God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob; Not of the Philosophers and Intellectuals

According to so-called “classical theism,” God is wholly immutable, or unchanging. Not only can he never change in character, or nature; he cannot change in any respect whatsoever. He does not have changing thoughts; he does not have changing emotions (he is “impassible”). Indeed, he does not even experience sequence in his thoughts, emotions, or life generally. He is wholly “timeless,” with no before or after, with no sequence at all. His existence is somehow a timeless nunc (“now”). Continue reading

The God of the Flood

Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Yahweh was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and he was grieved to his heart. Yahweh said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6.5-7)

All Bible readers are familiar with the story of the flood recorded in the Book of Genesis (or Bereshit as it is called in the Jewish tradition). The story is a sober one. After all, God destroyed the entire world, except for one family and representative pairs of animals. But from the story, particularly the introduction of the story in Genesis 6.5-7, we can learn a lot about God that might surprise us when we compare how this ancient Hebrew narrative depicts God with the “classical” conception of God rooted in Greek philosophy. Continue reading

How Calvinist are Calvinist Churches?

I have often wondered how many people who attend Calvinist churches really realize that the official position of their church and of their elders and pastors is that God has ordained and so determines all things that occur in the universe. They know their pastors and elders make much of God being “sovereign,” but do they really realize this is what their church means by God being “sovereign”? Continue reading

Why Did Adam and Eve Sin?

According to the Book of Genesis, after God created the first human beings, Adam and then Eve, he issued a specific command that they should not eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2.17a). And he affixed to this command a sanction that, should they disobey the command, then on that day they would “surely die” (Genesis 2.17b). The narrative then goes on to tell the story of how Eve, tempted by a speaking serpent, chose to disobey God’s command by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3.1-6a). Moreover, we are told that Eve gave of the fruit to Adam, and he too then ate and thus disobeyed God’s command as well (Genesis 3.6b). Continue reading

The Myth of Original Sin

The doctrine of original sin says that as a result of Adam’s sin all of Adam’s posterity besides Jesus are born with a “sinful nature,” whereby they are physically unable to do anything but sin; they cannot do good. For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.” Continue reading

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams

Below is a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to John Adams toward the end of their lives (remarkably they died on the same day-Independence Day July 4, 1826-within five hours of each other). In the letter, Jefferson reveals his religious sentiments, pulling no punches about Calvinism and the doctrine of the trinity (he calls it “tritheism”). In the course of the letter, he also endorses the teleological argument, or argument from design, making an eloquent presentation of the argument. What strikes me most is the vehemence of Jefferson’s denunciation of Calvinism. A mere mention of John Calvin’s name by Adams (in his previous letter to Jefferson), and not even in a theological context,  sets Jefferson off. Continue reading