I started this blog in 2007 to share many of my thoughts I have gleaned from my reading of scripture and my study of missiology, particularly the history of missiology. In 2012, I completed my dissertation in this field on the Shandong Revival. I have some content on this blog related to that end, but much more on other revivals as well. But I can’t keep myself focused on any one subject. I love learning because I believe all truth is God’s truth and that learning can and should be an act of worship. I took a lengthy hiatus from blogging from mid-2013 to mid-2016 when we moved to another state to engage in church planting ministry. I am resuming my blog now as a place to engage the public over pressing issues.
I am a Christian. This is more than just a self-identification, or a reflection of my upbringing. I don’t deserve to be a Christian. I have sinned. I have sinned greatly. I have done shameful things. I still struggle with temptation. Does this make me a hypocrite? Absolutely not! I have been a hypocrite at times, I think everyone has. I have claimed to do one thing and secretly done another. However, my sins are never hidden from one person.
All of reality is contingent. This means that it does not have the attribute of necessary existence. It is not self-sufficient. Our perception of reality, all that this entails, feelings, thoughts, external physical objects, other beings, other minds, everything, is absolutely contingent. Only one being is a necessary being. This Other is the only self-existent being and has all power and all knowledge. This being is God. Why then is there a universe? Why is there anything else but God?
This God not only chose to create all of reality, this God also created other minds to perceive it, and other wills to make real choices, and other things and beings that reflect this God’s essence. How do we know that? Why should we believe this is the case?
God spoke. This God is all-knowledgeable, all-intelligent. He spoke. He spoke to His creation. He revealed Himself as a He. He also loved His creation. He still loves His creatures. This is the creation, the very good creation.
If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-knowledgeable, all-intelligent, why does the world seem so full of evil? Why do we not directly perceive this being called God?
God created other beings with real wills (volition) and real minds (cognition) and real feelings (emotion). These beings, humanity, reflect the goodness and image of God (imago Dei) in these attributes (as well as through others). But for these attributes to be real, they had to be free. Only a supremely powerful being could create another free being and uphold that freedom. If God was any less powerful, freedom would be impossible.
Yet God continues to exhibit his power and control over this contingent reality, directing it according to His purposes. He must. Because humanity was truly free, it could choose to love God or to love things which were not God. To love something over against God is idolatry, called sin. God not only spoke, but He revealed how humanity was created and how they chose to make idols of themselves and of His creation rather than to love and obey God. The first man he created was named Adam (which literally is translated man). He created his wife, first just called woman and later named Eve (meaning mother of the living). Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command because that which they desired offered them wisdom and pleasure and they were deceived into thinking they would be like God. When they disobeyed, this event was called the Fall.
In the Fall, free humanity lost much of its freedom. God punished humanity with death and cursed His good creation to no longer be all-beneficial to his prized creation of mankind. Not only would human beings die, their wills, minds, and emotions were no longer truly free. They had become turned in on themselves (incurvatus in se) and partially blinded by evil and sin. When these men and women would die, because of their sinfulness, they would also become eternal objects of God’s all-supreme wrath. How do we know? Just as God revealed His creation story, God spoke to His prophets and apostles and revealed to them the true interpretation of the real world, that is, the what Christians call the Holy Bible.
Because God is also all-good and all-loving, he also, from even before creating the present reality, he predetermined to quench his own wrath towards sinners by punishing. God punished God. How is that possible? How does that help humanity?
God also predetermined to add humanity to himself. God revealed himself as Triune. That means that there is one God (ousia) united (hypostasis) in three persons (persona). This is how God revealed himself. Hear O’ Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and yet, Let Us make humanity in Our image. As Triune, He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thus, God so loved the world that He [The Father] gave his Son, that whosever believes in Him [the Son] will not perish but have eternal life.
When He gave the Son, God became a man. He was no less God; rather, he added humanity to his divinity. As a man, he sympathized with us in our weaknesses. He suffered as we. He ate, slept, relieved Himself, related to other people as a son, a brother, a friend. He also did not sin. He constantly chose to love and obey the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in every circumstance. He was a second Adam. But he did not sin. And it was predetermined that he would die for sin. What sins did he commit? None. As a man, he took our sins upon himself. And the Father punished the Son. He was killed by other wicked men, but in that moment, the Son became forsaken because of the sins of all humanity. God punished God. This is the redemption.
This is not the end of the story. The Son, whom is called Jesus, was not eternally forsaken. He died physically, bearing the sinfulness and sins of humanity, but by His power, He did not remain in the grave. He physically rose from the dead in a new, glorious, redeemed human body. Forever, humanity will be united with divinity in the Son. His resurrection is just the beginning of the complete restoration and new creation. Humanity will be restored and the full goodness of creation will be restored, and it will be better than at the beginning. This is the restoration.
We, as people, can participate in this story by faith in the Son and in the power of the Spirit.
Let us encourage each other with these truths daily and remember that theology without obedience is mere religious opinion.
(c) 2007 – 2016 wlh