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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Time vs. Sin

Once again it’s time for me to try and organize some of the thoughts provoked by you my friends on your blogs and, as always, I ask you my friends to critique my considerations and, if possible, stop me before I go too far. ;-)

I’ve recently been considering the error of Arius with respect to his invalid perception of God. My perceptive of Arius is not one of an heretic, but of a believer not so much unlike many believers today. It seems that, as best I can find, Arius did not deny that Jesus was the Christ or that He was the Son of God. He did not even deny His deity. What he did do, it seems, is to go beyond the limits of revelation to trust in his own understanding when forming his perception of God. I think the specific limit that Arius broached pertains to time and I don’t think he’s been the only one to go too far in this.

Ephesians 3:19 tells us that to be filled with the fullness of God requires that we know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge and we know that Christ is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. This fact alone should persuade against forming our perception of God through our own understanding yet for some reason we all tend to try and relate to God in terms that we can already understand. I think this is the first step toward developing a highly flawed theology. We no longer look to Christ to perceive God but we begin to trust in our own understanding. If we are then to accomplish the task of knowing God on our terms we must first bridge the gap between our own understanding and the knowledge of God. The first obstacle we will encounter in this effort is time and we must then use philosophy to remove it. It seems to me that in order for Arius to perceive God on his terms he first had to form some relation between his understanding of creation and the Eternal Creator. He then only need misuse the scripture and elevate his theory to the knowledge of God in his own mind. Sound familiar? What consequence do you think Augustine’s perspective of eternity had on His and other’s theologies? I will leave that one to the “real” theologians here. ;-)

Now that we have made time our obstacle to the knowledge of God then we must conclude that Christ “broke through the fabric of time” and that through him we can escape our temporal state. Is that really the case? Is it really time that has separated men from God or is it sin? Are we reconciled to God through time in Christ or through the life that is in Christ Jesus? Is salvation merely passing from a limited existence to an unlimited existence or is it being fully reconciled to The Eternal Creator?

So what do I conclude from this? Adam brought on the sin that separated all men from the knowledge of God but God determined before creation that the way for all men to know Him is only through faith in Christ Jesus.

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33 Comments:

Blogger dorsey said...

" Is salvation merely passing from a limited existence to an unlimited existence or is it being fully reconciled to The Eternal Creator?"

While it is sin that separated us, Christ did indeed rend time to reunite us. Nevertheless, as Christ is fully God and fully man, there is "now" (a word that inescapably acknowledges time) a man in the Godhead. Anthanasios of Alexandria wrote than "God became a man so that man could become God." In the context of reformed theology, this statement is horribly misunderstood, but he makes a pretty appealing argument that, as we are fully reconciled to Christ, and enter fully into communion with Him, we enter into oneness with the Godhead.

Absent time, though, have we always been so? I don't think so, and that's where time gums things up.

11/17/2007 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

"Dear Lord, please keep KC out of my head! He knows my thoughts and each new theological idea as it forms in my mind. I'm afeared..."

Bro, how do you do this? Am I just following a logical step-by-step progression in my walk?

Bless you - I'll be listening and learning.

11/17/2007 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse I’m so glad I can discuss this with you. Could you elaborate on this statement; “Christ did indeed rend time to reunite us”?

Missy we just read a lot of the same blogs! (I’m really glad we get to learn together Sis) ;-)

11/17/2007 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Kc,

I disagree, on Arius, I think you're being to nice. He believed Jesus was generate or "created" by God. He indeed was a rationalist, i.e. started with man's rationale as the basis for discerning reality, which as you note is a problem (i.e. nature vs. revelation).

Let me contemporize the Arian heresy; do you believe Jehovah's Witnesses are "saved?"

I think we need to think of time in terms of "trinitarian time;" in other words time is shaped by the inter-relations between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I.e. all historic time is "subsumed" and shaped by the SON as Redeemer; viz. the point of all "human history" is brought into relational time through the incarnation eschatologically through Jesus of Nazareth. I think this reframes this issue by avoiding a competitive understanding between "time and eternity" (instead we have "super-time" and "historic-time"---the latter being shaped and subsumed by the former).

In Christ

11/17/2007 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger jefe said...

Now that we have made time our obstacle to the knowledge of God then we must conclude that Christ “broke through the fabric of time” and that through him we can escape our temporal state.

The scriptures tell us that the lamb was slain before the foundation of the world.

Recently, I have been meditating the concept of the positional versus the experiential in God's view. It is apparent to me that, in light of this scripture, Christ's act on the cross was His 'walking out' of what was already accomplished in the mind & heart of God.

It seems that the delicate relationship between God, time and us has something to do with His tendency to complete a work before He begins.

Although I only know a little about Arius, it is apparent that his mistake was the attempt to explain a non-linear God within the context of linear thought (ie- the 'creation' of Christ).

I Corinthians 4 makes the delineation between the 'temporal' (translated: brief & fleeting) and the 'eternal' (translated: everlasting). I believe Paul addresses this because of human tendency to, as you said, trust in our own understanding, more then God's.

11/17/2007 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger jefe said...

ummm... when I say I Corinthians, what I mean is II Corinthians (4:18)

sorry

11/17/2007 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Could you elaborate on this statement; “Christ did indeed rend time to reunite us”?

I can, but only a little. I think, as Jefe suggests, that time looks differently to God from the outside than it does to us from the inside. Perhaps instead of saying that he rent time to reunite us, it would be better to say that he opened a rift in time in order to let us get a glimpse of what he had done.

11/17/2007 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Kc, I also think you're right in suggesting that Arius, like almost all of us, was a slave to the limits of his perception.

Bobby, I'd like to hear more about your comparison of JW's to the Arian dispute. I'm not seeing it. Thanks.

11/17/2007 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Bobby you may be right concerning Arius but to be honest I’m struggling with (against?) a definition and concept of heresy. I would love to know your understanding on this. I find this issue tremendously important given the extreme difference between our instructions for dealing with an heretic and dealing with an erring brother.

I have to make another confession. I’m sure this will seem amazing but I have remained totally ignorant of JW doctrine until yesterday and, as you might guess, I’m no expert at this point either! ;-)

From what I could find online it seems that they do not believe or preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation. I also understand why you would compare their doctrine with the doctrine of Arius. Both claim that Christ was created but I find what I consider a crucial difference. The JW’s deny the first verse of John and, as best I can determine, Arius submitted to the full authority of both Christ and the Apostles.

Arius even based his argument on scripture, though out of context. It seems to me his position originated as an over-reaction and that he tragically went beyond revelation to try and win his case. I can’t help but see this being an all-too-often event in the Church. Granted the implications of his error are grievous and enormous and not to be excused but would you say that theological error would constitute heresy? I understand that Arius was later fully restored still unrepentant. This fact alone leads me to question if he was truly an heretic.

With respect to rationalization isn’t all theology rationalization? My own contention that Christ is eternal is based on my rationalization that since God is unchanging and Christ is God then Christ must be eternal or God has changed and that this reasoning does not contradict any other revelation in any way. I consider my contention valid because it is premised on the Word and not on my own knowledge (outside of the knowledge of Jesus Christ) or philosophy.

I used Arius here primarily because if he had not gone before “in the beginning” to try and make his case he would never have fallen into error. I have found that the vast majority of those I contend with tend to relate to God from a perspective of time that is outside of what is revealed rather than through Christ. Is a perspective of time really necessary in order to more clearly perceive God? (I’m not being rhetorical. I have great confidence in your understanding on this.)

I really appreciate your thoughts here. As I confided I may be in need of a kick in the pants and I can think of only a few as qualified to give it as you. ;-)

11/18/2007 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jeff I do that way too much myself (hehe).

That verse in Revelation has given me no end of grief. What do you think of Darby’s translation? (Rev 13:8 Darby) “and all that dwell on the earth shall do it homage, every one whose name had not been written from the founding of the world in the book of life of the slain Lamb.”

I have to admit that when it comes to any perception of God that requires a non-linear perspective of time I’m lost. I have no point of reference whatsoever. My question is this; do you think God is revealed to us from that perspective? If so I’m missing out and I want in! ;-)

11/18/2007 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse when I read your thoughts a light bulb came on and revealed the vast emptiness in my head (hehe)!

What do you mean by in and out of time? I have never thought to simply investigate that perspective and that may well be why I fail to relate with others on this. I’ve never been able to continue to reason from that point forward. I liked Bobby’s perspective of time being subsumed by Christ but that won’t mesh well with an “in” and “out” terminology. I would ask you as well; do you think a perspective of time is really necessary for a clearer perspective of God?

I confess that I also consider how God might perceive all things but I’m more concerned at present with how He reveals Himself to us. How is it that we perceive God? How do we know Him? When discussing theology with others do you ever get the impression that your perception of God is in great contrast to theirs? If so have you ever tried to determine why?

11/18/2007 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

To all:

My point here is this. I think that if we accept that it is sin that separates us from God then we can begin to perceive God through the only one who can “rend the fabric” of sin, Jesus Christ. If we assume any other position from which to percieve Him then it is sin that prevents us and not our inability to relate from an eternal perspective. By His grace God has provided the way for us to know Him in spite of our mental inabilities and that way is through His Son Jesus Christ. He has opened the way that was closed by sin.

11/18/2007 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger jefe said...

That verse in Revelation has given me no end of grief. What do you think of Darby’s translation? (Rev 13:8 Darby) “and all that dwell on the earth shall do it homage, every one whose name had not been written from the founding of the world in the book of life of the slain Lamb.”
Wow! Darby's translation sounds more like an opportunity to debate predestination than the subject(s) at hand. And it's Sunday. I do not feel the Lord has pre-determined me to go THERE today... :)

Seriously though, it's an interesting translation, especially in light of the fact that the NASB can't even come to a conclusion regarding the intended sentence structure.

I have to admit that when it comes to any perception of God that requires a non-linear perspective of time I’m lost. I have no point of reference whatsoever. My question is this; do you think God is revealed to us from that perspective? If so I’m missing out and I want in! ;-)

I always come back to that whole "wheel within a wheel" concept. Time exists in the outside of the wheel. God exists in the center cog. While we run on the outside of time in essentially 1/2 of a dimension (time is linear, but we can only move forward, ehr go, 1/2), God can reach down any spoke to anyone at any time.

It's crude, yes. But it serves to prove that we cannot prove anything, other than the fact that His perspective is MUCH different tan ours. We "see through a glass darkly". He's got the whole picture.

11/18/2007 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jeff I can appreciate that perspective with respect to that particular use (to prove our own inability).

Do you think that maybe too often we try to know God by attempting to assume His position and look THROUGH Him as opposed to looking AT Christ?

11/18/2007 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger jefe said...

Do you think that maybe too often we try to know God by attempting to assume His position and look THROUGH Him as opposed to looking AT Christ?

I think Paul made that very point at the end of I Cor. 2.

To me, our understanding of God's time/realm will always be crude. In fact, I believe a secondary benefit of Christ's incarnation was that, as Dorsey said, we have the benefit of having a reborn man in the Godhead.

Sure, we attempt to assume His position. It's hard not to in today's Americanized, drive-thru churches. But I don't believe God intended for us to see the world from His perspective. I believe He wants us to see Christ from OUR perspective. Anything beyond that is vain.

11/18/2007 02:28:00 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Kc,

Arius' teaching on Christ was heresy, i.e. it denied, even though well intended, at a fundamental level the nature of God/Christ.

What distinction are you drawing between "erring brother" and "heresy"?

As far as "time", I think we don't have to dichotomize sin from time re: to relationship with God. In fact that is what I was getting at . . . historic time is framed by trinitarian time, which is found in the distinctive intra-relationship between the Father, Son, and Spirit. By thinking of time in this way, i.e. that historic time is ultimately situated in the space between the Father and Son as Redeemer, we can frame "time" relationally rather than necessarily linear relative to Christ's supremacy and the "worlds" relationship to Him via the cross.

Robert Jenson unpacks this much better, and more comprehensively than my meagere summation reflects.

11/18/2007 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jeff, that's an excellent scriptural reference for this post. Wish I had thought of it! ;-)

If a clear understanding of the relationship between time and eternity were required in order to develop valid theology then philosophy would be its foundation and not the revelation of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

"But I don't believe God intended for us to see the world from His perspective. I believe He wants us to see Christ from OUR perspective. Anything beyond that is vain."

I totally agree. Thanks so much for your time and understanding!

11/19/2007 03:47:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Bobby, the way we are taught to deal with an heretic is highly confrontational and after the third admonition he is to be shunned whereas we're instructed to pray for an erring brother and send those who are spiritual to restore him with meekness fearing a similar fate. I can't help but see this distinction as being vital to the welfare of the body and the remedy for much of the division today. It seems so many today are busy confronting erring brethren, which only results in division. The heretics are virtually ignored.

This makes determining what is "fundamental" critical and this is what I've been struggling with. If we say that a valid theology is the determining factor then who among us is not (has never been) an heretic? I propose that heresy is any doctrine that directly contradicts the doctrine of Christ and the Apostles and that it is the doctrine itself that is fundamental and not any particular interpretation or understanding of it. This defines an heretic as one who teaches doctrine contrary to that of Christ and the Apostles and an erring brother is one who misunderstands or misinterprets that doctrine. An heretic needs to repent but an erring brother needs to be taught. We should have no patience or tolerance for an heretic but we should have no end of those things for an erring brother. ;-)

With respect to time, from what I can gather so far I would certainly favor the understanding you've presented and I appreciate the reference to Jenson. Given this understanding there would be no dichotomy but more to my point there would be no need for this understanding in order to develop a valid theology. We don’t have to perceive Christ as traversing time. We can look to Him as the giver of life.

I really appreciate your insight and guidance in all this.

11/19/2007 03:55:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

KC, I must admit that most of this seemed over my head, but I have thoroughly absorbed it all with only a few leaks. :) Thank you for bringing it all back to simplicity in the end. You are right, when I am relying on my own "knowledge" of God I must continue to make the pieces of my knowledge fit together - or search out the pieces that tie them together. But in Christ, I really have all the knowledge I need.

And, not to carry on too much about heresy, but I really like what you are saying in your last comment. I think that the implication is that it really isn't so much what I discuss with others about my theology, but whether my intent is to divide with my theology. I can think through and question any of it, but to avoid being heretical may simply mean that I remain teachable.

11/19/2007 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy thanks for the reassuring words and especially for this profundity;

"...to avoid being heretical may simply mean that I remain teachable."

11/19/2007 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Kc,

thanks for the clarification. I think Arius' teaching was and is "heretical;" I'm not desirous to shun him or anyone else. The seriousness of this though, Kc, cannot be underestimated. If a person were to follow Arius' view on Jesus their whole life, they would end up in hell; since the Jesus of "Arianism" is not the Jesus of the Bible. Consequently the Jesus of Arius could not offer the "free gift of salvation."

There are certain things that the "church" must get RIGHT, i.e. the nature of God; or the "church" ceases to be the "church," and instead a sect. The Lord alone determines and knows someones heart and eternal destiny, all we can do is discern what is "said" and communicated about who God is and the gospel, and its fidelity to the scriptures communication. If it is deficient, such as Arianism, then people need to be warned.

I don't think relativizing this issue is helpful; i.e. we're all wrong at points, indeed; but that doesn't justify an attitude that is then more lenient on viewpoints that are at odds with the "clear" teaching of scripture---including our own. We aren't the standard (our attitudes); God's WORD is.

11/19/2007 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Bobby I should clearly state that I did not intend to allow for Arianism in any way. As best I can determine Arius would never have tolerated Arianism either. I totally agree concerning the fact that there are certain things that we must get right as the Church. I hope that you won’t find anything I’ve written on this site or anywhere that would convey the idea that the scripture can be compromised in any way. If you do find that anywhere then please show me and I promise a swift and complete retraction. I especially agree with your last statement concerning God’s Word as the standard. I hope I haven’t appeared to present any other here.

I suppose my real question with regard to Arius is this; what clear teaching of scripture do you find that he was at odds with?

I am sure this must be frustrating but I do appreciate your efforts here.

11/19/2007 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous rrbj said...

KC,

I been reading and I know I ain't no great theologian but its always been that we humans given enough time have a natural knack to create our sinful ways and our pride gets in the way if we don't stay tuned to our Knowledge that we have accumilated over the years ?

I want to wish you and your family a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving and all the others that may read this !

Blessings.
Ron.

11/20/2007 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Grandpaw Ron that sounds like great theology to me!

Thanks so much for the holiday wish and I pray God will bless all of you as well. ;-)

11/21/2007 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dear friends please remember Bobby in your prayers. He's having to give up blogging. From his site:

"It has been real... it has been approx. 2.5 yrs, two arms with tendonitis, working on carpal tunnel, approx. 7 different blogs, and lots of challenging good healthy dialogue. I need a real break from blogging, one of my problems is that I seem to be addicted to it, seriously, so for me my best hope is not to have a blog. My primary reason for doing this is actually my physical health, I need my arms, to work, live, etc. Blogging, at this stage is jeapordizing my health, therefore it is time for me to quit... for a long while. I have tried voice recognition software, it doesn’t really work for blogging, exercises for my arms, and that helps; but I really need to just stop for a good season of time."

I am confident God has great things in store for our brilliant brother but he will certainly be missed around here. ;-)

11/21/2007 08:21:00 AM  
Anonymous sofyst said...

Kc, you know when you said 'time' you would catch my eye. But I have read through your post (three times actually) and tried to read through the comments (my a.d.d. kept drawing my attention to the book titles on my sisters shelf), and I cannot understand what exactly is being discussed here...

Grr...I fear I cannot take on this task right now despite my deep desire to. I LOVE the philosophy of time.

I did note that you had mentioned something about 'in' and 'out'. And I think I will simply say that once 'in' you cannot be 'out'. It is impossible. ;)

11/21/2007 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Adam I actually did think about you and some of our discussions when I wrote this article.

I can appreciate you are otherwise distracted so we can take it up again when you're up to the task.

As for your last thought there's no argument here!

No hurry up and get the Pub going again!

Love ya brother. ;-)

11/21/2007 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger pecheur said...

May you have a great Thanksgiving. We sure do miss you all.

BTW I never thought of viewing Arius as such. It has given me something to think about.

11/21/2007 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pech it's so great to hear from you! We really miss you guys too. I pray you both have the most wonderful holiday.

I'll be looking forward to hearing (maybe even for real!) your thoughts on this soon.

We thank God for you and love you both.

11/21/2007 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Penless Thoughts said...

KC - I just wanted to tell you how touched I am at the comments you left on both mine, and our prodigal son, Davids, blogs. You can only imagine our rejoicing this Thanksgiving. The most amazing part of off of it to me, is how MUCH of the scripture and teaching he had as a child he retained through all those years of running from God. It was also the string that held him. Our God is soooo GOOD. Who could possibly doubt His love or His promises.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Susan

11/22/2007 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Doesn't it say somewhere that when the fullness of time came God sent His Son? Whats that mean?


Also along time(lol) ago we discussed briefly about a man whose last name is Nee. Have you read all of his stuff? I have read Sit Walk Stand and The releasing of the Spirit.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Thanks for the email.

11/22/2007 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Ms Susan I am so moved by your testimony of God's love and mercy and encouraged by your faith and devotion. I can't help but rejoice! Thank you so much for sharing and for your kind words.

11/23/2007 04:52:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Kris, hey my brother!

I think the "fullness of time" is similar to "the appointed hour" in that both relate that these events did not occur at random.

I know very little about Nee but I was curious about his propositions concerning man's being. Maybe you can enlighten me soon?

I really hope you and that sweet family of yours had a blessed holiday. ;-)

11/23/2007 04:58:00 AM  

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