will say
My Glorious, my Glorious
Clouds are breaking, heavens come to earth
Hearts awakening, let the church bells ring
And all You ever do, is change the old for new
And people, we believe that…
God is bigger than the air I breathe
And the world we’ll leave
God will save the day, and all will say:
My Glorious, my Glorious
My Glorious, my Glorious
My Glorious, my Glorious…

We are living in a 3rd century world

From Theologian says God not in control:

“We’re still living in the 21st century with a vision of God in relationship to the world that was hammered out in the Patristic period, that was reaffirmed in the Protestant Reformation, that characterized the life of the church in the 18th, 19th and most of the 20th century,” E. Frank Tupper, distinguished professor of divinity emeritus at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, said in a Dec. 24 podcast at Homebrewed Christianity.

Worship Sunday – God of Our Mothers and Fathers

God of our mothers and fathers
Come now and move among us
What You did before come and do once more
We want to be a part of Your story
God of our mothers and fathers
Show Your glory to Your sons and daughters
What You were back then come and be again
We want to see Your power in our presence
In our time, in our day
Come and move in this place
Come and move, God, move, God, move, God
In this place
God of our mothers and fathers
Send Your Spirit just like You promised
You can have Your way, visit us today
We want to see Your power in our presence
In our time, in our day
Come and move in this place
In our time, and in our day
Come and move in this place
Come and move, God, move, God, move, God
In this place
God of our mothers and fathers, come be our God
God of our mothers and fathers, come be our God
Come take the vineyard You planted and make us new wine, mm
God of our mothers and fathers, come be our God
God of our mothers and fathers, come be our God
Come take the vineyard You planted and make us new wine, oh Lord
God of our mothers and fathers, come be our God
God of our mothers and fathers, come be our God
Come take the vineyard You planted and make us new wine, oh Lord
And to make us new wine, mm
Make us new wine (And make us new wine)
Make us new, make us new wine, Lord (And make us new wine)
In our time, in our day
Come and move in this place
In our time, and in our day
Come and move in this place
Come and move
Come and move, Jesus
Come and move, God
Yes, come and move, God

Brueggemann on Genesis 6

From Genesis: Interpretation:

c. If the beginning of the flood narrative claimed only that, the text would be
flat and one-dimensional. But there are two other matters here that enrich and
greatly complicate the beginnings. First, with amazing boldness the narrative
invites the listening community to penetrate into the heart of God (vv. 67).
What we find there is not an angry tyrant, but a troubled parent who grieves
over the alienation. He is growingly aware that the “imagination of the
thoughts” of the human heart are unrelievedly hostile (v. 5). The conjuring,
day dreams, and selfperceptions of the world are all tilted against God’s
purpose. God is aware that something is deeply amiss in creation, so that God’s
own dream has no prospect of fulfillment. With that perverted imagination,
God’s world has begun to conjure its own future quite apart from the future
willed by God (cf. 11:6).

As a result, verse 6 shows us the deep pathos of God. God is not angered but
grieved. He is not enraged but saddened. God does not stand over against but
with his creation. Tellingly, the pain he bequeathed to the woman in 3:16 is
now felt by God. Ironically, the word for “grieve” (‘asav) is not only the same as
the sentence on the woman (“pain” 3:16), but it is also used for the state of
toil from which Noah will deliver humanity (5:29). The evil heart of humankind
(v. 5) troubles the heart of God (v. 6). This is indeed ”heart to heart” between
humankind and God. How it is between humankind and God touches both
parties. As Ernst Würthwein suggests, it is God who must say, “I am undone”
(cf. Isa. 6:5; Wort und Existenz, 1970, pp. 313).

Baynes on the Book of Remembrance in Malachi 3

From The Heavenly Book Motif in Judeo-Christian Apocalypses by Leslie Baynes:

Malachi’s attribution of a book of remembrance to the Lord suggests an important theological question that may be directed to heavenly bookkeeping in general: what sort of god is it who requires written reminders?Nowhere does ancient Jewish literature even hint at asking such a question; evidently it is not something that attracts anyone’s attention. The background of the idea that God uses a reminder book, however, is not too hard to guess: most probably it is an anthropomorphism, an extension to God of a characteristic of rulers, or at least their officials, who use books and writing to keep administrative records (i.e., Ezra 6:1–5; Esther 2:23, 9:25,32). But while the Jews appear never to have looked askance at a God who uses written records, some Greeks did.

David Clines on Omniscience of Zophar

7 Can you uncover the mystery of God? Can you attain to the perfection of Shaddai’s knowledge? It is higher than heaven— what can you do? It is deeper than Sheol— what can you know? Longer than the earth is its measure, a and broader, than the sea.

7– 9 Job is of course not in the least interested in discovering the totality of God’s knowledge; and it comes as no surprise to him to learn that it is beyond human comprehension. “High as heaven is that wisdom, and thy reach so small; deep as hell itself, and thy thought so shallow” (Knox). The only relevance of this statement of God’s unfathomable wisdom is that God’s knowledge must be presumed to contain specific knowledge of Job’s guilt. Zophar does not himself lay claim to any superior acquaintance with God’s wisdom than Job has; he only argues that, since God’s knowledge is immense, there is room in it for knowledge of sins which Job himself does not remember or acknowledge. It would be going too far to insist that Zophar preaches a doctrine of God’s “omniscience.” God’s is a knowledge beyond human knowledge, one that cannot be probed to its fullest extent (cf. 5: 9, where God does “marvelous deeds, that cannot be fathomed”; there it was said that there was no possibility of fathoming it [], whereas here means the object of fathoming). Humans can “do” nothing to acquire full knowledge of God’s wisdom; they cannot “know” God’s wisdom in its entirety (though they can of course know it in part). But that does not mean that God’s knowledge is viewed primarily as an accumulation of data (though obviously it must include that); in the book generally “knowledge” is so often linked with “power” that we must suppose

Clines, David J. A.. Job 1-20, Volume 17 (Word Biblical Commentary) (p. 263). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Jesus Freak

What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus Freak?
What will people do
When they find that’s it’s true?
Separated, I cut myself clean
From a past that comes back in my darkest of dreams
Been apprehended by a spiritual force
And a grace that replaced all the me I’ve divorced
I saw a man with tat on his big fat belly
It wiggled around like marmalade jelly
It took me a while to catch what it said
‘Cause I had to match the rhythm
Of his belly with my head
“Jesus Saves” is what it raved in a typical tattoo green
He stood on a box in the middle of the city
And claimed he had a dream
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it’s true
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
Kamikaze, my death is gain
I’ve been marked by my maker
A peculiar display
The high and lofty, they see me as weak
‘Cause I won’t live and die for the power they seek
There was a man from the desert with naps in his head
The sand that he walked was also his bed
The words that he spoke made the people assume
There wasn’t too much left in the upper room
With skins on his back and hair on his face
They thought he was strange by the locusts he ate
The Pharisees tripped when they heard him speak
Until the king took the head of this Jesus freak
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find out that it’s true
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it’s true
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
No I ain’t into hiding
People say I’m strange, does it make me a stranger
That my best friend was born in a manger
People say I’m strange, does it make me a stranger
That my best friend was born in a manger
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it’s true
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it’s true
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
What will people think
What will people think
What will people do
What will people do
I don’t really care
What else can I say
There ain’t no disguising the truth
Jesus is the way

Luke 12:48 Commentary

Luk 12:48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

Luke 12:48 shows Jesus establishing a theme seen elsewhere in the Bible: one of proportional judgement. Cosmic justice is one in which all actors are judged by their circumstance. The same “crime” can result in different punishments based on the disposition of the person committing the “crime”. To Jesus, ignorance of the law is an excuse.

This picture of God shows a reason-based judgement of all creatures. God considers mitigating factors in judgement. This fact highlights free will, the ability to self determine. Because without free will, no one would have ability to do otherwise and would no longer be guilty of their sin. People are guilty because they do have capability. Those who have less capability than others are judged less harshly.

Janowski on metaphor

From Arguing with God: A Theological Anthropology of the Psalms by Bernd Janowski:

While we are used to separating strictly the concrete and the abstract, or to working with concrete objects like tree, throne, or mountain or with abstract concepts like life, kingdom, or place of the Deity, ancient Near Eastern cultures prefer to use “concepts that by themselves are concrete yet often indicate something extending far beyond their concrete meaning.”112 Ancient Near Eastern cultures did not distinguish between the concrete and the abstract, but upheld the interrelation between them by representing the “unity of reality” with the help of symbols.

Aristotle quoting Plato’s unwritten teachings

From Physics:

This is why Plato in the Timaeus says that matter and space are the same; for the ‘participant’ and space are identical. (It is true, indeed, that the account he gives there of the ‘participant’ is different from what he says in his so-called ‘unwritten teaching’. Nevertheless, he did identify place and space.) I mention Plato because, while all hold place to be something, he alone tried to say what it is.

Hayes on Evil in the Bible

From Introduction to the Bible (The Open Yale Courses Series) by Christine Hayes:

Kaufmann argued that in the Hebrew Bible, evil has no independent existence. Yet evil and suffering are experienced as a condition of human existence, a reality of life. How can this state of affairs be explained? The Garden of Eden story seeks to answer that question, asserting ultimately that evil stems not from the activity of an independent demonic force but from the exercise of human free will in defiance of the creator. The created world is a good world; humans, however, in the exercise of their moral autonomy, have the power to corrupt the good. According to Kaufmann, the Garden of Eden story communicates this basic idea of the monotheistic worldview: Evil is not a metaphysical reality; it is a moral reality. Ultimately, this means that evil lacks inevitability. It lies within the realm of human responsibility and control.

Worship Sunday – Alien Youth

(It’s been confirmed that the aliens have landed)

Worldwide Jesus domination
Love conquers all
Rise like a chosen generation
There’s no stopping it all
Come on freaks let’s go
Come on freaks let’s go
Get all the freaks and let’s go
Yeah yeah

We’re taking over the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re coming for your souls
We’re gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna
Shake the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re taking over, over, over
Alien Youth

Come on freaks let’s go
Come on freaks let’s go

Do you believe that the aliens have landed
We’re everywhere you go
Infiltrate at the break of revolution
You can’t stop the revival
And we’re not gonna leave this world alone
And we’re not gonna leave it yeah

We’re taking over the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re coming for your souls
We’re gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna
Shake the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re taking over, over, over
Alien Youth

Come on freaks let’s go
Get all the freaks and let’s go
Come on freaks let’s go
Get all the freaks and let’s go

And we’re not gonna leave this world alone
And we’re not gonna leave it yeah
And we’re not gonna leave this world alone
And we’re not gonna leave

We’re taking over the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re coming for your souls
We’re gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna
Shake the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re taking over, over, over

We’re taking over the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re coming for your souls
We’re gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna
Shake the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re taking over, over, over
Alien Youth

Isaiah 48:18-19 Commentary

Isa 48:18  Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; 
Isa 48:19  your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.” 

In Isaiah 48, God laments that Israel has not responded to Him. In verse 12, God calls on Israel to listen. In verse 14, God reminds Israel of the things He has done and said. In verse 17, God is said to “teach to profit”. God’s purpose in teaching is to make Israel better. Then verses 18 and 19 contain a lament. Although God has done and said all these things to benefit Israel, Israel has rejected Him.

The emotional pain drips from every word. The regrets, the lament, the failed possibilities are all at the forefront of God’s mind. God has been hurt by Israel due to their unbelief.

The Hexagon of Opposition

From John Sanders:

First, we should note that while a determinate future can be expressed on the Square by the single propositions “S will obtain” and “S will not obtain,” there is no single proposition expressing future indeterminacy. To express this third possibility, we must conjoin the two subcontraries “might” and “might not.” In other words, determinacy (“will” and “will not”) is given primitive status on the Square, while indeterminacy must be inferred. This asymmetry between determinacy and indeterminacy perhaps explains why “might” and “might not” have tended to be understood exclusively in terms of their individual subaltern relations to “will” and “will not.” That is, while “will” and “will not” have been allowed to express states of affairs, “might” and “might not” have tended to be limited to expressing merely the epistemological preconditions of those two determinate states. If it is true that “S will obtain,” it must also be true that “S might obtain,” viz. it must be possible for S to obtain. So too, for it to be true that “S will not obtain,” it must also be true that “S might not obtain,” viz. it must be possible for S not to obtain. But what has not been adequately appreciated in the western tradition is that the subcontraries “might” and “might not” may be conjointly true and the contraries “will” and “will not” conjointly false. In this case, “might” and “might not” are no longer related as subalterns to “will” and “will not.” Rather, when they are conjointly true, they have the same relation to “will” and “will not” that “will” and “will not” have to each other. In other words, they express a third distinct possibility –future indeterminacy – that stands in a contrary relationship to both the positive future determinacy expressed by “will” and the negative future determinacy expressed by “will not.” For any possible future state of affairs, one of the three – “will,” “will not” and “might and might not” – must be true and the other two false. But, because “might” and “might not” must be conjoined to play this third, indeterminate, contrary role, the possibility of their playing this role has been largely overlooked. Consequently, the possibility that the future is in some respects indeterminate and known by God as such has been largely overlooked.

Worship Sunday – Prayer for the Weary

And I just don’t know,
what to do,
anymore.
And I lost my way,
In this world,
Awhile ago.
Pushed away, everyone, that was good to me.
Now I’m finally down, down on my knees
Help me hold, hold on
Help me hold, hold on
Hear this prayer for the weary and the broken down.
Help me hold, hold on
Sing hallelujah,
Come and find me Lord,
Cause I can use ya,
And a miracle or two.
And I dont know if you can hear this prayer or, a word I say,
This desperation, in promises.
But they say they’re all about second chances.
If I can only, get myself, up to you.
Well I’m doing the best I can,
You do just what you please.
Cause I’m finally down, down on my knees.
Help me hold, hold on
Help me hold, hold on
Hear this prayer for the weary and the broken down.
Help me hold, hold on
Help me hold, hold on

Worship Sunday – It is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well (it is well)
with my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Psalms 139:23-24 Commentary

Psa 139:23  Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 
Psa 139:24  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! 

Psalms 139 is often used as a prooftext passage for God’s omniscience of all future events. King David is writing and describes God’s relationship with him. The passage ends in an interesting passage in which King David invites God to test him further. King David invites God to “search” him and then to “know his heart”. This is re-enforced by the next phrase “try me” in order to “know my thoughts”. Verse 24 ties this to “seeing” if there is any grievous thing in King David.

The interesting thing about this text is that it is a callback to the introduction to the Psalm. King David has stated God has searched an known him (v1). In King David’s eyes, God knows because God tests. God’s current knowledge is about what God has previously tested. God’s familiarity comes from interaction. This is not eternal knowledge of all things, but gained knowledge.

King David’s view is not that God knows the entire future meticulously, but that God can gain new information from further testing.

On Origen’s use of Predestination

A footnote in Origen’s Commentary on Romans:

Erasmus’s [Desiderius Erasmus’] clarification of this passage (CWE 56:11) is most helpful:
“Origen seems to have thought that ‘predestine’ has a double aspect of futurity and ‘destine’ merely a single. For if I ‘destine’ a bride for a son of mine already born, the person for whom I destine belongs to the present time, what I am destining belongs to the future. But if I resolve to dedicate to the study of theology the son who will be born first, then both the person and the thing belong to future time; and Origen would have the world ‘predestine’ refer to cases ofthe latter type.”

Origen’s Commentary on Romans 1:1

From Origen – Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans:

(4) After all, later in the letter he himself explains this more fully when he says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”46 Plainly showing that those whom God foreknew would become the kind to conform themselves to Christ by their sufferings, he even predestined them to be conformed and similar to his image and glory. Therefore there precedes a foreknowledge of them, through which is known what effort and virtue they will understand at once that they are set apart from the womb deservedly.
(3) It says then that Paul was set apart for the gospel and set apart from his own mother’s womb. The reasons for this and the merits which entitled him to be set apart for this purpose were seen by the One from whom man’s mind does not escape. For God foresaw that Paul was going to labor harder than all the others in the gospel; that, despite hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, dangers from thieves, dangers from rivers, dangers at sea, he was going to preach the gospel of Christ, knowing that it would have been woe to him if he did not preach the gospel; and that he was going to punish his body and reduce it to slavery, so that, after proclaiming to others, he himself should not be rejected. Therefore, seeing in advance these things and many other similar things in him,God set Paul apart for the gospel from his mother’s womb on account of these matters. For if, as the heretics think, he had been chosen either by uncertain fate or by the privilege of possessing a superior nature, surely he would never have expressed the fear that, if he were not to hold the restraints on his own body, it could potentially come to pass that he would be rejected or that woe would be his if he were to cease from proclaiming the gospel.
(4) After all, later in the letter he himself explains this more fully when he says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Plainly showing that those whom God foreknew would become the kind to conform themselves to Christ by their sufferings, he even predestined them to be conformed and similar to his image and glory. Therefore there precedes a foreknowledge of them, through which is known what effort and virtue they will possess in themselves, and thus predestination follows, yet foreknowledge should not be considered the cause of predestination. For while men requite merit to each individual based upon past accomplishments, for God this is determined from future ones; and a person is very impious not to concede to God that what we see in the past he can see in the future.

Partial Draft Chapter for the Hellenization of Christianity

Chapter 1: The Origins of Hebrew Religion

Gen_14:13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram.

Abraham is identified as a Hebrew very early in the book of Genesis. This is a designation that is neither introduced nor described. He is a member of a known people group, the Hebrews. This people group is recognized as far as Egypt:

Gen_39:14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice.
The Egyptians despise the Hebrews, who they perhaps see as a feral people. The book of Genesis records that Hebrews are excluded from sharing meals:
Gen 43:32 They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.

It is unclear if this practice is being presented as a general feature in Egyptian culture or relegated to the upper echelons of Egyptian society. This feature could be attributed to the Egyptian disdain for shepherds: “Gen 46:33…for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians”, but Pharaoh doesn’t seem to associate the Hebrews as shepherds in the very passage in which this disdain is described. This feature could also be attributed to the dietary practices of the Egyptians. Herodotus records that in the 5th century BC that Egyptians would not share meals with those who ate cattle.

Another option is that the Hebrews might have had a specific history with deep cultural connotations. In The Mythology of All Races: Semitic, Vol V, historian Stephan Hebert Langdon describes what he sees as the origins of the Hebrew race as well as the historic identification of their God.

The Hebrew deity El, whose character as a Sun-god has been repeatedly mentioned, and whose name occurs also quite regularly in the plural Elohim, but employed as a singular, is the god of the Habiru, a people who appear in various kingdoms and local city dynasties of Babylonia and Assyria from the twenty-second century until the Cassite period, among the Hittites, and as an invading warlike tribe in Syria, Phoenicia, and Canaan in the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries. I am entering upon debatable ground here when I assume that the Habiru and their god Ilani (plural always written ideographically) are identical with the Hebrews and their god Elohim. There seems to be no doubt at all but that this is the case; every argument against it has been specious and without conviction. Accepting this thesis, the Hebrews had served for six centuries as mercenary soldiers and traders among the Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites, Mitannians, and Aramaeans before they entered and occupied Canaan and, granted that their persistent use of ilani Habiri, ” the Habiru gods,” is, in reality, a singular like the Hebrew Elohim, it follows that it is identical with the Hebrew god El, Elah, Elohim. Phoenician also uses the word “gods” as a singular.

Langdon paints the Hebrews as a warrior race, used as mercenaries and who shared ideas about God with the surrounding cultures. He locates them as ancient as the 20th century BC. In this passage, Langdon pays particular attention to how in Semitic religion plural nouns were commonly used of gods and kings:

This is a common usage among Canaanitish scribes of the period of the Habiru invasions into Syria and Palestine. So, for example, Shuwardata of Kelte calls Pharaoh, ” my god and my sun,” in the text actually ” my gods and my Shamash.” A man of Qadesh in Northern Syria writes to Pharaoh attributing his defeat of the invading Habiru to the fact that ” his godhead ” and ” sunship ” went before his face. Here the plural ilanu is used as an abstract noun, as is also the word ” god Shamash.” In Hittite the Habirite god is called Hani Habiriyas, Habiries, ” Habirite gods. That the Habirites, or, as I assume, the Hebrews, in the days of their wanderings in Babylonia, from the days of Abraham ” the Hebrew ” and Hammurabi (Amraphel), had a deity known to the peoples with whom they came into contact as “the Hebrew god,” is proved by a list of nine gods and goddesses worshipped in the temple of Adad at the old capital of Assyria, in a text at least as old as the twelfth century. Here the singular, ilu Habiru occurs, which I take to mean not ” god Habiru,” but ” Habirite god,” or, if ilu is here, as in Hani Habiri, a specific name of a deity, i.e., El, the ” Habirite El.” The genitive and accusative of this gentilic word is Habiri and the nominative plural should be Hani Habiru or the ” Hebrew Elohim ” in the texts of the Hittite capital, Boghazkeui.

The Hebrews worshiped El, associated with both the plural “Elohim” and, within the Bible, the proper name “Yahweh”. In Josiah 22:22, this association is explicit. Mark Smith translates this passage as follows: “God [El] of gods [Elohim] is Yahweh. God [El] of gods [Elohim] is Yahweh…” El and Yahweh are used interchangeably in this fashion within the Bible, often within the same passage.

According to the Bible, the proper name of God had not always been known to the world. Genesis 4 records a distinct time the name of Yahweh came of use:

Gen 4:26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD [Yahweh].

Although “people began to call on the name of Yahweh”, some early Hebrews may not have adopted this use. The book of Exodus recounts that the patriarchs knew Yahweh as “El Shadday” (the “Shadday” is an enigmatic term much like the curious Greek conception of Zeus who holds the “aegis” ). The patriarchs did not know Yahweh by His proper name:

Exo 6:2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD [Yahweh].
Exo 6:3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty [El Shadday], but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.

These features might suggest that although Israel (a specific subset of Hebrews) might not have used the name Yahweh, other Semitic tribes might have adopted the use. In Lewis Bayles Paton’s The Origin of Yahweh-Worship in Israel: II, the author describes some evidence that Yahweh was worshiped outside of Israel:

2. There is considerable evidence that Yahweh was known to other ancient peoples besides Israel. Delitzsch and other Assyriologists believe that the name occurs in documents of the first dynasty of Babylon (ca. 2300-2200 B. C.). This claim is disputed, so that it is better not to press the argument. Other evidence is clearer. A son of the king of Hamath in the time of David bore the name Yoram (Joram). This is certainly a compound with Yahweh. Three hundred years later a king of Hamath mentioned in the annals of Sargon, King of Assyria, bore the name of Ya-ubi’di, which is paraphrased elsewhere as Ilu-ubi’di. This also is unquestionably a Yahweh compound. In 739 B. C. Tiglath-Pileser III fought against a certain Azriyau (Azariah), king of Ya’udi, whose capitol was Kullani in northern Syria. This name is a Yahweh-compound of a familiar Hebrew type. Tobiah and Jehohanan, the Ammonites, mentioned in Neh. 4:3; 6:18, bear Yahweh-names. In all these cases it is arbitrary to assume that these theophorous names are due to a spread of the Hebrew religion in foreign countries. Of proselyting before the exile there is not the slightest evidence. It is more likely that Yahweh was known to other Semitic peoples besides Israel.

John Day adds in his Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan:

Most scholars who have written on the subject during recent decades support the idea that Yahweh had his origins outside the land of Israel to the south, in the area of Midian (cf. Judg. 5.4-5; Deut. 33.2; Hab. 3.3, 7)… Also, the epithet ‘Yahweh of Teman’ in one of the Kuntillet ‘Ajrud inscriptions fits in with this. References to the Shasu Yahweh in Egyptian texts alongside the Shasu Seir may also be cited in support. Though M.C. Astour has questioned this, claiming that the reference was not to Seir in Edom but to Sarara in Syria, on balance, however, the Egyptian Scrr still seems more likely to be a slip for S ‘r (Seir) than the name Sarara.

It is rational to assume that Yahweh was worshiped outside of Israel. This would make sense of the tension between Genesis 4 and Exodus 6, although the evidence is not solid. While references to Yahweh are found almost entirely in the Hebrew Bible, the name of El was common among the Semites. Most notable was the chief god of the Canaanites in the Baal Cycle. In the Baal cycle, El sits supreme. The other gods approach El to request permission to act. El is the creator of all.

The words “under El” which were put in brackets in my initial definition of the thrust of the cycle are here vitally important. But how can El be greater than the Baal who after his palace has been built calls himself “he that is king over the gods, that indeed fattens gods and men, that satisfies the multitudes of earth” (4 VII 49-52) or the Baal whom both Anat and Athirat in trying to persuade El to let him have a palace speak of as “our king, our ruler, over whom there is none” (3 V 32 = CT A 3 E 40-41; 4 IV 43-44)? And yet El has to be approached for permission to build the palace, and the fact is that for all that Anat threatens him with physical violence if he does not accede to Baal’s request, El is able to refuse it and the help of his consort Athirat has to be enlisted before he can be made to change his mind. In spite of Baal’s title as king it is not really in doubt, then, that El is in charge of the universe. He, not Baal, is the creator god of the pantheon, the “creator of creatures” (4 III 32; 6 III 5), the “father of mankind” (not in the Baal texts but see, in the Keret epic, 14 I 37), and the “father of years”, i.e. controller of the course of time (4 IV 24; 6 I 36). The title “bull” is always used with the first of these phrases and the title “king” with the third of them. Perhaps the most revealing reference is that contained in the speeches of Anat and Athirat just mentioned when, immediately after they have called Baal their king, they present Baal’s appeal to “the king who installed him” (3 V 36 = CT A 3 E 44; 4 IV 48) 13

The text both describes Baal’s supremacy and also shows that El is supreme over Baal, illustrating common idiomatic speech. Attributes, even incomparability, have their limits. Even in the Bible, Yahweh’s incomparability is found in passages specifically comparing Him to others. This flexibility in characteristics is evident in the text.

Mark Smith describes some other attributes shared between the Canaanite El and the Biblical Yahweh:

In Israel the characteristics and epithets of El became part of the repertoire of descriptions of Yahweh. In both texts and iconography, El is an elderly bearded figure enthroned, sometimes before individual deities (KTU 1.3 V; 1.4 IV-V), sometimes before the divine council (KTU 1.2 I), known by a variety of expressions; this feature is attested also in Phoenician inscriptions (KAI 4:4-5; 14:9, 22; 26 A III 19; 27:12; cf. KTU 1.4 III 14). In KTU 1.10 III 6 El is called drd, “ageless one,” and in KTU 1.3 V and 1.4 V, Anat and Asherah both affirm the eternity of his wisdom. His eternity is also expressed in his epithet, ‘ab šnm, “father of years.” In KTU 1.4 V 3-4 Asherah addresses El: “You are great, O El, and indeed, wise; your hoary beard instructs you” (rbt ‘ilm lḥkmt šbt dqnk ltsrk). Anat’s threats in 1.3 V 24-25 and 1.18 I 11-12 likewise mention El’s gray beard. Similarly, Yahweh is described as the aged patriarchal god (Ps. 102:28; Job 36:26; Isa. 40:28; cf. Ps. 90:10; Isa. 57:15; Hab. 3:6; Dan. 6:26; 2 Esdras 8:20; Tobit 13:6, 10; Ben Sira 18:30), enthroned amidst the assembly of divine beings (1 Kings 22:19; Isa. 6:1-8; cf. Pss. 29:1-2; 82:1; 89:5-8; Isa. 14:13; Jer. 23:18, 22; Zechariah 3; Dan. 3:25). Later biblical texts continued the long tradition of aged Yahweh enthroned before the heavenly hosts. Daniel 7:9-14, 22, describes a bearded Yahweh as the “ancient of days,” and “the Most High.” He is enthroned amid the assembly of heavenly hosts, called in verse 18 “the holy ones of the Most High,” qaddîšê ’elyônîn (cf. 2 Esdras 2:42-48; Revelation 7). This description for the angelic hosts derives from the older usage of Hebrew qĕdōšîm, “holy ones,” for the divine council (Ps. 89:6; Hos. 12:1; Zech. 14:5; cf. KAI 4:5, 7; 14:9, 22; 27:12). The tradition of the enthroned bearded god appears also in a Persian period coin marked yhd, “Yehud.” The iconography belongs to a god, apparently Yahweh.

The overlap between Semitic religions is apparent and not surprising. Israelite religion is not a unique enlightened religion among primitive religions. Instead, these religions share cultures and pantheons. The question of Israelite worship is not “what type of god” they will worship, but which particular god they will worship. The attributes of Yahweh are meant to set Him apart as uniquely worthy of worship rather than to paint Him as an entirely different type of being altogether.

Yahweh is not particularly exclusive to Israel, either. Other nations worship El, and the identification with El with Yahweh puts worshipers of El as accepted believers. Even within the Bible, foreign priests of El appear as true believers. The most famous example is that of Melchizedek. He was a: “He was priest of God Most High.” This title elyon El is used of the Canaanite El. The book of Hebrews portrays this priesthood in an approving manner.

Another foreign priest is Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, who is described as a “priest of Midian” in several passages. His daughter, Zipporah, appears intimately familiar with circumcision rites in Exodus 4:25. She appears to know who Yahweh is and what Yahweh wants, which is likely as result of growing up in a priestly house. Furthermore Jethro performs a benediction in Exodus 18 towards Yahweh:

Exo 18:10 Jethro said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
Exo 18:11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.”

Given this evidence, Jethro could have held Yahweh as a god or the primary God in his priestly duties. He is not condemned, but accepted, in the texts which he appears.

[to be continued]

Flowers on Calvinists use of Are You Better

From ARE YOU BETTER THAN YOUR FRIEND WHO REFUSED TO BELIEVE?

On Calvinism God makes some people (the elect) “smarter” (or insightful, or able to understand truth), more humble and privileged by a work of irresistible regenerative grace. So, on Calvinism those who believe really are “better” or “more capable,” which is why they can believe the gospel and the rest cannot believe it (for reasons beyond their control). Granted, on Calvinism, this regenerative grace is given unconditionally and it is not in anyway merited by the elect, but that does not change the fact that upon being regenerated the elect are made “better” (more capable, with a new and better nature/heart) than their unbelieving counterpart.

On Provisionism (Traditionalism), all people have the necessary insight and moral capacity to respond willingly to God’s appeal. Thus, all are truly “without excuse” because everyone has everything they need to believe in God. This is due to the fact that everyone is created as His image bearers in a world where His truth is made abundantly clear and believable (Rom 1). On Provisionism, no one can fall back on the excuse that God did not make them morally capable to respond positively to His own appeals or insightful enough to understand and accept plainly spoken truth, like they can on Calvinism. On Provisionism, the Fall doesn’t cause humanity to become morally incapable of accepting God’s appeals to be reconciled from that Fall. We do not believe that has ever been established biblically.

This Calvinistic argument may sound pious because it’s attempting to give all credit to God for all the good things, but in so doing it also inadvertently gives God all the blame for the bad and removes any real semblance of human responsibility for unbelief.