Thinking about God as parent, Abba

Of course. But you certainly can understand why girls and boys who were abused by their fathers have trouble with the metaphor.

Yes, that was my point. The vast majority of people aren’t raised by perfectly good or perfectly evil parents. Children grow up seeing examples of both good and evil behavior from their parents and everyone else around them (extending to culture at large like ripples in a puddle). When kids are little, they accept every rule their parents lay down as “normal” and correct. When they reach early adolescence, they begin to question the “rightness” of the rules, as well as the motives of the rulemaker. That’s the moral trajectory we see in Genesis 3.

I would leave off the “experiential” adjective, but otherwise I’ve made that case elsewhere:

The question is: Does the Fall require disobedience to a divinely revealed command? That might work for two individuals, which was the raw data Augustine and Aquinas were working with, but it’s hard to imagine how it makes sense for a population of 20-50,000 people spread over a large area. Did God reveal himself to all their minds at once? I have a hard time seeing how such a revelation wouldn’t be coercive and destroy free will entirely. Imagine catching a glimpse of the “beatific vision” here on Earth, and not only that, but experiencing it en masse in an instant with everyone else you knew. What happens next? All of them reject that revelation within a generation? Hmmmm.

Another problem presented by a population of humans shows itself with the question: Which command did they break? It couldn’t have been not to eat from a specific tree, unless there were trees of Life and Knowledge scattered across a wide area. Was it the command to love God and love one another? The capacity for both those things is built into human evolution. The same applies to the “second table” of the Decalogue. Respect your elders, don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie. Those things are built into our social/cultural evolution from the earliest Homo species. (Language and morality would both be impossible if everyone lied all the time. The only way those social conventions work is the assumption of truthful information shared to help others.) Did YHWH reveal the entirety of the Torah to a population of early humans? Obviously not.

It’s a traditional debate in the Western church.

Guilty as charged.


That’s how most interpret it, including Middleton in my previous reference. I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that the physical world will be transformed. It seems to me that an end to all physical death and natural disasters would actually be an end to life on Earth, unless all the plants, fish, birds, animals, etc., are also granted eternal life at the resurrection. OTOH, maybe it’s just a failure of imagination on my part. Who knows? I give my opinion a 51% chance of being correct. (Otherwise I wouldn’t hold it at all.)

Edit: Or a 34% chance if there are three viable options. Some opinions are best held lightly.

I’m forgetting the source but I recall an idea from a mystic that while in our eyes the physical world would be getting transformed the truth would be that it is getting unburdened, shaking off the weight of wrong that has kept it from being fully itself. The problem is that we look around and call what we experience “normal” when it is but aberration upon deviance upon captivity, so that when what is truly normal is revealed we will not be able to handle the brilliance.

= - =

edit: anyone ever notice that with a simple transposition “source” becomes “course”?

1 Like

Yeah that not what I think the transformation means. Death and natural disasters are a consequence of natural law which is the very essence of life and what it means to be physical. An alteration of that would defeat the whole purpose of the earth and the physical universe. There is only one thing wrong with the earth and that is the power of evil and sin in the world. The end of that is the only transformation required of both the physical and the spiritual.

I don’t think in terms of a % chance of being correct… it is more that without it, my reason for seeing meaning and value in Christianity would fall apart and atheism would look more reasonable to me.

1 Like

Meaning and value can’t be weighed in the scales of reason or percentages.

agreed. But this has no bearing on this.

I can believe that logic and evidence has limitations. But I have no desire to believe in anything contrary to logic and evidence. That which is contrary to logic has no meaning and things opposed to the evidence are unreasonable. I cannot see either of these going anywhere good, and I think both the logic and evidence is excellent that both of these lead to thing which are bad.

1 Like

I agree (hope) that the resurrection will be beyond anything we imagine, but plants and animals won’t be transformed into “spiritual bodies.” If they are to continue existing physically on Earth along with resurrected humanity, the conditions that cause natural disasters, suffering and death would seem to still apply.

How do evil and sin apply to animals? Even if human evil and sin disappear from the scene, how does that transform the physical existence of animals and plants? Do they become immortal, or do they still die?

I’m not so certain – I suspect that whatever happens, it will make what we would think of as a perfect world look shabby.

1 Like

First of all, I don’t believe in all the stuff about sin being an offense against God which He must retaliate against. I think it is all about the logical natural consequences of these things, and God advises us against these things because of those consequences.

The only sin I believe in are self-destructive habits, and animals are certainly capable of these. But animals are capable of so much less – have much less potential. So the loss of this potential is not such a big deal.

The only evil I believe in is when people sacrifice the well being of others for their own short-sighted gains/advantages. Animals are certainly capable of this as well. But animals don’t have the degree of communal interdependence that humans do, which makes this so devastating in our case. The closest comparison is the interdependence of cells in multicellular organisms and the closest comparison to evil in that context is cancer when cells act contrary to the well being of the organism which they are a part of.

One of the self-destructive behaviors we have become more aware of in modern times is the damage we do to the environment. So I would think the answer to this question is kind of obvious.

I don’t believe human beings become immortal in that sense either. According Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor 15 the resurrection is a physical/bodily resurrection to a spiritual body not a physical/natural body. It is powerful and capable of all the same things and more, but it is not made of the dust of the earth and thus has no proper place on the earth or in the physical universe. So… sure Jesus ate with the disciples, but He didn’t stay on the earth either.

This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.