Sunday, 27 May 2018

"T.L.:D.R." The Genesis Question Part five

Hi, Everybody!

If it's Sunday, it's Meet The, I mean, Dave Sim and "The Genesis Question":

1 April 18

Hi Matt!

You must be running out of my Biblical commentaries along about now. So…
2 March 14

Hi Troy and Mia!

Mr. Ross' further citations for Chapter Three:

Touching the Almighty, we cannot find Him out: he excellent in power, and in judgement, and in plenty of justice: he will not afflict.   Job 37:23

This is a very difficult theology to actually believe and have faith in and yet I think it is as close to irrefutable as theology gets.  "We cannot find Him out".  Period. He's God.  Our brains are not large enough or intricate enough to come close to comprehension of him. 

Beyond "excellent", considering the scope of His nature, the only real hope any of us have is that he is perfect in power and in judgement and that, beyond "plenty" of justice, God is Justice itself.  "He will not afflict" is, likewise, difficult to believe as theology, particularly when we are certain that we are looking at affliction and looking at the afflicted or when we feel ourselves to be afflicted in some way. 

Affliction is an illusion for the God-fearing.  We are not afflicted. We afflict ourselves both individually and collectively and we follow in sequence generation upon generation upon generation that have likewise afflicted themselves -- and us -- individually and collectively.  That's the price of free will.  We get to choose but we also have to suffer the consequences of those choices.

The consequences don't go away. They can only be channeled into our own future and the future of others, inherited, ameliorated mostly through God's undeserved kindness of which none of us are worthy, repented of, atoned for and, ultimately, lifted off of us by God if He determines us to be worthy of His undeserved kindness (an inherent contradiction demonstrating God's mercy:  His kindness is always undeserved so none of us are worthy of it).

Since God is Justice in and of Himself there is no Court of Appeal.  We inhabit His perfect clockwork mechanism intended for us.  If the clock isn't working, that's because we've chosen to be sand in its gears instead of keeping the mechanism smoothly oiled.

Even violent, to us inexplicable and painful death is just another form of atonement, I think:  endure this now and it's like getting thousands of years of time off for good behaviour.  We see death as an end however much our theology tells us that it is actually just the beginning.  If we were able to see death and pain accurately, I think, we would have a much better understanding of both and be less inclined to inaccurately accuse God of afflicting us.  God always means the best possible for us, but often that means backing Him into a corner where only an inexplicable, violent and painful death can offer us hope for the next world.  Which we can't come near to understanding until we actually get there and see what the genuine structure of Reality -- as opposed to our "reality" -- is.

This was in beginning toward the God (2)
All through him came to be, and apart from him came to be not-however one.  Which has come to be (3)
in him life was, and the life was the light of the men (4)  John 1:2-4

I've included John 1:2 and 1:4 because it's hard to see 1:3 as a stand-alone instruction. 

The original Koine Greek, it seems to me, conveys a different sense than do the later translations.  I find this a troubling aspect of most Christian theology: the preference for the incomplete thought as long as it has a couple of "happy words" in it instead of the overall sense of what is being expressed.  It does tend to complicate things but amputating the overall gist of something in order to make it less complicated -- well, I don't think it does Christianity any great favours.

So let's start back at John 1:1:  "In beginning was the word, and the word was toward the God and God was the word."  You could write a book on what it does to the meaning to capitalize the different nouns in the sentence.  "Word" is often capitalized, but I think that's inaccurate.  If you capitalize it, you Deify it and you run into the problem of "joining gods with God" -- the primary indictment of men by God's revelation in the Koran -- at the outset.  The Word isn't God, the word is God's -- "toward the God", aligned with God, serving God's purpose.  God did not begin life as The Word, that would make The Word pre-existent to God, the parent to God.  The word, god, expresses God when it is capitalized.  That's why the word was in the beginning:  a means of giving a name, imperfectly, to what God was and is.  It's the beginning of God's creation, not God Himself.  God, by definition, doesn't have a beginning.  He either has always existed or He isn't God. 

"All through him came to be" personalizes the act of creation.  God's word, a "him" sets creation in motion.  This is "the father" (as opposed to The Father) that the Jesus of John's Gospel continually refers to.  The word isn't God and the father isn't God.  The word and the father are the means by which God sets creation in motion.  Thus everything that is comes into being subsequent to, first, God, then God's word which is the "father" the progenitor of everything that we see and know as having been physically incarnated. 

"and apart from him came to be not-however one." 

There's a double meaning there, I think, in the hyphenated Koine Greek term:  "And apart from him came to be not one" AND "And apart from him came to be however one."  This, it seems to me, expresses the concept of the meschiach, the messiah, which I believe the Jesus of John's Gospel to have been.  He is, simultaneously, the "not one" and the "however one". 

"in him life was and the life was the light of the men"

It wasn't the word and it wasn't the "father" it was the ideal creation.  Entirely subordinate to God and doing God's will and the work God gave him to do -- but not yet.  The "not-however one" is held in abeyance from the beginning of creation until his presence in the world is required as a template and a comparison:  basically God saying, "Okay, if you were all subordinate to me and obedient to me from the moment when I created with world or -- fallback position for your own epoch -- when I created Adam, this is what you would have been like."  Seminally, this is what is always going to happen.  Every sun, every planet, every asteroid, every comet, every galaxy, I infer, is issued a "not one" who is also a "however one" when they come into being.  Eventually the "not one" and the "however one" incarnates, like a living report card.  Here, here is how you are doing.  We killed ours.  Which certainly suggests to me a "D-minus" at best.  Considering where we have collectively gone from there?  Probably a collective "F". 

Every man was -- and is -- created with that "light" inside of him.  There is nothing exceptional about the meschiach in terms of content, just in what he chose to do with that content.  He fully developed the light he was given and so was able to instruct, to understand, to explain, to heal, to give life to the dead.  The Jesus of John's Gospel doesn't do anything that Elisha didn't do in 2 Kings, but Elisha isn't the meschiach, we all pretty much agree. 

according as he chose us in him before throwing down of world, to be us holy and unblemished down in sight of him in love  Ephesians 1:4

Well, yes.  Incoherent as I find Paul to be most of the time, this strikes me as someone trying to express the above while drowning in a sea of "D-minus" and "F" folks.  The "not one" and "however one" comes with a lot of equipment.  John the Baptist being a good example.  He isn't the "not one" and "however one" and says that explicitly.  But he is sent to bear witness about the "not one" and "however one".  He is the voice of one crying in the wilderness -- ONE crying in the wilderness, that's how bad the situation has gotten when it comes to true obedience to God.  And Paul follows in that tradition:  the only one enunciating the eternal verities.

I'd take issue with the idea that Christ Jesus, the meschiach, "chose us in him" but I certainly can't refute it.  That's way out of the scale of human speculation. The Jesus of John's Gospel was created by God for a specific purpose -- to be "not one" and "however one" simultaneously.  The apostles, I assume, were the apostles before they became the apostles.  Anyone who became part of the narrative were fated to become part of the narrative.  That is, I don't think there was a "Plan B" Simon Peter.    They enacted what they were going to enact, in the same way that from the time that the sun made the choices that would make it a single star instead of a binary star, the earth existed implicitly.  The earth just further enacted the choices the sun already made. 

"to be holy and unblemished", well, yes, that's what I think is the implicit promise of the meschiach.  Here's a demonstration of what "the holy and the unblemished" looks like, acts like and does.  You're not supposed to worship him, you're supposed to be like him, to be as much like him as you are capable of being.  Everything goes a lot better for you as an individual and for you as a society if you choose to do that.  But it's your choice. 

who is image of the God the invisible, firstborn of all creation, because in him it was created the all in the heavens and upon the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or lordships or governments or authorities; the all through him and into him it has been created Colossians 1:15-16

This is counterintuitive, to say the least.  How can something be an image of something that's invisible?  And yet that seems to be the obvious point of the successive incarnation.  God pre-exists and then comes the word which is "toward the God".  It expresses God's nature imperfectly but it's "toward" the God:  it's over in that direction as far as we can get with our simplified physically incarnated brains and "limited perception" brains. 

I don't think this is accurate because it suggests that Christ Jesus is the firstborn of all creation and that appears to violate the sequence of God, the word -- which is the light of the men -- and the "father".  I think all of those needed to exist before you could create the seminal obedient subject -- the "not one" and "however one".  "Thrones or lordships or governments or authorities" I think is a dog's breakfast of tangentially-related subjects which illustrate the need for John 1:  to get the sequence of creation straight.  "Thrones", "lordships", "governments" and "authorities" are corruptions, plain and simple -- the attempt to usurp God's place as Sole Authority.  "YHWH God" is translated as "Lord God" for that same reason:  to attempt to establish that the Lord is God.  God is Our Lord but the YHWH isn't God. 

It's the reason that the meschiach -- the "not one" and "however one" -- is called King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  It's an attempt -- to me an imperfect and needlessly confusing attempt -- to try to merge human vanity (thrones, lordships, governments and authorities) with the Actual Order of Things.  In short: be as much like the Jesus of John's Gospel as you can and be as little like the "YHWH God" as you can.  As simple a distinction as between "obedience to God" and "disobedience to God" as you can get.

2 Timothy 1:9    Titus 1:2

I just noticed that Mr. Ross cited these last week, so I won't address them again.

To faith we are minding to have been adjusted down the ages to saying of God into the not out of ____s appearing the ____s being looked at to have occurred  Hebrews 11:3

Paul, it seems to me, is always TRYING to express the simpler view…and, as always, I give create credit to Christians, historically, for taking passages like this and making them into a guiding credo. 

I would respectfully suggest that it would be worthwhile to examine Hebrews 11:3 at length in this form and draw your own conclusions as to what, specifically, it is saying, rather than checking to see what the popular translation has it as saying. Personally, I found it completely incoherent and couldn't begin to suggest what it might be saying because it doesn't seem to be saying anything:  it's just a batch of "happy words" that appear to have great meaning to Paul.   

One of the problems, I'm sure, is the "compound terms" of Koine Greek.  In this passage, "we are minding", "to have adjusted down", "being looked at" and "to have occurred" are all single Greek terms. 

The Interlinear translates it as "By faith we perceive that the systems of things were put in order by God's word, so that what is beheld has come to be out of things that do not appear."  The KJV has it as "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."  Which, it seems to me, express two very different ideas (at LEAST two!)  and which, it seems to me, both mistranslate "to saying" as "the word" when there are very different Greek terms for each.  VERY theologically suspect considering how specific John's Gospel is in using the term "the word" in a very specific theological context and sequence.

Okay, back to Chapter Three, per se, having made it through Mr. Ross' biblical citations. 



Next Time: This, continued...

1 comment:

Tony Dunlop said...

OK, I'm not interested in getting into a debate about theology, apophatic or otherwise, here, but in his comments on "The Word was with - or toward - (the) God, and the Word was God" - gets to the heart of key discussions way, way back in the early 4th century, which ultimately led to the Nicene (-Constantinopolitan) Creed, affirming God as Trinity - one-in-three, three-in-one. That is, Dave is *asking* the questions that were asked very, very early on, but doesn't seem interested in the fact that hundreds of very intelligent, very devout men have thought about, prayed over, and most importantly, experienced through ascetic discipline and liturgical worship, the things he wants to talk about. NONE OF THIS IS NEW.

Yes, God is unknowable in his essence ("ousia" in Greek). What St. John was trying to get across is the shocking, scandalous fact that this unknowable, completely transcendent God has chosen to become knowable; "The Word became flesh and dwelt ("pitched his tent") among us."

I just wish Dave didn't pretend that others haven't thought this through, and that he's somehow being original or innovative. He isn't. He's just scandalized in the same way second through fourth century Jews and Pagans were scandalized by the preposterous claims of this annoying new sect.