The two mistakes that inform this view: 1) "Omnipotent" means "God can do anything," rather than "God is almighty." It is not mighty or powerful to do things that are insane, sinful, wrong or irrational. Hence, an all-powerful Being *cannot* do such things. This is the inanity that underlies the tongue-in-cheek mockery of God, "Can God make a stone so heavy that even He can't lift it?" The idea is meaningless; and no, God can't do impossible, inane, sinful or deficient things. It seems to me that this fundamental misunderstanding of God's Omnipotence is at the center of your difficulties with it. God's Omnipotence doesn't mean "He can do anything," it means "what He does is always done with the plenitude of power and might." There could be no plenitude of power in inherently impotent or insufficiently potent acts. 2) God has conflicting parts or movements within Himself. In the Deity, which is simple, qualities that appear as separate accidents to us as creatures are all one, integral whole, identical with His Essence and Existence. Thus, in God, there is not a question of whether His attribute of Justice is "more" or "less" important than His attribute of Love. His Love is His Justice is His Power is His Tenderness is His Wisdom is His Essence is His Existence. To hear people sit around, debating whether one aspect of God (as we consider it) must yield to some other aspect of God (as we consider it), is like listening to a little boy tell you about his lego jet with 10 different, equally impossible weapons arrays. The imagination involved is heartwarming, but they obviously haven't yet learned to think clearly about the matter. God, the perfect and integral, simple, supreme being, does not have contrary passions warring within Him, seeking for a balance or at least a clear victor. Every heresy in history, has been the result of sacrificing or diminishing one truth for an undue emphasis on another (perhaps misapprehended kernel of) truth.
@AM - I'm not sure what view you are criticizing. Are you criticizing the Protestant explanation; or the people (like me) who feel it is inadequate and makes things worse?
Dr Charlton: If Christ is a part of God, as in the trinitarian view, then God is allowing himself to be humiliated, tortured and killed. I find this a very powerful idea because it means that the supreme being is willing to understand and feel personally what human beings go through when they fear and suffer. He allows his creations to take control of His earthly body and kill it. He then resurrects and offers that death and resurrection up to humanity to show how he understands human pain and suffering and, as a promise that no matter how much we suffer in life, we can be assured of resurrection if we follow Christ.Unitarians might find the sacrifice of Christ harder to deal with, since they believe that Christ is a separate individual from God. It seems to put God in the role of tyrant who demands a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of human sin. I think that this interpretation must be wrong. It seems to me that if God and Christ are entirely separate, then Christ must have volunteered to be incarnated (he pre-existed as the Word) and killed. This makes God into a Father who is agreeing to let His son die for the purpose of saving His human creations. To make the death and resurrection real, and not some pain-free magic trick, Christ would need to feel the pain as Jesus, a fully human person. He might even have agreed to forget His pre-existent life, at least in part, so that He would know real fear, and pain, and even doubt, and the anguish of asking His Father, why He had forsaken Him. God would know this, and He too would feel the anguish of watching his beloved son die for the sake of His creations.God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham trusted God and loved God. He was prepared to comply. At the final moment God told Abraham to stay his hand, and Abraham sacrificed a ram caught up in a thicket. When it came to Himself, and His own son, He did not stay His hand, but gave the ultimate for His human creations.It is when we understand the death and resurrection of Christ-Jesus as God sacrificing Himself/His son for His creations to atone for human sins, and to promise life everlasting, that we see great love at the core of Christianity, not justice. It is the ultimate in empathy, and we are asked to be loving and empathic to our fellow creatures in the same way. It is the way of God.Seeker
@Seeker - But the problem is that this explanation makes God a personage with a morality utterly alien to that of the best Father - it is not *loving* behaviour as we understand love.
Dr Charlton: I don't think so. Human Fathers have known that their sons were going to almost certain death in times of war. Both they and their sons have known, understood, and accepted this, but they placed the women and children, the nation, and/or an ideal higher than the individual life of the loved one. In fact, I would say that the example of Christ has encouraged this great courage and selflessness in the best of humanity. If we see Christ as the son who is going to war against the forces of evil for the sake of men, women and children, and an ideal of a future perfect God-ordained world, with His Father's love and blessing, then God's morality is not alien. It is God joining with His creations in a horrible experience that human parents have suffered, and will suffer again. God has not exempted Himself. Before the crucifixion, any human being could doubt whether God understood our suffering, but no longer. He has mirrored our suffering, and we can and do believe Him when He says that He understands our pain. In the resurrection, the son is returned to the Father, and that hope of resurrection is offered to all sons, all Fathers, all Mother and all daughters. There will be an end to our pain because God has shown us how. Seeker
Dr Charlton - one more thing strikes me. In your new metaphysics for biology, the guiding entities ensure long term development of consciousness, which is reflected in their directing preservation of the group in evolutionary terms, at the expense of evolutionary change that might benefit individuals. This theory is consistent with how I see the morality of the crucifixion. It is why I feel that you are 'on to something'. The idea of loving sacrifice is present in both, especially if your theory is permitted to go a step further from deist to theist, specifically Christian.Seeker
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