In his Theory of Forms, Plato notes it is imperative that we, as thinking creatures, philosophize, so to speak, and ponder upon the “forms” of structures and ideas within society. This can bring about proper reform in an attempt to reach for the intangible, the spiritual, the supernatural, and, more times than not, the impossible: utopia.
If I understand correctly, “the forms,” as Plato calls it, is not the ideal form of a social, economic, political, militaristic, or *what have you* paradigm. Though we may (and will) strive for the ideal form, it is impossible, for it isn’t the same. Moreover, it’s unachievable since that which we aim toward, metaphysically speaking, is intangible, ethereal, and, as a Christian would posit, godly. The Apostle Peter, recalling Leviticus 11:44, writes, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). This commandment is impossible. And, without Christ, burdensome. However, “his commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jn. 5:3), for he has taken all our iniquity upon himself that we may be holy in him—not that we may strive and achieve but that we may fix our eyes upon the resurrected Son of God and glorify his name, for he has justified the unjustifiable, he has saved the undeserving, he has found the lost, and he has redeemed the irredeemable.
Two examples come to mind. The first is time travel. The second is godliness. Bear with me.
As an amateur science geek attempting to explain astrophysics, let me introduce you to Neil deGrasse Tyson. When explaining time travel, Tyson states that one is ever shifting from the past into the future. We are trapped in this four-dimensional prison never to escape. So, every time we attempt to enter the past or relive a moment, we are, unfortunately, only creating a greater distance between that occurrence and the present. The only place we can cherish and “relive” a moment, to the best of our ability, is in our memory bank—the form.
Now, concerning godliness and Christian living, holiness, which differs from perfection, is the sky. We are attempting to reach the sky yet can never attain a grasp of the vastness of the atmosphere. We see the blue color and the rainbows and the sunset spray but can never grasp it. In other words, every time we try to undo our mistakes, the deeper the hole we dig for ourselves. Us tangible, physical creatures are trying to attain a standard set apart from this universe.
Does that make sense?
However, what did God mean when “[he] saw that it [the earth] was good” (Gen. 1:10). How is it possible that that which is tangible is made to the exact specifications of the intangible, the eternal? The writer of Hebrews says,
“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Heb. 11:3).
In other words, not only has God expressly revealed himself sufficiently for all to see but that which was made from nothing—ex nihilo—is the only possible way to create perfect forms, since that which is made here on earth is a replication of other earthly or imagined things.
God made. Moreover, God spoke. And that word which was from the beginning, which made everything, was itself life. And that word, that original form, is Christ (Jn. 1).
When referring to the bowls and the cups and the sacrifices and the objects in and around the Temple in Jerusalem, the writer of Hebrews states,
“They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain’” (8:5).
The Bible uses all sorts of examples, anthropomorphisms (i.e. personification), parables, and symbols to convey an important message. The entire Old Testament is a physical example of a better covenant to come:
“And he [Jesus] said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24:24-27).
The Apostle Paul writes,
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:18-20).
So, first, that which is imagined, first formed in the mind (i.e. that original idea or form: the perfect and unparalleled understanding of a truth), cannot be replicated by human hands. Secondly, like time, the Christian-life cannot be advanced (or reversed) by mere willpower or physical exertion. Thirdly, God doesn’t make mistakes. The creation of the world was good. But our attempt to make it better ruined the batch. And lastly, Christ is the fulfillment, the perfect form, of the desirable good. He is the restoration of the good creation. He isn’t described as good but is itself the very incarnation of Yahweh. Therefore, none have excuse since that which is invisible has been made visible for all to see (Col. 1:15-20).
His will be done.