Tag Archives: Paul

Logical Gal and the beauty of a category error

29 Oct

I heard some good news this week – enunciated in a way that I can understand AND remember.

Good for goodness sake

And it was just the opposite of the song invoked in the photo above.  Whew!

One of my favorite preaching pastors, John Piper Link to his site, was explaining the concept of election and justification, Christian terms for being called into the Christian family by God.  He painted the scenario of a gal lamenting to her pastor that her past was SO BAD, that NO WAY could God forgive her enough to let her into His kingdom.

That’s when Piper described her as BOTH prideful AND incorrect in thinking that any condition could block God’s will.

At that moment…..drum roll Piper announced that God NEVER even considers one’s past life or actions in his selection of His children.  This gal was making a category error.  She was thinking that the two kinds of people were

  • the GOOD enough

and the

  • NOT GOOD enough

It is truly happy news to learn that she was not even in the ball park.

She was right on one account;  there are just TWO categories of folk.  All humans fall into one of these two groups:

  • those who belong to the family of God and are considered His adopted children
  • those who don’t belong to the family because God has not adopted them as His children

But HOW He chooses is a mystery. If we take His words as truth (and since He is God, by nature He IS Truth), then He has decreed who He adopts for His own reasons that have nothing to do with how ‘bad or good’ we are.  (Truth be told, NO ONE is ‘good’.)  Listen to what God teaches us through Paul’s writings in Romans 9: 10-13

  • when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”  As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Of course, we will probably trip over the verbs LOVED and HATED.

So as all good logicians and thinkers, we should CLARIFY THE MEANING of these two terms.

 

Clarify meanining

I’ll leave you to think through what God might intend by ‘love and hate’, but before you snort and feel frustrated, think about how we freely and loosely toss around terms.

  • I love movies….I love my dog…I love my children…I love God
  • I hate laundry….I hate Mondays….I hate terrorists….I hate it when I lose my temper

 

Logical Gal and the power of the right question

2 May

Clarify

The Apostle Paul talks about the concept of election in Romans 8

For those God  foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (verse 29)

A point of controversy  hinges on the way you define ‘foreknow‘ .  Tuesday, during the weekly call-in show called Stand to Reason , I heard the host Greg Koukl ask the question – What or Whom does God foreknow?   This turned out to be THE correct question which led me to some new knowledge.

Thank you Socrates!

Socratic questions

 

There are at least 2 ways of  thinking about this foreknowledge:

One group of Christians holds to the view that God gives a measure of grace to every one.  Some then build on that grace by yielding or accepting Jesus as their Savior and Lord.  God knows ahead of time who is going to ‘choose’ because He can look down the corridors of time at all points of events future. Knowing who will yield to Him are those people considered ‘elect’.

The other group of Christians maintains that God ‘chooses’ ahead of time who will be the recipients of His gift of mercy and grace.  They can’t possibly ‘choose’ Him because by nature they would reject God.  So His work of grace has to be 100 percent.

It turns out that limiting oneself to the common definition of  foreknowledge as ‘information held before an event’ is both misleading AND insufficient. God doesn’t exercise foreknowledge of information (wrong term) God foreknows PEOPLE (He chooses people).  On the other hand knowing all information ahead of time or anytime  is called omniscience.

That one question of ‘ What does God have foreknowledge of – people or choices/courses of action?’ amplifies the discussion in a significant way that adds depth to our understanding of God!

Right Question

Take-away: What follow-up questions will yield more relevant information to a topic important to you?

Logical Gal – holding mystery and reason together

21 Mar

Mystery

Most people love a good mystery, whether a novel or a movie.  And the best kind of ‘whodunit’ seems to be the one where the dénouement is a complete surprise.  Yet, when looking back, one can clearly recognize all the clues and evidence that had been there all along.

The very fact that we can accept now, as obvious, the signs that were earlier ‘hidden’  is because the unfolding of details is rational. There’s a progression, a sense to the sequence.  The outcome is NOT an irrational one.  Hence, mystery and reason CAN co-exist.

This tension has implications for other mysteries.  Take God, for instance.  Much about the Creator and Ruler of the universe is still hidden.  But God is not irrational. He has created us in His image with a mind to see, to inquire and to piece together.  He expects us to use reason.  Yet we do not understand everything. You’ve probably heard the observation that Paul made, as recorded in 1 Cor 13:12: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

See through a glass darkly

Haven’t we all had the experience of not knowing how something would turn out in our lives? We’ve had to live with mystery….and then once we’re on the other side of the event, we realize that the way all the circumstances unfolded was just right.  As they say, hindsight is 20/20!  

If the world were irrational, we wouldn’t even be able to live with what we COULD see because of the unpredictability!  There ARE patterns in the seeming randomness.  There ARE natural laws.

So next time someone attempts to say that reason contradicts mystery, just ask them “How is that?”

Remember, the one who MAKES the assertion has to defend it.  No pressure for you, the question-poser!

Ask Qs

Logical Gal and the value of repetition

11 Dec

I had a student at my old school who often repeated the Latin truism, that repetition is the mother of learning

It follows that we shouldn’t be discouraged when it takes us so long to acquire/absorb a new idea to the degree that it actually changes us.  Hearing something once, 5 times or even 20 times often isn’t enough for the concept or new nugget of information to stick.

I  teach French.  It’s often said that students need to hear a new phrase up to 70 times for that phrase to be IN them, so that it comes out effortlessly.  So why should it be any different with ideas?

All this is to say, that last week I was GREATLY encouraged when I caught myself asking 4 of my favorite words, ” As opposed to what?”  This was a first for me – and something I have wanted to be able to think spontaneously.

I was reading in Romans and came across Paul’s statement:

  • For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, (Romans 1:9)

My happy first reaction was to ask myself, “How else could he be serving God? – if not with his spirit, then with what?” In essence, I had automatically asked those 4 words, “as opposed to what”!

Up until now, I have been able to notice, AFTER THE FACT, when other authors move in that direction.  They are then able to make a distinction about something  that I had sped by.

I really like DISTINCTION-MAKING.  It’s how I can understand a concept. 

But back to other ways Paul could serve God:

Some ways to serve God

  • He could use his 2 hands and feet and go and do, or go and preach
  • He could use his mind and creatively fit analogies to his particular audience to make his words more penetrating
  • Or he could  serve God with his possessions

Personally, I would have probably substituted energy/life/work/hands for Paul’s choice of the term spirit.

Why bother take the time to think through all this?  For the happy benefit of having another question. When we ask ‘as opposed to what’, we are often led to other questions.  When we actively engage with ideas, we are enriched.

So now I get to ponder this: What does it mean to serve God with one’s spirit?

Now that’s a question worth chewing on!

Question:  What new idea have you acquired or absorbed recently that has made an impact on you?