Logical Gal and category challenges

1 Oct

Category Management

The idea of category errors is useful.

I don’t know if it’s an urban legend, but Yuri Gagarin, the first human to travel in space, supposedly proclaimed after his return that he had searched intently and never once did he observe God while in space.

If it’s true, then the statement reveals a category error in his thinking for the following reason:

Humans can observe MATERIAL stuff, but God is NOT material.  He is IMMATERIAL.  It’s akin to asking questions like:

  • How much does blue weigh?
  • If you had to pack your Mom’s love for you to take on a trip, how many suitcases would you need?

The faulty thinking is revealed by simple facts such as:

  • Blue is a property that has no mass, so it cannot be weighed
  • Love is not something that can be measured physically nor can it concretely fill a suitcase

What occurred to me this morning as I listened to a podcast during my walk, was the wonderful Greek word tetelestai  (Strong’s # 5055).  It means: It is finished.

Jesus uttered that word when He finished suffering the punishment for human sin IN OUR PLACE.  His action of redeeming us from hell made it possible for us to be transferred from the Kingdom of this World (under Satan’s rule) into God’s Kingdom.  His work on the cross also guaranteed that not only can humans be freed from the power and punishment of sin, but they can be GIVEN/ASSIGNED a new identity.


Notice that I did not say, that humans can be given the opportunity to craft their own identity.  Never once do we have that possibility.  There are only 2 possible identities for every man, woman and child who has ever lived OR will ever live.  We are either grafted into Christ and have HIS forgiveness and flawlessness applied to us…….

  • or we are left to face the just judgment and punishment for our works on our own – the imminent next events for those who live according to the outworking of the Fall  (sinful nature) which they have inherited

Here’s where the concept of category error comes back in.  Since Christians have been given a new identity when they are born again,

Identity in Christ

they are treated the same as though they had been born a citizen of a country:

  • NO exam to study for
  • No application process to undergo
  • No appearing before a judge to swear fidelity

So it is STUPID to spend any effort and time trying to craft an identity, right?

Yet that is what I still find myself doing:

  • I angst about what others think of my teaching
  • I angst about whether I’m ‘doing enough’ as a neighbor and as a member of a church family
  • I angst about whether I’m loving my husband in the ways he wants/needs to be loved
  • I angst about whether I am being a good-enough grandmother (whatever THAT means!)
  • And when November arrives, I angst about whether I will select the right kind of presents for family members

And that’s just off the top of my head.

And why?  All because doing ‘it right’ has to do with the identity I WANT to think is ‘me’.

But when I realized this morning that my identity has already been established and is in fact fixed and secure, I suddenly saw that working to shore up my identity (even if just for myself) was not only futile but stupid.

These insights are why I love logic!  Clear thinking can bring freedom.

Question:  Where has thinking through carefully about an issue led to a breakthrough that has impacted your life? 


2 Responses to “Logical Gal and category challenges”

  1. Rock October 26, 2014 at 12:26 am #

    I think your argument suffers from a false dichotomy. Either you are grafted onto Christ (and have all the benefits of that state) or you are not. On the face of it, it seems like there is no other alternative. But then consider this logical point: the first part of the disjunctive contains a conjunction, so the disjunctive is incomplete, and there is a fallacy. In this case, we see that Scripture tells us of other possibilities. What about the branches that have been grafted on, but then wither, are cut off, and thrown into the fire? Given this third possibility, should we not take the greatest care for our souls, knowing that it remains within our power to make bad choices, and so to wither on the vine?

    I also think a slight correction must be made to your citizenship/identity analogy. I would think a better analogy is not of a Christian as someone born into a country (or family), but rather someone naturalized into a country (or more precisely, adopted into a family.) Jesus is the only man who is a native citizen of heaven, a natural born Son of God. He is the Only-Begotten Son of the Divine Father, because He alone is a Son who possesses the Divine Nature in its entirety. Christians, however, are not natives, not natural sons of God since we are only “partakers of the divine nature”, we only share a part of it through grace. We assume that nature when we are naturalized as citizen of heaven, being reborn by water and the Spirit… or to use the previous analogy, when we are cut off from the world and grafted onto the true vine to become members of His Body, the Church. Since divinity is not natural to us, it is something we can lose as long as we remain creatures within time.

    What you mean when you use angst as a verb is not fully clear to me, but I do not think it out of place for a Christian to be vigilant and attentive to the quality of his heavenly patriotism. Note that a citizen can be exiled from his new country if he betray its principles. Every day we see Christians betraying their new country, when they profess their Lord on Sunday and then return to their idols on Monday, when they neglect the least of their brothers and then defend their treason by denying it was Christ they encountered: “When did we see you hungry Lord, or thirsty, or naked?” Isn’t it Our Divine Lord who commands us, “Be perfect as Your Father in Heaven is perfect”? That means we should never take our new identity for granted, but we should IN ALL THINGS conform ourselves to Christ. Anxiety is out of place, but constant vigilance is called for. “Brothers, be sober and watchful,” Peter says to his flock; be steadfast lest that roaring lion devour you.

    • Maria October 26, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

      Dear Rock – thank you for taking the time to read my post, think about it and offer your insights! I think we only disagree about one issue, and that is whether a person can lose their salvation. I still believe that there are only two categories – those who live according to the flesh and those who live according to the spirit. Jacob and Esau represent the two. Isaac and Ishmael are another pair.
      That said, I would say ‘Amen’ to your encouragement to be vigilant. We are going to sin until we die, and we have been given the gift of repentance each time. Angst is just another word (German) for worry.

      Hearing and preaching correct information – the good news of having been saved – will fuel our gratitude which will make us WANT to be vigilant.

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