God Is Not “Perfect” [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

Questions That Haunt Christianity continues this week with a question from frequent commenter, Lausten North:

If God just was, before time, before the universe, and he was perfect, why did he create the imperfect universe with us imperfect humans? If he wanted us to choose to love him, then he wasn’t really perfect before, he was lacking love in some way. If we are actually perfect as we are, then that is a strange re-definition of the word perfect. If you say there is a plan and we just can’t understand it, then you are just avoiding the question.

In a comment to the original post, Lausten clarifies:

Primarily, the question addresses the particular types of theology that assume unknowable perfection. In that theology, we can’t know God, we can only place our hopes in the glimpses of a better way that He gives us. So we can’t define perfect, other than as something beyond anything we know.

Certainly pain and bad design are examples of imperfection. The known physical universe requires a lot of death and destruction to continue with its creation. You could say that is a balance, but I consider it imperfect and incompatible with the existence of a loving God who claims to have performed the miracles found in the Bible.

Lausten, thanks both for the original question and the clarifier. I take it from your comments that you’re an atheist, and I’m particularly glad that you and some other atheists have begun reading this blog as a result of this series. At the very heart of your question is an assumption that you’ve stated in other comments: that Christianity is bedeviled with internal inconsistencies that ultimately undermine its claims on truth. But I think your question does something quite similar to that.

In the wording of your question, I understand that you’re attempting to play ball by the rules that we — Christian theologians — have set. The biggest problematic in the question you submitted, however, is your use of the words “perfect” and “imperfect.” Here’s a straightforward definition of “perfect”:

Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

Perfection is a quality that we derive from Plato. Plato had a very specific metaphysic, which many today would reject. I, for instance, wholeheartedly reject it. Nevertheless, it’s hard to even talk about perfection in the way you’ve introduced it without reference to Plato.

Consider this paragraph by Richard Kraut:

Many people associate Plato with a few central doctrines that are advocated in his writings: The world that appears to our senses is in some way defective and filled with error, but there is a more real and perfect realm, populated by entities (called “forms” or “ideas”) that are eternal, changeless, and in some sense paradigmatic for the structure and character of our world. Among the most important of these abstract objects (as they are now called, because they are not located in space or time) are goodness, beauty, equality, bigness, likeness, unity, being, sameness, difference, change, and changelessness. (These terms—“goodness”, “beauty”, and so on—are often capitalized by those who write about Plato, in order to call attention to their exalted status; similarly for “Forms” and “Ideas.”) The most fundamental distinction in Plato’s philosophy is between the many observable objects that appear beautiful (good, just, unified, equal, big) and the one object that is what beauty (goodness, justice, unity) really is, from which those many beautiful (good, just, unified, equal, big) things receive their names and their corresponding characteristics.

Lausten, if you find it problematic that many, many Christian theologians have embraced this platonic thinking, I agree with you. I think that perfection is a purely imaginary state. It doesn’t exist. It is a unicorn.

So, we can sit around and talk about perfection all we want, but that doesn’t make perfection any more real.

Further, I don’t find any indication from either the Hebrew or Christian scriptures that perfection was a quality that ancient Jews or early Christians attributed to Yahweh or to God. Subsequently, however, Plato was baptized into Christianity by theologians like Augustine and Aquinas. Now it’s hard to even think of the Christian God without reliance on these Platonic categories of “perfect” and “imperfect.” I’d like to wean us off of our Platophilia.

Speaking of imperfection, let’s think on that for a minute. A Platonic reading of Genesis 3 says that Adam and Eve were perfect; then they ate fruit and lost their perfection. The tilling of the soil, pain in childbirth, and death that result in their banishment from Eden are imperfections.

But as Ray Anderson used to ask his classes at Fuller Seminary, “What do you suppose happened when Adam, before he ate the fruit, stubbed his toe on a root in the Garden? Did it hurt? Of course it did!”

In other words, the prelapsarian Garden of Eden was not an ideal Platonic Form. For God’s sake, it was a garden! It was full of dirt and worms and rotting fruit.

Here’s another way of saying that: nothing metaphysically happened when Adam and Eve ate that fruit. Nothing ontologically changed in them. They did not go, with one bite, from “perfect” to “imperfect.”

Earlier this week, I argued that we should collapse the ideas that a “God of Peace” is the bipolar opposite of a “God of War.” I think dichotomies collapse when one is honest about the all-consuming presence of God. The same thing goes for “perfect” versus “imperfect.” (Indeed, even Plato, in his later writing (e.g., the Timeaus) seems to concede that his ideas about perfect forms are open to criticism.) Let’s collapse that dichotomy.

I realize that a lot of Western theology rests on the idea that God is perfect and humans are imperfect. For example, the entire penal substitutionary understanding of the atonement relies on the idea that God’s is perfect and cannot possibly abide spending an eternity with an imperfect, sinful being (like you or me). (That’s an idea that I attacked in my book on the atonement.) But this is an idea imported to Christianity from Platonic philosophy.

In the end, you may, as an atheist, find all of my answers to these questions disappointing. I suppose that, like you, I’d prefer a Christianity without any internal inconsistencies. But that’s not the promise of Christianity. Instead, Christianity promises a narrative that meshes with our experience — and my experience of life is rife with inconsistency and paradox. What Christianity offers me is a vision of God that more or less matches my experience of life.

  • http://jonathanbrink.com Jonathan Brink

    I am comforted by the fact that God doesn’t begin with “perfect”. God begins with “Good”.

    • http://www.truthtolove.com Brad

      Actually, God begins with himself.

      • JPL

        Actually, God begins with “G”

  • Charlie

    Doesn’t your assumption put an emphasis on human understanding as superior though? I think you said it in the beginning of your response that we would consider it a “unicorn,” which I would attribute to our limited capacity to comprehend something such as the perfection of God. I don’t think you can read genesis 3 as Adam and Eve were perfect. It say they were very good, but it doesn’t mean they were perfect. If they were, they’d be equal to God, wouldn’t they?

    Let me pose it this way: if God is holy, set apart, far above, unique, unlike anything else ever know, creator, sustainer, etc., and we are far below, created, more than one, like everyone else (generically), in need of something else, then wouldn’t the 1 be set apart from the many, meaning there has to be a characteristic unique to this one entity? If all around us we see shortfalls, death, and imperfection, what does that make the one?

    Maybe I interpreted you wrongly, but I don’t want a god that merely matches my experience in life. I’d rather have a God in control and constantly challenging my experience and making it better.

  • Steve Dollinger

    I think I need to go back to college before I can even begin to understand your answer, Tony. Can you dumb it down a bit?

    I do have a serious question, based on your Platonic interpretation of Genesis 3: Do you interpret the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, etc. literally?

  • Frank

    I find many problems with this answer:

    1. Adam stubbing his toe is a hypothetical. We have nothing to suggest that he ever stubbed his toe so the postulation that imperfection existed in the garden is completely unsupported and rendered moot.

    2. Scripture tells us that God is perfect.

    Psalms 18:30-As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him

    Deuteronomy 32:4-He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

    For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

    Matthew 5:48 – Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    3. Adam and Eves creation is interesting. They were created physically perfect ( they would not die) yet not morally perfect. This confuses the idea of perfection yet understanding the doctrine of free will resolves this IMO. God purposefully made them capable of a choice. It could be argued that God made them perfect in the sense that since God is perfect and humanity is made in Gods image and God choose to created them with free will they indeed were perfectly created. Another note is that before the Fall they did not know death nor did they know “good” or ” bad”. It was only after the fall that death comes into play and the idea of right and wrong becomes known to them. So a major ontological transformation took place.

    4. Truth does not require that our life experiences jive or not jive with it. But here we get to a whole other discussion about whether there are absolute truths or is all truth relative. I believe there are absolute truths otherwise God is simply a construction of humanity not worth paying attention to let alone worshipping or following.

    • http://http://winter60.blogspot.com/ Lausten North

      Thanks Frank, I find it terribly disturbing when people who spend their lives studying the Bible say things like, “I don’t find any indication from either the Hebrew or Christian scriptures that perfection was a quality that ancient Jews or early Christians attributed to Yahweh or to God.” Certainly you can find other passages that express imperfection, so lets address the contradictions. But lets not say condescending things like, “I’d like to wean us off of our Platophilia.”

      • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

        Lausten, I’m being sincere here. You find my answer terribly disturbing? How so?

        • http://http://winter60.blogspot.com/ Lausten North

          You said you find “no indication”, then Frank easily finds a few passages. Are not these passages “indications”?

          • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

            OK, let’s look at Frank’s passages:

            Psalms 18:30-As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.

            This says that the word of the Lord is flawless, not that the Lord is perfect.

            Deuteronomy 32:4-He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

            This says that the works of the Lord are perfect, not that the Lord is perfect.

            Matthew 5:48 – Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

            The word translated “perfect” here is teleos. As other commenters that noted, that word means “complete” or “fulfilled” — it has an eschatological-theological sense. Plato used the term ide for perfection, or, more precisely, for an Ideal Form. Plato invented the sense of the word “perfection” that we use today, and it was unknown to the Jews and to Jesus.

          • Frank

            You are resting your argument on semantics?

            I guess the question becomes can an imperfect being do anything perfectly?

            • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

              Frank, are you fracking kidding me? You get to be a biblical literalist, but I don’t?

              You have jumped the shark, lost the thread, etc etc.

              Truly, your inconsistencies are breathtaking.

          • Phil Miller

            I guess the question becomes can an imperfect being do anything perfectly?

            Happens quite often… 23 pitchers have had perfect games in the MLB since its inception, for instance. Sure, it’s semantics. But when we’re dealing with interpretation of texts, it all comes down to semantics anyway.

          • Frank

            Tony don’t transfer your failure over to me. You simply cannot back up what you claim unless you use non scriptural reasoning. One day you will have to face that fact or accept it and name your own faith.

            • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

              FRANK, I FUCKING QUOTED THE BIBLE IN MY RESPONSE TO YOU. I USED THE ACTUAL QUOTES IN THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGES!!!

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Okay you two, don’t make me come up there. We aren’t arguing semantics or literalism here, maybe a little etymology, but that’s cool. I can’t quickly google something here and refute Tony’s scholarship. I respect him, although in this case I have some doubts. I have to consider the value of my time in researching a response. However, if we simply replaced “perfect” with “something that is so much less imperfect than anything we know, since it created the entire universe and can perform miracles”, all of my previous arguments would not change.

            I can get annoyed that he is evading the fact that many many Christians use the term perfection in the way that he says they shouldn’t be. I had some fun years with Christianity in the liberal neighborhoods of South Minneapolis too. But in the rest of the world, there is plenty of good old fashioned fire and brimstone.

            In the NYT article linked below, the quote I alluded to is getting harder to find, so here’s a central part of it, “The Bible is either the word of god, or it isn’t. If it is, perhaps even the mistranslations were engineered by a higher power, put there to correct the ancient writings. The point is that if you can question the inconvenient qualities and claims of religion, then you can’t criticize Dawkins and Harris for doing the same thing.”

            At least we (atheists) play fair, we don’t claim any ancient mysterious basis for our beliefs, we open everything we say to criticism and discussion and are willing to discuss it logically. You claim your magical powers when you want and when logical problems are pointed out, you say that’s not what was meant. If “perfect” is not the right translation for “teleos” then fix the Bibles because lots of little kids are getting taught the wrong thing. I know one person can’t do that, and that you are attempting to nudge theology in a certain direction, but at some point, you gotta wonder why that is so difficult.

            • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

              Lausten,

              I’m pretty sure that you’re convinced that Christianity is fatally undone by internal inconsistencies. I’m doing my best to answer all of the QTHC with reasoning that can be appreciated by those in or outside the faith.

              T

          • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

            Well, Tony. Hate to say it, but that’s what you get for trying to answer intelligently to Frank’s woefully limited assertions, which on this blog are historic (and notorious). By doing so you somewhat legitimize both his myopic approach and the inane premises he advances.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            That seems out of character for you R. Jay. Are you sure you aren’t confusing this Frank with that other Frank that used to plague this blog? I don’t find your characterization fair. Noting that the Bible says, “the father is perfect” is quite a bit different than say, noting certain abominations. The Plato argument might be legitimate, or it might be that Christianity grew out of Platonic thinking from the start and there is no separating them. It is a legitimate assertion.

          • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

            We have two Franks now? (scratching my tilted head, squinting my eyes).

            You’ll get no argument from me that the trinitarian/Nicean Christianity that exists today is a product of ancient Platonic influence. As such, if the subject of “perfection/imperfection” is discussed within the philosophical “sola scriptura”confines of contemporary trinitarian/Nicean Christian theology, then you’re absolutely right. Platonic arguments are completely legitimate.

            But my contention is that a Progressive Christian blog like Tony’s, in order to really live up to its “progressive” approach, necessarily must break beyond the restrictions of “traditional” Christian theological discourse (which includes already-defined notions of perfection and imperfection, i.e., within the sin/sinlessness schema). That doesn’t seem to be happening here. So far the conversation in this thread seems so far to be confined to the non-progressive box of old-world Christianity that still insists on such things as “the Bible is the word of God.”

            Tony wrote it himself in the parent post of this thread: “Christianity promises a narrative that meshes with our experience.”

            Not all of us who are Christians (such as myself) have an experience that accepts the Bible as the “word of God” and therefore the sole purveyor of the “who” and/or “what” of “God.” And this diversity in how the Bible is beheld is part of the very flavor of emergence, the very nature of progressiveness.

            Ultimately, I reject arguments and conclusions that are given in a Progressive arena like this one but whose author’s declare the very same Progressive arena to be illegitimate.

            And so, given within this framework of “progressive” discourse, my characterization is not so unfair after all.

          • http://http://winter60.blogspot.com/ Lausten North

            That would be a fair assessment Tony. Perhaps I’m stuck on that inconsistency thing, or perhaps it is an important issue that Christianity must confront. It occurred to me that this series might have been more palatable for me if you had only provided commentary rather than answers. You are doing the work, finding the etymology and the progress of philosophy. But when you try to provide AN answer, you interrupt the process of questioning. I appreciate emergent Christianity for its questions. If any one of us knew what it was, we would have to give it a different name.

  • Keith Rowley

    Wow, this is probably the best answer to this question I have ever read. Thanks Tony

  • Phil Miller

    I like this answer. Perfection is different from wholeness or shalom. I think when the Scriptures speak of perfect, the concept of wholeness, integrity (meaning undivided in motive or essence), and at peace is all wrapped up in the concept. It’s not speaking of an unchanging state of flawlessness. The other issue of viewing perfection as a Platonic concept is that is follows that God must be impassible. That certainly doesn’t square with the portrayal of God in either the Old or New Testaments.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Lausten,

    Contrary to the evolutionary worldview – a bloody survival-of-the-fittest from the start – the Bible shows us that God made everything just right. Even the animals had been herbivores, but we screwed it up. We are the problem and not God.

    We might quibble that God had obviously made humanity faulty because humanity – His creation – sinned and ruined everything. But I think that God had a perfect reason for allowing this. I might not be able to explicate to perfection, but I trust that He can.

    Why do I believe this way? Because I know Him and therefore trust Him!

    Okay, I know that this answer isn’t acceptable to you. However, we believe in science even though our explanations for its findings are sorely lacking. Should we not extend such patience to God!

    • Luke Allison

      I propose that this kind of literal understanding of Genesis would have been absolutely foreign to those who wrote it.

    • Phil Miller

      I don’t agree that Genesis shows “everything just right”. After all, somehow a talking snake made it into the Garden. And if everything were completely the way it should be, why were Adam and Eve told to work in the garden? Again, just because God pronounced creation “good”, it doesn’t mean that it was complete and beyond improvement. Creation being good means that it has a purpose, that it’s worth investing in, and that our efforts in this creation are not for nothing.

      I’d recommend Peter Enns’ Genesis for Normal People or <The Evolution of Adam for a good primer on how the Jews likely viewed the book of Genesis.

    • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

      “we believe in science even though our explanations for its findings are sorely lacking. Should we not extend such patience to God!”

      If you want to be patient, that’s fine. I would say that you have little other choice with God. Science is participatory. Anyone can contribute to it and the rules for participating are clear and fair. Not that they aren’t violated, often, but that is the fault of people, not of the method of science. The pace that science has delivered answers over the last century is unprecedented compared to any other method in human history, so “sorely lacking” is an odd choice of words. True, science must move at it’s own pace, it is not science fiction, where things are invented as they are needed. People die, then the cure is found, disasters happen, then the predictive tools are refined. But from then on, we have the cures and the tools.

  • Lmc

    I don’t necessarily think that the story intends to first portray some sort of perfection that then creates imperfection as is usually stated as “the fall”. It seems to portray how anything created or perceived as a separate order of creation, for instance categories of species, gender, etc are perceptions of something that is suggested as not
    housing the whole of everything all at once. In other words anything created as a way of perceiving limitation then experiences a felt concealment in relation to boundlessness. But is not an evil imperfection but a benefit of held boundaries that always feels the tension of boundlessness. Then suggesting how this might create an ability to portay love giving to love, or the separate flowing together. Or it being a means to create a sense of domination (trying to house everything to release felt tension) or solidify into a sense of absolute self. Etc etc…

  • Dan Hauge

    I resonate with a good chunk of this answer, but I’m increasingly skeptical of just how much you want to collapse all dichotomies concerning God–peace or war, perfect or imperfect, in favor of a view of God’s “all-consuming presence.” I mean, I’m sure you’re aware of the objection I’m about to present, but where does that stop, exactly? If God is just as manifest in war as in peace, as in suffering as in pleasure . . . Is God just as active and manifest in cruelty as in compassion? In neglect as much as love?

    In short, where is your distinction between the nature of God and the often painful nature of our lives, of creation as it is? I mean, for me it is possible to be panentheist (as I pretty much am, most days), and still make a distinction between God’s presence in the midst of horrible events, and God’s character or agency in being part of those events as they happen (God can be present in an act of abuse, for example, while grieving it–not at all endorsing it or ‘willing it’) . But the way you frame your theology seems to collapse even that distinction. I’d be interested to hear you speak more in-depth on this.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      That’s a great question, Dan. I can sense that’s the theological danger I’m facing. I’ll have to keep thinking on that.

    • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

      Dan, you asked Tony: “[W]here is your distinction between the nature of God and the often painful nature of our lives, of creation as it is?”

      Speaking from my own perspective, the “God” being discussed in this thread — typically presumed to be the God of the Bible — is a caricature, a fiction of human imagination, attended by the assumption that “he” is an independent reality, when in fact “he” is merely a projection of human image. As such, when the reality of the present human condition doesn’t square with the perceived “perfection” of “God,” we indict the creation (i.e., God), rather than the creator (i.e., people). It’s like blaming Santa Claus when we don’t get any gifts on Christmas.

      As such, the distinction between the nature of “God” and the human condition is akin to the same distinction between fiction and fact.

      Your question ultimately cannot be answered until we honestly engage how we know, as opposed to how and why we believe (because belief is frequently not the same thing as knowledge). This will require an honest reevaluation of our sources of knowledge and their validity and reliability to inform us about the “reality” of what is, and of what isn’t.

  • Kien

    My answer would be along the lines that God’s
    Creation is dynamic. It changes over time. And as part of this dynamic Creation, humans have been endowed with a capacity to imagine a “better” state that the current state of Creation. Concepts like evil, sin, suffering, hope, etc. are part of this imaginative capacity. If we were Platonic beings, we would really be without imagination. We would not attempt to improve the state of the world. If infants and mothers died at birth, we would view that as “perfect” and do nothing about it. If there is slavery, we would not recognise it as undesirable. We would praise slavery as a perfect institution. But we are not like that. We perceive infant mortality and slavery as an evil to be overcome, and our attempt to overcome this evil is part of the dynamic Creation of a good God whose Spirit motivates us to care about the world and change the world for the better.

  • Mary

    I posted this previously but it fits here as well:
    “Perfect in Hebrew actually means “complete”. This changes the discussion entirely.
    Creation by its very nature is on-going, both a noun and a verb. So, in a sense it can never be complete. However, the God of Genesis said it is Good- not Perfect.
    Perhaps we are agents in that “perfection”:completion:creation….
    All things have a purpose toward “completion”. Perhaps the question is what is our purpose in that.”

  • http://keithbrenton.com Keith Brenton

    You know, at some point you have to either accept the Bible and God Himself for what it is and who He is, or reject them in favor of your limited perceptions.

    The Bible is what it is.

    God is who He is.

    With whatever flaws and imperfections you may perceive.

    Consider the possibility that your finite mind, residing in three pounds of sweetbread, may just not be up to the task of considering ALL the possibilities, okay?

    And that He accepts you with whatever flaws and imperfections He perceives in you.

    • http://http://winter60.blogspot.com/ Lausten North

      Keith, you aren’t representative of most of the people who hang around this blog, but you do represent much of Christianity. Please take a close look at your post and notice how insulting it is. To defend your view of God, you have to refer to those who don’t share your view as finite minded and limited and not up to the task. These are actually pretty nice words in comparison to some, but they carry the same implications.

      This is inconsistent even with your own view, since you must include yourself with the rest of us limited minded people. You have no more access to anything beyond that than any of the rest of us. It’s not a very strong position to make an argument, so you need to resort to insults to make your case. I am perfectly comfortable with who I am. I see no value in a theology that requires that I feel like something less.

    • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

      1) Amen Lausten.

      2) To Keith . . . what you present is belief, not fact; opinion, not truth. Perhaps your own “limited perceptions [from within] your finite mind, residing in three pounds of sweetbread … may just not be up to the task of considering” that sober reality.

      I happen to be one of those Christians Lausten referred to. The Bible may contain godly words, but it most certainly is not the “word of God.” It is the word of men.

      And the “God” you speak of is a caricature, a fiction. I refer you to my remarks made earlier today on this thread (here).

  • T.S.Gay

    What are people’s thoughts about direct perception of the divine?

    • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

      What do you mean by “direct perception?”

  • T. Webb

    Dr. Jones, you’ve solved the problem of theodicy. There is no problem. God is the author of evil.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Assigning God “authorship” of something dangerously anthropomorphizes the diving.

  • Craig

    Though a Plato scholar would undoubtedly teach me something on this point, I’m largely sympathetic to Tony’s suggestion that Platonic metaphysics and the Platonic ideas and ideals of perfection haven’t a useful place in theology (assuming that the history of theological ideas isn’t our real target). But I can’t help but think that Christianity might lose something interesting and provokative in losing the idea that Jesus was a perfect human being. Isn’t there something compelling there, even in the idea that we, like the objects of Plato’s physical world, (should) strive to be like that which is the ideal–in our case Christ?

    On Lausten’s particular questions, I think we might helpfully just discard the notions of perfection and imperfection. The central challenge, perhaps, is rather just the challenge of supporting the belief in a worship-worthy God, given what it is plausible to believe regarding the Bible, ourselves, God’s supposed people, and the apparently gratuitous and completely natural (as opposed to man-made) suffering in this world.

  • Lee P.

    A perfect creation would not be equal to God. A perfect creation would simply do what the perfect creator designed it to do. Be it worship, obey….whatever.

    If a perfect creation can only be God then God, in order to create perfection would only be able to make copies of himself.

  • http://www.banditsnomore.com Richard Heyduck

    I suppose you notice that someone else gave some thought to this subject over the weekend: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/an-imperfect-god/

    • http://http://winter60.blogspot.com/ Lausten North

      Thanks Richard. Brilliant comment by Gemli after that.

  • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

    If I may just wrap this up Tony, first thanks,

    And, you say that it seems I believe the inconsistencies undo Christianity. And, for me, I guess they did. But they don’t have to for everyone. I do however demand that if you are going to invite the entire world in a discussion about Christianity, you need to be honest about the them. If you think the Platonic idea of perfection has somehow infected religious thought, be clear of the implications of that disagreement. You are agreeing with many atheists. You can stake your claim on a different kind of theology, one that acknowledges the history of philosophical doctrines of all kinds, but if you claim there is one unicorn in the theology you were raised on, accept that there may be more.

    Reviewing your answer, I see you do that, but looking at other answers and other posts, there is also much that you hold on to and I can’t figure out why. Perhaps you have or will manage to bridge the gap of Socratic questioning and doctrinal answers that I was unable to. Moving in that direction was seen as a risk when Aquinas first brought Averroes’ dangerous ideas to Europe, and he was banned for it. Now he is a saint. Hopefully we won’t go through that again, because I think it will lead to a greater risk of Christianity becoming marginalized and powerless.

  • Andrew

    So if our God is not perfect, what separates him from Zeus? Or Jupiter? Is he a being like us, only greater? If you truly do not believe that God is perfect, then you do not know God. How can his works be perfect, and Him not? How can his Word be perfect, and Him not? God is the source and summit of all creation. Therefore, being the originator, nothing can be greater than Him. Everything is a reflection of Him. He defines what IS. He is perfect.