Common Thoughts 7

 

In 2009 author Stephen King wrote a novel titled Under the Dome. If you didn’t read his book you had a chance to see something of it on CBS Television in a two-year series run. Basically, it’s a story of a glass-like impenetrable dome that falls down over a fictional town. This sort of visually represents my thinking about my perception of reality. My dome however is not transparent but mirror-like and it’s here we see a riddle in a mirror.

I need to be careful, however, with my terms. This is me looking at my dome experience calling this my reality because it’s what I see the clearest. I’m not limited to seeing only what’s inside my bubble, I have some sight of a larger Reality outside my limited world. While looking on all this sometimes I think of them as two realities, but if I take God’s perspective it’s only one Reality. In truth, there is my experience of my reality (with a small “r”) and God’s Reality (with a capital “R”). For God there is only one Reality. This is important.

I realize I’m getting a bit technical, but understanding this (at least for me, the philosopher) on a philosophical level authenticates me understanding this on a personal, emotional level. However I experience this truth it’s the Reality from which all truth derives. It’s Truth whether I’m a dummy or a genius, whether I understand it or not.

I have to settle this issue for me to settle any Truth.

I’m going to come back to my bubble/dome world but I want to take another stab at God’s world because it explains some things about my world.

The question that always worried me (philosophically) was when in God’s timeline did he create earth? Silly question, I accept, but inquiring minds want to know. Implied in my question is the belief that there was a God’s Kingdom before the earth was created. God didn’t come into existence when the earth was formed and the begging question becomes what is that Kingdom like? Excellent question. Problem is, we don’t have access to that information. If you are God there is a very good reason for his silence. I’ll get to that.

Let me say that I finally found peace when God created our reality inside his Reality. It was settled when I finally understood time, that it wasn’t real. Time is our reality, it’s not God’s Reality. Dr. Michael Guillen, former ABC News Science Editor and Harvard physics instructor wrote this in his book, Amazing Truths: How Science and the Bible Agree, quoting Augustine of Hippo: “What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. [Yet] if I wish to explain it to him who asks, I don’t know.”

Time means everything to me in my bubble reality and we argue whether it’s cyclical or linear and it’s an important argument. But my understanding of time doesn’t serve me in my understanding God’s world, in fact it betrays me. I’ll be honest, I’ve had a hard time thinking of time as not real. I could intellectually understand it, but I couldn’t emotionally grasp it.

Time has meaning only when there is a beginning and an ending. Time is a way of measuring the distance between the two. If God has no beginning and no ending then there is no measurement between the two because there is no two events.

We point up into the air and say that’s up. We point down to the ground and say that’s down. We live on a giant ball and we say the top is north and the bottom is south. None of this is real. It makes sense for us to do this, have an up and down but in an endless expanse of sky who is to say which direction is up or down. We give it meaning for our limited purposes but beyond that it has no meaning. And so, time without reference has no meaning, so when were we created in God’s time has no meaning. God can know our past, present, and future even though for us our future hasn’t happened. It’s not about time for God.

There is one aspect of time that is real and will never change, we will always and forever have a beginning. Granted, if there is no ending it doesn’t count for much. If God existed eternally, and without the measurement of time this is possible, and he created us to be part of his world, why does he keep so much of it from us? I’m going to attempt an answer here, for my own sake at least, but first I have to comment on a recent controversy going on in part of the church.

God is not a human person, yet we use human terminology to discuss God. Out of our modern confusion of gender identity we are trying to refit our idea of God to match our confusion. We’ve come to make such a big deal out of this that we are tripping all over ourselves trying not to masculinize God (use male terms like he, or father). Interestingly, God does not speak of himself (“himself” being a human term I use because I don’t know how else to talk about God). He does say to Moses who needs to tell the people who he has been speaking to on top of Mt. Saini, and we read this response by God: “And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14 NKJV.)

For our purposes as humans “I AM” is too abstract however completely true it is: God has always been. So in Deuteronomy 32:6 we find the first so-called gender application to God: “Is this the way you repay the LORD, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?” The next time is in Isaiah 63:16: “But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; you, LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.”

Forgetting all the nonsense of our modern world and our political use of gender identity it all begins here in Genesis 1:26-27: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . . So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” You’re either a male or a female, a father or a mother. Never has any other generation than ours had difficulty with this truth. Jesus doesn’t seem to have this confusion as he often refers to God as “father.”

In John 4 we find Jesus in a conversation with a Samaritan woman (Samaritans were hated among the Jews) and he eventually says this to her: Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24 NKJV.) We find two interesting things here: we are to worship God in spirit and truth, and Jesus, as he does over 100 times in John, alone, refers to God as “Father.”

Is Jesus dismissing women when he uses the noun, “father”? Is history dismissing women when the pronoun “he” is used of God instead of “she”? Will it make women feel included in God’s Kingdom when we address God as “she”?

A couple of facts we have to deal with, and I don’t agree with it but it is what it is: males have dominated most of us most of the time, and; “father” does have special meaning even if you are female. Referring to God as “Our Heavenly Father” in itself does not disconnect women from His love and His Kingdom. When my wife and I repeat the only prayer Jesus gave us to pray, “Our Heavenly Father”, we both have father’s (and mother’s) and father means something as mother does. When God said, “Let us make man in our image,” he concluded this definition with “male and female.” We’ve perverted the making of Adam first as denoting dominance by the male, and because the male has become more physical as the curse caused him to physically work harder, and therefore become physically stronger, somehow this makes him greater than the female. Neither of these scenarios are true. But again, neither is the modern silliness that we are all the same, we aren’t, we’re different for different reasons, mostly if not entirely for our time in this bubble.

So, when I use the pronoun “he” in my mind it’s generic, both male and female. I will try to use “he” less but never in reference to God. And so I end this footnote and get back to trying to understand Reality.