Systematic Political Science

Signifiers/Signified in Redemption and Blood, Seder and Order, and Process and Rendition

Dallas F. Bell, Jr.

Sergei Khrushchev, son of former Soviet Union premier (1958-1964) Nikita Khrushchev, thinks that the term terrorist is used to negatively label people that we do not like. (Sergei Khrushchev, fellow at Brown University, expressed the above view in an email exchange with Dallas F. Bell Jr. in May, 2010.) Behind Khrushchev's observation of selective word definition lies a type of postmodernism concept. This concept accepts a disconnect between a signifier or word (terrorist) and the signified or actuality (actual terrorist). This is not to say that there are not counterfeits to actual realities.

Louis A. Markos, English professor at Houston Baptist University, has written that in the Platonic tradition of Western philosophy and linguistics the relationship between the signifier and the signified was considered integral and real. It was believed that behind abstract nouns (the signifiers of justice, love, etc.) were real essences (the signifieds of justice, love, etc.) of transcendence. Markos uses C. S. Lewis' works to show that issues, such as heaven and hell, are something we choose by the process of sin. It is less an end-point and de-mythologizes the notion that heaven and hell are merely states of mind.

Allegorical communication, such as Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, may have aesthetic and linguistic patterns that do not have only one meaning for a character or place. That haze of meaning can be contrasted with what is often considered the purest form of writing and speaking--poetry. For example, George Herbert's (1593-1633) Elizabethan sonnet titled Redemption merges the aesthetic, the metaphorical, and the linguistic. Markos' analysis of line five reveals that the signifier (landlord) is shown to be identical to the signified (God). (Louis Markos' recommended his writings in an email exchange with Dallas F. Bell Jr. in April, 2010.) Poetry's descriptive linguistic pattern lends itself toward more meaning in communication and away from deconstruction.

If American literary texts (e.g. authored by Emerson, Whitman, Melville, Twain, etc.) are generally analyzed, a thread of Protestant Christianity meanings can be found, for example the biblical concept of redemption. Leo Tolstoy's play Redemption (Живой труп, Russian for The Living Corpse) also juxtaposes biblical moral concepts with their antithesis. The Catholic theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988) is echoed in his published volumes of The Glory of the Lord where he explains that Jesus' humanity was forsaken by the Father to redeem mankind. From redemption (the signifier) we can see there must be a Redeemer (the signified).

Oriental tradition allows the next of kin to buy back or redeem a relative's property. Job said he knew that his Redeemer lives (Job 19:25). Isaiah recorded that there would come a Redeemer (Is. 59:20), a name for Jesus the Christ. The New Testament added that the believer's Redeemer is able to keep that which they have committed unto Him against that day (2 Tim. 1:12).

Biblical redemption (Heb. pidyon for ransom or rescue [Ps. 49:8]; Gr. apolutrosis for ransom or deliverance [Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:15]) is salvation by grace and delivers from the law (Gal. 3:13; 4:5), iniquity (Titus 2:14), enemies (Ps. 136:24), destruction (Ps. 103:4), death and the grave (Ps. 49:15; Hos. 13:14), vain communications (1 Peter 1:18), and an evil world (Gal. 1:4). That deliverance is from God's power (Deut. 7:8), God's blood (Eph. 1:7), and God's grace (Rom. 3:24-25). The benefits of the deliverance by the Redeemer is forgiveness (Col. 1:14), justification (Rom. 3:24), adoption (Gal. 4:4-5), to be chosen by God (1 Cor. 6:20; Titus 2:14), sealed (Eph. 4:30), an inheritance (Heb. 9:15), and glory (Rev. 14:3-4).

The entire event of Jesus is regarded as redemptive by the classical ancient theology of the Christian Church. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) said that the doctrine of redemption is one of the most important systems of faith. A misstep would lead to mistakes through the entire Christian system of belief.

Though all Christians believe in redemption, some hold differing views of its relationship to atonement. An Armenian type view would be that Jesus died for all mankind, for Judas in hell and for Peter in heaven. He could have shed His sacrificial blood for all people with the foreknowledge that those that would reject Him would have that evidence of grace presented to them as a just "true bill" for their eternal damnation to hell. Other people think that God's foreknowledge would not have allowed Jesus' sacrificial blood to have been designed to be a propitiation for the sins of the unrepentant. This position would seem to reject the aspect of justice that the accused need to be given convicting evidence that they have gotten their just due punishment for the consequences of their unlawful chosen behavior.

Karl Barth (1886-1968) wrote in his (1919, 1922) commentary The Epistle to the Romans (Germ. Der Römerbrief) that Jesus' death is the impossible possibility of redemption and in the picture of the Redeemer the dominate color is blood. As many people know, blood is a bodily fluid with DNA unique to each individual. Blood delivers necessary substances (oxygen etc.) to cells and takes waste products from those cells. Blood lines, blood stock, and blood groups generally refer to people with the same ancestral blood.

The importance of blood for Jewish and Christian adherents is described as blood being the life of a creature (Lev. 17:11). Life is in the blood and it is forbidden to be consumed (Gen. 9:4; Lev. 7:26-27; 17:10-14; 1 Sam. 14:33-34). Blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50).

John Selden (1584-1654) developed a theory for international law that was formed from the Seven Laws of Noah. The 6th law forbids blood consumption (Gen. 9:4) for many reasons not the least of which is for health concerns. Hematology is concerned with the study of blood, its formation in organs, and its diseases. Common blood diseases are HIV, hepatitis B and C, and the West Nile virus.

Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (1818-1864) is credited with having discovered germ theory. His hand-washing practice saved many lives. However, his success was not accepted until after his death when Louis Pasteur confirmed the theory of germs. Semmelweis applied principles written by Moses in the Bible (Lev. Chapters 11-15) over 3,000 years earlier. For example, a woman's unusual menstruation (called an issue of blood) was categorized as unclean (Lev. 15:19-28). A woman in the New Testament had that disease (Matt. 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48). Sewage was also described as unclean and was to be covered (Deut. 23:9-14). Jesus expanded on the washing of hands and the uncleanliness of sewage by saying a clean heart is eternally better than merely having clean hands now (Matt. 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23).

Paul W. Brand (1914-2003), a M.D. renowned for his work with leprosy, (co)authored several books that dealt with the biblical image of blood as purifying. (Thanks is extended to Jonathan Hayward, recipient of graduate degrees from the University of Illinois in computer science and from Cambridge University in theology, for the above reference made in an email exchange in May, 2010.)

Thomas Forsyth Torrance's (1913-2007) theological and scientific writings were considered pioneering by many scholars. His approach to blood was more theological than from the perspective of science. (The review of T. F. Torrance's works was made by Phee Seng Kang, Head of Religion and Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Sino-Christian Studies at the Hong Kong Baptist University, in an email exchange during May, 2010.)

The first Egyptian plague recorded by Moses was of the Lord turning the rivers to blood (Ex. 7:17-25). The Nile River was considered by Egyptians to be their source of life. Their Nile god was called Hapi. Biblical eschatology says that God's two witnesses in the last days will have power to turn water into blood (Rev. 11:3-6). The second and third angels will turn rivers to blood (Rev. 8:8-9; 16:3-4) because the wicked will have shed the innocent blood of the saints (Rev. 16:5-6). Similar to the Egyptian plague, the life blood becomes a source of death.

Non-literal biblical beliefs of actual blood (signified) negates the meaning of biblical described events making them useless which is not a characteristic of the almighty God of the Bible. In the past, Moses was able to and people in the last days will be able to distinguish the difference between actual blood and something else, such as red alga(e) or rhodophyta, etc.. Lewis Edgar Jones' (1865-1936) hymn says that There is Power in the Blood. Not surprisingly the modern heretical trend is to remove references to the blood of Christ in songs and scripture.

Around 1275 B.C. the Israelites, according to God's direction, ate the first Passover meal before being divinely delivered from Egyptian bondage the next day (Ex. 12). The Israelites celebrated Passover the second time, according to God's direction, for redemption c. 1234 B.C. (Josh. 3-5).

On Thursday 30 A.D. the 14th of Nisan (Mark 14:12-17), Jesus prepared for the Passover Seder. Joachim Jeremias' (1900-1979) book The Eucharistic Words of Jesus (1960) lists many parallels between this Last Supper and the Passover Seder. The priests killed the Passover lambs at sundown the 15th of Nisan. Jesus and His disciples celebrated Passover in the upper room (John 13:1-20). Jesus explained the Passover symbolism of His impending redemptive death (Mark 14:18-26). At midnight on Friday, Jesus was taken, tried, and killed (Matt. 26; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23; John 18-19). On Sunday, now called Easter, Jesus' tomb was emptied due to His having been resurrected (Luke 24:1-53; John 20:21). Either the new Testament Gospels (Gr. According to Matthew, Kata Matthaion; According to Mark, Kata Markon; According to Luke, Kata Loukan; and According to John, Kata Ioannen) are believed and doctrine is possible or they are not and theological doctrine is not possible.

Seder, meaning order, is the ritual feast at Passover. Marek Wolf (b. 1956), of the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Wroclaw, described a formula of order and disorder: (xn + 1 = (Axn + B) mod c). Simply put, his model is two-dimensional and the phase space is discrete: both time and coordinate take natural values. The set of possible positions of the material point performing the motion consists of nodes regularly distributed along the circle. The behavior of this model is very sensitive to the choice of parameters determining the systems. This model has potential of anthropocentric application even though Wolf does not know of any application to date. (Marek Wolf's comment was made in an email exchange with Dallas F. Bell Jr. in April, 2010.)

Order is a proper functioning of harmonious arrangements or sequences of objects or events. To have order (signifier) there must be an orderer (signified). In 1984, Peter T. Landsberg (1922-2010) developed an entropy formula for order in a system: Order = 1 - Co over Ci. Ci is the information capacity of the system and Co is the order capacity of the system. It can be adapted to show compliance with NLF as Order, Co is NLF compliance, and Ci is the finite META number.

Seder is order and process. Jesus becoming the Passover sacrifice and replacing the animal sacrifice is process. He is Word/Logos that became flesh (John 1). He was then the perfect lamb for the blood sacrifice (1 Peter 1:19). Jesus was one of mankind (Ex. 12:5; Heb. 2:14, 17). He was the lamb (Ex. 12:3; 1 Peter 2:4). Jesus was slain in God's appointed time (Ex. 12:6; Matt. 26:2; 27:62; Mark 14:1-2; John 19:14; Acts 2:23). Christ Jesus is the Passover (1 Cor. 5:7).

The 10th day of Tishri is Yom Kippur (Heb. 'Jom for day and Ki'pur for atonement). The blood for atonement was animal (Lev. 1:4-5; 16:15; 17:11; Is. 4:4) and now is Jesus (Heb. 7:25-27). The blood is regenerating (Eze. 16:9; Joel 3:21) and redemptive (Zech. 9:11; Rom. 3:24-25).

The new covenant has a Lord's Supper, based on the Last Supper, to celebrate Christ's shed blood (Matt. 26:28; Luke 22:19-20; John 6:26-58) and establishes the requirements (1 Cor. 11:27-34). Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox dogma holds that the sacramental wine and bread is transubstantiated into the actual blood and body of Christ.

Jesus' blood allows repentance and forgiveness of sins for those people that obey Him (Acts 5:30-32). In comparative religious, studies the blood of communion and believers having bodies that are temples of God to dwell in His Spirit are unique to biblical teachings (John 6:26-64; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Process philosophy places processes at the forefront of ontological concern. It says, among other things, that process is a complex, that complex has unity and coherence, and that a process has a structure. Process theism refers to ideas that are an essential attribute of Dieu (Fr. meaning God) to be fully in and affected by temporal processes.

Philip Clayton (b. 1955), at the Claremont School of Theology, has written extensively on process theology. (Thanks to the office of Philip Clayton for sending a collection of his works in an email exchange in April, 2010.) It would seem that Clayton and other like-minded academicians are trying to bridge Christian theism with pantheism. In this case, process is an example of meliorism. Meliorism is a belief that all people will grow to collectively outgrow sin into a utopian state.

Orthodox Rabbi Shalom Carmy, professor at Yeshiva University, points out that process theology runs into problems regarding divine transcendence. At the same time he believes that there are legitimate formulations regarding divine foreknowledge and impassibility. (Rabbi Carmy's observations were made in an email exchange with Dallas F. Bell Jr. in April, 2010. Thanks is given to Jewish Conservative Arnold M. Eisen Chancellor of Jewish Theological Seminary and Orthodox Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter at Yeshiva University for facilitating the exchange in April, 2010.) Os Guinness (b. 1941), a social scientist and author, also could not be described as a fan of process theology. (Os Guinness expressed his view in an email exchange with Dallas F. Bell Jr. in April, 2010.)

Process is the advancement toward a particular result. This implies intent and purpose. Therefore, for there to be a process (signifier) there must be an intellectual processor (signified). Rendition is the act of rendering or converting as in surrender or translation. When exposed to the insidiousness of Darwinian evolution, the consequences are obvious. Either it is accepted and transcendent signifiers, such as love and justice, are considered random chemical neural activity so as to end the meaning of family, friends and spousal love and justice for a state of psychopathy or it is rejected for the belief in the obvious existence of love and justice etc. that brings hope and peace. As with hostage negotiations, the rendition process may take months or years. There is no one technique to use but in everything it is to be prayed that the Holy Spirit will direct the paths as God leads. (The preceding statement regarding hostage negotiation comes from the experience of Canon Andrew White, born 1964 and is Vicar of St George's Church in Baghdad, expressed in an email exchange with Dallas F. Bell Jr. in April, 2010.)

--------------ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2010 DALLAS F. BELL, JR.-------------