Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Chapter One

What if your understanding of Christianity was somewhat in error?  Would you do anything at all to correct it?  Or would you hide behind the dogmatism of the establishment instead of creating your own very personal relationship with the Lord?  Of course, that is what we are told must be done if we are to be or become a child of God, isn’t it?

What if Adam was pronounced ‘good’ because he was created to fulfil a specific purpose;  a purpose The Creator ordained would come to pass in the fullness of time?

The question we are faced with is was Adam pronounced ‘good’ because of his moral purity, innocence, and personal relationship with God, or was he pronounced ‘good’ because he would accomplish the ultimate purpose of God in creating him?  Can it be both?  I think not!  And here’s why:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

In unpacking this primary statement of creation, there are several things to consider.

First, God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.  So how is it possible that darkness is upon the face of the deep in the newly minted creation?  The definition of holy is ‘separate’.  God created heaven and earth to be apart from Him.  His light is not an integral part of it.  Why would God create something He wanted to be separate from?  He did so to fulfil His ultimate purpose for it.

One of the primary directives Holy Scripture gives us is to “be ye holy as I am holy”.  God sees the end from the beginning, not through clairvoyance, but through planning.  His plan is detailed to the subatomic level.  For the children of God to ultimately join Him in eternity, we must be holy as He is holy.

He does not have to be the author of sin for His plan to be detailed.  He created us with a carnal nature.  Scripture says that the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, indeed it cannot be!

Okay, is it jumping to a conclusion that we (in Adam) were created with a carnal nature?  Oh, but this is getting ahead of the story!

Returning to holiness, we have to go back to creation before the beginning.  God is eternally holy. God is light and life.  So what is He eternally separate from?  All that is antithetical to life and light!  That is what He wants His children to be.  Now we have to ask ourselves, is this the best of all possible worlds for God to accomplish His ultimate goal; if indeed that goal is to bring the fruit of His creation (mankind) into eternity with Him; giving us eternal life with Christ as co-heirs.  We, of course do not know what we will be in eternity, but we know that we will be like Him! 

Do God’s ends Justify God’s Means?

5 thoughts on “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Chapter One

  1. scalise7000 says:

    Wpuser, I having a hard not seeing a contradiction in your two sentences: “He does not have to be the author of sin for His plan to be detailed. He created us with a carnal nature.” Do you mean “carnal ” in the old Latin way, “fleshy,” or does carnal mean either ontological or moral evil? If the latter, then there is a contradiction.

    “God is not the Architect of sin”
    “God created man with a sinful or evil nature”

    This violates the law of non-contradiction. If you could clarify this, that would be great. Btw, your writing is quite good.

    By the way, I find the assertion “He created us with a carnal nature,” and not yet demonstrated from Scripture, followed by quoting a verse about carnal nature to be proof texting in the extreme. Am I missing something?

    Another thing, and I promise I am not trying to be critical. If there is nothing eternally in the past other than God, there is nothing for Him to be separate from. I would offer the inner-Persons of the Trinity as grounding “distinctness,” which separateness is just an extension of “distinctness.” This statement, “all that is antithetical of God,” could be true, that is, that God is not those things, but I think a clarification is needed. Those things which are antithetical to God have no existence before He creates contingent creation (which is inherently limited and so open the potential for evil), so He cannot be separate from those things which do not exist. He could in the sense that any evil has been “separated out” from God by virtue of God’s mind, volition, and choice, but not in the sense that there exists something evil that is other than God. This would be to presume a creation before God created, which is a contradiction. Again, I would offer the Persons as the Trinity as the grounding of distinctness being established as a wholly good mode of existence.

    Dr. Scalise

    • wpuser135 says:

      Thanks for taking time! I mean carnal in the same sense that Paul meant when he said the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God indeed it cannot be. Therefore it must be that God created in man a carnal nature that led man into rebellion.
      Could Adam have chosen otherwise? If not, how could he be culpable? Creating a being with a nature prone to sin does not make God the author of it nor does giving man a law He knows he will break.
      This is not fully answering the conundrum either. Do God’s ends justify God’s means? If whatever God does, in the end, leads to the creature desiring to be holy, can His means be sinful? Pharaoh was ready to give up on more than one occasion and God hardened his heart. Does that make God the author of Pharaoh’s next sinful act? No.
      The law of non-contradiction would apply if the plan of God were not what was being worked out. Does that make sense?

      Now as to being created with a carnal nature unsupported in Scripture: Gal 5 recite the gifts of the spirit and the works of the flesh. The Fall was rooted and founded in works of the flesh. For it not to be so is a contradiction requiring the Acme of God’s creatures to be irrational in the extreme. I cannot believe God created Adam irrational. That is what brought me to the question ‘Was God’s pronouncement of ‘very good’ a moral pronouncement or a purposeful pronouncement? I have worked construction most of my life and I know full well that when creating something to serve a purpose it is not unusual to make something very good that in the end is destroyed to achieve the ultimate goal. It is very good for its purpose but has no place in the end product.

      Is there some reason to believe that eternity was empty of all that was not God before God Created the space-time continuum we occupy?

      I honestly do not mind critical thinking! Iron sharpens iron. This journey for me has been one of trying to find someone who can show me where I am in error in the conclusions I have reached. I find it uncomfortable standing alone against the church but unable to let logic and reason be thwarted by dogma!

      ‘all that is antithetical of God’ In my mind God is life, light, love, community to the extent holiness allows, righteousness, peace, joy, etc. We are called to be holy as He is holy, meaning we must not allow anything that is antithetical to Him and His nature be okay with us.

      My concept of Trinity is 3 persons, one essence, essence being a view of the ultimate goal of existence.
      “He could in the sense that any evil has been “separated out” from God by virtue of God’s mind, volition, and choice, but not in the sense that there exists something evil that is other than God.”

      The text says that through Adam death entered the world. Does that no presuppose that death was a pre-existent reality; a reality antithetical to the nature of God? Not necessarily a material existence but some sort of existence all the same? And it does not presuppose a creation before the creation, but certainly something from which God is separate in eternity. Unless it might be that God created death the moment He gave Adam the consequences for breaking the law! I personally do not subscribe to that line of thinking!
      Does this help? or am I really a heretic.

      • scalise7000 says:

        Wpuser, I don’t think you’re a heretic although I still have quite a few issues with your development. This is to be expected though when dealing with mysteries of these magnitudes. I want to revisit those issues, so I am asking that you to bear the additional scrutiny a bit more.

        You cite verses about the “carnal nature” that are used to describe man’s nature post-fall, but then you apply them to pre-fall. For instance, Paul is writing Romans to the Roman Christians sometime around 50 – 55 c.e. Paul’s description of man in Romans 8:7 is about man’s situation at 50 c.e., not about Adam and Eve in the garden. Also, I wonder what translation you are using — I teach NT Greek at a University — because the word they’ve translated as carnal nature in Rom. 8:7 is just “flesh” (sarx) in Greek. I further want to inquire into what exactly this term means to you. I’ve done an exhaustive word study on this sarx, and it denotes most often “weakness, limitation, finitude,” and less often the more negative “sinful nature.”

        You say God created man “with a carnal nature that led man into rebellion.” If this is your position, then you’re a determinist because you believe that nature determines man’s action. Where has the human will gone? If you believe God created man to inexorably rebel, then God is the author of rebellion — I don’t know how this could be clearer. If so, then God is culpable for rebellion since man can only do what his nature requires, and the nature in man that forces him to do evil was given and crafted by God.

        It seems obvious that means can be evil even when the end is good. For instance, say that the Ebola victims were all isolated to one town, quarantined, and then “neutralized,” that is, some government commits mass murder on them because of the danger they pose although we know that people do survive Ebola and get better. The end is to ensure no one else gets Ebola — the saving of potentially billions of lives. The means, however, is still evil, murdering those people for the so-called greater good.

        The Exodus narrative is difficult. God predicts His activity in hardening Pharaoh’s heart at the burning Bush (Exod. 3), but when we actually get to the story, we find in 7:12 – 14 that Pharaoh’s heart is hardened as God said but it is ambiguous who is doing it, God or Pharaoh. The first clear “hardener” is Pharaoh in 8:15; God doesn’t do it until 9:12.

        God’s “very good” is traditionally thought about as an ontological statement of goodness, that is, that existence itself by virtue of its existing at all is a good state of affairs. I wouldn’t deny the possibility that it is a moral statement and a purpose statement as well since morality, ontology, and utility (pragmatism) are all differing parts of the one reality of goodness.

        I am confused by your use of the word essence. How could the goal of existence be God’s essence? Existence no doubt exists to demonstrate or represent God’s essence in its diverse ways, but this is about God communicating Himself to us by virtue of what is not Him for the purpose of His glory and mutual love.

        I think you are right that “death” had to exist prior to Adam’s sinning, but this is only feasible if we have a personal being with whom to associate the activity of death. We cannot have some “cosmic” force called death and isn’t linked to the sinful activity of a personal being. Why? Because only persons with freewill can sin. This brings us back to Satan and demons. Death came into the domain of man through Adam’s choice whereas Adam had been appointed by God to guard the garden with the tree of life in its midst. We have no time duration in Scripture for the length between God’s resting from creating and the temptation by Satan. The text simply does not speak to this. It must have been some time though since it presents God as “walking in the garden” in a way Adam recognizes, so him and Eve hide (Gen. 3:10). Evil is a mystery, though, but I quite hesitant to disconnect its origin from a personal being. If we do, we will have a good/evil dualism on our hands like St. Augustine’s first religion of Manichaeism.

        Dr. scalise

  2. wpuser135 says:

    This is good stuff! I really don’t have time this evening to do more than this one thing and will go more in depth tomorrow.
    Scripture give us principles and one principle concerning man is that nothing we do or will can change the color of one hair from black to white nor increase our height by one cubit(technology aside). Therefore The Fall did not change Adam’s nature but it sure changed his circumstances.
    You mentioned free will and I have to ask if you have run across the definition posited by R.C. Sproul as: the ability to choose any at all of the moral options available in a given situation.
    Obviously, one possible moral option that is present in any given situation is that which perfectly pleases God. Since God has already defined what is good is it not logical to infer that He alone has access to that option to that option which perfectly pleases Him in any given situation? Certainly it is difficult to infer that a contingent, inferior being such as we are, has such a capability, even on our best day. Therefore again logically we cannot claim the attribute of free will. We are, however, free agents, beings who are responsible to God and the rest of humanity for the consequences of our actions.
    Sproul says this definition of free will has been in use since the second century. (Page 1181 of his study Bible) BTW I prefer KJV or1599 Geneva. Am no overly conversant in Greek nor Hebrew but fairly fluent in English although at times it may not seem so. Exhaustive usage of Strong’s and other references help.
    more tomorrow.

  3. wpuser135 says:

    Okay, regarding our nature: man by willing it or taking some other action cannot change the smallest thing about his nature, the color of one hair on his head to the largest, increasing our stature by a cubit. Scripture uses physical truths to show us spiritual truths. Adam pre-fall or post, could not change his nature. If his nature was one of obedience he would not have sinned in the first place because to do so would have violated his nature. A horse by willing itself to fly and jumping off a cliff does not sprout wings! If, however, God created Adam with a carnal nature, he would not have violated his nature by sinning against God.

    Paul says sin was in the world but where there is no law sin is not imputed. When in history was there no moral law? I say moral because there have always been physical laws viz. gravity, etc., but the first moral law revealed to us was the law given to Adam concerning not eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As far as not knowing when that might have occurred it had to be sometime before he was 130(when Seth was born). That was plausibly after Cain slew Abel. They had to be past the age of accountability because they had presented sacrifice for themselves. There is precident for 20 years of age as the age of accountability because everyone over the age of twenty who were unbelievers at Kadesh-Barnea died in the wilderness. Which, if that holds for Cain and Abel, means that Adam was 100 plus when they were born and could well have been expelled from the Garden at approximately 100 years of age.

    But lets get back to theodicy: Do God’s ends justify God’s means?
    Is this the best of all possible worlds to accomplish what God created it to accomplish? Our view of God is that he is Good and in Him is no darkness at all. Darkness being evil intentions. At least that is what we espouse and yet we keep trying to answer the question “if God is good why is there evil in the world?” We jump through all kinds of mental hoops to make sure that we never ever see God as the author of sin. But why?
    God is without peer. God is the sovereign Lord of all His creation. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. His Only Begotten Son said ‘If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.’ He was without sin. Ipso Facto God is without sin. Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor? By virtue of His position as Creator and the fact that He has a plan for that creation; God’s ends must in point of fact, and all that is logical, justify God’s means. We are taking way too much upon ourselves to even consider otherwise.

    How about this: If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent and good, how could He ever allow the millions if not billions of innocents to be snuffed out? Surely if He has the power to stop such things is He not bound by His own good nature to not allow it in the first place? These things do not happen by accident and He knows the end from the beginning therefore they must serve His purpose. For no other reason than that He does not put a stop to them before they get started.

    Of course the fact that none of this is permanent, much less eternal, might play some small role in understanding why evil is allowed to flourish in this world. God’s ends justify God’s means! He knows the end from the beginning, we do not.

    To revisit “free will” for a moment, how is it possible for a contingent, limited being to really have such a thing? Our will is limited by all sorts of things; environment, pre-disposition, mood, whatever; so how can we, within the realm of reason and truth, claim free will as an attribute of our nature?

    Re: Adam’s carnal nature: Does the phrase “by their fruits, you shall know them” bear at all on the ability of one to assess whether one is walking in the flesh or in the spirit? If so, is it not applicable to Adam as well as those in the world around us? I am not talking about their eternal condition before God, I’m talking about what is leading them at the moment. David writing the psalms was not following the same leader as David ordering his generals to place Bathsheba’s husband in the thick of the battle and withdraw from him? Is it not possible Adam was very similar in his walk with God? Its just that Adam was the federal head of all mankind. More than one man’s sin was at stake when Adam made his choice to eat of the forbidden fruit.

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