This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

How Christians Understand God (Geocities Rescue)

Accepting God as central to our human existence, we can then examine God further. Let us start with a few of the standard assumptions about how God has to be. By definition, God is perfect and infinite, the Supreme Being. My father once told me that God knows the past, present and future. This gave me some trouble, as I could not reconcile this with free will. It was not until later that I concluded that, because God is perfect, he acts perfectly toward his creatures within time, while also being outside of time. God is like someone who always knows the right thing to say.

God is self-sufficient, meaning that God does not need us, we need God. Further, and this is important to later discussions, God cannot be diminished or harmed by his creatures. Nothing we do on this planet has any impact on him. For this reason, the Church came up with the concept of the natural order, which is damaged by the actions of man. I submit that this concept is the Church trying to have its cake and eating it to. There is no natural order, there is only each person's relationship with God and others.

Christians believe that God is triune, one God in three persons. As much of what follows in this musing is based on that belief, it is time to discuss it. The Trinity is the major point of difference between Christianity and the other monotheistic religions, Judaism and Islam. When monotheism was battling polytheism, in ancient times in Israel and in Arabia during the time of the Prophet, the focus on One God was justified. Now that monotheism is firmly established, a deeper discussion of the Trinity is less controversial.

Christians believe that the Three aspects of God do not divide God. They make God a complete Whole, and all the more Beautiful. The Blessed Trinity is one of those truth's that man is incapable of coming up with on his own. It is only known because Jesus revealed it.

This is how I understand the Trinity. To be utterly satisfying God is Perfection itself. This Perfection is God the Father, the ultimate Good. This Perfection has Knowledge of Itself. The Knowledge is so Perfect and so complete that it is called God the Son, the Truth, the Word of God. Perfection and the Knowledge of It without Love is hollow truth and ugly. The Knowledge of Perfection Loves the Perfection, and the Perfection Loves the Knowledge of Itself. This Love is also so strong as to be personified, and is the Holy Spirit, the shared Love between the Father and the Son. This is the utterly complete God, which is our reward in the next world.

Understanding our belief in the Trinity is essential to understanding how Jesus could be born and live as a man, die on a cross, and still be God. Our next step is understanding the passion and death of Jesus of Nazareth. Members of the religious right will not like the explanation I am about to provide, as it illustrates the key difference between the left and the right

A key point in understanding the Passion is an inquiry into what Jesus knew about himself. Let me digress for a moment to what Christians believe about Jesus. We are taught that Jesus was both true God and true man, that He was born of a virgin through the action of the Holy Spirit, therefore the Son of God. (This is not to be confused with the Immaculate Conception, which is the teaching that Mary was conceived without the sin of Adam, the tendency to blame, which I discussed previously.)

Jesus, the Real Evidence revealed that virgin birth with male offspring occurs in nature, though it is rare, provided the mother has an extra Y (or male) set of genes. As you recall from the ultimate proof of God, that He is the cause of existence itself, God has plenty of space to work through the natural world. The Virgin birth makes sense medically while still allowing for a transcendent, or spiritual, explanation. Every birth is, in fact, a miracle, though the birth of Jesus is more so. The story of the virgin Birth orginates with Mary, his mother. We infer this because scripture states And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. (Luke 2:19). We then infer that one of the ways Jesus knew of his divine origins was from what Mary told him. Luke also relates that Mary was a good liberal. When she visited her cousin Elizabeth, she said, He has deposed the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly to high places. The hungry he has given every good thing, while the rich he has sent away empty. (Luke 1:52-53). No wonder the more conservative Protestant sects do not like the Catholic stress on the importance of Mary.

The other way he knew himself was through scriptures, as this is how he explained himself to his disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:25-27). We know that he acquired this knowledge at a young age, at least from the time he was lost at the temple when age twelve when he insisted that his place was in his Father's house (Luke 3:49). When his parents did not understand what he was referring to (the first of many times Jesus would be misunderstood), he yielded to their wishes and lived as a carpenter until age 30. It was then that he was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, which descended upon him like a dove, with a voice from heaven stating You are my beloved Son. On you my favor rests. (Luke 3:22). I assert that until that day, he was guided by what he was told by his mother, by his knowledge of the scriptures and by his faith. Until his baptism, he did not get any special favors. Even his miracles, including raising Lazarus from the dead, were due to his faith and the faith of those healed, rather than some raw exercise of divine power.

The letter of Paul to the Philippians quotes an early Christian hymn, which states that Though he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with god something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8). Next we will discuss this death.

2 Comments:

Blogger Adam Pastor said...

Greetings Michael Bindner

On the subject of the Trinity,
I recommend this video:
The Human Jesus

Take a couple of hours to watch it; and prayerfully it will aid you to reconsider "The Trinity"

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

2:27 PM

 
Blogger Michael Bindner said...

My goal was for people to understand the Thomistic explanation in simple language. Many rather incorrectly believe Christians believe in 3 Gods, which we do not do. Further, if Jesus does not participate in the Godhead, the Crucifixion is a publicity stunt and the entire religion (and the last 2000 years) is a farce. For more on the meaning of the Crucifixion, see the next article at http://xianleft.blogspot.com/2005/03/blessed-good-friday.html

6:58 AM

 

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