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APPENDIX

 

In this, some materials from Barbs, Arrows and Balms are included slightly revised, with a view to making available a coverage of topical questions which being terse and personal, may in its present format help some.

It is allied with some other materials to give a composite Appendix which like a varied meal, may be found stimulating.

4.

The road to hell is studded with good intentions and honourable mentions (LUKE 16:15, EZEKIEL 33:32, MATTHEW 7:22-23).

The 4-lane highway is illuminated with darkness, propagated by black-lights of self-made philosophy, powered with the honour of men, surfaced by the acrid asphalt from the mine of false hope.

There is no need of white lines, since it is declared a moral-free zone, and goes only one way. Occasionally some notice that it is downward in direction, despite the height of false hopes, but the difference is accounted for by the law of topsy-turvy, which teaches that going down is really an relativistic illusion, based on the surrounding trend of the universe to go up, so that in fact it is an upward climb, too dizzying in its intensity to allow normal faculties to work.

It is subject to the law of disfaith, which teaches that the only real progress is regress, the only important construction is destruction, and such that it is essential to have a belief in the impossible, as foundational to amorals, which in turn teach that if one thing it is wrong, it is morals; and if one thing is right, it is to condemn them.

Let us return to the intentions and honours of the road to hell (John 8:44-45).

It is time that the gnawing uncertainties of psychological, sociological and monistic surmisings, ever engineering lifeless mirages of reality, listless reductionisms of life, were left forever in the ditch to which they so properly belong. (See SMR Ch.4; and pp. 269-270, 101, 112-113, 348ff., 79ff., 251-252N, S1-S34, 413ff., 419ff., 422E-W, 329-332H, 934, 999-1002C.) Good intentions in such inventions do not make them structurally sound, directionally apt; nor do mutual honours arrest the truth, which in fact has already been crucified, without noticeable impact on its power, except to confirm it in the resurrection. (Cf. SMR Ch.6, pp. 931-943.)

 

Without light, the light of Christ,

the light of the world -

in what then becomes the environmentally unfriendly situation

of walking in darkness -

for the many so occupied, there are

many things which are not merely systematically unclear,

but genuinely insoluble.

There is no solvent to subdue them in the dark.

In Him, on the contrary, there is no darkness to subdue the light . Its brilliance explains all.

Good intentions then are displaced by divine inventions, one of which for man is peace

 

wrought for abysmal ill-desert by a magnificent presentation of pardon and acceptance in Jesus Christ, the righteous (II Corinthians 5:19-21).

(Cf. Chs. 5,10 SMR; Predestination and Freewill, and That Magnificent Rock, Ch.3 and Ch.2.)
 
 

5.

When the world reclines in the Church and the Church reclines in the world, where in the world is the Church!

(II Peter 2:1-3, I Timothy 3:5, II Thessalonians 2:3, Matthew 24:5,24).


(I Corinthians 3:11; Psalm 62:1-3, Isaiah 51:1, 44:6, Psalm 18:31, Deuteronomy 32:4,15,18,30-31,37; and see SMR pp. 1042-1088G, 986-994, 1086 ff.).
 


 

Yet increasingly the Church is as at the first, a place without pomp, pretension or worldly power. The world? Christ said -

 

James:

 

 

Where is it, then the Church ? NOT of the world, not in the pocket of the world, NOT following the precepts of this world, NOT cozily co-operating with joint ventures with this world. The Church? It is where ? It is IN CHRIST, as always.

 

Its grace is not for the purpose of ingratiating itself into and for the world, far less collaborating with it. It is for the testimony of Christ TO the world, and IN the world, without the infections and the confections of this world.

His Church ? It has a characteristic savour, as well as a characterising saviour (II Corinthians 3:3, II Cor. 2:14-17, Matthew 5:13).

See also Item 25, pp. 191-200.


 

6.

 

GOD CAN DO ANYTHING HE PLEASES;
YOU CANNOT DO ANYTHING YOU PLEASE,

UNLESS IT ALSO PLEASES GOD TO LET YOU,
ON YOUR WAY TO GLORY OR TO SHAME

 

A)

 

THERE LIES A DIFFERENCE :

PARALLEL TO THAT BETWEEN CREATOR AND CREATURE.

It is interesting that men as "animals" appeal to those who show they are not so, by their capacity to discuss the difference. You might as well call a Volkswagen a type of Boeing 737 because both have wheels, metal and motion as an aim. The difference is so crucial operationally, that any such nomenclature would at once suggest the speaker to be

a) incompetent

b) insane or

c) humorous - unless, of course he/she had an axe to grind which temporarily blinded to simple fact. No system of names which makes no difference for things as important as the similarity is likely to be of use, except for barbaric prejudice.

Man therefore is

not an animal, if words-and-systems are to retain meaning and value.

Man is a spiritual being. That is the functional nature of his capacities.

Of course it is entirely true that he often acts far worse than mere animals; distorting and abusing his special powers. However, even using a Boeing for joy riding over bays would not remove its special features, merely misuse or overlook some of them. The capacity is basic as a criterion for the name which defines the type of being. This capacity may be called forth rarely, misused; but it is still a capacity which is crucial to defining.

So too, in case you think we are exalting the race, rest. It is far from the fact.

Man is ALSO a creature. Not an animal, but a spiritual being; yes. But also: not God but creature, man is that too. He is related as creature FROM the Creator WHO made the race. (See SMR Chs.1-3,10.)

 

B)

That out of the way, we return to what God can do. ANYTHING HE PLEASES.

That is what He can do.

You try it on: of course you cannot. You do not have that sort of inordinate power. God does. He tells us so often what He will do, and then does it, that any rational doubt is dismissed by the evidence, quite apart from systematics. (See SMR chs.8-9, That Magnificent Rock, pp. 108ff..)

Now however we come to another interesting feature. God CANNOT lie. In SMR pp. 27-36, we go into the reasons why this is so. It is NOT that He is part of some system which inhibits Him, as if He were frustrated any time He would wish to lie. That is not what the Creator, at the least, must be, as shown. Nevertheless it is still true that He cannot do it. In addition to our reasoning on the topic, we READ this in Titus 1:2. He CANNOT LIE!

We can readily understand this if we use the liberty the Lord has given us in making us, to THINK. CAN a surgeon of major moral gentility and immense concern and sympathy for his patients BY CHOICE cut their aortas for the flick of it, the snip of it, the whim of it? You might say 'yes', and it is indeed true that a temporary insanity might affect him and so forth. But TO THE EXTENT he is definable as we started, and stays rational, that is, in character without invasive disorders of the mind subverting his aims, ideals or nature, he might very readily say, OH I COULD NOT DO THAT! We would at once understand what he meant. Many others will say, OH, I COULD NEVER DO A THING LIKE THAT!

With God, there is an unchanging nature as we showed (SMR loc.cit.) and of course, as He affirms; and hence the fact that even the benevolent surgeon might be drugged etc., does not apply as a parallel in this matter. God CANNOT lie. IF He could , He would not be what God as a minimum, must be.

Some people seem at times to have some difficulty in realising that what may be SHOWN NECESSARILY to be the case does not imply that the one to whom it refers is BOUND FROM OUTSIDE, in some sort of forced action. Inability to act may be BECAUSE of what one BOTH IS AND CHOOSES TO BE. When we speak of God, the nature He has is no result of the making of another (who would, in that case, be God if ultimate, while it is of course of GOD that we speaking - that would merely represent a logical 'slide' as it is called). His nature is what He WANTS, always wants: always knowing all things and their ends and being what He wishes without conforming to new criteria since there is nothing new to Him. All this was explained in SMR loc. cit..

God COULD do anything if He wanted to; there are things He does not WANT to do, and as to these, LYING is one which HE CANNOT do, being who He is. It would violate His whole disposition so that if it were not so, this sovereignly ruled non-lying, He would not be. However He IS, and this is NOT. His everlasting vitality cannot abide it. It would contradict what He is, and as to Him, He WILL not be contradicted with a word of power. There is no such word. The ephemeral storm-tossings of little tongues en train to judgment do not alter reality: merely the judgment they are to receive is in view.

Lying would represent a DENYING OF HIMSELF, an intra-divine war on Himself; and this, since He is what He wants to be, is myth-making nonsense. War comes when what is wanted cannot be obtained without it, or a nature at war with itself expresses itself in this way. When there is NOTHING to force or frustrate it is ridiculous, and simply here would postulate contrary to the case.

In mathematical terms, in strict parallel to usage there, we COULD say that asking whether GOD COULD LIE would be a meaningless question. This could be said. I prefer to say that it is a question incorporating a definition of God contrary to fact and hence a misdirected question. It is like asking whether elephants can fly. Of course they could if the hurricane were strong enough, but that is not what is meant. As to what is meant, no, they can't. That is not the way they are.

THEY cannot alter that. GOD DOES not alter what He is; there is nothing to force Him, and He always is precisely what He wants to be, free from any research, development, desired or forced. He HAS His desire, and no force can move Him. Hence He cannot lie and that is the way He wants it. His will and His being are in infinite accord. No one else is like that, except that the children of God grow more and more like that, being however BORN of God into His family, creatures re-created. It is nothing 'new' - just bringing them back to where they ought to be (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10).

 

That is the nature of the case then. GOD CAN DO WHATEVER HE PLEASES. Actually you read it in Psalm 115, Ephesians 1:11, Isaiah 43:13.

God CANNOT LIE. It does not please Him. It is irrelevant to what pleases Him.
 

MAN CANNOT DO WHATEVER HE PLEASES.

Man CAN LIE.
 

God is THE CREATOR. Man is a CREATURE.

Man is NOT an animal. Man is a spiritual being who is answerable.

He is answerable to God. God will judge him.

God is not in alliance with lies, in not conformable to them and does not co-exist without action in their presence, which are a war upon Himself, a venture into His principles, a violation of His will and way, a call for judgment and a requisite therefore for remedy. Remedy is not available from the offended party, for those who have offended, except by His own individual will and pleasure, and this requires articulation since tele-psychiatry of God is mere imagination for a finite being, apart from the presumption.

Hence into such a situation, if it is not annulled altogether (and this world is on schedule to depart - Matthew 24:25, Isaiah 51:6), a speech remedy must be part of the scenario. It is to be found (SMR Ch. 1) in only one place, there being no other divinely announced purging of such a situation. It was pre-announced in prophecy, wrought in fact and practice in Christ, and its results were pre-announced by Christ.

It had to be so, if God is; He is as proved in the reference above;  and it was so, as must therefore be expected and is found. Indeed, it is found without any competition in verification, remedy and salvation and righteous coverage of this world NOW. It involved the death of the Word of God in a fleshly format, forever exhibiting to man the results of being man and in a sinful condition, of which the lie and injustice are merely two obvious aspects. In this way, from the outset (Genesis 3:15), in adumbration, and to the end in execution, God has covered the case by remedy announced and performed, thus clearing the decks for the continuation of man, which was nearly annulled in the flood.

The Bible, the word, and the Christ, the divinity as agent (Isaiah 48:16,Micah 5:1-3) have done it, covered violation in mercy and permitted continuation in view of it. Without that, God would be in contradiction of Himself. With that, His love is known, and His judgment is seen, as by Abraham at a distance. The remedy is available, however, not thrust into the mouth of the offenders!

God has already judged Jesus Christ, set forth as a penalty bearer to satisfy justice.

God has already raised Jesus Christ, set forth as a pardon bringer,
having defeated death,

which had no hold on Him, and through Him, will judge (Acts 17:31) all men.

What Christ has done is available for the entire human race, so that

instead of being SIN-CLAD CREATURES, they become, on entering His Kingdom,

Spiritual Beings Re-born (II Corinthians 5:19ff.).

 

The re-birth is not a mere experience, but is the work of God in a new creation,

one in addition to that which created the race; and it puts into being persons who

are inhabited by the God who made them - for Himself.

Among other cans and can'ts, is this:

You can't have it both ways.

You either repent and find the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord, or you don't.

If you don't, you are operating like the Boeing in Bay Flights, and of course about to ditch shortly. You should be sitting in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) operating as per creation and in terms of regeneration, salvation and guidance of God. You may of course refuse. You are a spiritual being and this is one of its operating criteria. It is one of the things you CAN do.

 

Meanwhile, let us consider some of the prophecies in their attestation of the all-enveloping power of God. His restraint and purity have nothing whatsoever to do with His power and dominion, for what is not in accord with His purity is not in accord with His desire: He is "of purer eyes than to behold iniquity" (Habakkuk 1:13). His power is not merely matter -moving. It is mountain making. Hence there is a difference not only of quality and calibre, for there IS no calibre; there is no limit. He has done whatever He pleases. HIS power is not limited by pre-existing conditions, since ALL things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made that was made (John 1, Colossians 1).

·       1. In Ezekiel 29:19 we find that NOT ONLY does God determine who will be given what place, but He can operate even at the level of whole nations, and decide that such and such a king, having served in some way, the divine purpose, should be rewarded by the equally divine purpose. The king may know NOTHING of God; but God knows plenty about the king. It reminds a little, perhaps, of satellites which may "know" much about those who know little of them.

·       Thus, in this case, Nebuchadnezzar had been serviceable in bringing a divinely determined judgment on Tyre, that great former mercantile metropolis and place of wealth. Hence the Lord decided to require, repay, make payment to Nebuchadnezzar for that service by ...? It was by this: "I have given him the land of Egypt" - Ezekiel 29:20. That is quite a salary.

 

·   2.

Yet this is no compact. Nebuchadnezzar was by no means altruistic in his "services", merely composed in the great symphony that comes from the divine hand, as He surveys and responds to the things that He has made. Nevertheless, God is able to "strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon {Nebuchadnezzar} , and the arms of Pharaoh {of Egypt} will fall down; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall stretch it out upon the land of Egypt" (from Ezekiel 30:25-26). As to that, to KNOW who God is, is exceedingly valuable! To know God is precious beyond all value. This awareness generated, then, is a vastly  important consequence of the actions of the Almighty.

·   3.

In fact, meanwhile, this king of Babylon did not perform what he had to do, what he chose to do, with mercy to Israel. It is one thing to attack; another to be remorseless and implacable. Hence IN ADDITION to reward, to him came, for this other element of his METHOD of action, what ? It was a rebuke as well! Of these things, we read in Jeremiah 50:23-46.  Notice this: "The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together, and all who took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go. Their Redeemer is strong, the Lord of hosts is His name; He shall thoroughly plead their cause, that He may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitant of Babylon" - Jeremiah 50:33ff.. So much for the Babylonian aspect.

·      4. Similarly, the Assyrians who earlier had assaulted the Northern kingdom, Israel,  which had resulted from a split, leaving Judah in the South, were USED despite their ferocious ignorance of what was permitted and why. They were used, and then punished, when their own wickedness called for what it gained, namely, a due recompense.

Thus we read of Assyria as
"the rod of mine anger" in Isaiah 10:5, and of their task to punish Israel for being "a hypocritical nation", the "people of my wrath", whose unethical and ruinous evils included child burning before false gods, gross oppression and injustice. HOWEVER, of Assyria, so engaged and so given task to punish, the Lord says this: "Howbeit, he does not mean so, neither does his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. For he says, Are not my princes altogether kings? ... As my hand has found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose carved images did excel them of Jerusalem ... shall I not, as I have done to
Samaria and her idols, do to Jerusalem and her idols ?... "

5. Here then is the rumination of the King of Assyria. He does not UNDERSTAND that his task is sanctioned by the president of the Universe, and that his limits likewise are collected by the same. In HIS heart, he does not think so - that is, what the Lord has in mind. Not realising his position, and his place, he strays to do his own will in his own way, and to inherit his OWN judgment.

In the meantime, this King Sennacherib, intent on power and action, He just DOES it anyway, rather in the way the Nike advertisement might seem to suggest. The Lord, assessing, determines the near and far consequences. What are these ? Judah is scarified, tested by Assyria  while Israel to the North is carried off, their land repopulated! However, the brakes are applied to any runaway thoughts the world might have had in mind. History is on a tether.

What then is to happen ? This: The Lord's name comes between the proud King and the careful King of Judah, Hezekiah, and the national call to the name of the Lord is effective. Hezekiah and the people with him, they are delivered by divine action (cf. II Kings 19:35-37). Thus the inward thoughts of the King of Assyria, Sennacherib, count. His words count. His actions count. God considers and acts. That, it is power; with wisdom and wit! Sennacherib is baulked; and God uses him so far; then breaks his power.

Let us hear for one moment, the Lord's account of Sennacherib's "fatal error" musings.

"For he says, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent ..." But God protests with sovereign authority and acts:  

·       "Shall the axe boast itself against him who hews with it? or shall the saw magnify itself against him who shakes it ? "

·       Thus God proceeds to advise Judah of coming deliverance saying: "Therefore, thus says the Lord God of hosts, O my people who dwell in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrian... The Lord of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian..." A devastation is predicted to come on the attacking forces: and it did come! Now look at the procedure employed by the Lord.

In due course, then, as Judah is threatened by this power  crazed man of war, Isaiah the prophet of the Lord, himself gives a word to Hezekiah, the King of Judah. Menaced by the mighty world empire of Assyria, the King receives a word from God in answer to the swollen and power-crazed adventurism of Assyria.

 


God interprets history for him. In 37:26, God challenges Sennacherib, who had just been challenging Judah and calling their resources, including the spiritual, vain before his mighty regal power! Didn't you know, the Lord inquiries of Sennacherib in his insolent and haughty presumption, hadn't you heard from long before, of your place in history ? God appointed you for a task which involved discipline to others. HENCE you did it successfully.  

There is a certain deliciousness about the marauding might of Assyria, its bellicose self-sufficiency while performing a task for the Almighty, all unbeknown to itself, followed by this bull-taking exercise in leading it back by the nose, back by just the way the beast came in the first place.

This then gives account of the depth and dealings of the Almighty in such an affair! (HIS understanding in infinite, as we have shown in SMR.)

See Psalm 147:5. Cf. Predestination and Freewill, Section III, Part IV, pp. 142ff., SMR Appendix B, Questions and Answers 1 and Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Appendix II. )
This then gives account of the depth and dealings of the Almighty in such an affair! (HIS understanding in infinite, as we have shown in SMR.

 

6. The Assyrian power had made the fatal mistake of "imputing to their god", their successes. God, in His divine power,  made accordingly  a point of bringing their power down, and it was one of the most dramatic of all episodes, when He did... just that! ( cf. Isaiah 37:14-38) . Important and practical is this prediction from Isaiah concerning this Assyrian assault on Jerusalem:

"He shall not come into this city... By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, says the Lord. For  I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake" - from Isaiah 37:33-35.


 

7. Meanwhile God has further plans,  again. WHEN He has performed His whole work in this matter, and Judah is saved, Israel removed, then ... there is yet another splendid consequence. Though it is one gained with much pain, yet that is a pain which like that of a  critical operation, is better than death. 

"And it will come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again lean upon him who smote them, but lean upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God" (Isaiah 10:11-12 - cf. Isaiah 30:7, II Kings 16:10).

 

This far-reaching prophecy speaks near and far, in shorter and longer travails of prophecy in terms of Assyria, in a way shown elsewhere on this site (cf. SMR pp. 780ff., and *10, 881ff.; and see Romans 9:21-28 with Romans 11). For the present, it is our purpose not to consider the time, but the timing and the quality of this result! Not only the Kings but the people, not the discipline alone but the devotion, not the folly of pride alone, but the beauty of truth: all are found in their settings in these divine dealings, and the last is greater than the first.

 
 

It is now time to return to the questions of principle, and to see the irrational follies of attempting to limit or defile, logically, the power of God.


prescriptions of the changeless Christ

 

As for God, as demonstrated in Chapter 1, SMR, He is no grossly squirming, tormented molester of His works, creating them for deception while He acts out in their lives - the lives of His creatures - the restless inferiorities of His own nature. There being no inferiorities in His own nature, there is no restlessness, yearning or seeking or turning for the desired, but unattained: as we have already pointed out.

Here we must pause a moment to consider the godless character of such a conception, not merely to remind ourselves that it is excluded from logical possibility, for the Creator, but to consider the implications for those of this ilk who are creatures. Instead of realising potential with delight, growing with joy, achieving - with fulfilment of divinely composed task-equipment: people, through ambition or fear, may worry and weary out their folly in a defilement of the wonder of life... before, as here, seeking to project their own incompetent aspirations, impiously, impudently and irrationally onto their Creator. IN OTHER WORDS, people often harass themselves into a morass, a bog of folly, and then preposterously try to imagine their God is either as impotent or as impure as they. But let us revert.

There are, we said, no inferiorities or restless elements in the nature of God; this is to affirm what we have reasoned in Chapter 1, as being clearly the case. To what would they be inferior ? To His own standards ? If so, then He would have instituted aspects, standards not in harmony with His capacities or will or both; so that there would be inability, instability and limits, constitutive limits, so that HE would be created: for how else would He receive such limits! Since He is NOT created, this One of whom we speak, such conditions and qualities are logically impossible for Him, a simple contradiction in terms.

To extract this or that from His creation, when to it has come ALL in its environment, internal and external, being and conditions, is a purpose twice illogical, if attributed to God. First, there is NOTHING THERE which he did not put in, including the system in which it all works. He would be extracting His input! Second, IF He needed something, or thought He did from His creation, to fulfil, complete, advance Himself, or whatever, then without the creation He would be inadequate, circumscribed, limited in Himself, qualitatively incompetent, incomplete, immature, undeveloped. But if THIS were so, then to God would be attributed the same conditions, limitations or growth phenomena, potential to actual, as we, being created, have as our gift, our dower, the manner in which we live. It would in that case be simply imagined that He was in a growth phase, in a deficiency mode, and would again simply require us to find HIS creator.

Since however it is of the creator that we speak, this simply means that this imaginative concept about His inadequacy, this also, is a contradiction in terms. To God belongs power, capacity; and nothing at all limits Him in any way. How aptly speaks the word of God on this point, and it is wise to consider it which is true:

"The cattle on a thousand hills...", He says, "are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is mine, and all its fulness."

Nor is there any question, in that supreme nature of God, of embattled or embittered psychic components, alert to project themselves into a quarrel with the texture of His creatures: there is no way His words will work against His deeds. For God, truth is as sure as His Being. For confirmation and pith, let us note again, the Scripture says: God ... cannot lie.

What glorious inability; what omnipotent incapacity! How we learn the supernal nature of omnipotence!: it does not deny itself. If it did, it would not be omnipotent, but a writhing system, contorted in its set conditions: and set, one must ask, by whom? Only by God; and since this is He, then not set for Him. He sets what He will and makes all what He would, there being no source or strength for any other action in despite of this. That is the nature of the Almighty, as we have seen at length. Necessarily the case, it is also given by revelation as we see.

We may add, for the sake of completeness, that it is also of necessity true that God is no experimenter, vivisecting His toiling creation - His pressured products - while gaining more knowledge for future divine exploits. He already knows all, as shown in Chapter 1. This is merely one sub-case of what has already been shown to be impossible.

Neither morally nor intellectually does God's very nature allow, then, alliance with lies. Accordingly, He has spoken His truth, His word, His remedy - provided His Redeemer to man, Jesus Christ, one infinitely pure, wholly efficacious. Creation is not a covert operation for divine growth, development, catharsis or deception. In confirmation, what does the Scripture say: God does "not willingly afflict the children of men'' (Lamentations 3:33); "Thy word is truth'' (John 17:17). It is good in this Chapter of John, to see this; as well as to reason to it, as we do and have done.

Yet there is more. God is lie-less, we have earlier shown; but truth also has in Him its only possible basis, an emphasis of Chapter 3, above. In fact, without God, truth does not exist. (Incidentally, this leads to the delightful absurdities that afflict the atheist - and as we see, the agnostic. If God did not exist, then, we would not truly say that He did not exist; for truth would not be available with which to say any such thing. No statement that He does not exist is logically possible even in terms of self-consistency. The atheist is at once in a bog of confusion. )

If He were not there, there would be only interaction with no basis of perspective beyond reaction. Shall a cog designate the design ? Without a revealed God, truth is unattainable; including any alleged truth that there is no God... or may not be one. That too is an assertion, not equatable with nullity as an interpretive medium. It requires knowledge to designate such a possibility.

Unless then, God is there and known, it would not be possible to assert meaningfully that He is not. Your speech is then the screeching of cogs as to eminence, and it incorporates the vision of the viewless from the standpoint that is anything... and even that anything is itself a situational squeak, with no station for survey. It is the standpoint that does not stand.

It reminds one of the old War song: `We're gunna hang up our washing on the Siegfried line, when the Siegfried Line ain't there!' The Siegfried Line ? the vaunted German line of armour.

Indeed, when men assert - this or that is the truth, about the nature of things, whatever characterisation, it is not because they are insane ( I speak of the unbeliever who here needs perhaps some defence, in measure ). No, it is because statements about truth are natural to image-bearers of the truth. This merely, once more, verifies in our own human beings, whose products we are, and who has composed us. Even in denying God, logically, men attest Him.

God is then at peace without the squirmings, warpings, turmoil and triteness of little man, when sin controls him, defeat seduces him and illusion controls him, seeking fulfilment in the illicit or derivative joys from the misuse of other products of God, or, if possible, of God Himself, as happened at Calvary.

God is at rest, and has attained and will sustain all His good pleasure; everlastingly what He would be; but the opposite is true of the men, whose lives yearn, but do not attain; are harassed, vexed, but do not achieve their innermost designs (cf. pp. 30-34 supra). The psychiatry of paranoia and schizophrenia, melancholia and obsession has no cosmetic side.

Casual or hedonistically taken drugs are merely one of the tangible options for the warped personality, avoiding the paths of peace available in the purity and the power of the Creator: often thereby deriving the illusion of attainment of what is lost, through the folly of wilful avoidance of the way to find it - Jesus Christ.

There is rest.

There is, however, no rest for the wicked ( Isaiah 57:21), who are

"like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest''... (it. added).

That is the nature of the case, in its crucial and final outcome. That too is verification of their abuse of design, a predictable consequence; and rest for the redeemed in Christ is the correlative verification. It is indeed, experientally, one that passes all understanding; and that too, it is verification (Philippians 4:7).

 

A FURTHER EXCERPT, this time from pp. 614-615 SMR may shed further light on the whole matter of the power of God, which not only makes processes, but the scope for them.

The downfall of Darwin

And Darwin ? His delusion is the same. Scholar after scholar (and we could mention Morris, Løvtrup, Nilsson, Goldschmidt, Gould, Kouznetsov, Korochkin, Bird) acknowledges its failure. Neither has it given any evidence in over one hundred years, to verify it, as the noted Professor W.R. Thompson pointed out in his introduction to a new Everyman edition of Darwin's famous book; nor could it, nor is it workable technically, while men like Denton, Eden, Schützenberger show it is contrary in nature to the technology now revealed in the cell. In short, it has neither the evidence nor the logic nor the method. In fact, it is not even dealing with the origin of species, as has been pointed out, but rather with their sustaining, which sidesteps the issue, and Darwin himself noted that the eye could only by absurdity, be seen as coming to be by his methods! (Dysfunctional specialised components are blind!)

Again, if men were made by mere manipulation of matter ('manipulation' - but not even that, for in this theory, there is no one to manipulate)... by mere interaction then, within a system, then of course by definition, they can only apprehend within the conditions of a component; cannot evacuate from either its limits or its constraints; cannot invade from beyond its thrall to see it as it is, for on this view, there is no beyond. Therefore, in this schema, there is no way in which a simply interactive part, embodied within a system as a component, can envisage a whole, cognise, construe and capture the system: for that is a different feature from mere action at a point. Hence Darwin could not possibly, on his own system, have known what the truth was, as with Marx, as with Freud. In the rigours of relativity, there is no absolute, so that it is absolutely impossible to know... even the rigours of relativity as the truth. The theory dies with the opening of the mouth, to declare it (*1). {See also That Magnificent Rock, pp. 103 ff., SMR pp. 100-101, Ch.3.}

As to 'theistic evolution', it is not merely idly blasphemous in attributing to God the movements within a system which uses trickery, treachery and force to 'advance' (this being the principle, and man on this basis coming to be as consequence), to elevate creation to the 'pinnacle' of man from the slimy depths... That is not all. It is not merely that this would implicate God in obliterative tantrums, as he lurched through this eccentric process of 'creation', receiving magnificent help from the brave citizenry below, who by striving and conniving, helped things along; for, instrumentally, we accept what we use (*2). Such a view therefore is mortally delusive.

Nor is theistic evolution less futile than any other such theoretical fantasy, without absolute creation `thrown in': lacking as it does, the evidence of self-activated advance in design complexity, of progressive continuity of change. It is as ludicrous as anything else in the God-bypass area, in meeting the evidence of the Cambrian Age, that sudden apparent bursting forth of a large percentage of advanced creatures very near the first (on the theoretical basis in fashion); and of stolid non-transmutation in decidedly unadventurous fossils. Refusing to co-operate, they give the impression of being almost clandestine creationists.

The evidence chronically and almost callously, for evolution, runs in manifest contradiction, indeed, to the entire observation of decline and decay which is the only evidence available, relative to overall 'drift' in an established system.

This evolutionism, of whatever variety, then, is merely an added blasphemy and irrationality, in callow and ineffectual confrontation with God and His glory, and the evidence and logic jointly.

Creation and creator remain the sole possibility; and those of us who know Him, we are not therefore 'cast down'. Nor did the Psalmist long remain in that condition (Psalm 73:2-3,13-14). It is, as the Psalmist shows, wholly an error to be envious at the boastful. Their paths are indeed slippery, and the latest attack on and revolt from God comes and goes, and to use a slang Americanism, when it goes, it `goes good'!

It is all madness, revolt and revolution, refusing God, evidence and logic alike. Every lust to replace God and find a system that works, to analyse our condition and remedy it without God has failed. The 1991 collapse of Communism is merely a routine treatment, one more example of what is intrinsically unworkable, always has been, and always will be.

They fail intellectually, as humanity invariably finds, when, rubbing its eyes, perhaps 50 years later, it sees its error. They fail in behaviour, when the 'Spock' generation becomes the `shock ' generation, and the `liberated' generation becomes the annihilated generation. They fail physically and morally when the generation needing no aid from God gains AIDS from man; when the enlightening liberators turn into Red Guards and the economic marvel becomes a request for grain, to avoid starvation, grain from the West... or for money, to avoid bankruptcy! Will man never learn! His brave new world, continually constructed (in mind) with morbid fascination, is neither brave nor new.

Sometimes these matters, then, weigh on the spirits of men; and the Psalmist is showing his suffering as the Psalm 73 proceeds from the first verse, a statement of conviction about the constant and continual goodness of God to His own people (He doesn't force people), to a statement of heaviness in verse 2.

But as for me, my feet were almost gone, he says,

admitting his envy at foolish people, who momentarily and superficially had seemed fortunate in their gross prosperity. Thus, temporarily blurred in spiritual vision, he suffers what you might call ...

God very simply is all-powerful, all-knowing and is not involved in hand-me-down constructions of "Nature"-like limitations that space or matter could contribute.

As to that, the things themselves are His product, it is He who delimits them. Nothing delimits Him.

He is what He is, always has been, always will be, changeless without fault, inviolable in His nature, irrepressible in His power, love though He be hated, true though He be reviled, doing always what He says He will do.

 

7.

"CAN YOU BE ABSOLUTELY SURE

ABOUT ANYTHING ?" -

THIS WAS THE QUESTION OF A DENTIST, ARISING FROM A DENTAL TOPIC BUT EXPANSIVELY DEPLOYED. It certainly deserves an answer. Some others may like to see it. For some it may seem a barb, to others a balm. Palates differ.

This was the way one wrote to cover the matter, years ago.

Dear Dr X,

It seemed it would be good to give you a non-dental answer to your question today on the topic, "Can we be absolutely sure of anything?"

I in the midst of tooth woes, noted that I could not be absolutely sure in the dental field, being too ignorant therein.

However you deserve an explicit positive answer as well. Here it is.

First, if I could not be absolutely sure that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour, the required Saviour for all in terms of spiritual necessities for life, and the due and just Judge and Lord of all men, I neither could nor would preach, whether in this land or in any of the others where I have done so. It would seem an imposture, an imposition and a waste of time. 99.9999999% sure would seem an impudence, if one were preaching. If God has spoken, that is it. If not, that is it. If one cannot tell the difference, that is extraordinary; but that is covered in the Bible in terms of Ephesians 4:18-19 and Romans 1:18-19 (the AV has "hold" but the Greek here is more clearly given Greek dictionary renderings, 'hold down, suppress, restrain' ).

2nd: If all were relative, then it would be a self-contradiction to affirm this as absolutely sure; since that would instantly disprove the proposition in its very presentation. 3rd: If nought were absolute, then the statement of this as absolute fact would constitute equal self-contradiction. 4th: If all man did were necessarily subjective per se, then the statement itself would disprove itself likewise in its very utterance. Antinomies abound touching numerous points for the proposition in the negative.

If however at the positive level, one is asked, Can you prove God ? the task is not hard, not least consisting in removing, like weeds, philosophic devices. I proved this in The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, and have added some 8 more volumes more or less allied, to that trilogy, ranging from Predestination and Freewill to The Other News.

If the question is, How then can you be sure? The answer is first negatively as therein shown, that nothing else is logically tenable, valid and non-self-contradictory. Second, positively, it is that validity, being shown to attach only to a self-revealing God and action within that framework, moves to God and His certifiable and verifiable revelation in the Bible without logical competition in that field. That once identified, expresses itself beyond all that reason could relevantly ask, yet fully in accord with it, to verify, confirm and validate what logic requires in the first place.

As to your question therefore, Can we be absolutely sure of anything?: First by faith I believe what you ask to be so, YES, one can; and secondly by reason one finds on investigation that it is a self-verifying matter by means of the actions of the One to whom logic indefeasibly directs. Hence the answer is a double affirmative. Two short expository enclosures on the topic, are to hand, and I'll put them in. We have about 1.4 million words on the Web at URL : {now http://webwitness.org.au with some 8.3 millions word content}.

under World Wide Web Witness Inc.,

dealing with Christian Apologetics and allied materials, ranging from verse to news. Validity is given a whole chapter (5th., see also 7th.) at the above URL, with the longer ending :- thatmagrock/validity, but it is substantially covered in 2nd. Edition, SMR ..., Chs.1 & 3, esp. pp. 253-316G. In the 1st Edition, Chs.1, 3 ( & 5 ) also deal with it. I think you have that.

Well, that's something to get your teeth into.

 

Cordially in Christ - Rev. Dr. Robert Donaldson,

Minister, The Australian Presbyterian Bible Church Inc.


 

Enclosure:

1) From a volume of the present author, That Magnificent Rock (slightly edited for our use: this is slightly extended for our present purpose). 
 

2. Objectivity at Last

Such is the sway of intellectual fashion that the very concept of objectivity seems to some to be hopelessly adrift. However, the fact is that even in our own distorted culture, we often speak of 'being objective', of the need for objectivity, and in terms of displeasure, may state that someone is not being objective.

Philosophically rather than practically the concept is becoming almost outré.

In fact, however, it is probably simply a synthesis of bad philosophy and guilty conscience which, in many cases, leads to this thought. Is it objectively true that people cannot be objective? If so, how do you know? ...objectively? If not, why assert it?

If one is to be logical (see The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, 'SMR', Chs.1, 3), then we have reasoned that it is best not to overthrow reason. If one DID, by what would it be? If by reason, then? An odd accomplishment, since that entity or functionality is to become invalid, which would do it. Without reason perhaps? but by what would this become reasonable?

If, then, one is to follow reason in all its dimensions, despite the jejune and to the point, ill-informed claims of Paul Davies in 24 Hours regarding this element (That Magnificent Rock, Items B and C - cf. D - in Ch.7, Models and Marvels in our Web Library), why then one will USE reason. IF one does, and in particular uses causation, in which reason inheres, with which speech is endued, by which thought may test, in terms of which characterisability exists, through which in turn, description proceeds and articulated thought moves: what then? Then one comes with the same rigorous and inevitable necessity to God that the trilogy noted above shows. For more detail on this, see Ch.1, pp. 3-10, Chs.3 and 10, and Index on 'Causality', 'irrationality', SMR.

If on the other hand, one avoids reason by denying it, one uses it to do so, and if it is invalid, so is the reasoning presented to show this. If one follows it, one arrives as shown in step by step detail Ch.1 SMR, at God the Almighty, omniscient, the remedy-providing God. WHEN one does (in theory), there is of course still a mighty hurdle which millions will never cross.

Thus, IF you do not know God, then HIS objectivity is of no crucial help to you: IN THEORY, yes. It resolves the subject-object impasse. In practice, NO! it does not resolve it for you personally. It is like KNOWING there is a marvellous symphony concert on next Tuesday, at 8 p.m., at some designated place. However... other interests prevent your being there. You might go, but you do not; you do not hear it. In this case, it is objectivity which you do not hear. That is the nature of it.

THAT is not a logical but a psychological problem. It is not a failure of reason but of you; and you are not reason. Your will has bewitched you; but then do not complain. If that is what you want... That is the personal side to it for any human creature now living on this earth.

However, it might be urged that we are merely assuming that GOD is objective. Not so. In SMR, which is now on the WEB in its 2nd Edition, and of which copies of the first Edition are still available, it is shown of necessity truth is what GOD speaks. This is not a necessity bound on Him from outside; for that would be a contradiction in terms. It would however be a contradiction in terms - these being derived in detail, step by step in the place noted: to assert that it is not truth, objective, actual reality without distortion or deceit, which He utters.

Further, in the context noted, we find that He is not subject to character imposed from within or without , or to circumstances operating beyond Him, which could deter or inveigle Him into such steps, unless He were divided, seeking what He could not obtain or at war with Himself, with obtruding inputs beyond His control which He acts to negate: nor does He contradict Himself, being wholly what He desires in eternity, free of the constraints of antithesis as of the contortions of collision of word and deed. SUCH things would involve Him in a system which He did not create or a desire in His creation which He could not meet; and this would limit His power or prevenience, either of which involves a contradiction in terms as developed in SMR. (Cf. e.g. pp. 26ff., 581.)

There is a further confusion. People are so culturally conditioned in many cases after centuries of indoctrination, that not only is the Paul Davies' type of error on causation, ignorantly asserted by some, but it is simply ASSUMED that to be human IS to be subjective.

It is true that to be human PER SE is not to be God. It is true that those who are simply and merely human are limited. It is also true that such persons may show enormous and frequent involvement in deception and self-deception, often confessing the same, and illustrating it; but this is not simply to be assumed in all cases. To BE a subject, moreover, is not identical with being subjective. THAT would be a play on words, not a work of reason. It MIGHT; but that it MUST be so, is a mere assumption. WERE it true, moreover, and IF the meaning of 'subjective' were taken to be :'wrong, inadequate, not seeing things in the light of truth' - as would often be the connotation, then of course the very statement to this effect could not be taken as true. IT too would be 'subjective'; unless a tick logical slide were being engaged in, which is merely invalid.

To be a subject does not mean to be ONLY a subject. It means that you have a plateau or performance or function in terms of which you assess, are conscious, consider, reflect and retort, in the case of a human being; but it does not per se also mean that you CANNOT expand beyond such a limit. That, to render it vivid by analogy, would be like saying that man cannot fly. That is true in broad general terms; but if one considers, then hang-gliding would need to be defined out, and aeroplane travel would need to be excluded. One would in the end have to re-define what one meant by 'fly', so as to exclude a number of ways in which it could be done. So here: man may indeed by subjective; and it is not hard so to be. If however one wishes to make the broad, general statement that MAN CANNOT be objective, there are... problems.

Indeed, one will often be ASKED to be objective without any sense of irrationality. THIS concept is as much part of the culture as the assumption that man cannot be so. Christianity in terms of the Bible, offers clear solution to this cultural antinomy. MAN OUGHT to be objective, in the sense of not callowly or corruptly, even if unconsciously, distorting the facts. Man often fails in this, so that the request is that it be avoided. Then someone might say: BUT HOW? Note first however that it is not thought insane to ask, or to expect this.

A 'subjective subject' is a more precisely defined term than a subject. When we employ this non-redundant term, we clearly mean that a person who is limited is also in this case departing from criteria available. What then of an 'objective subject'?

What does this mean? It could mean some one limited; but one having a particular framework of operation, which in some ways is neither being misused, nor (in the end) a hindrance or exclusion agent against truth. We could, and should, go further. GOD is a subject in ONE sense. This Being is not LIMITED in power, operation or knowledge by any force, system or history, culture or condition. (See SMR Chs.1, 4 ,10.) If then we were to refer to Him as a subject, we should need to amplify the definition. He is a subject in the sense that He has a personal distinctiveness from all others who survey scenes, act and respond. There is no reason why this particular use of the term should not be made; but it is necessary to be aware that there are narrower and broader usages available.

Man however is a subject, but whether he be subjective (a more distinct and normally pejorative term) is another question. The confusion of these two concepts is merely an error and is of no value in dealing with the topic; its point being simply this, that we avoid it, like any other confusion. Very well: man is a subject who may or may not be subjective, depending on the case. IF he does not know God, then in some pejorative sense, he will in general be subjective (cf. SMR pp. 102, *31, 299-302, 42-47, 88ff., 580ff., and Ch.3); for then his subjectivity will be in the realm of impacts known or unknown which may limit, distort or derail; and without the truth which depends on the One whose knowledge is absolute and whose perspective is immovably adequate and accurate, and specific to His person, there will be systematic defects.

Let us not be careless here however There MAY be some elements from time to time which are formally right. Divorce from the appointed working relationship with God does not remove the Biblical reality that the form of man's thought contains that which even sin does not in every case wholly defile. In fact, this is the Biblical ground for the fact that man is not simply absurd and incapable of truth.

The amusing extension of this, of course, is that whenever people tell what the position really is (including the view that we do not or cannot know what it really is) they are not insane; but merely expressing a built-in expectation of what WOULD be appropriate, if God were known, as in fact He ought to be. People's residual areas of construction, not wholly distorted, may urge them to such a modus operandi, even when, through sin, it has become self-contradictory.

Whether or not man as subject can avoid being merely subjective depends quite simply on this: Could people find, or be found by God; or more precisely, ARE they so found? If they do, or are, then the path to such avoidance lies open. The alternative is an irrational abyss of self-contradiction, which lacks nothing in the ludicrous, the comic and the poignantly regrettable.

By the way, red herrings are the usual way of fleeing from all this utilised by those so inclined(other than physical departure, often found also, form the premises of discussion); or should we say they are one of the norms ? Thus we had better cover one of them . 'Man' is in our language a term of dual usage here: it MAY mean masculine member of the human (hu-person) race; or it MAY mean 'member or members of the human race'. and it may be racially indiscriminate. It has been used here in the second sense, without regret, disparagement or any negative implication or assumption whatever. Woman is of precisely the same value as is man. But let us return to our theme.

The options are

1) the abyss of irreconcilable confusion

(which is not the height of reason ) and

2) the pursuit of the only rational alternative ... to come to the finding of the self-verifying God whose reasonableness, harmony and testimony are not only adequate and uniquely so to reason, but as shown in detail in SMR, beyond all masterpiece in superabundant verifiable provision. To its self-verifying properties later come HIS self-expressions in performance in the lives of those who know Him. This is a further dimension. To its self-verifying properties later come HIS self-expressions in performance in the lives of those who know Him. This is a further dimension.

The cost of course is by many deemed, or unconsciously felt to be, too high. Christ Himself exhorted to 'Count the cost'. It involves acknowledgment of sin appropriation of the divine, donated remedy, Jesus Christ the living Prince of Life, and allegiance to Him beyond all. Indeed, as He said, "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple!" There are times when the word 'cannot' is very refreshing; and refreshing is exactly what the gracious Lord provides according to need and an open heart (Acts 3:19). The two re's: Repent and refreshing, are twins. In general you cannot PARTLY keep to physical laws if you want an experiment demonstrating them to work; far less can you do so in spiritual things, when the Supervisor Himself stands to witness.

In other words, there is a prescription if you are in favour of using your mind.

1) Turn to the street called reason, and

2) follow it to objective revelation,

3) verify it, and then

4) turn to the APPLY section, and do so (cf. James 2:17-20, John 14:21-23).

 

Before doing so, however, count the cost, and realise this, that in moving from being merely (if uniquely) valid, to being objective, you lose the ungerminated grain aspect of your life, and must germinate.

This is both wonderful, and potentially distressing, depending on whether the Lord has given you the grace to find Him. You will not do so while your precious self is in vogue. Repentance and reception of the Redeemer put you 'in place' - but WHAT a place, in the heart and household of God."

 

2) A Related Page or so from SMR

Troubled by an absolute God as erring man may well be, like a furry ferret, he frequently likes to burrow into the pleasant seeming holes of relativity, avoiding the open skies of
 

The Absolute Inadequacy of Relativity

If we say: All things are relative: religion is relative; my religion is relative (to my preference, taste and so on), and so is yours... what then ?

Then nothing is absolute. Then the proposition, that everything is relative, cannot be presented as absolutely true; it cannot indeed be absolutely true that there is no absolute truth. That is a flat contradiction as distinct from a plausible opinion. To hold that, is to argue for the removal of logic; and that is to argue with the very thing which is being denied in the process.

To find that everything is relative, absolute truth is needed; and to find that would be impossible if indeed everything is relative.

If therefore, everything is not relative, then we can make statements which are better than nonsense about what IS and what is not. If something is absolute, then something may be said about some things which is not mere nonsense, internal self- contradiction.

If all were heredity and environment, then there would be no way to see beyond and to know it. If anything may be affirmed meaningfully, then the power to reach the actual standpoint in which truth is possible and indeed in which it is correctly seen and so no illusion, must be there. Such a standpoint requires a minimum of two conditions: first there must exist a truth to which one can attain (not mere reaction of reactors); and second, there must exist a way to find it (not mere interaction). There must be a true standpoint, a true perspective, a right way of viewing things; and there must be an opening to know it.

The unrelative is the absolute; and the absolute is necessary, if anything is to proceed. A series of related entities does not logically account for any entity; multiplication is not causation. "Nothing" is not a possible origin; for it has no potential or future (if indeed it be nothing). Something... therefore must always be, if anything can ever be; and some things are.

What must always be ? what is adequate for what-is-to-be, must always be; or we would be rankly asking for effects without adequate cause, which is to reason by denying reason; which is self contradiction.

An adequate something always in existence involves an adequacy for the provision of mind and spirit, as well as the laws of matter, which show no evidence of being self-creating; and if they did, would show a program at work, which requires an information technique to input it.

This adequate something requires to be dependent on nothing; for if it were otherwise, the problem would be retarded, but not removed. Absolute everlasting independence is the necessity for... dependence. You do not produce your cause by referring to this and that aspect of what is here (*1). Thus by analogy, a poem is not explained as to its origin by inspecting the semi-colons and the commas and considering their connections. Their causal origin and their causal content need analysis and specifiability.

An adequate cause is ontological as well as organisational; there must be cause for inter-active existence, as well as for inter-active mechanisms. Only that producer which is entirely, eternally self-sufficient and sufficient for all things meets the case, causally. Insufficiency, we recall, cannot produce; and derivability requires the system in which it occurs, for the power to be derivable to operate. The system requires its base, its cause; and more of the same does not produce that cause, but merely adds to the burden upon it. Hence the absolutely underivable and eternal is necessary for anything to be affirmable as true; including relativism. But since this contradicts relativism, this is possible only as an exercise in self-contradictory fantasy.

The ruin in moral or metaphysical relativity (Einstein, of course, in giving theories deemed apt for certain relationships, was laying down one more `absolute' or definitive-type input concerning law)... this is often paralleled in religion, by two more rabbit tunnels, enticing to ferrets. To these, we now turn. Fascinating to students of foreign languages can be word studies. What however about our own language ? Let us dig and look briefly at two words with a view to studying the darkening tunnel-use often made of these areas.

 

Cynicism and Scepticism

this as the basic motive, 'What is in it for me, how can I get pleasure and advantage or forwarding of myself out of this?'... that this is rubbish. Everyone, says the cynic, is self-serving or self-seeking, and goodness? Where is it?

You tend to find people rather like this in their attitude at times. Sometimes they may have been treated absolutely disgracefully by others, as children, or when young; power in politics, family, school or society may have been used to 'squash' them, rob them and so on. They may have a grudge, be raw, and perhaps unconsciously they are on a wave length of revenge by attacking anything which says it is pure, honest, upright, or possibly, anything which even seems so. Perhaps the basis is at times different from this; but it is not hard to conceive how such views could arise in some cases.

You even get to the point that the attack comes verbally: anything anyone does is called 'selfish', because it is done by a 'self'. In that way, you create horrible human beings, just by word-play.

Of course the answer is, firstly, that the 'self' may be motivated by God and goodness so that it is under him: may in fact, in particular be taken, forgiven, changed and charged by Christ so that it is his interest it serves; and as to Him, He gave His life in sacrifice when there was really no trouble with the standard of living in heaven... In fact, a self can be moral or immoral, good or bad, sacrificial of its own advantage, through love of another; and that love may be such that the mother, or soldier, in some cases (I do not say all!) gives up the chance to so much as stay near the loved one in the interests, through death, of conserving the other life, which is loved better than one's own ... to this we shall revert.

Yet it is interesting to see how the word 'cynic' changed its meaning. Amazingly, at first the cynics were Greeks who liked to stress that after virtue was the great or only real good, self-control and independence were the things to have which gave any standing at all. This, on the surface, was moral... so how does the word 'cynic' come to suggest a sneer at morality ? Surely this sounds like like definition by contradiction, by opposites!

It appears that in history the people like this, talking of virtue and so on, came to be most dissatisfied with other people who did not measure up, in their opinion; so they came to become social critics, negative about customs and other people's opinions; contempt for the views of others came to be their image.


A harsh and strident note came into this morality emphasis. In the end, the trend was to deny the reality of other people's morality... and they themselves were, come to think of it, people...

Thus cynical comes to mean: having moroseness, contempt for the views of others, for morality.

 

Scepticism

What however of sceptical ? Now this is a good time to note a distinction. Each of these two words can be used as an adjective: 'cynical', 'sceptical', and refer, on occasion, merely to some one aspect of things. The person is cynical about this or that thing, sceptical about this matter, theory, or outcome. It can however also be used as a noun, the abstract or the agent. That is, 'cynicism' or 'scepticism', or a 'cynic' or a 'sceptic', and may then readily take a broader meaning. It can then simply mean: having such an attitude in general, or even, and not seldom, having it in the area of religion in particular ... or, Someone who cherishes or holds such an attitude in general. After all, morals are a major part of religion, so that to be cynical in the beginning had a major moral base. Being sceptical in religion, however, would mean: denying in the sense of withholding belief - doubting God, or the basic religious data in view.

With this distinction in mind, let us now examine four basic slips of scepticism, using as we proceed:

 

The humorous case of Hume's ... humian nature

In Philosophy, a man called David Hume (SMR Chap.3) forwarded by his teaching, the concept of scepticism. He held that all we humans have to go by, all there is, really, is a series of images and happenings ('blips' if you like); he held we do not really know more. He wanted to disbelieve so much about ordinary human experience that he got himself into a corner.

After all, if all to be known should be the happening of a series of images in your mind, how would you know that ? Is knowing this, itself a series of images ? A series of images, however, doesn't explain, without an interpreter; it rather requires explanation. That of course is where his sceptical theory breaks down. Knowing is not a mere series of images. In particular, happening has no pre-prepared tag saying, this is what I am, why I am happening, what happening really is, how it should be seen by happening evaluators.

It is you a person, a thinker, considering the images and so on ... not teasing them out, but discerning their intent, analysing their portent and so on. If you were not there, apart from the simply describable series of images, neither could this theory about images be there... It is really rather a humorous cut-down version of human nature, this Humian nature, through which Hume humoured his readers, perhaps more especially those who were a little weary of their responsibilities and, shall we say, were happy to forget themselves, even whilst exercising themselves, with his theory. There is gauntness in history; but also fun. This has some of both elements. So then, a series of images does not assess a series of images. It is entirely taken up with its definitional business of being that series of images. A substantive person must be there to do the evaluating, the thinking about what are series of images, and what are other categories, and that simply explodes the whole atomic, serial conception of pure action, with integral cohesion in a surveyor existing to survey what is surveyable... such as a series of images.

All this appears, then rather obvious; but it shows you how far a sceptical attitude can go in various subjects.

The nature of nature... a review in setting

In religion, 'scepticism' would mean such a thing as a man looking at the simple fact of laws throughout the material universe, by which scientists may make successful predictions. A man might then imagine these laws got there by chance. Now law is systematic regularity while chance is unsystematic irregularity, so that on this view, the absence of law (in chance) creates its presence (in what we have). How brilliant! Perhaps fat produces lean, and stupidity a master's degree! It is strange how far people may be sceptical without facing elementary facts.

As to moral nature, perhaps you can see now that scepticism is going to have an effect on the concept of goodness (*3). If one were sceptical about that, one would be in this respect coming towards the same kind of end as the cynics did. If goodness is not from God, but a matter of little human reactors feeling and wanting and using words like 'good' about what they want, how do they then deceive one another ? Are they mad or merely mentally dead ? The facts of goodness and its power to draw us beyond ourselves, and the opinions of any culture, however vicious, in which we might be, are not explained by mere thoughts of wanting... little atoms of meaningless being. To tell meaning is meaningful! How could what itself is meaningless tell what the meaning is, or will it re-enter the arena, grab the meaning, rush out without acknowledging the visit... The case is far from fantasy. Without it, it is flat self-contradiction to present any meaning, positive or negative; and with it, it is fraud. The ability to deal in meaning implies access to meaning, which must therefore be. Without it, you cannot know; with it, things cannot be meaningless. Universal meaning- meters would have one of the most meaningful tasks, posts and functions, with potential supervisory powers, if action were added to the meter.

To revert, however: if one were sceptical about goodness, one would doubt it, and to stay sceptical about it, one would not accept it, one would continue to reflect on it negatively. Thus the two different words, cynical and sceptical, starting from different bases, end in some ways on inspection, in much the same areas! And that is one of miasma... As noted, in this sort of area, you need to be careful not to define anything, however sacrificial, as selfish, for then you merely use an etymological device to beg the question. While a 'self' is at work, the question is not that obvious fact, but why and how he/she is at work.

While all theories telling us how the mind really works, alleging it is deceiving itself on deterministic principles (see Ch. 4 infra), these make their propounders divorcees alsofrom reality with delusive-type minds, and hence quite systematically unable to advise us on such matters. A simple survey of actions, including one's own, shows the distinction and indeed the desire so many have both for themselves and for others, to see, feel, experience, contribute and execute goodness.

The delusive preoccupations of much psychology in determining the 'data' from self-contradictory theoretical bases is in hilarious contrast to the currently so modish emphasis on 'statistics' and 'raw data'. Such manifest opposites can live apparently without too much consciousness, the one of the other, in many a psychological breast. The reality of virtue may be opaque to many who obsessively dabble with data, unscientifically seeking to conform it by contrast or contradiction indeed to theories; but this is not so to those multiplied thousands who know the meaning of seeking the welfare of another at personal cost, even if, indeed, the cost is one of substitution in penalty with no known return, except the welfare of the one concerned. This may be for duty, love, charity, propriety, seemliness, a sense of responsibility or many other causes. To assume however that it is for one's own pleasure or satisfaction is to fail to distinguish between what is done for oneself and done for another: done with respect to one's fulfilment criteria, and done with respect to one's concern for the fulfilment of others.

One could do it for one or for the other. One's morals within oneself may be altruistic or selfish; but this is not to be determined by the philosophic device of misusing the concept of 'self' as if it were the noun from 'selfish'. (The whole point is that some selves are and some are not selfish in given matters, areas or concerns.)

Christians, for example, do not live for their standards and ideals, but for those of someone called Jesus Christ. While it is hard at times to know who is who, and a cause for concern to find hypocrites, yet Christ provided for this element, saying- "Why do you call me, Lord, Lord and not do the things I say!" and "Many will say to me in that day, in your name, I..." (did this, did that), "but I will profess to them..." in short, that He never knew them. It was an oafish, ludicrous, fraud! It never deceived Him. He looks on the heart (Matthew 7:22-23).

It is of course possible to do things in order to get a reward, in which case it is possible a selfish motivation exists. It is equally possible to appreciate the reward and do the task because of the issue itself, with or without reward. It is quite useless to legislate, using theories of the mind which pre-suppose that there is no absolute standpoint by which truth could be discerned; for that, involving as noted above, the theory itself, and making the proposer blind as others in making it, is a self-destruct entry into the arena. Determining issues in scientific areas by impossibly self- contradictory theories which start by denying the data is amusing, interesting, revealing, but not logical. It is also rather commonplace.

 

The nature of Christ

This is a special field for the sceptic (in the religious sense).

Well then, in the area of Jesus Christ Himself, you will find some will argue that He is nothing but a splendid man and great, wise teacher, and that nothing special in the deepest sense is here.

But one must ask, as we have seen: how could someone be such as this approach takes Christ to be, be this and a great teacher, with the greatest body of literature from His time to now of any ancient figure concerning Him and His teaching, and a body carrying it on in the midst of the civilised world for thousands of years in the broadest scope ? How could He be One performing miracles according to records circulated within living memory of His doing them (Appendix C infra), and this in the most public and repeated manner in central, civilised locations: and yet be wholly insane ? Insane ? Of course, that it is to which we must return on such a basis. He would be so if He were not the Christ.

As C.S. Lewis, Professor at Cambridge University pointed out, if Christ thought He was God when He was not, this would be rather like someone thinking he was a poached egg.

From the first, as in Paul's writings, it was clear He claimed to be the Messiah, the Christ of Scripture (see Ch. 6 infra), predicted for thousands of years to be coming to earth. Now He in fact claimed to be God, as both the contemporary writings and the identikit of prophetic predictions to be fulfilled by any credible Messiah, made clear.

How then could He be a great teacher and a wise, if He made a little mistake in His central concepts ... like imagining He was God, thinking He was God when ... He was not! Did He err a little or did He imagine He had been present before coming to earth in human form, in creating the world... ? Was He wrong in a little trifle like that ? And was He yet a great and wise man and good teacher as is admitted in this approach, as by the vast body of evidence ?

Could you be a wonderful teacher, let us be clear, to enlighten and uplift men and show them life (and this was a major focus), and yet have your own life a tatterdemalion delusion, be insane indeed, thinking you were God when you were not ? not knowing the difference between performing whatever seemed necessary with appropriate power with no exceptions, and the reality! Could you moreover predict the thrust and trend of coming human history and provide detail with marked precision (Chs. -9 infra) while in such an infantile and pitiable delusion!

Insanity is divorce from reality, and the teaching of Christ is about what Is the nature of reality. A great teacher who is wrong altogether about the life and truth on which He focusses, mixing a fundamental like Man and Maker of man ... this would make lunatics look sound by comparison, in millions of cases! In the circumstances of His own precise depiction of the omnipotence of God and His action, it would make the case of a yet graver dimension.

We have here then, a magnificent expression of the spirit of scepticism. It ignores every variety of fact; it doubts by contradiction; it makes theories unharassed by data; it proposes propositions not merely incredible, but those which make a sound contribution to the world of fantasy ... at its heights!

It can even have a man who is a great teacher about God, yet who does not know the difference between Himself and God, when that difference is, in terms of creature and Creator, by His own standards, not less than infinite. Indeed, He held Himself to be the Son of God, in whom as such one must believe (John 3:16 ff.), and that is precisely why His disjunction between mortal man and eternal God becomes vital in the matter!

This then gives some idea of a major tenor of thought in the phenomenon of scepticism, so often and so well explained in terms of a frantic and desperate desire to escape this man, whom so many do not want to rule over them. As in marriage, it is remarkable the lengths to which some will go... to escape. But here the case is far deeper, transcending marriage. When, therefore, it is a basis of life itself that is in view, and physical divorce is impossible, then delusion sets in (cf. II Thessalonians 2:10).

 

 

 

 

This occurs in ways which almost beggar the imagination; but which, in terms of the predictions of the Bible, are under the direct and meaningful control of God Himself. It all comes to pass, without exception, as written ... by a realist (SMR Ch. 3) if ... a realist is one who sees things as they are! That is the exact contradiction of the theory. That is the only point of precision that it has achieved: an exact contradiction of reality.

Thus, a non-insane Christ has to be really what He claimed; but an insane quasi-Christ is a contradiction of the terms of reference. What then did Christ rightly claim to be His nature ? The nature of the Creator Himself in human form by divine appointment for specified purposes.

While Chapter 6 infra will give more detail, this preliminary coverage looks into burrows of escape from reality, and the matter is cast in this ... subterranean perspective, for our current purpose.

{It continues in SMR pp. 262ff.}