… and ¼ Cup of Pantheism…

Monday Musings for January 21, 2019

Good morning, Musers,

You often see me battling against physicalism — the philosophical position that spiritual and metaphysical entities do not exist and that all phenomena can be explained by physical processes. But I’m not used to having such debates with a believer taking the physicalist’s side.

Now… I’m not speaking out of both sides of my mouth. I realize that a believer cannot be a physicalist — this, by definition! But today’s earnest seeker is pitching a physicalist idea about God’s place (and our place) in the universe… and his idea winds up sounding very much like pantheism.

Pantheists believe in God, but they believe that all reality is divinity — and that’s what we flirt with today. This is a case where natural theology and philosophy are helpful because the Bible simply doesn’t address everything… and some things we just assume to be true about God and about how things work… like that God cannot be both the Creator and a part of his creation. That’s just logic.

Look at this article for instance; my fingerprints are all over it… but I’m not part of it (or the whole of it) — and it works that way with everything we do. When philosophers see incidents like these — ones they suspect might represent universal truths — they try to develop more general statements, and then they test them for truth. Let’s look at some mini-creators — our artists — as an example.

No matter how invested artists are in their work, they and their works remain separate entities. But with that in view, I’m looking for a broader statement. So I say, “No artist can be a part of his or her art.” Then I test the new statement and note that I can generalize it further to, “No creator can be a part of his or her creation.” And when the statement is as general as I can make it, I have warrant to apply its principles to the God who made us in his image.

But God — being a trinity — worked around this “limit” by sending his Son to be a “part” of creation. Indeed… he was one of us — and I am thrilled! … because without that condescension, there would be no redemption. But since Jesus is part of the Godhead, God did indeed become “part” of creation, too… although I’ll do some special pleading here: God is the only triunity in existence… and the rules that govern unities do not limit a triunity.

Besides, there was no way for God to save us except to reach down… but a holy God doesn’t “do” down… so he became down for us in the person of Jesus. This is the only way a holy God could be “part” of his creation. This is us having our salvific cake… and God eating it too.

He came to the things that were His own, and His own people gave Him no welcome. (John 1:11, Weymouth New Testament).

Now, the one who created the universe from nothing certainly has the power to inject his Son into it. But there’s a special relationship between Jesus and the Godhead: Jesus connects the Godhead to the earth in a way that protects its persons from the earth’s soils. This is how redemption works… and it’s amazing to me!

Today’s main point is that we don’t have to stand on our heads to invent scenarios where God is limited by the laws of physics… and perhaps gain a few points among physicalists. The God who invented those laws certainly transcends them. That’s a creator’s gig.

(To read the article referenced above, click here. For comments or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. For questions about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)