Patristic Theology and Modern Science Pt 5

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We know the all important understanding of this discussion is always from the perspective of complete and utter union with God in Jesus Christ.  Every aspect of our humanity including the body of our soul and the soul of our body, our rationale and perception is now in Christ who is in us and we are in Him (John 14:20).  We understand Christ who is in union with all things, the One who created the whole universe and everything in it from out of nothing.  We understand Him as the One in whom all things consists and are held together (Col 1:15-22).  We understand Him as the One in whom we live move and have our being (Acts 17:21).  We understand Him as the only One knows the Father (Matt. 11:25-30).  We understand that our atonement is so far reaching that even our human rationale is in union with the rationale of God in Jesus Christ.  We also understand there is also the logic and rationale of God created into the whole universe.    This is how the Patristic church understood their doctrine of creation.  Its structure and nature is contingent upon Jesus Christ.  The knowledge of God, the knowledge of humanity and all things created, visible and invisible is contingent upon God. The reality of all things and how they work in nature is also contingent upon Jesus Christ.

Now let us consider what we have been discussing so far.  If we are to intimately understand who God is as the Man Jesus Christ, then this will have an impact on how we are to know, understand and interpret God, His relationship to us and  the world around us. Jesus Christ is the Reality behind all things.  Jesus Christ is the Source of all the ways and works of God as well as the reality around us.  As we engage with Christ, we meet the One who is our Creator and Maker who is the only one who can disclose to us the Truths of Himself.  We conform our minds to Him and allow our minds to be transformed by the knowledge He reveals to us.  If we are not willing to completely let go of all our preconceived ideas regarding who we believe God to be and what He can do, then we become slaves to our preconceived ideas and subject to them.  If we let go of all our theories, hypothesis and any other preconceptions of God and come to Jesus Christ with empty hands and allow Him to disclose to us the things He knows of Himself, then we become slaves of righteousness to the One who shares the only truth of God there is.  There is no one else we can turn to.  The truth of God is revealed to us on God’s terms and not ours.

John 17:3

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Eternal life is trusting Jesus Christ, the High Priest and Mediator of the truth of God to us and the truth of us to God.  We do not subject ourselves to any organisation, institution, statement of belief or faith, theories or hypothesis first.  We subject ourselves to Jesus Christ first.  We try to the best of our ability and with the help of those who have gone before, such as the ancient church, formulate our creeds, statements that clearly show Who it is we subject ourselves to.  If we are to walk the gauntlet of human centred ideas then we lose our ability to take the cue from Jesus Christ the inner truths of Himself.  If we depend on ideas outside of Jesus Christ, we risk losing our ability to intuitively know the truth of Him and become conditioned to seek truth that is outside of Him.  Rather than become dependant on knowing the truth for ourselves intuitively in our union to Christ, this truth is subject to and conditioned by someone or something outside of Christ.  It is subtle and can quickly grow into a religious structure.  This is contrary to the New Covenant.

Hebrews 8:10-12

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.

Our understanding the truth of God revealed in Jesus Christ comes by the union of our beings at the most intimate level in the whole cosmos.  Jesus Christ is closer to us than we are to ourselves.  No one in the whole cosmos is closer to us than God.  The knowledge of our relationship comes to us in our understanding the unity of the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ.  At the very centre of our soul and at the deepest part of our being is the union of our humanity with the humanity of Jesus Christ and His divinity.  His Word to us takes priority over any other word outside of this relationship. “None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” means our primary cue is Jesus Christ.  Whatever truth is testified regarding Christ must be in sync and in tune with Christ in us.  If we feel intuitively within us something does not ring true, then each and everyone of us is entitled to suspend judgment until such time more information will help us to make a better informed decision.  This also means either embracing what we have been presented with or rejecting it.  Paul in Ephesians clearly presents his case in this way where he allows the hearers to decide for themselves whether or not that what he is saying is true.

Ephesians 3:14-19

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

This is largely how the Patristic church established their way of knowing God revealed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ to ensure the Christian community knew what it meant to be bound by the truth and live in freedom.  At the Nicene Council we have a gathering of Bishops along with their deacons from all over the known world coming together to settle the Arian dispute.  With the Bishops and deacons combined, it is speculated there may have been as many as 2000 delegates.  It is claimed by Athanasius there was nothing novel or new about what the Council agreed on but what came out of it was the very same as was taught by the Apostles.  It is well known that Arius proposed a theory or hypothesis regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ which led to the introduction of a non-scriptural word homoousios to solidify the relationship and being between the Father and the Son.  Arius pushed Jesus Christ aside and introduced a framework of thought outside of this knowledge.  In response to Arius, the majority of Bishops cautiously accepted this term knowing intuitively that it would best reflect who Scripture testified Jesus to be.

With Arius and his way of thinking meant that all his followers would be subject to his way of thinking and living.  Therefore their life would be subject to what he said regarding the ways and works of God upon what they know to the best of their ability.  The knowledge of who God is what he can do as well as the religious activity would be arbitrarily decided by men.  Instead of being inwardly informed by the Spirit of Christ intuitively, tuition would now be based on those around us with no regard to the truth of God revealed in Christ. This ebbs away at freedom and removes peoples’ ability to decide and act intuitively because intuition has been taken away.  There is the common tendency for someone or a group of people instructing on what you can and can’t do as well as what you must and must not think or even say to restrict the way intuition is used.  As soon as we introduce an idea, theory or hypothesis onto the table and try and include it with what is revealed in Jesus Christ, we run the risk of an arbiter contrary to Jesus Christ and something that will most likely distort the truth revealed in Him.

The ancient church understood the reality of God to come directly out of His being in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  In addition they clearly understood Jesus Christ in all.  So what is subjectively declared by anyone or a group of people must be consistent with what is disclosed in Jesus Christ objectively.  People have a right to ask questions of each other and no one organisation, institution or person is exempt from this.  No one has property or rights to what we have received in the revelation of Jesus Christ.  We are all accountable. This places everyone on the same level regardless of how small they are or how big they are in terms of popularity.  What we know of Christ properly has its Source in Christ and belongs to Him.  This truth of Him is inherent in Himself.  It is to Him we must submit to and always be in a continual metanoia frame of mind.  If we intuitively want to suspend judgment on any matter, we have the right to do so.

This is how modern science undertakes its method of investigation.  The truth and reality of an object is inherent in itself.  What we endeavour to do as we desire to unlock the secrets of the object is to allow it to disclose the truth about itself on its own terms.  What comes out of the object of study is what is true in itself whether we understand it or not.  Therefore we must undertake a continual metanoia as we engage with the object.  There is a mysterious relationship between the observer and the object where its knowledge comes to us from outside of us.  The data we have must confirm to the truth of what is disclosed.  This means that our theories and hypothesis regarding the object we study must interpenetrate with the object of study in the same way that what we know and declare of Jesus Christ must bear witness to what is declared by Him in Scripture.  There is dialogue between the data and the object and as we ask questions appropriate to it, we learn more and more about the truth of the object.  Nevertheless it is still open to questioning by the scientific community even across the disciplines.  If we remain true to the object of our study then what we glean from it can be easily verified by others.  If information that is put forward cannot be verified then we are free to either suspend judgment or disregard it as not being faithful to the object. This makes ALL theories accountable to the object and open to rigorous testing by the scientific community.  Sheer numbers proposing any theory does not make it true.  Sheer numbers can be wrong.  Even what we know to be true now, may only be truth as we know it so far.

Our conversation in theological truth is only that which is disclosed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ who is the primary Object of our study.  He is Lord of all our questions.  Yet it does not mean all our questions can be answered in all areas.  In areas where questions cannot be answered we show humility and suspend judgment.  What we believe to be true in our declaration of Him must be evident in Him subjectively and objectively.  The same can be said for science.  What we declare to be true regarding our object of study must be evident in it subjectively and objectively.  Our presuppositions must be constantly and rigorously tested.  Not all questions can be answered so we have to take care not to speculate to the degree that it undermines or distorts our object.  Not all questions are appropriate.

to be continued . . . .