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    World Religion & Speculative Theology - Thread: How Smart is Self?

    1. #1
      Josiah's Avatar
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      Question How Smart is Self?

      .


      Isaiah records that God says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9)


      Luther famously (and often) said that "Humility is the basis of all sound theology." And Lutherans often stress that we cannot avoid mystery since God is simply smarter than any man (or woman, lol) - even all of us put together! And there's no reason to assume that God has told us EVERYTHING (we probably don't have all the "dots") or that we could remotely understand it even if He did. One of the fundamental aspects of the Reformation was a "protest" of Catholic Scholasticism, the medieval movement of a tiny number of Catholic theologians who appointed themselves to invent stuff and insert stuff into Scripture so that God would "make sense" and jibe with the pop philosophies and theories of the day; to make Scripture as smart as they felt they were; "What God forgot to say is....." One of the fundamental aspects of he Reformation was the need for humility. As Charles Wesley is credited as saying, "We must be bold where Scripture is clear, silent where Scripture is silent, and wise enough to know the difference."


      Of course, people will ask questions. And there's nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when self appoints self to answer the questions of self and then declares such to be dogma that God must accept (or God would not be smart). What begins as a valid question.... turns into a constant flow of speculation turned into divisive dogma.... not infrequently running head on with what God actually said (or at least being something God never remotely said). The prophet Jeremiah stated that God "hates those who say "God says" when God never did."


      In the words of one of my friends, "Christians can't seem to shut up" "Some seem to be unable to leave well enough alone." "Some seem intent on messing things up with their speculations." We seem to have a problem with unanswered questions..... with mystery.... with humility. Yet Scripture calls on us to be "Stewards of the mysteries of God." NOT "Correctors of God" or "Answer men for God." We are to be Caring for the MYSTERIES. In fact, until the middle ages, Christian teachings were not called doctrine, they were called "holy mysteries." Lutherans at times say, "God gets the last word." Often, all this speculation-turned-dogma BEGINS with valid questions.... even sound, biblical teachings.... but taken too far or with speculation that may seem "logical" or may jibe with secular ideas but simply not be what God says.; individual denominations or persons unwilling to shut up, individual persons or denominations appointing self to correct God, to be the divine Answer Man.


      For Luther, this meant "issues" with some new, unique dogmas found only in the RCC denomination: Purgatory, Transubstantiation, Infallible Bishop in Rome (or _____), for example. But it must be admitted, this is not a uniquely Catholic problem! Protestants too quickly demonstrated the same propensity ( sometimes worse), Luther saw this beginning even during his own lifetime. Humility seems hard.


      In fairness, this is not absolute. The doctrine of the Trinity, it must be admitted, is not SPECIFICALLY stated in Scripture. It is an example of combining various verses - and affirming what they say (God is one, God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit) - embracing the mystery, the tension. But it is true, this was soon "packaged" with some language and understandings a bit beyond what Scripture actually says. This may be THE most universal Christian teaching there is but there is more in the language than Scripture actually states. BUT the teaching (God is one, God is Father Son and Holy Spirit) is very Biblical and the Trinity makes no attempt to explain it or reconcile it or even understand it.... and this is ECUMENICAL, not the invention and possession of just one person or faith community (not unique to Catholic or Lutheran or Reformed or Orthodox or Anglican or Pentecostal). IMO, I'm a bit more willing to consider what is ancient, ecumenical, universal than something some individual dude suddenly theorized and dogmatized (whether such be without biblical support or especially if it actually contradicts many Scriptures).


      IMO, much of what so steadfastly DIVIDES us is a result of just such individualism, just such speculation of self, just such self answering the questions of self and then demanding God (and everyone else) agrees with them or they aren't too smart. But humility.... mystery.... means we will be left with unanswered questions, with things we can't "fit together", with "dots" we cannot connect. It may hurt our ego but... God is likely smarter than we are.


      Isaiah records that God says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9)




      - Josiah




      .
      We are justified by works - just not our own.

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    3. #2
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      Human reasoning attempts to work out the things God hasn't revealed to us to make theology "work". I'm not saying God is withholding pertinent information in regards to our salvation, because we have faith in Jesus for that. There are things that we sometimes need to say "I don't know" and leave it at that.
      "Christianity does not require more work but more trust." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "Bearing fruit does not make you a branch. A branch is a branch because it grows from the vine." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "A Christian's life is not defined by what the Christian does. It is defined by Christ and what He has done for us." Pr. Rolf David Preus

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      Quote Originally Posted by Josiah View Post
      .
      How Smart is Self?
      Let us hope self is smart enough to be willing to enter into denial of self...

      But it is better to say, Let us hope that YOU become willing to follow Christ...

      And then that YOU deny your self...

      Matt 16:24
      If anyone is willing...
      After Me to be following...
      First let him deny himself...


      Christ's very words...

      Self-denial is the human basis of relationship with God...

      It's primary virtue is humility...

      Without humility we cannot deny self...

      If we deny self, we gain humility...

      True humility is a Gift of God...

      Given to those denying self...

      But usually not immediately...

      Except for Martyrs unexpectedly Called...


      Arsenios

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      I'm reminded of what Bill W. of A.A. said. "God gave us brains to use". For me, that's meant using our mental faculties and ability to reason and think. Things left to "mystery" are sometimes things left stagnant, where spiritual growth can occur instead. One example is a phrase often heard in Lutheran circles when talking about communion - that Christ is "in, with, and under" the bread and wine. As an intuitive person, it does me no good to be told "leave it to mystery" when asking what that means. One can explain to the best of their ability, and there may come a point that full explanation is not possible (mystery), but to start from a position of believing it can't be understood does the new convert (or the old one!) no good.

      So I wouldn't say that relying on our faculties and reason to shed light on what might be initially perceived as 'mystery' is necessarily a selfish endeavor.

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      Infant baptism truly is a mystery...

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      Quote Originally Posted by MennoSota View Post
      Infant baptism truly is a mystery...
      What has this to do with the topic of the thread?

    9. #7
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      Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryDay2 View Post
      What has this to do with the topic of the thread?
      Mystery...

    10. #8
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      Quote Originally Posted by MennoSota View Post
      Mystery...
      Spoken like a true Sage!

      Self cannot heal itself, but God can...

      One CAN turn from sin when God Calls one to repentance...
      Such turning away does not heal, except incrementally...
      It simply stops the doing of sin...
      Only God can actually heal...

      And apart from God's Call to repentance, people live varying lives regarding sin...
      Some become flagrant sinners and even criminals...
      Others become major doers of good deeds...
      Most of us are a mixture of both...

      Purification of the heart is the first phase of one's response to God's Call to repentance...
      This is followed by entry into Christ at the Baptism done by Christ's Body... Justification...
      Maturity in the Faith is followed by God's Glorification...

      No self can do anything other than repent from sinning...
      And that is a knock down drag 'em out fight to the death...
      And it does not stop at Baptism, but gets worse...
      We are called to overcome sin...

      Rev 2:7
      To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life,
      which is in the midst of the paradise of God.


      There is such a thing as hidden Grace...
      And there is the fact that our talent(s) given is according to our strength...
      And that if we bury our talent, we will be lost to God...
      We must increase what we have been given...

      Yet all good is from God...
      A Mystery indeed...


      Arsenios

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      Quote Originally Posted by MennoSota View Post
      Mystery...
      The real Mystery is the beard on your glorious Avatar!

      Is that a cap on his head?


      Arsenios

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    13. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryDay2 View Post
      I'm reminded of what Bill W. of A.A. said. "God gave us brains to use". For me, that's meant using our mental faculties and ability to reason and think. Things left to "mystery" are sometimes things left stagnant, where spiritual growth can occur instead. One example is a phrase often heard in Lutheran circles when talking about communion - that Christ is "in, with, and under" the bread and wine. As an intuitive person, it does me no good to be told "leave it to mystery" when asking what that means. One can explain to the best of their ability, and there may come a point that full explanation is not possible (mystery), but to start from a position of believing it can't be understood does the new convert (or the old one!) no good.

      So I wouldn't say that relying on our faculties and reason to shed light on what might be initially perceived as 'mystery' is necessarily a selfish endeavor.
      One reason that Lutherans say to leave it to mystery is because when man tries to reason it out with his own brain he comes up with heresies to make explanation for what God does not reveal to us.
      "Christianity does not require more work but more trust." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "Bearing fruit does not make you a branch. A branch is a branch because it grows from the vine." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "A Christian's life is not defined by what the Christian does. It is defined by Christ and what He has done for us." Pr. Rolf David Preus

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