One of a Kind: A Biblical View of Self-Acceptance
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For the believer, love is the foundation for every good thing in our lives. Without love, nothing else matters. Share Flipboard Email. Mary Fairchild is a full-time Christian minister, writer, and editor of two Christian anthologies, including "Stories of Cavalry. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. Consider Rodin's famous bronze statue, The Thinker. It is a single material object; but it can be truly described both as a statue which is one kind of thing , and as a lump of bronze which is another kind of thing. A little reflection, moreover, reveals that the statue is distinct from the lump of bronze.
For example, if the statue were melted down, we would no longer have both a lump and a statue: the lump would remain albeit in a different shape but Rodin's Thinker would no longer exist. This seems to show that the lump is something distinct from the statue, since one thing can exist apart from another only if they're distinct.
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If this is right, then this is not a case in which one thing simply appears in two different ways, or is referred to by two different labels. It is, rather, a case in which two distinct things occupy exactly the same region of space at the same time. Most of us readily accept the idea that distinct things , broadly construed, can occupy the same place at the same time. The event of your sitting, for example, occupies exactly the same place that you do when you are seated. But we are more reluctant to say that distinct material objects occupy the same place at the same time.
Philosophers have therefore suggested various ways of making sense of the phenomenon of material constitution. One way of doing so is to say that the statue and the lump are the same material object even though they are distinct relative to some other kind e. The advantage of this idea is that it allows us to say that the statue and the lump count as one material object, thus preserving the principle of one material object to a place.
The cost, however, is that we commit ourselves to the initially puzzling idea that two distinct things can be the same material object. What, we might wonder, would it even mean for this to be true? It is hard to see why such a claim should be objectionable; and if it is right, then our problem is solved. The lump of bronze in our example is clearly distinct from The Thinker , since it can exist without The Thinker ; but it also clearly shares all the same matter in common with The Thinker , and hence, on this view, counts as the same material object.
Likewise, then, we might say that all it means for one person and another to be the same God is for them to do something analogous to sharing in common all of whatever is analogous to matter in divine beings. On this view, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same God but different persons in just the way a statue and its constitutive lump are the same material object but different form-matter compounds. Of course, God is not material; so this can only be an analogy.
But still, it helps to provide an illuminating account of inter-trinitarian relations, and it does so in a way that seems at least initially to avoid both modalism and polytheism. Brower and Rea maintain that each person of the trinity is a substance ; thus, none is a mere aspect of a substance, and so modalism is avoided. And yet they are the same substance ; and so polytheism is avoided. This account is not entirely free of difficulties however. Critics also object that this view does not directly answer the question of how many material objects are present for any given region, lump, or chunk.
Is there an objective way of deciding how many objects are constituted by the lump of bronze that composes The Thinker? Are there only two things statue and lump or are there many more paperweight, battering ram, etc. And if there are more, what determines how many there are? The doctrine of the Incarnation holds that, at a time roughly two thousand years in the past, the second person of the trinity took on himself a distinct, fully human nature.
As a result, he was a single person in full possession of two distinct natures, one human and one divine. The Council of Chalcedon C. For example, it seems on the one hand that human beings are necessarily created beings, and that they are necessarily limited in power, presence, knowledge, and so on. On the other hand, divine beings are essentially the opposite of all those things. Thus, it appears that one person could bear both natures, human and divine, only if such a person could be both limited and unlimited in various ways, created and uncreated, and so forth.
And this is surely impossible.
Two main strategies have been pursued in an attempt to resolve this apparent paradox. The first is the kenotic view. The second is the two-minds view.
We shall take each in turn. According to this view, in becoming incarnate, God the Son voluntarily and temporarily laid aside some of his divine attributes in order to take on a human nature and thus his earthly mission.
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If the kenotic view is correct, then contrary to what theists are normally inclined to think properties like omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence are not essential to divinity: something can remain divine even after putting some or all of those properties aside. The problem, however, is that if these properties aren't essential to divinity, then it is hard to see what would be essential.
If we say that something can be divine while lacking those properties, then we lose all grip on what it means to be divine. One might respond to this worry by saying that the only property that is essential to divine beings as such is the property being divine. This reply, however, makes divinity out to be a primitive, unanalyzable property.
Faith, Hope, and Love: 1 Corinthians 13:13
Critics like John Hick 73 complain that such a move makes divinity out to be unacceptably mysterious. Alternatively, one might simply deny that any properties are necessary for divinity. It is widely held in the philosophy of biology, for example, that there are no properties possession of which are jointly necessary andsufficient for membership in, say, the kind humanity. That is, it seems that for any interesting property you might think of as partly definitive of humanity, there are or could be humans who lack that property.
Thus, many philosophers think that membership in the kind is determined simply by family resemblance to paradigm examples of the kind.
Something counts as human, in other words, if, and only if, it shares enough of the properties that are typical of humanity. If we were to say the same thing about divinity, there would be no in-principle objection to the idea that Jesus counts as divine despite lacking omniscience or other properties like, perhaps, omnipotence, omnipresence, or even perfect goodness.
One might just say that he is knowledgeable, powerful, and good enough that, given his other attributes, he bears the right sort of family resemblance to the other members of the Godhead to count as divine. Some have offered more refined versions of the kenotic theory, arguing that the basic view mischaracterizes the divine attributes. According to these versions of the kenotic view, rather than attribute to God properties like ommniscience, omipotence, and the like, we should instead say that God has properties like the following: being omniscient-unless-temporarily-and-freely-choosing-to-be-otherwise, being omnipotent-unless-temporarily-and-freely-choosing-to-be-otherwise, and so forth.
These latter sorts of properties can be retained without contradiction even when certain powers are laid aside.
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In this way, then, Jesus can divest himself of some of his powers to become fully human while still remaining fully divine. Feenstra, — Unfortunately, however, this response only raises a further question, namely: if Christ's incarnation required his temporarily surrendering omniscience, then his later exaltation must have involved continued non-omniscience or the loss of his humanity.
watch However, Christians have typically argued that the exalted Christ is omniscient while retaining his humanity. It is hard to see how this view can respond to such an objection. But for one response see Feenstra Moving away from the standard version of the kenotic theory, some philosophers and theologians endorse views according to which it only seems as if Christ lacked divine attributes like omniscience, omnipotence, and so on. They are views according to which the apparent loss of divine attributes is only pretense or illusion.
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Among other things, this raises the concern that the incarnation is somehow a grand deception, thus casting doubt on Christ's moral perfection. More acceptable, then, are views according to which it somehow seems even to Christ himself as if certain divine attributes which he actually possesses have been laid aside. On this view, the loss of omniscience, omnipotence, and so on is only simulated. Christ retains all of the traditional divine attributes.
But from his point of view it is, nevertheless, as if those attributes are gone. Crisp , Ch.
One concern that might be raised with respect to the doctrine of functional kenosis is that it is hard to see how a divine being could possibly simulate to himself, without outright pretense the loss of attributes like omniscience or omnipotence. But perhaps the resources for addressing this worry are to be found in what is now widely seen as the main rival to the traditional kenotic theory: Thomas V.
Morris develops the two minds view in two steps, one defensive, the other constructive. First, Morris claims that the incoherence charge against the incarnation rests on a mistake. The critic assumes that, for example, humans are essentially non-omniscient. But what are the grounds for this assertion? Unless we think that we have some special direct insight into the essential properties of human nature, our grounds are that all of the human beings we have encountered have that property.