Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Quick Elaboration on Conditions, Logical Order and Causes




"Necessary conditions" is a philosophical phrase that deals with states of affairs. Take, If Y then X: That X is a necessary condition for Y means that Y cannot exist without X also existing, since Y is a sufficient condition for X.

1. If I'm regenerate, then I'm united to the risen Christ.
2. If I'm united to the risen Christ, then I'm regenerate.



1 means that it is impossible to have regeneration without union with Christ. It also means that the absence of union with Christ guarantees the absence of regeneration. This also means that the presence of regeneration guarantees the presence of union with Christ. The same sort of logic applies to 2.

Both 1 and 2 are true, yet neither proposition implies the logical order (or temporal order) of union with Christ and regeneration. Nonetheless, in both cases the consequent is a necessary condition for the antecedent; so in 1 what is indexed to the necessary condition, namely union with Christ, is that which is tied to a sufficient condition, regeneration. Most Reformed Christians do not have a conceptual problem thinking in terms of regeneration as being a "condition" for union with Christ (since they appreciate that regeneration is logically prior to union with Christ, or the means by which one becomes united to Christ). In 1, what type of "condition" is regeneration? Well, it's a sufficient condition in 1. Accordingly, if in 1 regeneration is a sufficient condition for union with Christ, then the "then" of the proposition, namely union with Christ, must be a necessary condition for regeneration - since the state of affairs of regeneration cannot exist without union with Christ. It is necessary, in other words, that union with Christ exist if regeneration exists. Causality and logical order is not even in view.

James teaches: If I'm justified, then I have good works, which is to say, good works are a necessary condition for one who is in a state of justification. Such a statement, although true, would be rather uninteresting to one who is inquiring as to whether another believes that good works are the cause or grounds of his justification. The same can be said of love.1 Corinthians 16:22



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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

O'Reilly, Bloomberg and Saint Paul




"I've always felt there is a battle between good and evil and if there is a heaven you have to earn your way in through your actions on Earth." Bill O’Reilly / Roman Catholic (true to his Catholicism) 

“I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.” Michael Bloomberg / Reformed Jew (true to his Judaism)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Apostle Paul / Follower of Christ (true to the Scriptures) 
I don't typically watch Bill O'Reilly. (I don't typically watch much of anything not having cable television!) However, I made an exception last night from my hotel room because I wanted to hear how O'Reilly handled the topic of the after life.

After putting forth a doctrine of salvation by works, O'Reilly went on to express most ardently that he hopes that justice will prevail at the final judgment. O'Reilly couldn't have been more clear. Bill O'Reilly does not need God's mercy and grace. He, also, hopes others will receive the justice they deserve. (I prayed for this lost soul at various times throughout the day. Many verses came to mind, especially that Christ didn't come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.) Bill O'Reilly is self-righteous and, therefore, on his way to hell.*

I heard the Bloomberg quote on CNBC while driving home. Had I not heard his quote I would not have blogged on this matter.

Bloomberg is a blasphemer. The difference between him and O'Reilly is one of degree. Bloomberg has tried to convince himself (and others) that he has already earned heaven whereas O'Reilly, at best, tries to project that he can and hopefully will merit heaven. That's a distinction without a relevant difference in the grand scheme of things.

I guess it's now time to pray for Michael Bloomberg.

*If we cannot pronounce God's curses based upon His word, then we forgo the right to pronounce God's blessings. When O'Reilly professes that he is saved by God's grace alone, then it can be said that he is on his way to Heaven. It is not biblical to say one can be saved now while they clearly profess that they are trusting in self-merit alone.





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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Jesus Movies, Images of Christ & the Second Commandment


Most evangelicals have little regard for two of the Ten Commandments. Sabbath keeping has at best been reduced to attending a worship service on Sunday. Attend two services on Sunday and you might be called a legalist or at the other extreme a super-Christian. Whatever you are, it isn’t normal.
Whether one may make an image of God or watch a “Jesus movie” is not even on the average Christian’s radar screen. Of course you may watch a Jesus movie. It’s not just your right; God would have it that way, or so it’s thought. Use the movie as a tool for evangelism! Permissiveness and latitude is always the de facto position. It's commonly thought that either the second commandment has been abrogated with Israel’s expiration (along with Sabbath observance) or it doesn’t apply to images of Jesus under the "dispensation of grace."

Many Christians try to believe that the second commandment has always only been against making an image of God and using it as a worship aid, like Roman Catholicism promotes in practice. (The Eastern Church’s icons are usually up for grabs.) A growing number of Protestants who avoid crucifixes and such will say that the commandment is addressing carved images or possibly God’s divine nature but certainly not Jesus’ human nature acted out in a movie. But, be honest now. Are Christians going to a Jesus movie merely to get a glimpse of the Lord’s humanity, or are they looking to be spiritually edified by a visual depiction of the God-man? If they're looking for spiritual edification, then the accompanying sin is that of false worship through the mediation of an image of Christ, which is forbidden under the second commandment. If the aim is not spiritual edification, then the pursuit is a vain thing and, therefore, forbidden under the third commandment. If the commandment refers only to false gods and not the living God, then the second commandment collapses into the first commandment leaving us with nine commandments, (which although is theoretically possible it would raise a question regarding redundancy over two in light of the remaining eight, very distinct commandments).

What is most times overlooked is that Jesus’ personality is that of the Second Person of the Trinity and not just any human personality. God couldn’t have given the incarnate Christ my personality for instance. No, the incarnate Christ has the personality of the Son. It had to be that way since the Son, the Second Person, became man. Added to this, an actor, no matter how good, cannot help but project his own personality (blended with a scripted personality) onto the screen. He cannot portray the personality of another perfectly - let alone the personality of the Second Person of the Trinity even approximately! Therefore, the actor who would dare play the Christ cannot but project a false image of God even if he sticks to the written script of Scripture. It’s not as though verbal tone and body language do not proceed from personality. In fact, the reverse is true. Reactions of persons convey ideas that are propositional in nature. These picture-words are being passed off as God's communication.

I know how unspiritual it can be to use theological terms, but it’s my Blog. The idea of perichoresis as it relates to the hypostatic union is relevant to this discussion and should inform our thinking on the second commandment as it relates to images of Christ. As Oliver Crisp astutely notes, we can rightly say that the divine nature penetrates the human nature (yet without commingling or confusion of the distinct natures of Christ). Although the two natures of Christ are indeed distinct (i.e., there is no transfer of properties), the divine works of the Second Person, though they do not originate with the human nature, are performed through the human nature by the divine Son. (Again, Crisp.)(Similarly, the three persons of the Trinity although distinct, mutually indwell each other and "share the same divine space." Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, Luke 4:1; the Father indwells the Son, John 14:10, etc.To consider the Son aright, one must consider His relationship to the Father, etc., and the Trinity as a whole.)

The divine nature precedes the human nature in the incarnation. The Son of God became man. Accordingly, although the divine nature penetrates the human nature, the reverse is not true. Christ is a human being who came down from heaven.  In the time of Jesus' humiliation, no less than now, this divine penetration resulted in Jesus’ tone of voice and body language. May Jesus be accurately portrayed as effeminate or would his divine nature forbid such a penetration to his human nature? Would He grin or appear disappointed in the same way and over the same things as any mortal actor?

What possibly intrigues me most in all of this is that when I watch a good movie I have no problem suspending my beliefs so that the actor may “become” for me the character. So, Al Pacino becomes The Don and Anthony Hopkins becomes C.S. Lewis. No sin there I trust. Do Christians do the same when watching Jesus movies? I would think not. I certainly hope not! Christians are to be on their guard because they should realize that the actor will not be faithful to the Second Person. We don’t know Jesus’ facial expressions, etc. but such expressions often speak a thousand words. Are those words consistent with the Son of God? More to the point, are they His words? If not, then how are movies such as this not putting words in God’s mouth?

Once again, God’s people put their carnal reasoning and good intentions above the plain word of God. Once again the serpent hisses, “Has God said?” Once again the church falters in disobedience over the latest craze.


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