On Divine Unity and Diversity (Plural-Unity)
Now that Ramadan is over, it is time to reply again to Ozair's comments to my first piece on this subject from April 14th, two posts down. In that I accused Ozair of changing the subject, all the while accusing Ted of trying to. Again, for their debate Ozair insisted on the topic—it could only be the trinity, nothing else. But Ozair does not even understand it himself, which is apparently why he changed it to the incarnation of God. The doctrine of the trinity is really that simple—There is one God who has one Essence with three persons. Period. It entails nothing necessarily about the nature of the man that was Jesus. Again, the way that the debate question was framed excludes any discussion about incarnation, so it does not concern the Arians, the Apollonians, or the Nestorians whose heresies were unrelated to the trinity. The matter of the trinity is confined to questions about Yahweh's nature, his plural-unity, not Jesus. (Also, since Allah has plural attributes in what sense is he 'absolute one' in the Islamic sense?) See Appendix 1 of my book, The Reason of Reason.
Francis Schaeffer provides an eloquent discussion of divine plurality-within-unity in his excellent book, He is There And He Is Not Silent, although he uses the word “diversity” instead of plurality. Here I want to offer a summary of his thinking on this subject starting with an overview of this short book should you like to read it (only 80 pages plus appendices). I highly recommend it. The main argument we are concerned with is Schaeffer’s conviction that only the existence of a tri-personal God, i.e. the trinity, can make sense of both diversity and unity in reality. This is also my conviction for which I will offer my own commentary. But allow me to come back to this specific point in the fifth paragraph after a bit more overview of the whole book should you like to read it. Or you can skim down.
Scott Cherry's Assessment of the 4/9 Debate Between Ted Barham and Ozair Tahir
Last Friday I attended an informal debate between Ted Barham and Ozair Tahir on the question, "Is the trinity logical, rational?" This is my assessment of that debate and my personal rebuttal of Ozair’s argument including a summary of the doctrine of the trinity. Ozair assumed the standard Muslim position that the trinity is non-rational/illogical. But although he is a Muslim, he did not overtly argue his position on the basis of the Qur'an, rather on the pretense of logic and reason. But what he thought was good logic and sound reasoning was, in fact, fallacious. Throughout the course of the debate Ozair repeatedly demanded of Ted, "If the Bible said there were squared circles, would you believe it?" It was a trap that Ted would not fall into. Although Ted could have been much more assertive in putting forth biblical examples of the trinity, Ozair seemed generally disinterested in such evidence anyway. Instead his mind was made up that the trinity was a "squared circle" as he repeatedly resorted to this pet question.
Is God Consistent in His Moral Standards? Does He Have to Be?
The God of the Torah is consistent, it is one of his divine attributes. God is not arbitrary or random. He is consistent in both his attributes and His moral standards. That's why passages about his love for foreigners matter, and why they are not irrelevant. Nothing about God is irrelevant. The LORD is consistent in his love. We Christians don't just ascribe love to God because we want him to be loving. It's because HE said he is loving. God gave Moses his divine truth in the Tawrat, or Torah. In it God revealed much about His nature. He revealed his essential attributes to Moses who penned them for the Jews, the Muslims, and the world: Power, Holiness, Compassion, Righteousness, Mercy, and Love, for example. Who are we to question what God says about Himself in His own words?
Did God allow or condone sex slavery and pedophilia in the Torah? ...No.
To our current Western ears some passages in the Torah such as Numbers 31:18 and Deuteronomy 21:10-14 generally evoke a negative emotional response, but they must not be viewed through a 21st-century lens only. We can hardly avoid using a modern-day lens, but we must also use an ancient Near Eastern as well as a broad Mosaic lens. These passages should not be misconstrued in support of slavery, sex slavery, rape, or the objectification of women. But they do require careful thought and interpretation. In light of the ancient, NE pagan moral codes that 'governed' slavery, sex, marriage and foreign relations, the skeptic’s claim that Yahweh condoned or permitted sex-slavery, pedophilia, or marital rape is untenable. Throughout the Hebrew Tanakh, Yahweh presents himself as a God of goodness, justice, and love. He explicitly set himself apart from the false gods of the surrounding nations in numerous ways. This was embodied in his miraculous acts toward his people but also through superior laws given through Prophet Moses and other prophets. In them he introduced a superior socio-sexual morality that was unmatched by any pagan society of the day or by Islam millennia later.
A Reaction to Kelly Smith's Attribution of Reason to the Universe
Dilbert: And we know mass creates gravity because more dense planets have more gravity.
Dogbert: How do we know which planets are more dense?
Dilbert: They have more gravity.
Dogbert: That's circular reasoning.
Dilbert: I prefer to think of it as having no loose ends.
–Scott Adams, Dilbert (March 1, 1999)
Apparently there are universal rules of good thinking. They seem to apply to everyday living and to academic disciplines like science and others. We don’t get to choose them; they are imposed on us, but science doesn’t know for sure by whom or what. The rules seem to be very rigid such that if you break them other people might scold you and bad things can happen. One of these rules is called circular reasoning, also called begging the question. It says that your conclusion cannot be part of your premise. It’s just not allowed. Another rule is that if you make a claim about something you have to be able to back it up. You need evidence.