Saturday, October 19, 2013

Response to Joel Anderson's Critique of My Book, Part 2

Dr. Joel Anderson has written a second post critiquing my book "God Is: Exploring the Nature of the Biblical God". Below is my rebuttal.

Surprise! I don't actually have a rebuttal. Joel was pretty much in agreement with my conclusions in the "God is Self-Sufficient" chapter.

But I do want to add a couple of things.

Much of the "God is Self-Sufficient" chapter of my book centers around a discussion of God's perfection and why he would create anything if he is totally self-sufficient. In Christian literature, self-sufficiency seems to be one of the attributes defining perfection. However, I challenged the prevailing beliefs about perfection and Joel seemed to agree with that challenge.

The problem with humans discussing perfection is that we consider even ourselves imperfect, making mistakes fairly regularly. So, my question is, "Is it possible for imperfect people to recognize perfection given that our view of perfection is most likely imperfect?" In other words, can we humans even know what perfection entails? The perplexity of this simple question has profound implications.

Suppose a perfect person was born into this world, as it was claimed that Jesus Christ was. How would he be viewed? I think it obvious that a few would consider him to be perfect, others would see him as being slightly flawed, some would view him as just another flawed human that was no better or worse than any other human, and some might even consider him evil. And lo and behold, that is exactly how the responses to Jesus' life played out in the Gospels. But how could this be?

Simple. We all have a different idea of what constitutes perfection. But if this is so, how can we ever know who, if anyone, is perfect? The answer will be unsatisfactory to some. WE CAN'T! The only way to recognize perfection perfectly would be for there to exist some absolute standard of perfection of which everyone was aware.

Of course, some people claim that the God of their religion represents perfection. But there are many religions. The gods of each are different and incompatible. So, can they all be perfect? And within each religion there are many sects with differing views of the God they worship. This is even true on a congregational level. That being the case, whose view of God is the right one and thus the one pointing us to perfection? Who is qualified to make that determination?

All of the above assumes that God is indeed perfect. Most religions seem to believe this. For example, here's a quote from a recent "Questions Answered" from Bible Gateway: "Though the connection between God’s sovereignty and human freedom is mysterious from our perspective, we must remember that God is, by definition, completely good in his actions."

Where did this definition of God being completely good come from? Why is it necessary for God to always be good or perfect? Couldn't God be both good and bad and still be the creator of the Universe? And who gets to decide the answers to these questions?

If you haven't picked up on the real issue here, it's that the word "perfection" is a relative term like the word "cold". You can have a group of people in the same room at the same temperature and humidity and some would say it was warm, some would say it was cool, and some would say it was cold. Who's right? They all are. That's because "cold" is a term that relates how individual bodies respond to air temperature and humidity. Well, "perfection" is similar. Each person has a different view of perfection based on a combination of genetics and life experiences. Fortunately, there are some aspects of perfection that an overwhelming majority of people agree on. This allows us to live together as a community and a nation with laws that restrict certain imperfect behaviors.

That's all I have for now. There will probably be more discussion about this matter as Joel critiques additional chapters of my book.

No comments:

Post a Comment