Faith and Science
Truths To Live By—In A Contingent Creation
Reason’s ageless quest for information and truth remains hopeful in our contingent creation. The “truth” reason derived at the time crucified Christ. Non-contingent truth was heard but it did not protect His life. There can be no living truth with contingency where truth cannot be is but only was. Truth must be is for it to be something we live by. Living by “contingent truth” condemns us to despair. Such “truths” promise little trust and no security leaving us with only optimism to look to the future. Human beings gain hope in optimism with sacrifices, but “Sacrifice is of fools.” God seeks no tragic dramas of sacrifice, a way of the world. God sent truth in Jesus Christ who restates it in “Peace be with you,” an element of His parting command. What truth is peace? Christ leaves us with a truth that is, a living truth. Reason of the contingent creation leaves us with truth that was; so “Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?”
The greatest endeavors of human beings have always been to acquire knowledge for describing and understanding their creation—to discover truth. These quests have reached new heights in today’s “information age.” Can truths be interpreted from knowledge in a contingent creation, the kind of creation in which we exist? Did Pontius Pilate believe this when he asked the question: “What is truth?” Did he hear and understand the truth given him by Jesus? Did Jesus use the world’s ways to defend His proclamation of truth? Jesus’ final command included “Peace be with you.” What did He want of His disciples with this parting imperative?
Justice from “contingent truths”
Jesus Christ made claims about His being that drove the Jewish religious leaders
to take His life. Jesus was brought to the governor of Judea for judgment of His
claims. (Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1) Pontius Pilate was the Roman
With no power to execute Jesus and failing to convince Pilate to condemn Him to death, the Jewish leaders then argued that Jesus was guilty of sedition, a crime of rebellion against the Roman government that would threaten the Empire. If Pilate disregarded this threat and freed Jesus he was told that he would be no friend of Caesar. For when Jesus responded to Pilate that He was a king, the Jews told Pilate that: “Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.” (John 19:12) This accusation forced Pilate to reconsider his decision.
Pilate asked the Jews: “‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar!’” (John 19:15) This answer destroys any claims the Jews have for their “absolute truth” from God that is the basis of all their beliefs and claims. God’s word tells them “the Lord shall rule over you” (Judges ) and that they reject the Lord when He should not reign over them (1 Sam 8:7). When they proclaim their king to be Caesar the Jews cannot claim God to rule over them.
Throughout their history the Jews worshipped all sorts of deities, especially those of pagan people living among them.1 Despite that the Jews told Pilate: “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” (John 19:7) With this Pilate subsequently submits to the Jew’s “truth,” not any of the world’s metaphysical truth.
Pilate did not like his Jewish subjects and when faced with the claims of Jews
against Jesus, Pilate did not find Jesus guilty of any crime against the Roman
Empire that would justify capital punishment. He was obligated to hear the Jews’
charges that Jesus claimed to be “king of the Jews.” A king in any part of the
Why did Pilate ask: “What is truth?” It may be that Pilate’s question was cynical and he believed that all truth is relative, with truth being whatever the majority agreed to or anything that supported one’s quest for power and political gain. The basis for Pilate’s belief on truth could have been based on his knowledge of Greek philosophy. Assuming Pilate was an educated Roman, he would have been able to converse with Jesus in Greek. In Greek philosophy the term “truth” (aletheia in Greek in Pilate’s question: “What is truth?”) involved an accurate perspective on reality—connoting a correspondence with reality.3 As a person educated in Roman philosophy he could have been taught to believe that truth represented factual representations of events.4 Pilate’s beliefs on truth could also have been based on the absolute truths of the Jews on one hand and of Jesus’ on the other.5 In either case it would have been a belief on whose interpretation of God’s truth is to be believed. In asking the question “What is truth?” Pilate was uncertain whether any form of absolute truth—truth from God— existed.
The Greek and Roman beliefs on truth are metaphysical concepts formulated by philosophers to define an accurate and adequate idea of existence as ultimate reality—to know the reality of things and the knowledge of things so they could answer questions on truth. An early concept, called the correspondence theory, of truth first proposed by the Greeks Plato and Aristotle stated that truth is the relationship that holds between a proposition or concept and its corresponding fact, or corresponding to a way the world is.6 Truth is determined by how it relates to objective reality, by whether it accurately describes that reality. Later, coherence theories of truth believed that truth requires a proper fit of components within a system, whether there is a coherence of each element with the whole system. Another concept, the consensus theory of truth holds that truth is whatever a majority agrees on. A pragmatic theory of truth believes that truth is whatever is shown to work. All these metaphysical concepts of truth were determined by philosophical and cultural beliefs that develop from people’s exposure to the known world. Pilate began with the question of truth. But then as now to start with the question of truth means, as subsequent history would prove, never attaining it by metaphysical means.7 Philosophers continue their quest for ways to test truth. Pilate, as others of his day knew that it was prudent to combine the metaphysical means with other ways to seek truth .
Pilate faced arguments from both the Jews and Christianity as to the truth regarding Jesus. For both groups the known will of God is final for man as the standard of truth, the only source of absolute truth; the sum of God’s word is truth and man must follow who Scripture tells us is the God of truth. The Holy Bible and the Holy Spirit are the sources of God’s truth through which God reveals Himself to human beings. The Jews of Jesus’ day believed that all of God’s revelations were found no where else but in the Bible and in what the Holy Spirit had revealed to them.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life
Christianity as the new “religion” or “Way” proclaimed that truth is personalized in Jesus Christ. Key to this is the conviction that all truth is from God; knowledge that is truth is information from God. His information is the basis of all creation; nothing exists without information from God. The Holy Bible tells us this in the beginning of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) Jesus is the Truth: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) The Holy Spirit, sent by the Lord for filling us with His knowledge, is the Spirit of truth because He guides us into all truth. (John 16:13) Truth is synonymous with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth of the Gospel’s message is suppressed in unrighteousness by ungodly and unrighteous men. (Romans 1:18) Not all will know the truth because only God allows His believers to know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6) Those who know the truth will have it abide in them forever. (2 John 2)
When “truth is foolishness”
The message of the Gospel is foolishness to many who consider themselves wise with the world’s knowledge. (1 Cor 1:18-20) Scripture tells us: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” (Isaiah 29:14) The Bible also tells us: “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Cor 1:20) To seek truth “…Jews request miraculous signs, and Greeks look for wisdom.” (1 Cor ) Throughout the Old Testament miraculous signs sent to convince the Jews of the presence and power of God were effective in bringing them back to worship Him. With time all was forgotten and many Jews fell back into worshipping pagan gods they learned of from the “foreigners” in their midst. Jews also saw many miracles performed by Jesus but they were done to help people rather than to convict them of Jesus being the Messiah. And with recognition of Jesus’ miracles, the Jews demanded another one each time they faced Jesus; they remained unbelievers without any faith in Him.
“Truth” in power and violence
Complementing Greek and Roman wisdom to seek truth, Romans, such as Pilate,
relied on stern discipline, the rule of law and the pacification of its numerous
gods to unite the Empire’s subjects into peaceful times. Pilate did not hesitate
to use stern measures to uphold order in his tenure as governor of
“Truth” in the world’s gods
Philosophers beginning with the “reputed founder of philosophy, Thales, believed as much in the gods as any pagan;” they did not believe in rejecting religion or faith but in introducing reason into religion and faith.11 To placate the Hebrew God both Emporers Augustus and Tiberius “sent golden vials and libation bowls to decorate the sanctuary” at the Temple in Jerusalem, “and the Roman administration (that is, Pilate’s officers) provided the bullock and two lambs that were sacrificed there daily on Tiberius’ orders for the safety of the emperor.”12 Thus, Pilate had to consider a number of claims to truth in asking the question: “What is truth?” The wisdom of the day from metaphysical sources that were formulated into Roman ethics and law directed Pilate’s initial judgment that Jesus did not break any Roman law deserving of capital punishment. Then Pilate had to consider whether the absolute truth from any of the gods was grounds for punishing Jesus by taking His life. The Romans tolerated other peoples’ religions unless they motivated rebellion. The fact that Roman leaders ordered sacrifices to other peoples’ gods indicates that these gods were believed to have powers that the Romans must recognize and honor. Competing with the absolute truths of other gods was the God of Jesus’ truths.
Pilate absolved himself of any guilt in Jesus Christ’s crucifixion by taking water and washing his hands, telling the crowd: “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” (Matt 27:24) From whence comes the “truth” that washing of one’s hand can remove the responsibility, sin, or guilt from the act of making a decision to allow someone’s life to be taken, a truth that sufficed for Pilate? Human reason for this action cannot be based on philosophers’ metaphysical justifications. “Religious” beliefs of the Jews in the absolution of guilt by sending it out on a goat (scapegoat) compares with ritual cleansings and sacrifices to remove one’s sin and guilt.13 The ancient Greeks practiced a form of this scapegoating. Such a method was believed to remove guilt and sin out of sight and mind. In the end, Pilate as a “results-oriented” ruler embraced pragmatic means where everything is relative and the ends justify the means to keep peace and prevent civil unrest.
Pilate was little different than today’s scientists who many people believe to
be the most reliable and trustworthy source of truth. Pilate like scientists had to decide
which ends to pursue, which gods to serve, which demon would “hold the very
fibers of his life.”14 The ends to pursue are usually decided by
metaphysical means for making conclusions. Current coherence theories believe that truth
is primarily a property of whole systems of propositions, and can be ascribed to
individual propositions only according to their coherence with the whole.15
This empowers one to follow established laws for both scientists and Pilate.
Consensus theories believe truth is whatever is agreed upon; truths are viewed
as contingent on convention, human perception, and social experience. Jews
agreed on Jesus being a threat to both their religious beliefs and the
There were many gods to serve that Pilate had to choose from. The gods of human wisdom had a powerful voice that dominated the time. Pilate also had the gods of his education, wealth, position, prestige, and power to serve. Harmony in his life also required recognizing and honoring the Roman and maybe the Greek gods. Pragmatics led him to recognize some of the other pagan gods and the God of the Jews. There was little consensus or practical gain for him to listen to Jesus’ claim to truth. Caesar with his power was the demon that held the very fibers of Pilate’s life. Pilate’s wife relating her dream on Jesus’ innocence (Matt 27:19) may have appeared to Pilate as a demon denying any peace he might have in his life, but this demon failed to hold together the fibers of his existence.
Jesus Christ is Truth
Before Pilate asked Him: “What is truth?” Jesus had already given the answer. He had told Pilate the Truth: “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37) Jesus stated His case. What more could He have said; everything was already said. If Jesus did add anything to “defend” His case, Pilate, as one not of the truth, would consider any defense as idle chatter. Pilate and the Jews did not see “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) standing if front of them.
Jesus didn’t defend himself during Pilate’s interrogation. Jesus’ Truth needed no defense; He had already defended Himself. He chose not to use the rhetorical persuasive ways of the world. No rhetorical or dialectical arguments would add to the Truths He already stated. Christ defending Himself with the rhetoric of persuasion against Pilate’s and the Jews’ persuasions would have been lost by narratives of violence whose guiding impulse is power.
Using the world’s ways Job tells us how he would approach anyone including God with his problems: “I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Job 23:4) But Jesus chose not to begin a dialogue with Pilate with an exchange of arguments and counter-arguments reflecting controversy—dialectic—in order to be persuasive and resolve the disagreement through rational discussion, with the goal of agreeing on truth. Rhetoric to be persuasive is used to achieve the same goal. Dialectic and rhetoric are engagements in conquests that are not free of violence unless the Word—Christ—rhetorical in a form that can be conceived of is peace, a truth—a rhetoric of peace. Pilate’s philosophical knowledge on metaphysical schemes could never help him understand what Christ told him.16
Contingency limiting truth
There can be no truth with contingency. Ontological truth, the truth that is an accurate and adequate idea of existence as ultimate reality, is not possible in a contingent state. In the contingent existence, ultimate reality changes continuously so that truth is something that was; it is not something that is. On the other hand, truth is possible where there is no contingency. Human experience is the truth that was but interpretation of the results of experience as truth cannot spring from an accumulation of experiences; this is a metaphysical fantasy.17 We all know the expression “truths we live by.” Claiming such truths and values from our empirical experiences denies contingency for the world. If there is any truth from our empirical experiences it is that contingency is the operation; this is essential for difference to happen so truth is not is but was.
Truth must be is for it to be something we live by. We freely chose the truths of whom or what we trust and serve, and the truths’ ethics telling us how to live. Such “truths” facilitate the well-being of a society. The modern community lives largely by freedoms for personal choice, each to his own, everyone has a right to his own opinion, and what is right for you might not be right for me; choose what “works.” Humans become entitled to “inalienable” rights to absolute subjective liberty, having a will to power that is freedom of choice.
Despair—the curse of contingent truths
Contingency leads only to despair for individuals seeking answers given by philosophers from what their reasoning powers have always sought. With contingency all human reason to gain truths is of little value in determining “tomorrow.”In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve sought the knowledge of everything from the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil. They failed and with the failure was born the sinful nature of humanity. It was impossible for them to succeed in what they sought because they were created and placed in a contingent existence. They could not learn what is or what will be, only what had already happened. Like Adam and Eve we seek truths to live by so we can predict and control our future. Truth that is was from our past experiences cannot give truth that is, of what will happen, however. If truth can only be descriptive of the past and we cannot assign any of our past experiences for knowing what will come, we can only rely on optimism to base truth on past experiences. As beings in a contingent existence we know that our future can hold the absurd as well as the rational when optimism is built on our past experiences. If human beings were able to see their future they are likely to come to the same conclusion as Solomon: “Everything to come is meaningless.” (Eccl 11:8) God chose to create us with optimism rather than with knowledge of everything. Philosophy seeking knowledge to live by “becomes, almost by force of habit, explicit nihilism.”18 What more can show that all is meaningless under the sun? With the gift of soul in our creation we need no longer remain in nihilism’s nothingness; we can leave all the meaningless of Ecclesiastes and look to God’s transcendence for finding meaning in our lives.
Sacrifice to empower optimism
Humans learn to build trust in optimism when they discover that their experiences do not open the door to truths for the future. Their optimism is strengthened by sacrifices as recorded throughout the history of the Jewish people in the Old Testament. Sacrifice to God or the gods is futile against contingency that determines the future, however. “Sacrifice is of fools.” (Eccl 5:1) Sacrifice can only be effective if it moves God to enter into the finite world to effect a change in its contingent outcomes. But God hates and does not want sacrifice as He tells us throughout the Bible.19 If God hates sacrifice, does not want it, does not need it, etc., why would He use His Son as a victim to sacrifice? If He does not want sacrifice, why would any sacrifice motivate Him to change His mind or to enter into His contingent creation to alter the ways contingency meanders?
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is viewed as a tragic drama of sacrifice. There are reasons why it should not be read it this way.20 Tragedy is an event with a sad and unfortunate outcome that usually depicts the downfall of a noble hero or heroine, a demise attributed to fate or the will of the gods. Originally, tragedies involved sacrifices that were interpreted to be for the salvation or benefit of the population. Tragedy’s sacrifices embodied the consecration of social violence in order to restrain the forces of natural and divine cosmic violence. Tragedy thereby stabilized the foundations and order of society. Humans reasoned and tragedy provided the metaphysical solace that sacrifice provided. Appeasement of ancient and contemporary gods has always been the goal of sacrifice’s tragedy and of the violence it entails. But the God of Israel, the Christian God, is not a God of tragedy. His creation is a gift of goodness as He tells us in the book of Genesis, and He shows us that He is a God of love, beauty, and peace. God does not seek to destroy any part of His creation; one day it will be liberated and transformed from the violence of sin—what human beings destroy God heals and redeems, His ultimate revelation. (Romans 8)
Suffering accompanies sacrifice in tragic events. God is described as “our fellow sufferer” in interpretations of the cross. Does God need sacrificial tragic events to protect Himself from future suffering? Does the suffering of the cross protect Him from future suffering? But God who is himself peace and love is immune to suffering. God created in peace and love with the gift of His creation and with the gift of His Son. God did not respond to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ with the world’s way of responding, with violence. He responded with another gift, the resurrection, another gift of creation that is a vindication of His Word—creation. Is there a greater way to respond to the world’s expression of violence—human reason in all its manifestations of political, philosophical, social or religious wisdom where the truth of the “god of this world” has crucified the truth of God’s word? But with the resurrection, God heals and redeems His creation; He reaffirms the goodness of creation and restores the manifestation of His Word in Jesus Christ—peace and love.
God is not susceptible to suffering which requires Him to change; He does not change. To suffer He must respond “emotionally” to events in a contingent existence. Emotional responses represent change and God exists in a non-contingent existence.21 In such an existence can anything suffer where there is infinite peace, love and unity?
Jesus Christ restates the Truth
As stated earlier, Jesus Christ had already given Pilate knowledge on truth when asked: “What is truth.” Pilate had heard every rhetoric of power from the philosophers’ violence of metaphysics and the “sacred truths” put in the mouths of God and gods. He chose the truths of the gods of this world rather than the Truth. After His crucifixion Jesus continued to restate the absolute truths. The climatic manifestation of Truth was the resurrection that defies all reason’s power and leaves the self mystified. Only belief in the resurrection’s eye-witness accounts removes the mystification. Jesus final commands were to send His disciples out in peace.22 “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”(John 20:21) Jesus also says “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (John 17:17) “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:19)
Peace—What Truth is Peace?
In telling the disciples: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus is not giving them protection from the violence of the world. Every disciple except John was killed for his faith and John escaped martyrdom but was exiled to the island of Patmos.23 Jesus knew what would happen to His close followers and their demise for following Him and thus the command “Peace be with you” and the statement “Because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God.” (Romans 5:1) would have been inconsistent with what Jesus knew would happen. Any inconsistency would be based on a commonly used interpretation of peace where peace reflects state of harmony or absence of hostility and violence. Peace is often used to describe situations where people show respect, justice, and goodwill and live with calmness and serenity in their own lives. Jesus often used the greeting “Peace be unto you”, a translation of shalom aleichem, with the greeting telling someone may you be well. As one of His last commands Jesus had a more important message with “Peace be with you.” Christian thought in telling its story shows the peace that suppresses all other models of peace—especially the Pax Romana credited as a superlative achievement of the Roman Empire. All of these other models of peace are based on a rhetoric of power and violent persuasion.
God is peace and the Source of peace, peace being a fruit of His spirit. For this reason, true peace can only be had by those who are at peace with God. We have that peace when we know God who is the only absolute truth and His “truth abides with us forever.” (2 John 2) Peace cannot be had by anyone if one does not know and have this truth. God gives us peace only by His Word—it begins with His Word—a Word already given us as a rhetoric of peace with which we glimpse a “portrayal of the infinite.”24 In Christ God has made peace with us because he, as God, is peace; “Christ is the very form of peace…, the infinite gesture of a love that simply exceeds the gesture of every violence brought against it.”25 On Christian thought: “The only peace it knows, upon which it stakes its hope, or according to which it can proceed is that which belongs to its kerygma....”26 Thus, the peace that Christ tells His disciples to be with you is the Good News that Christ proclaimed throughout His ministry. Jesus Christ tells the disciples why “Peace be with you” with “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21) He is sending them with the message of peace as found in His essence created by the Word. Jesus is sending them with the command to have unconditional identification with Him with abandonment and surrender to Him, the message of the Gospel—Jesus’ Peace. Like Paul we claim a partnership in the Gospel; in the Peace is the Covenant.
God gives us being only by His Word. His Good News states creation as being essential peace, where peace and being in all its differences are mutually interdependent, one cannot exist without the other.27 The contingency of creation is responsible for all true differences—nothing is alike.28 Creation’s peace must encompass unlimited love for all true difference, the diversity that is bound up in God’s gift of beauty.29 Unfortunately, man does not see beauty in difference where God sees beauty and the potential for unity in all difference. In the goodness of created difference, God’s love reveals divine truth to be inseparable from beauty.30
Jesus Christ sends out His disciples with God’s absolute unchanging and living Truth, the truth that Pilate did not understand. He did not send them out with philosophical “truths” or ones from experience. We are told “Why consult the dead on behalf of the living.” (Isa 8:19b) Our experiences and philosophical dogmas change and die, and when we live by them we consult the dead on behalf of the livings’ tomorrow; philosophy is a tale of dead men and the truths that died with them. Living in the information age and relying on scientific (mainly) reason, we find that “truth” changes faster than we can realize. Absolute Truths do not change, however. They are the only Truths to live by in a contingent creation—the only Truths that are.31
References and End Notes
1. Numerous synagogues throughout Israel had pagan images and signs such as signs of the Zodiac in panels and mosaic floors in places like En Gedi.
2. There is no evidence that Pilate had any insight that Jesus is the Son of God. The Gospel does not indicate that Pilate had much information on Jesus other than what the Jews charged Him with. Also Pilate was not a believer and only through the Holy Spirit would God have given him truths on Jesus being the Son of God.
3.Truth. International Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/t/truth.htm
4. Pilate's Moment of Truth. http://www.ensignmessage.com/archives/pilate.html
5. In this case the absolute truths would be those of God’s and none formulated by man’s reason
6. Truth. International Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/t/truth.htm
7. We believe that truth is possible for disciplines such as physics and mathematics but that is known now to be not possible. See The Limits of Reason. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-limits-of-reason
8. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews. 18:85
9. Josephus, Wars of the Jews. 2.9.2-3; Antiquities of the Jews. 18.55-59
10. Jewish Encyclopedia. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=312&letter=P
11.Peter Simpson, The Christianity of Philosophy. http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=2191 Thales of Miletus, International Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/t/thales.htm#H7
12.Ann Wroe, What is Truth? http://www.brucebawer.com/pilate.htm
14. Eric Cohen, The Ends of Science. http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=5345
16. Christian truths can not be abstracted from principles of metaphysics. “Christian thought ...is narrated continuously, necessarily, and coherently throughout its story as rhetoric and as peace.” David Bentley. Hart. The Beauty of the Infinite. (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Williams B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003) p. 150-151)
17. Metaphysics is an attempt to explain the world of appearances according to a “truer” world of substances and principles. Defining truths from experiences, is a metaphysical fantasy, however. Leszek Kolakowski. The Presence of Myth. (Chicago, University of Chicago Press,1989) p. 58
18. David B. Hart, Christ and Nothing. http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=533
19. Eccl 5:1 “…sacrifice of fools…”; Eccl 11:8 “…Everything to come is meaningless…”; Gen 22:2 God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in his heart; Lev 20: 1-5 God condemns human sacrifice as a terrible sin; 1 Sam 15:22 to obey is better than sacrifice; Ps 40:6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire; Ps 51:16 You do not delight in sacrifice—you can never please God with outward actions—God wants a broken spirit and contrite heart; Pr 21:3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice; Isa 1:11-17 …Stop bringing your meaningless offerings to me…They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them; Jer 7:21ff Sacrifices are not important—God gave them commands to obey Him; Hos 6:6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice; Mic 6:6-8 …He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God; Matt 12:7 …I desire mercy, not sacrifice…; Mark 12:33 To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices; Heb 10:8-9 First He said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made); Heb 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
20. David Bentley Hart. The Beauty of the Infinite. (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Williams B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003) p. 386
21. God is not a being existing in contingency such as if we pray or beseech God He will change His mind—God does not change. Despite this there are instances in the Old Testament where the Hebrews believed that God would change His mind and thus have an effect on their lives.
22. Final commands are most important; Jesus did not leave His disciples with a mere salutation or a message of comfort.
23. As the result of witnessing many of Jesus’ followers were martyred. Matthew was killed by sword in Ethiopia; Mark died after being dragged by horses in Alexandria, Egypt ; James, son of Alphaeus, was killed in Egypt; James, son of Zebedee, was beheaded in Jerusalem; Peter was crucified upside down in Rome; Bartholomew was flayed to death in Armenia; Andrew was crucified in Patras, Greece; Thomas was stabbed to death in India; Matthias, who replaced Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded; Jude was killed with Simon in Persia when they refused to deny their faith in Christ; Judas in remorse hanged himself; and Philip was martyred in Turkey. The apostle Luke was hanged in Greece and the apostle Paul was beheaded in Rome. James, the brother of Jesus was beaten to death in Jerusalem. John faced martyrdom but was delivered from death and sentenced to exile on the island of Patmos where he wrote the Book of Revelation. He was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. John died an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully. The Martyrdom of the Apostles. http://www.direct.ca/trinity/disciples.html
24. David Bentley Hart, p. 311
25. Ibid., p. 413
26. Ibid., p. 428 (kerygma is proclamation—Christ’s)
27. David Bentley Hart, p. 140
28. God created a contingent process for all creation in which everything is different.
29. David Bentley Hart, p. 127
30. Ibid., p. 395
31. We can be confused by descriptions and definitions that are sometimes used to acquire and describe truth. Christian Truths are non-contingent and present no problems. “Philosophical truths” present an oxymoron (a combination of two contradictory terms). Philosophy is possible only in a contingent creation whereas Truth that is is not possible in a contingent creation. Truth here must be that that was. “Christian philosophy” must also be an oxymoron because philosophy does not seek reality from the revelations of God but from experiences of our contingent creation. Moreover “philosophy is unable to accept faith” (Leszek Kolakowski, p. 16) “Contingent truth” must also be an oxymoron unless it describes something that was, not something that is. “Truths to live by” can only be non-contingent Truths, represented by truth that is.
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