Tuesday, April 23, 2013

God as a Historical Character

Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.

   Many times in religion verses secularism, we assume an even playing field.
We think that there is no objective record of God and that everything about God must then be blind faith.
   When we look at the scriptures, they are automatically seen as myth, with no historical basis.  But in reality the Bible is not just some book fairy tales and fantasy and the authors of scripture had no intent of believing fantasy either.

2Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
Titus 1:13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
Galatians 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.  12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

 So if a myth was ok in the minds of the apostles and prophets to make up.... Why would they tell people that myths are wrong? And Why would they be believed?  People at the time knew about myths and that they should be rejected.   The Greeks eventually rejected mythological answers for the beginning of the world.
"Pre-Socratic philosophy is Greek philosophy before Socrates (but includes schools contemporary with Socrates which were not influenced by him[1])."
"The Presocratic philosophers rejected traditional mythological explanations of the phenomena they saw around them in favor of more rational explanations. These philosophers asked questions about "the essence of things":[4]

From where does everything come?
From what is everything created?
How do we explain the plurality of things found in nature?
How might we describe nature mathematically?"
Wikipedia pre-socratic philosophy
   So if the pagan histories were admitted to be myth.  Then the only History left is the biblical record.

   Now many in the past have argued that Genesis was nothing more than a myth.  Yet these arguments did not happen until the modern era.

Luke 3:38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

  Here we have a genealogy, which list God at the head of it.  This is important, as the Bible has now concluded God to be manifested immanently in space and time.

Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.

  So here Paul gathers pagan confirmation of the historicity of God.  If mankind is the offspring of God then He is a historical character.

In fact God interacts with historical characters
Genesis 2:16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
 So, here we see God in the process of communicating to Adam

Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

  Here we see God as a male person.  This means that God is personal. if you are a person, you are either male or female. "It" is not a person.  God needs to be personal to interact with humanity and be part of history.

Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
  This is a very interesting account because it not only has God acting, but it has him dialoguing with 3 persons.

So how long is the day?
2 Peter 3:But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

  Many interpet this passage to apply to genesis concerning the length of days.   However the context is not creation but future judgement.  The day is a thousand years comment is refering to the fact that God transcends time.  It is explaining why God can wait for mankind to repent before He delivers Judgement to us all.  It is not concerning History.
 However while God is transcendent, He is also immanent.  No better proof can be seen but that which is in christ.
Colossians2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily
John 14:7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

  So God acted immanently in the process of creation; and he was an immanent historical character.

Did the Jews really think this was historical?
Here I see confirmation in the writings of the jewish historian Flavius Josephus.
"At that time all living creatures spoke a common language, and a serpent maliciously lured a woman into tasting of the tree of wisdom, promising a blissful existence equal to that of a god.  She tasted the tree's fruit, and persuaded Adam to do so also.  Now aware that they were naked, they covered themselves with fig leaves.  When God entered the garden, Adam tried to excuse himself by blaming Eve, and she accused the serpent.  God told Adam that the earth would no longer produce anything of itself except in return for grinding toil.  He punished Eve through childbirth, and deprived the serpent of speech, putting poison under it's tongue.  He also removed it's feet so that it would have to wiggle along the ground.  Then God removed Adam and Eve from the garden to another place."   Jewish Antiquities: Beginnings  trans. Paul L Maier 
Obviously, Josephus assumed this to be true history and assumed Genesis to be a historicasl record,

What about the pagan record of Adam and Eve?
 Paganism started after the tower of Babel incident, which proceeded after the Worldwide Flood.  Virtually every ancient society has a story of some sort about the worldwide flood.  Also every ancient secular human history is typically about 5,000 years while the Biblical history is 6,000.  This millenia is because the Bible has the historical record of creation and the world prior to the flood.

Which person?
  At this time I have not exhaustively studied the doctrine of God in the Old Testament.  The difficulty comes in deciphering when the title God(elohim) is used in this immanent way, which person is being referred to.(Is He the Father or Word in the Garden?)  Typically scholars have taught that when God is physically manifested(for instance... the fiery furnace of shadrach,Meshaach and abedneggo)  that this is a christophany( pre-incarnate manifestation of the Son/Word).  Also many scholars teach that when "God" is used as a singular person then that refers to the Father. (the Son and the Ghost are only described as god)
 I could speculate about the usages but prefer to wait until the time I have exhaustively studied this issue.  In the meantime I have simply focused upon the term "character"

  Of course, the main objection with God as a historical figure is naturalism.  The idea that there is nothing supernatural.  Therefore every record of anything either miraculous or out of the ordinary is mythological.
  While there are indeed many myths and while nature indeed runs it's regular course, people in the ancient times recognized this.
Ecclesiastes 1:4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
   However, that does not prove that the system can not be interrupted.  More telling is the fact that the modern mind lives in a fallacy concerning the past.  It assume things were always the way that they are right now.  Yet we live in a world that is constantly and drastically changing.  What foundation do we have to think that the past was not also drastically different?
We assume that the supernatural is impossible.  When we do not have the omniscience required to make such a declaration. Not to mention the fact that we have not personally investigated every one of the millions of claims of some type of supernatural or paranormal activity.  If we could prove this much we would still be incapable of refuting the fact that it happened in the past.
  Besides if naturalism were true, wouldn't we see such pure skepticism throughout history of the supernatural?  Why would it take several millenia to come up with a rule?
   So in effect, this is evidence for God's existence.

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