Van Til Tool

Using the Van Til Perspective as the tool to discover what life means and how it ought to be lived.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

AMERICA'S CHRISTIAN HERITAGE CLEARLY SEEN IN FRANK WILDHORN'S "THE CIVIL WAR" DRAMA

AMERICA'S CHRISTIAN HERITAGE CLEARLY SEEN IN
FRANK WILDHORN'S THE CIVIL WAR DRAMA


By Forrest Wayne Schultz


On Friday night I saw a performance of The Civil War oratorio, whose composition was based on a careful study of historical documents, so that what is presented to the audience is authentic, by allowing the persons involved to speak for themselves. Among the many striking features of this performance was how how much of the conversations, songs, speeches, letters, and writings was infused with christian ideas and attitudes. And this, by the way, is not a "christian" play! It is because it is so historically authentic that you hear and see all of these christian ideas and principles in the songs and actions on the stage. (This is not to say that every single idea in it is christian -- there is one scene where the soldiers are getting drunk and praising their whiskey!)

The ending of it, though, is difficult to assess. The final scene is Heaven where three angels, on top of their usual attire, are enrobed in American flags!! They welcome the deceased soldiers -- both Confederate and Union -- into Heaven with their arias, while standing on an elevated platform. By the way, the flags were subtly draped around the angels' bodies so that you cannot tell if they are Union or Confederate flags! (That is one thing they did not get from any historical documents!! -- at least, none I ever heard of.!!)

Anyway, aside from that strange ending, everything in it was historically accurate, so that the prominence of Christian thoughts and attitudes in it bears witness to the research we have been reading about America's christian heritage. Not only that, it is one thing to READ about that, but to see it ENACTED on stage really makes the point. After the performance several members in the audience remarked about that point!!

This is a national play that has been around for several years. From time to time a particular theatre company decides to put it on, which, by the way, must meet certain guidelines set forth by the company that owns the play. If it ever comes to where you live, be sure to see it. If you are involved in a theatre company, consider putting it on. BUT, be warned, this will require a large cast and there is a large number of songs -- the actors have to be good singers as well -- or at least those in solos or duets. The company that put it on here was one of the very best in our area. You also will need a pretty large stage and a very large screen in the background to project images onto.

Information on the play/oratorio is available on the Frank Wildhorn website at this particular spot:

http://frankwildhorn.com/projects/civilwar/


[By the way, this oratorio is not in any way to be confused with a silly one with a similar title which takes lines from Handel's Messiah and twists them around and uses them as a spoof on The Civil War, e.g. these knee-slappers: Alexander Stephens singing "O Thou that tellest good tidings to Dixie"; the Army recruits singing "For unto us a gun is given". OK, you get the idea. This is emphatically NOT the one I am talking about!!]

Sincerely,

Forrest

P.S. If you live near Atlanta and want to see it next weekend , Nov. 21 & 22, click on here for info: http://www.thetwili ghttheatre. com/The_Civil_ War/index. html

The performance will be held in The Wadsworth (named after the famed classical musician Charles Wadsworth, who is a native of Newnan) in Newnan, GA. Click on the link above for details. F.

Monday, November 03, 2008

FRACTALS AND BIBLICAL ECCLESIOLOGY

FRACTALS AND BIBLICAL ECCLESIOLOGY

by

Forrest W. Schultz



Fractals are structures in which a part of the structure resembles the whole structure. This
feature is referred to as "self-similarity across scale". For instance, in a fractal branching
network each branch resembles the branch from which it branched because all the branches
are formed in accord with the same recurring pattern. In fractal geometry the resemblance is
exact. In the fractal structures in nature the self-similarities are approximate.
In Biblical theology there are two fractals which immediately come to mind, each of which
pertains to the communion of the saints. The communion of the saints is most frequently
designated by Scripture as the Church of Christ and as the Family of God, whose members
are brothers and sisters in Christ under the Fatherhood of God.

It is interesting to observe that Scripture uses the same term "church" either to refer
to a local church or to the universal church. The universal church is composed of all the saints
in all of history. Thus, the universal church is the whole of which each local church is a part.
Since Scripture uses the same word -- "church" -- to refer to both the whole and the parts,
this is one indication that Scripture regards the chuch as a fractal structure. A second,
perhaps even stronger indication of the fractal nature of the church is to be found in the many
identical characteristics which Scripture attributes both to the universal church and to the
local church.

The universal church is also God's universal family, which is composed of many particular
Christian families. Of course, not all christians belong to christian families (unfortunately), but
when a christian family is formed, it is a part of God's universal family, the Household of Faith.
God not only relates as Father to His universal family as a whole, He also relates as Father to
each individual christian family. So, here again we see a situation in which a part of a structure
resembles the whole. Consequently there is a fractal relationship between the individual
christian family and the universal christian family, just as there is between each local church
and the universal church.

I believe this is a subject worthy of additional study. I believe that this additional study could
deepen our understanding of certain matters. One example of what I mean would be to use the
fractal concept to help refute the erroneous ecclesial dualism which has traditionally been
expressed in the notion of a dichotomy between a so-called "visible" church and a so-called
"invisible" church. What is of particular concern to me is attempts to either (1). excuse one's
lack of involvement in a local church (i.e. the "visible" church) by referring to his membership
in the universal church (i.e. the"invisible" church); or (2). downplay the importance of the
deplorable conditions in local churches by claiming that the really important thing is the
"invisible" church, not the "visible" church. Now, if it can be shown (and I believe it can) that
the church is a fractal structure, then the "self-similarity across scale" principle means that if any particular local church is a part of the universal church, it will be like the universal church,
not unlike it! And, if a person regards himself as a member of the universal church, he should also be a member of a local church.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

BIBLICAL ONTOLOGY AND TIME TRAVEL


A TRANSCENDENTAL ANALYSIS OF TIME TRAVEL:

WHAT REALITY MUST BE LIKE FOR TIME TRAVEL TO BE POSSIBLE

By Forrest Wayne Schultz

I have been a science fiction fan for a very long time, I was the President of a local science fiction club for a while, and I have spoken at many science fiction conventions. One of my favorite kinds of science fiction is time travel stories. I do not know if time travel by means of a chrononautical device has ever happened, ever will happen, or if it is even possible for man to be able to do so. One thing I am sure of, however, is the main feature reality must have for time travel to be possible. Most theoretical discussions of time travel have focussed on the technological factors and the "paradoxes". I shall discuss neither of these here. I shall be discussing the relevant features of that branch of philosophy known as ontology, which means the most fundamental nature of things.
One of the most interesting of all topics about a thing is a study of what conditions are necessary in order for that thing to to be able to exist. Such a study of the necessary conditions for a thing's existence is technically known as a transcendental study. Whenever you start with the thing and then move in thought toward learning what is necessary for that thing to exist, you are engaging in a transcendental analysis of the thing. This is what I shall do here with respect to time travel -- I shall seek to set forth the conditions that are necessary for time travel to be possible. Or, to say it philosophically, I shall discuss what kind of ontology reality must have in order for time travel to be a possibility.
I shall begin by noting an objection to time travel. This objection says very simply that time travel to the past is impossible because the past is not there any more, and time travel to the future is impossible because the future is not here yet. Now, we must grant that if reality is indeed the way this person supposes, then, indeed, time travel would be impossible. This position provides a good foil against which to contrast the ontological structure reality must have in order for time travel to be possible.
The ontology which I believe to be true of reality is the ontology of the Biblical philosophy. This ontology has a structure in which time travel is possible. In this ontology the relationship between God and history is analogous to that of the relationship of a novelist to his story. The novelist lives in his own time which is above that of the time in his story. The time in his story is only there because he made it. Before he imagined the story, the time in the story did not exist. God looking at different times in history is like that of a story writer looking at different times in his story. The story of the novelist is a coherent thing in which all the times in the story have their place, because that is the way the story was imagined and written. Thus it is with history. God imagined all of the various creatures, the creation system as a whole which is their context, and the entire history of all these creatures and the creation system as a whole. This system and this history is a coherent thing because God is an orderly God.
So, we must regard God as being in His own time which is above our time, just as the storyteller's time is above the time of the story he writes. It is not like God is sitting back there before history and looking ahead. No; He is above history -- the history He created -- and He is looking down on it. We must remember that time is not "just there". It was not there until God created it, just as the time of the novelist's story was not there until he imagined it.
This is what I mean by the kind of coherence that time must have in order to even conceive of time travel. Just like you cannot move in thought back and forth in the time of a novel unless it is a coherent thing, so you cannot conceive of moving back and forth in time unless there is a fixed framework -- unless the past, present, and future are all embedded in an unchanging framework. When you read a novel, the past of the novel, i.e. the part you have already read, does not disappear -- it is still there and you can go back and re-read past chapters if you wish. The book is a fixed book. Thus it is with history -- the past does not disappear after we have lived through it anymore than the chapter of a book disappears after we are done reading it. And, just as the chapters of the book you have not yet read are already there (because already written by the novelist) so the future you will live in is already there in the mind of God, who is the storywriter of history.
Now this Biblical ontology not only sets forth a reality-structure in which time travel is possible, it also establishes a reality structure which places limitations upon time travel. Since God is the author of the drama of history, nothing can occur in this drama of history unless God has decided it will occur, and nothing can occur to change or undo anything in His story. For example, consider those stories in which the time traveler decides to go back into history and prevent the Crucifixion of Christ from happening. Now all such stories are indeed fictional -- in fact, they are not only fictional but impossible. Therefore, due to the principle of Authorial Sovereignty, it is clear that no time travel can happen which will undo something God has decreed as part of His story.
However, this principle does not rule out time travel, it places limitations on it. In fact, it is clear that God Himself did time travel when He brought Moses and Elijah back into history to meet with Jesus and Peter and James and John on the Mount of Tranfiguration. And, according to certain eschatological views, God will do time travel when He brings the saints of former ages back to Earth to live in the Millennium. And, if ever men invent any chrononautical gadget and do any time travel it will only be because God has allowed and decreed it to serve His wise purposes. Amen!