(Editor’s Note:  During the Lenten season, we have invited guest writers to post reflections here at Mere-O.  Micah Hoover is an engineer by day, and a blogger by night.  He posts Kierkegaardian-style meditations on the Christian life at his blog Mere Devotion.  We are happy to have him here.)

Children were asked to describe God in a survey.  One child described God this way:

I think He’s an old man with a long, gray beard. And He sits
on a throne like a king, and drinks all the Dr. Pepper He
wants.

Adults forget the difficulties of being a child. Children are given few options in their choices, and they are responsible for much less than adults.

Children describe God as a being who does whatever he wants and takes total responsibility for His choices. This is a radical notion to them, like something they cannot fully grasp.

Perhaps God seemed radical to all of us when we were younger. Instead of acknowledging the radicalness of God, many adults try to defend him in a way that belittles and undermines His power.

For example, I read a commentary once on the episode in the Bible where the Ark of the Covenant was about to fall. In the story, a man named Uzzah (who was not a Levite) stretched out his hand to steady the ark, and he fell dead.

The twenty first century reader struggles to understand these passages. Such readers say to themselves that there is some defect in the translation or even in the Scriptures -when they are the ones full of defective thoughts.

The commentary on the passage claimed that the man’s death was like dynamite or a nuclear bomb. It wasn’t that God chose for the man to die… it’s just like when TNT is ignited or uranium is slammed together.

Such commentary, of course, leaves open the possibility that God wanted to save the man, but he was too weak and powerless on his own to do anything about it. Or maybe he was just too shy. Or it was just the nature of the ark.

The politically correct God described by this age never chooses for anyone to die. He never chooses for people to lose their homes, or to get sick, or to read newspapers that are racially-tinged. He would stop all of this if he could, but he’s too weak (or he leaves it up to us, or he’s bashful, etc.).

And the politically correct God never drinks more Dr. Pepper than the government permits him to drink. He never drinks more than his accountability partners allow him to drink. He never drinks more than everyone else so he doesn’t look selfish.

And he never drinks more Dr. Pepper than his nature allows him to drink.

But is this the real God? Is this God who lets things happen without ever intervening the same God who delivered the children of Israel from Egypt?

Is this the God who told Moses to call him “I am”?

Perhaps the divine subjectivity is the most offensive claim of the Bible to us.

We take issue against anyone who is not able to provide external explanations. We want to hear people defend themselves saying, “I filled out all the paperwork”. We want to hear them say, “I did this because that’s what everyone else wanted me to do.” Or to hear them say, “I was just following the System, the pattern of this world.”

But then Job or Peter or somebody approaches God and says, “Who or what is responsible for this?” And the fullness and completeness of God answers back:

I am.

The radical answer that offends and scandalizes us is that God does whatever he wants to do. His divine subjectivity has laid the foundations of the earth. All the scientific rules and objective principles of physics hold together so long as Christ allows them to.

The preachers cannot polish him into doing anything. The theologians cannot confine him into the doctrines they invent. The Hollywood directors cannot invoke him with their talented actors and costly scripts.

God is not a formula, so that scientists and mathematicians could manipulate Him like an equation. God is not a history book so that we could revise him as the scholars revise history. God is not a politician that He should be bribed by the company of famous people or money.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Romans 11:33-34

God is spirit, and he demands that those who come to him worship in spirit and in truth.

And He drinks all the Dr. Pepper He wants.

Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

  • Excellent! This really is the heart of our discomfort with God, that He refuses to be bent to our ideas of what He should be like, and refuses to use His power in the world the way we imagine we would. And it frankly adds to our confusion. How do we hold the God who killed Uzzah in the same framework as Jesus who said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them…”?

    “I am not skilled to understand what God hath willed or God hath planned; I only know at His right hand stands One who is my Savior.”

  • makelovehappen

    Thanks for the response, AZ. What blog with a Tex would be complete without an AZ?

    I like the phrase you use, “the heart of our discomfort with God”. It’s not something obvious to us in the human sense; it is a subtle incongruity between our ideas and the otherness of God. It is something we deliberately push into the back of our minds -and along with it- the possibility of becoming the person God wishes each of us to become.

    As for your framework question: it’s easy to view it in the a way a politician would say it … kissing babies and so forth. To me it seems infinitely radical. As an engineer everyone weighs the value of their careers (and their whole lives) by the length of their resumes. They boast about their years of experience, schooling, intelligence, and professional qualifications. And the framework God provides to those people -the scandal of it all- is the obligation to become like little children.

    Thanks also for the reminder of the song.

  • So, how does saying “God can do whatever He wants” not confine Him to certain categories? I.e. it excludes Him from the category of being that can’t do whatever they want. Sheesh, you guys and your petty boxed gods.

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  • I.J.Reilly

    I am curious, is there anything, in your thinking, that is normative for Christian faith?

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  • makelovehappen

    “So, how does saying “God can do whatever He wants” not confine Him to certain categories? I.e. it excludes Him from the category of being that can’t do whatever they want.” Eric Holloway

    The Bible says that eye has not seen, ear has not heard, mind has not conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him. If I understand this, does that mean my mind HAS conceived the things God has prepared for those who love Him?

    And if I conceptualize that which is essentially inconceivable, does that mean it was actually conceivable in the first place?

    The best way to understand God is to understand that He is beyond understanding. Does this make God understandable? Yes, but only “by virtue of the absurd” which is the firmest and most reliable understanding.

  • makelovehappen

    “I am curious, is there anything, in your thinking, that is normative for Christian faith?”

    One thing that is normative for the Christian faith is to be led by the Spirit. Sadly, many believers settle for living by ideology because it gives them a sense of where they are coming from and where they are going. When a person lives by the Spirit they do not know where they are coming from or where they are going. Ideology is, of course, another example of confining God (‘He only drinks as much Dr. Pepper as ideally possible’). To assert that sinners may be forgiven is to stake claim to an ideology that transcends ideology.

  • Micah,

    You said: “And he never drinks more Dr. Pepper than his nature allows him to drink.”

    You lumped this statement in with the rest of the “God never…” statements that you obviously mean to criticize, but surely you don’t think that God does that which is contrary to His very nature? Surely you don’t think that God can sin. And if, say, drinking x gallons of Dr. Pepper was a sin, could God drink that much Dr. Pepper?

  • I.J.Reilly

    You say, “The theologians cannot confine him into the doctrines they invent.”

    What I was wanting to know in my previous question was do you think Christianity is a dogmatic religion (i.e. is it characterized by dogma)?

  • makelovehappen

    “Surely you don’t think that God can sin.”
    David Nilsen

    God cannot sin, but this is only because His Spirit never wishes to. All reference to nature is secondary and on shakey ground because no one even knows what exactly God’s nature is (unless you want to say what Christ did, that “God is spirit”).

    No one has even seen God! So how can anyone pretend to know what His nature is? Remember how Paul commanded the Ephesians about learning “what is pleasing to the Lord”. That’s about as much as you can understand about God on earth.

  • makelovehappen

    “What I was wanting to know in my previous question was do you think Christianity is a dogmatic religion (i.e. is it characterized by dogma)?”
    I.J.Reilly

    You can’t get away from the fact that there is dogma in Christianity, and the Apostles lamented the fact that there would be some who refused to listen to sound dogma.

    In Christianity (unlike an ideology), the dogma is necessarily secondary. As Barth put it in his commentary on the Romans, religion only has value when it points beyond itself. Dogma, the structuring of belief, is less important than belief that is genuine. Genuine faith is what the Father seeks and not faith placed in the “objectively correct” things.

    If anyone thinks it is enough to believe in the right things, they ought to recall Christ’s warning that many will say to him (correctly), “Lord, Lord” but spend eternity in torment. Indeed, Jesus is Lord! But the subjective element (is he YOUR Lord?) is missing and therefore serves to bring condemnation.

    Believers need to be careful because many people have a higher regard for the dogma of Christ than they do for Christ himself!

    I realize that sounds like a terrible hyperbole, but it is true. At least the Israelites of old could see their idols, but can you even see dogma? Dogma is blind to your needs. It cannot hear you when you pray to it. Christ died on the cross for your sins, but what has the dogma of Christ done for you? It isn’t even willing to lift a finger on your behalf!

    So understand and articulate the true doctrines of the Christian faith, but do not put your faith in doctrine. Explain to people the source of the hope that is within you, but be ready to explain that your source of hope is not doctrine but Christ living inside you. Do not put your faith in abstract places that can only save you abstractly. Instead, put your faith in the existing individual who has pleased the Father in everyway and stands ready to make atonement on your behalf.

  • Ponderings

    Unless one has faith like a child, he can not inherit the kingdom of heaven. When I was a child, what my daddy told me was truth and I never questioned it. Period. If he went away for the weekend, or stayed in his study preparing a sermon, or came to my room and told me a story, I had nothing to say in the matter. I was the child and he the father. Yet I trusted him implicitly and he did what he knew was best for me. I would never as a young girl have thought to make my daddy less than he was, or softer or meeker or more palatable, as I was never ashamed of what he did or what were represented by his decisions.
    This is the child like faith that many children come to God with and what He esteems. This is what He desires in His adult children. Faith without question even when the hand of God appears dark.

    “If you see me with a face all black, don’t be frightened. If you see me flapping wings like a bat’s, as big as the whole sky, don’t be frightened- –you must believe that I am doing my work. Nay, Diamond, if I change into a serpent or a tiger, you must not let go your hold of me, for my hand will never change in yours if you keep a good hold. If you keep a hold, you will know who I am all the time, even when you look at me and can’t see me the least like the North wind. I may look something very awful. Do you understand?” George MacDonald

  • makelovehappen

    Thanks for your thoughtful ponderings, ponderings. I think it’s easy to forget what it was like being a child. Obedience isn’t a matter of ingenius calculation, but a matter of willingness, surrender, and ultimately faith that your authority has your best interest at heart. God demands this. I especially like that MacDonald book, At the Back of the North Wind. One of the important ones I plan to read with my daughter.

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  • I.J.Reilly

    You say, “Dogma… is less important than belief that is genuine.”

    How do you know this?

    You formulate a false dichotomy between truth and Christ himself as if Christ was somehow alien to the truth.

    Your prooftexting doesn’t establish your point in the least. The folks who cried “Lord, Lord” were not those who held orthodox teaching without genuine belief. He was directing his comment at those who did not do the will of God. And you have not established that it is not the will of God that one believe orthodox dogma.

    I will give you a better context. Acts 15 and the Jerusalem Council. Do those who rejected the dogmatic teaching of the Council regarding the Law have any claim to still hold Christian Faith?

    If God has Revealed something he expects it to be believed yes? What God has revealed is true. What God has revealed is dogma. Therefore dogma is true.

    The rub for you is that you cannot say what God has revealed and therefore are forced to say that all dogma is mere opinion thereby reducing God’s Revelation to Opinion. It does no good to say that the Scripture is God’s Revelation because the meaning of Scripture (which is what is at stake) is always mediated by some agency and in your formulation no human agency (you and your private judgment; some Confession or other; or a more ancient formulation by the Apostolic Church) can do more than give an opinion; so Revelation is reduced to Opinion.

    Your quote above merely reveals your Protestant paradigm. Only one who accepts the first principles of Protestantism would make such a statement.

    Have you seriously, and with detached judgment, really evaluated your commitment to sola scriptura? Has this ever really been an open question for you? If it hasn’t then aren’t all of your judgments on the nature of Christian Faith really question begging?

    Have you seriously dealt with a substantive critique of your first principles?

    If sola scriptura (a principle which I think you, and very few, if any, of your readers have not blindly accepted) is untenable then isn’t it possible you have uncritically accepted a form which is built on sand?

    If you are inclined I can send you an excellent essay and you can judge for yourself.

    Regards

  • I.J.Reilly

    Hi Ponderings,

    There is a sense in which I agree with your take on what Jesus meant regarding being like a child. But he was speaking more about humility and not our knowledge of the truth. Or do you think the two incompatable? Is ignorance really bliss?

    I would only offer that Jesus was full of the truth and of humility. As was Paul, Augustine, Aquinas. I could go on.

    God does not wish us to be ignorant or uninformed or to have a blind faith. Christianity is not fideism. It is not unhistorical or irrational. There is no opposition between faith and reason (Luther was grossly mistaken here).

    It is also written, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”

    And again, “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?”

    Best

  • makelovehappen

    “How do you know [dogma is less important than belief]?”

    Would you rather have a dogma about Christ in your life or would you rather have Christ in your life? Formulas and theology can’t

    tell you the answer because it’s something you have to decide for yourself.

    There is a big difference between finding a dogma about salvation and finding salvation. In the book of Acts, the possessed slave

    girl’s demons said true things about who Paul was (“true” in the sense of “truth” that you used), but Paul rebuked her and the

    demons. The girl was saying information that she was herself keeping at arms length. If all your knowledge of God is external

    information, then you yourself have no knowledge of God.

    “You formulate a false dichotomy between truth and Christ himself as if Christ was somehow alien to the truth.”

    You are using the word “truth” very loosely here, like truth you read in an encyclopedia -which is a dead document. All the

    encyclopedias of the world will be burned to smithereens, but the Word of God stands forever. God’s message of truth is not a

    collection of uncontroversial information (like a phonebook), but something that has to be personally digested and received.

    “And you have not established that it is not the will of God that one believe orthodox dogma.”

    You are right, and it wasn’t my intention to establish that. God wants us to accept what He reveals to us as orthodoxy through his

    Spirit. It is good to accept revealed doctrine, but it is better to be reconciled to God and to be led by the direction of His Spirit.

    “I will give you a better context. Acts 15 and the Jerusalem Council. Do those who rejected the dogmatic teaching of the Council regarding the Law have any claim to still hold Christian Faith?”

    Hard question. I am not a judge, but you must remember that the dispensation received by the Apostles had its supremacy in the inner testimony of the Spirit, who is a true guide in all matters no matter how small. Dogma and “the letter of the law” are approximations at best.

    Paul wrote about the ‘meat sacrificed to idols’ issue saying that each person should be fully convinced in his own mind. This is the territory where the Spirit works and not in tomes collecting dust in a monsigneur’s study someplace in Europe.

    “If God has Revealed something he expects it to be believed yes? What God has revealed is true. What God has revealed is dogma. Therefore dogma is true.”

    If you transfigure the word “dogma” to mean that which God reveals, then, yes, it is supreme (and I heartily approve of your using words to mean what you would have them to mean). Remember, though, that in the past God spoke through the prophets but in these last days God has spoken through his Son. He speaks through dogma only in so far as dogma echos the words of God’s Son.

    “The rub for you is that you cannot say what God has revealed and therefore are forced to say that all dogma is mere opinion thereby reducing God’s Revelation to Opinion. It does no good to say that the Scripture is God’s Revelation because the meaning of Scripture (which is what is at stake) is always mediated by some agency and in your formulation no human agency (you and your private judgment; some Confession or other; or a more ancient formulation by the Apostolic Church) can do more than give an opinion; so Revelation is reduced to Opinion.”

    Revelation is God’s opinion. Truth is God’s opinion. Opinion may seem measly and trifling to some, but remember that it was men’s opinions that Christ demanded from men when he walked the earth. You cannot have belief without a believer. You cannot have “thoughts” without a thinker. You cannot have love without someone who loves. The decisive truth presented in the Bible is one that must be personally received and chosen for oneself or it must be utterly rejected. Agency isn’t a byproduct or a defect of faith; it is a prerequisite. God isn’t a prisoner of His nature, his nature is a product of His agency.

    The rub for me is that the world and everyone in it continues on so long as God in His unsearchable mercy and preference allows it. This is the Krisis (Barth) which presents itself to every person who has entered the world.

    “Have you seriously, and with detached judgment, really evaluated your commitment to sola scriptura? Has this ever really been an open question for you? If it hasn’t then aren’t all of your judgments on the nature of Christian Faith really question begging? Have you seriously dealt with a substantive critique of your first principles? If sola scriptura (a principle which I think you, and very few, if any, of your readers have not blindly accepted) is untenable then isn’t it possible you have uncritically accepted a form which is built on sand?”

    Sola Scriptura (or any genuine belief) never rests on human calculation or ideological structure so that someone could come along

    and find that it stood on something unjustified. Instead it is the foundation upon which opinions find their grounding. It is the thing that shows all other things unjustified. The Apostle was clear when he said that ‘faith comes from hearing the Word of God’.

    Would you rebuke him for being “blind”? Indeed, he was blind the World’s methods of evaluation: looking at the surface of things and speculating about the basic structures of the world (like Aquinas). While the world chases after snobbery and sophistication, God favors primitivity.

  • I.J.Reilly

    “Sola Scriptura (or any genuine belief) never rests on human calculation or ideological structure so that someone could come along and find that it stood on something unjustified. Instead it is the foundation upon which opinions find their grounding.”

    This is a prejudice and not a conclusion. Again you are only bearing witness that you have never seriously considered a substantive critique of sola scriptura as the ground of all of Protestantism. You believe it because you are a Protestant. This is by definition question begging. It takes more than wishful thinking to establish a claim.

    Of course sola scriptura rests on human calculation (otherwise show me exactly where the Scriptures teach sola scriptura, and if it isn’t taught in Scripture then it is a ‘human calculation’). It rests on the decision of Luther, Calvin, et al. It is a novelty in the history of Christianity. It is not part of the deposit of faith. The fact that you respond this way demonstrates my point that you have never engaged in an honest evaluation of your first principles, and hence lack a necessary level of intellectual integrity in your paradigm.

    Sola Scriptura is not a belief among other beliefs, it is the principle you presume that precedes all your beliefs. It is the formal principle of Protestantism in all of its multifarious manifestations and doctrinal chaos. Sola Scriptura is a tradition of men. The Bible does not teach it and in fact presumes a very different notion as to what God established in order to secure what He has revealed to man.

    “I am not a judge, but you must remember that the dispensation received by the Apostles had its supremacy in the inner testimony of the Spirit.”

    The Apostles were commissioned and authorized by God to speak a message entrusted to them. They were authorized to say “this is orthodox” and “this is heterodox” and one did not judge for oneself by being “led by the Spirit”. The promise of Christ to “lead them into all truth” is made to the Apostles and not to you (this is manifestly seen in the fact that the Protestant movement is being led into a greater and greater degree of doctrinal anarchy). One heard their teaching and did not judge for themselves whether it was true or not but accepted their word as truth because they knew them to be messengers of God.

    If every follower of Christ were operating under a Protestant paradigm then there would have been no need (and certainly no binding authority) to have a Council to determine what was orthodox.

    But since God did not establish that every individual believer was burdened with that task of determining what was true or not, but instead made a different provision, then a Council was called to settle the issue that was threatening to divide the Church (see Acts 15). And that decision was binding on all Christians for all time.

    You really should give serious attention to your first principles.

    My offer to send you (or any of your good readers) a critique of your position still stands. Why would you be unwilling to hear how the Church for 1500 years, the Church of the Apostles, the Church of the Fathers, of Ireneus, Augustine, Maximus the Confessor, the Cappadocians, Athanasius, and a host of others bearing a common witness, understood how and by what means God has revealed himself to man. The critique is not that of a crank but is that of the most perceptive Christians that have lived (I mean no disrespect to Barth, he was a great thinker, but he cannot stand in the balance with the weight of the common witness of the likes of the Fathers, or with those who stand in a continuous line from Ignatius of Antioch to Chesterton).

    What do you say?

  • I.J. Reilly,

    Three quick things: “If sola scriptura (a principle which I think you, and very few, if any, of your readers have not blindly accepted) is untenable then isn’t it possible you have uncritically accepted a form which is built on sand?”

    Just to clarify, you are suggesting that readers of Mere-O have accepted sola scriptura critically, correct? I.e. we have at some point examined our ‘assumptions’ (as you call it)?

    Second, I’d be willing to read the article. Email it to matthew dot l dot anderson at gmail dot com. I’ll read it sometime after April 20th.

    Third, you wrote: “(I mean no disrespect to Barth, he was a great thinker, but he cannot stand in the balance with the weight of the common witness of the likes of the Fathers, or with those who stand in a continuous line from Ignatius of Antioch to Chesterton).”

    This makes me wonder: how much Barth have you read? Having read Augustine, Ireneaus, the Cappadocians, Athanasius, Chesterton, Aquinas, etc., and now having begun my journey through Barth’s dogmatics, I can say definitively that Barth (if any Protestant theologian) belongs in the highest echelon of theologians. You may think he’s wrong, but it’s difficult to deny he’s an intellectual on the same plane as Aquinas and Augustine (who, I would argue, outshine everyone else on the list).

    There’s no way to prove the point, of course, except over a long conversation of attempting to determine a criterion for it. But dismissing him like that makes me wonder whether you have read him….

    Highest regards,

    matt

  • I.J.Reilly

    Thanks for your response Matthew.

    I am not just paying lip service to Barth. I think he single handedly rescued Protestant theology from shipwreck. He is the greatest Protestant theologian period.

    My point was that when the whole of the Fathers, and most all of the great thinkers of Christian history, and every Christian that ever lived before Wycliffe, subscribe to a paradigm quite different from sola scriptura there exists a powerful prima facie case against taking a position that is in opposition to such a common witness. This seems to me so easily admitted as to be almost not worth mentioning. In fact it would be the acme of rashness and foolishness to adopt such a position on anything but an overwhelming case that favors such a move.

    One could almost go as far as to say that if Augustine and Aquinas agree on some issue you had better have an airtight case to disagree. The fact is they are joined by a staggering array of great Christians.

    Now if you think an open-and-shut case can be made for abandoning the ancient paradigm in favor of sola scriptura I think you have not encountered a competent case to the contrary.

    As to whether your readers have, with detached judgment (and this really is the rub isn’t it?), asked themselves whether their foundational principle is tenable, I seriously doubt this is really what has taken place in their journey. So, yes, I think sola scriptura has been, almost ubiquitously among Protestants, uncritically accepted (for this to not be the case they would have to demonstrate a firm and clear grasp of the Orthodox and Catholic paradigm, which is a great rarity; the fact that a host of Protestants may defend sola scriptura does not impress, as anyone who has read the least little bit knows, a plausible case can be made for just about anything). Here is the problem, and it is deeply challenging and requires the highest commitment to intellectual integrity and the most radical bond to the truth (I find most Protestants far more bound to what they accepted long before they had the capacity for serious self criticism). If sola scriptura is insufficient as a first principle, then the whole Protestant paradigm collapses. If the house is built on sand it doesn’t matter what the house looks like, it is still built on sand. Therefore in order to make a just judgment in the matter one must surrender every notion one has that is conditioned by Protestant categories of thought, because that is the thing that is being called into question. Every perspective a Protestant has presumes the efficacy of Protestantism. Time and time again their response to critique is question begging because they are presuming a conclusion to the question that is being asked.

    To reiterate, the great burden of proof to adopt sola scriptura lies on the Protestant side. The principle is a novelty and as such is not part of the deposit of faith. One can even see in the progress of the 16th century revolution that is was a rash and ill considered move and immediately led to doctrinal chaos.

    As anecdotal evidence I offer my perusal of the archives of your blog. It is without doubt, from even a casual reading of this thread, that Mr. Hoover has not engaged in any substantive engagement in the matter. And I will also point to a recent post (Mary for Evangelicals) of one of the masthead contributors Mr. Buhler. He says, “…in hopes that my fellow evangelical readers can join me in breathing a little more easily when they think about Mary, without, in so doing, seeming (God forbid!) Roman Catholic…” I know from long experience that this is not a soul that has ever seriously grappled with his own first principles. Because at the very least one comes away from such an engagement with a far greater respect for the Ancient Church. And only someone with a deep seated prejudice and unconcealed contempt would write that “God forbid” one be a Catholic (I know there was some jest in his quip but I also know that much is revealed under the pretense of humor). And only those with similar prejudice (your readers) would countenance such a comment. But I am willing to be corrected.

    I will forward the essay. It is written by a former Protestant and graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary. Are there no other takers?

    If I may ask, what have you read of Chesterton? I find only a few Evangelicals that have got beyond Orthodoxy and Everlasting Man and have never really dealt with the issues Chesterton thought most important.

    Also, in the interim, before you read the essay (perhaps you could even start this as a new thread): Is the Nicene Creed binding on the conscience of all the faithful? If it is then I have a further question, if it isn’t, why not?

    Cheers,
    IJR

  • I.J.Reilly

    I do not wish to seem to throw a black cloak over Mr. Buhler. He deserves a due proportion of credit.

    He admits his prejudice early in his post (“…things which I subconsciously thought were vain and idolotrous…”). And then he procedes to take steps to challenge and overcome his own prejudice. I applaud him for this.

    But he immediately seeks to reassure his readers that “God forbid” one be Catholic. And it is one thing to challenge this or that particular prejudice one may have, it is quite another to challenge the prejudice one has that is the foundation for all that one thinks regarding Christian Faith.

    Further up and further in Mr. Buhler! Come and See.

    Best,
    IJR

  • makelovehappen

    “The promise of Christ to “lead them into all truth” is made to the Apostles and not to you.”

    Yikes! You really seem to be keeping Jesus at arms’ length from the individual, end believer (the VERY person the gospel is aimed at). Jesus said that his sheep know his voice. The way I read it, his style is his message. If you understand Christ’s voice, you understand all truth. By ‘all truth’ I am excluding questions of how many angels are dancing on the pins of irrelevancy and other speculations flourished by the Schoolmen you listed.

    The idenfication of Christ’s voice cannot be achieved my human means of achievement: higher criticism, philosophical analysis, etc. Having the “ears to hear” requires a spirit that is willing to personally receive from God the revelation he provides and the “fear and trembling” that go along with it.

    I have read just about all the authors you listed, and I have noticed that many of them lack that “inspirational voice” I read in the Bible. To a large extent it is something that I throw myself into, just as it is incumbent upon every man and woman to throw themselves into righteous living and not necessarily having all the right academic questions and trade studies about what constitutes “righteous living” or if it is better before they take the plunge. If you take out the leap of faith, you remove all possibility of pleasing God.

    In my opinion Sola Scriptura is totally in the Bible. When Jesus was tempted by the Devil, he didn’t appeal to Jewish Synods or the pronouncements or Rabbis or any kind of human tradition (in much the same way that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God). In fact he rebuked the leaders for putting human traditions before the commands of God. Human traditions and the traditions of what we assume to be of the Church is never called “God-breathed” or “useful for teaching, correcting, and training in righteousness”. The writer of Hebrews didn’t say that God spoke in the past through prophets but now he speaks through Councils. God speaks through His Son, who is the Word of God. Other sources are worth listening to, but they are always secondary to the things God reveals through his Word.

    My claims here are not exclusively Protestant. Many Catholic writers emphasized an immediate direct, devotional relationship with God through Christ. I’m thinking of a Kempis, Augustine, and (to some extent) Bernard.

  • "And He drinks all the Dr. Pepper He wants." –quote of the day.

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