Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Hidden Question

In the early fourth century, Arius brought the proposition that the Son was begotten and not eternal, thus creating a divide between the nature of God and the Son.  This proposition and the ensuing controversy that followed set the young church on fire.  It is said that merchants on the street of Alexandria would debate with their customers the nature of God, and whether the Son was truly, fully God.

And thus the church was changed forever.  To this day, Arius is refuted in churches, attempting to revive the old debate that was, in every way it could be, won by Athanasius and the majority of bishops. Unfortnately, in the focus of the church to hammer out the nature of God and the relationship between the Father and the Son, instead of the focus of the early church.

There is a debate about the nature of God in the NT, but it contains almost nothing about the nature of God's being, but is strongly debating the nature of God's character.  Is God a force of karma, pouring out judgment on those who deserve it?  Or is God ultimately merciful, forbearing to the point of allowing his reputation to suffer so he can bring sinners further into love?

In understanding the character of God, we also understand our own goals as individuals and as societies.  If God is karma, we need to bring harsh justice onto those who do evil.  If God is love and mercy, we should be forbearing and allow people to take advantage of us because in the end it makes us all who we ought to be.

If we focus on the being of God, we neglect the question of character, God's and our own, in order to explore that which we ultimately cannot know.  The being of God is the more interesting question because it requires in depth analysis, some imagination and curiosity.  It is the question that our human nature wants to explore because it does not require us to change, it allows us to be who we are.

But this is not the focus of Jesus or the rest of the New Testament.  They are constantly telling us to change, to be more merciful, loving and peaceful, both as individuals and communities.  They are telling us that it is hard work and requires our whole focus.

We are so easily distracted.

The proper study of God is his nature as displayed by his actions through Jesus, not his being.

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