Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Just two thoughts that both spawned from a discussion of the Boondock Saints with Bryan (the coolest guy ever for those of you who don't know him):
1. justice (I would appreciate any thoughts on this one)
2. the simplicity of God

1. Lately, I've been rather skeptical as to man's ability to enforce justice on earth (from a Christian perspective). It seems problematic at best and arrogantly stupid at worst. Mainly I have a difficulty locating the enforcement of justice via men's hands in the ideals of the sermon on the mount (for example). Although that particular conversation would be long and interesting, I just had a quick thought:

I have no problem admitting that our actions will never be perfect, though I still claim that we should try to be so. If I would admit that within the context of our everyday actions, should I not also agree that our hope to enforce divine justice should be equally encouraged? As such, the claim that "we make mistakes" seems no different in the context of killing a murderer than it does of an emergency room doctor trying to save the life of a patient. Will mistakes be made? Yes. Does that entail our not striving for perfection (even in the knowledge that it will not be attained by us)? No.

However, this still does not answer the primary objection used in the "we can enforce God's justice" debate: has God granted us the authority to do so? Romans 13 seems to.

3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; 4 for it is God's servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.

(Obviously, this is not the only reference, but I think it gives a nice summary can be interpreted either descriptively or prescriptively) Bro Fred Witzig noted, though, that governments are given for non-Christians (I can't remember the citation in Romans).

Anyway, more on that later...

2. John Depoe discusses the general problem with the "doctrine of divine simplicity", which states that God's characteristics meld to form one simple will. Mr Depoe states that the
states of affairs other than the ones that have been (or will be) the case are impossible. This is because God's existence and will are necessarily the same across all possible worlds.

I'm not sure that this is necessarily the case. It seems that the world as it is today is a different "state of affairs" compared to the world of ancient Egypt. Yet God interacts with each circumstance differently. If I understand him though, it seems that the difficulty is with God's will as a static thing. After all, even if God's will is not "simple" but still does not change, it would necessarily be the same across all possible worlds (because there are no possible worlds since the only one entailed by God's will is this one). However, just as God's interaction with Moses can be different on some level than with me, it doesn't necessitate a non-simple will, but disparate circumstances with which that will can interact.

The concept of a "simple divinity" is kinda interesting, though. The idea is that certain ideas taken in their extremes have a coherency between them. Normally, I think that this is described with "justice" and "love". The idea that a completely just being would be completely loving as well. In other words, some of our artificial descriptions of God's being are little more than different perceptions of him. Though I'm skeptical that this extends to all characteristics (all loving = all powerful?), it's an interesting thought and it reminds us that our labels for God are ever weak.

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