Why Personalism is a Better View for God than Classical Theism
*John is a pre-med senior at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He has been the student President of Ratio Christi all four years, as well as a co-founder and Vice President of Faith & Reason in his final year.
The discussion of God’s personhood is layered with philosophical, historical, theological, and personal aspects. The philosophical plausibility of this concept will be defended here, first against objections, followed by a discussion of alternatives. A brief examination of the prevailing views of the theistic God (at the most basic level) lead to classical theism and theistic personalism. The former is a view developed and perpetuated by medieval philosophers and purports that God is simple, changeless, timeless, and essentially indescribable by human thought. The latter is a more modern development that embodies the idea that God is more knowable and understandable than classical theists say, and may even change. Essentially, he is a person. Within each of these schools of thought, there are likely subsects of philosophers that adhere to weaker and stronger tenets of the ideologies, but generally, the above beliefs are held in common.
How Jesus was so attractive to children
Based on the gospels and epistles, Jesus and his Apostles usually engaged with adults and families, not children only. He didn’t seem to call children to him specifically, but rather their parents and their whole families. But he certainly attracted and welcomed the children! And no doubt among the throngs of sick that came to him, many parents brought their children to him for healing. When I read the gospel narratives such as the examples below, in some situations I get the impression that it was the children he had in his sights the most, just by being in public places where they could see him and dare come to him. Anyone can understand why a figure like Jesus was very attractive to children. 1) He performed miracles at-will, hundreds daily. There were days when everyone who needed healing went away healed. Who could not be attracted and amazed? 2) Jesus was ‘magnetically’ approachable to everyone except the Pharisees and scribes who were self-righteous hypocrites. This included rich and poor, men and women, the well and the sick—even those with leprosy who were utterly untouchable and forced out of community. Also included were ethnic minorities such as the ruling Romans and the despised Samaritans, adults of all ages, and children. This degree of approachability was unheard of in Jewish society, especially for a religious teacher considered by thousands as a rabbi, a prophet, and even as the Messiah. At that time and for centuries later in the Middle East, for a figure with this kind of profile it was unthinkable to allow the marginalized to approach him, especially lepers, women, and children.
How the Trial of Job Forms a Master Motif Akin to Other Great Life Motifs
So I've been writing a book on the prophet Job lately. I had a good day of writing today, and I feel pretty good about it. Here it is.
The Book of Job has been enormously influential on our culture to this day. Its writing is like historical documentary in parts (1-2, 42) but vastly different in the rest which is poetry (3-41). In my analysis, there is a strong case for its historical veracity, and I believe it. But I don’t think that is its main intent, so I don’t think it matters much. It is non-essential. I think the main intent of Job is to teach us certain theological truths and to give us the “Job motif” which I will develop further in this chapter (12). As I have said, it is both a redeemer motif and a messiah motif. In the Tanakh this is a ‘meta-motif’, and it is one of the main purposes of all Hebrew scripture and the revelation it embodies to progressively develop this motif. In the early chapters of this book we talked a lot about the details of Job's story and his ordeal for which he is forever famous. I have talked extensively about specific ‘micro-motifs’ in the Book of Job. Now I want to talk about the Prophet Job himself and his story as Motif with a capital ‘M’—a ‘macro-motif’. Message me if you're particularly interested.
Why Zeinab got it wrong in her critical post of June 1
*This intro part of the article was posted verbatim in my Facebook page on the same day that this was posted here.
I am a 24-year resident of East Dearborn and have frequented Hemlock Park many times for many reasons. On June 1st a young woman named Zeinab Chami posted in Facebook the following criticisms about our exceptionally civil open-air event at Hemlock Park the night before, Memorial Day. I was present among several dozen Christians from probably 10-12 churches. That event featured a main speaker, Georges Houssney, who spoke for about 30 minutes, followed by Q&A. We also had a book table set up on the lawn stocked with religious books. Both the event and the books were intended for adults, but at the very start four children approached the book table and were observed by Zeinab. One of our partners also observed this and explained to them that there were no items for kids and that the entire event was intended for adults only. The children asked repeatedly but were told no unless they had a parent with them. When Zeinab approached, they left. However, Zeinab either did not observe that exchange or did not believe it because she immediately began making a scene that attracted a sizable crowd. In short, Zeinab accused us of 'preying on children' in the park by attracting them to our event, which was false. The next day she made the following post reiterating her false narrative. Since she and I are not Facebook friends, I only became aware of it because one of her friends tagged me. I would like to have responded in order to provide clarity and perspective, but I was not enabled to make comments, and so I was voiceless. When I became aware of Zeinab’s false and unflattering words, I immediately private-messaged her with these short messages:
You sent June 1 at 12:38 PM
Zeinab, please activate my ability to comment so I can add clarity to this.
Main Point: Contrary to the spin, we do not want children at Hemlock. We have nothing for them. If they come we send them away. We wish they would stay away.
To her credit, Zeinab attempted to allow me to comment, as some of her friends suggested she do, but that never became possible because we did not become FB friends. In one comment she said she was patiently waiting for a comment from me, but I could not. There were many comments from her friends, most were very critical of me, but some were favorable.
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.