The art of divine napping—Part 2

jesus-in-mary-womb1In Part 1 we argued that a Christ-centered, incarnational approach to understanding God is not a matter of simply reducing divinity to what we see Jesus’ doing. There are clearly attributes we hold to be definitive of divine being which are not derived from any observation of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Nobody derives their doctrine of God exclusively in terms of what can be gleaned from observing Jesus, however central and authoritative God’s self-disclosure in Christ is. We also argued that the ‘Christ’ who ought to occupy the place of pre-eminence in shaping our understanding of God is the entirety of Christ’s life as interpreted and applied apostolically throughout the NT and not any single event in Christ’s life. And lastly we recalled that the incarnation begins with Christ’s conception, thus asking any Christology that seeks to understand God in the event of God’s self-disclosure in Christ to do so not only on the basis of the freely chosen actions of a responsible adult, but also on the basis of the less observed and less discussed fact of God’s being fully present and fully divine as a zygote in Mary’s womb.

In Part 2 here we’d like to reflect upon the “life-inherency” of the Son from Jesus’ declaration in Jn 5.26 that “just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” Related passages include “In him was life and the life was the light of men” (Jn 1.4), “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11.25; 14.6), “…this we proclaim concerning the Word of life; the life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us” (1Jn 1:2), and Peter’s declaration to his fellow countrymen that “[they] killed the prince/author of life but God raised him from the dead” (Acts 3.15).

Ought we to think that possession of “life-in-oneself” is self-existent, divine life? That’s precisely our view. Possession of life-in-oneself isn’t the contingent life of created beings but the vitality of God’s own eternal life. The triune God is “the living God.” No one gives the Father this life. He possesses the fullness of his existence in himself. The Son too has this life-in-himself. In spite of possessing created, finite human being, the Son also possesses uncreated, eternal life-in-himself just as the Father does. The former (possession of finite, created life) cannot bring the latter (possession of eternal, divine self-existence) to an end or qualify the vitality of its actuality as eternal, divine, unending, relational, self-existent, etc. Possessing life-in-oneself (just as the Father possesses such life) cannot mean the Son acquires such life-in-himself as a contingent act within the created order. The Prologue (Jn 1.4) clearly attributes life-in-himself to the pre-incarnate Logos constitutive of the relationship between Father and Son. This is why John can say (1Jn 1.2) the Son is “the eternal life who was with the Father and has appeared to us.”

What happens when we consider the debate over the kenotic claim that the Son sets the possession of such life aside in becoming constrained without remainder to the natural limitations of created finitude in Mary’s womb, say, as a zygote? We ask it this way because the debate over kentoicism typically proceeds along lines of asking whether the rational, responsible and benevolent humanity of the adult Jesus can be conceived of as fulfilling “whatever it takes” to be God. But a Christ-centered, incarnational methodology cannot rest with asking the question of just the adult Jesus. The zygote must also qualify. Here the Son is incarnate. Here “whatever it takes” to be divine must obtain. Here, in and as the zygote, the Logos possesses life-in-himself just as the Father possesses life-in-himself.

maryNot long ago Dwayne discussed these issues with C. Stephen Evans when Evans visited the University of Minnesota on a speaking engagement. He also discussed it with Tom McCall. Both agreed that the essential God-defining benevolence and relational dimension of divinity defined Jesus’ relationship with God. Jesus loved others without fail, he forgave the sinful, he served others and eventually gave his life for us and he related obediently to his Father at all times. And when asked “You agree the incarnation of the Son begins with his conception in Mary’s womb, right?” both heartily agreed, for to suggest otherwise was in effect to deny the incarnation and to embrace Adoptionism. So yes, incarnation begins with conception. But when next asked, “What about the Son as a zygote? Does the zygote, in its created finitude, void of all subjectivity, consciousness and volition, instantiate benevolent relationship?” Evans lowered his gaze , stared at the floor silently for a spell, and finally shook his head and said, “No. There’s no relationship whatsoever between Father and Son at that point.” And when asked about the status of the eternal, God-defining relations in the womb, McCall sat quietly on the phone. After an awkward silence, finally an “Ahh, right…” came back from the other end as McCall (who completed a PhD on kenoticism mind you) apparently for the first time ever stopped to consider incarnate divinity outside the boundaries of Jesus’ adult. conscious, self-reflecting responsible agency and to contemplate instead how the Son might actually be God if all there was to him was the created, embodied finitude of a zygote.

We have no delusions about the popularity of kenoticism within Evangelical churches. It is the reigning Christology after all. If Father and Son agree the Son should just stop relating to one another, take a break from their perichoretic God-defining experience, God just carries on as a functional binaty. “What’s the big deal? You and your wife are still married when one of you is asleep,” is the oft repeated rebuttal. That the Son just ceases personal existence altogether simply poses no problem. But if eternal life is the Son’s life-in-himself, and if the Son possesses this just as the Father does, then on what grounds are we to suppose it even possible for the Son to set aside the living relationship with Father and Spirit whose actual lived vitality is divine, eternal life-in-oneself? On the basis that my wife and I remain a loving, married couple even when she’s asleep and I’m awake? That’s what doing theology has come to?

GodSleeping
A few things to consider—

  • First, if the Son possesses life-in-himself and this life as such is not possessed intermittently or contingently but is in the case of the Son as it is with the Father eternal life as self-existent vitality, then Jesus is unlike every other human being in a fundamentally transcendent way even if he is like every other human being at every development stage of his human life. This is just what it means for the Son’s person to be homoousion (‘consubstantial’) with the Father and homoousion with us. It is not human nature as such which is consubstantial with the divine nature as such (as kenoticists suppose).
  • Second, one cannot separate having such life-in-oneself from other aspects of being uncreated. We can’t exclude the Son, for example, from other transcendent qualities (of ‘knowing’, ‘relating’, or ‘presence’) shared by the Father. Being the “author of life” is not a part-time job. The idea that the Son can lateral off to the Father and the Spirit the life-giving functions of his life-in-himself is nonsensical.
  • Lastly, consider approaching other similar passages that describe God’s life-giving effects and reflect upon them in terms of God’s “life-in-himself” as inhering and active in/through the Son. Genesis’ description of God breathing the breath of life into human being; Jesus’ impartation of the Spirit to his disciples in Jn 20; the exercise of God’s life-giving prerogative in Ps 104 and many other passages; God as the source of “living water” (Jer 2.13; 17.13; Jn 4.10; 7.38; Rev 7.17); and of course (a point we never tire of making), the Son’s universal life-sustaining relationship to all created things (Jn 1.1-4; 1Cor 8.6; Col 1.16-17; Heb 1.3-4).

(Pictures here and here and here.)

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18 comments on “The art of divine napping—Part 2

  1. Jeff says:

    Best I can tell, other negative theologians have got it right in the following sense. The issue is not which traditional-trinitarian “theology” is right (Tom’s/Dwayne’s vs. Greg’s/etal). The issue is whether we can define, in terms of traditional-trinitarianism, the terms used to try to articulate what is meant by a “Father” or “Son” etc that is neither a being, an attribute, a temporal frame of reference, a spatial frame of reference, a temporal relation, a spatial relation nor anything else humans have a thought category for. Without such definitions, the putative “words” in the putative “articulation” just fail to communicate the attempted distinctions.

    So does Greg’s approach fail? Sure. But not because it’s incoherent. But because it, like all attempted traditional-trinitarian articulations, seems unintelligible because of the lack of relevant definitions. Where there are no definitions of certain terms used in a proposition, there is no discernible propositional meaning yet.

    The atheist conceives of the existence of an initially intelligible deity and then either finds that conception inconsistent with inferred events (problem of evil, etc) or just utterly non-explanatory and, therefore, irrelevant to all adjudication. The traditionalist-trinitarian, too, seems to deny so much of the “divine” that the deity can’t even be conceived of as explaining anything about our experience. But this seemingly contradicts Rom. 1.

    The apostles writings seem to be the equivalent of either:

    1) fallible interpretations of their own experience (in which case their opinions can’t be claimed to be authoritative; where nothing evidently true is given, nothing is required),

    2) mixtures of 1) and lying, or

    3) the articulation of intelligible, interpretable words confirmed, directly or indirectly, by divinely-caused signs and wonders (and Peter seems, given Deuteronomy 18:20-22, to indicate that since a prophet was one whose theological articulations to God’s people were confirmed by a divinely-GIVEN sign of some kind, their words were also confirmed by those same signs EVEN when they were written down and preserved as canonical).

    If those apostolic writings are the latter, Rom. 1 is front and center and deserves, therefore, to be part and parcel of Christian theology. And if the later creedal claims were not the latter (i.e., were not confirmed by relevant signs or wonders to the relevant audience), they do NOT deserve to be part and parcel of Christian theology unless they can be shown to be entailed IN the prior canonical writings by something widely and historically recognized as valid exegetical criteria.

    As for the zygote discussion, that has nothing to do with the issue. I doubt seriously that Greg believes that either God or any human self IS/WAS a zygote at any time whatsoever. Even a materialist couldn’t coherently contend any such thing. A zygote is seemingly a composite of 3-D-extended beings (i.e., if there is such a thing as a 3-D-extended entity at all), not a singular being. And it is counter-intuitive to suppose that most people (or Greg, for that matter) believe the human “self” is anything other than a SINGLE being. And if the self isn’t conceived of as a being, then what, pray tell, is the definition of a “human self?” How counter-intuitive are we willing to go in this exercise? It is not for nothing that the “growing” opinion is that the self is an illusion. Just what other than a “self” is having said illusory experience, though, I have yet to hear!!

    As for the claim that Christ’s role as “the ‘author of life’ is not a part-time job,” that is not at all obvious. That attribute of Christ is mentioned in contexts of resurrection. And one of those contexts, 1 Corinthians, says Christ BECAME a life-giving spirit. This makes perfect sense in terms of Christ’s claim that he would “receive” the Father’s Holy Spirit after his own resurrection which rendered him the first-fruit of the future resurrection. Indeed, there is nothing about the future resurrection that manifestly involves more than “a part-time job.” Nor is there anything about being unconscious or asleep that implies a cessation of the existence of the “self,” let alone a cessation of a necessary existence.

    One can read into the verses what one will. But the contexts don’t require it. There is simply way too much language of “becoming” with respect to Christ that can’t be non-arbitrarily ignored. And in the meanwhile, verse after verse which juxtaposes the Father against Christ speaks of the Father as the ONE God and Christ as the ONE Lord, who, per Acts, was MADE Lord because of his kenosis. He emptied himself and descended so that he could fill up all things after ASCENDING. All the “becoming,” time-dependent language is completely coherent. No unparsimonious eisegesis is required to make sense of it.

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    • tgbelt says:

      It’s not for any lack of interest in these issues, Jeff, that I don’t respond. After all, we’re posting, so we’re obviously interested and find these issues important. Rather, your objections are the same, long-standing issues you and I have gone round and round on for years now. It’s not like there’s been no response. We simply disagree. I don’t mean any disrespect at all, Bro, but when you say something new that we haven’t hashed over many times and just disagree on, I’ll jump in.

      One comment though. To say the conception-status of God-incarnate (the Logos, conceived by the Spirit in Mary’s womb) has nothing to do with the issue (or isn’t theologically relevant; not sure what you think “the issue” is) is, well, preposterous. But we’ve so little shared perspective upon which to proceed in conversation, and we’ve done all this before, I’m going to leave it at that.

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      • Jeff says:

        Tom: To say the conception-status of God-incarnate (the Logos, conceived by the Spirit in Mary’s womb) has nothing to do with the issue (or isn’t theologically relevant; not sure what you think “the issue” is) is, well, preposterous.

        J: That would be true if there was any evidence that Greg, substance dualists, or most Christians actually think a “self,” though spoken of in the singular, is actually a composite of a plurality of fundamental particles, which is what a zygote seems to be. But you’ve provided no evidence that most Christians or Greg even believe that. And it’s preposterous to claim that such a belief is self-evident for the simple fact that substance dualists alone almost certainly, by definition, disagree with that view.

        So yeah, you respond. But you haven’t yet provided definitions or anything relevant to rendering your view discernibly plausible or self-evident such that there could be any obligation or accountability associated with it, as you seemed to imply existed when you were talking about Greg’s “academic” obligation to be forthcoming about his own reconciliation of his current views with T&P. You have yet to explain how we could know that obligation or accountability that is not self-imposed even exists.

        Note, I’m not defending Greg. I just don’t see how you’ve said anything yet that implies anything ought to be either defended or accused. So God is a necessary being? So God “consists” in some sense of an undefinable relationship (undefinable in that we don’t know what is relating to what)? Neither of these imply God has created or that God has acted or will act with respect to the “world” we infer exists at all.

        So let’s just posit, without discursively-derived- or self- evidence (human, i.e.), that such a minimally-defined God created. What else then follows? Nothing. You literally have to just keep positing each claim about God as an individual hypothesis. For no one of them follows from any other since God, as you define God, is neither motivated to any action nor demotivated from any action. Never mind that scripture says multiple times that God created FOR Himself and His Son. What good does it do to appeal to the authority of apostolic writings if they seem to mean the opposite of what they say.precisely when they’re talking about God?

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  2. Jeff says:

    J1: What good does it do to appeal to the authority of apostolic writings if they seem to mean the opposite of what they say.precisely when they’re talking about God?

    Correction: What good does it do to appeal to the authority of apostolic writings if they mean the opposite of what they seem to say.precisely when they’re talking about God?

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    • yieldedone says:

      Ok, Jeff. Lemme try some stuff.

      1) Each human body is a “composite” in the way you speak. The human self takes the diversity of itself and create a unity of experience and interpretation. And it is the human brain that is essential for this sense of unification in meaning-making to occur.

      But in this case, we ain’t really disagreeing. Both you AND us are saying that a zygote doesn’t have the requisite things to have a coherent, meaning-making experience of human life implied in human self-hood. A zygote cannot love anything. A zygote in and of itself cannot have self-existent life within it.

      2) You are totally mistaken about our view about divine motivation in Creation. You have taken the word “disinterested” completely differently from what we meant. We meant disinterested in terms of contradistinction to being self-concerned. Disinterested did NOT mean lacking any “motivation” as you call it. It is saying that the motivation is not grounded in achieving self-centered, self-interested goals for the sake of self-enhancment.

      With respect to Creation, we say that God was “motivated” by a free, whimsical desire to creatively and contingently express His essential triune fullness, experienceing Himself as “Immanuel”, God-with-us. Creation is the context for a different, free self-expression of triune love, not something that essentially defines who God is. Creation is for God and the Son in THAT way, not because God feels like he will get MORE aesthetic satisfaction from creating than not creating It is not the case that Creation was the objectively “better option” of creating or not creating, like you seem to believe. The choice to create or not create was a genuine libertarian choice between EQUAL OPTIONS to God. But I know that that’s where we disagree.

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      • Jeff says:

        Y: A zygote in and of itself cannot have self-existent life within it.

        J: No disagreement here. But that’s not what Tom was saying. He basically said a kenoticist is basically committed to saying a human or a divine “person” (and he can’t define a divine person) is, at some point, a composite of 3-D-extended particles. That is sheer non-sense.

        Y: 2) You are totally mistaken about our view about divine motivation in Creation. You have taken the word “disinterested” completely differently from what we meant. We meant disinterested in terms of contradistinction to being self-concerned.

        J: That’s how I took Tom. And that’s why it has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

        Y: Disinterested did NOT mean lacking any “motivation” as you call it.

        J: What Tom is saying, seemingly, is that there is nothing about the divine nature that renders God desirous of ANY state of affairs outside of Himself such that He could be motivated UNTO its instantiation. As though creation proceeded out of God like an involuntary belch and then God, being essentially loving, simply HAD to love the volitional creatures in it.

        Y: With respect to Creation, we say that God was “motivated” by a free, whimsical desire to creatively and contingently express His essential triune fullness, experienceing Himself as “Immanuel”, God-with-us.

        J: Tom is saying, best I can tell, that God doesn’t desire UNTO any state of affairs that depends on creation ex nihilo. That would mean, to Tom (seemingly), that God is not content within Himself. But then, no desire, no motivation. This is part of what Tom means by God’s radical transcendence–that God’s freedom is not analogous to ours and that therefore what we mean in conventional language by “motive” doesn’t exist in God.

        Y: Creation is … not something that essentially defines who God is.

        J: I agree. And I think Greg would too.

        Y: Creation is for God and the Son in THAT way, …

        J: Tom doesn’t say creation is FOR God or the Son. He has insisted to me in the past that creation is NOT for God. He’s more consistent in his negative theology than you think he is.

        Y: not because God feels like he will get MORE aesthetic satisfaction from creating than not creating It is not the case that Creation was the objectively “better option” of creating or not creating, like you seem to believe.

        J: I don’t believe that at all. I think creation is a bona-fide divine RISK for the Father in the sense that He truly can’t know up front HOW it’s going to turn out.

        Y: The choice to create or not create was a genuine libertarian choice between EQUAL OPTIONS to God. But I know that that’s where we disagree.

        J: Disagree, yes, but only in the sense that, IMO, God can’t know UP FRONT how creation will turn out. So He can’t possibly see it up front as an “equal option,” a “worse option,” or a “better option.” In fact, for all I know, the Father’s best case scenario for creation could be that it’s a wash for Himself and a boon for the Son. And maybe the worst case scenario is that it’s a “loss” to Himself and a wash for His Son. In either case, weighed against eternal bliss, an infinitesimal blip on the temporal radar (which is what sinful creation amounts to) is relatively meaningless compared to that bliss. IOW, it has no impact on what God’s essential/necessary nature IS. It just implies something about a CAPACITY of God to act freely.

        If God acts freely apart from creation, great. I just can’t imagine what that action would be given that the Father and the Son are essentially benevolent. And nothing Tom has articulated thus far helps me imagine what that would be, either. His believing in sans creation free divine action is not the equivalent of explaining it or providing an example of it.

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  3. tgbelt says:

    Y: A zygote in and of itself cannot have self-existent life within it.
    J: No disagreement here. But that’s not what Tom was saying. He basically said a kenoticist is basically committed to saying a human or a divine “person” (and he can’t define a divine person) is, at some point, a composite of 3-D-extended particles. That is sheer non-sense.
    T: Of course it’s nonsense. That’s WHY kenoticism is false—because God IS fully, necessarily, actually and irreducibly personal, there’s no way he could be reduced to being a zygote.

    ———————————-

    J: What Tom is saying…is that there is nothing about the divine nature that renders God desirous of ANY state of affairs outside of Himself such that He could be motivated UNTO its instantiation.
    T: What we’ve said is that God doesn’t make a libertarian choice to create in the terms you say such choice must be understood, because you insist free choice requires competing motivations, and competing motivations are only intelligible in terms of contrasting pleasures found in the competing outcomes. We don’t at all think this is what’s going on with God’s will to create. If that means God doesn’t create ‘libertarianly’, fine by us. But that’s not to say there is zero motivation.
    J: As though creation proceeded out of God like an involuntary belch…
    T: I’d absolutely deny that God ever acts involuntarily.

    ———————————–

    J: Tom is saying, best I can tell, that God doesn’t desire UNTO any state of affairs that depends on creation ex nihilo.
    T: Not sure what that means. But I think whatever God does, God desires to do (even if he does so contingently).
    J: This is part of what Tom means by God’s radical transcendence–that God’s freedom is not analogous to ours and that therefore what we mean in conventional language by “motive” doesn’t exist in God.
    T: Where God makes libertarian choices, I don’t have any problem supposing those choices are analogous to ours. I just don’t think God’s choice to create was “libertarian” in the philosophical sense (of having to decide between ‘competing’ motivations within Godself). But it’s simply not true that libertarian choice is the ONLY conceivable way to think of motivation, freedom or personal expression. And we’ve shared analogies, but I’m not tpying them again. 😀

    ————————————-

    Y: Creation is … not something that essentially defines who God is.
    J: I agree. And I think Greg would too.
    T: I don’t see how you agree. For you God always goes with his greatest motivation and God is more motivated to create than otherwise.
    Y: Creation is for God and the Son in THAT way, …
    J: Tom doesn’t say creation is FOR God or the Son. He has insisted to me in the past that creation is NOT for God. He’s more consistent in his negative theology than you think he is.
    T: Everything God does he does for himself. He is the summum bonum. But that doesn’t mean he does what he does exclusively for himself. He can will the good of others and take pleasure in doing so. As summum bonum, that means his willing his own good as the greatest good IS our highest good.

    ————————————

    Y: not because God feels like he will get MORE aesthetic satisfaction from creating than not creating.
    J: I don’t believe that at all. I think creation is a bona-fide divine RISK for the Father in the sense that He truly can’t know up front HOW it’s going to turn out.
    T: It doesn’t work, Jeff. The risk does nothing to help. In the case of creation, God is motivated by some pleasure he believes is worth obtaining (there’s the risk, yes). But the problem is that this perceived (unpossessed) pleasure is a greater motivation to God than any conceivable motivation God might have for not creating. That’s WHY (on your view) God creates. It doesn’t matter that risk is involved or God doesn’t know how it’ll turn out. It doesn’t matter that God can’t see up front if it’s equal, worse or better. You only get a greater motivation to create if motivation is understood as the perceived pleasure to be had in the desired outcome. And motivation CANNOT be reduced to God’s ignorance of how things will turn out. It has to be the pleasure God WANTS to get from how things turn out. That’s why God can’t be free not to create on your view.
    J: IOW, it has no impact on what God’s essential/necessary nature IS.
    T: On the contrary, on your view God’s essential/necessary nature DEFINES the competing pleasures as motivations, and God goes with his greater motivation. What kind of God would be rationally ‘competent’ (I know you like that word) who would choose to do what he is least motivated to do? Thus the choice to create (i.e., the choice to choose the maybe/maybe not gotten pleasure from creating) is entailed in God’s essential nature.
    J: Tom’s believing in sans creation free divine action is not the equivalent of explaining it or providing an example of it.
    T: That goes without saying. ‘Believing’ something isn’t equivalent to ‘explaining or providing an example of it’? But I have offered explanations and examples. You didn’t like them. They were too…artsy…for you; too ‘fun’. Not parsimonious enough.

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  4. Jeff says:

    T: But the problem is that this perceived (unpossessed) pleasure is a greater motivation to God than any conceivable motivation God might have for not creating.

    J: Yes, in the same way one is motivated any other time someone risks for something. But those motivations aren’t “essential” to one’s nature. People aren’t motivated to perform every kind of risk they ever have all the time.

    T1: I’d absolutely deny that God ever acts involuntarily.

    T2: If that means God doesn’t create ‘libertarianly’, fine by us.

    J: Now, Tom, my eyes are opened. By a libertarianly-caused event, I mean an event that didn’t have to happen at the time that it did. If you mean that same thing by a “libertarianly-caused event” (and are yet fine with creation being a non-libertarianly-caused event), then it seems you’re saying creation is not a free event in that sense. But if creation had to occur as it did when it did and was also “motivated,” then the only way it wasn’t also inevitable (per God’s essence) is if it was inevitable due to a prior libertarian divine choice PLUS God’s essence, right? Isn’t the only other resort to pure unintelligible mystery?

    Best I can tell, neither of us are claiming that God’s essence IMPLIES there would be a creation, so I’m not seeing how you’re making that work.

    T: Of course it’s nonsense. That’s WHY kenoticism is false—because God IS fully, necessarily, actually and irreducibly personal, there’s no way he could be reduced to being a zygote.

    J: What’s non-sense is saying an “emptying” oneself of the “form of God” means BECOMING a plurality of material entities. That’s simply NOT what emptying oneself of a “form of God” HAS to mean.

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  5. tgbelt says:

    T: But the problem is that this perceived (unpossessed) pleasure is a greater motivation to God than any conceivable motivation God might have for not creating.
    J: Yes, in the same way one is motivated any other time someone risks for something. But those motivations aren’t “essential” to one’s nature…. Best I can tell, neither of us are claiming that God’s essence IMPLIES there would be a creation, so I’m not seeing how you’re making that work.
    T: They aren’t essential for us, but on your view they would have to be for God—since “the possibility” of creating doesn’t come along for contemplation at some point in time for God. God would eternally know, contemplate, and evaluate it. Given that it’s his nature (on your view) to do what he is always most motivated to do, and given that creating is an eternal possibility known to God, it follows that God is eternally motivated to create—unless you want to suppose God doesn’t know his own possibilities or in knowing them contemplate them or in contemplating them evaluate them. But if he eternally knows the possibility, on your view he’d be eternally motivated to create. There’d never be a moment in God’s existence (on your view) when God wouldn’t be more motivated to create than not to create.

    ——————-

    J: Now, Tom, my eyes are opened. By a libertarianly-caused event, I mean an event that didn’t have to happen at the time that it did. If you mean that same thing by a “libertarianly-caused event” (and are yet fine with creation being a non-libertarianly-caused event), then it seems you’re saying creation is not a free event in that sense. But if creation had to occur as it did when it did and was..
    T: LFW doesn’t posit only the freedom of a particular choice with respect to ‘when’ it happens, but ‘whether’ it happens at all. But re: freedom, no I’m not saying God is “not free” with respect to creating. I’m saying it’s not “libertarianly” free (in the sense of being motivated by competing pleasures (already discussed). I don’t think creation “had to occur when it did.” LFW isn’t the only way to avoid determinism in this case.

    ——————–

    T: Of course it’s nonsense. That’s WHY kenoticism is false—because God IS fully, necessarily, actually and irreducibly personal, there’s no way he could be reduced to being a zygote.
    J: What’s non-sense is saying an “emptying” oneself of the “form of God” means BECOMING a plurality of material entities. That’s simply NOT what emptying oneself of a “form of God” HAS to mean.
    T: Jeff, (a) Paul doesn’t say the Son empties himself “of the form of God,” (the verb ‘empty’ doesn’t even have an object) and (b) you’re misunderstanding what we’re pushing for by discussing the zygote. Conception is where the journey of human beings begins. God takes that journey. Not part of it. He doesn’t beem down into the adult Jesus at his baptism. The whole of the journey from conception onward, in all its integrity, is the journey of the Son. That much is believed in by kenoticists.Even if you’re a substance dualist, that doesn’t provide us a way to maintain the Logos’ enduring triune relationship and activity once conceived/incarnate.

    We’ve talked about all this multiple times before over several years, Jeff. Maybe we need to let it rest for a few years.

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  6. Jeff says:

    Tom, look at the language:

    “who, while being in the FORM of God, did not deem the to-be-equal-with-God something to be seized forcefully; rather emptied Himself, haven taken the FORM of a bond-servant,”

    To say that the emptying doesn’t refer to the form is not a particularly plausible contention. So you’re trying to lock Greg into something other than what is a very plausible reading is of no avail even if Greg doesn’t see his “out.” Moreover, it’s not particularly easy to make sense of a “form” of a non-being. But that’s not my problem to contend with.

    Second, even recently you didn’t address a point of mine even when I pinned it down very specifically. I told you of a relatively common defnition of “cause”–i.e., conditions at T1 are “causal” of the conditions at T2 if the conditions at T1 are necessary and sufficient for the instantiation of the conditions at T2. By that definition of causality, causality only applies to self-determinism (i.e., libertarian causality) or what naturalists call “determinism.”

    Now, you insist there is another meaning of causality that allows for an indeterminism of events that even God can’t foreknow, which is not due to libertarianism. Such an indeterminism makes perfect sense of the relevant posited events if those events aren’t caused at all. But once you say they can be caused, you are now using a different definition of “cause” than the common one I just described above. And yet you haven’t yet provided another definition of “cause” to account for your rejection of the definition above.

    There are two ways putative claims can be unintelligible. They can violate the LNC, or they don’t have all their terms defined such that propositional meaning yet exists. So, no, we haven’t gone around and around for years. I ask for definitions, etc, and you don’t provide them. That’s your prerogative, But it’s hardly unreasonable of me (or anyone else, for that matter) to ask how you define causality, divine “person,” etc, differently than others when those “words” are part and parcel of your claim of coherency as opposed to Greg’s etal.

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  7. Jeff says:

    Tom: Given that it’s his nature (on your view) to do what he is always most motivated to do, and given that creating is an eternal possibility known to God, it follows that God is eternally motivated to create—unless you want to suppose God doesn’t know his own possibilities or in knowing them contemplate them or in contemplating them evaluate them.

    J: I don’t find it remotely self-evident that God has to be perpetually conscious of ALL that He “knows.” That means He has to have an infinite set of memories CONSCIOUS in His mind at all times. What, pray tell, does that explain about my experience? And apart from such a SOFA explaining anything about my experience or being self-evident, why would I believe it? Yep, that’s another question.

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    • Jeff says:

      J1: That means He has to have an infinite set of memories CONSCIOUS in His mind at all times.

      J2: Or if it doesn’t mean that, why not? IOW, if God doesn’t have to remember His whole infinite past, why does He need to be perpetually conscious of every “piece” of whatever “knowledge” He “possesses” to be God? I have no problem believing God actually intentionally “forgets” some things as scripture at least superficially “says” He does.

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  8. tgbelt says:

    We have indeed gone over all these issues before, and we simply disagree. I’m not doing this with ya, Jeff. Sorry. Like I said, you’re not going to find the kind of theism (or the articulation of theism) you’re looking for here. It’s an open bar, so to speak, so stick around and enjoy the music. But I don’t want to hear every time we do so that we’ve violated your sense of parsimony and undermined LNC. So for the record, let’s agree here and now that most everything we’re going to argue theologically is flawed and unwarranted on your view. That’s a given that we’re not going to keep reintroducing.

    G’Night Bro.

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    • Jeff says:

      Bro, I’m only saying that per my definitions (which seem to be conventional ones to me) of the words you use, you seem incoherent and/or non-parsimonious. But you have seemingly denied holding to those definitions without providing your own. And as I define accountability, that basically means that since your “beliefs” are yet intelligible to me, they aren’t therefore anything God could “want” people to believe. For I believe that where God hasn’t given, He doesn’t require. And where He doesn’t require, it’s because in those cases, He doesn’t see human self-interest as inconsistent with the legitimate interest of others. I.e., human self-interest is not per se wrong any more than God’s self-interest is a-benevolent or malevolent.

      For the sake of clarity, let me give 2 examples that you keep ignoring:

      1) If both uncaused and caused events are conceivable (i.e., definable), then whatever you mean by “cause” and “event” renders a caused event and an uncaused event DEFINITIONALLY distinguishable. I’ve explained why a very common definition of “cause” only conditions the possibility of such a distinction by ruling out indeterminism for caused events. And you haven’t given me your definition of cause as to how you avoid that problem.

      2) if a person can consciously believe, in one stream of his consciousness, that he isn’t aware of what he is simultaneously, in another stream of his consciousness, aware of, that’s a violation of the LNC if a person is a being. But you say a divine person is not a being. And maybe that gets you around that contradiction. But you haven’t defined what you MEAN by divine person to demonstrate that you’ve avoided a contradiction.

      In short, you seem to be saying that the unfalsifiability of your beliefs are evidence for them. But that’s only because of my understanding of what God wants and WHY He wants it (explained above in this post). You, on the other hand, say that whatever God does, He wanted to do. But that alone gets us nowhere with respect to knowing what God’s will is since much of what is done is done by us, not God.

      Bro, you just haven’t posited definitionally enough to explain anything about my experience. And without such explanation (i.e., implications), I’m not seeing how I could know that God (assuming He exists) gives a squat about me. You’ve only defended what I have already conceded–NOTHING is falsifiable by naive falsificationism. Human fallibilism logically rules that out. But by my view, He certainly does love you and me. Not because my view just IS that belief, but because my view posits what IMPLIES it, as well as the validity of deduction, induction, etc.

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      • yieldedone says:

        Jeff,

        I honestly dont know what to tell you, bro. We have been saying the same things to you for years now…but they seem unintelligble to you because of the way you hold your definitions of things. I believe that what we have been saying is completely intelligible; there are simply too many people, past and present, who have made sense of this (with you being the *ONLY* exception, really. So who should I believe has the real problem here?

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      • Jeff says:

        Morning, Dwayne. I didn’t realize earlier that you were “yieldedone.” Hope all is going well with you.

        Y: but they seem unintelligble to you because of the way you hold your definitions of things.

        J: AND because you haven’t provided your own definition of “cause,” “person,” etc. To say that a caused event can be indeterminant doesn’t define it distinguishably from an uncaused event if an uncaused event can also be indeterminant.

        Y: there are simply too many people, past and present, who have made sense of this

        J: People subjectively make “sense” of contradictions all the time.

        Y: (with you being the *ONLY* exception, really. So who should I believe has the real problem here?

        J: On the contrary. The definition of “cause” I provided comes from others (logic book, etc). It’s just very intuitive to me as well. Same with my definition of “person.”

        I think that where God gives nothing, He requires nothing–AND that God does gives and therefore requires SOME things. And maybe that’s the real point of contention. Do you think God requires of me where you can’t explain, based on what you posit of Him, that He’s given me anything?

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  9. Jeff says:

    In my 1st paragraph,

    “since your “beliefs” are yet intelligible to me,”

    should read

    “since your “beliefs” are yet UNintelligible to me,”

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    • Jeff says:

      Dwayne, I just looked at the wikipedia article on causality. It talks about precisely what I’m saying of causality. Another way to think about it, relevant to a position you at least held once, is in terms of creatio continua. Per CC, God is sustaining all 3-D-extended particles (assuming such things exist) in existence perpetually, not merely causing them to be at certain locations at certain times. But wouldn’t you agree that the latter is entailed in the former? And if so, that nothing about the behavior of 3-D particles is indeterminant to God? And that therefore any indeterminism from our perspective in that regard is merely apparent because of our finite limitations?

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