Eternal Prayer

It occurred to me this morning as I was praying that God still hears (is continuously hearing) all the prayer I have ever offered to Him.  He is not bounded by time.  Which means that when we praise Him we add to the eternal chorus of all saints living and dead that is eternally on-going and has an infinite capacity for growth such that eternity will never be filled by it.

It also means He now and forever hears His Son’s prayers to Him, including the High Priestly Prayer of John 17, and His prayer on the cross “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”  He continuously hears the prayers of Paul for the church like the one in Philippians: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” (1:9)

And the one in Colossians 1:9-14:

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

It’s encouraging to know that God is eternally hearing the prayers of Jesus and Paul.  Let us now add to the chorus: Praise the Lord!”

On Love and Righteousness

I stumbled across this quote that for me just shows how Christians thinkers, as humans, try to sift the mysteries of God into false hierarchical categories:

“Holiness is pre-eminent in God, for in the actual dealings of God his other attributes are conditioned and limited by his holiness. This is beheld excellently well on Calvary: in Christ’s redeeming work, love makes the atonement, but it is violated holiness that required it. The prime source out of which our salvation issued is God’s violated holiness. His love motivated him to actually accomplish it on our behalf, helpless and weak as we are.”

“In the same way, the eternal punishment of the wicked is irrevocable because of God’s unchangeable holiness. His self-vindication overbears the pleading of love for the sufferers.”

“Holiness shows itself higher than love, in that it conditions love. Hence God’s mercy does not consist in outraging his own law of holiness, laying it aside or even disparaging it. No, it is rather by enduring the penal affliction by which that law of holiness is satisfied.”

Really?  Holiness is pre-eminent in God?  “Holiness shows itself higher than love?”

Please. Love is not an attribute of God because it’s not a modifier.  Holy, righteous, just, merciful, pure, wise, good, sovereign, powerful, glorious, eternal, impartial, etc. are all modifiers, thus attributes or inherent characteristics.  Love is never a modifier.  The Word does not say God is loving.  Well it does (abounding in loving kindness), but it says “God is Love.”  It says “God so loved….”

1 Peter 1:20: “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”  Jesus was chosen to suffer and die before He created the world, and yet He created it anyway.  If holiness was pre-eminent or higher than love, if it conditioned and limited Love then God would have just destroyed the spoiled pot instead of reshaping it.

Every attribute of God is an attribute of Love because God is Love.   Theos Agape.

Compare other uses of God and is.

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God
For the LORD your God is a merciful God
God is giving you.
God is commanding you.
God is with you.
God is my rock.
God is greater than other gods.
God is gracious and compassionate.
God is mighty.
God is exalted in power.
God is our refuge.
God is merciful.
God is righteous.
God is sovereign
God is one.
God is truthful
God is God.
God is glorified.
God is Spirit.
God is light.

Almost all of these take the form of Noun Adjective (modifier).  Some are Noun Noun, but the noun is a figurative expression of a spiritual truth (e.g. God is my rock.  God is our refuge.) as it relates to us.

Here are the ones that don’t describe what I consider to be attributes; rather, they describe God Himself in Himself and they are all Noun Noun:

God is Love
God is Light
God is Spirit
God is One

Oneness isn’t an attribute; it’s not a characteristic; It IS
Spirit isn’t an attribute.  It is a person of the trinity.
Light isn’t an attribute; it’s how He exists, is present.

John is the only one to use this phrase:  Theos light is.  This means: to be, to exist, to happen, to be present.  This is how God is, exist and is present to us.

To me it’s similar to Yahweh.  It is saying God exist as love; God exist as light.  God exist as Spirit; God Exist as One.

They are not characteristics.  God’s love manifest itself to us as attributes like holy, righteous, merciful, just, eternal, sovereign, steadfast, mighty, powerful, but his nature is Love.

Citizens or Fans

The political climate is such that no one who wants broad-based national appeal can possibly be forthright and specific.  As soon as s/he does, s/he looses too much appeal from too many. This is not a criticism of one side or the other, except to the extent that, as Yeats wrote: “The best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

We currently have a serious structural problem, the cracks of which are illuminated by the reality that both conservatives and progressives have basically reached an ideological impasse.  Both sides believe they are right, and it has become an either/or situation.  This is not a situation the Founders foresaw.  It’s been getting worse for decades, but useful coalitions used to be built within the two-party framework.  I do not believe that is possible any more.  The only real hope is a multi-party system in which coalitions have to be built between multiple parties.

National politics is not about the base.  Neither party’s base is going anywhere, though they may just stay home.  National politics is about independents who want issue by issue policy solutions. So, if you have 4-5 viable parties actually in office, and parties A, B, and C agree about policy on issue X then they can put together something even if parties A, B and C disagree about issues Y and Z.

If just A & B agree on issue X and don’t have the numbers, then they work out deals with C, D and E about issue Y, giving parts of Y support in order to gain support for X.  Competition works better than monopolies in politics as well as business. It’s ugly business, but you can not govern a democracy without compromise between factions.

In Federalist 10, Madison makes the argument that liberty can not exist without giving rise to factions: ”Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.”

The only way to prevent this is to remove liberty by stamping out dissenting opinions; that is, until everyone shares the same opinion. Madison rightly knew this to be totalitarianism, well before the term was coined, and he considered it contrary to human nature.  ”As long as the reason of man continues to be fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.”

Faction is healthy!  What isn’t healthy to democracy, according to Madison, is the “violence of faction.”  We don’t have a lot of that anymore, despite the inflammatory rhetoric.  What has happened, instead, is that factions have condensed into two basic Factions: Us and Them.  For all practical intents and purposes, factions have been co-opted into Faction on pragmatic grounds.  “There are more people in Faction A,” we reason, “who support my opinion about policy X than in Faction B, so, if I want policy X I will have to join them.”

So then Faction A and Faction B become like two armies justifying their constant fight for power on the basis of broad ideological Good v. Evil worldviews in which pandering, demonizing and demogogary are merely the weapons of warfare.  And, what’s worse, the battles are usually between skirmishers fighting over peanuts in the media Collesium.

Witness the Republican debate the other night. There was not one single question on the European debt crisis, Medicare reform, how to fix Social Security so each of my kids isn’t working to pay for 50 retirees each, or restoring our triple-A rating.  There were questions on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” HPV Vaccinations, Border Fences, which department of the government would you eliminate, and who would you pick a VP.  I do not diminish any of these issues, but they are motes, not logs.  Just as in the 2008 Democratic Presidential primaries, all the questions boil down to just one: “Prove that you have the bona fides to be quarterback for Us.”

Madison wrote that “So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities that where no substantial occasion presents itself the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their infriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.”

Like with football, it doesn’t matter that the “issue” is a pigskin; what matters is that the audience cheers for your side to move that pigskin as far as possible to an extreme end. In American politics today there are only 2 teams and the arena of the 24 hour news cycle has turned us all into fanboys watching “Last Man Standing/Running Man/Rollerball” as they seek to demolish one another over pigskin issues.

Who loses?  The fans of course, but then we made ourselves fans instead of citizens and we let them commodify our dissent.