It's time to derive your worldview from the Bible

Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”

by Charles Clough
Distinctions between man and nature. The man-nature distinction separates biblical Christianity from paganism. God didn’t create man the way He created animals. Man’s spirit and the image of God. Features of man that are analogous to features of God. Questions and answers.
Series:Chapter 3 – Creation: The Buried Truth of Man and Nature
Duration:1 hr 23 mins 59 secs

© Charles A. Clough 1996

Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003

Part 2: Buried Truths of Origins
Chapter 3: Creation: The Buried Truth of Man and Nature

Lesson 11 – Man in God's Image – Chooses, Judges, Loves, and Knows;
The Unique Design of Mankind–Part 2

4 Jan 1996
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD

To review where we are in the overall scheme of things, we’re still on creation, and because we’re still on the creation event, Genesis 1-2, we’re still working three areas, the doctrine of God, the doctrine of man, and the doctrine of nature, because those three doctrines are the building blocks for what follows in the Scripture. We can’t understand salvation if we do not understand sin, we can’t understand sin if we do not understand God and man. So God, man and nature form the basic foundation; on top of that and in progress after that the Scriptures get into other issues.

So we’re working with that. We have emphasized over and over the fact that there are really only two positions that men have held, that either there is a Creator or there isn’t, and paganism says there isn’t, there may be creators, plural, but since they’re plural they themselves are somehow created and part of the system.

We call that belief that everything is part of the system as the doctrine of the Continuity of Being. That doctrine of the Continuity of Being underlies modern paganism, which is evolution. Evolution is not something new in its foundation. All it is, is a modern day version of something that has been around for a long, long time. We look at that and say that there are implications, if you believe one way there are certain implications and consequences that follow; if you believe the other way there are certain implications and consequences that follow from that, and these carry over into every area of life.

We talked about the Creator/creature distinction a lot, and we have dealt with another kind of distinction, a man/nature distinction, so we drew a little diagram, first we said that God had certain characteristics, that He has attributes, many attributes, we just isolate a few of those attributes and one of Him, He is omnipresent, He is always everywhere. He is omnipotent, He is never tired, He has unlimited energy. He is immutable, He never changes, He’s the basis of all stability. He is eternal, there never was a time when He didn’t exist, and all moments of time are opened to Him. Other attributes, sovereignty, that God rules, and that He has total rule over all things; He works ALL things after the counsel of His will. There’s not God and something else, if there were God and something else than we would have chance and basically dice behind the universe. Then we have holiness, some people call that righteousness and justice, but it’s all in a cluster. God is love. God is omniscient.

We made an important point about all these attributes: Every one of these attributes was expressed prior to the creation of the universe. EVERY ONE of these attributes. Why do we say that? Is this some theoretical thing? No, because if we say that those attributes were not expressed prior to the creation, we are in effect saying God needed the universe, and that somehow He and the universe together are mutually supportive of one another. That’s a dangerous position to be in, that denies the transcendence of God. So we say that all those attributes, including love, was expressed prior to creation. But love needs an object, and that is why the Christian alone, of all the religions on earth, the Christian religion alone with its doctrine of the Trinity provides an eternal object of love, and provides a basis for saying that love could have been exercised without a universe around. Solitary monotheism, which is sort of a pseudo-biblical position, in Judaism and Islam, does not have a Trinity, and the result of that is they have a problem with that particular attribute. That attribute is very weakly expressed in Islam, simply because it’s related to the multiple personality in God.

We said that the universe is separate therefore and distinct from God. So we have dealt with the Creator/creature distinction. As part of dealing with the Creator/creature distinction, we said that those attributes of God are similar to, but not identical for creature qualities. So while the creatures may have qualities down here, those qualities cannot be identical to God. So we used the (Q)ualities of God and the (q)ualities of the universe and the (q)ualities in man because by doing that upper and lower case Q, it’s a way of reminding ourselves that the creature’s love, the creature’s knowledge, the creature’s justice, the creature’s occupation of time, is NOT identical to that of God. Similar yes, but not identical.

This is why man is said to be an image of God, man is not said to be God, man is not equal to God, but he is in the image of God. He is an image and the image is a similarity to that which is an image of. This is why we insist on this. This may seem like a theoretical point until we get further on. Keep in mind, some of the things I’m saying and some of the things I put in the notes I put there because of what’s coming, I’m building a base. Later you’ll see how this figures together, and the base has come out of a lot of apologetics of the last 200-300 years particularly.

The last few times we have dealt with the nature of man, and this universe, this creation. We said we wanted to divide this between man and nature. We dealt with the Creator/creature distinction, now we’re introducing the man/nature distinction. Each one of these distinctions is important.

Both of them are very important because fundamentally if we go back to this diagram on the Continuity of Being, the Continuity of Being gets slippery at these distinctions. The Continuity of Being smears the Creator/creature distinction. It smears the difference between man and nature, and there are consequences to that. That’s why we’re saying be careful here, I’m just pointing out something that we must be crisply aware of as Bible-believing Christians, that our faith, expressed in the pages of Scripture, is a faith that insists on these fundamental distinctions, these are uncrossable, they are unbreachable, they are eradicable. They are fundamental distinctions and all of paganism, through the doctrine of the Continuity of Being smears across these. You know this intuitively just by having lived in the 20th century. All of you at some time in your life have been treated to the evolutionary cosmology. And what does evolution basically say about man? They say that there’s a continuity between man and primate, yes there may have been mutations, but basically natural law expressed through mutation and natural selection led from a primate type of form to man. That is an expression of the ancient pagan view of the Continuity of Being; there is not a distinction between animals and man—an unbreachable distinction.

That’s why I belabor this point because it will come up again and again. We cannot have the gospel of Jesus Christ adequately understood in a universe that has no distinctions. If we are going to insist that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be, God incarnate, we must hold to the Creator/creature distinction. If we do not, we cannot correctly understand Jesus. And if we do not hold to the difference between man and nature, we cannot deal with the problem of sin. Nature doesn’t sin, man does. Man has a peculiar responsibility that the primate does not have. Man has a position that the primate does not have. Man is judged in a way that the primate is not judged. Man is saved in a way that the primate is not saved. So this distinction under girds and shapes the whole expression of the gospel. This is why we totter around on these fundamentals, it always weakens the gospel and we pay a severe price for that.

We’ve gone through “God’s Description of Man’s Creation” and we started on the bottom of page 34 to deal with the unique design of man. We want to finish that discussion. What we’re doing here under the unique design of man is to point out the man/nature distinction, how is man different from nature? These four points have to do with this distinction, so we’re going to elaborate the man/ nature distinction under these four areas. This is our subject tonight.

The first major difference between man and nature starts on the bottom of page 34, “Of central importance is the truth that man is an image of God in body and spirit.” Man, alone of everything created in Genesis 1, man ALONE is said to be in God’s image, nothing else, not the dog, not the cat, not the primate, nothing else but man is said to be in God’s image. We said that this has to do with the fact that God expresses Himself in the creation of man. So man is an image of God and we have coined the term, he is a theomorphism.

“Morphism” is the word for form, “theo” is God. So man is theomorphic, he and he alone has this quality. We also said on page 35 that this image-ness includes not just his spirit, but also his body, that the body, the form of our body has significance.

Notice Dr. Pilkey’s quote: “No one disputes that the ‘image of God’ refers to conscience and reason; but the view that this image has nothing to do with the body is profoundly erroneous … because it implies that God, in the Creation, failed to harmonize the form of the body with these faculties.”

In other words, the form in which we are, five fingers on each hand, arms, toes, eyes, etc., our form is related to this image hood, such that when God visits the planet He doesn’t come as a Martian, God does not come as animal, He doesn’t show up as a sphinx, He shows up as a man, and the Bible says that that is the maximal revelation of God. In other words, showing up in the form of a man is the most efficient way God has of expressing Himself, which means all the other ways are inefficient. And other ways are not glorifying God and other forms, non-human form does not efficiently express the essence of what God is like.

I also pointed out on page 35 how this is related to the incarnation, salvation, and the gospel. I quoted Tertullian, one of the ancient church fathers. Tertullian made this stunning statement of picturing how when God created Adam in the Garden He had Jesus Christ in mind because He was making man such that he would be a vehicle later in history for incarnation. So as His fingers molded the clay and as He made man, He was preparing for Jesus Christ.

The second aspect of the difference between man and nature is on page 35, “Through his body, man rules nature.” This is very controversial in our time because of the environmental movement, but I’m sorry, we’re not going to be embarrassed about it, man is to rule nature. This is extremely controversial in our time because of man’s misrule of nature. But just because man has misruled nature doesn’t mean he wasn’t created to rule nature. In fact, the fact that he’s misruled nature shows you that he was in fact created to rule nature. Nature screwed up when man misrules shows that man therefore has a function, and he has a tremendous and powerful function on nature.

If you want real environmentalism, if you really want responsibility in environmentalism, the Bible gives you such a powerful environmentalism, such a powerful responsibility that most men will flee from it, because what the Bible says is that it was man who screwed up the whole universe, it was man who brought in death, it was man who by his fall destroyed nature. It wasn’t because he threw Coca-Cola cans around, it was because he sinned against God; that is what ruined nature, and all the rest of it follows.

So environmentalism and responsibility to environment is taught in the Scripture but it’s taught in such a way that it becomes very offensive, extremely offensive to the pagan mind because they don’t want that extreme kind of environmentalism, because to say that we are ultimately responsible for the environment because we sinned against God, ooh, we don’t want to touch that one. So we back off of that and talk about somebody throwing Coca-Cola cans along the road. In other words, we trivialize the responsibility of man toward his environment.

That’s the second point, and I quote Hugo St. Victor, “The spirit was created for God’s sake, the body for the spirit’s sake, and the world for the body’s sake; so that the spirit might be subject to God, the body to the spirit, and the world to the body.” In 1 Corinthians 15 and Hebrews 2 we pointed out how the dominion of Genesis 1 is finally accomplished through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ finishes what Adam was to start. Jesus Christ one day conquers the universe. He conquers the entire universe, including the heavenly part of the universe.

Adam started out just trying to rule the Garden, and then man was to rule the planet earth, and Jesus Christ, by His powerful ministry, is engaged in bringing dominion over the entire universe. The heavens will also be subject to man. In 1 Corinthians 6, Hebrews 2:5, the Bible goes so far as to say that man will one day be superior to the angels.

So that whereas the original creation, if you want to do the pecking order, it’s God, angels, man, and the rocks and animals. In the ultimate universe, in the universe to come it’s God, man, angels, and nature. You see the reversal, that reverse takes place in the new heavens and the new earth, and it has to do with the dominion of Jesus Christ, and how He is winning that dominion in some way through our obedience and disobedience, and it gets into the whole cosmic implications of why the angels watch Christians when we worship, expressed in 1 Corinthians. Why do angels watch us? What is Jesus doing in the angelic unseen realms? Whole dimensions to the Bible, but all it fundamentally emanates from man’s role to rule over nature.

Those are two distinctions in the man/nature distinction. On page 36 is a third one, this is more of an observation than something functionally of the magnitude of the first two, just to make you realize what we read in the Genesis text, and that is we read something different about our creation than the animals. The animals are created in genders, gender pair, male and female. But when God goes to create man, the human gender pair, He does so with an odd description. In the case of man He creates one body, and then He divides, hence a male and female. You may say what a nice little thing that was. Well, the Bible doesn’t waste words, and when you appreciate the flow of Scripture and the flow of revelation, you always say to yourself later on, over here I read some­thing and that must be why God did it this way back there. In the New Testament we read about that we are in Adam or we were in Christ, it doesn’t say we were in Adam and Eve, and in Christ. There’s something of this racial solidarity that’s behind the way that man and woman were first created. That solidarity in one has something to do with the redemption in Christ. Christ is one, Adam is one, so that the head of Eve is actually Adam, and it’s not in the sense of beat her into the sidewalk or something, it’s not prejudicial in value, it’s simply saying there is a racial solidarity that mankind has that no animal pair has. We can’t go into it anymore because the Bible doesn’t tell us any more, it just makes this observation in Genesis 2, this is the way Eve came out of man.

The fourth point which is the one a lot of people think of when they think of the man/nature distinction and the image-hood of God, gets into the spiritual side of man. We’ll develop that and go into some of the applications; that is man’s spirit, which is in the image of God. I clarify man’s spirit in the image of God because animals are said to have spirits. Ecclesiastes speaks of the animal’s spirit; the Noahic flood narrative in Genesis 7 speaks of animals with spirit. Here’s why: spirit in the Hebrew is the same thing as breath, and we get very Greek about the way we think and every time we see the word “spirit” we think of some spooky immaterial thing. In the Old Testament that immaterial thing is not separated out from the physical that much. So, for example in the Garden of Eden, do you remember what the narrative says? Think of yourself as a movie director, you’ve got this actor playing Adam, there’s the body, now what is the next thing after God gets through shaping Adam, what does the text say He did? He breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives. At that point man is said to have spirit. So there’s almost like a formula that you get in the Bible where spirit plus body creates soul. If the spirit is not some spooky thing but really manifests itself in certain ways, we’ve got to be able to describe the presence of a spirit.

All I’ve done on pages 36-37 is to point you to observable traits that show the existence of our spirit, what makes man have spiritual nature. I think you’ll see why for the last few weeks we have been emphasizing that God’s attributes, sovereignty, His holiness, His love and His omniscience, we said they were communicable, we had a question why I called it communicable and I said it was just a label because those attributes tend to be more like us than the other attributes. Here’s the payoff, because now we’re dealing with the spirit of man. What we’re going to do is to show the analogue characteristics of those four attributes in man, and it turns out that the analogues of those attributes are the very evidences of the presence of the human spirit.

On page 36 you see “Choice. Because man is created with his own spirit fashioned in God’s image, he can never escape the presence of God in the depths of his heart. He has to submit to Him with a heart of faith or he has to rebel against Him with a heart of unbelief.” It’s axiomatic with the creation of man. We are held responsible, and our human responsibility is our finite version of God’s sovereignty, our will in other words. Now as a side, for those of you who are really stimulated and like to do some thinking, just before that paragraph about choice on page 36 I’ve underlined something. “Interestingly no one doubts these qualities exist yet they cannot be measured, touched, tasted, or seen—precisely the very same features unbelievers’ claim that make them doubt God’s existence!”

There was a famous professor, an evangelical professor, I think he teaches at Notre Dame, Alvin Plantinga, and he’s written a book called God and Other Minds and he has come up with a very interesting point. He says if you analyze all the arguments against God’s existence, that deny His existence because you can’t touch Him, can’t feel Him, etc., what you wind up discovering when you analyze the argument is that those very same arguments deny the existence of man, because the human mind, not the brain, the mind, the evidence of the spirit, cannot be seen, cannot be touched, etc. So whatever arguments you pull off trying to eradicate the existence of God you wind up eradicating the existence of man’s mind. Hence the title of his book, God and Other Minds. That’s what I’m getting at here. These evidences are very deep, they’re not just picked off the surface because basically none of them can be treated like a physical phenomenon.

Choice is one, which is the analogy and answers to God’s sovereignty. On page 37 I say, “Here is why man, unlike animals, is held ultimately responsible for his eternal destiny. As the “lord” of nature, man alone has the (q)uality of choice that corresponds but is not identical to the (Q)uality of God’s sovereignty.” In other words, God is sovereign over angels, over the universe, over the galaxies, His sovereignty is infinite. But man’s choice is on a finite level over something; just as God’s sovereignty rules over something, man’s choice rules over something, and man’s choice rules over the details of his life, over the domain over which he has power and control, over the domain of him as the lord (little “l”), the lord of creation. So man has this analogous characteristic and trait. Your dog doesn’t have that. He reacts, but he’s not held eternally accountable like we are, for his choices.

A second feature which is a little more detailed is conscience, the sense we all have, ALL men have, is the fact that there’s a standard of right and wrong, conscience. And conscience answers to God’s holiness. So again we have this analogous structure between God is a spirit, and lo and behold, here’s a spirit in man, and the finite spirit of man has an analogous relationship with the infinite spirit of God. Conscience is an evidence of the presence of the human spirit in both Christian and non-Christian. The non-Christian has conscience, all men, regardless of whether they say the believe in Jesus or say they believe in the existence of God or anything else, all have an innate sense of right and wrong.

That’s why in the first sentence on page37 under b. Conscience, “Although man knows that he himself fails, he can never restrain himself from making real moral judgments.” We said in chapter 1, how do we deal with presuppositions, and we went on about the presuppositions and everyone wondered what are we doing. Now you’re beginning to see what I was getting at. Remember I said how do you smoke out presuppositions? By listening to how people judge, where they make their moral choices. This “ought” to be, that’s “wrong.” People say that. That ought to be a little signal to us, whenever we’re in conversation we just quietly listen to someone and you hear them express a moral judgment, you’re seeing the manifestation of the human spirit at work. No matter what they do, it’s not deniable, it pops out, it’s got to because man is made that way. Just as, if you sit there long enough, they’re going to breathe, they’ve got to. And if you sit there long enough they’ve got to make a moral judgment, sooner or later they’re going to make a moral judgment, just like they’re going to take a breath, because both of them are of the essence of being made in God’s image. That thing called conscience is an analogous characteristic to God’s holiness.

Let me go through that paragraph on conscience. “These judgments are not intended,” now what happens when you begin to point this out to someone, oh well, that’s just social opinion. The moment you start taking it seriously then all of a sudden it gets greasy, and they want to start backing out and say I didn’t mean a moral judgment, I’m just expressing my opinion. Why is it all of a sudden we’re getting slippery now? Think about it. “These judgments are not intended merely as opinions or likes and dislikes; they intend to appeal to some transcendent moral authority.” It’s not true that they’re expressing just likes and dislikes. If you push them back far enough they have to admit they’re not talking about the mere fact that this is dislike, I just dislike this. That’s not what we’re saying, it’s more powerful than saying I dislike this, they’re saying it’s wrong.

I was always amazed, I’ve been around relativists and they would sit there and fundament­ally deny there was any such thing as right and wrong, and my favorite way of showing them that they really believed that there was a right and wrong, I’d say, Oh, well then apartheid in South Africa is right, no problem. Oh no, no, that’s wrong. Oh, I hear you say wrong, maybe that’s just the South African’s opinion. Or another favorite is, Oh, if there’s no such thing as right and wrong then what the Nazi’s did to the Jews in the 1930s is okay, no problem, just a social phenomenon, right? Oh no, no, it’s wrong. Where are we getting right and wrong from? Watch this because those are good examples and here’s why. Look at the next sentence. “Where is the authority for such judgments?” Underline that, that’s key.

“Where is the authority for such judgments? It cannot come from experience with nature because whatever is the state-of-affairs isn’t necessarily what is right.” That’s a fallacy, where you do a sociological study and you get your bell shaped curve, and they go through all these interviews and they say what does Johnny do, what does Mary think, what do the people in New York state think, and we diagram opinions and we say here’s public opinion, and here’s what the majority of people believe.

Well, is that middle of the bell-shaped curve really what people mean when they something is right and wrong? No. How do you know that? Because in the majority, the majority in the case of apartheid and Nazi Germany went along with it. So are you going to say therefore that the statistical mean is the expression of the right and wrong? You’re not saying that, you’re not serious. Of course not.

There’s something else, but what is this something else then? If it’s not society, if it’s not nature around you, where is this moral authority? That’s the dilemma, and it’s a very serious one. Don’t ever be embarrassed as a Christian, walking around with this inferiority complex that we’ve got all the problems. This is a problem, this is a major problem because what it is, is try as they might, the unbeliever can’t deny ultimately that he’s a human spirit craving God. And it pops out every time he makes a moral judgment because he keeps appealing to a transcendent authority, an authority over society. That’s the second feature of man that’s analogous to God.

The third one: love. Not often said, but that is analogous to God. All men and all women have a need for love, and they have the experience of knowing that when they are loving another person, there is something powerful in that. There’s something powerful in that! And it’s something that we all acknowledge is there.

After all, what is 90% of music, pop music, written about? The struggle of personal relationships. What’s literature written about? Personal relationships. It is something that men have always had to deal with, but now notice something. On the paragraph on page 37, “Love requires the existence of another human spirit for it can never be truly exercised apart from a personal relationship.”

You may have a great relationship with your dog, but that doesn’t really qualify for what we’re talking about. Why do I know that? Because of Genesis 2:18. If a dog could provide it, God would have given Adam a dog. And Adam had a test, he went around, he couldn’t find anyone, he had dogs, cats, snakes, and he never had a personal relationship with any one of them, couldn’t find it. What was God teaching Adam? That in order to express himself he needed another human being around. All men acknowledge directly and indirectly this need.

In the second paragraph we get the clinker. Just as with conscience and with choice man has a problem. With love he also has a very severe problem, and here it is. “The (q)uality of human love can never be identical to the (Q)uality of God’s love. God’s love depends upon nothing in the universe, for it pre-existed creation within His triune nature.” So it’s not contingent on circum­­stance; it’s not contingent on something outside of Him. “Human love, by contrast, remains fragile, always dependent upon creature existence. To exist human love requires an environment in which man’s existence is unthreatened so that it is ‘safe’ to give.” Think about that. The cup cannot run over unless the cup is full, and the cup isn’t going to want to give of itself if it’s threatened. Love and a threatening environment can’t coexist. There has to a protection, there has to be meaning. I don’t mean that you can say a counter example would be a mother who sees her kid go in front of a car and in her love for the child will grab the kid and get hit by the car; you say wasn’t that a threatening environment. No, that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is if the whole universe and all circumstances around you… you’re sitting there and you’re not interpreting the fact that it’s going to be really safe to commit yourself to this relationship or that relationship or it’s not safe to show your humanity in anyway, it’s because of insecurity. The universe is basically unfriendly. God could express His love in eternity because nothing threatens Him, He can give, give, give, give, nothing is going to happen to Him because He gives. He’s go the wealth, He’s go that which empowers His love because He’s in an unthreatening environment.

Let’s go on. “This environment,” the environment in which it is safe to give, “cannot be supplied by the pagan worldview because it has no Infinite Personal Creator Who loves with sovereignty and omnipotence.” Unless you have a personal sovereignty omnipotent loving Creator, you have no basis for human love. It gets back to the same thing we had with conscience. Unless you have a personal, absolute, infinite holy God there’s nothing that explains conscience. And if you do not have a personal, infinite, sovereign powerful God who loves, there’s no basis for love either. It’s just a mask, it’s a human phenomenon, just sitting there on the surface, it doesn’t mean anything. This is why historically, if you go around the continent, people can say all they want about hypocrites and the church, but let me tell you, you can go to any continent on this planet where Christians have had vibrant communities and ask yourself a question, who was it that brought orphanages? Who was it that brought a real sense of the sacredness of marriage in those areas? Who was it that first spoke out for human rights, particularly women’s rights? It’s all there in the record. You can say all you want to about Oriental religions, but you know who built the orphanages in India. So these practical things are related to our faith.

The last one is knowledge, page 38. Pay attention to this because here’s where presuppositions have very practical results. We deal with human knowledge, we’re dealing with education, we’re dealing with anything having to do with knowledge here. People will use this against Scripture. Let’s look at what knowledge is all about. In the first paragraph I quote 2 Peter 2:12, it’s a casual report on the surface that Peter makes here, but we want to just look at one word that Peter uses.

Peter is talking about the apostates, and notice what he says about them, “But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed,” focus on the word translated “unreasoning,” sometimes in the older translations it’s translated “brute,” it’s the word “alogia”, alogia in Greek. You recognize the stem, “log,” except this is a feminine ending so it has an “a” on it, and it has an “a” prefix which is equal to not, and loga (loga), there’s “logos,” not word, not thought, not speech. In other words, animals lack those qualities, they lack thought and speech. That’s precisely the point. What is it that separates the human spirit from the cat and the snake? The fact that we have human speech, we can carry on conversation, we can think conceptual thoughts. [blank spot]

We said that each one of these attributes corresponds and here is God’s omniscience and it corresponds to knowing. So we want to look at the correspondence, how it’s the same, similar, but how it’s also different. Let’s go through this sentence by sentence. “Human knowledge presupposes a standard of truth,” just like we say that’s something or wrong, we say that something’s true or false, and people know this, it is just implicit in our existence. Omniscience is its own standard of truth. That’s the difference. “Human knowledge presupposes universal truths,” notice that sentence, men always use universals, always, never, we talked about it in chapter 1, the presence of universals in human speech, never, always, everywhere, all; our speech is full of this because we’re making universals. We can’t avoid communicating without communicating universals.

My favorite modern illustration of that is the deconstructionists that are feeding our English classes in school, they are insisting that all literature is contaminated and has to be deconstructed of its prejudicial orientations. If that were really true, then how come you couldn’t say that the person who is saying that you should deconstruct that his statement that it should be deconstructed shouldn’t be deconstructed? What they do is they always make you play by the rules but they don’t. They’re teaching old fashioned truth, all the while saying everyone else’s books need to be deconstructed, except mine, because I’ve got the insight. It’s like when you take education courses. How do they teach you how to teach? With a lecture method. Ever notice that, they always want you to teach in small groups and they have all these nice teaching theories, but when the guy in the education teaches, what method does he use? Nine times out of ten it’s the lecture method. It’s the same thing. Whenever we teach, whenever we speak we presuppose universals. We cannot avoid that any more than we can avoid judging.

“Human knowledge derives from sensory perception and reasoning,” we’ll get into that in the next section, “omniscience is independent of both,” that’s why I said there are two people in the universe that don’t ever learn, God and the moron, God because He always has known and a moron because he can’t ever know. “Human knowledge can imagine things to create by various tools,” omniscience creates directly. When God imagines He can just say. We’ll get into this when we get into the date of the universe, what about 4,000 years, what about 10,000 years, what about 4 billion years; the principle is going to come up then. But what I’m preparing you for now is that our God, when He thinks of something and He says it, He doesn’t need a tool, He doesn’t need a prior process. When Jesus Christ spoke, things happened. And one of the apostles, who was the greatest observer of Jesus, because he was the closest to Jesus, spotted the things in His ordinary life and he reports them to us in his Gospel, the other’s don’t.

For example, only in one of the Gospels do you have the following incident take place: the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus being betrayed by Judas, being abandoned by all the disciples, here come the police, the temple guards, with Judas and the lantern, the great moment of the betrayal, and here in the utter hopelessness of the Garden of Gethsemane, when everything has turned against Him and those guards come walking up, armed, all Jesus said, they asked Him for His ID, where’s Jesus Christ, and what did He say? He uttered the words of Jehovah in the Old Testament, “I AM.” What happened to the policemen? They all fell over. In other words, John the apostle, the only one awake, he saw the whole thing, but the point is that something happened when God spoke. He spoke and instant­aneously nature responded, men responded. God’s Word is that way.

So we want to be careful later on when we come to His creative acts. That’s the difference between our knowledge and His. Our knowledge doesn’t do that. Our knowledge can try to predict, our knowledge can dream and then we have to work with our hands or the artist and the poet have to work with their art forms to bring that idea into existence. God doesn’t have to use His hands, God simply speaks and it is so, there’s a difference.

Finally, we come to something very central in our day, and as Christians we want to be aware of this. This is affecting us, it’s affecting us in the way we learn information, it’s affecting us in the way we no longer read but we speak, it’s affecting us in a lot of areas of our culture, and that is the issue of language. On page 38, “Central to human knowledge is language. Yet human language is quite limited as anyone knows who has struggled to express an ‘impression’ or ‘intuition’. Over the past century or so, studies have exposed further limitations in human language and thought behind it.”

This is not just modern day, but there was a famous skeptic in Paul’s day, spoken of in Titus. There was a Cretan philosopher who uttered these words: [writes something on over­head] one of the first semantic paradoxes in history. The question is, how do you take that. If he says I am lying, and he’s speaking the truth, if he really is lying he’s speaking the truth and he can’t be lying; if he’s lying then it’s false that he’s lying. That’s called a semantic paradox.

And guys have studied this, men have spent decades analyzing stuff like this. All I’m doing is bringing it in to show you something, that human language has inherent limitations to it. It’s tied in with our logic, tied in with our words, tied in with our abilities to construct sentences. That’s a limitation, but it’s only a limitation of our language, it’s not a limitation of language.

What has happened in our time is that poets and writers have looked at this and said, oh gee, language has limitations, so what we’re going to do is really get the truth is we’ve got to go behind language, throw it all out, and go over to mysticism. So there’s a big thrust in our time to go to mysticism behind language, because they say that’s the only way you can get to real truth. That’s the New Age; New Age is going this direction.

Everywhere around us we see this, the emphasis no longer on the content of speech, it takes work to communicate, it takes work to write a sentence that expresses, and mysticism tries to say that language, because it’s limited… here’s the argu­ment, language is limited, and that’s well known; second, therefore truth is greater than language, so you have the emphasis on feeling, an emphasis on mysticism, it creeps into evangelical Christian circles all the time, whenever you have a demeaning of the teaching of Scripture and an emphasis on feeling you have the same thing, it’s just an evangelical version of mysticism. Everywhere this happens, the whole society is going crazy with this idea, and it all started at the beginning of our century and has spread through professors, it has spread through the schools.

The answer to it that we want to emphasize, because we’re talking about how man is different from nature, man is not God, but man as finite version of God and our answer to this is: yes, man’s language is limited, but Gods isn’t, so Gods language stands, and language is not the demeaned by merely pointing to the defects of human language. Ultimately we go back, “In the beginning was the Word of God.” What’s the title of the second person of the Trinity in that passage? Language. God, the Word and the Spirit, three titles to the Trinity. So language is central to Scripture, hence the Scripture and the Bible being language is the way God talks to us. It’s not the only way, but it is the way He has ordained. When God comes to Adam in the Garden what does He do with Adam? Does He play rock music? Or does He speak to him? God carries on a conversation. Why does God carry on a conversation? Answer: Because it’s the only way you get information from one mind to the other. Language is the only way I can convey information. Every time you use a computer, every time you’re talking about a modem and an RS-232 connection you’re talking about a language, bits of information are being conveyed. The modem at the other end is programmed with knowledge, its coding and decoding, and if one modem or the computer at the other end doesn’t have the same language, they don’t talk. So there has to be a shared language. Language is of the essence here. You can say well, doesn’t that show that machines can speak? No, because man made the machines and patterned the machines after himself.

In one of the exercises I ask you to look up Proverbs 1:23 which is one of those passages of Scripture, very plain, very ordinary, but it’s a major passage that reveals nuances of speech, and it’s a great one to illustrate the point. Notice the parallelism, “pour out my spirit … make known my words.” Look at the two verbs, you’ve got parallelism here, let’s break it down: verb—“pour out”; verb—second one, “make known.”

This is poetic parallel­ism, there’s some sort of similarity the author wants us to see between those two verbs. If you just forget the second one, and read “pour out my spirit” the way it’s normally read, how do you visualize the meaning of that sentence? Just from usual evangelical heritage, it’s some spooky thing that happens, but if you correct that interpre­tation by the parallel verse, what do you know, “Make known my words.” It’s saying that the spirit inside the person can’t be known unless it expresses itself in speech, so how do I make my spirit known? By speaking. How does God’s Spirit make Himself known? By speaking. And what is the Bible? His speech.

So how do we know God? We know Him through His Word. Why is that? Because we have a spirit, we have a mind, and “what things know a man but the spirit within him,” 1 Corinthians 2. Well, what things know God? Who knows God but the Spirit of God which is in Him? So language is the linkage between two spirits. Yes, you can say there’s more to language than just verbal under­standing, poets get emotional power in their language, music does this, you can write lyrics and set them to music and have mighty power to that. We’re not denying the power and the emotion, but we’re simply saying that the language is the center, that’s the carrier of all this.

You dress it up, yes, you turn it into poetry instead of prose, yes, but it’s still language, and it’s language that links God and man, not mysticism. Non-verbal mysticism is a profound pagan idea. It’s not that we Christians don’t have emotions; we want emotions, but never at the cost of destroying the carrier of knowledge which is language. “I pour out my spirit, I make known my words.”

Turn to page 39, next time we’ll go through the divine institutions, and you’ll see what I call divine institutions, what people have called divine institutions ever since the Protestant Reformation actually. Their structure is built into society; God shows that in Genesis 1-2. All three divine institutions that I mention, the first, second and third divine institutions are all social structures of this creature called man, made in God’s image. And they are structures that are not out from society, they’re not optional structures; they are structures that are of the essence of human growth, survival and dominion. If any one of those three structures is destroyed, the whole purpose, grandeur and the plan of man’s dominion goes down the drain. We’re seeing that in our own society. So we want to pay attention to that. If you want to read ahead, we want to go from man to the other side of the discontinuity and deal with nature. Page 42-43 is kind of hard reading, but it’s a set up for what’s coming, because eventually you know what I’m going to get to, before we end this chapter we’ll deal with the issue of evolution, the age of the universe, etc., so I’m preparing for that.

Question asked, something about the burning bush, God revealed Himself through the burning bush but God didn’t become the burning bush. Clough says: The fact that God did not become a burning bush is clarified because when Moses himself, there’s a little rule in Scripture, it’s so simple we keep forgetting it, let the text interpret the text. For example, people argue endlessly over the days of Genesis, were they ages, were they days. When God speaks from Mr. Sinai in Exodus 20:11 He sets up the work week as six days, because in six days He made the world, and if you were just a normal, innocent Jewish peasant, standing there before this mountain, you hear the voice of God, and He tells you that the work week is six days long because it took Him six days to make the earth, you kind of get the idea that maybe He knows what He’s talking about, and that’s the interpretation. The same thing here in the burning bush because Moses, in Deuteronomy 4 or 5, when he’s warning people against idolatry, he says when God spoke He said you saw neither a likeness of Me, you never saw a likeness of Me. In that context He’s talking about speaking in Mt. Sinai but in Mt. Sinai He spoke out of fire and smoke, so you could say the same thing, whereas you’re talking about the burning bush incident, that was the Mt. Sinai incident, you could say did God become smoke? No He didn’t, He spoke through it.

In fact, there’s a tradition in the Septuagint that the deacon Stephen, picks up in Acts 7, he has this big long speech just before he’s stoned to death and it’s interesting when Stephen gets to Mt. Sinai in that speech he quotes the Septuagint which reports that there were angels at Mt. Sinai conveying the message of God. You take that with Psalm 104 where it says He has made His messengers, or His angels, like flaming fire, and you begin to see maybe what appeared to be fire to our eyes, empirical fire, hot gas, was more than that, maybe the angelic forms … they can manifest as people because we know they do that, and maybe they can manifest as impersonal phenomena too. Because if you just read Exodus and you think about God on Mt. Sinai speaking there’s nothing in the text that reports anything unusual other than fire and smoke. But then you read what Stephen’s talking about, he’s talking about that it was surrounded by angels—wait a minute, I didn’t see any; so that’s these forms. We’ll get into that, it’s a very important issue because idolatry has to do with form, and language has to do with form, so we have to be careful about that whole issue. But the answer is God did not become a burning bush, He spoke through a burning bush; Moses understood that clearly.

Question asked, Clough replies: You mean as far as on the physical side, the correlation. {Yes} We have to be careful of that because we don’t want to wind up deifying or idolizing the body, but the functions of God are repeatedly expressed in metaphors of the human body. “The arm of my salvation, it shall free you.” We speak of God walking through the temple in the Old Testament, in Psalm 78. All will agree they’re metaphors, but the problem with just saying that is that the reason that they work as metaphors is because there is some correspondence between our bodies. If there wasn’t any correspondence between our bodies and God, then God could not use them as meta­phors. You can only use a metaphor when speaking if you thought it through that there’s a similarity to it. So if God tells me He’s like an arm, His salvation is a mighty arm that works, my imagery in my head is of a mighty arm, a fleshly arm of a person, and obviously I’m not saying that God is a physical arm, but there’s a correspondence there. So why I’ve made that point about man made in the image of God as to his body is simply to protect us against disconnecting exterior form from His plans and His mind.

The reason I play that up in our day is because we are submerged in a sea of Darwinism, and our thinking, from the time of our childhood, we’ve been brought up to believe that things just evolve by chance and natural selection, so that form, the shape of our bodies is sort of an accident, it’s an outcome of a series of accidents that have come about, so that the form becomes almost a meaning­less… modern science fiction does that, we visualize creatures on Mars or in another galaxy, and it’s always interesting that when the artist depicts these in drama, they have to draw these creatures unlike us but enough like us or they wouldn’t communicate they were life. So there’s a need to say something about the form in which we exist, over against, say, the form of a cat, or the form of a dog. In the ancient world that was clearly understood because the Jews never had a zoomorphic picture or image of God, there are only two animals that are brought up in Scripture again and again as similar in function of God, and that’s the lion and the lamb. And those animals have behavior and a form that somehow God designed to communicate something about His character. But be that as it may, it’s certainly not the overwhelming way in which our form shows.

Question, something about ears, eyes, head, responding to God with those very things. Clough replies: And also one of the things I don’t do here, when I talk about the Q q’s, I’m only talking about qualities of the human spirit, that’s why I confine that discussion to that and I really don’t make such a big issue out of the correspondence of the body, and that’s to protect us against getting extreme here. It’s just that we’re trying to say that you can’t separate the form in which our bodies are constructed from the function that God intended us to do. That goes right down, because you can take that further, in that famous Psalm 139, which I think every pregnant woman should read, and every father who’s expecting a child should read, because Psalm 139 is probably the clearest passage in all of God’s Word that deals with the mystery of pregnancy, and during those nine months a human being is being constructed; Psalm 139 takes us through that construction, and it makes a profound point when it says that as God constructs the physical body in the mother’s womb, that physical body that is being constructed in the mother’s womb corresponds to the destiny for that person, because it says all the days are written in my books, says God, and this get backs to the fact that you have babies that are born with congenital defects, and Moses was one of them.

Moses had a speech impediment, and it’s interesting that that was a big discussion between him and God when God wanted him to be the spokesman to Pharaoh and he had some sort of speech, either speech impediment or he was slow of speech, there was something wrong, the Bible doesn’t really tell us. But Moses had a problem with speech; here’s the man who was the legislature of the world, and God made a point in Exodus 4 when he’s dealing with Moses’ physical, mental maybe, defect he made a point that was pointed out by a Christian lady who had a son who had dozens of operations, a very severe cleft palate, and after she led her child to the Lord, he had to keep getting these operations, the kids at school would laugh, etc. and she had to figure some way of comforting him, to say there’s meaning and purpose to your cleft lip and all these surgeries and pain that you have to go through. She was the one that illuminated me to Exodus 4 because in that passage Moses is objecting to God assigning him a role that he can’t do, and God gets mad at Moses at that point and He says I made the stuttering tongue, and who made you so that you have a speech impediment? I made you that way, and I’m telling you that I want you to do this. That was very pertinent to her son, that God makes us for our role in life.

It’s really a stunning Psalm, and it’s an argument for women taking care of themselves during pregnancy, because it says that during pregnancy, it even uses the metaphor of the Garden of Eden, the metaphor there is as God reached down into the dust of the earth in the Garden of Eden and made that body and shaped it, so Psalm 139 says I reached down, and He’s talking about shaping it in the womb, but it’s interesting, it’s in the metaphor of the Garden of Eden. It’s almost as though, you know, in biology they used to tell us ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, the little slogan saying that when the baby goes through the thing he has gills and that’s reminiscent of the fact that we were all fish at one time, they go through this that the ontogeny, the generation of the baby in the womb recapitulates or reviews the phylogeny or the development of the phyla. That used to be a slogan of old Darwinism.

In a way we can say as Christians on the basis of Psalm 139 that ontogeny recapitulates creation, that what we have being made in the womb is a recycling of what God was doing with the first man. And what’s so stunning in our time for us to appreciate that is when we think of the fact that now we know the genetic code, we know all the information, and I was just reading the other day about the genetic … I’m trying to keep up with my son, he comes home and talks about taking the enzymes and cutting up the DNA and trying to find where defects are in certain families, can they narrow the defect of this whole generation of people.

In reading about this a guy makes the point that there’s one gigabyte of information in every female ovum, that if you strapped out all of the DNA and the diagramming, the chemical instructions in the DNA which exists in order to build a body and every little bone, every tissue in that body is patterned and coded in that DNA, if you gook the little egg and strung out all the information in terms of things that we use today it would come out to over a gigabyte. That’s amazing that that much information is packed in there and this is one of the arguments against evolution, because, see before we knew all this the argument for evolution always was, well, living things aren’t machines, living things just evolved, machines are man-made. What we have discovered as we got into the genes and you start mapping this information, information is stored there; it’s just like a hard disc in the sense that it’s got bits of information stored in the code. So if that isn’t a machine I don’t know what is.

So we have a much more magnificent view of creation today, and a harder idea of trying to explain the existence of this information on the basis of chance. Anybody that’s programmed a computer knows that if you allow one contaminate in that program you can spend hours trying to find out why the thing doesn’t work. And we’re all being told in our culture today, from the time we are little kids to the time we’re adults, we get plastered with this stuff in the media that these high grade storage and retrieval mechanism in the DNA code all came about through throwing the dice? It becomes increasingly ridiculous when you look at it from the standpoint of information. All that’s wrapped up with the form of man in Psalm 139, an excellent revelation of fetal development.

Question asked: Clough replies: The creation of man, that was the point in my third characteristic, the difference between man and nature is that man, the human race has a solidarity to it, so that we can legitimately say we were in Adam. No angel can say I was in Michael, that’s never used, and the divine institutions of marriage are not true of angels, you don’t have baby angels, angels don’t make babies, humans do, so there is a direct link, obviously the genetic tissue that we carry around is all coming from Adam.

Same guy says something: Clough says: Process, the process of providence, you hit upon there a problem of how does God providentially run His universe? It’s a larger question than just field development; it’s a question I deal with in weather. How does this happen? It’s expressed this way, if I had an infinitely large computer and I had a perfect computer program, could I initialize the program and run history from it, and I think as Christians we have to say obviously no, OBVIOUSLY NO. History is not run that way. Somehow, and this is again going to get into the dating mechanisms, etc., somehow God is always tampering with the universe, and there’s no other way of expressing it. When you read Proverbs, Job, and the wisdom passages, and He challenges the men in those days to go out and look at what I am doing, He doesn’t say go out and look at what the plants are doing. It’s very interesting. He says go out and look what I am doing, so Scripturally we have to view the fact that God is continually tampering with a machine in some way, and if He wasn’t, then we couldn’t pray. And I think that if you get mechanistic in your idea that God just sort of… like deistically, He set up the universe and said okay, good job, I’ll see you in eternity. What do you do with prayer? You’ve undercut the whole concept.

Question asked: Clough replies: Deism. All these things are related; they come back and haunt you spiritually if you go wild on any one of these things. That’s why we as Christians have to help each other think through, we’re never going to be perfect, we have theological warts, but what we try to do is minimize them, because if we don’t work hard within the Christian community of mini­­­­mizing it, it makes us too vulnerable spiritually and we pay an awful price later in practical areas.

Question asked, something about seeing the attribute of God’s all-knowingness show up in Day 2, …separate waters from above and waters below … when we really submissively look at Scripture we’re encountering the mind of God, and that’s what amazes you, you never outgrow the wonder, your wonder grows because you make these discoveries of the mind of God, that this piece fits this piece, gee, He really knows what He’s doing, isn’t He neat, and that thrill of seeing how neat our God is, and how He pulls things off, that’s the glory of God coming through the Scripture to our spirits...: Clough says: There was a book written, [can’t understand word], the Latin word for belly button, and that was a serious question. The other serious question is: were any rings in the trees in the Garden of Eden? These are legitimate questions because they’ll hinge to when we get into the age of the universe, they’re related to that question, so we’ll save that one.