Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
USU78

Working Out Our Salvation

Recommended Posts

MFBukowski and I have had conversations in the past hereabouts on the subject of JSJr's and Mormonism's unique ability to anticipate modern philosophical thought.  The Late XVIIIth-Early XIXth Century poet, playwright, and thinker Schiller advised his hypothetical philosopher king to pursue through aesthetics the worthy goal of transcending matter and mind in order to become a creator through play [Spieltrieb].  JSJr taught that we are, at our most fundamental, both in our prior life, our present life, and in our life to come, demiurgical beings.  We once helped to create the world we now live in.  We seek to continue on to be creators with and for G-d in the hereafter.  We are to create in partnership with G-d, as He communicates TRVTH in our hearts and in our minds, an abundant life here.

It is the creation of that abundant life that I wish to explore in this thread, and all are welcome to offer what they wish, so long as it's on topic.

It occurred to me reading Alma 34:37, which is connected to and of a kind with Philippians 2:12-13, that "working out our salvation" is just another way of saying we are to create that abundant life here.

Now, yes, there's the often confusing "fear and trembling" [phobos kai tromos] which suggests the attitude we should bring to the work of our creation of our lives.  Let's get this at least partway out of our way, however.  That is a paraphrase of Psalm 2:11, which states: "Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling."  Cf.  Psalms 55:5.

The "fear" in the Hebrew [which is also translated in the Septuagint as phobos], is more in the nature of "respect" and "awe," rather than terror, and the way that "trembling" is presented in the Psalm is likewise not to be understood as "shaking in fear" as used, but rather in excitement and joy.  We are thus to "work out our salvation" with respect for G-d, standing in awe of Him, but with great joy to the point of trembling.

As MFB never tires of pointing out, our ability to perceive the world around us, the phenomena we encounter and, to a certain extent, even ourselves [please keep Freud out of this], depends upon our senses communicating data to our minds and hearts.  We can know nothing except as filtered through our perceptions and colored by our experiences.  Thus we in a sense create the world by taking in our perceptions of it, making sense of those perceptions by employing our native abilities and our experience.  Our salvation, I argue, we create "work out" in the same way.  The key to making our lives abundant, however, is in that Hebrew/Greek idiom phobos kai tromos.  Only by having a correct attitude towards G-d, a correct conception of Him and relationship with Him, can we hope to live in abundant joy to the point of dancing naked on the beach, having created a world where such joy is an everyday thing.

Men are, after all, that they might have joy.

Have at it!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
59 minutes ago, USU78 said:

Only by having a correct attitude towards G-d, a correct conception of Him and relationship with Him, can we hope to live in abundant joy to the point of dancing naked on the beach, having created a world where such joy is an everyday thing.

I am getting better at the correct conception of Him, the relationship is strained never had much luck with earthly father types seems to have a big effect on the Father in Heaven type. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, USU78 said:

We can know nothing except as filtered through our perceptions and colored by our experiences.  Thus we in a sense create the world by taking in our perceptions of it, making sense of those perceptions by employing our native abilities and our experience.

 

1 hour ago, USU78 said:

Only by having a correct attitude towards G-d, a correct conception of Him

Curious what you mean by “correct” in light of the first quote from your post. 

Share this post


Link to post
20 hours ago, Brother Bear said:

 

Curious what you mean by “correct” in light of the first quote from your post. 

If we have no illusions about what and who we are, and if we free ourselves from our inherited down to the bone Jonathan Edwards conception of G-d as terror inspiring holder of the web strand over the flames, if we come to understand that our lives, our salvation is a collaborative enterprise with loving, kind Beings Who have only our benefit at heart, then we have a correct understanding, a correct attitude, a correct relationship.

 

Edited by USU78
To illustrate and contextualize the issue.
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
55 minutes ago, USU78 said:

MFBukowski and I have had conversations in the past hereabouts on the subject of JSJr's and Mormonism's unique ability to anticipate modern philosophical thought.  The Late XVIIIth-Early XIXth Century poet, playwright, and thinker Schiller advised his hypothetical philosopher king to pursue through aesthetics the worthy goal of transcending matter and mind in order to become a creator through play [Spieltrieb].  JSJr taught that we are, at our most fundamental, both in our prior life, our present life, and in our life to come, demiurgical beings.  We once helped to create the world we now live in.  We seek to continue on to be creators with and for G-d in the hereafter.  We are to create in partnership with G-d, as He communicates TRVTH in our hearts and in our minds, an abundant life here.

It is the creation of that abundant life that I wish to explore in this thread, and all are welcome to offer what they wish, so long as it's on topic.

It occurred to me reading Alma 34:37, which is connected to and of a kind with Philippians 2:12-13, that "working out our salvation" is just another way of saying we are to create that abundant life here.

Now, yes, there's the often confusing "fear and trembling" [phobos kai tromos] which suggests the attitude we should bring to the work of our creation of our lives.  Let's get this at least partway out of our way, however.  That is a paraphrase of Psalm 2:11, which states: "Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling."  Cf.  Psalms 55:5.

The "fear" in the Hebrew [which is also translated in the Septuagint as phobos], is more in the nature of "respect" and "awe," rather than terror, and the way that "trembling" is presented in the Psalm is likewise not to be understood as "shaking in fear" as used, but rather in excitement and joy.  We are thus to "work out our salvation" with respect for G-d, standing in awe of Him, but with great joy to the point of trembling.

As MFB never tires of pointing out, our ability to perceive the world around us, the phenomena we encounter and, to a certain extent, even ourselves [please keep Freud out of this], depends upon our senses communicating data to our minds and hearts.  We can know nothing except as filtered through our perceptions and colored by our experiences.  Thus we in a sense create the world by taking in our perceptions of it, making sense of those perceptions by employing our native abilities and our experience.  Our salvation, I argue, we create "work out" in the same way.  The key to making our lives abundant, however, is in that Hebrew/Greek idiom phobos kai tromos.  Only by having a correct attitude towards G-d, a correct conception of Him and relationship with Him, can we hope to live in abundant joy to the point of dancing naked on the beach, having created a world where such joy is an everyday thing.

Men are, after all, that they might have joy.

Have at it!

Blessed Bovine dude you say it so much better than I do- I have to take some notes here.

There is so much to comment on here- I love that you brought up the connection to Romanticism and Schiller and the boys.  What is amazing is how Joseph anticipates that- and I have a firm opinion that in fact the philosophical world was actually prepared by Providence to be ready for Mormonism when it arrived so that the Restoration could replace the sectarian dualism of the time.  I think it started with Kant and his "synthetic apriori" but that gets kind of philosophically technical perhaps.  The bottom line is that Kant thought that we construct reality through a process of knitting together perceptions into what we know as reality, and I think he was right on the money.

I saw that in Mormonism with the idea that God "organized" our world through intelligence- and bingo I was hooked intellectually- but that actually came after I had a testimony of the Book of Mormon based on an understanding of Romanticism and indeed guys like Schiller.

But oddly, lately I am getting a lot of flak for NOT believing in some kind of external TRVTH who which language corresponds.  "What??  He doesn't believe in TRUTH then how can he believe in God?

Of course that is a misunderstanding.  What I am really saying is that NO WORDS can FULLY contain God enough to qualify any human words to be "truth".  In that sense, no there are no verbal truths which are "accurate"  to actually expressing anything literal about God- they are only vague stabs made by human brains to describe what the human making the statement believes, in some cases they are INSPIRED stabs.  We call those inspired stabs and poems and analogies "scriptures" and if God thinks they are close enough to get his imprimatur he will give us a "testimony" to use those words to meditate on and perhaps let the spirit work in us so we can amplifiy them as you suggest, into our own "world" of understanding.

So is it ONLY for "here"- the abundant life in this world?  What about faithful people who just have not been able to define that "abundance"?

Well no, obviously we have hope for all those things "unseen" which are taught in the gospel.  But the main point is that it includes all those things RIGHT HERE as well if we are so blessed.

So yes, I think we are creating our worlds right here and right now as well as having the potential to do that on the other side after eons of learning and progression.

So how do we know anything about God then?

How do we know anything about the world in general?  BY DIRECT EXPERIENCE of it, just as we can have a direct experience of God as Joseph did or according to our capabilities, as most of us have one with a "testimony"

The problem is that testimonies cannot be expressed verbally and capture the "reality" of the full experience.  Imagine the color red as you experience it.  Now try to explain what "red" is to a blind man.   It cannot be done.  Neither can a religious experience be conveyed in its fullness.  

That language does not and cannot correspond to "reality" has been understood by philosophers at least since the time of William James, in the late 19th century, I am not making this up.  https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth-correspondence/#5

The notion of "truth" becomes undefinable- Yes we know what the word means and we can use it accurately in court, etc.  No one is debating that.  Using a word and defining it are two different matters, as has famously been shown in the case of obscenity.   The reason we have "triers of fact" in a court situation is that the "truth" is often difficult to establish beyond doubt, and in a court "facts" are determined by human beings who do the best they can to reasonably determine the "truth".

The practical determination of "truth" always boils down to what a community makes of it- that is the best that humanity has been able to come up with to define the term, as evidenced by courts themselves.  In important matters, courts determine "facts" and "truth" precisely BECAUSE there is no pure definition of these terms but the community "knows it when they see it"

So in the most important cases in which the truth is debated- in cases of life and death of real people- the best humanity can do in defining truth is not abstract objectivity but what the community "knows when they see it".   That is the BEST humans have been able to put forth in defining "truth" !

And so it is with religious and moral truth.  The best any religious community can do to determine "truth" is what the community "knows when they see it"

And even atheist philosophers understand that- so that is the highest standard we can rationally hold and is a widely agreed upon standard for "truth"

The bottom line is that as a society we need to acknowledge that - that our personal "truth" can rationally differ from the "truth" of others.  Within our communities we may debate if the "church is true" but our determination cannot rationally be applied to another's beliefs on these matters.  If we are not part of their community, we cannot argue their "truth" all we can do is understand the relativity of truth in matters of faith and morals.

So what about science?   Same thing!!

The community of physicists determine what is "true" in physics. psychologists determine what is "true" in psychology, geologists in geology and so on.

No difference between scientific and religous truth- it is determined by the community which is judging the proposition.

So is this "relativism" "BAD" for religion?   Emphatically NO!

In these cases we - the community of Mormons, in say, a conference, can legitimately determine the "truth" for the community and what is determined is 1- not relevant to other communities- that is the bad news- but what is the good news is 2- not debatable by other communities either

So the next time you are confronted by an atheist about the "truth" of your faith, know that philosophically he is ignorant of what the standard of "truth" even is to many philosophers who are THEMSELVES atheists!

So yes- all this "relativism" is good for religion because it makes religion as rational as anything else in matters of what is important in our lives.

Science is never about what is "important" because it is intentionally impartial.  Matters of religion and what is "important" in an individual's life are always partial.

Science never discusses the importance or significance of anything.  A scientific investigation of the crucifixion would concentrate on the rate of blood flow perhaps, describing in detail death by crucifixion and leave it at that.

It would not discuss the IMPORTANCE of that event because that is something each of us perceive and understand on our own.  How can science prove that this event saved mankind from their sins?

Obviously this is not a matter for scientific study.  We have no sin-o-meter to show a reduction in the effects of sin in our lives- the very notion is absurd.  Yet we still demand scientific evidence for spiritual matters.  That very notion is anti-religion because it bases the truth of religion on science instead of our own impressions from God- our own direct experience from within our hearts.

So that's it in a nutshell.   A big nutshell but shorter than it might have been!  ;)

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
17 hours ago, Metis_LDS said:

I am getting better at the correct conception of Him, the relationship is strained never had much luck with earthly father types seems to have a big effect on the Father in Heaven type. 

The great thing about life is we get chances to repair relationships with [especially] family again and again.  There are exceptions, of course.  Sometimes the person with whom we've had troubles dies or cuts ties, leaving no chance for repair.  Most of the time, though, there is hope.

My Daddy issues were fixed in an instant when he, several years before he passed, expressed tearfully his regrets and gave me the gift of being able to forgive, which I'd been struggling with.  He had always been a great man, with family failings.  By the time he passed, he was simply a great man, and that's the memory I keep treasured.

His humility stunned me.

He created a brand new self and world through self-examination, humility and repentance.

You wanna understand the correct conception of G-d?  Look at that former world-class athlete and athletic coach whose sons called him "Coach," not "Dad" or "Father," that teenage golden gloves Mountain States champ, that MVP of his WWII service football team, playing at 5'7 against NFL draftees, that proud 20-something who fouled up his VA paperwork, not wanting to ask for help, preventing his going to medical school on the GI bill, that crazy redheaded So-and-So who picked up a later Mr Olympia bodybuilder gymrat by his shirtfront, slamming him against a wall for mouthing off to the Coach, who pleaded with his rheumy eyes and failing voice for forgiveness for being so rough and apparently uncaring decades before.  Suddenly you understand the caring was always there, and that he regretting his actions as soon as he made them, but because of pride, frustration, weakness, whatever couldn't get it out past his teeth.

Why should anybody assume G-d is less than him?  He enjoins love, correct moral choices.  He makes clear He expects stumbles and doesn't much mind, so long as we make any harm ensuing from our stumbles good, whereupon we're to move on, making yet other stumbles.  We're toddlers to Him.  Why would we think He would be angry when we, in our rush, run face-first into the Koi Pond?

Jonathan Edward's wrathful godling is an abomination.  He doesn't exist, and to the extent he once did,  Nietzsche was right.  He is, or dang well should be, dead.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, USU78 said:

My Daddy issues were fixed in an instant when he, several years before he passed, expressed tearfully his regrets and gave me the gift of being able to forgive, which I'd been struggling with.  He had always been a great man, with family failings.  By the time he passed, he was simply a great man, and that's the memory I keep treasured.

Thank for trying to help. My Dad passing away when I was 8 years old was awful but probably saved my life if you know what I mean.  What went really wrong is that no other man really treated me as a son.  I do not bond well with men I fear it is because I was raise by my Grandmother and Mother.  Grandma was basically good but not available to have emotions with. My Mom was pretty much insane but could not be forced to treatment because she was not dangerous. Grandfather died before my father.  Oh well these things make you tougher.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
1 minute ago, Metis_LDS said:

Thank for trying to help. My Dad passing away when I was 8 years old was awful but probably saved my life if you know what I mean.  What went really wrong is that no other man really treated me as a son.  I do not bond well with men I fear it is because I was raise by my Grandmother and Mother.  Grandma was basically good but not available to have emotions with. My Mom was pretty much insane but could not be forced to treatment because she was not dangerous. Grandfather died before my father.  Oh well these things make you tougher.

Was mich nicht umbringt ... .  :)

Not all of us fall all the time safely inside statistical probable norms.

And do not, under any circumstances, ask about my Mommy issues.  :P

Share this post


Link to post
On 2/7/2018 at 9:06 AM, USU78 said:

Jonathan Edward's wrathful godling is an abomination.  He doesn't exist, and to the extent he once did,  Nietzsche was right.  He is, or dang well should be, dead.

What is amazing to me is that Neitzschean perspectivism is seen as antithetical to Mormonism and yet we have an open canon and each individual is encouraged to receive their own direct revelations from God.

The idea that truth is contextual is an abomination to many, yet DC 93 says

Quote

30 All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

which to me implies the active living nature of truth and its intelligent creation which is essential to existence itself.   Without our organization of truth through intelligence there can be no existence.  Sometimes it appears that truth is "discovered" and that usage is common.  Sometimes it appears that truth is "created" through organization.

"New" species of fish are often "discovered" in fish markets in Asia where fishermen have known about that species habits for generations in knowing how to catch and cook them, and yet they are not "discovered" until a scientist puts them into their "proper" taxonomy and suddenly the "new" species is "discovered" https://www.earthtouchnews.com/discoveries/new-species/crab-found-in-chinese-fish-market-turns-out-to-be-a-new-species/

Is that discovery or creation of a new taxonomy?   It is often said that Columbus "discovered America" when of course we know that was an unpleasant surprise to the indigenous peoples who lived there.  I am not so sure they were happy to have been "discovered" and yet from a European perspective it was almost as if a new world had been "created" and indeed the very words "New World" imply just that.

As far as I have heard the Americas are geologically no "newer" than Asia.  ;)

There is a fascinating article written by President Kimball in which the tension between what is "absolutely true" and that which is true in "spheres" is palpable and is one of my favorite examples of this phenomenon. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1978/09/absolute-truth?lang=eng  But of course our dear president Kimball was not intending this to be a philosophical discourse, but a lesson in how to live our lives balancing ideas which always work for mankind with those which change in their utility.  Philosophers often distinguish between "judgemental relativism" as opposed to "factual relativism"  and I think that distinction accounts for the apparent conflict in some of President Kimball's statements.  But again, his purpose was to teach about Christ and not a philosophical discourse, thank God.  This very distinction is a perfect example of "spheres" of knowledge!

Change must always be balanced with what is stable, for in this dialectic one cannot have one without the other.  Proponents of unchangeable truth often attack relativists with the accusation that "relativism cannot be true if there is no truth" or say that relativists believe that relativism is absolutely true and so they contradict their own position.

This was a crux of a discussion against relativism brought forth by by Peter Boghossian in a famous book called "Fear of Knowledge"  and this book was widely accepted as absolute truth itself by many of the new atheists https://www.amazon.com/Fear-Knowledge-Against-Relativism-Constructivism/dp/0199230412

Unfortunately it was later pointed out to Boghossian that the true relativist position was more along the lines of "Even relativism is only relatively true" which of course would be consistent with a true form of relativism.  Because he could not get outside his own paradigm for absolute truth, in the final analysis the book was ineffective  because it begged the question from the beginning that truth was absolute.

I heartily sustain President Kimball as a prophet seer and revelator in teaching this principle, even though I might disagree with some of his wording as a non-specialist in philosophical wording.

The semantics become irrelevant- but the principle taught IS "absolutely true"!  Truth exists in spheres- and that IS the absolute truth!!   "Nothing as as constant as change!"

This mode of thought hearkens back to Heraclitus who compared reality to a vast river which was eternally constant- but constant only in it's continual changing!

Edited by mfbukowski
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
On 2/6/2018 at 4:11 PM, Brother Bear said:

 

Curious what you mean by “correct” in light of the first quote from your post. 

VERY briefly for me a "true" perception of the world "as it is" is pre-lingusitic, meaning the feeling, or the raw experience itself before it is put into words, and then we inevitably distort it by putting it into words.  So Nietzsche said "there are no facts, just interpretations"

There are contextual ways of saying things, some of which are better than others, and some are termed "correct" or "true" because within a context, that formulation does its job better than another formulation yet no group of words are exactly and absolutely "correct" yet we use that term all the time.   So it is correct in a relative sense.

One example I always use is driving up a mountain road and rounding a corner and suddenly having a beautiful mountain scene reveal itself.

Our first reaction is awe, perhaps, unspeakable awe, and then we stutter out perhaps the word "BEAUTIFUL!"  or a simple "WOW"!

How descriptive are those utterances?  ;)  There are no words to describe why that scene is "beautiful".  That has to be the most ambiguous word in the English language- it can describe anything to the point of being virtually meaningless.

So for me that is the "world as it is"- as it directly presents itself to us and how our perceptions are created.

So too with religious experience.  The feeling that you are loved by God is unspeakble.  The awe of seeing the milky way can be unspeakable.   Joseph's visions were unspeakable and so we have different descriptions.  Colors cannot be described to blind people.  How does an oboe sound differently than a trumpet?   Why is an itchy mosquito bite so compelling?

What makes a person "beautiful" and why do we use the same word for a mountain scene?  What do they have in common?

Those are all the "world as it is"- direct, pre-verbal experience.

In parables we hear of the "Adamic language" which could handle such description until the Tower of Babel, and language has been "confounded" ever since.  ;)

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
17 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Change must always be balanced with what is stable, for in this dialectic one cannot have one without the other.  Proponents of unchangeable truth often attack relativists with the accusation that "relativism cannot be true if there is no truth" or say that relativists believe that relativism is absolutely true and so they contradict their own position.

I suspect most situations where these attacks come have to do with ethical and moral behaviors.  And that goes as much for the Mormon as the antiMormon.

How often do we hear the prissy Protestant or smart-allecky 13-year-old nascent Athiest whine about the Nephi/Laban incident, claiming that Mormon TRVTH claims utterly fail because [they infer, since the Biblical text doesn't say it] it is always a sin to kill somebody.  The radical anti-War and anti-death-penalty activist suffers from the same myopia. 

If G-d commands Abram or Nephi to kill somebody, there's usually a very good reason.  The "sphere" in which the commandment is given is everything.  For Nephi, the "sphere" in which the commandment was given was the death sentence previously pronounced by the plutocratic, thieving ganglord lying in his own vomit in the ditch, and the previously given commandment to retrieve the Plates.

And Abram's big test was to kill his own son.  Three great world religions [arguably four] base their TRVTH claims on an incident where the contextualizing "sphere" involves G-d's command to commit the very sin Abram spent his life thitherto railing against:  child sacrifice.  Abram obeyed, as Nephi would later obey, notwithstanding the "sphere" offered no particular comfort for the big exception to the general rule.

This isn't a tangential issue.  It's at the core of our faith.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
33 minutes ago, USU78 said:

I suspect most situations where these attacks come have to do with ethical and moral behaviors.  And that goes as much for the Mormon as the antiMormon.

How often do we hear the prissy Protestant or smart-allecky 13-year-old nascent Athiest whine about the Nephi/Laban incident, claiming that Mormon TRVTH claims utterly fail because [they infer, since the Biblical text doesn't say it] it is always a sin to kill somebody.  The radical anti-War and anti-death-penalty activist suffers from the same myopia. 

If G-d commands Abram or Nephi to kill somebody, there's usually a very good reason.  The "sphere" in which the commandment is given is everything.  For Nephi, the "sphere" in which the commandment was given was the death sentence previously pronounced by the plutocratic, thieving ganglord lying in his own vomit in the ditch, and the previously given commandment to retrieve the Plates.

And Abram's big test was to kill his own son.  Three great world religions [arguably four] base their TRVTH claims on an incident where the contextualizing "sphere" involves G-d's command to commit the very sin Abram spent his life thitherto railing against:  child sacrifice.  Abram obeyed, as Nephi would later obey, notwithstanding the "sphere" offered no particular comfort for the big exception to the general rule.

This isn't a tangential issue.  It's at the core of our faith.

No you are absolutely right and I had never noticed that ironic point which is a total refutation of fundamentalism, that the bible "says exactly what it means"!

It's all there in a nutshell in one universally accepted story: situational ethics, spheres of truth and contextualism right there for all in the Old Testament yet!!

Absolutely yes, it is at the very CORE.of "true religion" and is a pretty irrefutable example in my opinion.  Great call.

I will have to steal that one immediately!  ;)

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
5 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

No you are absolutely right and I had never noticed that ironic point which is a total refutation of fundamentalism, that the bible "says exactly what it means"!

It's all there in a nutshell in one universally accepted story: situational ethics, spheres of truth and contextualism right there for all in the Old Testament yet!!

Absolutely yes, it is at the very CORE.of "true religion" and is a pretty irrefutable example in my opinion.  Great call.

I will have to steal that one immediately!  ;)

 

You better, and publish [email protected] quick!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
On 2/6/2018 at 4:37 PM, USU78 said:

If we have no illusions about what and who we are, and if we free ourselves from our inherited down to the bone Jonathan Edwards conception of G-d as terror inspiring holder of the web strand over the flames, if we come to understand that our lives, our salvation is a collaborative enterprise with loving, kind Beings Who have only our benefit at heart, then we have a correct understanding, a correct attitude, a correct relationship.

Then what of God's justice, USU78?  It may seem scandalous to LDS, but the Bible has far more passages about the wrath of God against sin and sinners than it does about His love.  And worth noting that no one spoke of the reality of Hell in the Bible more often than Jesus.

You impugn Jonathan Edwards, but tell us how your "correct understanding" fits the reality and the horror of the cross, where God died in our place for our sins. 

--Erik

 ___________________________________________________

Do you wish to see God’s love?  Look at the Cross.
Do you wish to see God’s wrath?  Look at the Cross.

--D.A. Carson, "God's Love and God's Wrath"

Share this post


Link to post
23 hours ago, Five Solas said:

Then what of God's justice, USU78?  It may seem scandalous to LDS, but the Bible has far more passages about the wrath of God against sin and sinners than it does about His love.  And worth noting that no one spoke of the reality of Hell in the Bible more often than Jesus.

You impugn Jonathan Edwards, but tell us how your "correct understanding" fits the reality and the horror of the cross, where God died in our place for our sins. 

--Erik

 ___________________________________________________

Do you wish to see God’s love?  Look at the Cross.
Do you wish to see God’s wrath?  Look at the Cross.

--D.A. Carson, "God's Love and God's Wrath"

G-d's justice.  Yes, what of it?  What is it for?  Why does it exist?  Did He create it or is it, being a concept, something that has existence separate from Him?  And is our conception of justice the same as His?  "My thoughts are not your thoughts," He teaches us.  Why should we assume we can understand what He thinks on this or any other subject? 

You seem awfully certain that every instance of a Biblical expression of G-d's anger/wrath is (a) directed at the person himself and not his behavior, (b) precludes the possibility of that anger/wrath not abating upon repentance [have you not ever read Jonah?], and that perhaps (c) what we perceive as His anger/wrath is not simply the natural flow of consequences for our own stupid, often willful choices?

As an exercise a few years ago, I snipped out all of the return/repentance sections of Isaiah and included them in a little virtual pamphlet I would read from time to time.  Since the two terms are identical in Hebrew [their conception of peoplehood being bound up both in the real estate and the Torah], you don't have to assume every time G-d or His Prophet says, "Return, O backsliding Israel" that He's talking about where the backslider is living, but rather what he's up to.

I, quite frankly, find as much, sometimes I think more of G-d's love expressed to real people in real time and in real, intimate terms in the OT than in the New.

As for Br'er Edwards  ...  would you want him as your confessor?

Me neither.

To a Mormon type, he is exactly the kind of problematic professor of Protestant Christianity that the Master had in mind when enjoining against joining any of the churches active in the Finger Lakes region back in ~1820.

As for the Horror of the Cross  ...  what greater act of love could be imagined than that cosmic undertaking?  To know of a love so intimate that it applies to every individual who ever lived or who will ever live, to know that the lover knows each one intimately, yet all equally profoundly, is to love correctly.  And to return that love implies a correct understanding. 

Nietzsche's dead godling inspires no such love.  But we all understanding him all too correctly.

Edited by USU78
Wasn't finished.
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
On 2/12/2018 at 9:43 AM, USU78 said:

G-d's justice.  Yes, what of it?  What is it for?  Why does it exist?  Did He create it or is it, being a concept, something that has existence separate from Him?  And is our conception of justice the same as His?  "My thoughts are not your thoughts," He teaches us.  Why should we assume we can understand what He thinks on this or any other subject? 

You seem awfully certain that every instance of a Biblical expression of G-d's anger/wrath is (a) directed at the person himself and not his behavior, (b) precludes the possibility of that anger/wrath not abating upon repentance [have you not ever read Jonah?], and that perhaps (c) what we perceive as His anger/wrath is not simply the natural flow of consequences for our own stupid, often willful choices?

As an exercise a few years ago, I snipped out all of the return/repentance sections of Isaiah and included them in a little virtual pamphlet I would read from time to time.  Since the two terms are identical in Hebrew [their conception of peoplehood being bound up both in the real estate and the Torah], you don't have to assume every time G-d or His Prophet says, "Return, O backsliding Israel" that He's talking about where the backslider is living, but rather what he's up to.

I, quite frankly, find as much, sometimes I think more of G-d's love expressed to real people in real time and in real, intimate terms in the OT than in the New.

As for Br'er Edwards  ...  would you want him as your confessor?

Me neither.

To a Mormon type, he is exactly the kind of problematic professor of Protestant Christianity that the Master had in mind when enjoining against joining any of the churches active in the Finger Lakes region back in ~1820.

As for the Horror of the Cross  ...  what greater act of love could be imagined than that cosmic undertaking?  To know of a love so intimate that it applies to every individual who ever lived or who will ever live, to know that the lover knows each one intimately, yet all equally profoundly, is to love correctly.  And to return that love implies a correct understanding. 

Nietzsche's dead godling inspires no such love.  But we all understanding him all too correctly.

Appreciate the thoughtful reply, it will take more than a five minute exercise to do it any approximation of justice.  Maybe this weekend. 

Happy Valentines Day, USU78

--Erik

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
On 2/12/2018 at 10:43 AM, USU78 said:

G-d's justice.  Yes, what of it?  What is it for?  Why does it exist?  Did He create it or is it, being a concept, something that has existence separate from Him?  And is our conception of justice the same as His?  "My thoughts are not your thoughts," He teaches us.  Why should we assume we can understand what He thinks on this or any other subject? 

You seem awfully certain that every instance of a Biblical expression of G-d's anger/wrath is (a) directed at the person himself and not his behavior, (b) precludes the possibility of that anger/wrath not abating upon repentance [have you not ever read Jonah?], and that perhaps (c) what we perceive as His anger/wrath is not simply the natural flow of consequences for our own stupid, often willful choices?

As an exercise a few years ago, I snipped out all of the return/repentance sections of Isaiah and included them in a little virtual pamphlet I would read from time to time.  Since the two terms are identical in Hebrew [their conception of peoplehood being bound up both in the real estate and the Torah], you don't have to assume every time G-d or His Prophet says, "Return, O backsliding Israel" that He's talking about where the backslider is living, but rather what he's up to.

I, quite frankly, find as much, sometimes I think more of G-d's love expressed to real people in real time and in real, intimate terms in the OT than in the New.

As for Br'er Edwards  ...  would you want him as your confessor?

Me neither.

To a Mormon type, he is exactly the kind of problematic professor of Protestant Christianity that the Master had in mind when enjoining against joining any of the churches active in the Finger Lakes region back in ~1820.

As for the Horror of the Cross  ...  what greater act of love could be imagined than that cosmic undertaking?  To know of a love so intimate that it applies to every individual who ever lived or who will ever live, to know that the lover knows each one intimately, yet all equally profoundly, is to love correctly.  And to return that love implies a correct understanding. 

Nietzsche's dead godling inspires no such love.  But we all understanding him all too correctly.

It’s interesting to examine the debate between Penal Substitution and Christus Victor theories of Atonement. I find whichever one the individual adheres to determines how you interpret biblical passages of mercy and judgment.

Share this post


Link to post
On 2/6/2018 at 3:40 PM, USU78 said:

MFBukowski and I have had conversations in the past hereabouts on the subject of JSJr's and Mormonism's unique ability to anticipate modern philosophical thought.  The Late XVIIIth-Early XIXth Century poet, playwright, and thinker Schiller advised his hypothetical philosopher king to pursue through aesthetics the worthy goal of transcending matter and mind in order to become a creator through play [Spieltrieb].  JSJr taught that we are, at our most fundamental, both in our prior life, our present life, and in our life to come, demiurgical beings.  We once helped to create the world we now live in.  We seek to continue on to be creators with and for G-d in the hereafter.  We are to create in partnership with G-d, as He communicates TRVTH in our hearts and in our minds, an abundant life here.

It is the creation of that abundant life that I wish to explore in this thread, and all are welcome to offer what they wish, so long as it's on topic.

It occurred to me reading Alma 34:37, which is connected to and of a kind with Philippians 2:12-13, that "working out our salvation" is just another way of saying we are to create that abundant life here.

Now, yes, there's the often confusing "fear and trembling" [phobos kai tromos] which suggests the attitude we should bring to the work of our creation of our lives.  Let's get this at least partway out of our way, however.  That is a paraphrase of Psalm 2:11, which states: "Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling."  Cf.  Psalms 55:5.

The "fear" in the Hebrew [which is also translated in the Septuagint as phobos], is more in the nature of "respect" and "awe," rather than terror, and the way that "trembling" is presented in the Psalm is likewise not to be understood as "shaking in fear" as used, but rather in excitement and joy.  We are thus to "work out our salvation" with respect for G-d, standing in awe of Him, but with great joy to the point of trembling.

As MFB never tires of pointing out, our ability to perceive the world around us, the phenomena we encounter and, to a certain extent, even ourselves [please keep Freud out of this], depends upon our senses communicating data to our minds and hearts.  We can know nothing except as filtered through our perceptions and colored by our experiences.  Thus we in a sense create the world by taking in our perceptions of it, making sense of those perceptions by employing our native abilities and our experience.  Our salvation, I argue, we create "work out" in the same way.  The key to making our lives abundant, however, is in that Hebrew/Greek idiom phobos kai tromos.  Only by having a correct attitude towards G-d, a correct conception of Him and relationship with Him, can we hope to live in abundant joy to the point of dancing naked on the beach, having created a world where such joy is an everyday thing.

Men are, after all, that they might have joy.

Have at it!

Have you ever read any George Macdonald? Unfortunately he’s mostly known for being one of the major influences on C.S. Lewis but he’s written some interesting fiction and nonfiction about the nature of God in a beautiful way. I’d recommend for your reading pleasure his book Lilith. You could probably get a free copy electronically if you have a Kindle.

Share this post


Link to post

The Princess and Curdie...my dream Grandma.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
On 2/12/2018 at 9:43 AM, USU78 said:

G-d's justice.  Yes, what of it?  What is it for?  Why does it exist?  Did He create it or is it, being a concept, something that has existence separate from Him?  And is our conception of justice the same as His?  "My thoughts are not your thoughts," He teaches us.  Why should we assume we can understand what He thinks on this or any other subject? 

You seem awfully certain that every instance of a Biblical expression of G-d's anger/wrath is (a) directed at the person himself and not his behavior, (b) precludes the possibility of that anger/wrath not abating upon repentance [have you not ever read Jonah?], and that perhaps (c) what we perceive as His anger/wrath is not simply the natural flow of consequences for our own stupid, often willful choices?

As an exercise a few years ago, I snipped out all of the return/repentance sections of Isaiah and included them in a little virtual pamphlet I would read from time to time.  Since the two terms are identical in Hebrew [their conception of peoplehood being bound up both in the real estate and the Torah], you don't have to assume every time G-d or His Prophet says, "Return, O backsliding Israel" that He's talking about where the backslider is living, but rather what he's up to.

I, quite frankly, find as much, sometimes I think more of G-d's love expressed to real people in real time and in real, intimate terms in the OT than in the New.

As for Br'er Edwards  ...  would you want him as your confessor?

Me neither.

To a Mormon type, he is exactly the kind of problematic professor of Protestant Christianity that the Master had in mind when enjoining against joining any of the churches active in the Finger Lakes region back in ~1820.

As for the Horror of the Cross  ...  what greater act of love could be imagined than that cosmic undertaking?  To know of a love so intimate that it applies to every individual who ever lived or who will ever live, to know that the lover knows each one intimately, yet all equally profoundly, is to love correctly.  And to return that love implies a correct understanding. 

Nietzsche's dead godling inspires no such love.  But we all understanding him all too correctly.

Having given a little more time & consideration to your post--

:0)

Your opening questions—what is God’s justice for, why does it exist, did he create it, etc.—they simply go beyond what has been revealed in Scripture.  Perhaps the closest we get is found in the Book of Job, wherein Job charges God with injustice and God answers him from the whirlwind.  But it’s not an answer the reader might expect.  You could even say it wasn’t a real answer at all.  But Job answers the answer—by repenting “in dust and ashes” (42:6).  And reader isn’t left to doubt the appropriateness of Job’s response.

On to your second paragraph, this one is straightforward.  And I’ll lift my answer from the previous link I shared (which you appear to have overlooked).

Fourteen times in the first fifty psalms alone, the psalmists state that God hates the sinner, that His wrath is on the liar, and so forth. In the Bible the wrath of God rests on both the sin (Rom. 1:18–23) and the sinner (1:24–32; 2:5; John 3:36).

I think this addresses your next couple of paragraphs as well, as they seem based on the same premise.

Regarding Jonathan Edwards—suffice it to say I don’t share your revulsion.  That we really are as loathsome as some poisonous insect in our rebellion and deserve to be dropped into the fire (the image that so scandalizes you)—well, it certainly makes me appreciate God’s grace as revealed in the person & work of Jesus.  A lower view of grace must necessarily follow any other understanding.  And really, why would you champion for that?

Last but not least, The Cross.  You call it an "act of love"—but what do you say Christ’s work thereon accomplished?  Certainly not the finished work of salvation (which would be my answer) as you appear strongly opposed to such a reading.

So kindly tell us what you think this “cosmic undertaking” actually accomplished?  It's your turn now to provide some answers, USU78.

--Erik

_______________________________________________________

I believe in the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, If God had not chosen me, I should never had chosen him; and I am sure he chose me before I was born, or else he would never had chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for some reason unknown to me, for I never could have found any reason in myself why he should have looked upon me with special love.

--Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Share this post


Link to post
On 2/18/2018 at 6:11 PM, Five Solas said:

Your opening questions—what is God’s justice for, why does it exist, did he create it, etc.—they simply go beyond what has been revealed in Scripture.  Perhaps the closest we get is found in the Book of Job, wherein Job charges God with injustice and God answers him from the whirlwind.  But it’s not an answer the reader might expect.  You could even say it wasn’t a real answer at all.  But Job answers the answer—by repenting “in dust and ashes” (42:6).  And reader isn’t left to doubt the appropriateness of Job’s response.

Quite so.  G-d answers from the whirlwind, giving context to man's suffering as being bound up in creation itself.  The Creator has an agenda for man.  These things are clear.

G-d doesn't clarify much on the very crucial and central questions I posed, however.  Except in His actions following the trials and the confrontation from the whirlwind.  He rewarded the man who endured well, who finished the race.  Is that an act of justice?  Of course not, at least as justice is conceptualized in Evangelical thought.  He owes us nothing.  He gives out of His sense of generosity.  There is nothing of justice there  ...  as you appear to conceive of justice, a binary 1/2 of a cosmic whole, with mercy being the other 1/2.  In LDS thought, Mercy is everything, notwithstanding what you may have seen in knee-jerk rhetoric responding to Evangelical attacks.  Yes, it can be a useful tool in approximating the Judgment, but we are foolish if we think the Master does anything without G-d's approval and foreknowledge, regardless how we view Justice vs Mercy.  The Master isn't some sleazy defense attorney.  He acts in collaborative concert with the Father in bringing souls back to Him.  What He is is our adoptive Father, and upon our Baptism He states, "This day have I begotten you."

Quote

 

On to your second paragraph, this one is straightforward.  And I’ll lift my answer from the previous link I shared (which you appear to have overlooked).

Fourteen times in the first fifty psalms alone, the psalmists state that God hates the sinner, that His wrath is on the liar, and so forth. In the Bible the wrath of God rests on both the sin (Rom. 1:18–23) and the sinner (1:24–32; 2:5; John 3:36).

I think this addresses your next couple of paragraphs as well, as they seem based on the same premise.

 

Not really, but I quite understand.  You ignore as too difficult the initial questions I posed. Until you get your hands around those, the rest will have to wait.

Quote

Regarding Jonathan Edwards—suffice it to say I don’t share your revulsion.  That we really are as loathsome as some poisonous insect in our rebellion and deserve to be dropped into the fire (the image that so scandalizes you)—well, it certainly makes me appreciate God’s grace as revealed in the person & work of Jesus.  A lower view of grace must necessarily follow any other understanding.  And really, why would you champion for that?

I don't see G-d approving of the very creatures He made "a little lower than [G-d]" being referred to as loathsome.  Such a notion is indeed repulsive.  Since we are "G-ttes Geschlecht," as Luther translates it [G-d's offspring/generation], and considering the brokenness of our hearts and our lives that we place on the altar for His healing, the Graceful G-d of Mormonism is astonished at those who would so denigrate His children.  Edwards does poorly.  He does so magnificently, but poorly nevertheless.

Quote

 

Last but not least, The Cross.  You call it an "act of love"—but what do you say Christ’s work thereon accomplished?  Certainly not the finished work of salvation (which would be my answer) as you appear strongly opposed to such a reading.

So kindly tell us what you think this “cosmic undertaking” actually accomplished?

 

I'm quite sure I'm not smart enough fully to grasp, let alone express what He undertook, what He suffered, or what He accomplished at the end of His life among us.  If a Being Who is under no obligation to undertake, suffer and accomplish what He did, undertakes, suffers and accomplishes out of, not love, but revulsion for the despicable creatures you say we are, then the universe makes no sense.  Only One Who loves deeply, profoundly, unreservedly could do such a thing.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By mfbukowski
      Now that I have your attention....
      I just found this video which summarizes what Mormons need to know about the alleged conflict between science and religion and how to solve it.
      Richard Rorty is one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century, and happens to be an atheist.
      His argument here is as strong an argument against atheism as one can get, in my humble opinion. All that I have been presenting on this forum I steal from Rory, James and Dewey.
      Don't get put off by the 1:17:00 running time- the last portion is questions and answers which can easily be skipped. Part of the audio is gone, near the very end.
      So my recommendation is to watch the first 40 minutes or so, until the applause starts and the lecture is over, and then skip to the very end- around 1:14:00 and listen to the closing questions.
      It's all right there. If everyone really understood this video, the topics on this forum would change forever.
      Oh- notice that Rorty would be in favor of a religion which sees God as a "Friend". Anybody know of such a religion??

    • By mfbukowski
      There are a few here, I think who might be interested in this topic and others who lurk who might want to comment. Admittedly, this thread will not be for everyone, but it examines the whole idea of the central problems in any Neoplatonic theology and why Mormonism cannot be based on Neoplatonism. And yes, it is long and requires some background but here goes anyway. I posted this a while back on my blog site but I wanted to put it here also.
      Someone recently replied to one of my comments saying something about "Rorty and Wittgenstein, whoever they are". I wanted to make sure that those posting here know who they are, I guess, and why they are important.
      Notes on Rorty's Idea of The Contingency of Language as Seen Through Mormon Eyes.
      Rorty's view of the contingency of language as presented in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity is at first glance problematic for most theists, since Rorty equates belief in God with the belief in a Cartesian reality beyond our direct experience. And there is a further problem for Neoplatonic theists I think, implied by Rorty's position, which relates to the creation of man ex nihilo, with the whole notion of human freedom.
      If God created us ex nihilo there is no portion of "us" which is beyond God's "programming" and so we are not free, additionally, in the Platonic universe all we can know about reality is shadowy illusions or reflections of reality- not reality itself. So for Rorty, the issue of contingency of language and the contingency of the self are related- first, language is contingent and self-referential, because words are not things, nor do they "represent" things because there is no way we can get "beyond" our experience of things to what is some how "out there" beyond our perceptions and appearances. Secondly, what follows is that we ourselves are nothing beyond bundles of "vocabularies" put together by chance and circumstances beyond our control; we are adrift as contingent selves in a contingent world beyond our control. The only control we can have is if we realize these facts and become a "strong poet"- one who knows that she herself is contingent but yet through through that knowledge, ironically (hence she becomes an "ironist" ) thereby gains the ability to choose her own vocabularies and define herself in her own terms- in essence creating herself in her own image, through her own metaphors.
      Further, the lack of understanding of the contingency of language has given rise in the history of philosophy, to the whole discipline called "epistemology" which is what I often post about on this site: - when I say that the only reality we can know is "appearance" and if there is anything beyond it, we cannot know about it.
      As a Pragmatist, Rorty believes that the only "reality" we can know is what we can experience, and so his belief is that Pragmatism has solved the problem that religion and Platonism has created- but where does this leave theistic Pragmatists? If we hold a Pragmatic theory of truth- can we be theists? Would theism be viable in any form to one who thinks as Rorty does? We know of course that William James, one of the founders of Pragmatism had no problems with theism- but how does that relate to Rorty's view?
      Rorty argues convincingly against both the idea of a transcendent God and a transcendent reality in this passage from Contingency Irony and Solidarity: (pages 20 and 21)

      These sorts of arguments by philosophers of language and of science
      should be seen against the background of the work of intellectual historians:
      historians who, like Hans Blumenberg, have tried to trace the similarities and dissimilarities between the Age of Faith and the Age of Reason. These historians have made the point I mentioned earlier: The very idea that the world or the self has an intrinsic nature - one which the physicist or the poet may have glimpsed - is a remnant of the idea
      that the world is a divine creation, the work of someone who had something in mind, who Himself spoke some language in which He described His own project. Only if we have some such picture in mind, some picture of the universe as either itself a person or as created by a person, can we make sense of the idea that the world has an "intrinsic nature."
      For the cash value of that phrase is just that some vocabularies are better
      representations of the world than others, as opposed to being better tools for dealing with the world for one or another purpose.
      To drop the idea of languages as representations, and to be thoroughly
      Wittgensteinian in our approach to language, would be to de-divinize the
      world. Only if we do that can we fully accept the argument I offered
      earlier - the argument that since truth is a property of sentences, since
      sentences are dependent for their existence upon vocabularies, and since
      vocabularies are made by human beings, so are truths. For as long as we
      think that "the world" names something we ought to respect as well as
      cope with, something personlike in that it has a preferred description of
      itself, we shall insist that any philosophical account of truth save the
      "intuition" that truth is "out there." This institution amounts to the
      vague sense that it would be hybris on our part to abandon the traditional
      language of "respect for fact" and "objectivity" - that it would be risky,
      and blasphemous, not to see the scientist (or the philosopher, or the
      poet, or somebody) as having a priestly function, as putting us in touch
      with a realm which transcends the human. Implied in what Rorty is saying is that if God is the Neoplatonic God, we could never experience Him, nor could we ever experience "reality" for both reality and God are beyond what we can as humans experience.
      All we experience is some sort of shadowy representation of a "reality" far beyond our abilities to perceive or understand, which we can see only through "appearances" and which language somehow ineffably "represents", but of course we can never step out of our world of appearances to check to see if the alleged representation actually "corresponds" to the reality beyond.
      But Rorty would say this is not the case. We do in fact experience reality- what reality IS is human experience- and therefore the supposed reality in which God lives, that ineffable transcendent reality is the illusion and therefore God is dead. He is not and cannot be a factor in human life, because the world in which he lives is unapproachable to humanity no longer makes sense to humans. He has become irrelevant to us. In fact, if such a God and/or such a reality ever could exist, we could not know about it because all we can know is what humans can know.
      So is Rorty's argument a good one?
      If God created us ex nihilo, and is transcendent, then Rorty's argument is, I think, a telling one - then there could be no transcendent God and no transcendent reality beyond what we can know and experience.
      This is what Rorty, an atheist, is arguing.
      On the other hand, if God is immanent, which he would have to be to be and our Father in any real sense, Rorty can be correct about epistemology, AND we, theists and especially Mormons, can be right about God- we can know both God and reality through human experience. If God, is immanent, he can be seen as our Father and we can, as humans, know him in some sense, and interact with him, and we can experience his influence in our lives.
      But Rorty did not understand that an immanent God was even a possibility.
      In Neoplatonism there is no part of us which is uniquely "us"- there is no unique portion of the self which has existed forever independently and co-eternal with God, because God created us out of nothing, and thereby programmed our natures. Human nature is what it is like to be human, and this was totally created by God.
      This has deep ramifications which go far beyond this discussion, but one of them is that in a consistent Neoplatonic view of the world, we can never experience God or his influence because he dwells in a transcendent world far beyond our ability to experience as mere mortals in this shadowy world of illusion. Traditional Christianity has tried to resolve these issues virtually since it's beginning, but unsuccessfully. You cannot have a Father God interacting with his children who is yet somehow Transcendent and beyond and Other than us in nature. One need only to read Plato's allegory of the cave for a vivid image of what this world is in that conception. The bottom line is that we could not, and do not experience "reality"- just a shadowy image of a reality which lies permanently beyond our grasp. And we could never experience any kind of Theophany- that would be out of the question. So it would be totally impossible for Joseph, or Stephen in the New Testament for that matter, to have seen God.
      In consistent Platonism, Joseph Smith could not have seen God, nor can God speak to our spirits. God cannot be directly experienced by humans. A consistent Neoplatonic, transcendent God based view is just incompatible with the idea of a loving father who interacts with his children, hears and answers prayers or wants the best for us.
      God cannot be both transcendent and a loving Father.
      For God to be a loving father, he must be immanent. This is the revolutionary insight of Mormonism.
      This turns Rorty's argument against God on its head. In fact Rorty is correct that a transcendent God could not interact with humanity- but Rorty never considered the possibility that God could be immanent! In other words, Rorty had no conception of a God anything like the Mormon God who is in fact a glorified and idealized, perfected human being who can be our "friend" and with whom we have what Rorty would call "solidarity"- with whom we could share a community.
      Doctrine and Covenants 93:45

      45 Verily, I say unto my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., or in other words, I will call you friends, for you are my friends, and ye shall have an inheritance with me— This is not the God of the Neoplatonists, this is an entirely different conception of God- he is our loving Father who can be our "friend", and with whom we are together in the community of humanity, yet of course he is a perfected and idealized human, perhaps infinitely above us, yet in the final analysis, one of us. We are theomorphic men, and he is an anthropomorphic God.
      This community of oneness is also described in the Bible itself.
      John 17

      20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
      21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
      22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
      23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
      24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. In a Mormon context this community is, I believe, exemplified both in the idea of exaltation- that we can become like God himself, and in the notion of the Patriarchal Order, the notion that the goal of mankind should be being sealed together into one huge family of Man, with the Man of Holiness, our Father, at its head.
      Seeing God as Mormons do, squares Rorty's Pragmatic and Constructivist epistemological views perfectly with the Mormon view of God. We are one community tied together in cultures which are formed ultimately by languages and all we can speak about is, obviously what our language allows us to speak about. There can be no "reality" beyond what we can experience both subjectively (incorporating there the idea of what Wittgenstein would see as "unspeakable") and objectively, in our shared world of language, and those experiences include experiencing God personally and subjectively, which experiences can be defined as "unspeakable". Those which can be shared, are shared linguistically, those which cannot "be put into words" cannot be shared.
      But what of Rorty's notion of extending the contingency of language to the contingency of the self?
      Here I think there are some problems.
      I think that what Rorty misses is a kernel of "self" which indeed is beyond language- even his notion of the "ironist" implies I think, that indeed there is some such kernel which selects the vocabularies by which she chooses to define herself. The very notion that I can select my own vocabulary to define myself still implies that there is an "I" who is doing the selecting.
      So has the Cogito we thought we threw away sneaked in through the bathroom window?
      I think not.
      I think Rorty took it as far as he could, and I think that his notion of a community in "solidarity" still rings true.
      I think the solution to this quandary is that our community has always existed, it has just evolved and changed and progressed. It has always been interacting and evolving.
      Asking where it began is like asking where mankind itself began. Did mankind start with the first primeval life form in some pool somewhere? Did language start with great apes or with some first creature which could be defined as "human"? I think the self is both contingent and non-contingent at the same time, from different perspectives. So ultimately our Nietzschean perspectivism still reigns supreme.
      All of life presumes an organism interacting with its environment. Asking which is contingent of those two and which is not, is asking to resolve two different points of view at the same time- and indeed that entire presumption is itself an anti-perspectivist stance.
      So again, we are limited by our linguistic contexts.
      The answers to these questions, as are the answers to all questions, cloaked in metaphor and what we sometimes call "theory". Regardless of what you call those answers, they are shared linguistic descriptions formed in a human mind, be it God's Human Mind or someone else's human mind. And as will all of such questions, some must remain forever unanswered.
      But for my money, the best explanation I have found so far is the Mormon explanation which ensures us that indeed we are part of a community and always have been, perhaps even as what Mormons call "intelligences" even before we were God's children
      God is immanent and our Father.
      God organized us from intelligences, that kernel of "organism" which interacts with "environment" which intelligences were "co-eternal" with him (meaning he was "always" our leader) and we accepted his leadership voluntarily "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7)
      So we are both contingent and non-contingent, free and determined, all depending on how you look at it.
      As always, it comes down finally to one's linguistic perspective.
×