Damascene Cosmology – Does God change his mind?

One charge that can be brought against the Christian God (from here on I’ll simply say “God” and assume the “Chrisitan God” when saying God, unless otherwise specified) is that he appears to change his mind in Scripture, which would indicate that he is not immutable. Aside from changing his mind, we see that God regrets certain things, meaning that it’s possible that he did not foresee an action coming and therefore is within time or at least subject to have to react to time, in which case he is not immutable.

The first passage that critics can bring up is Genesis 6:6, which states that the Lord repented (or regretted) making humans because of their sin. The critic would say that by not having such foreknowledge of humans, God was unable to see that his creation would turn against him in such a horrible way. Thus, he had to react to humans and deal with them in a different way. He had to change how he dealt with humans; rather than walking with them or trying to send a prophet, he sent a flood. The important part of the argument is that God supposedly had to change how he dealt with humans, which would indicate a change in God.

The second passage critics could turn to is Exodus 32:14. In this passage, God has caught Israel sinning and threatens to wipe them out and restart with Moses. Moses intercedes on behalf of the Hebrews and God changes his mind and decides to stick with his original plan. The critic will point out that we have God saying one thing and then being convinced to do another. The critic will point to this as proof that God is possible of change and therefore applies to the idea of an infinite regress. Continue reading


Four Types of Heresy – Rejection of God as God

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In early Christianity, most of those who rejected a doctrine of God generally rejected His ability to create. They bought into the Gnostic belief that the material world was created by aeons or “little gods” or angels. Others, however, taught that matter pre-existed God and that God came along the scene, formed matter to His likening, and let it go. Though He had a plan for creation, He had no way of causing this plan to come about. We see this in modern heresies too. Whether someone denies that God has foreknowledge or is truly good or the strange theology of Weakness Theology (as per Caputo’s book, The Weakness of God, specifically chapter 3 where Caputo declares, “God is not omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, eternal, or supersensuous.” [p73]), some modern-day heresies begin with the denial of who God is.

For instance, the Damascene speaks of the Theocatagnostae (“Condemners of God”) who sought to find the faults within God. As John of Damascus explains:

“The Theocatagnostae, who are also called Blasphemers, try to find fault with [the Lord] for certain words and actions, as well as with the holy persons associated with Him, and with the sacred Scriptures. They are foolhardy and blasphemous people.” (Heresy 92)

In other words, those who say, “God was wrong” or that we shouldn’t trust all of Scripture are heretics. This might seem inflammatory to some, but others wear the title proudly. Caputo, on page 69 of his book, reverses the role of the serpent and God and says the serpent was telling the truth while God was being crafty. Such sentiment is not limited to Caputo (who few people have heard of). Instead, a studier of Caputo, my friend Peter Rollins also decides to shift the blame to God and make the serpent look innocent (chapter 2 of his book The Fidelity of Betrayal). For instance, Rollins, in talking about the narrative of the serpent deceiving Adam and Eve, supposes that God doesn’t have to be right and the serpent wrong. In a footnote to saying this, Rollins states:

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How to make Shelby Spong look conservative

Many of the leaders in the Emergent Movement have just gotten…well…weird lately. Tony Jones, for example, has been falling further and further off the deep end. He has especially caught my attention, from posting an article from the Huffington post that mocks Rick Warren’s prayer (not that I’m a huge fan of Warren, but what he’s mocked for is what all real Christians believe), to talking about how motherhood is not a calling, discussing how homosexuality is acceptable (though he admits a “weakness” in the argument), celebrating interfaith heroes month, and how conservative Christians are somehow Gnostic (which is somewhat of a joke as he misrepresents what Gnosticism is). Let’s also not forget that believing in the Trinity is optional according to Jones. Let’s also not forget that Doug Pagitt is running for public office in Minnesota. 

Before getting into the issue I want to discuss, I must ask this: Whatever happened to the “Third Way” that the EC was going to provide? How is anything above different from the liberalism that has plagued Christianity for the past two hundred years? The inerrancy of Scripture, Christian ethics, conservative Christians, the exclusivity of Christ, and the doctrine of God are all challenges by the EC, just as they were with the liberals. The greatest irony is that Christian liberalism is a direct result of the Enlightenment (modernism) and the EC has gone to great lengths to show how modernism is bad. Yet, a great portion of their beliefs center on modernistic ideas.

With all the “weirdness” above, however, I think John Caputo takes the cake this week. In quoting from his book The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event (Indiana Press University, 2005), I want to show how far the EC has begun to dive into heresy.

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The comfort of God’s sovereignty

The other day I heard an advertisement on the radio for a group of psychics here in Fort Worth. They promised accurate readings that can’t be found from other psychics in the area or on the phone. I laughed and made fun of it – how in the world could anyone believe that stuff? I haven’t thought about it until today, but without Christ I would see the need to consult a psychic. Continue reading