January 28

The Theology in Psycho-Theologian


I think it is only fair that someone who calls herself "The Psycho-Theologian” should tell you what she believes about God, so here goes.

Infinite, eternal and speaking


God is an infinite, eternal being, without beginning or end. He is all-powerful, all-seeing and all-knowing and completely holy. He created everything else that exists and it all belongs to him and is under his control and rule. He is far above anything we could comprehend with our human minds; but he wants us to know him. So he made provision for that by speaking to humans in a way they could understand, much like we speak in very simplified language to young children, and then used various people throughout history to write down those words that he wanted us to know. This writing is known as the Bible. It is our only source of true and trustworthy knowledge about God. The following is a broad outline of what I believe it teaches.

Three in one

God has always existed as one God in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each of these persons is fully God and of the same substance. Each of them possesses the same power and is worthy of the same glory as the others.  It is impossible, given the limitations of the human mind, to fully grasp this concept in the abstract; but the existence of these three persons is central to the accomplishment of the gospel, as we will illustrate a little further on.  

His people

The reason God created everything is that he wanted a group of people to worship him and be in relationship with him. He created the cosmos, and the earth in particular, as a setting for those people. Then he created the first two humans and set them into a special garden he had crafted as the most fitting and beneficial dwelling place for them to commune with him and fulfill their calling. He made these humans, Adam and Eve, like himself in many ways so that they could have a true relationship with him and mirror his own function as a ruler over the whole earth. They weren’t eternal, all-powerful, all-seeing and all-knowing like God is. They did not possess a permanent holiness in and of themselves. But they were created in a state of initial innocence, with no sin in them.

Remember our signature illustration of fractals as presented in the first post?

The commission


When God put the first man into the garden, he commissioned him to tend the garden and to protect it. He showed the man all the provision he had made and then gave him one prohibition and warning. There was one tree from which the man was not to eat, because it would bring death to the man. It was called The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

After giving the first man his commission, God noted that the man was in need of a strong helper, that it was not good for him to be alone. He paraded all the animals before the man, demonstrating to the man the absence of any with the capacity to have true intimacy with him. So God created a woman from the man himself. The man instantly recognized in her a correspondence with himself, and her capacity to fulfill his need for intimacy, companionship, and partnership in their commission. The man and woman were so closely entwined with one another that they were not ashamed and felt no embarrassment or need to hide or cover their nakedness. God even called them “one flesh.” Together they were to populate the earth and fill it with a people who would worship God and commune with him.

Ruination

Tragically, rather than partner with the man to protect the garden, the woman was led astray by the devil himself (an angel who had rebelled against God and attempted to set himself up as Lord of all creation) in serpent form, and in turn persuaded the man to join her in eating the fruit of the one tree that God had denied to them for sustenance. They had been created in a state of innocence, yet there was something in these first humans which responded to a voice other than, and contrary to, God’s voice. And as surely and instantly as God had promised, they were plunged into the fatal condition of being God’s enemies, and knowing it. Whereas before they had only experienced goodness, they now experienced evil. Now they had visceral knowledge of good and evil and they were on the wrong side, separated from their Creator and source of life. Although God had given them everything, they turned their backs on him and joined in with his nemesis, the devil.


Although the man and woman did not experience immediate physical death, they experienced something far worse. They knew that they were displeasing to God. They knew that they were dirty in the face of his holiness and perfection, a dirtiness which now emanated from inside them. They knew that God would be very justly angry with them for discounting all he had done for them, including bringing them into existence, in order to pursue something that looked better to them. What arrogance and audacity.

Cover and hide


Their immediate impulse was to cover their bodies against the gaze of each other and to hide from the gaze of God himself. But that was a shallow, external remedy which could not touch the dirtiness in their souls. God came looking for them and confronted them with what they had done—with their sin. Instead of dwelling in the perfect environment in harmony with God and creation, they were cast out and given a curse. Their work of tending the garden and filling the earth with a people for God would proceed, but with trouble, sorrow and resistance from creation. The sin which they had adopted into their souls would infect each and every child born to them and their progeny throughout all of time.

Every aspect of their lives now felt the impact of this sin. Their bodies, their minds, their emotions and their relationships were contaminated with corruption and dysfunction. The earth itself was affected. It produced not just beauty and sustenance, but thorns and weeds; it resisted the efforts of humans to till and shape it. The whole of humankind had a bent for selfishness, conflict, war and destruction. Everything was ruined.

Hope on the horizon

However, God did not exercise his right as Creator and owner to wash his hands of the mess created by humans or to blast the earth into oblivion. Even in the face of this blatant insult and his resulting curse, he offered a glimpse of hope. Even as he cursed the man, the woman, and the serpent, through whom the temptation had come, he made a prediction: a child of the woman would one day crush the head of the deadly serpent.
The Bible goes on to tell the story of God’s continuing to build and develop his own people, the nation of Israel. It involved many rules, regulations, ritual ceremonies and sacrifices, like a child's picture book illustrating his plan until the time when it would be fulfilled. He promised great blessing to them if they would obey him; but following in the footsteps of their original parents, they repeatedly rebelled against him and suffered the consequences. However, God showed his patience and longsuffering in rescuing them and bringing them back to himself time and time again.

Finally, after millennia of teaching, training and illustrating his plans to his people, the time that God had decided upon came for him to unveil his ultimate solution to the problem that had plagued his people since the first two of them sinned. Because he is a just God, he could not overlook or wave off their sin. It had earned the punishment of death. But not even a very good man could pay for the sins of a whole nation of people. He could not even pay for his own sin; and if he did, he would still be dead. And because God is infinite, sin against him is infinitely large, too large for any human to pay. So God, unwilling to leave his people in their deadly predicament, had a plan to pay for the sin of his people himself.

But how could an infinite, eternal God die? The plan within the Trinity was that God the Son would become a human being himself, who could die and thus satisfy the death penalty. But one other requirement must be met. The human sacrifice must be a perfect one with no sin whatsoever. Only the holy God could fulfill that requirement. And so the Holy Spirit brought forth life in the womb of a virgin girl, which was God the Son, both fully human and fully God, and thereby equipped to meet both requirements. The second requirement he fulfilled by living a perfectly sinless and holy life while he lived on this earth. The first he fulfilled when his physical body succumbed to the torturous death of crucifixion. Thus, the price of sin was paid in full and must be accepted as such by God the Father.

That full payment included the conquering of death which God foreshadowed during his pronouncement of the curse. Ever since that first sin, humans have lived under the shadow of both physical and spiritual death. Physical death remains for a time, but the far worse spiritual death, with its separation from relationship with God and awareness of guilt, shame, and emptiness, has been conquered. Ultimately physical death will also succumb. But now freedom from that horrible premonition of impending and well-deserved condemnation is no longer necessary for God’s people.  They are returned to an intimate, shame-free communion with God the Father through God the Son, realized through God the Holy Spirit.

A mystery revealed

That leaves the question of who comprises God’s people. Early on, God chose a man named Abraham to be the father of a great nation which would be God’s people and bless the world, the nation of Israel. However, when God the Son, Jesus, the Messiah came to live in this world, he revealed the formerly hidden secret that God’s people would no longer be confined to the nation of Israel but would include anyone who realized the futility of pleasing God by anything they could do themselves and throwing themselves on the mercy of what God had accomplished to save them from their sin.

Further, before Jesus left this earth to return to his Father in heaven, he promised that the Holy Spirit would come and be even more beneficial to them, as a spirit, than Jesus had been in his bodily form. Now the Holy Spirit lives inside each one who trusts in the remedy that God has provided, uniting us to Christ, helping each one to be more and more like Christ and to sin less and less, although we will not reach a completely holy and sinless state until we reach heaven, either when each of us dies, or when Christ comes back to earth to take all of his living people to heaven.

Contending for the faith

During the early centuries of the church, these doctrines were still being solidified, and many false teachings were introduced.  Theological battles were fought, hammering out the faithful and true message of the Scriptures.  I will leave you with two very significant formulations of truth, poetic expressions of the results of these conflicts.

The Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He arose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.

Amen.

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Amen.


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  1. Donna,

    I must admit, when I read your announcement you were a psycho-theologian, my initial reaction was, "Aren't they all?!" After reading this blog, I am in a state of worship. Every, and I do mean EVERY, time I read or meditate on the state of our Creator, Father, God, who He is, and His purposes, plans and demeanor toward mankind, I cannot help but be in awe. To some, His work seems overwhelming and constricting. To me, so overwhelming and secure. Thanks for adding to my day, my friend. I love you and hope we get some time together soon. You are a blessing!

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