Author Topic: How The Apostle Paul Defines False Teachers  (Read 2772 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: How The Apostle Paul Defines False Teachers
« Reply #30 on: May 02, 2013, 05:26:15 PM »

Ummmmmm....Revelation 21 is speaking of the end of all time and the giving of the new heaven, earth and Jerusalem. That is when all things will be made new.


God's statement is in the present tense - not future tense.

Present tense, yes, but in the telling of a vision of the new Heaven and Earth, which is a vision of the future.  John is speaking presently with God in the vision, but the vision itself is eschatological.


And it was written to give comfort and hope to persecuted Christians who heard these words in the present time. "God is making all things new" is a word of hope for people whose lives right now are in shambles - through no fault of their own, but because the world (in John's case, Domitian and the Roman Empire,) has turned against them.

It is not just a word of hope, but a present reality which will be realized in all its fulness at the end.  In Baptism we are already made new creations.  In the living Christ we have already passed from death to life.  So when "all things are made new" this is not something radically different than before, but the completion of what was first given in the waters of life at the font.


So, is God doing new things with us in the present time?
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: How The Apostle Paul Defines False Teachers
« Reply #31 on: May 02, 2013, 05:30:57 PM »
All language about God is to some extent metaphorical, a fact recognized by most commentators except for Biblical literalists like apparently Prs. Austin and Stoffregen who seem to delight in pointing out how a literal understanding often leads to difficulties which seem in their minds to prove the fallibility of Holy Writ.
 
God is both like us in some ways and very unlike us in some ways.  We are created in His image (sorry literalists that does not mean that God looks like us so lets not go there, shall we?).  We are persons with self awareness and intelligence.  So is God (but with much greater intelligence).  We are creature who have physical existence, locality (we exist in one place at a time) and experience time in a linear fashion.  God is spirit and so does not by His nature have physical existence (although He can take on such existence at will), is alocal (exists everywhere at the same time) and is timeless (does not experience time as we do but holds all time in His eternal present).  In those things He is very different, how different is shown by how difficult it is to even speak coherently about how His existence is different than ours.
 
This means that often when God communicates with us, or people talk about God, it is expressed in language that couched in terms that would be applicable to us.  If God is timeless, He literally cannot change since change happens in linear time.  God would not experience sequence, first being one way, or deciding one way now and later changing His mind.  Being timeless, God has no sequence.  But it is much easier to put these things into human terms than to every time have to explain the philosophical complications.  Unless one insists on a strictly literal understanding of the Bible which error hunters like to do, it works pretty well.  It's like talking about sunrise and sunset.  For ordinary use that works well, in some specialized situations more precision is needed and it causes problems with literalists that do not or refuse to recognize metaphors.
 
There is also the matter of Cambridge Changes.  A Cambridge Change is a change that happens when relating one thing to another.  From where I live in Danville Illinois, Cambridge England is at a particular distance from me on a particular heading.  If I were to visit family in St. Peter Minnesota,  Cambridge's distance and heading to me would change.  So the fact about Cambridge that it is X distance in X direction from me, would be changed to the fact about Cambridge that it is now Y distance in Y direction from me.  But has Cambridge itself really changed?  One if I am in fact the unchanging center of the universe (something that everybody would dispute).  It is our relationship that has changed because I have changed.
 
We change and so our relationship to God can change, which can change God's reaction to us.  But these can be seen as Cambridge Changes, changes in us and our relationship rather than a change in God.  Unless of course one is a literalist and does not recognize that the Bible uses metaphorical anthropomorphisms. (Should we find a different, less sexist term for this? {Can we assume that "anthropo-" also refers to women or is that sexist?}).


It is also quite possible that Cambridge did change. During the time you went from Danville to St. Peter. Buildings could be torn down. New structure raised up. Consider how the New York City skyline has changed over the past 200 years.


Our congregation is celebrating its 60 anniversary this year. Old timers talk about the changes that have happened to the congregation, it's buildings, and even more so, the city over that period of time. In the beginning, they kept shovels in the church to dig the sand away from the car tires. There weren't paved roads. There were winds. Changes have been made since then. We don't need shovels for the cars.
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]