Volume 2 -- September 1998 (44 pages)
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: The "Friends of the Nazarene" are a Bible research group for better Scriptural understanding. We are dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid disciples of the Nazarene to "follow the Lamb no matter where the Lamb goes." (Revelation 14:4) We are apologists dedicated to the defense of the truth that "God is One" and not three. The Bible is our credo. We view this "God-breathed" book as inspired alone, while the thoughts of men about it are not. We wish to respect the views of our multitude of Christian brethren. (1 Peter 3:15) [Research associates: Mark Miller - ; Andrew Foss - ; Ralph Slaney - ; Andy Weeks - ; Greg Jones - ] The Nazarene Saints web page is www.nazarene-friends.org
IN THIS ISSUE ---
1. Was Jesus Raised in a Fleshly Human Body?
2. Does God Exist?
4. Perfecting the Christian Character: Forgiving & Non-adversarial
5. Faith Perspectives: Dogmatism Versus Conviction
6. Ante-Nicene Fathers -- Justin Martyr
7. Why Does God Permit Wickedness?
WAS JESUS RAISED IN A FLESHLY HUMAN BODY?
An Ancient Debate
The debate over whether the resurrected Jesus rose bodily in a fleshly human body or as a spirit which later materialized has been debated for nearly 2,000 years. Writing in The Gnostic Gospels Harvard professor, Elaine Pagels, who later chaired the department of religion at Barnard, writes: "Tertullian, a brilliantly talented writer (A. D. c. 190), speaking for the majority, defines the orthodox position: as Christ rose bodily from the grave, so every believer should anticipate the resurrection of the flesh. He leaves no room for doubt. ... What is raised is this flesh, suffused with blood, built up with bones, interwoven with nerves, entwined with veins. ... Yet some Christians -- those he calls heretics -- dissent. Without denying the resurrection, they reject the literal interpretation. ... Tertullian declares than anyone who denies the resurrection of the flesh is a heretic, not a Christian." (pages 4, 5)
Professor Pagels continues: "Why did orthodox tradition adopt the literal view of resurrection? The question becomes even more puzzling when we look at what the New Testament says about it. ... Other stories, directly juxtaposed with these, suggest different views of the resurrection. Luke and Mark both relate that Jesus appeared in another form --- not his former earthly form -- to two disciples as they walked on the road to Emmaus. .. . John, too, places directly before the story of doubting Thomas another of a very different kind: Mary Magdalene, mourning for Jesus near his grave, sees a man she takes to be the gardener.... So if some of the New Testament stories insist on a literal view of resurrection, others lend themselves to different interpretations. ... (Paul) although his discussion often is read as an argument for bodily resurrection, concludes with the words I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. ... Paul describes the resurrection as a mystery, the transformation from physical to spiritual existence." (pages 5, 7) Thus, the argument over this question is very old.
Paul and Two Body-Types
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 that there are only two kinds of bodies. The human, like Adam, is described as what Paul calls a soma psychicon or "soul-like body." The second body is what he calls soma pneumaticon, or "spirit-like body." He gives both body types several descriptive terms. [For more details see the June newsletter and article, "The Resurrection According to Paul"; and, the online publication Where Are the Dead?] Consider Pauls adjectives and synonyms for each of the two body types.
Soma psychicon -- soul-like body ---
1. earthly (epi-geia)
2. corruptible, decayable upon burial
3. weak when buried
4. buried as a soul-like body
5. dusty (choicos)
6. in the image of Adam
7. flesh and blood
8. mortal = dying
Soma pneumaticon -- spirit-like body ---
4. raised as soma pneumaticon
6. in the image of the Risen Christ
7. not blood and flesh
8. immortal = non-dying
It is taught of the heavenly Son of the Father that "a body [soma psychicon] was prepared for me." (Hebrews 10:5 KJV; TCNT: provide for me a body; AMP: made ready a body for me) This evidently happened when the heavenly Lord "emptied himself" of his divine-like spirit "form" (morphe) and "took upon himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men." (Philippians 2:7, 8 KJV) He "partook of flesh and blood ... during the days of his flesh." (Hebrews 2:14; 5:7) Thus, the Son possessed a soma psychicon or soul-like body of flesh and blood. Indeed, Paul calls this part of Jesus life as "the days of his flesh" (Hebrews 5.7) as opposed to his former life in the spirit. (John 17:5)
This soma psychicon or soul-like body was to be "offered up" as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. (Hebrews 10:5, 10) As long as our Lord was in his flesh it was as though there was a "curtain" or veil between earth and heaven. (Hebrews 10:20) Paul compared the flesh and blood of our Lord as pictured or typified by the ancient Israelite animal sacrifices whose bodies (soma) were burned up or destroyed. (Hebrews 13:11, 12) This would preclude the risen Christ ascending to heaven with his own human body, his soma psychicon.
Some had known the Lord in his flesh. However, Paul states even if this were once so, it is no longer true: "Indeed, if we have known Christ according to the flesh, now we no longer know him thus." (2 Corinthians 5:16, United Bible Societies Interlinear) Of course, if Christ were still a human in flesh though heavenly, Paul could not have said what he did.
Earlier in this same chapter Paul has described what happens to the soma psychicon, " ... our house, this tent, should be dissolved, we are to have a building from God -- not of human origin -- but everlasting in the heavens." (2 Corinthians 5:1) Here there is a "tent" and a "building." What "we" are as individuals reside within these dwellings but upon the resurrection we receive, not the tent we formerly lived in, but a new, and completely different "building."
Paul continues showing the human body of flesh, bone, and blood is to be put off and a new residence taken up -- not of human origin. 2 Corinthians 5:2-6: "For in this dwelling house [the soma psychicon] we do indeed groan, earnestly desiring to put on the one for us from heaven [the soma pneumaticon] , so that, having really put it on, we shall not be found naked [without either body]. In fact, we who are in this tent [some psychicon] groan, being weighed down; because we want, not to put it off, but to put on the other [some pneumaticon] , that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now he that produced us for this very thing is God, who gave us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit. We are therefore always of good courage and know that, while we have our home in the body ("this tent" of human origin, the soma psychicon], we are absent from the Lord."
This does not sound like Paul believed his "tent" or "body" was going to heaven in some spiritualized form. Nor does he ever indicate a disembodied spirit is later reunited with the former fleshly body in some kind of resurrection reunion. To Paul there are two bodies: one likened to a "tent" which can be taken down then folded up, and the other, compared to a "building" (oikodomen -- a word related to the word Jesus is accused of using in Mark 14:58 - oikodomeso). One is to be "destroyed" and the other heavenly one to be ageless, everlasting "in the heavens." One is human, the other divine. One is mortal, the other immortal.
Judging from 1 Corinthians chapter 15 it is the decayable soma psychicon -- "this tent" -- which is kata-lythe, or dissolved (KJV), destroyed (Con), demolished (NEB). Like a tent having its tent-pegs pulled up, the tent is collapsed and then folded up and put away. Likewise, that body which God had prepared for his Son during the days of his flesh, after the typical shadow of the Israelite sacrificial victims, was somehow disposed of, just as any sacrifice would be. (Hebrews 13:11, 12) That body was thus "given in your behalf." (Luke 22:19) And this in fulfillment of the prophecy of the Suffering Messiah. (Isaiah 53:4, 5, 10, 12)
So, was Jesus raised in the same human body, the soma psychicon, that was buried? Pauls answer is: " ... and the body which you are sowing is not the body you are going to become. ... Rather, God is giving to [this seed planted in the ground at death] a body just as He wills." (1 Corinthians 15:37, 38) Paul says Jesus was raised or resurrected, not in a "flesh and blood" soma psychicon but the Risen Christ "became a life-giving spirit ... [for] flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 15:45, 50) Thus, as Paul has it, our Lord was raised in a soma pneumaticon, a spirit-like body without blood and flesh.
However, suppose Paul believes this present body of flesh and blood is to some how be transformed, rebuilt or reconstructed to be like it was before, but some how "in spirit" -- or spiritualized? Paul is not unfamiliar with the Greek word for "transformation" (Romans 12:2) and he could have easily used it here if that was his intent. We do not see him phrasing himself in such a way. Rather, he says, "what you sow is not that body that shall be [going to become]." (1 Corinthians 15:37) Paul does not say the physical body is clothed with immortality. Rather, he says the "mortal puts on immortality." These are not bodies but states or conditions which change as a result of possessing a new body-type.
With this Peter also agrees, for the fisherman writes: "For Christ ... having been put to death in the flesh, yet having been made alive in the spirit." (1 Peter 3:18 UBS Interlinear) Peter likewise compared his earthly existence as an occupant residing within a tabernacle: "Knowing as I do that the putting off of my tabernacle is soon to be." (2 Peter 1:14) Peter realizes that his "tent" (in Pauls words) is to be "put off," or as Paul has it, "destroyed." He does not take this body to heaven, nor does he any where indicate he is later to re-inhabit his former earthly tabernacle.
Some will argue about the rendering of 1 Peter 3:18 above, "made alive in the spirit." We do not think we have to list all those translations which prefer "made alive in the spirit" or "in the spirit he was brought to life." (WMS, NEB) It would seem this later phrase is contrasted with the former and opposite, "was physically put to death" (GDSP), or, "his body being put to death." (TCNT) The Greek follows "in which" (ASV) -- that is, not in the flesh, but in the spirit -- the Risen Lord preached to other "spirits" (pneumasin) imprisoned in spiritual darkness. "In which" -- what? In the flesh "in which" he died? Or, "in" a spirit-body as Paul has it in 1 Corinthians 15:50?
"I shall raise the temple of (my) body."
However, some will debate this, despite what Paul or Peter say, and argue that Jesus was raised in the same flesh and blood body that was buried. They will point to several Bible verses which convince them of this fleshly resurrection of what Paul calls the soma psychicon. For example, they will point to John 2:19, 21, "Demolish this Sanctuary and in three days I will raise it up. ... But, he meant the sanctuary of his body." (WEY) Is it fair to state Jesus speaks in a metaphor which the Jews misunderstood? Later, before his Jewish judges, he is condemned on the basis of this statement. We note the Nazarene does not say exactly which type of body he will raise. If Jesus agrees with his inspired disciple Paul, he must raise a soma pneumaticon --- a spirit-like body lacking flesh and blood and thus able to inherit the Kingdom. (1 Corinthians 15:50) Peter had heard Jesus make this statement to the Jews, but Peter did not understand this to mean Jesus would raise a human body of flesh and blood. (1 Peter 3:18)
Indeed, those who heard Jesus make the above statement in John 2:19 interpreted his words to mean: "We heard him say, 'I will throw down this temple that was made with hands and in three days I will build another not made with hands." (Mark 14:58) If we accept their testimony, Jesus meant in John 2:19, not that he would raise the same human body of flesh, bone and blood upon his resurrection, but that he would be raised in a another, newly constructed body, or tabernacle as Peter would call it.
Additionally, the phrase in Mark 14:58 and 2 Corinthians 5:1, 2 -- "not made with hands" -- occurs often as a contrast to that which is of human origin, flesh and blood, not spiritual, or heavenly. For example, Hebrews 9:11 explains the meaning: "Not made with hands, that is, not of this creation." (Compare Daniel 2:25; Ephesians 2:11; Hebrews 9:24)
Paul makes it clear Jesus was not "flesh and blood" before he came to earth. "Jesus partook of flesh and blood ... in the days of his flesh." (Hebrews 2:14; 5:7)
"Feel me, a spirit does not have flesh and blood as you see I have."
Another text often used is Luke 24:39, "Feel me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you behold that I have." We would hardly expect Jesus to contradict Paul and Peter who both state the Nazarene was raised a "spirit." (1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Peter 3:18) What is the problem here? If we note the context, Jesus has made a sudden appearance and this frightens the disciples, as the account states, " ... they thought they were beholding a spirit." (Luke 24:37) Many modern versions clarify the matter for us: "They thought they were looking at a ghost. (Jesus said) ghosts have no flesh and bones."
This did not even convince them and so Jesus asked for some food to eat. This has been used to argue that the Risen Christ was in a glorified human form with flesh and bones -- blood being omitted in the phrase. Of course, if Jesus eats for nourishment, as it were, then the matter needs to be followed through according to the Nazarenes own argument: "What enters the mouth passes into the intestines and then passes into the sewer." (Matthew 15:17; Mark 7:19) So, a few hours later would the Risen Lord have had to use the privy -- like Baal, as Elijah challenged centuries before? (1 Kings 18:27)
The materialized body of the Risen Lord -- lacking blood -- was what God had granted so the Nazarene could become visible or manifest to his disciples as Peter, an eyewitness states, "The God raised this one on the third day and granted him to become visible." (Acts 10:40 UBS Interlinear) Our own conviction is that these "manifestations" -- often into locked rooms -- was for the benefit of those witnesses to the resurrection and the result of God granting his Son to become visible by such means even as did angels in the past. (Genesis chapters 18 and 19)
"I will not believe!"
Later, in the case of Thomas, who was evidently absent at this meeting, the doubter demands to see the wounds in Jesus hands and side. (John 20:25, 26) Why would this be a necessary demand if Jesus were the same human being he had been before? It would only be in the case if his appearance or manifestation was different -- Jesus did not look the same. Perhaps he never appeared in the likeness resembling the body he had before his death?
That this seems to be the case is judged from several things the gospels state. Jesus appears and disappears though doors be locked. He is not recognized by close disciples or associates, such as Mary who thought him the gardener. The disciples walking on the road do not recognize him. The disciples in their hiding do not recognize him. The disciples fishing just off shore do not recognize him even though they are very close. Why would this be, particularly since he had appeared to them before already? The long conclusion to Mark says Jesus "appeared in another form (morphe)." John reports: "After this Jesus manifested himself to his disciples on the seashore of Tiberius, but he made the manifestation thusly. ... Not one of the disciples had the courage to inquire of (Jesus): Who are you?" (John 21:1, 2, 12)
These appearances were done in such a fashion that none other than his disciples saw him. Jesus had said after his rising from the dead the world would not see him, but his disciples would see him again. (John 14:18-22) Peter testifies: "This (Jesus) The God raised up on the third day and He granted (Jesus) to become manifest, not to all the people, but to witnesses appointed beforehand." (Acts 10:40, 41)
Are Our Human Bodies to be Redeemed?
Romans 8:23 presents an interesting problem and if rendered and interpreted to prove the Saints will have a fleshly human body it contradicts Pauls, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom." (1 Corinthians 15:50) It is true the New World Translation is an interpretative paraphrase fairly unique to Jehovahs Witnesses. Most translators give a rendering which would lead to the conclusion that it is the individual bodies which are redeemed in the future heavenly "adoption."
The critical word usually rendered "redeemed" is apo-lytrosin which, according to Strongs (#629), may also mean "riddance" thus Pauls meaning may be figurative, "the riddance of (our) body."
The Greek is somewhat ignored by many translators for the APO-LYTRO-SIN TOU SOMATOS HEMON may be literally translated: "the redemption of the body of us." (UBS Int) May we suggest a possibility: "the redemption of our Body" -- that is, the entire Church as the Body of Christ? (TO SOMA, 1 Corinthians 11:29) The article is present with "body" meaning The Body. Is it possible that the ancient Catholic creeds which taught a resurrection of the fleshly body strongly influences so many translations. The Diaglott (Benjamin Wilson) infers this: "the redemption of our BODY." No proof need be given that TOU SOMATOS is used by Paul of the Church. (1 Corinthians 12:12)
Paul pleads with The God through Jesus Christ to be released from his dying body. He asks in Romans 7:24, "Who will draw me out [RYSETAI = RHM: rescue me out of; GDSP: save me from; KNX: set me free from; KJV: deliver me from the body of this death], of this dying body for Himself?" Does it seem the great missionary begs God to free him of his mortal body? Judging from his writings to the Corinthians Paul expected a new body, one not of flesh and blood, but of a spirit-type patterned after his Lord.
"We Shall Be Like Him."
1 John 3:2 assures: "Now we are children of God and it is not yet clear what we shall be. We do know that whenever (the Son) is made manifest we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is." Though some would use this to argue we do not know what we will become in heavenly life, the context seems to deal more with a relationship and not body-type. It is true none know the specifics of what the celestial body-type will be exactly, though we know what it is not: bone, blood, and flesh.
Is God the Father of a human frame, flesh and blood, somehow spiritualized? John speaks, we think, of the Son, the image of the Father, when he says: "We shall be like him." The Nazarene taught, "God is spirit ... and a spirit does not have flesh and bone." (John 4:24; Luke 24:39) If the Son be the image of the Father -- "the imprint of His substance" and "reflection of His glory" (Hebrews 1:3) -- then how can the Son, as well as the Saints, be anything but non-flesh, non-blood, non-bone spirit-types?
Our Mortal Body "Refashioned"!
Another text given a different twist by different Bible students and readers is Philippians 3:21: "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." (KJV) This verse is variously rendered: ASV: fashion anew the body of our humiliation; RHM: transfigure our humbled body; GDSP: will make our poor bodies over; NJB: will transfigure the wretched body of ours into the mould of his glorious body; RSV: transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory.
Is it fair to conclude that this text does not say the fleshly human body will go to heaven in the resurrection at the Parousia of Christ? There seems two body-types here: the present humiliated body; and, the glorious body of Christ. What exactly is involved in this "transformation" must be judged by 1 Corinthians chapter 15. At the Parousia Paul says "we shall all be changed." The Greek word in Philippians 3:21 rendered "fashion" or "transform" is meta-schematisei, or to change the "schematic" -- "change to suit the occasion" is how Wigram-Green put it. A new "morphology" is inferred by another word in this verse: sym-morphon. We do not see here any indication that our present bodies of blood and flesh will be merely "spiritualized." We believe a real "change" occurs: from the soma psychicon (soul-type body) to the soma pneumaticon (spirit-type body) without flesh and blood, not of this earthly creation, not of a human source from Adam, but from a heavenly and everlasting origin -- from God the Father by means of His Son, Jesus Christ the Nazarene.
Before the Son of God came to earth he was not "flesh and blood" but a spirit like his Father. He had a certain glory because of his being the first created or begotten spirit being. (Proverbs 8:22-30; John 17:5) His Father "prepared a body" of flesh and blood for him so that he might serve as a perfect equivalent to Adam. Jesus, like the Israelite offerings which typified him, sacrificed his life with its flesh, bone and blood body. Like the ancient shadows of those animals offered up as burnt sacrifices, or holocausts, Jesus own body was "burned up" or "destroyed" by his Father. Had the same body be found in the grave it would have disproved any claims to a resurrection. When he was raised he enjoyed a new spirit-type body with an immortal life and thus returned to that celestial realm from which he first came as a spirit person.
All things considered, particularly Pauls thorough discussion of the resurrection subject, it seems strange that if Christ were raised in the same human body laid in the tomb, Paul would not mention this. Also, no text specifically states Jesus was raised in the flesh. Rather, the Bible is clear and straightforward that Jesus "was put to death in the flesh but raised in the spirit" and "even if we had known Christ formerly in the flesh, we know him thus no more." (1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:16)
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DOES GOD EXIST?
Never does the Nazarene Lord ever entertain this question -- "Does God exist?" -- for to him and his disciples it was a given. He merely asserts,"The One who sent me is real." (John 7:28 -- alethinos = true; a reality) We can imagine the expression on our Lords face if asked this question. In his own words, Jesus pointed to the fields of grass with their lovely flowers as evidence that his Father cared for others. He taught in his mountain sermon: "Observe intently the birds of heaven ... your heavenly Father feeds them. ... Take a lesson from the lilies of the field, how they are growing; they do not toil, nor do they spin ... God thus clothes the vegetation of the field." (Matthew 6:26-30 NWT) Some skeptics sitting in such an audience would have objected to such a conclusion.
Isaiah the prophet of the seventh century BC pointed to the stellar celestialium: "Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one [of them] is missing." (Isaiah 40:26 NWT) The Jewish rabbi turned Christian, Paul also pointed to creation as evidence of a Creator: "For his invisible [qualities] are clearly seen from the world's creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable." (Romans 1:20 NWT) And, again, "Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but He that constructed all things is God." (Hebrews 3:4 NWT)
Of course, Biblical quotations are no proof of Gods existence. These are presented only to demonstrate how the Scriptures approach the matter in an almost off-handed way.
Modern debates over Gods existence
The debate over the existence of God is as much alive today as it was one or two centuries ago. [See the Newsweek article of July 20, 1998, "Science Finds God" pages 46-52] Following the Internet some would be led to believe that belief in God is "old fashioned" or out of date for enightened thinkers. For example, the forum H2O is strongly controlled by agnostics and atheists whose goal seems the destruction of faith in God no matter the religion. Anyone who posts a message dealing with evolution, creation, the Bible, or belief in God in general, is instantly pounced upon by verbose anti-gods.
Though agnostics and atheistis are rare -- though vocal -- the truth is, in fact, that reasonable estimates confirm that by far the majority of earths inhabitants believe -- and have always believed -- that there is a God. Though these concepts of God vary widely with Jews, Christians, and Moslems (as well as many diverse cultural and tribal groups) hold to the general conviction that God is a Supreme Being with Infinite Intelligence and Infinite Power. Others, while still holding to a belief in a divine mind, or purposeful force, view God as an abstraction which is the sum of a variety of manifestations.
Agnostics (meaning "un-knowing") and atheists (meaning "non-god" believers) have been very vocal on different Internet forums in debating the issues regarding a belief in God. Of course, their unified question is first: what is the proof that God exists? They also are bold in asserting that if God existed why does he permit wickedness? (On this later question see the August newsletter.) The later complaint begs the first question, for their ignorance of why or why not God does or does not do something is an entirely different subject unrelated to whether He exists or not. Ones ignorance can never be the basis for an argument against the existence of God.
Why this disbelief among some scientists? Walter Oscar Lunberg, biochemist, writes: "A denial of the existence of God is sometimes an arbitrarily established policy of influential social groups or organizations, or of the state. Fear of social consequences, or even physical consequences where atheism is a state creed, discourages any active espousal by the individual of the revelation of God found in Nature."
If some atheists are honest they would admit there is no proof or evidence that would convince them to change their faith or philosophy. Some want evidence which can be weighed and measured so that we could finally say that God is so many light years in height and weighs so many trillions and trillions of kilos. Something like an alien autopsy. Others want what amounts to a personal experience where they could see God, hear his voice, or in some other way have "scientific" proof of His existence. In some cases, not even this would work, for many would still insist this is all an allusion or a magic trick.
The old saw -- "I only believe in what I can see" -- is no longer realistic in view of advanced sciences which do hold to belief in unseen things, such as atoms, or the four forces of the cosmos. It is much like the wind which cannot be seen but may be known by its manifestations in the static on the skin or the rustle of autumn leaves. (John 3:8) Thus, there are many things in our own experience that we can neither weigh or measure per se, such as the wind, and yet when we behold seas of "amber waves of grain" moving in lovely undulating patterns we know this is the unseen wind.
In a modern world with radio and television communication we learn early that these invisible waves are moving around and through our bodies all the time. Though we cannot see, feel, smell, hear, or in any other way sense these, we have no doubt whatsoever that they exist.
What do we mean by the word "God"?
However, can the existence of a God be proven? Or, is there sufficient evidence to point strongly in the direction of a God. Of course, here it is good to ask the question: What do we mean by "God"? Though this word will have different meanings in a variety of cultures with many language differences, what common denominators may be judged to exist when something like the word "God" is used?
First, it is good to recognize that the English word "God" has different roots compared to Hebrew or Greek. Word studies show that the English "God" (the German "Gott") is related to a "helper"; that is, one who is called to for help -- something like a lifeguard. In Hebrew the word ELOHIM is rooted in the idea of power or strength, thus one who is considerably more powerful than you is an ELOHIM. In Hebrew this may range from the Absolute Being to angels, kings, judges, and even husbands. Though in the later case something like the English "lord" (bread-winner, or, keeper of the bread; and, thus "husband") is used more often in the context of husband and wife. Thus, in Hebrew the Supreme Being was He that had the Power to will the universe into existence.
The Greeks drew their concept of "god" (theos) from motion or running as the stars run across the sky. Thus, a supreme God was a Prime Mover, or Creator -- that One Being who could put all these observable lights or bodies into motion.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle made it clear the Greeks used the number three in the conceptions of the gods and thus the trinity preceded Christianity by over 600 years. He writes in The Heavens, "It is just as the Pythagoreans say, the whole world and all things in it are summed up in the number three; for end, middle, and beginning give the number of the whole, and their number is the triad [or, trinity]. Hence it is that we have taken this number from nature, as it were one of her laws, and make use of it even for the worship of the gods." [English translation by W. K. C. Guthrie M. A., Cambridge] [triados = Websters "triad" = trias, triados = trinity; modern Greek dictionary: triados = trinity.] Aristotle believed the "trinity" six centuries before the Council of Nicea. Triados occurs no where in the Christian Greek Bible.
Is this "God" a person? Aristotles answer is: "And Gods essential actuality is life most good and everlasting. We say then that God is a living being, eternal, most good." (Metaphysics, chapter 8) However, here again no universal agreement will be reached by all the various views. Our purpose here is not to deal with what "God" is but rather that He is -- His existence. In a separate piece we can deal with what God might be.
This is reduced to a simple abstraction in how the Hebrews and Greeks designated the Name for God: Yahweh (or, Yehowah) in Hebrew, and Ho On in Greek. The later is present in much of Greek philosophy and means simply "The One" inferring "the one who is" or "the One who exists." Though some scholars debate the Hebrew, when the Jews in the Third Century set upon translating the Hebrew root of Ehyeh asher ehyeh they chose ego eimi ho on, or, "I am the One who is." Thus, the essential idea is that God indeed does exist. We may state that God is the Absolute Being with a Supreme Intelligence -- there is no one older, stronger, or wiser than "God." One philosopher proposed: "God is that of which there is nothing greater." Or, Einstein himself was willing to express his own conviction: "It is not beyond me to conceive of a supreme intelligence perpetuating himself throughout all eternity."
The logic behind this is seen in the equation: Where we find design we find intelligence. Where we find intelligence we find a mind. Where we find a mind we find a person. And, where we find a person we find a personality.
Why did God take so long to create?
This is a question sometimes posed by atheists. It is very misleading. The argument goes: picture time as an infinite string which stretches eternally that way and eternally that way -- where is the middle? Well, any where one touches this string. And if I touch the string here, that is the middle, so in either direction it extends for eternity? Yes. Let us assume that here where I touch the string, the middle, God created? Yes.
The conclusion is, a) God never created because it took him eternity before he decided to do so; b) or, why did it take him an eternity to create?
The problem with this notion is that of the word "time" of which eternity is supposedly composed. Now in order to have "time" one must have space and motion as "time" is an abstraction created by the two. The soccer ball on the field takes a measurement of time to roll across the field from one end to the other. We may calibrate this in any arbitrary way as long as another comprehends our measurements. If we abstractly move backward to "creation" -- the moment the ball started moving -- there was no such thing as time, since space and motion did not exist. So, time is not this philosophers endless string. Indeed, time like space, may be curved as the outside of a balloon.
The Hebrews had an ingenious way of expressing this idea since they generally did not have a word for infinity or eternity in our way of thinking. Psalm 90:1 expresses it this way: "From time indefinite to time indefinite you are God."
Proverbs 8:22, 23 reads from the Bagster translation of the Jewish Greek Septuagint, "The Lord made me the beginning of his ways for his works. He established me before time was in the beginning, before he made the earth." Thus, taking this rendering, there was a period when "time" did not exist.
An alternative view of the non-Hebrew world was a cyclic or circular cosmos without beginning or end, ever evolving and reincarnating itself into something else. Thus the Eastern view of a cosmos where God does not exist, though "gods" or "demons" may. Some -- though a diminishing few -- modern physicists still hold to what has been called a "steady state" universe which has always existed. (See The Tao of Physics) For one is really only confronted with two possibilities: a) the universe had a beginning (or creation); or, b) the universe has always existed. What the facts and scientific minds have to say on this we will examine.
The apocalyptic visionary John writes down The Gods (ho theos) expression of Himself as: "The one who was, the One who is, and the One is coming (in the future)." Thus, He is the Alpha and the Omega -- the A to Z -- "the beginning and the end."
The Beginning of the Universe
It is, of course, left completely up to individuals to decide for themselves whether the universe had a beginning or has always been here. However, the evidence for many decades has been growing, particularly among theoretical physicists and cosmologists, that the universe did have a beginning in the now famous, "Big Bang." Further, evidently built into this process, is what is called by Hawking and others as the "anthropic principle" -- or the Anthropoid Factor. This holds that from the beginning, from the moment of the Big Bang, God had anthropoids in Mind, and thus his creative laws, no matter how they evolved or developed, were guiding matters to one conclusion: Man -- a carbon-based life-form.
Simply stated we picture a moment before the formation of the first atomic particle, hydrogen, when the entire matrix of creation was super-compressed into, in affect, a single atom of enormous, incalculable energy. Like a hydrogen bomb it implodes on itself and then explodes in a magnificent display of fireworks. This moment called "Planck Time" has been estimated to be minus10 to the thirteenth power. The "creative bubble" -- the event horizon -- of this ever-expanding balloon widens and at the same time cools and slows to below the speed of light -- E = mc2. In this process the atomic chart is created with its 100 plus elements. From helium to the radioactive elements, including the all-important carbon, and unknown other particulars with curious little names given by serious scientists who designate them as "quarks" and "leptons."
As this "creative bubble" expands "curved space" is created between the elements, and the force of gravity (ever so weak at first) begins to gather these primordial parts, growing more and more complicated. Finally galaxies form and solar systems come into being. Here or there a "planet" finds itself just the right distance from its sun (93 millions miles), which is just the right age -- neither too young or too old. This "sun" would become the main source of food for this planet. This "lucky" planet is rotating on its tilted axis (23.5 degrees) and with a 24 hour rotation in just such a manner that a fairly uniform temperature is maintained.
Since the universe is random from some perspectives with whirling objects moving about, this particular "lucky" planet has neighbors on the outer perimeters. These are giants by comparison, big enough to attract any large asteroid or comet which might wander into the solar system if the sun itself does not do accomplish this. [Recently earth-size comets were photographed plunging into the solar mass.] Thus, this one single planet is protected to a large degree by enormous big brothers.
This process, from the Big Bang to this particularly life-less planet, took an estimated 15,000,000,000 years -- though this is highly debated and this figure expands or contracts depending on various notions and periods. Some wish to reduce the whole period to five billion, while others want to expand it to 25 billion. It really matters naught. The Book of Genesis does not describe the formation of the entire universe. It picks up the action after the earth has already formed. Though some will disagree with this interpretation, note Genesis 1:1, 2, 6, 7 ---
"In the beginning The God created the Heaven(s) [atmosphere] and the earth [spherical orb]. The earth was without form and empty and the surface of the deep [waters] was dark. The Pneuma of The God was moving gently on the surface of the waters. ... And The God said: Let there be a space between the waters, and let this space separate the waters which are under this space and the waters which are above this space. And The God made the space and He made a separation between the waters above and the waters below. And it was so. And The God called the space, Heavens." This later creative action by God -- the formation of the atmosphere -- occurred on the Second Day.
How did "life" begin on earth?
The above is the first part of the "miracle" of this Big Bang with its Creative Bubble. Some cosmologists estimate scores of "fine tuning" required to assure human life. Thus, the second "miracle" is how biogenic life began on this planet. Here, now, are three voices:
a) It was an accident of random circumstances comparable to a monkey pecking at a type-writer keyboard and writing -- given the time -- a sonnet of Shakespeare. Of course, if this would happen, the monkey would be God who just took a long, random, chaotic time doing everything. If this "accident" was without God it was some process by which lightning struck an unnumbered amount of times, piercing through a deadly atmosphere of gases, and by a random throw of the dice, managed to "create" the precise set of atoms, which could form into a grouping of molecules, which could by their chance arrangement "grow" and "reproduce" as complex amino acids and proteins.
What this requires is a staggering number of happenstances which can move from the first life-form given billions of years to account for the unfathomable array of life on the planet today with millions of insect species, birds, fish, reptiles, animals, and unknown numbers of bacterium and virus, including unknown numbers of yet to be discovered species in dense jungles and great ocean depths. The random "miracles" needed in each case are beyond calculation.
Of course, the initial miracle of random chance is only the first of many unknown millions which must now follow to proceed from this bio-soup up the evolutionary ladder to the vast array of millions of life forms, from virus and microbes to Man.
Fred Hoyle wrote: "The entire structure of orthodox biology still holds that life arose at random. Yet as biochemists discover more and more about the awesome complexity of life, it is apparent that the chances of it originating by accident are so minute that they can be completely ruled out. Life cannot have arisen by chance."
In Darwins day the scientific concensus was that life was very simple. If Darwin and the scientific community had been aware how awesomely complex life is, they may not have drawn the erroneous conclusions they did.
Creation by God
b) Life on this planet began because God created it so and judging from the Hebrews and their book of Genesis chapter one, this process followed this scenario: 1. light reached the water enshrouded globe (H2O is absolutely essentail to life); 2. atmosphere formed; 3. dry-land appeared; 4. light shown more intensely on the planet; 5. green vegetation began to grow; 6. the seas swarmed with fish and aquatic creatures and birds begin to fly in the atmosphere; 7. animals begin to appear on the dry-land; and, finally 8. anthropoids appear. This genesis is so similar to the known pattern of life on this planet to startle even the skeptic. For how could a man, writing (depending on ones argument), 10 to 15 centuries before Christ, predict the exact geological and biological series known to modern science?
Astronomer Robert Jastrow, an agnostic in religious matters, wrote: "The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy."
A God-directed Evolution
c) And finally, a combination of the above, in which God was the all-important factor but what proceeded from the Big Bang, pressured by an anthropic principle, was factored in, leading to this brilliant symphony of life on this planet, topped by the premier creation: Man. This possibility is likened to a stream which begins on a mountain top and is irresistibly pulled by gravity to form a great ocean. God, like gravity, knows the end from the beginning and this "life stream" will follow certain immutable laws hard-wired into the cosmos -- laws as true in one part of the universe as in another. This God-driven evolutionary approach allows for a continuing development of new species or bio-types, some successful, some not -- dead ends here and miraculous leaps there.
Regarding the work Human Destiny by Lecomte du Nouyone author wrote: "The laws of inorganic evolution contradict those of the evolution of life. (du Nouy) gives mathematical formulae to show that inorganic matter acting in accordance with its laws could not have created even a single molecule of protein -- let alone a living organism with powers of reproduction. (du Nouy) maintains that only through the intervention of God could the gap have been bridged between the inorganic and the organic."
Those in categories a, b, and c, all look at the various "histories" in geology, paleontology and anthropology and find their own evidence. There is no possibility of getting these three to agree. Often such debates sink to name-calling and bitter innuendo about parentage.
Here our purpose is not to deal with life on earth and how it started and endured down to our present time. Our question is -- was there a God involved in all of this -- a Prime Mover or Creator whom Einstein called "a Supreme Intelligence perpetuating Himself throughout all eternity"; and Aristotle, "a living being." This demand for proof of what Einstein could conceive boils down to a few perspectives.
"Something is moving" (ALBERT EINSTEIN)
It is obvious we observe motion, not only around us in daily life, but the moon, the sun, and even comets or meteors. This did not escape the ancient Greeks who formed the word theos (god) from the root "runner" or "motion." Newtonian law states: "An object at rest will remain at rest unless moved by another object." This is a simple law of physical dynamics. A ball on a playing field will remain there until a person or force moves it. If one comes upon such a ball rolling across the playing field it is not unreasonable to assume someone (though unseen) pushed the ball into motion.
Einstein observed the obvious: "Something is moving." (Indeed, this phrases was used on the New York bus system.) Therefore, some force, or some person, had to set things in motion. Theologian Thomas Aquinas said the same thing many centuries before Einstein by pointing to motion as proof of a Prime Mover: "Some things are in motion. Motion implies an unmoved Mover; similarly, there must be an uncaused First Cause that possesses in itself the reason for its existence; the existence of creatures whose nonexistence is possible implies the existence of a necessary Creator; the scale of perfections evident in the universe implies the existence of an absolute standard, a perfect Being."
In addition to this motion it has now been observed and stated in a law -- Hubble-Hameson -- that the universe is expanding from an original center at the "Big Bang." This was determined by what was designated "the red shift" -- a tendency of stars further away from the earth to indicate their age by this color shift.
If this process of expansion had been going on forever then nothing would shine in the night skies for they would have all long ago vanished. Judging from these present distances and speeds it can be roughly calculated when the mass of the universe was all together compressed into the original primordial nuclear model.
Some, though this number is growing smaller, theorized that the universe has been a constant of expansion and contraction throughout eternity. However, recent studies seem to strongly support the idea that the gravitational force of the expanding galaxies is insufficient to reverse this expansion.
IS THERE HEAT IN THE UNIVERSE?
The Second Law of Thermodynamics, or "entropy," teaches that a hot body will eventually cool to the absolute zero of space. In other words, in exchanges of energy there is a tendency for some energy to be lost. Thus, like a wound clock, it will finally wind down and come to a stop. This is seen by some as predicted by such texts in the Bible as Psalm 102:25-27. This entropy can already be observed in the stellar heavens when old stars finally loose their energy, collapse in on themselves and become "black holes."
Clearly, there is heat in the universe, most notably our own sun. If these solar fires had been burning forever, they would have long expired like the coals in a fire. Therefore, there was a moment in the primordial past when the creative fires were ignited by a Power stronger than the heat of the entire cosmos.
Zoologist Edward Luther Kessel: "The law of entropy states that there is a continuous flow of heat from warmer to colder bodies, and that this flow cannot be reversed to pass spontaneously in the opposite direction. Entropy is the ratio of unavailable to available energy, so that it may be said that the entropy of the universe is always increasing. Therefore the universe is headed for a time when the temperature will be universally uniform and there will be no more useful energy. Consequently there will be no more chemical and physical processes, and life itself will cease to exist. But because life is still going on, and chemical and physical processes are still in progress, it is evident that our universe could not have existed from eternity, else it would have long since run out of useful energy and ground to a halt. Therefore, quite unintentionally, science proves that our universe had a beginning. And in so doing it proves the reality of God, for whatever had a beginning did not begin of itself but demands a Prime Mover, a Creator, a God."
RADIOACTIVE TIME CLOCKS
Certain elements among the more than 100 atomic elements are volatile and loose their mass in the form of radiation. These include such elements as uranium and plutonium. They "decay" at precise and calculable "half-lives." Their presence -- still radioactive -- indicates the universe has not always been around, otherwise there would be no such elements. They would have long ago lost all their radioactivity and been converted to a simpler atomic structure such as lead.
It is something like coming upon a bucket of water, half empty, with a small hole in the bottom. Water has been dripping out for a period which could be measured to a degree. If this process had been going on forever, the bucket would have long ago been emptied. However, since it is half full we may assume it was at one time full or at least partially so, and judging from the drips we could compute when the bucket would finally be empty -- unless the original person or source refills it again.
DESIGN PROVES A DESIGNER
Pauls "arguments" regarding the existence of a Maker or Creator is from design. He writes: "For God can be known ["by the eye of reason" -- NEB] by the things made." (Romans 1:20) And, again, "Every house has a maker but He that made all things is God." (Hebrews 3:4)
There is the story of Newton who had constructed a small-scale model of the solar system turned by a crank to imitate the rotations around the sun. An atheistic friend marvels over this beautiful workmanship and asks who made it because he wants to compliment the designer. Newtons reply is: "No one made it. It just happened." To this the atheist responded: "Do you take me for a fool. It is obvious someone had to design this marvelous craftsmanship." To which Newton is said to have turned to his atheistic friend and said: "Friend, this is but a puny model of the solar system which you believed happened by chance." It is stated that the atheist became a believer from this argument based on design requiring a Designer.
An archeologist on hands and knees in the dust of some God-forsaken desert labors with dental pick and tooth brush to uncover some archeological mystery. He finds the smallest piece of chard. From this extremely slight evidence he knows it had to have a maker, for even in its minuscule size and proportions there is clear evidence of design.
Similarly, walking in a forest one comes upon a piece of flint, chiseled and formed just so as to be of obvious design and not random tumblings through the rocks of time. It is an arrowhead, obviously designed with a purpose to be attached to a shaft, propelled by a bow used by an archer to provide food for himself and his family. We will never see our meet this arrowhead maker, but we absolutely knows he or she existed. For where we find design we find purpose; and where we find purpose, we find intelligence; and where we find intelligence we find a thinking, willing mind; and where we find a mind we find a person; and where we find a person, we find a personality.
"Intelligence at work"
The Schweizerische Akademiker- und Studentenzeitung (Swiss Academic and Student Newspaper): "Can Order Come Into Being Accidentally? ... "To arrange a library or a stamp collection in an orderly way requires a plan, a measure of intelligence, and a certain amount of exertion. Were we simply to toss everything into the room with our eyes closed, hoping that chance would 'arrange things' for us, we would soon discover that this is not the way order comes into being. In fact, without our constant attention, things can easily get out of order again, as when the children take things out and put them back in the wrong places, or as when a sudden gust of wind 'arranges' our stamp collection. Daily experience teaches us that order does not come about accidentally. . . . On the other hand, from the existence of order we can deduce that intelligence has been at work. A well-arranged library, for example, bears witness to a good librarian. In principle, the same thing applies to every kind of order."
"Accident ... impossible"
Science Digest: "With new discoveries being made almost daily in molecular biology, the likelihood that life began as an accident is becoming more remote, if not impossible."
"Idea of chance mitigated"
Molecular biologist Michael Denton: "The complexity of the simplest known type of cell is so great that it is impossible to accept that such an object could have been thrown together suddenly by some kind of freakish, vastly improbable, event. ... But it is not just the complexity of living systems which is so profoundly challenging, there is also the incredible ingenuity that is so often manifest in their design. ... It is at a molecular level where . . . the genius of biological design and the perfection of the goals achieved are most pronounced. ... Everywhere we look, to whatever depth we look, we find an elegance and ingenuity of an absolutely transcending quality, which so mitigates against the idea of chance. Is it really credible that random processes could have constructed a reality, the smallest element of which-a functional protein or gene-is complex beyond our own creative capacities, a reality which is the very antithesis of chance, which excels in every sense anything produced by the intelligence of man? ... Between a living cell and the most highly ordered non-biological system, such as a crystal or a snowflake, there is a chasm as vast and absolute as it is possible to conceive."
Professor of physics, Chet Raymo: "I am dazzled . . . Every molecule seems miraculously contrived for its task."
We may behold the lovely craftsmanship of a maker of silk flowers, so detailed in their perfection to be almost unrecognizable from the real plant from which it was copied. No one would ever assert that this man-made flower happened by accident. And yet, if we hold in one hand the silk flower and in the other the genuine article, what degree of intellectual quotient exists between the artificial flower and the living, reproducing model? A Grand Canyon of unfathomable Intelligence -- an all-powerful, all-knowing and self-perpetuating Designer -- God.
WHAT DO THE PREMIER SCIENTISTS BELIEVE?
The beliefs, convictions or musings of scientists and others on the existence of God is never proof of His existence. However, their reasons for believing in God are worthy of our examination if only because their thoughts and ideas are held in such high esteem. In other words, these scientists provide what they believe to be evidence of Gods exitence.
It may be safely stated that in the last three hundred years one of the men who would be viewed as a premier scientific thinker was Sir Isaac Newton. What would the agnostic or atheist say, if granted an audience with, say, Sir Isaac Newton, to convince the scientist that he was mistaken?
Sir Isaac Newton
Much as been written criticizing Newton by those who would try to minimize him and bring him down from his established pedestal. Most men may be faulted in their lives for one deviation or another, including Einstein. Their lives and character are not here under question.
That Newton was a firm believer in God is shown by the one million words he wrote on religion and the Bible -- a number equal to his mathematical studies.
"New Testament authentic"
The Union Bible Companion, S. Austin Allibone says: "Sir Isaac Newton . . . was also eminent as a critic of ancient writings, and examined with great care the Holy Scriptures. What is his verdict on this point? 'I find,' says he, 'more sure marks of authenticity in the New Testament than in any profane [secular] history whatever.'
"Thumb proof of Gods existence"
Newton: "In the absence of any other proof the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence."
"A Supreme God ... incorporeal, living, intelligent"
Sir Isaac Newton, considered by many as "the greatest scientific mind the world has ever seen," wrote in Principia: "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. . . . The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect. ... Whence is it that nature does nothing in vain; and whence arises all that order and beauty which we see in the world? . . . How came the bodies of animals to be contrived with so much art and for what ends were their several parts? Was the eye contrived without skill in optics, or the ear without knowledge of sounds? . . . And these things being rightly dispatched, does it not appear from phenomena that there is a being incorporeal, living, intelligent?"
Though some have been vocal claiming the greater thinker was an agnostic or atheist, his own words show a personal belief in a God. He is by no means considered a religious man though he zealously supported the State of Israel and was even suggested as its first premier. [Editors note: some atheists and agnostics get upset when scientists who may have been unbelievers themselves are quoted in such contexts as this discussion. However, in the case of those who are known to be either atheists or agnostics, these may be viewed as admissions or acknowledgements on their part despite their theology or lack there of. On the other hand most of the quotations in this article are by God-believing Nobel Prize recipients or scientists who do believe in a Creator.]
"The infinitely superior spirit"
Timothy Ferris, in his article "The Other Einstein," quoted Einstein as follows: "What I see in nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of 'humility.' This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism. . . . My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. . . . I want to know how God created this world. I want to know his thoughts, the rest are details."
"Intelligence manifest in nature"
"It is enough for me to . . . reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe, which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifest in nature."
"A spirit is manifest"
"A spirit [that] is manifest in the laws of the Universe -- a spirit vastly superior to that of man."
"Reason incarnate in existence"
Out of My Later Years, Einstein said: "Whoever has undergone the intense experience of successful advances made in this domain, is moved by profound reverence for the rationality made manifest in existence. ... By way of the understanding he achieves a far-reaching emancipation from the shackles of personal hopes and desires, and thereby attains that humble attitude of mind towards the grandeur of reason incarnate in existence, and which, in its profoundest depths, is inaccessible to man."
"God does not play dice with the cosmos"
"It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity; to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe, which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifest in nature. ... I cannot believe that God plays dice with the cosmos. ... I want to know how God created this world. . . . I want to know His thoughts."
STEPHEN W. HAWKING
A Brief History of Time" (Stephen W. Hawking)
In the Introduction to Hawkings book, former Cornell University astronomer Carl Sagan wrote: "This is a book about God. ... The word God fills these pages. ... Hawking is attempting, as he explicitly states, to understand the mind of God." (page x)
The following are admissions from A Brief History of Time (Stephen W. Hawking)
"We can imagine that God created"
"(Augustine [in The City of God]) said that time did not exist before the beginning of the universe. (page 8) We can imagine that God created the universe at literally any time in the past. On the other hand, if he universe is expanding, there may be physical reasons why there had to be a beginning. One could still imagine that God created the universe at the instant of the big bang. ... An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!" (page 9)
"(God) choose to make it"
"Some people feel that science should be concerned with only the first part; they regard the question of the initial situation as a matter for meta-physics or religion. They would say that God, being omnipotent, could have started the universe off any way he wanted. That may be so, but in that case he also could have made it develop in a completely arbitrary war. Yet it appears that he chose to make it evolve in a very regular way according to certain laws." (page 110)
"Nowadays nearly everyone assumes that the universe started with a big bang singularity." (page 50)
"Some supernatural being"
"We could still imagine that there is a set of laws that determines events completely from some supernatural being, who could observe the present state of the universe without disturbing it." (page 55) "Einstein never accepted that the universe was governed by chance; his feelings were summed up in his famous statement: God does not place dice."
"Laws originally decreed by God"
"These laws may have originally been decreed by God, but it appears that he has science left the universe to evolve according to them and does not now intervene in it. But how did he choose the initial state or configuration of the universe? What were the boundary conditions at the beginning of time? One possible answer is to say that God chose the initial configuration of the universe for reasons that we cannot hope to understand. This certainly would have been within the power of an omnipotent being, but if he had started it off in such a incomprehensible way, why did he choose to let it evolve according to laws that we could understand? The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order." (page 122)
"A divine purpose in Creation"
"Nevertheless, it seems clear at there are relatively few ranges of values for the numbers that would allow the development of any form of intelligent life. Most sets of values would give rise to universe that, although they might be very beautiful, would contain no one able to wonder at that beauty. One can take this either as evidence of a divine purpose in Creation and the choice of the laws of science or as support for the strong anthropic principle." (page 125)
"As the act of a God"
"This means that the initial state of the universe must have been very carefully chosen indeed if the hot big bang was correct right back to the beginning of time. It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us." (page 127)
"A lucky chance?"
"Must we turn to the anthropic principle for an explanation? Was it all just a lucky chance? That would seem a counsel of despair, a negation of all our hopes of understand the underlying order of he universe." (page 133)
"The role of God"
"My paper was rather mathematical, however, so its implications for the role of God in the creation of the universe were not generally recognized at the time." (page 136)
"The idea that space and time may form a closed surface without boundary also has profound implications for the role of God in the affairs of the universe. With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. ... It would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator." (page 140)
"God would chose how the universe began and what laws it obeyed. ... God would still have had complete freedom to choose what happened and how the universe began." (pages 172-3)
"Einstein once asked the question: How much choice did God have in constructing the universe? ... and allow the existence of structures as complicated as human beings who can investigate the laws of the universe and ask about the nature of God. ... If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason --- for then we would know the mind of God." (pages 174-5)
"A Person endowed with supreme intelligence"
Mathematician and chemist John Cleveland Cothran stated: "Lord Kelvin, one of the world's greatest physicists, has made the following significant statement: 'If you think strongly enough, you will be forced by science to believe in God.' I must declare myself in full agreement with this statement. ... The material realm not being able to create itself and its governing laws, the act of creation must have been performed by some nonmaterial agent. . . . Hence our logical and inescapable conclusion is not only that creation occurred but that it was brought about according to the plan and will of a Person endowed with supreme intelligence and knowledge (omniscience), and the power to bring it about and keep it running according to plan (omnipotence). That is to say, we accept unhesitatingly the fact of the existence of 'the supreme spiritual Being, God, the Creator and Director of the universe,' mentioned in the beginning. . . . The advances that have occurred in science since Lord Kelvin's day would enable him to state more emphatically than ever: 'If you think strongly enough, you will be forced by science to believe in God.'"
"universe requires intelligence"
Physicist Fred Hoyle said: "The origin of the Universe, like the solution of the Rubik cube, requires an intelligence. ... The entire structure of orthodox biology still holds that life arose at random. Yet as biochemists discover more and more about the awesome complexity of life, it is apparent that the chances of it originating by accident are so minute that they can be completely ruled out. Life cannot have arisen by chance."
Fred Hoyle, The Intelligent Universe: "Such properties seem to run through the fabric of the natural world like a thread of happy accidents. But there are so many of these odd coincidences essential to life that some explanation seems required to account for them. ... The origin of the universe requires an intelligence. ... An intelligence on a higher plane. An intelligence that preceded us and that was led to a deliberate act of creation of structures suitable for life."
Frank Allen, biophysicist: "The adjustments of the earth for life are far too numerous to be accounted for by chance."
P. Dirac, Scientific American: "God is a mathematician of a very high order, and He used very advanced mathematics in constructing the universe."
"Gods existence proven by chemistry"
Thomas Edison: "After years of watching the processes of nature, I cannot doubt the existence of a Supreme Intelligence. The existence of such a God can, to my mind, almost be proved from chemistry."
Chemist Roger J. Voskuyl: "As a scientist, it is more reasonable for me to believe in a Creator than in an eternally existing cosmos. . . . One cannot rightly know God from the natural world alone. The scientist may work for an eternity, but he will never come to know God and all His attributes. . . . Man is but a creature of a Creator; therefore, man cannot learn about God by investigation of His creation alone, but he needs a special revelation. That special revelation is God's Word, which has been given in the Scriptures."
Physicist and chemist Oscar Leo Brauer: "There is Special Divine Revelation. Another name for that is the Bible. Science can establish that a creative act at some time must have taken place, implying the existence of a Divine Intelligence and a Divine Power. Science can also establish that none but a Divine Intelligence could have been the Author of the tremendous, involved and intricate system of laws in the universe. But only the Bible can identify that Divine Intelligence and Power as the God most of us have learned to know about from early childhood-the God who has revealed himself uniquely and supremely in His Son, Jesus Christ."
"natural order and law set by somebody"
Astronaut John Glenn: "The orderliness of the whole universe about us (and that the galaxies were) all traveling in prescribed orbits in relation to one another. ... Could this have just happened? Was it an accident that a bunch of flotsam and jetsam suddenly started making these orbits of its own accord? ... I can't believe that. . . . Some Power put all this into orbit and keeps it there."
Rocket expert Wernher von Braun: "The natural laws of the universe are so precise that we have no difficulty building a spaceship to fly to the moon and can time the flight with the precision of a fraction of a second. These laws must have been set by somebody."
Science News: "Contemplation of these things disturbs cosmologists because it seems as if such particular and precise conditions could hardly have arisen at random. One way to deal with the question is to say the whole thing was contrived and lay it on Divine Providence."
A member of the French Academy of Sciences stated: "Natural order was not invented by the human mind or set up by certain perceptive powers. . . . The existence of order presupposes the existence of organizing intelligence. Such intelligence can be none other than God's."-Dieu existe? Oui (Paris, 1979), Christian Chabanis, quoting Pierre-Paul Grassé, p. 94.
Paul Davies, professor of physics: "We are truly meant to be here. ... Through my scientific work, I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact. There must, it seems to me, be a deeper level of explanation."
"the evidence of Gods existence"
Physics professor Freeman Dyson: "The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming. ... Being a scientist, trained in the habits of thought and language of the twentieth century rather than the eighteenth, I do not claim that the architecture of the universe proves the existence of God. I claim only that the architecture of the universe is consistent with the hypothesis that mind plays an essential role in its functioning."
In the Centre of Immensities, British astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell: "The probability of . . . a chance occurrence leading to the formation of one of the smallest protein molecules is unimaginably small. Within the boundary conditions of time and space which we are considering it is effectively zero."
God and the Astronomers, Robert Jastrow: "Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. ... For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians [creationists] who have been sitting there for centuries."
William Barnett writing in Life magazine said: "All the clues of science point to a time of creation when the cosmic fires were ignited and the vast pageant of the present universe brought into being. And this time was five billion years ago."
In the periodical Förkunnaren [The Publisher] astronomer Arvid Ljunghall, Ph. D.: "It may be said, then, that the epoch-making new thing from a Christian viewpoint, that has appeared is that there has been found practically incontrovertible evidence that our world is of a limited age, that there was a time when the universe and matter did not exist, and that for this reason a creation must have taken place. We are thus now confronted with the remarkable fact that the Bible account of creation, that was so unscientific, so wholly strange to scientific thinking, when our century was young, is now wholly in line with the modern idea of the universe. ... He who wants to be in earnest about Christianity and proceed from the belief that there is a God, who is the Creator of everything, he does not need to believe against all rhyme and reason, against all sense and scientific investigation. His belief is fully in line with the idea of the universe that science holds today." (Svenska Dagbladet)
Guy Murchie, The Seven Mysteries of Life: "It is easy to see why modern physicists, who have been pushing the frontier of knowledge into the unknown probably more profoundly than any other scientists in recent centuries, are ahead of most of their fellows in accepting that all-encompassing mystery of the universe commonly referred to as God."
Nobel prize winner Arthur Holly Compton: "An orderly unfolding universe testifies to the truth of the most majestic statement ever uttered-'In the beginning God.'"
Dr. Robert A. Millikan, a Nobel Prize winner, in an address to a meeting of the American Physical Society at Washington, D.C., declared: "There's a Divinity that shapes our end . . . Just how we fit into the plans of the Great Architect and how much He has assigned us to do we do not know, . . . But fit in we certainly do somehow, else we would not have a sense of our own responsibility. A purely materialistic philosophy is to me the height of unintelligence. Wise men in all ages have always seen enough to at least make them reverent."
"a Creator the most plausible explanation"
The Mystery of Life's Origins: Reassessing Current Theories, written by three scientists. According to the paper, they explain that life could not have started by chance and "argue that a 'Creator beyond the cosmos' is the most plausible explanation for life's origin." Supporting this view, the article mentions that British astronomer Fred Hoyle "is widely quoted for his statement that believing the first cell originated by chance is like believing a tornado ripping through a junkyard full of airplane parts could produce a Boeing 747."
"driven to this position by logic"
Recently two prominent British scientists, Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, admittedly were 'driven by logic' to conclude that there must be a Creator. "It is quite a shock," said Wickramasinghe, a professor of applied mathematics and astronomy. The Sri Lankan-born astronomer explained: "From my earliest training as a scientist I was very strongly brainwashed to believe that science cannot be consistent with any kind of deliberate creation. That notion has had to be very painfully shed. I am quite uncomfortable in the situation, the state of mind I now find myself in. But there is no logical way out of it. Once we see . . . that the probability of life, originating at random is so utterly minuscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favourable properties of physics on which life depends are in every respect 'deliberate,' " or created. Professor Wickramasinghe also said: "I now find myself driven to this position by logic. There is no other way in which we can understand the precise ordering of the chemicals of life except to invoke the creations on a cosmic scale. . . . We were hoping as scientists that there would be a way round our conclusion, but there isn't."
GOD: The Evidence --
(Patrick Glynn / associate director and scholar in residence at George Washington University -1997)
" ... at Harvard in the 1970s, for example, it was taken for granted that traditional religious beliefs were a thing of the past, invalidated by science, incompatible with a modern outlook. ... The situation is in the process of changing. ... The reason lies in a series of dramatic new developments in science, medicine, and other fields that have radically transformed the old existence-of-God debate." (page 2)
" ... the atheistic philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell once put it, a curious accident in a backwater." (page 5)
"In 1973, in a lecture to the International Astronomical Union in Poland, the physicist and cosmologist Brandon Carter called attention to something he called the anthropic principle. The anthropic principle, as Western thinkers are only now beginning to understand, amounted to a refutation of the original premise of the overarching modern philosophical idea: that of the random universe.
"All of us intellectuals had been proceeding on the assumption that our appearance in the universe had been entirely accidental, a random outcome of collisions of matter and of the eons-long process of evolution. It turned out that the picture was not so simple. In the hundred years and more since Darwin first proposed evolution by natural selection, scientists understanding of the nature of the universe had greatly broadened and deepened. Using insights from relativity and particle physics in combination with observations from astronomy, modern cosmologists had been able to go a long way toward reconstructing the evolution of the entire universe, from its origins in the big bang.
"As (cosmologist Brandon) Carter pointed out ... life had to be, in effect, pre-planned from the very origin of the cosmos. In order to get life to appear in the universe billions of years after the universe began, you had to start planning early --- from the first nanosecond of the universes coming into being. The possibility of producing life depended on everythings being just right from the very start. ... Far from being accidental, life appeared to be the goal toward which the entire universe from the very first moment of its existence had been orchestrated, fine-tuned.
"Indeed, today the case for design looks very strong." (pages 7, 8)
"The anthropic principle marked an important turning point in the history of science: the first time a scientific discovery seemed to take us toward, rather than away from, the idea that there is a God. ... the universe is the produce of intelligence." (pages 8, 9)
"Someone once said that it is hard to fall in love without thinking of God." (page 16)
"Modern thinkers assumed that science would reveal the universe to be ever more random and mechanical; instead it has discovered unexpected new layers of intricate order that bespeak an almost unimaginably vast master design. Modern psychologists predicted that religion would be exposed as a neurosis and outgrown, in stead, religious commitment has been shown empirically to be a vital component of basic mental health. Modern thinkers assumed that spirituality would be shown to have a physical basis; instead, something like the reverse has occurred: Health has been shown to have a spiritual underpinning." (pages 19, 20)
"In essence, the anthropic principle came down to the observation that all the myriad laws of physics were fine-tuned from the very beginning of the universe for the creation of man --- that the universe we inhabit appeared to be expressly designed for the emergence of human beings." (pages 22, 23)
"Few people at the time seemed to be thinking deeply about the physical implications of this discovery [that mans position in the universe was inevitably privileged to some extent]. But, they were nothing short of astounding. In effect, the random universe was out the window. There was nothing random at all bout the arrangement of the cosmos --- as physicists quickly began to see. The vast, fifteen-billion year evolution of the universe had apparently been directed toward one gal: the creation of human life." (page 25)
"Indeed, what twentieth-century cosmology had come up with was something of a scientific embarrassment: a universe with a definite beginning, expressly designed for life. Ironically, the picture of the universe bequeathed to us by t most advanced twentieth-century science is closer in spirit to the vision presented in the Book of Genesis than anything offer by science since Copernicus." (page 26)
(Quoting astronomer Fred Holye) "All that we see in the universe of observation and fact, as opposed to the mental state of scenario and supposition, remains unexplained. And even in its supposedly first second the universe is acausal. That is to say, the universe has to know in advance what it is going to be before it knows how to start itself. For in accordance with the Big Bang Theory, for instance, at a time of 10-43 seconds [Planck Time -- editor] the universe has to know how many types of neutrino there are going to be at a time of 1 second. This is so in order that it starts off expanding at the right rate to fit the eventual number of neutrino types. ... An explosion in a junkyard does not lead to sundry bits of metal being assembled into a useful working machine." (from Fred Hoyle, The Origin of the Universe and the Origin of Religion, page 18) (pages 30, 31)
"In effect, the anthropic principle says that humanity is (apparently) the final cause of the universe. The most basic explanation of the universe is that it seems to be a process orchestrated to achieve the end or goal of creating human beings." (page 32)
"For this reason, the advent of the anthropic principle is a much more momentous event in Western intellectual history than many people have realized. ... For the first time in over 350 years, science is at a loss to reduce the universe and the order we see around us to mechanistic principles." (page 38)
"Many scientists are profoundly uncomfortable with the universe of the new cosmology, precisely because it leaves such ample room for God. The whole picture is damnably disconcerting: a universe with a beginning, designed for man. Many scientists want this picture to go away." (page 40)
"In its generic form, the idea that randomness, over time, will eventually produce order has a very old pedigree. ... Given infinite time, nature would by chance alone eventually hit on the order we see around us. ... Given infinite time, a monkey with a typewriter would eventually type the works of Shakespeare." (page 44)
"(Quoting Kants idea) "If God does not exist, then how do you explain the existence of flowers?" (page 47)
"But even among the most mainstream biologists a consensus is growing that natural selection cannot by itself explain the order of the biological world. There is also a clear recognition that the patterns in the fossil record do not accord with the patterns Darwin would have predicted." (page 47)
Pascals Thought Experiment --- "Revelation teaches that God rewards faithful believers. ... There is no way for reason to know whether revelations claim is true. But we may consider our life as a wager. If we bet against God, and revelation proves to be true, (we will be punished). If we bet for God, and revelations have been an illusion, we lose nothing, for we shall cease to exist at death in any case." (pages 76, 77)
"But my scientific journey has led me to what I believe is a more important point, at least for my purpose as a physician. It does not matter which came first --- God or the belief in God. The data I have presented is that affirmative beliefs and hopes are very therapeutic, and that faith in God, in particular, has many positive effects on health." (Doctor Herbert Benson, Timeless Healing, page 211)
CONCLUSION: "I AM THE ONE WHO IS!"
Above we have considered some of the reasons reputable scientists and other thinkers believe God exists. They have argued that motion needs a Prime Mover, laws require a Law-maker, design requires a Designer, a creative beginning requires a Creator.
We have not dealt with the subjects of who or what God is here, nor how life on this planet began. We have dealt mainly with the proposition or assertion that the God of the Bible gives Himself: "I Am the One Who Is" --- the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek name for God. (Exodus 3:14, 15)
Even one of the first questions children ask their parents is, "Who made the trees?" It will be up to each parent to take the hand of their child and explain the immensity of the universe according to their own conceptions. However, most parents throughout the ages have answered: "God," and possibly quoute the poet, "Only God can make a tree." We see above that this is the same answer imminent men of letters and science would also give. If our individual consciences move us to comprehend a God in all that we behold -- though not understanding it all -- this should arouse in us a profound awe which logically leads to respect and worship of the Absolute Being we call God.
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A recommended Question and Answer forum on the Free Bible Students web page:http://www.cqlcorp.com/fbs/q-and-a/ -- it is there for any questions sincere persons may wish to ask. They will be answered by one or more Biblical students.
The CMF doctrinal forumhttp://www.cmfellowship.org/forums/doctrinal/default.htm
A new FBS mailing list has been formed for on-line chat and communication between subscribers. It is a forum which believes "God is One" and has inspired the Bible with its focus on our Redeemer, Christ.
Hard copies of several Nazarene Saints publications are available to those who cannot obtain them by down-loading from the Internet. Nazarene Principles, Nazarene Apocalypse, and, Messianic Confessions cost about $20 (US) dollars plus shipping. These are direct expences and no profit of any kind is made. There are also "loan copies" for those who wish to cover mailing costs and then return the book after reading. Readers are free to reproduce or copy these publications or portions as free gifts to friends or relatives. If interested, please write the Nazarene Saints,
c/o Shawn Mark Miller
An interesting debate with Jews athttp://members.aol.com/gparrishjr/debate.html
Non - trinity web pageshttp://members.aol.com/owebeewan/
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PERFECTING THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER:
Forgiving & Non-adversarial
CHARACTERISTIC #22 -- FORGIVING.Romans 12:19a reads in the King James Version: "avenge not yourselves." The phrase is variously rendered: PME: never take vengeance into your own hands.
"I dont get mad. I get even." This is not a characteristic of a Christian. One of the greatest ways to keep peace is to be forgiving. Revenge never results in peace which is the subject Paul is discussing. Forgiveness is at the root of this characteristic. Also, a non-judgmental disposition prohibits the Christian from taking the law into his own hands. The Nazarene Saint is well aware that God is the Judge as Paul goes on to state.
The very first commentary on the Lords prayer was by the Nazarene himself. He laid down this divine rule: "For if you forgive men their debts the heavenly Father will forgive you. But, if you do not forgive the debts of others, neither will your Father forgive your debts." (Matthew 6:14, 15)
NAZARENE SAINTS ASK: Do I try to get back or get even toward those who have abused me? Do I answer like with like? Do I seek revenge against perceived injuries? What is my first inclination: forgiveness or vengeance?
CHARACTERISTIC #23 -- NON-ADVERSARIAL. Romans 12:19b reads in the King James Version: "but rather give place unto wrath." The phrase is variously rendered: NW: yield place to the wrath; KNX: allow retribution to run its course.
The spirit of non-resistance to oppressive authority is one taught by the Nazarene: "Do not resist the wicked." (Matthew 5:39) This is virtually the flag of Ghandi and the anthem of Martin Luther King. This may be written on the banner of the civil-rights movement. It is the spirit of non-resistance and the abhorrence of violent retaliation. Paul writes, "Be wrathful, but do not sin." :(Ephesians 4:26 which alludes to Psalm 4.4) So, it is possible that a Christian could be the object of wrath from one of his fellow worshippers overcome in a moment of indignation or loss of self-control even as David was. "Yield" is the entreaty here. Yielding begets harmony. Indeed, the word translated "reasonable" is literally "yielding" in Greek and characterizes a "overseer." (1Timothy 3:3 NWT ftn)
Proverbs 24:29 may be the source of Pauls inspired thoughts: "Never think: I will treat him as he treated me. I will pay back the man for what he did." This correct attitude echoes that "love your enemy" taught by the Nazarene. (Luke 6:35)
Rather than seek revenge Paul encourages the Nazarene disciple to yield and treat his enemy with kindness instead of revenge. He continues quoting Proverbs 25:21, 22: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap fiery coals upon his head." (NW) By unexpected kindness the opposite response is the result.
Who is the enemy? It could be a whole congregation of Christians. (Galatians 4:16) There are friends and there are enemies. There is love and there is hate. Often "hate" is loving a person less than one should and thereby behaves like an enemy, that is, not a friend. James Moffatt renders the next phrase: "for in this way you will make him feel a burning sense of shame."
Overcome the adversary with kindness. Kindness shown in hospitality softens the hardened attitudes of persons who love you less. It is true some persons are just irritated more by such kind actions but that is beyond your control.
The law of Moses taught the same attitude: "Should you come upon your enemy's bull or his ass going astray, you are to return it without fail to him. Should you see the ass of someone who hates you lying down under its load, then you must refrain from leaving him. With him you are without fail to get it loose." (Exodus 23:4, 5 NW) The Nazarene taught the same: "Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens." (Matthew 5:44, 45 NW) This is the way to spiritual perfection.
NAZARENE SAINTS ASK: Can I find it in my heart not to resist loveless people but yield to them for their own good? Do others characterize me as reasonable and yielding?
CONCLUSION. Paul ends his list of Christian characteristics by exhorting: "Dont allow yourself to be overpowered with evil. Take the offensive -- overpower evil by good!" (Ro 12.21 PME)
[This concludes the series on "Perfecting the Christian Character." Please see previous newsletters or the online publication Nazarene Community for the entire list and discussion.]
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FAITH PERSPECTIVES:Dogmatism versus Conviction
[This is a forum for the free expression of faith and conviction no matter the view or opinion. You are welcome to submit anything in good taste, respectful, and mannerly.]
The Nazarene Community of Christian Saints view all those who confess our Lord Jesus as members of one Christian family. Some of our brethren are Trinitarian, some are unitarian (or, henotheistic), some are not sure what to believe. It is not our intention to judge or condemn another view from that of the Nazarene Saints.
For nearly two thousand years godly and saintly men and women have debated the subject of Trinitarianism and Unitarianism without coming to any harmony. Throughout history Trinitarians and Unitarians have treated one another abominably and in the process denied their Lord. We Nazarene Saints do not wish to participate in such judgmental attacks against religions or persons. On the other hand we wish to present our best defense (apology) for our own belief. We agree completely with Irasmus of the Sixteenth Century: "If we want truth, every man ought to be free to say what he thinks without fear."
We Nazarene Saints believe those who are not sure what to believe ought to review both sides on the Internet or in hard copy publishing and then make their own decision of faith. Each of us stands individually before God, not as part of an organization or religion. In the end, what will matter? Note how historian Will Durant in his monumental work The Story of Civilization (Volume VI, page 486) recounts the view of one cleric during the Reformation: "For hundreds of years ... men had debated ... the Trinity, and other difficult matters; no agreement had been reached; probably none would ever be reached. But none is necessary. .... Such disputes do not make men better;all that we need is to carry the spirit of Christ into our daily lives, to feed the poor, help the sick, and love even our enemies. ... Can we imagine Christ ordering (a heretic) to be burned alive ... ?" [Reprinted from De Trinitatis Erroribus.]
Some modern Christians wish to embrace all beliefs into a common fold holding no particular creed themselves. Others, though respecting this view, feel that after 2,000 years of sectarian Christianity, it is now impossible to take this entire matrix and homogenize it into one church. What, in affect, happens is exactly what Paul foretold: "For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled." (2 Timothy 4:3) Both the congregation and the pastors combine into some kind of inoffensive, liberal, all-embracing cafeteria-style Christianity propounding strictly neutral and generic versions of the Bible and Jesus Christ.
Though we Nazarene Saints feel all brethren -- no matter their creed -- should be embraced, this does not mean we do not hold to firm, even rigid, belief systems on doctrine and conduct. We believe a Christian should strive for the highest state of virtue and righteousness possible as well as imitate our Lords life-style as closely as reasonably possible. At the same time disciples of the Nazarene must make it their goal to comprehend his teachings and those of his inspired disciples as best each individual is gifted.
In the work Nazarene Principles it was stated in paragraph 392: "Nothing written in the Nazarene Principles is inspired or infallible save those words of the Nazarene himself, those of his personal disciples, as well as the rest of the Bible. The truth of what is contained within is for you to judge. If you judge it to be truth in part, then accept and follow that truth. If you can improve on this truth, then do so with Gods blessing. Let the qualities of faith and love reside in you richly so that all can see an image of the Nazarene in you: But all of us who are Christians have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. We are transformed in ever-increasing splendor into his own image, and the transformation comes from the spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
With these godly thoughts in mind we Nazarene Saints present De Trinitatis Erroribus and related supplements as a means to assist sincere Christians to review the evidence, and following personal prayer and meditation, develop their own vision of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. With Paul, we pray in your behalf: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of The God and the sharing of the holy spirit be with all of you." Amen.
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Introduction. The following are portions from The First Apology of Justin. These are obtained from the Internet web link: www.ccel.org. [The following was part of an ongoing debate between a Nazarene Saint unitarian and Internet Trinitarians. -- Feb 98]
Our interest in these is whether Justin was a Trinitarian in his theology or rather closer to a henotheistic (in the qualified sense believing in One True God though acknowledging other gods exist). It should be remember in this apologia Justin is addressing the Roman Senate who were pagan polytheists.
The pages as they come from the down-load are cited for location.
Page 5 -- (Ch V. -Christians Charged with Atheism)
"For not only among the Greeks did reason (Logos) prevail to condemn these things through Socrates, but also among the Barbarians were they condemned by Reason (or the Word, the Logos) Himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ."
Page 6 -- (Ch VI. -Charge of Atheism Refuted.
"Hence we are called atheists. And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness. But both Him, and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, andthe host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him), and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore."
Comment: God is the Father, the Son came forth from God. The Son is possibly equated with the "good angels." Note who are worshipped and adored: the Father, the Son, the good angles, and the prophetic Spirit. When Justin mentions the Spirit he usually qualifies it as "prophetic Spirit." This may be understood as saying, "inspired prophecy."
Page 8 -- (Ch XII. - Christians Live as Under Gods Eye)
"And that you will not succeed is declared by the Word, than whom, afterGod who begat Him, we know there is no ruler more kingly and just. ... He is both Son and Apostle of God the Father of all and the Ruler, Jesus Christ."
Comment: The Word was begotten by God and became the Apostle or Sent one of God the Father.
Page 8 -- (Ch XIII. - Christians Serve God Rationally.)
"Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose,
and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judaea, in the times of Tiberius
Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true
God Himself, and hold Him in the second
place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will
prove. For they proclaim our madness to consist in this, that we give to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all."
Comment: the Son of the True God is in
Comment: the Son of the True God is in "second place."
Page 12 -- (Ch XXI.)
"And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was
produced without sexual union ... we propound nothing different from what you believe
regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter."
Comment: The Word is "the
first-birth of God" similar to sons born of Jupiter.
Comment: The Word is "the first-birth of God" similar to sons born of Jupiter.
Page 12 -- (Ch XXII. - Analogies to the Sonship of Christ.)
"And if we assert that the Word of God was born of God in a peculiar manner,
different from ordinary generation, let his, as said above, be no extraordinary thing to
you, who say that Mercury is the angelic
word of God."
Comment: the Word of God, born of God,
is likened to "the angelic word of God."
Comment: the Word of God, born of God, is likened to "the angelic word of God."
Page 13 -- (Ch XXIII. - The Argument)
"We say true things: and (secondly) that Jesus Christ is the only proper Son who
has been begotten by God, being His Word and first-begotten, and power; and, becoming man according to His will ... "
Comment: Jesus is Son begotten by God
Comment: Jesus is Son begotten by God as first-begotten.
Page 18 -- (Ch XXXVIII. - Utterance of the Son)
"And when the Spirit of prophecy speaks from the person of Christ, the utterances are of this sort ... "
Comment: again Justin uses the designation "the spirit of prophecy" which may be understood, not as a person, but as "inspired prophecy."
Page 21 -- (Ch XLV. - Christs Session in Heaven Foretold)
"And that God the Father of all would bring
Christ to heaven after he had raised him from the dead,
and would keep him there ... "
Comment: Clearly God the Father is in
control, bringing and keeping Christ.
Comment: Clearly God the Father is in control, bringing and keeping Christ.
Page 24 -- (Ch LIII.)
"For that reason should we believe of a crucified man that he is the first-born of the unbegotten God."
Comment: The first-born cannot be the unbegotten God.
Page 27 -- (Ch LIX. - Platos Obligation to Moses; and, LX. - Platos Doctrine of the Cross)
"Plato borrowed his statement that God ... he borrowed in like manner from Moses
... Which things Plato reading, and not accurately understanding, and not apprehending
that it was the figure of the cross, but taking it to be a placing crosswise, (Plato) said
that the power next to the first God was placed crosswise in the universe. And as to his speaking of a third, he did
this because he read, as we said above, that which was spoken by Moses, that the
spirit of God moved over the waters. For (Plato) gives the second place to the Logos which is
Comment: Justin asserts Plato borrowed
from Moses but did not understand and thus asserts a first, second and third God.
Comment: Justin asserts Plato borrowed from Moses but did not understand and thus asserts a first, second and third God.
Page 28 -- (Ch LXI. - Christian Baptism)
"For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the holy spirit, they then receive the washing with water."
Comment: Alluding to Matthew 28:19, Justin shows only that God is the Father and in no wise insinuates the Son or the holy spirit are also God.
Page 29 -- (Ch LXIII. - How God Appeared to Moses)
"Now the Word of God is His Son, as we have before said. And [the Son] is called Angel and
Apostle. ... From the writings of Moses also this will be manifest; for thus it is written
in them, And the Angel of God spake to Moses, in a flame of fire out of the bush, and said, "I am that I
am." ... And if you wish to learn what follows, you can do so form the same
writings; for it is impossible to relate the whole here. But so much is written for the
sake of proving that Jesus the Christ is
the Son of God and His Apostle, being of old the Word, and appearing sometimes in the form
of fire, and sometimes in the likeness of angels. ...
(he) was indeed the Son of God, who is
called both Angel and Apostle. ... For they who affirm that the Son is the Father, are
proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father,
nor to know that the Father of the universes has a Son, who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God. And of old [the Son] appeared in the shape of fire and in the likeness of an angel to Moses, become Man by a virgin, according to the counsel of the
Comment: The Son is an angel. Though
Plato erroneously teaches three gods, there are but two: the unbegotten God who is the
Father and Creator, and the only-begotten god. This is just as the Beloved John has it in
John 1:1, 18 -- two gods: the unbegotten and invisible God, who is the Father; and, the
Word who is the only-begotten god. Justin is henotheistic in his theology and not
trinitarian though he may infer Plato is trinitarian. ===== END =====
Comment: The Son is an angel. Though Plato erroneously teaches three gods, there are but two: the unbegotten God who is the Father and Creator, and the only-begotten god. This is just as the Beloved John has it in John 1:1, 18 -- two gods: the unbegotten and invisible God, who is the Father; and, the Word who is the only-begotten god. Justin is henotheistic in his theology and not trinitarian though he may infer Plato is trinitarian.
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WHY DOES GOD PERMIT WICKEDNESS?
Before Human Creation
To justify this statement we must go back in time, before Eden, millions of years back in time to the first days of creation described in Job 38:7, "When the morning stars joyfully cried out together and all the sons of God began shouting in applause." (NWT) In referring to those spirit beings who were witness to the preparation of the earth for humankind, notice that they are not referred to as subjects or vassals of the mighty King and Sovereign Jehovah, but as "sons of God," which obviously make the Creator a father. What we see in this setting is a father showing his sons how imaginative and intelligent he is, with his sons becoming so impressed and proud of their father that they begin to shout in applause. No mention is made of Jehovah being a king or sovereign over them, but instead he is shown as a very modest father, who at the end of each creative day simply says that it was "good." (Genesis 1:25)
A Fathers Concern
As a father, Jehovah was and is concerned with the well being and moral guidance of his
family. This can be seen in the way Solomon, under the inspiration of Jehovah, chose his
words carefully in counseling his son; doing
so in a very kind and loving manner. In Proverbs 1:7-9, Solomon says: "Listen, my son to the discipline of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother. For they are a wreath of attractiveness to our head and a fine necklace about your throat." Notice that under Jehovah's guidance Solomon is not harsh, saying, "listen to what I say or else I will make you suffer." Instead, throughout Proverbs there is an entreaty on the part of a father toward his son to listen and heed his
advise. The tone is one of concern and love.
When one reads over Jesus' parable of the prodigal son's return and the father
running out to meet him, one can again see the love and concern that Jehovah has for his own children. As with earthly parents, who try their best to spare their children the grief that goes with making wrong choices, many chose not to heed
Jehovah's advise despite the adverse consequences. As with the prodigal son, many have to learn from their own experiences, rather than the advise found in the Scriptures.
The Main Issue in Eden
These two approaches to learning, that of learning from others who are more experienced or learning on ones own, was the main issue in the Garden of Eden. The knowledge of good and evil was known by others prior to Adam and Eve. Whether is was only Jehovah and his only begotten son, or the other spirit
sons, the Scriptures do not say, but the fact is made clear in Genesis 3:22 that some individuals did know the difference between the two, "And the Lord God said, 'The man has now become like us knowing good and evil.'" Did the eating of the fruit by the human couple bring about a full understanding of good and evil. Hardly! The first effects of this new found knowledge was that of the feeling of guilt. It was an unpleasant feeling, one that made them feel ashamed and caused
them to hide themselves from their father Jehovah.
But this was only the beginning of a long journey towards a full appreciation of good verssus evil that they were embarking on. With the death of their son Abel at the hand of his brother Cain came a fuller understanding of the effects of evil, such as jealousy. There was also a new word being added to their vocabulary, sin. The Hebrew word for sin is hhat-ta'th' which can be translated as "missing the mark," that is the mark of perfection. Yet a more common definition used is "wrong doing." Paul made the statement that "through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned." (Romans 5:12) This missing the mark of perfection brought about the tendency for humankind to sin, or commit wrong doing; with the result being death.
A Quandary and a Lesson
This brings up the quandary, if not just Adam and Eve had sinned, but also Satan, why
was it that only the human couple and their children were to become physically imperfect,
resulting in death, whereas Satan remained physically perfect and did not die along with
Adam and Eve? Once again an understanding of the issue of the knowledge of good and evil
will shed some light on this question. Adam and Eve had opened up the opportunity for
mankind to obtain
an understanding of the effects of good in comparison to evil by experiencing them first hand. This is what the first human parents had chosen for themselves and their offspring.
By putting mankind in a state of imperfection Jehovah had guaranteed that all of
mankind would come to appreciate how devastating sin can be, by everyone inheriting the
tendency toward sin. The past six thousand years has given the first
couple's descendants ample time to come to a knowledge of good and evil. With Satan and the other spirit sons who followed him, there seems to be no evidence of any physical impairment given them. But this would not exclude them from the effects of their wrong doing. They have been ostracized from their heavenly family, along with their future being the eternal death that John spoke of in Revelation 20: 7-10, 14.
For these (angelic) sons of Jehovah, there seems to be no attempt on the part of Jehovah to cultivate in them an appreciation of the differences between good and evil, except for the penalty of death that evil brings. How does all of this affect us as prospective kings and priests? In two ways.
1. Evil to Self and Others
By learning that we can bring evil on ourselves, and that evil can be brought on us by others. The Scriptures are resplendent with examples of those, who by their own volition, have brought pain and suffering on themselves; Cain (jealousy), Jacob and his mother Rachel (lack of faith), Joseph's brothers (jealousy), Saul (impatience, jealousy, spiritism, lack of faith), David and Bathsheba (adultery), Ahab (apostasy, murder, hate, greed), Gehazi (greed), Judas (treachery, lying, greed), Peter (over confidence, lack of faith, fear of men), Ananias and Sapphira (greed, lying).
The case of Jacob and Rachel's lack of faith can illustrate how, what may appear to be a simple wrong doing, can have devastating consequences that one may have not anticipated. Rachel, from the time of her pregnancy, knew that it would be the youngest of her two sons, Jacob instead of Esau, that would be favored by Jehovah. (Genesis 25:23) Since Esau was the oldest, most of Jehovah's blessings should have fallen on him, along with the right of the first born to be head of the family after Issac died. Jacob, instead of waiting on Jehovah to handle the situation, took matters into his own hands by taking advantage of his brother's hungry state and having him sell his birthright for a pot of stew.
True, the Scriptures say that Esau was in the wrong in that he despised his birthright, but Jacob was not free from fault. He showed a lack of respect for his brother, and a trust that Jehovah was capable of watching over his future. When the time came for Issac to give the blessing entitled to the first-born, both Jacob and his mother conspired to have Issac unwittingly bless him, instead of Esau. It was this lack of faith that would bring about a broken family. Jehovah could have simply informed Issac of the situation either by means of an angel or a dream, telling him to bless Jacob instead of Esau. By doing this, everything would have worked out fine. But Jacob and his mother had to use trickery to obtain what Jehovah had already promised them.
The result was Jacob being forced to flee for his life from his angry brother, and Rachel never seeing the son she favored ever again. In time this breach between the two brothers would be healed, but Rachel would die before it came about. All of this could have been prevented if there was just a little more faith and trust on the part of Jacob and Rachel.
2. That Evil Committed Against Us
The second way evil can affect us is through the actions of others. A perfect example of this is in the case of our eldest brother Jesus. (Hebrews 2:10-14) The fact that he was perfect did not exclude him from the effects of sin. The Scriptures speak of Jesus' anger at seeing his Father's house being converted into a den of robbers; of his sadness at witnessing first hand death and sickness; frustration with his disciples lack of faith; and finally pain and death at Calvary. None of this suffering was because of any wrong doing on Jesus' part, but rather the wrong doing on the part of others. This exposure to sin helped Jesus to become the perfect High Priest, "This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, since he had the same temptations we do, though he never once gave way to them and sinned." (Hebrews 4:15 TLB) Messiahs "suffering" was foretold by the Psalms and Isaiah: "I am a worm, not a man, scorn of mankind, contempt of the people." (Psalm 22:6) "He was despised, the lowest of men, a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering." (Isaiah 53:3)
Jesus learned from his experiences on earth just why our Father classifies certain actions as good, and others as bad. It is by our own experiences that we also come to appreciate the lessons in life that our Father taught our older Brother.
Paul clarifies this when he writes "Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God.
If you want to keep from becoming fainthearted and weary, think about his patience as sinful men did such terrible things to him. After all, you have never yet struggled against sin and temptation until you sweat great drops of blood. And have you quite forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his child? He said, "My son don't be angry when the Lord punishes you. Don't be discouraged when he has to show you where you are wrong. For when he punishes you, it proves that he loves you. When he whips you it proves you are really his child. Let God train you, for he is doing what any loving father does for his children. Who ever heard of a son who was never corrected. . . . Being punished isn't enjoyable while it is happening; it hurts! But afterwards we can see the result, a quiet growth in grace and character." (Hebrews 12:4-11 paraphrased)
Why Our Father Tolerates Wickedness?
All of this now brings us right back to our question, "Why Does God Permit Wickedness?" It is one way of showing us what actions are good and benefit us, and what actions are bad and harm us. By the painful experiences we sometimes put ourselves through, it is impressed on us how wise our Father is, which in turn, may cause us to appreciate more his advise and counsel.
One final example of this is of Cain. Our Father could see where Cain was heading because of his jealousy toward his brother. Our Father lovingly warned Cain, "Why are you so angry? Why is your face so dark with rage? It can be bright with joy if you will do what you should. But if you refuse to obey, watch out. Sin is waiting to attack you, longing to destroy you. But you can conquer it." (Genesis 4:6, 7)
Paul writes that Gods toleration of wickedness will work out for our ultimate good: "But suppose that God, although all the time he wanted to reveal his retribution and demonstrates his power, has with great patience gone on putting up with those who are the inwstruments of his retribution and designed to be destroyed; so that he may make known the glorious riches ready for the people who are the intruments of his faithful love and were long ago prepared for that glory." (Romans 9:22, 23 NJB)
With more than six thousand years of war and violence how much more mankind can now appreciate those words. It is because of this permission of wickedness that all of us can now truly cherish our Father's kind, simple and loving words of wisdom. No doubt this knowledge of our Fathers love and patience will move each disciple of the Nazarene to share with others this Gospel and at the same time becoming a living example of "instruments of His faithful love."
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