2015-04-14 Back to Basics – Morals and Stuff
ACH Study Groups
Ben & Fran Gilmore – Cofounders
7659 Gingerblossom Drive
Citrus Heights, CA 95621
April 14, 2015
This is a letter to our friends –
Morals & Stuff
While in college, I worked in the illustrations department of an aircraft plant. There was a room filled with drafting boards, each with an artist/draftsman. On the restroom stall walls were numerous “anonymous” drawings and comments. Anyone familiar with the department staff’s work could easily identify the author after the first few marks. “The product reveals the attributes of the producer.” In the same way, one can know the difference between a Rembrandt and a Picasso.
These blog posts have discussed the things we can learn about God, by studying the products created and made by God – His attributes.
When teaching this subject – “Morals & Stuff” – I have the class make a list of all the words they can think of that describe God. I rule out “titles” like Lord, Savior, King. Once they get the idea the list grows quickly. – loving, just, all-knowing, eternal, …, . YWAM groups seem to make the longest lists. The several seminary groups I have addressed were disappointing.
The late engineer/philosopher, Gordon C. Olson, I am told, had a five minute radio show that ran for several years. Each day, Brother Olson featured a new one of God’s attributes! He never repeated an attribute.
Why not pause now and see what sort of list you can make. Then we will play with it a little.
n Pause — pause – pause –
Consider this —
Some attributes come in pairs: good / bad; just / unjust; … .
Some attributes have no counter-concept: eternal; all-present; … .
Now – consider this – If an attribute is part of a pair, who is going to deny God the ability to choose which will be His?
Let us make two columns and divide our list into “non-choice” (i.e. no pair) and “choice” (i.e. part of a pair).
On the “non-choice” list –
(ß & à)
We call these, “Natural Attributes of God”. He can’t help it! He did not choose these attributes. This list describes “The Being of God”. The “stuff” of God.
On the “choice” list –
We call these the “Moral Attributes of God”. Note – the words “moral” & “choice” are interchangeable. This list describes “The Personality of God”.
Think about it. The “moral” list has a counter list – unloving, unjust, unforgiving, … . Had God chosen the counter personality, because of His natural attributes, He would still be God! (And we would all have been turned into frogs!)
There is more to be learned from these lists.
First consider “communication”. A mentor, Edward Hunter, taught me, “Use any word you please. If I understand your definition, we are communicating.” That requires mutual experience and mutual agreement. I illustrate this by having the class close their eyes and count to three then open them. All of us see a red rectangle at the same time (common experience). All of us agree to name that color “red” (common agreement). Then I leave the room and say, “I see something red.” The class members understand.
Will we ever, even in Heaven, understand “omniscience”? No, there is no common experience. However: We can precisely understand “loving, just, forgiving, …, .” There is common experience and common agreement. I find no difference in defining my forgiveness for my neighbor and God’s forgiveness of me. Granted: A vast difference in significance, but the words and concepts are identical.
That, I think is why God uses things like lambs, rainbows, and planting to teach us about Him.
Further – Men also have “natural” & “moral” attributes. I invite Jack and Jill to come before the class. Jack is to describe Jill’s natural attributes. “Well, she has two eyes, she is a girl, she is blond …”. Someone says, “That could be a choice!” Then, Jill describes Jack’s moral attributes, “He dresses neatly, he is an athlete, he is polite…”.
Note that there is a great gulf between man’s natural attributes (finite) and God’s natural attributes (infinite). There is no common experience.
Note further – When Christ says to be like Him, we have the ability to copy His moral attributes exactly.
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” [1st Peter 1:15-16]