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Unread 09-22-2006, 05:12 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H.M. Murdock View Post
I asked my pastor this question early this year in one of a series of meetings we had. He proceeded to have me walk into the closet in his bedroom... and locked me in.
Bob: Jason?
Jason: Uhh... yeah?
Bob: You're in the closet.
Jason: Yes, sir. I wasn't going to mention it, but, uh...
Bob: No, no. You're in the closet.
Jason: Yes.
Bob: Are you the closet?
Jason: ... no?
Bob: Good! Are you the studs in the walls, the bars that the clothing hangs from, or the lightbulb over your head?
Jason: No.
Bob: But you're in the closet?
Jason: Yes.

Then he let me out, shook my hand and said, "How very interesting!"

Just thought I would share that. Felt like there were too many big words in here. On a side note, as well as in retrospect, I think my pastor may well be insane. Perhaps even what rich people call, "Eccentric."
But even "coming out of the closet" doesn't make one Omnipresent.

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Unread 09-26-2006, 09:05 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H.M. Murdock View Post
I asked my pastor this question early this year in one of a series of meetings we had. He proceeded to have me walk into the closet in his bedroom... and locked me in.
Bob: Jason?
Jason: Uhh... yeah?
Bob: You're in the closet.
Jason: Yes, sir. I wasn't going to mention it, but, uh...
Bob: No, no. You're in the closet.
Jason: Yes.
Bob: Are you the closet?
Jason: ... no?
Bob: Good! Are you the studs in the walls, the bars that the clothing hangs from, or the lightbulb over your head?
Jason: No.
Bob: But you're in the closet?
Jason: Yes.

Then he let me out, shook my hand and said, "How very interesting!"

Just thought I would share that. Felt like there were too many big words in here. On a side note, as well as in retrospect, I think my pastor may well be insane. Perhaps even what rich people call, "Eccentric."
Hmm, "how very interesting" indeed! I think I like your pastor...
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Unread 09-26-2006, 09:34 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by John Roberson View Post
I'm never truly "back." I just... happen to be around for a few minutes. Sometimes I'm able to stick around for an entire week, sometimes once every few weeks... It's odd that way.....
Woah. Then where *are* you, John. (sorry about that, but it was at least partially relevant to the conversation...)

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Originally Posted by John Roberson View Post
Yeah, exactly. That's why things work in gradations; people speak and think in more or less developed forms, and tend to be able to communicate best with people whose speech-development is close to their own, so we have people all over the spectrum of development so that we can talk to each other and live together and so on. It's absolutely beautiful -- Paul's "Body" analogy for Christian community is informative every time.
Very true. I often find myself translating what I learn on here to my less-theologically-inclined friends (or trying to, anyway. It's hard not to exercise my advanced verbosity all the time...)

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Originally Posted by John Roberson View Post
That's exactly why we've got to understand what kinds of questions we're answering when we talk about omnipresence. E.g., if we're talking about where God is right now, what "place" God is hanging out in, then God isn't in the world at all (transcendence). But if we're talking about where God is exerting authority, or something like that, then God "is" everywhere (immanence). God's omnipresence doesn't mean that you might say, "I just saw God down at the pub." It means, "No matter where I ran, God was still there."

Well, remember that God doesn't see, hear, etc. in the way that we do. God doesn't use sense organs to experience the world (this pushes us more toward process theology, where God is experiencing the world along with us). Along this line of thought, it's not "omnipresence" in the way that people today would probably be accustomed to understanding "presence" (i.e., God is not located anywhere in the world). However, God does in fact "hear" and "see" all, and God is indeed at work in all situations at all times, so God is indeed "present" in this sense.
These 2 paragraphs were very helpful, John. You've made a lot of sense - you've got to establish what you mean, and the limitations of what you mean, when using such fuzzy words as "presence"...

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Originally Posted by John Roberson View Post
"I could really feel God's presence" is almost universally code for "I felt really emotional there today." If people were truly "feeling" God's presence then chances are that they would all fall down on the ground prostrate like everyone in the Bible who ever "felt" God's presence did.

Now, can God be "more present" (obviously that's crude language, but I personally like crude language unless it causes unnecessary confusion) than He always is? Yes. God was "more present" in the Temple than He was anywhere else, because that was His dwelling place. Jesus was the true Temple (John 2:21; cp. Rev 21:22), and the Church is now God's new Temple (Eph 2:19-22). The Sabbath-gathering of the Church, then, is our gathering at God's holy mountain, the place where He dwells, to partake of His feast (Heb 12:22-23; cp. Is 25:6-8). God's being "more" present at some times/places is only understandable in light of the fact that God's presence is not merely about where He is located, but instead is about where His covenant "presence" -- redemptive power and exercised lordship -- is.
I know what you mean about the "emotional" feeling, but I do personally believe that there are times when you feel* God's presence in a more tangible way. And those times aren't just "break down and cry because I'm so emotional" sort of moments, either, but can often be sober moments when you are quite aware of God's presence there, in your heart as well as your mind.

As a side note, I don't begrudge those emotional moments / people either, I think that they are often valid and meaningful for the person, and can greatly help in their relationship with God. I think that problems come in when you theologise wrongly about the experience, and start building entire doctrines and denominations on these experiences... but of course problems come in when you completely discount those experiences and limit a relationship with God to the world of beliefs and propositions...

* - yes I understand the emotionalism and subjectivity inherent the term "feel". I guess that "experience" could be a better word for it?

I think that you have nicely explained the whole concept of God's presence, the meaning of omnipresence and the idea of a localised, "concentrated" presence very well, John. Kudos!

PS: Right on with the "crude" terms, too! So much more useful with average people than the theological tongue-twisters that we all know and love!
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Unread 09-26-2006, 10:25 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PartTimeLurker View Post
Woah. Then where *are* you, John. (sorry about that, but it was at least partially relevant to the conversation...)
I am here. But I'm also here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PartTimeLurker View Post
These 2 paragraphs were very helpful, John. You've made a lot of sense - you've got to establish what you mean, and the limitations of what you mean, when using such fuzzy words as "presence"...
I've come to believe that pretty much every word is, in fact, fuzzy, because meaning is all tied up in use, and use always occurs in a particular context -- i.e., a mindset -- and we're bombarded with the use of English language loaded in a secular mindset, therefore it must be "redeemed" or translated into the Christian culture in order to be understood. Take, for instance, the words 'faith', 'spiritual', 'god', and 'religion'. These are all very fuzzy.

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Originally Posted by PartTimeLurker View Post
I know what you mean about the "emotional" feeling, but I do personally believe that there are times when you feel* God's presence in a more tangible way. And those times aren't just "break down and cry because I'm so emotional" sort of moments, either, but can often be sober moments when you are quite aware of God's presence there, in your heart as well as your mind.

As a side note, I don't begrudge those emotional moments / people either, I think that they are often valid and meaningful for the person, and can greatly help in their relationship with God. I think that problems come in when you theologise wrongly about the experience, and start building entire doctrines and denominations on these experiences... but of course problems come in when you completely discount those experiences and limit a relationship with God to the world of beliefs and propositions...
I don't hate emotions either -- in fact I tend to have very, very strong emotions every once in a while, and I wouldn't feel human without them.

Revivalism bequeathed to us the tradition that God's presence is an extremely emotional or "heart-felt" thing. That's an outright lie, and it's the reason that "I could really feel God's presence" has become a way of saying "I felt really emotional today." Even so, it is sometimes true to say that we in some way feel God's presence; it's often possible to "see" how God has been or is at work, and this can definitely result in "feeling" God's presence, which can result in a powerful experience, whether highly emotional or fully sober, just like you said.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PartTimeLurker View Post
PS: Right on with the "crude" terms, too! So much more useful with average people than the theological tongue-twisters that we all know and love!
The obsession with non-"crude" language seems to be very anti-Christian, to me. Technical language tends to take mathematics as its model, while "crude" language takes experience, observation, and meaning as its model.
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Unread 09-27-2006, 09:02 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by John Roberson View Post
I've come to believe that pretty much every word is, in fact, fuzzy, because meaning is all tied up in use, and use always occurs in a particular context -- i.e., a mindset -- and we're bombarded with the use of English language loaded in a secular mindset, therefore it must be "redeemed" or translated into the Christian culture in order to be understood. Take, for instance, the words 'faith', 'spiritual', 'god', and 'religion'. These are all very fuzzy.
Ah, my old university days of studying culture and communication are all coming back to me now... *reminiscing*

But doesn't "redeeming" (a concept that I really like, btw) these terms for our use create the whole new problem of not being able to communicate with people who understand these terms in other ways. Like the way that Mormons use a lot of the same words as us, but in veeeery different ways? Although I guess that this whole thread is an example of how that works - you sort of redefined the fuzzy idea that I had of what omnipresence means. I guess that makes it part of the process of aligning our minds to God and His Word, hmmm...

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Originally Posted by John Roberson View Post
I don't hate emotions either -- in fact I tend to have very, very strong emotions every once in a while, and I wouldn't feel human without them.
That's good!
It's hard to strike a balance between emotion and rationality, between experience and propositions. I'm really glad to hear that you value experience and emotion, too. I'm liking your POV more and more, and I quite like the Redeemer Presbyterian site that you pointed me to, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Roberson View Post
Revivalism bequeathed to us the tradition that God's presence is an extremely emotional or "heart-felt" thing. That's an outright lie, and it's the reason that "I could really feel God's presence" has become a way of saying "I felt really emotional today." Even so, it is sometimes true to say that we in some way feel God's presence; it's often possible to "see" how God has been or is at work, and this can definitely result in "feeling" God's presence, which can result in a powerful experience, whether highly emotional or fully sober, just like you said.
I agree. I was reading some Finney a while back, and some of what he said was nothing more than sloppy exegesis and manipulation. It really annoyed me, because I always just assumed that the whole "Revival" time was a genuine, great move of God. Can't judge it all by one guy, though, I guess...

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Roberson View Post
The obsession with non-"crude" language seems to be very anti-Christian, to me. Technical language tends to take mathematics as its model, while "crude" language takes experience, observation, and meaning as its model.
I agree. I'm still trying to balance on the edge between all the big theological words and the simple expressions of faith in God - love, service, worship... I found it really interesting when I noticed that I sat down to have a read and had trouble picking between two books that I was half way through - 'Blue Like Jazz' and 'The Christian Theological Reader'...
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Unread 09-28-2006, 12:30 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by PartTimeLurker View Post
Ah, my old university days of studying culture and communication are all coming back to me now... *reminiscing*
When I was in college I did a good bit of work in the philosophy of language, and this is the sordid fallout...

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Originally Posted by PartTimeLurker View Post
But doesn't "redeeming" (a concept that I really like, btw) these terms for our use create the whole new problem of not being able to communicate with people who understand these terms in other ways. Like the way that Mormons use a lot of the same words as us, but in veeeery different ways? Although I guess that this whole thread is an example of how that works - you sort of redefined the fuzzy idea that I had of what omnipresence means. I guess that makes it part of the process of aligning our minds to God and His Word, hmmm...
Yeah, exactly. In other words, don't you just end up talking past each other? Doesn't this ultimately amount to equivocation? Is there no point of contact?

Developing/extending and even replacing linguistic paradigms can be a really complex thing. Words don't have meaning apart from context, and the primary context is the social context. What that means is that we need to have a Christian culture (i.e., the Church) that functions in such a way that if people will actually connect our use of language to our culture then it will be clear what we're really talking about.

NT Wright says that when he was a minister at a college, he would often be told by students that they didn't believe in God, and he would always reply, "Well, tell me about God." After they explained, he would almost invariably remark, "Well, that's interesting, because I don't believe in that God either!" And of course this wasn't because he had re-defined terms to suit his own idiosyncratic theological purposes, like Mormons or theological liberalism. Instead, it was because they had completely lost touch with what the Christian God is really all about. I've taken this as a good model for dialogue here on campus.

Earlier today I was teaching through Mark 3 and I think it had a good example of what I was talking about in the first paragraph -- not merely using labels, but being a community that can be identified with labels in such a way that gives the labels meaningful content. Specifically, Jesus is called the "Son of God" by demons, and He says not to spread it around. In other words, Jesus would rather have people figure out that He is the Son of God by what He does than by having demons tell them that He is. He would rather have experience of a reality precede the naming/identification/cognitive articulation of that reality. In the same way, I would rather have people look at the Church and say, "Y'know, my language really just doesn't have the right words to describe the phenomena present in the Church. What words to they use?"

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Originally Posted by PartTimeLurker View Post
That's good!
It's hard to strike a balance between emotion and rationality, between experience and propositions. I'm really glad to hear that you value experience and emotion, too.
I used to be something of a Romantic (like, eight or ten years ago, so before anybody on CGR knew me), but by nature I'm a bit hard-nosed and intellectualized. At the same time, I know that most people don't have my thinker's temperance and, rather than despising it I relish that diversity.

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I'm liking your POV more and more, and I quite like the Redeemer Presbyterian site that you pointed me to, too.
Great!
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Unread 09-29-2006, 08:47 PM   #37
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The new mewithoutYou album has an interesting line in one of the songs (Dryness and the Rain) that sorta pertains to the subject at hand.

"A fish swims through the sea,
while the sea is in a certain sense
contained within the fish!"

I think that's a very interesting way of expressing some of the ideas presented thus far in this thread. It's that paradox of the nature of God. Anyways, just thought I'd share that.
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Unread 03-06-2017, 02:19 PM   #38
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Clarification

Thanks for addressing a very important topic.

So far I'm getting the following:
Pantheism = Creation is God.
Panentheism = Creation is part of God but not all of God.
Omnipresence = Creation is neither God nor part of God, but God is present in creation.

I hope for further clarification on what it means to be present in creation but not part of creation, but this is a great start.
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Unread 03-06-2017, 02:40 PM   #39
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Unread 03-06-2017, 04:14 PM   #40
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Unread 03-06-2017, 07:07 PM   #41
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I believe, O Lord, and I confess, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief...
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Lo! How a rose e'er blooming from tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse's lineage coming, as seers of old hath sung,
It came a flower bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half-spent was the night.

Isaiah t'was foretold it, the rose I have in mind,
With Mary we behold it, the Virgin Mother kind,
To show God's love aright, she bore to us a Saviour,
When half-spent was the night.

O flower whose fragrance tender with gladness fills the air,
Dispel with glorious speldour the darkness everywhere,
True man, yet very God! From sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

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