God’s Answer to Man’s Dilemma

The Christian answer begins by saying that man is a moral creature made in the image of the Creator; that there is a law in the universe which, if broken, means that man is culpable. In this view, man is morally significant both as far as God is concerned and as far as his fellowmen are concerned.  

The modern non-Christian answer denies the legitimacy of moral absolutes, refuses to make any kind of final moral comment on man’s actions, and thus reduces cruel and non-cruel acts to the same level. With this answer not only is the concept of sin reduced to less than the biblical concept, but man is reduced to less than the biblical concept of guilty man. If the modern explanation is accepted, then there ceases to be an answer to man’s dilemma — man is as he was in the beginning and ever will be. 

With the moral (in contrast to the metaphysical) explanation of man’s position in the universe and his consequent dilemma following the Fall, there is a possible solution. If there is true moral guilt in the presence of a personal God (rather than a metaphysical intrinsic situation of what is and always has been), then perhaps there will be a solution from God’s side.  

And God says to man that there is a solution. That solution rests upon God saying that He is holy and He is love, and in His love He has loved the world, and He sent His Son. Now in history, there on Calvary’s cross, in space and time, Jesus died. And we should never speak of Jesus’ death without linking it to His person. This is the eternal Second Person of the Trinity. When He died, with the division that man has caused by his revolt now carried up into the Trinity itself, there in expiation, in propitiation and substitution, the true moral guilt is met by the infinite value of Jesus’ death. Thus, Jesus says: “It is finished.” 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

The Standard for Morality

With the Christian answer it is now possible to understand that there are true moral absolutes. There is no law behind God, because the furthest thing back is God. The moral absolutes rest upon God’s character.  

The creation as He originally made it conformed to His character. The moral commands He has given to men are an expression of His character. Men as created in His image are to live by choice on the basis of what God is.  

The standards of morality are determined by what conforms to His character, while those things which do not conform are immoral. God can know about things that are not actualized. For example, he knew all about Eve, but she was not actualized until He made her. The same thing can be true in the area of morals. When man sins, he brings forth what is contrary to the moral law of the universe and as a result he is morally and legally guilty. Because man is guilty before the Lawgiver of the universe, doing what is contrary to His character, his sin is significant and he is morally significant in a significant history. Man has true moral guilt.  

This is entirely different from the conception of modern thought, which states that actions do not lead to guilt — a view within which actions thus become morally meaningless. Even the most degraded actions of sin have no final moral meaning. Ultimately “good” and “bad” actions alike are zero. This is an important factor in modern man seeing man as zero. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

It’s Not Normal

If one begins to consider the Christian system as a total system, one must begin with the infinite-personal triune God who is there, and who was communicating and loving before anything else was. If one begins to consider how sinful man can return to fellowship with God, one must begin with Christ, His person and work. But if one begins to consider the differences between Christianity and rationalistic philosophy’s answers, one must begin by understanding that man and history are now abnormal. It is not that philosophy and Christianity deal with completely different questions, but that historic Christianity and rationalistic philosophy differ in their answers — including the important point as to whether man and history are now normal or abnormal. They also differ in that rationalistic thinking starts with only the knowledge finite man can glean for himself.  

Christianity says man is now abnormal — he is separated from his Creator, who is his only sufficient reference point — not by a metaphysical limitation, but by true moral guilt. As a result, he is now also separated from his fellowmen, and from himself. Therefore, when he is involved in cruelty, he is not being true to what he was initially created to be. Cruelty is a symptom of abnormality and a result of a moral, historic, space-time Fall. 

What does a historic space-time Fall involve? It means that there was a period before man fell; that if you had been there, you could have seen Adam before he fell; that at the point when he revolted against God by making a free choice to disobey God’s commandment, there was a tick of the clock. Take away the first three chapters of Genesis, and you cannot maintain a true Christian position nor give Christianity’s answers.

 Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Historic Christianity and Man’s Dilemma

The historic Christian position is that man’s dilemma has a moral cause. God, being nondetermined, created man as a nondetermined person.  (determined/nondetermined is explained as we continue).  This is a difficult idea for anyone thinking in twentieth-century terms because most twentieth-century thinking sees man as determined. He is determined either by chemical factors, or by psychological factors, as Freud and others have suggested, or by sociological factors. In these cases, or as a result of a fusion of them, man is considered to be programmed. If this is the case, then man is not the tremendous thing the Bible says he is, made in the image of God as a personality who can make a free first choice.  

Because God created a true universe outside of Himself (not as an extension of His essence), there is a true history which exists. Man as created in God’s image is therefore a significant man in a significant history, who can choose to obey the commandment of God and love Him, or revolt against Him. This is the wonder of man and the wonder of history.  

It is the very opposite of the Zen-Buddhist statement which says, “The mind of man is like the wind in a pine tree in a Chinese ink drawing.” In this, man is killed twice. He is only the wind in the pine tree, and even then only in a drawing.  

Christianity teaches the very reverse of what the Eastern thinker says. Man can understand and respond to the One who, having made him and communicated with him, called upon him to show that he loved Him by simple command: “Don’t do this.” The test could have been something else. No act of primitive magic is involved here. This is the infinite-personal God calling on personal man to act by choice. And it was a motivated command, “… for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”(Genesis 2:17), which would make no sense if man is only a machine. He could so act by choice because he was created to be different from the animal, the plant and the machine.  

To ask that man should have been made so that he was not able to revolt is to ask that God’s creation should have ceased after He created plants and animals. It is to ask that man should be reduced to machine programming. It is to ask that man as man should not exist. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

The Question of Man and His Dilemma

Anyone with sensitivity and concern for the world can see that pain, suffering, cruelty, injustice, and immorality are active in humanity.  Man is able both to rise to great heights and to sink to great depths of cruelty and tragedy.   This is the great dilemma of mankind.  All of us find ourselves seeking answers and resolution to this dilemma. 

Of course, it is possible to try not to get involved in man’s dilemma; but the only way not to get involved in the dilemma of man is by being young enough, well enough, having money enough, and being egotistic enough to care nothing about other human beings.  

As we consider this question of man and his dilemma, only two possible explanations can be given. The first explanation suggests a metaphysical cause. This says, in effect, that man’s problem is that he is too small, too finite to wrestle with the factors that confront him. The second explanation is quite different; it puts man’s dilemma down to a moral cause.  

If the first explanation is right, then one is bound to conclude that man has always been in the same dilemma. Thus, for example, a lot of the ideas in modern thinking and philosophy say that man has always been fallen man. This also means that there is no moral answer to the problem of evil and cruelty. Because man, whether somehow created by a curious thing called god or kicked up out of the slime by chance, has always been in this dilemma, the dilemma is part of what being “man” is.  

But the Bible says that this is not the situation.  We will post more on this tomorrow… 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

It’s Easter…What Does It Mean?

What Did the Resurrection of Christ Accomplish? 

Christ accomplished the satisfaction of God’s wrath against our sin.— he accomplished our justification. That propitiation, the satisfaction of God’s wrath, that happened in AD 33, is the greatest, the most-epic event in the history of human life. 

Once for all, when Christ died, he bore our judgment and God’s wrath. Justification happens at the instant we believe that ‘He’ accomplished our perfection.  This free gift of being declared perfect has affect ‘now’ and will be fully realized in the future at the resurrection of our body. 

By his death and resurrection, he made certain that all his people would have absolutely everything we need to glorify God by being eternally happy in him. 

Your ultimate life questions are these:  Have you believed…have you accepted…that Jesus died and was resurrected for you?  Have you asked Jesus Christ to be ‘your’ savior?  Have you placed your trust and faith in Him?  If not, do so on this glorious annual celebration of what He accomplished for us in His death and resurrection. 

He is risen…your eternal salvation has been accomplished in and through Him…believe. accept.  ‘This’ is VERY GOOD News!  😊

Love…More Than a Word

This conception of the way in which God communicates gives a world which is different from the one in which modern man is struggling. It means quite simply that man no longer needs to destroy, nor to sink into apathy; there is a reason to live, build and love. Man is no longer adrift. We may demonstrate how different the two worlds are by considering the meaning of love. Modern man quite properly considers the conception of love to be overwhelmingly important as he looks at personality. Nevertheless, he faces a very real problem as to the meaning of love.  

Though modern man tries to hang everything on the word love, love can easily degenerate into something very much less because he really does not understand it. He has no adequate universal for love. On the other hand, the Christian does have the adequate universal he needs in order to be able to discuss the meaning of love.  

Among the things we know about the Trinity is that the Trinity was before the creation of everything else and that love existed between the persons of the Trinity before the foundation of the world. This being so, the existence of love as we know it in our makeup does not have an origin in chance, but from that which has always been. 

It flows like this: At the ‘divine’ level, God the Father loved God the Son before the creation of the world.  At that same level, God also loves me, even though I exist below the divine level.  The word and act of love has crossed the divine level and entered my ‘human’ level.  ‘The word and act of love has become verifiable and known to me.  Then, at my level, God commands me that I am to love God and to love my wife, children, and neighbors.    

The relationships of love can be shown like this: Two things follow from this. Firstly, I can know something truly of what it means when I am told that God the Father loves the Son. When I see a boy and a girl walking together arm in arm, obviously showing love towards each other, I do not know all that they feel towards one another; yet because I too love my woman, my looking at them is not as a dog would look at them. It is not exhaustive, but it is true understanding — there is true correlation. And when I talk about love existing in the Trinity before creation, I am not talking gibberish. Though I am very far from plumbing its depths when applied to God Himself, yet the word love and the reality of love when Christ spoke of the Father loving Him before the foundation of the world has true meaning for me. Secondly, when I love my woman, its meaningfulness is not exhausted by the context of this one individual relationship alone, nor even the love of all men for all women, nor all finite love.  

The validity and meaning of love rest upon the reality that love exists between the Father and Son in the Trinity. When I say I love, instead of this being a nonsense word, it has meaning. It is rooted in what has always been in the personal relationship existing in the Trinity before the universe was created. Man’s love is not a product of chance that has no fulfillment in what has always been. Love is a thing not only of meaning, but of beauty and wonder to be nourished in joy. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Divine and Human Communication

The communication which God has made to man is true, but that does not mean it is exhaustive. This is an important distinction which we must always bear in mind. To know anything exhaustively we would need to be infinite, as God is. Even in Heaven we shall not be this. God has communicated to man, not only about the cosmos and history, but also about Himself. And God’s attributes so communicated are meaningful to God, the author of the communication, as well as to man, the recipient of the communication.  

The God who has created man in His own image communicates true truth about Himself. Therefore, this need not be thought of as only an existential experience or contentless “religious ideas.” We have true knowledge, for as the Scriptures say so simply and overwhelmingly, when God wrote the Ten Commandments on stone, or when Jesus spoke to Paul on the Damascus road in the Hebrew language, a real language was used subject to grammars and lexicons, a language to be understood. 

The biblical presentation indicates that because man is made in God’s image, the problem of God communicating to him is not of an absolutely different order from that of man speaking to man. We are finite, God is infinite, but we can understand truly. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

We Are Unique

The historic Christian answer concerning verifiable facts and knowing depends on who God is, on who is there. The God who is there according to the Scriptures is the personal-infinite God. There is no other god like this God.  

It is ridiculous to say that all religions teach the same things when they disagree at the fundamental point as to what God is like. The gods of the East are infinite by definition — the definition being “god is all that is.” This is the pan-everythingism god (pantheism). The gods of the West have tended to be personal but limited; such were the gods of the Greeks, Romans and Germans.  

But the God of the Bible, Old and New Testaments alike, is the infinite-personal God. It is this God who has created various orders of creation. How then is God’s creation related to Himself and to itself? On the side of God’s infinity there is a break between God and the whole of His creation. I am as separated from God in the area of His being the Creator and infinite, I being the creature and finite, as is the atom or energy particle. I am no closer to God on this side than the machine.  

However, on the side of God’s personality, the break comes between man and the rest of creation. man’s relationship is upward.  On the side of personality, if our relationship is upward, then everything concerning man’s “mannishness” is in place.  

The biblical Christian says that, on the side of personality, man can know God truly, though he cannot know God exhaustively.  

Man as a personality is totally separated from the other created things. Man’s only relation to creation is in the areas of Being and creaturehood. However, in the area of personality man’s relationship is upward to God, and therefore the incarnation and death of the Son of God for the sake of man’s salvation are sensible. 

The reasonableness of the incarnation, and the reasonableness of communication between God and man, turn on this point — that man, as man, is created in the image of God. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Seek to Explore and Discover ‘More’ About Our Creator

God has communicated to us, not only about history and the cosmos, but about Himself.   

As people who believe in God as Creator, we should strive to avoid the mistake of saying that because God has communicated truly concerning creation, all scientific study is wasted. This is a false deduction. To say that God communicates truly does not mean that God communicates exhaustively. 

Even in our human relationships we never have exhaustive communication, though what we do have may be true. 

Thus, as far as our position in the universe is concerned, though the infinite God has said true things concerning the whole of what He has made, our knowledge is not thereby meant to be static. 

Created in His image, we are rational and, as such, we are able to, and intended to, explore and discover further truth concerning creation. God says, in effect, “Learn of the truth that I have made in the external world.” 

Finite man in the external universe, being finite, has no sufficient reference point if he begins absolutely and autonomously from himself; thus, he needs certain knowledge. God gives us this in the Scriptures. With this in mind the scientist can understand, in their ultimate relationships, the truths that he is looking at. 

Thus scientific study in itself can be to the glory of God, for here man is functioning properly in the universe in which God has placed him. He is telling us what is truly there, and he is adding to the store of knowledge of his fellowmen. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There