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Monday, March 03, 2008

Total Perfection – A Better Approach?

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.“
(1 Corinthians 3:11 KJV)
Do you think our theology would be better formed if we were to begin with a perspective on total perfection by a scriptural examination of Jesus Christ rather than beginning with a presupposition or theological construct on the disposition of mankind? Wouldn’t a theocentric perspective be preferable to an egocentric one and be far more unifying as well?

Let me put it this way. Is the knowledge of Christ revealed in us through self-examination or by the grace of God? Can we even have any real knowledge of ourselves apart from the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus? It seems to me that the more aware we become of His glory the less preoccupied we are with our own.

40 Comments:

Anonymous Gordon Cloud said...

This is a very profound thought. We are always in a stronger position theologically when we start with Christ and work from there than when we start with man.

Actually, starting with man and working towards Christ sounds a lot like religion doesn't it?

Great post.

3/03/2008 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

No original thinking yet! I agree with Gordon. ;)

(Thanks, KC, for your encouragement back at my place.)

3/03/2008 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

I totally agree, KC.


If the only foundation that can be laid is Christ why do we try to dig below this foundation and un-earth such stuff as "regeneration before faith"

3/03/2008 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Puts the whole depravity issue in its proper place, doesn't it?

3/03/2008 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger sofyst said...

Maybe it is not an either/or but a both/and?

I'm thinking of what Calvin said in his institutes. How can we properly know ourselves unless we first understand the creator and sustainer of our lives? But how can we properly know the LORD until we first understand how un-LORD like we are?

I'll quote:

Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other. For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone. In the second place, those blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the fountain. Here, again, the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes more apparent from our poverty.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iii.ii.html

How have you been, my friend?

3/05/2008 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Elisa said...

I think that our theology is the way Adam describes. However, the way we live out that theology (since the redemption aspect has been achieved for the believer) needs to be through the lens of Christ on the being of Christ- ie what KC said: " It seems to me that the more aware we become of His glory the less preoccupied we are with our own."
Our theology then points us into the direction of Christ so that we live in and for Him.

3/05/2008 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Adam my contention is that an egocentric approach of any kind can only result in one of the numerous systems of conflicting beliefs (as illustrated below) and I think Sis. Beth’s comment illustrates the consequence of these theologies. By nature we perceive God in contrasting terms and then force ourselves to act in a compatible manner. In so doing we maintain our own identity and are transformed in appearance only, not to Christ, but in contrast to what we perceive in ourselves as ungodly. We cannot hope to be of one mind because we all perceive God in contrast to ourselves and we are all different. If on the other hand we perceive God only in Christ then we can be of one mind and rather than maintain our individual identities we can learn to identify with Christ.

The quote you offered raises many questions that must go unanswered by Mr. Calvin at present.

“Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”

What would you consider the origin of this true and solid wisdom, in particular, whence comes the knowledge of God?

“But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.”

Are you implying that the ability to know God is inherent and is not “tied” to the revelation of Jesus Christ?

“For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone.”

Are you saying that the thoughts of men naturally incline toward God as we examine ourselves? Would you consider these endowments that we poses as being totally depraved?

“In the second place, those blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the fountain. Here, again, the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes more apparent from our poverty.”

Is it our poverty or God’s providence that illuminates the infinitude of good in Him?

3/06/2008 02:12:00 AM  
Blogger sofyst said...

Kc, I do not think it possible at all to perceive God without some manner of perception of ourselves. It would be like describing to someone a world, another world, without using anything within our world as reference to what that world is like. You wouldn't be able to say, 'the sky is like...' or 'there are creatures that resemble'...you would attempt to describe this world without any reference to our own. I think this is impossible.

The same is true for God. God IS so very unlike us, and so 'other' that we are unable to think of Him as He truly is without using some references that we already know, namely ourselves.

I don't think this such a foreign concept to Scriptures, after all, God Himself describes Himself as 'Father' and 'Master'. What are these but human terms? He wants us to understand Himself, and He describes Himself by using terminology that we already understand (terminology referencing ourselves). How can we understand God's fatherly attributes unless we first are sons and daughters ourselves?

What would you consider the origin of this true and solid wisdom, in particular, whence comes the knowledge of God?

God.

Are you implying that the ability to know God is inherent and is not “tied” to the revelation of Jesus Christ?

Not at all. I think you are assuming Calvin is speaking about all humanity in general, whereas I do believe he is speaking about those already blessed by revelation.

Are you saying that the thoughts of men naturally incline toward God as we examine ourselves? Would you consider these endowments that we poses as being totally depraved?

Once again, there is a difference between man before and after revelation is given.

Is it our poverty or God’s providence that illuminates the infinitude of good in Him?

How can you understand how good God is if you think yourself the best? Needn't you first understand how far you are from the standard of good to look up and see the good you are not? If I believe myself to be the wisest of all men, I will never recognize a man who is wiser than I am.

3/06/2008 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Adam the new creature in Christ is akin to a child who has no former point of reference and lacks any understanding. All things are new to him and his only point of reference for all things is Jesus Christ. If he assumes any other reference point his theology will become reformed, er..uh…I mean malformed (grin).

Mr. Calvin, thanks for your clarifications. ;-)

(I have really missed you brother!)

3/07/2008 03:37:00 AM  
Blogger sofyst said...

But Kc, we cannot possibly say that a new creature in Christ lacks any understanding at all. Unless we were willing to say that human infants could be redeemed, we would be left with the fact that people who are redeemed do understand some things about reality. It is not as though when we become children of God we are stripped of all prior knowledge. We still do understand what a father or a potter or a savior are. Perhaps not in its fullest form, or with complete accuracy, but we have those references nonetheless.

I want us to think of the idea of wisdom. If I were to think my understanding and knowledge were completely infallible (a wrong understanding of my own wisdom), how would I be able to understand the wisdom of God or the wisest being of all, Christ? Wouldn't I first need to realize that my wisdom is flawed in order to then see that His wisdom is greater and more perfect than my own? If you said I would not need to correct my misunderstanding of my own wisdom, what then would I do if confronted with a contradiction in Christ's wisdom and my own? For afterall, wouldn't I believe that both our wisdoms are perfect and good?

3/07/2008 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Adam please forgive my slow response. I had hoped to address your thoughts in an upcoming post on the spiritual growth that should parallel our theological development but it might be a few days before I can complete the article. I hope my thoughts here can serve as an outline for that post.

”But Kc, we cannot possibly say that a new creature in Christ lacks any understanding at all. Unless we were willing to say that human infants could be redeemed, we would be left with the fact that people who are redeemed do understand some things about reality.”

What would you say Jesus intended in this verse: “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3 KJV)

”It is not as though when we become children of God we are stripped of all prior knowledge. We still do understand what a father or a potter or a savior are.”

What would you consider is the renewing of our mind? (Romans 12:2)

“Perhaps not in its fullest form, or with complete accuracy, but we have those references nonetheless.

I want us to think of the idea of wisdom. If I were to think my understanding and knowledge were completely infallible (a wrong understanding of my own wisdom), how would I be able to understand the wisdom of God or the wisest being of all, Christ?”


My contention is that, if after having our mind renewed, we would return to our former understanding on these reference points that our theology will be decidedly more egocentric and that a valid perception of these reference points, as well as a theocentric theology, can only be achieved through an understanding of Jesus Christ. This understanding does not come through “vain philosophy” or our “untrustworthy“ understanding but through revelation. (Proverbs 3:5, Colossians 2:8, 1st John 5:20)

” Wouldn't I first need to realize that my wisdom is flawed in order to then see that His wisdom is greater and more perfect than my own?”

Do we come to that realization by reason or by revelation?”

” If you said I would not need to correct my misunderstanding of my own wisdom, what then would I do if confronted with a contradiction in Christ's wisdom and my own? For afterall, wouldn't I believe that both our wisdoms are perfect and good?”

This is precisely my point. Any attempt to marry the mind of man with the mind of Christ can only result in an egocentric perspective of God. I think Gordon put it best: "starting with man and working towards Christ sounds a lot like religion doesn't it?"

3/10/2008 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger sofyst said...

What would you say Jesus intended in this verse: “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3 KJV)

Did Jesus say little children, or did He say infants? Even little children have some understanding and some point of reference of which adults can communicate with them. Infants do not. It seems that if Christ was attempting to make the point of us having to be lacking in all understanding and having no former point of reference to enter the kingdom of heaven, the infant analogy would have been a much better term to use.

[Hmmm...this sent my mind into a crazy overdrive. Pardon me if I sidetrack a little...

If we are to assume that the kingdom of heaven is not until much later, at a future date; AND if we are to believe as you are suggesting that Jesus means in order to enter this kingdom you must be as little children (devoid of understanding, lacking all former knowledge), then wouldn't this mean at this later date we would have to still be ignorant? Meaning I could not say I was born again earlier (say when I was five) and since then I have had my mind renewed and have been made a new creature. Because if I were to say this, then that would mean that at the time the kingdom of heaven does come on a future date, I would have grown in my understanding and would no longer be as a little child, I would be much more mature in my spiritual understanding...either I would have to remain ignorant as a little child until that date, OR the kingdom of heaven would have to be in the here and now and at the time I come to renewal, I would then enter the kingdom of heaven...]


Sorry for that.

What would you consider is the renewing of our mind? (Romans 12:2)

A process that is not necessarily immediately.

My contention is that, if after having our mind renewed, we would return to our former understanding on these reference points that our theology will be decidedly more egocentric and that a valid perception of these reference points, as well as a theocentric theology, can only be achieved through an understanding of Jesus Christ. This understanding does not come through “vain philosophy” or our “untrustworthy“ understanding but through revelation. (Proverbs 3:5, Colossians 2:8, 1st John 5:20)

I think that the idea of 'renewing of your mind' or 'made a new creature' or 'washed in the blood' or whatever, wherein you view it as an immediate process is where you will have difficulty.

I have never liked the idea that is proposed by so many that when we call on the name of the LORD our hearts are washed 'white as snow' and we are 'made beautiful' and then when we sin again the next day (as we are still sinful creatures), we must pray for Jesus to come wash away that new stain...I think there is a better way to understand all of that.

Do we come to that realization by reason or by revelation?

Either/or, your choice. ;)

This is precisely my point. Any attempt to marry the mind of man with the mind of Christ can only result in an egocentric perspective of God. I think Gordon put it best: "starting with man and working towards Christ sounds a lot like religion doesn't it?

My point is that you are proposing 'revelation' to be some sort of unreal implant of knowledge into the mind of the new convert. You are suggesting, as I see it, that we have an infant-like creature, completely lacking all understanding and knowledge, and then when touched with the hand of revelation he now has all manner of knowledge and is as wise as an adult professor. This I do not understand.

What I'm seeing is a little child that has a certain view about what a father is, which may not be completely perfect in its understanding, but just right enough to work. God then comes in and uses that imperfect understanding to show a shadow of what He is like. And then molding that father image in the child's head into a better image of what a father should be by being the most perfect father there is.

3/10/2008 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Adam could you please explain? You wrote:

“What I'm seeing is a little child that has a certain view about what a father is, which may not be completely perfect in its understanding, but just right enough to work.”

What do you consider is the “work” that this understanding performs?

“God then comes in and uses that imperfect understanding to show a shadow of what He is like.”

How is it that God “comes in”?

”And then molding that father image in the child's head into a better image of what a father should be by being the most perfect father there is.”

How does God “mold that father image” in the child’s head?

3/10/2008 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger sofyst said...

What do you consider is the “work” that this understanding performs?

What I am saying is that while we do have images or concepts of what a father figure is, this concept is imperfect if compared with the ultimate father figure, God.

You may then return and say, 'see, that is why those images must be done away with and new ones implanted'.

But that is not what happens. God knows perfectly well that the human father is by far incomplete when compared with the heavenly father, but He uses that image nonetheless. The Scriptures reek of Him calling Himself father despite the countless people that have had less than adequate fathers. The same with LORD. Most people have never had a loving and caring and nurturing lord, yet this is the image He chose to adopt and to use and to change.

When I say that He then 'comes in', what I mean is that He uses what is already there (image of father or image of lord) and takes what little bit of that image is good and changes what is bad.

He sees that a father is an authority figure and one that should be respected, and so He uses that as He also is an authority figure and one deserving respect. Yet He may also see that most fathers abandon their children and are selfish, and so He counteracts that by never leaving and being completely selfless.

That is how He 'comes in' and molds the images in our head to what they should be. He doesn't eradicate what was already there and implant completely new images, for the image of father is in everyone's head before they come to Christ. But rather He takes the images that are already there and makes them to fit better his own.

3/11/2008 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

(softly aside so as not to interrupt: I think I see what Adam means, and say that seems to be part of my experience)

3/11/2008 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Adam what I hope has become evident is that revelation is as key to your approach as it is to mine you only phrase it differently. Your also agree there is a pivotal moment when God “comes in” and something that did not previously “work” now works. What I perceive as our greatest difference is that where you consider it best to perceive God in terms of your relationship with your father I think it best to perceive God in terms of the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Where you would say we relate to God through our experiences apart from Him I say we can only relate to God through our experience in Him.

Our former perception of the relationship between father and child is based on our own experience within that relationship. We entered that relationship as an infant and our perception grew over the years with experience. The same is true of our relationship with God. We enter it by virtue of the spirit birth as babes in Christ. Our new nature craves the sincere milk of the word whereby we might grow until we are able to partake of strong meat (Hebrews 5:14). We are born in an instant and, if properly nourished, should grow over time into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Missy I don’t deny that personal association is a common approach to theology. I am proposing that this approach is a hindrance to developing a valid theology and that it is only through association with Christ that we can hope to accomplish this. I think 1st Corinthians 3 specifically addresses this issue and details the consequence of an egocentric approach. The carnal man relates to his own personal experience; “I am of Paul”, “ I am of Apollos”. These are they that cause division and are considered babes in need of milk. Paul explains that we must begin with Christ (Vs. 11) and not with our previous personal experience.

3/11/2008 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Kc, I agree, but I believe that coming from the perspective of my own experience is less an "approach" and more the way it actually happens. It is not intentional, but natural. I took this to be Adam's meaning and find it true in my life that God is consistently "coming in" (revealing) where my incomplete experience is lacking in truth - turning my immature egocentric focus toward the truth revealed in Christ.

You know I am totally in agreement that relying only on my own incomplete experience for this truth can be divisive - if not worse. It is the very anti-thesis of love. I choose to try to share from my experience rather than theology as an illustration of this - trying to shout that my experience is not the same as yours.

I don't know about Adam, but I am in the midst of what he is explaining - whereas God is turning me from what I've always "known" to what is True. My image of God did start with the image of my father - and the truth is revealing my father to be who he is and God to be something immeasurably different. It does not happen all at once, it is progressive. I AM this babe in need of milk, trying desparately not to be divisive (and often failing).

To me, it seems that you and Adam are essentially saying the same thing, but the nuance is the difference between what it "should be" and what it "is." My hope is that one day, they will be the same. :)

3/12/2008 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger sofyst said...

Kc, I would ask you this question, why would the Bible command christian men to be godly fathers, if the children of these men are supposed to completely ignore their childhood experiences with their father to understand correctly how God really is as a father?

Would it not seem that the entire reason christian men are supposed to treat their children as God treats His is that when the children begin to attempt to understand God as a father they can look to their own father for a bit (not a complete or completely accurate) view of how God is as a father?

I understand that we cannot rely completely upon our own experiences to give us an accurate understanding of how God is. If that were the case, my image of God as a Father or Jesus as a friend or the Spirit as a comforter would leave me despising God, distrusting Jesus and never relying on the Spirit in times of need.

However, I can look to the way you, Kc, have treated me and understand how a father can be. As I can look to Mrs. Zeke's treatment of me and understand how a friend and comforter truly can be.

Therefore, we cannot completely throw out our earthly experiences. After all, God did allow us to go through them for a reason, don't you think?

3/12/2008 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger sofyst said...

Missy, I think you very wise. My point is that experience does flavor our view of God, whether it be for the better or worse. I think Kc is saying that it shouldn't, whereas I am saying that it typically does. I would disagree with Kc and say that it doesn't always have to be taken out of the equation when considering God, and in many situations should not at all.

I think that the entire reason that God is not present, as in a breathing touchable person here and now is because He moves and acts through His children. I do not think anyone would deny this. When we obey God, we do His work. Preachers speak His message, they are His mouth. Servants feed the hungry, they are His hands. I do not think anyone would disagree with this...

If we were then to say that the people influenced by the actions of His children shouldn't take those actions as the actions of God, we would reduce the experiences of man and God to either the mystical (wherein man 'feels' God's love or grace through emotions or sensations) or to the purely observatory (wherein man observes God's actions with other men as recorded in the Scriptures). I am simply saying that there is a third way to understand God and 'experience' God and that is through our own experiences with other humans.

3/12/2008 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Adam, thanks - no one's ever thunk me wise before!

"I am simply saying that there is a third way to understand God and 'experience' God and that is through our own experiences with other humans."

I see a more distinct difference in what ya'll are saying now. It's my opinion this is what we try to do - experience God through one another. But I think that is part of our sin nature to do so - to look to ourselves and other men for what is right and wrong. We can sometimes get close, but never full truth without depending on the perfection of Christ. I think God might very well intend for us to "love one another" as Christ has, or to parent our children in the pattern of God as father - but we will always fall short and should not be the measure of God to one another. If I do the best job I can, hopefully my kids won't have quite so many misunderstandings about God to work through as I have had - but I'm not so sure I'm going to accomplish that. :)

(KC: FYI, this is kinda the root of what I consider "The Fall" as opposed to man's ability to sin.)

3/13/2008 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger sofyst said...

Missy, may I ask you how exactly you think one does 'experience' God?

I think that most would say that they do so through communicating with God (through prayer) and God communicating with them (through the Word). However, I do not think a strong case could be made that prayer is necessarily meant as a means of communication with God, but rather as a means of growth for the one praying. We do not pray so that God may hear us, but rather so that we will grow through our prayers.

Yet, even if that were so, even if we did say that we 'experience' God through talking to Him and He talking to us, is this the only way that we can 'experience' God?

Some may say we do so through the Spirit within us, He moves within us. But this is rather subjective and mystical, is that the Spirit 'moving' in me, or is it myself feeling the effects of the music being played or the lighting?

I guess I just have a very big problem with saying that the only way, or the best possible way, to experience God is by casting my voice out, whether silently or aloud, hoping it is heard by the Almighty, and by reading words written by men, hoping to understand them as the Author intended for them to be written...

(I guess I could go into the argument of how even in the Scriptures the medium of men is used...but I'll refrain for now.)

3/13/2008 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Adam, I think (and this is TOTALLY my opinion or over-simplified philosophy - based on nothing but my feeble attempts to understand) that we cannot "experience" God in the flesh. Experiencing God is what I think my eternal life will consist of, and my spiritual rebirth in this life is my introduction to that experience. I think much sin is born of trying to experience God in ways we were never meant to, and the closest we come is the Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ which helps us perservere through the rest of our existance until we do truly experience God. I think Glen currently has some posts that relate some to what I am saying.

We are made in his image, but you must know that the reflected image has become distorted with the self-reliance of our sin nature. I do think we can catch glimpses of who God is relationally through one another, but we can just as easily (if not more frequently) catch glimpses of who Satan is.

3/13/2008 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger sofyst said...

I can respect that. I disagree with that view, but I can respect it nonetheless.

I want to ask you another question, do you think that when preachers preach, that they can be speaking the word of God?

I know A LOT of preachers stand behind the pulpits and speak their own messages, but do you think there are men who are truly in tune with the Spirit's word, and when they study and read and then preach that the message they bring is a message God would have them to bring?

And if the message they bring is one God would have them to bring, do you think that this message is God's message?

3/13/2008 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger Another Voice said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/14/2008 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Yes, I believe even when they are not "in tune" with the Spirit they can preach a message that is God's message.

3/14/2008 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

I was wondering...does anyone think "pastor" Fred Phelps is a good father figure that someone can look at to experience God?

Just yes or no will suffice.

3/14/2008 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Kris, yes, someone can.

3/14/2008 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger sofyst said...

I think one could experience some sense of God thru that man...afterall, someone experienced God through a jackass did they not?

3/14/2008 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Another Voice said...

Hearing God's word from a jackass (which happens more frequently than you'd think) is not the same as experiencing God.

Would you say that in this converstaion we are having, that you are "experiencing" Missy?

3/15/2008 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger sofyst said...

Yes, I would. Communicating with you and them here is me experiencing you. It is not as personal or as deep an experience as if I heard your voice, or saw your eyes, or touched your skin, but it is an experience of you nonetheless.

3/15/2008 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Missy, I am not trying to be argumentive here.

So you think Phelps is a "good" father figure for a person to experience the "true" God? If Jesus is the image of God what part of Jesus does Fred portray?

I don't follow your logic. Can you elaborate on how someone can?

3/15/2008 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Adam, I think Kris just helped me make my point. If he were truly "experiencing" me, he would had heard my emphasis on the word "can" and noticed my smirk and possibly a gentle nudge with my elbow, understanding that I meant yes, one CAN look to Phelps to experience God - but they SHOULDN'T. ;)

Relying on a less personal - incomplete - experience with God, and left only to my own experience to complete the gaps will always leave me with something less than truth.

Sorry, Kris, should have expressed myself better - I thought my smart-allecyness was apparent! The sad thing is that people DO look to Phelps to experience God. :(

3/16/2008 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger sofyst said...

Missy, I think what you are doing is assuming that one must either fully experience God, or not experience Him at all. If we were honest, or technical, it would be a complete impossibility for anyone to experience God in His fullest (no one can look on Him and live). Isn't any manner of 'experience' that we humans have with the almighty in small dosages, if you will.

Kris did 'experience' you in that he was communicating with you. He may have not understood you correctly, but some manner of experience did occur.

3/16/2008 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

"If we were honest, or technical, it would be a complete impossibility for anyone to experience God in His fullest (no one can look on Him and live). Isn't any manner of 'experience' that we humans have with the almighty in small dosages, if you will."

Precisely.

"Missy, I think what you are doing is assuming that one must either fully experience God, or not experience Him at all."

Not at all, what I am saying is those small doses we do experience cannot be fully and correctly interpreted without the rest - the smirk, the nudge, so to speak. Any methods of interpretation will always be less than truth without a full experience.

3/16/2008 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger sofyst said...

Missy, I said it is technically impossible to experience God in His fullest. To which you replied, 'precisely'. Yet you then say that any method of interpretation of the small dosages of experience that we do have would be less than truth without a full experience.

So am I to understand your position to be that we cannot experience God in His fullest, yet we can fully experience God?

If so, could you explain.

3/17/2008 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Adam, I think you are assuming that I think there is an effective method of interpretation. I don't believe I do.

So, at this time, my position is that we cannot experience God in His fullest, nor can we fully experience God - in the flesh.

But, honestly, I just threw out a once tightly held belief in "free will" and adopted the belief that God created evil less than 4 hours ago, so I reserve the right to be seriously wrong. :)

3/17/2008 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger sofyst said...

You would probably find much agreement with me regarding that last paragraph of your's, I have never held to the position of freewill nor of God being completely innocent in the whole 'evil' situation.

However, if we are to say that we cannot fully experience God, which I am somewhat willing to say; and that we cannot experience God in His fullest, which I am completely willing to say; can we not say that we can experience God in the slightest?

I want to ask you this, can I 'fully' experience you? in your opinion. If I was standing before you, and we were communicating face to face, would we be 'experiencing' each other?

3/17/2008 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Adam, I may be biased and skeptical in this because of all the evil done in the name of "experiencing God." I don't think the term "experience" conveys an appropriately clear meaning for me to be comfortable with. In fact, as a noun, for me the term is considered an inherently bad concept altogether; as a verb it implies an underlying selfish nature, and you cannot imagine how I detest the use of it as an adjective. If it helps to make my personal connotation more clear - I see trying to "experience" someone/something as trying to make them your own.

Attempting to set this bias aside, I was almost willing to say we can slightly experience God, but I still don't this accurately describes what I mean. I think we slightly experience God's creation, His Word, aspects of his character, but I lean towards not experiencing God at all in the flesh.

In my opinion, I don't think we could fully experience one another either, and much harm comes from trying.

Now, "understand" is a different thing altogether. I think we can understand God, and each other - but only through Christ. You don't have to experience something to understand it.

3/17/2008 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger sofyst said...

How strange, for I would be MUCH more willing to say we can experience God than we can understand Him. Likewise, I would be much more willing to say we can experience each other than understand each other. I think understanding is something that is almost impossible with each other and with God. (I'll reply more later...I woke up for some reason and needed to grab a cup of coffee and cig and am about to go back to bed...:D)

3/18/2008 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Adam, when your thinking about it later, keep in mind I said "but only through Christ." Otherwise I agree that it is impossible to understand. We may be saying the same thing - just having different connotations of the words "experience" and "understand" - but it does seem clear there are some degrees of separation.

3/18/2008 02:45:00 PM  

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