Science in Christian Perspective
From: JASA 3
Is the plan of salvation asientific? To answer this question let us first consider a method of science appropriate to a situation which does not seem to yield to a frontal attack but rather must be attacked by an indirect maneuver. As an illustration let us take the question which scientists have Asked about matter--its constitution; is it continuous or is it composed of unit particles? Having no microscope powerful enough to reveal Its structure, the scientists assumed a hypothetical structure--they assumed that matter is composed of innumerable tiny particles (molecules) in very rapid random motion. In their quest, a sequence of natural steps of reasoning led the scientists to the conclusion, among others that the volume of a gas should diminish in proportion to the increase in pressure on the gas, the temperature remaining constant.
Now this is a conclusion which can be put to an experimental test in the laboratory. If such a test should uphold the conclusion reached through reasoning based on the original assumption, then this assumption would be regarded as plausible; and., if no other phenomena should cast doubt upon it, the assumption would then be regarded as true--an established fact in nature. In the case here cited as an illustration, the test in the laboratory corroborated the conclusion reached through logical reasoning, and matter is now regarded as made up of molecules.
Now let us apply this scientific method to the plan of salvation starting with the assumption of a Great First Cause of all things that exist, from which Cause the present condition of "the heaven and the earth" would naturally follow. Since we are not restricted as to what we might assume, let us assign for the attributes of such a First Cause the following:
2. Personal--self-conscious) able to reason and to will
3. Eternal --continuous end consistent as to purpose and its supporting principle and Supreme --never failing to accomplish Also let us assume that, in the expression of the Great First Cause., there are these three aspects: the First Person or Source or all being, the Second Person or Administrator of all activity, and the Third Person or Interpreter. And, for an inc entive to activity, let us assume self-manifestation, or the insistent urge to become known. For a name, let us call this assumed Great First Cause., having these attributes and properties, the Almighty. An Almighty so endowed must be good without a trace of evil,, for infinite evil would be self-destructive.
We are now ready to trace some of the
consequences and outworkings of the Almighty having these assumed attributes. The following outline of the development
leads to some wonderful vistas! Eager to become known, what would such an Almighty
naturally do? A logical development would perhaps take the following course:
A. He would create beings (subjects) capable of knowing him, to whom he could manifest himself, and by whom he would be appreciated. In order to learn of him that they might appreciate him,. these subjects must respect the Almighty and,, to be genuine,, this respect must be voluntary. Their activity and choice being thus voluntary disobedience lurks as a possibility.
B. He would create a vast universe through which to manifest his power, the subjects being given responsibilities in this universe in order,, little by little, to learn of the exceeding greatness or the Almighty--for learning of him is the employment or the realm, and to know him is its life. A highly gifted subject, Lumen, is given the planet Terra as his domain.
We now come toe, sign post which points out several directions which may be taken in the further pursuit of our quest. The course chosen by us involves the following question: In a realm where harmony alone exists is it possible that the Almighty might perhaps be cramped in the expression or some phase of his nature? In other words, can the richness of love (including compassion, longsuffering and faithfulness) be manifested where a helpless and hopeless recipient is absent?
C. Following this lead, the quest now turns our attention to the gifted Luman who is now struggling with some mighty thoughts that have arisen within him. Seeing in the Administrator or Second Person powers and capacities overshadowing his own, be is overwhelmed with envy. Convinced that force coupled with the threat of terror should be the guiding principle of administration where achievement is the goal he prevails upon about one-third of his fellow subjects to take part in a rebellion against the methods of the Second Person. This faction then takes up its abode on the planet Terra, which now suffers strains and occasional convulsions under the new rule of force by the invisible visitors. The process of unfoldment is now established in the universe by the Almighty in his dealings with Lumen. and time begins in a finite realm.
D. The situation caused by Lumen and his followers in their rebellion offers the dark contrast required for the expression of the high quality of love inherent In the Almighty. In order that this expression may be universally accepted, the rebellious faction must be treated with absolute justice.
E. For the purpose of revealing to his subjects the meaning of love., and in order to give Lumen a fair chance to prove that force and terror are superior to love as a governing principle, the Almighty places servants ) created as to their nature in his own image and likeness., as objects of his love on the planet Terra, Lumen's domain. The vision of these servants is limited by a seeming veil to the perception of finite things only, hence the activity of all the subject so obedient and disobedient, is unseen by them.
F. In order that the manifestation of love may be adequate as a lesson to all his subjects, two aspects of it mist be present--the lave of the Almighty must be returned to him by wholehearted obedience on the part of the servants. Disobedience would result in existence outside of the Almighty's plan and purpose of creation-existence in outer darkness, dead to all that is good with its promise of progress. This death was chosen by Lumen and his followers in their pride of intellect and they now seek to victimize the servants whom the Almighty has placed upon the planet Terra, Lumen's domain. Under their assault, these servants, dazzled by the promise of personal gain., yield to Lumen's craft, and rush blindly after his devices. The planet Terra is thus sunk in the depths of iniquity.
G. However, longsuffering and justice require that time be given for Lumen's methods to mature in failure. Therefore the reward of the deeds of Lumen and his deceived followers must be held in abeyance, and the day of vengeance delayed until the universe is satisfied that force and compulsion finally must fail in the administration of a program of being and achieving.
H. Thus the servants on the planet Terra have chosen Lumen and so have been overcome by death although to their fellow servants their physical being appears unchanged. Death is thus the natural penalty for disobedience. Now a penalty must in justice be paid either by the law-breaker or the law-maker.
I. In mercy for his deceived servants, the Almighty in the person Of the Administrator,, whose office aroused Lumen's envy descends to the planet Terra, clothed as a servant, to reveal to the lost servants the character of the Almighty, particularly the power of love rather than force and compulsion as the basis of real achievement. The servants on the planet Terra with few exceptions reject the message~ and the Second Person is put to death. The death of the Second person satisfied the justice which demands that the penalty be paid by either the breaker or the maker of the law. Some of the lost servants, seeing to what depths love is impelled to go to succor the helpless, as contrasted with the selfish achievement offered by Lumen, repent and turn to the leadership of the Almighty as expressed In the Administrator--and the joy and peace of a new life thrill them., for by so doing they are born into the family of the Almighty,, one in spirit with him.
J. The delayed execution of the penalty coming to Lumen and his followers for disobedience gives them a false sense of victory what the Second Person is rejected and slain on the planet Terra) for., having assumed the criminal's place the Almighty turns from the Second Person. This loss of fellowship is the real death which was dreaded, toward which the Administrator had steadily advanced for the succor of the lost. The Almighty accepts the death of the Administrator as completely satisfying the claim of justice (for he gave his life for the life of the disobedient servants) and not only restores him into full fellowship with himself but gives him a name which is above every name. This restoration is manifest to the servants on the plant Terra by the resurrection of the body of the Administrator from the grave. Sinc e the claim of justice is now satisfied, the Almighty pronounces sentence on Lumen and his followers.
The life and death of the Administrator revealed to Lumen's followers that the attraction of love must finally win over the compulsion of force) and Lumen now concedes that love has won the day as the guiding principle in government, and that lasting success in administration cannot follow when selfish motives are fostered. The Second Person,. not having himself been disobedient and being one in essence with the Almighty, returns in triumph to the realm of Harmony there to plead the cause of those repentant servants who accepted his pardon against the vaunted claims of Lumen who still uses his wiles to blind their eyes.
K. So important to the servants on the planet Terra is the Almighty's love gift to them that the story is repeated to succeeding generations., the Third person (invisible to the veiled vision of the servants) interpreting its significance. The story concludes with the remarkable offer of a glorious home with the Almighty for all who sense what life m:Tght be without him., and who therefore accept the death of the Second Person as satisfying the penalty due for their disobedience.
L. When the failure of Lumen's rebellion is acknowledged by all, the wrath of the Almighty breaks forth on the disobedient, and the Administrator comes to the planet Terra the second time to execute judgment. Lumen is now banished by universal consent from the realm of Harmony. The planet Terra is then reclaimed as an abode for the servants who proved faithful,, and, in the realm of Harmony., the Almighty gives them the office left vacant by Lumen.
M. In the material or physical aspect of the universe, in which the planet Terra serves as the arena where the quality of love is revealed to his subjects the Almighty has incorporated an analogy of love. This analogy, gravitation in the physical universe, Is a force of attraction between particles and masses just as love is a sympathetic attraction between personalities. There is also magnetic and electrical phenomena which exhibits both attraction and repulsion,, attraction when charges have unlike polarities (a positive and a negative) and repulsion for like polarities: suggesting love and its opposite, hate, two aspects of one profound passion, for the Almighty hates that which would injure the object of his love. These phenomena on the physical plane give the servants an opportunity to participate in the lesson which the Almighty desires his subjects to master.
CONCLUSION. The natural outworking of the love-quality in the Great First Cause having the attributes assumed has been traced to logical conclusions. Now comes the crucial test--do the conclusions reached correspond to the facts resulting from the laboratory test, the experimental work in this case being in the great laboratory of human experience as revealed on the pages of history.
One rather startling conclusion that developed from the assumed premise by steps of logical reasoning is that evil should now dominate on the planet Terra. Does this correspond with the actual outworking of things on the planet Earth? It is 'obvious that the agreement in this case is perfect. The cause of some physical disturbances such as earthquakes, floods, etc. may be included.
Another conclusion that developed in the course of the reasoning is that the Administrator came to the planet Terra to represent the Almighty and reveal to the lost servants the meaning of love by himself suffering the penalty for their disobedience and offering them free pardon. But his message was rejected by the servants and he was slain. However, the Almighty received him lack into the realm of Harmony. This conclusion also corresponds exactly with recorded history, for we read that Christ came to earth, going about doing good, healing the sick and doing many mighty works to show God's love for lost sinners, also claiming Himself to be equal with God. His message was rejected and He was crucified, but in three days arose from the tomb, and, after forty days of teaching His disciples, ascended to heaven.
A third conclusion in the development is that the story of the Administrator's life and death was repeated to succeeding generations the Third Person interpreting its significance, This corresponds with the facts of history, for the church is a well-known institution in the world which has told the story of Christ's redeeming love for 1900 years, based upon the Scriptures inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Then there is the conclusion that those servants who accept the death of the Administrator as satisfying the penalty of their natural state of disobedience., will live eternally in glory with the Almighty. This corresponds with the great peace of mind and change in the motive controlling the lives of those who,, throughout the age, have accepted Christ as their Savior.
The conclusion that the Administrator will again return to the planet Terra to take command and execute judgment upon all who reject him has not yet a counterpart in history; but, since the other conclusions have been so fully verified by the facts brought out in the great laboratory of human experience on earth, we may look forward with confidence for the outworking of the last conclusion in a return of Christ to earth., not in humiliation as before but as a judge executing wrath upon all who have refused His pardon for their sins.
Finally, since these laboratory observations are in exact agreement with the conclusions reached by logical reasoning from the original assumption,, the inference follows that the premise is at least plausible; and, no exceptions having been found, shall the assumed First Cause be regarded as true?--No other view seems tenable!
Since the plan of salvation) as revealed in scripture is included in sections I, J, and K of this outworking, it too is established as scientific--until it can be shown that the spirit of love, compassion, longsuffering and faithfulness would naturally unfold in some other way than in the giving of himself unreservedly for the succor of someone in trouble who looks to his.
SEQUEL. Lunen's charge of injustice on the part of the Almighty is finslly rejected as false by all the subjects in the realm of Harmony, including Lumen himself and his followers; and, no place being found for them., Lumen falls a discredited leader. His followers, torn with dissension and remorse, fall with him. Never again to see the face of the Almighty, these subjects,, with the servants on the planet Terra who scorned redemption, now suffer their chosen lot: a living death with the deposed Lumen.
The subjects mentioned in the outline correspond to angels, and the servants to men, on the earth (Terra). The purpose and intended destiny of man is illuminated by events which naturally unfold from the Great First Cause having the attributes enumerated--which are recognized as belonging to the God of the Bible. In the outline, you are enabled to view yourself against the background of the conflict raging about you in the unseen. It should not take you long to choose the master with whom you wish to live forever--it will be either the vindicated Almighty or the vindictive Lumen--God or Satan.
"Behold,, now is the accepted time: behold., now is the day of salvation" II Cor 6:2
THE PLAN OF SALVATION. While it requires sixty-six books of the Bible to round out the plan of salvation in all phases of its applications to the needs of mankind., there are however found concise statements of it in a number of places., such as:
"...God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels,, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" I Tim 3:16
Also, "...Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; ... was buried, and ...rose again the third day according to the scriptures; and...was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve..." I Cor 15:3-5.
And finally, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3:16.
In section M mention is made of two aspects of one profound passion inherent in the Almighty, that is) love and hate.. Statements of these contrasts are found throughout Scripture,. such as:
"Thou hast &9ved righteousness and hated iniquity..." Heb. 1:9.
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to
preach good tidings unto the meek....to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,, and
the day of vengeance of our God..." is. 61:1-2.
"0 Lord....in wrath remember mercy" Heb. 3:2.
The condition of mankind showing why a plan of salvation was necessar7 is given
in Romans 3:23: "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
The penalty is given in Isaiah 59:2: "your iniquities have separated between you and your God ... that he will not hear you."
Also in Ezekiel 18:4: "the soul that sinneth, it shall die."
And the-pardon is given in John 1:12: "as many as received him, to them gave
he power to become the sons of God,, even to them that believe on his name."