Barth/Kierkegaard; on God’s relation.

In my readings of Barth, which is fairly limited, he already has had a big influence over me on how to approach the Christian message and exposition of the Gospel. In the preface to his Epistle to the Romans he states;

“If I have a system it consists in the fact that I keep as consistently as possible before me the negative and positive significance of what Kierkegaard has called the ‘infinite qualitative distinction between time and eternity.’ ‘God is in heaven, and thou on earth.’ The relation of this God to this man, and this man to this God, is for me the theme of the Bible and the sum of philosophy.”

 

Elsewhere in his Church Dogmatics (I; Revelation)

“The introduction of the term “God” is not an abuse to this name, but meaningful and helpful, if in respect of it we think of what is attested by Holy Scripture concerning God’s speech and action. God is the One whose name and cause are borne by Jesus Christ. Hence, there is no question of divinity in the abstract as suprahuman and supra-cosmic being. Holy Scripture knows nothing of this divinity. To be sure, the God of Holy Scripture is superior to man and the world as the Lord. But He has also bound Himself to man and the world in creating them. God is here introduced to us in the action in which He is engaged, not merely in His superiority over the creature, but also in His relationship to it.”

Moreland on the cost of Naturalism

“Prominent naturalist Jaegwon Kim has observed that “if a whole system of phenomena that are prima facie not among basic physical phenomena resists physical explanation, and especially if we do not even know where or how to begin, it would be time to reexamine one’s physicalist commitments.” For Kim, genuinely nonphysical mental entities are the paradigm case of such a system of phenomena. Kim’s advice to fellow naturalists is that they must simply admit the irreality of the mental and recognize that
naturalism exacts a steep price and cannot be had on the cheap. If feigning anesthesia is the price to be paid to retain naturalism, then the price is too high. Fortunately, the theistic argument from consciousness reminds us that it is a price that does not need to be paid.”

-JP Moreland “The Argument From Consciousness”

If you get a chance to pick this book up, it is a heavy, scholarly read. Moreland is one of the best philosophers alive, and his work on consciousness and mind-body dualism is a great triumph for theism. I owe much to him and William Lane Craig for their work in Philosophy.

Reading list, Music list.

Enough with the Kierkegaard excerpts, here is my current reading list, and music I’m jamming as well. I’m going to do some posts on some of the material I’m reading

Reading:

Genesis in Space and Time- Francis A. Schaeffer

God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments- James M. Hamilton Jr.

Being and Having- Gabriel Marcel

Music:

Oshin-Divv

Treny- Jacaszek

Summer’s Wet Work is Done- Viul

Sees the Light- La Sera

The unchanging God

“But then it is also true that there is rest and happiness in this thought. It is really true that when, wearied with all this human inconstancy, this temporal and earthly immutability, and wearied of your own inconstancy, you might wish to find a place where rest may be found for your weary head, your weary thoughts, your weary spirit, so that you might find rest and find complete repose: Oh, in the changelessness of God there is rest!”
-Soren Kierkegaard

What is the self?

“A human being is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation that relates itself to itself or is the relation’s relating itself to itself in the relation; the self is not the relation but is the relation’s relating itself to itself. A human being is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity, in short, a synthesis. A synthesis is a relation between two. Considered in this way a human being is still not a self…. In the relation between two, the relation is the third as a negative unity, and the two relate to the relation and in the relation to the relation; thus under the qualification of the psychical the relation between the psychical and the physical is a relation. If, however, the relation relates itself to itself, this relation is the positive third, and this is the self.” 
― Søren KierkegaardThe Sickness Unto Death

Interpreting Genesis, Let there be light; יְהִי אוֹר

A few months ago I began reading Metaphysics and the God of Israel by Neil B. MacDonald. It is a challenging read, but one that is worth investing time in. In these days, where many want to first interpret natural science and than apply it to the text of Genesis 1:1-11, I think the most important thing is to properly interpret the text itself, without reading anything into it in terms of natural science. Not that the text can’t be read in this way, but science is not the only form of knowledge by in which we can know truth.

Some terms to understand what is being said;

  1. locutionary act, the performance of an utterance: the actual utterance and its ostensible meaning, comprising phonetic, phatic and rhetic acts corresponding to the verbal, syntactic and semantic aspects of any meaningful utterance.
  2. an illocutionary act: the pragmatic ‘illocutionary force’ of the utterance, thus its intended significance as a socially valid verbal action.

The first chapter “The First Two Days of Creation: Time and Space” where he heavily relies on Claus Westermann’s exegesis on Genesis 1:3 in his commentary Genesis 1-11: A Continental Commentary which I recommend highly. In it, he applies the speech act theory to the saying “Let there be light.” Westermann contends that at this point God isn’t really creating anything; he is creating the possibility of something (1). More is to be said on theories of time, A-B theories, how God relates to time and how time existed before God created the universe we now experience. What God was creating was the possibility of something other than Himself. He was creating temporal successiveness. He concludes it by summing up this way;

“From Claus Westermann’s exegesis we learned that in saying, “Let there be light”, God was creating temporal successiveness. Putting the speech-act theory and Westermann together, we can see that there are two different actions at work here. One is the locutionary action corresponding to the God saying “Let there be light”. The other is the illocutionary action- which is other than the locutionary action- corresponding to God creating the possibility of time…”(2)

(1) Metaphysics and the God of Israel, pg. 9,  MacDonald, B Neil, Baker Academic 2006

(2) Metaphysics and the God of Israel, pg. 18,  MacDonald, B Neil, Baker Academic 2006