Van Til Tool

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

Monday, November 03, 2008




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.


  • At Saturday, November 22, 2008, Blogger KosmicEggburst said…


    You are right on all counts. Each government: church, state, and family are co-equal, fractal microcosms of one another. Strong families make strong churches, and so forth.


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