Monday, 24 March 2014

Why is Earth a better place than Heaven for theosis/ spiritual progression?

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It is not necessary for us to know, but it is a legitimate question to ask why God wanted us to become exalted to divine status, why he wanted to raise us to be Sons of God? And how the conditions on earth fit with the answer.

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One answer is that Heavenly Father wanted 'friends' of the same kind as Himself - in other words 'grown-up' friends - as well as child-like children.

He wanted at least some of us to be able to progress to a level where we could engage with Him at a higher conceptual level than was at first possible - God wanted some of his children to mature to spiritual adulthood. 

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The plan of salvation was therefore designed to enable some Men to be raised to divine status so that Heaven became to some extent an 'adult' society, instead of purely a society of Heavenly Father and his many little children.

(To be blunt - sometimes God yearns for some adult company!) 

We can perhaps feel the basic truth in this because we each contain a divine spark from God, and may therefore partially identify with God; and introspectively can perceive this want - this need - in God.

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Many Christians will not allow that God has wants or needs, and assert that God is utterly autonomous, impassive and so on. But there is a lot of scriptural evidence that He does have desires, passions and emotions. Indeed a Christian God must have (and be) love - and love is a dynamic emotion, implying change and wants.

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Having decided to make a scheme of things in which Man might be educated and grow to divine status, the earth was created and Man was set upon the earth.

The nature of the earth is here assumed to be very different from Heaven - on earth the perception of time is slowed-down, and life proceeds in a manner very unlike Heaven.

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In Heaven all is swift, frictionless rapidity and all is bathed in the Glory of God's presence.

In Heaven our will is powerfully shaped by God's will - not irresistibly, but it is hard to resist (and there is not much perceived time to resist) being in total harmony with God - and the relationship tends to be one of childlike loving obedience.

This environment tends to maintain spiritual immaturity - childlikeness. Which is not bad, not at all (children are wonderful!) - but for children to grow toward adult maturity is perhaps better, and what God wants - at least for some of His children.

So, this joyous Heavenly environment is poorly suited to spiritual growth. There is spiritual growth no doubt - possibility of autonomy - but the environment is not conducive to it.

The presence of God is overwhelming, and the frictionless speed leaves little space for consideration.

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On earth, in mortal bodies, all is slowed-up.

For example, thought and action are distinct, so there may be first a temptation then space to decide whether or not to yield to that temptation.

There is an inspiration to do Good, create beauty, and then space to decide yea or nay; there is a point when we may choose whether to tell the truth, or not.

And God is not locally present on earth - so we are 'left on our own' with such problems - and can distinguish our will from God's will.

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An analogy is that children must spend some time out of the continuous contact with their parents in order to mature - children must themselves learn to overcome temptations even when there are no immediate parental sanctions; they must be able to live well without the immediate incentive of parental approval.

This will inevitably be a matter of trial and error, success and failure; of practice, of habits.

Independent, we may develop strength and good habits or degenerate to weakness and bad habits. But the risk is intrinsic and necessary to the benefit.    

That is why God is not present with us on earth.

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So earth is well designed for spiritual progression; and is a better place than Heaven for rapid theosis - due to the earthly slowness, friction, distinction of choice from action; and because we feel that we are (by and large) on our own, and must make our own decisions.

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6 comments:

  1. Your god ultimately must be very much like men. He is trapped by space and time and is such a limited being that I could become his friend. This line of thinking implies the difference between God and man is similar to the difference between an old man and a child, but the real difference is the difference between an eternal I AM and a recent creation just out of nothingness trying to have the eyes to see how to get closer, and therefore more real, to the I AM.
    My God is the Alpha and Omega, the Almighty, All-knowing, Everpresent. There is no 'over there' where He his. We know he wants us to have life and have it more abundantly, and we know, due to the incarnation, His focus is very much here. More life, more complexity, and He wants to be 'all in all' i.e. we cannot approach His perfection ourselves, but He can indwell in us. God becomes man so that man can become God, and the more you know about God, the more you realize you can't know Him. He is beyond our understanding. We will have much more than friendship with Him- we will have a unity with Him that cannot be described in that word.

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  2. @August - If you can be bothered to search I have had extensive discussions on this matter.

    There are problems with any conceptualization of God - the one you describe is hard to imagine as a God of Love, and his omnipotence means that there is no real space either for human free will or for evil to operate - indeed, it is hard to stop Him sliding into the unknowable God of the other major monotheism who simply demands submission.

    However, I wholly accept that despite the ineradicable problems with the 'Philosophers God' of classical theology, there are many many example of Christians who are not deflected by these problems and who find ways around them.

    For myself, the problems of free will and evil are too great for me to tolerate when I know that there is a plain, concrete and literal way of conceptualizing God as Heavenly Father (i.e. the Mormon theology) which I find far more real and inspiring.

    But each to his own! We cannot possibly do more than approximate, after all.

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  3. I agree with this. But I also think that in the eternities it may be that our own will is also too present to us, whereas on earth we have sleep and forgetfulness and various kinds of distractions and outside changes that make it easier to get a little distance between us and our sinful self.

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  4. *There are problems with any conceptualization of God - the one you describe is hard to imagine as a God of Love, and his omnipotence means that there is no real space either for human free will or for evil to operate - indeed, it is hard to stop Him sliding into the unknowable God of the other major monotheism who simply demands submission. *

    You could even argue that for the classical God, even the demand for submission is incoherent.

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  5. @Adam " in the eternities it may be that our own will is also too present to us"

    Either I don't understand this, or I think I disagree! Could you explain 'will'?

    "for the classical God, even the demand for submission is incoherent."

    Yes - there is a tendency to simply what is, is at the extreme - but something similar applies to a dynamic and evolving God - in that (at least as people usually understand things) his demands seem arbitrary and optional - more like the demands of a King than of God.

    As we have often observed, paradoxes/ infinities lie in both directions!

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  6. Bruce N.,

    Sometimes I am strongly opposed to something and I am coerced into it or I am distracted and forget that I'm opposed to it or I am stressed by some other experience and my will to oppose that something is weak--so I end up undergoing that something and in the experience discovering that my will was wrong about it, it was a good thing after all.

    But in the eternities, my guess is that our wills are much stronger and more clear. They can't be muddled in the same way our mortal wills can. For the righteous, this is a blessing. Whatever resistance they have to temptation is greatly strengthened. But for the wicked, this means our will to reject some kinds of good is also much less shakeable.

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