- Community of St Martin @ St Chad's
- Full text of "SENSE AND SILENCE: COLLECTED POEMS"
- Anglican Parish of Sandringham and Mt Roskill
But modes by Def. But substances and modes form the sum total of existence by Ax. How far such persons have strayed from the truth is sufficiently evident from what has been said. But these I pass over. For all who have in anywise reflected on the divine nature deny that God has a body. Of this they find excellent proof in the fact that we understand by body a definite quantity, so long, so broad, so deep, bounded by a certain shape, and it is the height of absurdity to predicate such a thing of God, a being absolutely infinite.
But meanwhile by other reasons with which they try to prove their point, they show that they think corporeal or extended substance wholly apart from the divine nature, and say it was created by God. Wherefrom the divine nature can have been created, they are wholly ignorant; thus they clearly show, that they do not know the meaning of their own words. I myself have proved sufficiently clearly, at any rate in my own judgment Coroll. Further, I showed in Prop. Hence we drew the conclusion that extended substance is one of the infinite attributes of God.
However, in order to explain more fully, I will refute the arguments of my adversaries, which all start from the following points:—. Extended substance, in so far as it is substance, consists, as they think, in parts, wherefore they deny that it can be infinite, or consequently, that it can appertain to God. This they illustrate with many examples, of which I will take one or two. If extended substance, they say, is infinite, let it be conceived to be divided into two parts; each part will then be either finite or infinite.
If the former, then infinite substance is composed of two finite parts, which is absurd. If the latter, then one infinite will be twice as large as another infinite, which is also absurd. Further, if an infinite line be measured out in foot lengths, it will consist of an infinite number of such parts; it would equally consist of an infinite number of parts, if each part measured only an inch: therefore, one infinity would be twelve times as great as the other. Lastly, if from a single point there be conceived to be drawn two diverging lines which at first are at a definite distance apart, but are produced to infinity, it is certain that the distance between the two lines will be continually increased, until at length it changes from definite to indefinable.
As these absurdities follow, it is said, from considering quantity as infinite, the conclusion is drawn, that extended substance must necessarily be finite, and, consequently, cannot appertain to the nature of God. God, it is said, inasmuch as he is a supremely perfect being, cannot be passive; but extended substance, insofar as it is divisible, is passive. It follows, therefore, that extended substance does not appertain to the essence of God. Such are the arguments I find on the subject in writers, who by them try to prove that extended substance is unworthy of the divine nature, and cannot possibly appertain thereto.
However, I think an attentive reader will see that I have already answered their propositions; for all their arguments are founded on the hypothesis that extended substance is composed of parts, and such a hypothesis I have shown Prop. Moreover, anyone who reflects will see that all these absurdities if absurdities they be, which I am not now discussing , from which it is sought to extract the conclusion that extended substance is finite, do not at all follow from the notion of an infinite quantity, but merely from the notion that an infinite quantity is measurable, and composed of finite parts: therefore, the only fair conclusion to be drawn is that infinite quantity is not measurable, and cannot be composed of finite parts.
This is exactly what we have already proved in Prop. Wherefore the weapon which they aimed at us has in reality recoiled upon themselves. If, from this absurdity of theirs, they persist in drawing the conclusion that extended substance must be finite, they will in good sooth be acting like a man who asserts that circles have the properties of squares, and, finding himself thereby landed in absurdities, proceeds to deny that circles have any center, from which all lines drawn to the circumference are equal.
For, taking extended substance, which can only be conceived as infinite, one, and indivisible Props. So, also, others, after asserting that a line is composed of points, can produce many arguments to prove that a line cannot be infinitely divided. Assuredly it is not less absurd to assert that extended substance is made up of bodies or parts, than it would be to assert that a solid is made up of surfaces, a surface of lines, and a line of points.
This must be admitted by all who know clear reason to be infallible, and most of all by those who deny the possibility of a vacuum. For if extended substance could be so divided that its parts were really separate, why should not one part admit of being destroyed, the others remaining joined together as before? And why should all be so fitted into one another as to leave no vacuum? Surely in the case of things, which are really distinct one from the other, one can exist without the other, and can remain in its original condition.
As, then, there does not exist a vacuum in nature of which anon , but all parts are bound to come together to prevent it, it follows from this that the parts cannot really be distinguished, and that extended substance in so far as it is substance cannot be divided. If anyone asks me the further question, Why are we naturally so prone to divide quantity? I answer, that quantity is conceived by us in two ways; in the abstract and superficially, as we imagine it; or as substance, as we conceive it solely by the intellect.
If, then, we regard quantity as it is represented in our imagination, which we often and more easily do, we shall find that it is finite, divisible, and compounded of parts; but if we regard it as it is represented in our intellect, and conceive it as substance, which it is very difficult to do, we shall then, as I have sufficiently proved, find that it is infinite, one, and indivisible. This will be plain enough to all who make a distinction between the intellect and the imagination, especially if it be remembered, that matter is everywhere the same, that its parts are not distinguishable, except in so far as we conceive matter as diversely modified, whence its parts are distinguished, not really, but modally.
For instance, water, in so far as it is water, we conceive to be divided, and its parts to be separated one from the other; but not in so far as it is extended substance; from this point of view it is neither separated nor divisible. Further, water, in so far as it is water, is produced and corrupted; but, in so far as it is substance, it is neither produced nor corrupted. I think I have now answered the second argument; it is, in fact, founded on the same assumption as the first —namely, that matter, in so far as it is substance, is divisible, and composed of parts.
Even if it were so, I do not know why it should be considered unworthy of the divine nature, inasmuch as besides God by Prop. All things, I repeat, are in God, and all things which come to pass, come to pass solely through the laws of the infinite nature of God, and follow as I will shortly show from the necessity of his essence. Wherefore it can in nowise be said, that God is passive in respect to anything other than himself, or that extended substance is unworthy of the Divine nature, even if it be supposed divisible, so long as it is granted to be infinite and eternal.
But enough of this for the present.
From the necessity of the divine nature must follow an infinite number of things in infinite ways —that is, all things which can fall within the sphere of infinite intellect. Now, as the divine nature has absolutely infinite attributes by Def.
God acts solely by the laws of his own nature, and is not constrained by anyone. Wherefore nothing can exist outside himself, whereby he can be conditioned or constrained to act. Wherefore God acts solely by the laws of his own nature, and is not constrained by anyone. That there can be no cause which, either extrinsically or intrinsically, besides the perfection of his own nature, moves God to act. That God is the sole free cause. For God alone exists by the sole necessity of his nature by Prop. But this is the same as if they said, that God could bring it about, that it should follow from the nature of a triangle that its three interior angles should not be equal to two right angles; or that from a given cause no effect should follow, which is absurd.
However, I think I have shown sufficiently clearly by Prop. Wherefore the omnipotence of God has been displayed from all eternity, and will for all eternity remain in the same state of activity. This manner of treating the question attributes to God an omnipotence, in my opinion, far more perfect. For, otherwise, we are compelled to confess that God understands an infinite number of creatable things, which he will never be able to create, for, if he created all that he understands, he would, according to this showing, exhaust his omnipotence, and render himself imperfect. Further to say a word here concerning the intellect and the will which we attribute to God , if intellect and will appertain to the eternal essence of God, we must take these words in some significance quite different from those they usually bear.
For intellect and will, which should constitute the essence of God, would perforce be as far apart as the poles from the human intellect and will, in fact, would have nothing in common with them but the name; there would be about as much correspondence between the two as there is between the Dog, the heavenly constellation, and a dog, an animal that barks.
This I will prove as follows. If intellect belongs to the divine nature, it cannot be in nature, as ours is generally thought to be, posterior to, or simultaneous with the things understood, inasmuch as God is prior to all things by reason of his causality Prop.
On the contrary, the truth and formal essence of things is as it is, because it exists by representation as such in the intellect of God. For a cause differs from a thing it causes, precisely in the quality which the latter gains from the former. Wherefore, a thing which is the cause both of the essence and of the existence of a given effect, must differ from such effect both in respect to its essence, and also in respect to its existence.
Now the intellect of God is the cause both of the essence and the existence of our intellect; therefore, the intellect of God in so far as it is conceived to constitute the divine essence, differs from our intellect both in respect to essence and in respect to existence, nor can it in anywise agree therewith save in name, as we said before. The reasoning would be identical in the case of the will, as anyone can easily see. God is the cause of those things which are in him. This is our first point. Further, besides God there can be no substance by Prop. This is our second point. God, therefore, is the indwelling and not the transient cause of all things.
Further, by the attributes of God we must understand that which by Def. Now eternity appertains to the nature of substance as I have already shown in Prop. I demonstrated the existence of God; it is evident, I repeat, from that proof, that the existence of God, like his essence, is an eternal truth. Further in Prop. II —Secondly, it follows that God, and all the attributes of God, are unchangeable. For if they could be changed in respect to existence, they must also be able to be changed in respect to essence —that is, obviously, be changed from true to false, which is absurd.
All things which follow from the absolute nature of any attribute of God must always exist and be infinite, or, in other words, are eternal and infinite through the said attribute. Now thought, in so far as it is supposed to be an attribute of God, is necessarily by Prop. But, in so far as it possesses the idea of God, it is supposed finite.
It cannot, however, be conceived as finite, unless it be limited by thought by Def. We have now granted, therefore, thought not constituting the idea of God, and, accordingly, the idea of God does not naturally follow from its nature in so far as it is absolute thought for it is conceived as constituting, and also as not constituting, the idea of God , which is against our hypothesis. Wherefore, if the idea of God expressed in the attribute thought, or, indeed, anything else in any attribute of God for we may take any example, as the proof is of universal application follows from the necessity of the absolute nature of the said attribute, the said thing must necessarily be infinite, which was our first point.
Furthermore, a thing which thus follows from the necessity of the nature of any attribute cannot have a limited duration. For if it can, suppose a thing, which follows from the necessity of the nature of some attribute, to exist in some attribute of God, for instance, the idea of God expressed in the attribute thought, and let it be supposed at some time not to have existed, or to be about not to exist. Now thought being an attribute of God, must necessarily exist unchanged by Prop. Therefore the idea of God expressed in thought, or anything which necessarily follows from the absolute nature of some attribute of God, cannot have a limited duration, but through the said attribute is eternal, which is our second point.
Whatsoever follows from any attribute of God, in so far as it is modified by a modification, which exists necessarily and as infinite, through the said attribute, must also exist necessarily and as infinite. Every mode, which exists both necessarily and as infinite, must necessarily follow either from the absolute nature of some attribute of God, or from an attribute modified by a modification which exists necessarily, and as infinite.
If therefore a mode is conceived as necessarily existing and infinite, it must necessarily be inferred or perceived through some attribute of God, in so far as such attribute is conceived as expressing the infinity and necessity of existence, in other words Def. A mode, therefore, which necessarily exists as infinite, must follow from the absolute nature of some attribute of God, either immediately Prop. For that of which the nature considered in itself involves existence is self-caused, and exists by the sole necessity of its own nature.
For whether things exist, or do not exist, whenever we contemplate their essence, we see that it involves neither existence nor duration; consequently, it cannot be the cause of either the one or the other. God must be the sole cause, inasmuch as to him alone does existence appertain. God is the efficient cause not only of the existence of things, but also of their essence.
This by Prop. Therefore, God is the cause of the essence of things. For it is evident thereby that, given the divine nature, the essence of things must be inferred from it, no less than their existence —in a word, God must be called the cause of all things, in the same sense as he is called the cause of himself. This will be made still clearer by the following corollary.
The proof appears from Prop. A thing which is conditioned to act in a particular manner, has necessarily been thus conditioned by God; and that which has not been conditioned by God cannot condition itself to act. Our second point is plainly to be inferred therefrom. For if a thing, which has not been conditioned by God, could condition itself, the first part of our proof would be false, and this, as we have shown is absurd.
A thing, which has been conditioned by God to act in a particular way, cannot render itself unconditioned. Every individual thing, or everything which is finite and has a conditioned existence, cannot exist or be conditioned to act, unless it be conditioned for existence and action by a cause other than itself, which also is finite, and has a conditioned existence; and likewise this cause cannot in its turn exist, or be conditioned to act, unless it be conditioned for existence and action by another cause, which also is finite, and has a conditioned existence, and so on to infinity.
But that which is finite, and has a conditioned existence, cannot be produced by the absolute nature of any attribute of God; for whatsoever follows from the absolute nature of any attribute of God is infinite and eternal by Prop. It must, therefore, follow from some attribute of God, in so far as the said attribute is considered as in some way modified; for substance and modes make up the sum total of existence by Ax. But from God, or from any of his attributes, in so far as the latter is modified by a modification infinite and eternal, a conditioned thing cannot follow. Wherefore it must follow from, or be conditioned for, existence and action by God or one of his attributes, in so far as the latter are modified by some modification which is finite, and has a conditioned existence.
Again, this cause or this modification for the reason by which we established the first part of this proof must in its turn be conditioned by another cause, which also is finite, and has a conditioned existence, and, again, this last by another for the same reason ; and so on for the same reason to infinity.
That God is absolutely the proximate cause of those things immediately produced by him. I say absolutely, not after his kind, as is usually stated. For the effects of God cannot either exist or be conceived without a cause Prop. That God cannot properly be styled the remote cause of individual things, except for the sake of distinguishing these from what he immediately produces, or rather from what follows from his absolute nature.
For, by a remote cause, we understand a cause which is in no way conjoined to the effect. But all things which are, are in God, and so depend on God, that without him they can neither be nor be conceived. Nothing in the universe is contingent, but all things are conditioned to exist and operate in a particular manner by the necessity of the divine nature. But God cannot be called a thing contingent. For by Prop. Further, the modes of the divine nature follow therefrom necessarily, and not contingently Prop.
Further, God is not only the cause of these modes, in so far as they simply exist by Prop. If they be not conditioned by God Prop. Wherefore all things are conditioned by the necessity of the divine nature, not only to exist, but also to exist and operate in a particular manner, and there is nothing that is contingent.
I say to explain, or rather call attention to it, for I think that, from what has been said, it is sufficiently clear, that by nature viewed as active we should understand that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself, or those attributes of substance, which express eternal and infinite essence, in other words Prop. By nature viewed as passive I understand all that which follows from the necessity of the nature of God, or of any of the attributes of God, that is, all the modes of the attributes of God, in so far as they are considered as things which are in God, and which without God cannot exist or be conceived.
Intellect, in function actu finite, or in function infinite, must comprehend the attributes of God and the modifications of God, and nothing else. But in nature by Prop. Therefore the intellect, in function finite, or in function infinite, must comprehend the attributes of God and the modifications of God, and nothing else. It must by Prop. It must therefore be referred to nature passive rather than to nature active, as must also the other modes of thinking.
For we cannot perceive anything without adding to our knowledge of the act of understanding. But if will be supposed infinite, it must also be conditioned to exist and act by God, not by virtue of his being substance absolutely infinite, but by virtue of his possessing an attribute which expresses the infinite and eternal essence of thought by Prop. Thus, however it be conceived, whether as finite or infinite, it requires a cause by which it should be conditioned to exist and act. Thus Def. For will, like the rest, stands in need of a cause, by which it is conditioned to exist and act in a particular manner.
And although, when will or intellect be granted, an infinite number of results may follow, yet God cannot on that account be said to act from freedom of the will, any more than the infinite number of results from motion and rest would justify us in saying that motion and rest act by free will. Wherefore will no more appertains to God than does anything else in nature, but stands in the same relation to him as motion, rest, and the like, which we have shown to follow from the necessity of the divine nature, and to be conditioned by it to exist and act in a particular manner.
Things could not have been brought into being by God in any manner or in any order different from that which has in fact obtained. Proof —All things necessarily follow from the nature of God Prop. A thing is called necessary either in respect to its essence or in respect to its cause; for the existence of a thing necessarily follows, either from its essence and definition, or from a given efficient cause. For similar reasons a thing is said to be impossible; namely, inasmuch as its essence or definition involves a contradiction, or because no external cause is granted, which is conditioned to produce such an effect; but a thing can in no respect be called contingent, save in relation to the imperfection of our knowledge.
A thing of which we do not know whether the essence does or does not involve a contradiction, or of which, knowing that it does not involve a contradiction, we are still in doubt concerning the existence, because the order of causes escapes us, —such a thing, I say, cannot appear to us either necessary or impossible. Wherefore we call it contingent or possible. Nor does this prove any imperfection in God, for it has compelled us to affirm his perfection. From its contrary proposition, we should clearly gather as I have just shown , that God is not supremely perfect, for if things had been brought into being in any other way, we should have to assign to God a nature different from that, which we are bound to attribute to him from the consideration of an absolutely perfect being.
I do not doubt, that many will scout this idea as absurd, and will refuse to give their minds up to contemplating it, simply because they are accustomed to assign to God a freedom very different from that which we Def. They assign to him, in short, absolute free will. However, I am also convinced that if such persons reflect on the matter, and duly weigh in their minds our series of propositions, they will reject such freedom as they now attribute to God, not only as nugatory, but also as a great impediment to organized knowledge.
There is no need for me to repeat what I have said in the note to Prop. But, for the sake of my opponents, I will show further, that although it be granted that will pertains to the essence of God, it nevertheless follows from his perfection, that things could not have been by him created other than they are, or in a different order; this is easily proved, if we reflect on what our opponents themselves concede, namely, that it depends solely on the decree and will of God, that each thing is what it is.
If it were otherwise, God would not be the cause of all things. Further, that all the decrees of God have been ratified from all eternity by God himself. If it were otherwise, God would be convicted of imperfection or change. But in eternity there is no such thing as when, before, or after; hence it follows solely from the perfection of God, that God never can decree, or never could have decreed anything but what is; that God did not exist before his decrees, and would not exist without them. But, it is said, supposing that God had made a different universe, or had ordained other decrees from all eternity concerning nature and her order, we could not therefore conclude any imperfection in God.
But persons who say this must admit that God can change his decrees. For if God had ordained any decrees concerning nature and her order, different from those which he has ordained —in other words, if he had willed and conceived something different concerning nature —he would perforce have had a different intellect from that which he has, and also a different will.
But if it were allowable to assign to God a different intellect and a different will, without any change in his essence or his perfection, what would there be to prevent him changing the decrees which he has made concerning created things, and nevertheless remaining perfect? For his intellect and will concerning things created and their order are the same, in respect to his essence and perfection, however they be conceived.
As these things could not have been brought into being by God in any but the actual way and order which has obtained; and as the truth of this proposition follows from the supreme perfection of God; we can have no sound reason for persuading ourselves to believe that God did not wish to create all the things which were in his intellect, and to create them in the same perfection as he had understood them.
But, it will be said, there is in things no perfection nor imperfection; that which is in them, and which causes them to be called perfect or imperfect, good or bad, depends solely on the will of God. What is such an assertion, but an open declaration that God, who necessarily understands that which he wishes, might bring it about by his will, that he should understand things differently from the way in which he does understand them?
This as we have just shown is the height of absurdity. Wherefore, I may turn the argument against its employers, as follows:— All things depend on the power of God. Therefore neither can things be different. I confess, that the theory which subjects all things to the will of an indifferent deity, and asserts that they are all dependent on his fiat, is less far from the truth than the theory of those, who maintain that God acts in all things with a view of promoting what is good.
For these latter persons seem to set up something beyond God, which does not depend on God, but which God in acting looks to as an exemplar, or which he aims at as a definite goal. This is only another name for subjecting God to the dominion of destiny, an utter absurdity in respect to God, whom we have shown to be the first and only free cause of the essence of all things and also of their existence. I need, therefore, spend no time in refuting such wild theories. Wherefore the power of God, by which he and all things are and act, is identical with his essence.
In the foregoing I have explained the nature and properties of God. I have shown that he necessarily exists, that he is one: that he is, and acts solely by the necessity of his own nature; that he is the free cause of all things, and how he is so; that all things are in God, and so depend on him, that without him they could neither exist nor be conceived; lastly, that all things are predetermined by God, not through his free will or absolute fiat, but from the very nature of God or infinite power.
I have further, where occasion afforded, taken care to remove the prejudices, which might impede the comprehension of my demonstrations. Yet there still remain misconceptions not a few, which might and may prove very grave hindrances to the understanding of the concatenation of things, as I have explained it above. I have therefore thought it worth while to bring these misconceptions before the bar of reason. All such opinions spring from the notion commonly entertained, that all things in nature act as men themselves act, namely, with an end in view. It is accepted as certain, that God himself directs all things to a definite goal for it is said that God made all things for man, and man that he might worship him.
I will, therefore, consider this opinion, asking first, why it obtains general credence, and why all men are naturally so prone to adopt it? However, this is not the place to deduce these misconceptions from the nature of the human mind: it will be sufficient here, if I assume as a starting point, what ought to be universally admitted, namely, that all men are born ignorant of the causes of things, that all have the desire to seek for what is useful to them, and that they are conscious of such desire.
Herefrom it follows, first, that men think themselves free inasmuch as they are conscious of their volitions and desires, and never even dream, in their ignorance, of the causes which have disposed them so to wish and desire. Secondly, that men do all things for an end, namely, for that which is useful to them, and which they seek. Thus it comes to pass that they only look for a knowledge of the final causes of events, and when these are learned, they are content, as having no cause for further doubt.
If they cannot learn such causes from external sources, they are compelled to turn to considering themselves, and reflecting what end would have induced them personally to bring about the given event, and thus they necessarily judge other natures by their own. Now as they are aware, that they found these conveniences and did not make them, they think they have cause for believing, that some other being has made them for their use.
As they look upon things as means, they cannot believe them to be self-created; but, judging from the means which they are accustomed to prepare for themselves, they are bound to believe in some ruler or rulers of the universe endowed with human freedom, who have arranged and adapted everything for human use. They are bound to estimate the nature of such rulers having no information on the subject in accordance with their own nature, and therefore they assert that the gods ordained everything for the use of man, in order to bind man to themselves and obtain from him the highest honor.
Hence also it follows, that everyone thought out for himself, according to his abilities, a different way of worshipping God, so that God might love him more than his fellows, and direct the whole course of nature for the satisfaction of his blind cupidity and insatiable avarice. Thus the prejudice developed into superstition, and took deep root in the human mind; and for this reason everyone strove most zealously to understand and explain the final causes of things; but in their endeavor to show that nature does nothing in vain, i. Experience day by day protested and showed by infinite examples, that good and evil fortunes fall to the lot of pious and impious alike; still they would not abandon their inveterate prejudice, for it was more easy for them to class such contradictions among other unknown things of whose use they were ignorant, and thus to retain their actual and innate condition of ignorance, than to destroy the whole fabric of their reasoning and start afresh.
Such a doctrine might well have sufficed to conceal the truth from the human race for all eternity, if mathematics had not furnished another standard of verity in considering solely the essence and properties of figures without regard to their final causes. I have now sufficiently explained my first point. There is no need to show at length, that nature has no particular goal in view, and that final causes are mere human figments. This, I think, is already evident enough, both from the causes and foundations on which I have shown such prejudice to be based, and also from Prop.
However, I will add a few remarks, in order to overthrow this doctrine of a final cause utterly. Passing over the questions of cause and priority as self-evident, it is plain from Props. But if those things which were made immediately by God were made to enable him to attain his end, then the things which come after, for the sake of which the first were made, are necessarily the most excellent of all. Further, this doctrine does away with the perfection of God: for, if God acts for an object, he necessarily desires something which he lacks.
Certainly, theologians and metaphysicians draw a distinction between the object of want and the object of assimilation; still they confess that God made all things for the sake of himself, not for the sake of creation. They are unable to point to anything prior to creation, except God himself, as an object for which God should act, and are therefore driven to admit as they clearly must , that God lacked those things for whose attainment he created means, and further that he desired them.
We must not omit to notice that the followers of this doctrine, anxious to display their talent in assigning final causes, have imported a new method of argument in proof of their theory —namely, a reduction, not to the impossible, but to ignorance; thus showing that they have no other method of exhibiting their doctrine. Perhaps you will answer that the event is due to the facts that the wind was blowing, and the man was walking that way. So, again, when they survey the frame of the human body, they are amazed; and being ignorant of the causes of so great a work of art, conclude that it has been fashioned, not mechanically, but by divine and supernatural skill, and has been so put together that one part shall not hurt another.
Hence anyone who seeks for the true causes of miracles, and strives to understand natural phenomena as an intelligent being, and not to gaze at them like a fool, is set down and denounced as an impious heretic by those, whom the masses adore as the interpreters of nature and the gods. Such persons know that, with the removal of ignorance, the wonder which forms their only available means for proving and preserving their authority would vanish also. But I now quit this subject, and pass on to my third point.
After men persuaded themselves, that everything which is created is created for their sake, they were bound to consider as the chief quality in everything that which is most useful to themselves, and to account those things the best of all which have the most beneficial effect on mankind. Further, they were bound to form abstract notions for the explanation of the nature of things, such as goodness, badness, order, confusion, warmth, cold, beauty, deformity, and so on; and from the belief that they are free agents arose the further notions of praise and blame, sin and merit.
I will speak of these latter hereafter, when I treat of human nature; the former I will briefly explain here. Everything which conduces to health and the worship of God they have called good, everything which hinders these objects they have styled bad; and inasmuch as those who do not understand the nature of things do not verify phenomena in any way, but merely imagine them after a fashion, and mistake their imagination for understanding, such persons firmly believe that there is an order in things, being really ignorant both of things and their own nature.
When phenomena are of such a kind, that the impression they make on our senses requires little effort of imagination, and can consequently be easily remembered, we say that they are well-ordered; if the contrary, that they are ill-ordered or confused. Further, as things which are easily imagined are more pleasing to us, men prefer order to confusion —as though there were any order in nature, except in relation to our imagination —and say that God has created all things in order; thus, without knowing it, attributing imagination to God, unless, indeed, they would have it that God foresaw human imagination, and arranged everything, so that it should be most easily imagined.
If this be their theory, they would not, perhaps, be daunted by the fact that we find an infinite number of phenomena, far surpassing our imagination, and very many others which confound its weakness. But enough has been said on this subject. It needs to be tested prophets are not immune to mistakes—1 Thes ; 1 Cor Some potential ways to test it are to run the message against what we know to be the content of the Christian faith, and Paul also gives a further the suggestion that prophecy should be done to encourage 1 Cor I can't remember if I experienced this or just heard a story about it, but I have heard of prayer meetings that left an open mic for someone to speak a prophetic word, but there were people on either side of the mic who made you tell them what the prophetic message you were about to give was.
Once they heard it, they would either give you the go-ahead to speak that word to the group, or they would say that might not be a word for this group. Such is one way of "testing" prophecy. Not allowing and despising the gift of prophecy actually serves to quench the Spirit 1 Thes Salvation is Trinitarian in that it is initiated by the love of the Father, accomplished and demonstrated historically in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and applied to the believer in the Holy Spirit.
Christianity is Christocentric—everything centers on and revolves around Christ. We should not lose that focus as we learn about and grow in the Holy Spirit. Fee has great reflections on the flesh vs Spirit in Paul. Both Spirit and flesh influence us, and we are not immune to temptation, but the Spirit is sufficient to overcome the flesh. We get no hint that the Spirit is weaker than the flesh in Paul—the Spirit is sufficient to live the life of Christ.
Fee argues, I think convincingly, that baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a second work of grace subsequent to conversion, but rather refers to what happens to us at conversion. That being said, I have a couple minor quibbles and one major criticism of his work. Minor Quibble 1: This book is not accessible to most people. This book is written mainly for Bible scholars.
It seems to me he is too negative in his treatment of the Law in Paul. I tend to side more with some of the proponents of the "New Perspective" on Paul, salvation in OT and NT has always been by grace through faith. The coming of Christ and the work of the Spirit are foreshadowed in these works of the Law and are fulfilled by Christ and the Spirit, so they do not apply to Christians.
After all, the Torah that commands circumcision and animal sacrifices is also the same Torah that commands love of God Deut. Major Concern: Fee is bent on trying to disconnect Spirit baptism from water baptism in this book. I agree with Fee that the Spirit is the reality that baptism points toward, that it is the Spirit who unites us in Christ and gives us new life, but Fee seems bent on disconnecting the Spirit from the sign of water baptism.
Further, what would Fee make of other passages outside of Paul that connect water baptism and the Spirit, like Acts , water baptism and salvation in 1 Peter , or the Spirit descending on Jesus when he was baptized by John in the Gospels? Rather, he encourages us to find ways to embrace the work of the Spirit today that were so obviously a part of the life of Paul and his churches. And now for 1.
I'd love to see what your favorite books of the year have been as well, so feel free to comment! Of all the books I read this year, this one has challenged, blessed, and shaped my thinking the most. It is a book about the cross of Christ written by a leading New Testament scholar. While Wright can be a bit repetitive and there are some portions of this book that were dry as dust, the content has led to some shifts inside me that I still don't think are quite settled.
While it's impossible to summarize everything in this book in a few paragraphs, it has been very helpful in getting a deeper understanding of what Scripture says about Jesus' crucifixion. To examine the cross, you have to get down to the fundamentals of the Christian religion. What is the problem with our world and with humanity? How is the cross of Jesus an answer to that problem? Many conceptions of the cross I hear and undoubtedly have said myself at one time or another make an angry God the main problem we need to be rescued from.
Sin is breaking those rules. Sin is bad because God gets really angry with us when we break the rules. In order to rescue us from this angry God who would blast us into oblivion if he could, the loving Jesus steps in and takes God's wrath upon himself, so God can blow off some steam.
Now we can live at peace with a placated God if we trust in Jesus. Wright believes in substitutionary atonement it's biblical , but the above conception of substitutionary atonement is a bit simplistic and, to be honest, a little problematic. I'm not sure if I'd trust my cat with a God whose primary characteristic involves blowing up in fits of rage over people breaking arbitrary rules.
Don't get me wrong, sin does make God angry, but Wright has helped me see that an angry God isn't the principal problem we need to be rescued from according to Scripture. Rather, we need to be rescued from sin and the devil, the real culprits of evil in our world, and sin is something worse than breaking random rules that tick God off. Sin, in and of itself, is destructive and deformative. Sin is choosing to go against the grain of the universe, against the very fabric of how we are made to live, and there are natural consequences that arise from doing that.
Take, for example, Genesis 3. Before God's punishment ever comes in, you see that the man and the woman give power over to the devil to define their world scary! God disciplined them in wrath after that, but the damaging effects of sin were already at work. Or look at Romans , 26, and 28, where God displays his wrath, not by adding in some external punishment, but by simply giving people over to the natural consequences of sin. It's like he's saying, "You want this? OK, see how that works for ya.
Sin by it's very nature is damaging to us, to the created world, and to God. This has helped me see that God's wrath and punishment are loving responses of a holy God to limit the spread of the cancer that is sin. The Father's discipline is meant to woo us toward the love, life, and light we can enjoy in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It's like a parent disciplining a child so they know not to go play in the street. The salvation we need isn't just getting God to take a chill pill. We need liberation from the enslaving, degenerating, and wounding powers of sin and the devil.
The cross of Christ is God's ultimate answer to evil. The cross showcases the power of love against the power of violence, lies, and shame. Further, Wright helped me see that most of the time people neglect the atonement theology of the Gospels and instead frame the conversation about the cross around what Paul says.
The Gospels do have atonement theology, but, unlike Paul, it is more implicit rather than explicit. The Gospel writers set us up to understand Jesus' crucifixion in terms of the Passover. The Passover was God's final plague on Egypt Exodus 12 , the time when God delivered Israel in a mighty way from the evil, enslaving power of Pharaoh.
This revolution, this victory of God, this freedom from sin to live a life of cross-bearing love, is offered to all who would trust in Christ as their Savior and Lord. Of course, there's much, much more to the book, but this is the heart of what I took away from Wright. There are not many books I would read twice, but this is one of them.
- Women, Sport and Society in Modern China: Holding up More than Half the Sky (Sport in the Global Society).
- Stop Getting the Wrong Things Done!
- List of Latin phrases (full) - Wikipedia.
- Bill Moyers Journal: What's the Future of the American Dream?.
- The Art of Getting Computer Science PhD.
I'd love to see what your favorite books of the year have been as well, and I welcome your comments! While I have heard friends rave about Smith's Desiring the Kingdom trilogy, I never got around to reading any of them, and am grateful for this more accessible condensation of his ideas.
Smith is a philosopher at Calvin College, and he convincingly argues that the Enlightenment's conception of human beings as primarily "thinking" creatures, or "brains on a stick," is deeply flawed. Descartes' "I think, therefore I am" is the epitome of this view of humanity. Smith says we aren't primarily thinkers, though that is a crucial aspect of our humanity, but lovers.
- Wanneer n droom waar word (Afrikaans Edition)?
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- Bertrand Russell - Wikiquote!
- Long-Term Care in Europe: Improving Policy and Practice.
- 33 Days to Morning Glory?
- rhbkdtu.tk Ebooks and Manuals.
- The Cat Cookbook!
The things we love control us more than our thoughts. For instance: everybody knows that diet and exercise are the best way to lose weight and maintain a healthy body. Yet in spite of such widespread knowledge, very few put this into practice. Because we are more controlled by our desire for food and comfort than what we know intellectually to be good for us. Our habits are more telling of what we love and worship than our knowledge. One can be the most orthodox and biblically astute Christian out there and be wracked with lust, greed, anger, pride, and a whole host of other sins, because increased information doesn't automatically equate to life transformation.
Jesus didn't come to make well-informed disciples who aren't any different from the world around them. He came to transform our lives and renovate our hearts. This is a kick in the rear for someone like myself who likes to read and think. The call of discipleship isn't a call only for more information though much of modern discipleship seems to be based purely around learning new things intellectually , but to grow in love with Jesus and with neighbor through worship, service, and holy habits.
You Are What You Love snags 2 on my list. I wish I wrote this book. I just finished leading a men's small group through both the Gospel of Mark and this book, and it has been a very rewarding experience. There is a ton of fluff in our culture and in the church about what it means to be a man.
Real men are hyper sexual and sleep around a ton or the Christian version: real men start families and really enjoy sex with their wives. Real men are providers. Real men are unemotional. Real men are warriors. Real men are leaders. Real men are fill in the blank —you get the picture. What I love about Pyle's book is that he challenges us to bring our focus back to where it should be: Jesus and the Bible. He is wonderful at exposing the danger of bias we can bring to reading our Bibles—if our culture says men should be strong warriors, should be financial providers, should be unemotional and hyper sexual, then it's easy to look for parts of Scripture that support our pre-existing conceptions of manhood and ignore those that don't fit.
It's also easy to forget that how we "naturally" are wired isn't necessarily holy—there's this little thing called sin that should make us question our first impulses. Have you ever thought about how Jesus doesn't fit a lot of what we lift up as "a real Christian man? Jesus didn't start a family of his own and he never had sex! We like to lift up Jesus driving animals and money changers out of the Temple as an example of masculinity, but not so much Jesus weeping for Lazarus John or weeping over Jerusalem's lack of repentance Luke Jesus never got in a fight, and rather than fighting his enemies, he died for them.
Further, I often see men's ministry lift up David as an ideal warrior, but what about the artsy-fartsy side of David playing on his lyre and writing poetry? What about the fearful Jacob who stayed among the tents while his manly-man brother Esau was a hunter and who was the one who got God's blessing? What about Paul, the scholarly church planter who also never got married or had sex? When we say "real men are X," the danger becomes affirming the masculinity of some men, while detracting from a sense of masculinity in others in a way that Scripture doesn't support.
What about the scholar? What about the poet or artist? What about a same-sex attracted man willing to live in celibacy? This book does a great job at tearing down what I believe is the heart of the masculine myth: men cannot be weak. Jesus Christ on the cross shows us that true manhood and womanhood—true personhood in general—isn't afraid of vulnerability. To be a man following after Christ, we don't need to be afraid of weakness, of emotion, of submission, of humility. There's nothing wrong with any of those things or with using them to connect in friendship and to grow deeper in Christ.
Just don't play into stereotypes that "real Christian men do this. Pyle wonderfully shows that there are two kinds of courage. There's the courage to upset the apple cart, to challenge others, to stand up for what's right and not cave in to the pressures of the world. But there's also the courage to be honest about our weaknesses and failures, the courage to be humble, the courage to submit to others. That's the kind of man I'd like to be and I'd like for the men around me to be. Bring it back to the Bible all of it! Don't limit to men or to women things God clearly calls everyone to do, both male and female.get link
Community of St Martin @ St Chad's
Galatians doesn't say that men should embody these particular fruits of the Spirit and women these others, but that everyone is called to embody the same fruit. Men and women are made to work together in Spirit-empowered harmony and mutual submission, as together we display the courage of Jesus and the character of Jesus to a world in desperate need of love.
If there's one book I would recommend to men and women for getting a good picture of what Christian manhood looks like, this is it. This has been the best leadership book I've read in the past couple years, which may not be saying much since I'm a rather infrequent peruser of leadership books. My own inexperience aside, Cloud finely articulates how many of us get stuck personally and how organizations get stuck due to an inability to recognize when something needs to end and acting accordingly.
Some of the nuggets that Dr. Cloud gave me in the book: the difference between hurting to heal and hurting to harm, the importance of finding and facing reality, knowing that unending hope in ineffective practices is a curse while hopelessness can be a gift, signs of when we need to persist in a difficult season vs. This book is a treasure trove of wisdom from a PhD psychologist who has consulted with many high performing people and companies. It will give you a framework for how to approach all sorts of difficult conversations and decisions, and it is a tool that God can use to help you pursue his future, making some endings along the way.
So if you're feeling stuck, this might just be the book for you. Ok, I admit: this is like the ultimate echo chamber book for me. I'm an Arminian reading other Arminians who taught at the same seminary I attended concerning why we think we're right. It doesn't get more "let's preach to the choir and all high-five each other" than that. I hope you'll bear with my indulgence.
I also know this is a bit of a disagreeable topic and perhaps not the best way to start a series of blog posts. The other four should be shorter and less controversial in comparison. Calvinists taking their name from the French reformer John Calvin, though really St. Augustine is the original proponent of this theology believe that before the foundation of the world, God chose some people to be saved and enjoy eternal bliss through Jesus Christ while God also chose some people to be eternally damned, and there is nothing anyone can do to change God's timeless decree.
You're either in or you're out. Human beings are not free. Their will is totally bound by sin so that they are incapable of doing good apart from God's intervention. Arminians differ in that they say God in his grace enables people to have a measure of freedom from the deforming and binding power of sin—he enables them to make genuine, free choices. They can choose to receive salvation in Christ by placing their faith in him as Lord and Savior or they can reject Christ. They can choose to honor God in a particular situation or disobey him.
God desires all people to be saved and Jesus died for the whole world, but the reason all are not saved is because people use their grace-enabled freedom to reject God, not because some were chosen before the foundation of the world for salvation and some weren't. This is a debate between Christian brothers and sisters, not between some who are in Christ and some who are out.
The differences I'm describing don't strike at the heart of Christianity. There are sisters and brothers who are very godly and intelligent who would disagree with me on this you may be one of them , and I admit that I could be wrong. I don't have perfect knowledge of all things and don't fully understand God or the Bible. That being said, theology matters, and what you believe about God has implications for how we connect with God and live for him today.
We should strive to learn as much as we can in order to live the way God wants us to. The question really comes down to which theological framework makes the most sense out of Scripture and is consistent. That's what theology is: the synthetic task of reading the whole Bible and getting a sense of how to put together the parts into a coherent whole when it comes to God, how we should live, and where this whole thing is going.
Joe Dongell is a Bible scholar and Jerry Walls is a Christian philosopher, and they team up to make a case against Calvinism. I had Dr. Dongell for an Inductive Bible Study class on Romans, and it opened up Paul's letter in a fresh, big way for me. I have a lot of respect for the man. One thing I appreciate in the book is the charitable tone the authors bring to the table toward those with whom they disagree, engaging people's ideas and avoiding the belittling that is so common today though, if you watch Jerry Walls give talks on the subject, it seems to me he is often unkind toward his theological opponents.
Dongell and Walls engage the writings of prominent Calvinist authors like D. Carson, J. Packer, John Piper, R. Dongell was very helpful in arguing for interpretive humility as well as offering interpretations of texts commonly championed by Reformed exegetes e. He raises some interesting exegetical questions on whether some Reformed interpretations best make sense out of these passages. It's unfair to say one is "more biblical" while the other is "more philosophical. These are concepts that theologians of various traditions use to help us put together all of what we read in Scripture in a way that makes sense.
Walls accuses J. He goes on to say that a mystery of God and an obvious logical inconsistency are not the same thing. He presses D. Carson on whether Calvinist theologians can in any meaningful sense say God loves everyone. It would be like me saying I love all three of my cats, while I only feed and care for one of them. My actions show I don't love the others I haven't chosen, or at least don't love them in the way that really matters and leads to life.
Would you call the behavior I exhibit toward the two unchosen cats love? He quotes John Wesley, who says that Calvinism makes God out to be worse than the devil, since God deceitfully offers salvation from sin to all, but doesn't really mean it since he doesn't enable all to receive it; even more, it becomes impossible to tell the difference between a wicked attack from the devil and a sovereign act of God.
Both would stem from God regardless of the official "actor" and would fully embody God's will. I become Reformed for a few months in college when I first met people who were Calvinists and pointed me to Scriptures I never wrestled with before. But as I kept reading the Bible, I kept having questions about this conception of God. If everything happens according to God's plan, why does God still blame people for sin?
If you set your children up to fail and then punish them for failing, how is that just or good? Why are there so many warnings in Scripture about consequences for disobedience and injunctions toward good behavior if we have no grace-enabled power of choice? If God desires all people to be saved John ; 1 Tim. How is a world where some are eternally damned apart from anything they can do to change their outcome better than one in which God saves everyone? Because it gives God more glory to destroy those people and makes those whom he chose to save more grateful?
But I thought God doesn't take any pleasure at the death of anyone, but wants them to turn and live Ezekiel , and that there is more rejoicing in heaven over the repentance of one sinner than over the ninety-nine who need no repentance Luke I thought the cross of Christ for the salvation of sinners reveals the glory and will of God, not some conception of individuals predestined to damnation apart from any choice of their own.
The main struggle I have with Calvinism is that it describes a God with a conflicted will and conflicting desires. In Reformed theology, the only thing that stands in the way of God saving the world is God. How can Reformed theologians call God good when there's no moral difference between God and angels and demons and human beings and the devil—they're all just different actors carrying out God's plan?
How could we call good choosing to save some when you could save all? If there were three babies drowning in a creek and I had the ability to save all three, yet only saved one to showcase my power and glory, would you think I was amazing and stand in awe of the choices I made? Or would you think I was a sadistic serial killer? Is our human conception of goodness so far divorced from what the whole sweep of Scripture says and what the whole world can recognize as love and righteousness? Calvinists would have us think so. I find the Arminian conception of things much more convincing in making sense of the whole thrust of Scripture: God is love, God is good, God desires the whole world to be saved, and he is working to make that happen, if only we would yield to his Spirit and follow Jesus Christ.
Election is corporate, not individual. Predestination is either functional toward holiness or toward Christ being the way of salvation or it is according to foreknown choices. Correct me if I've erred, and I welcome those who disagree with me to point out where I've fallen short in my description. God is good and God is love.
What do you think? The past few weeks have been awful concerning tragedy. Hundreds are shot in Las Vegas and we are grieved. Earthquakes have caused much damage and loss of life in Mexico. Hurricanes have ravaged Houston, Florida, and especially Puerto Rico. Facebook and other organizations have created opportunities to donate toward the relief effort.
Our church has put together several cleanup buckets to go to a disaster relief warehouse to do our part to help. Still, in Puerto Rico, thousands are without electricity and running water, and try as we might, we can't bring back the dead. We Americans are quite accustomed to having power. We talk about what people should do. We organize, argue, demonstrate, vote, and spend money for our causes. Yet things that seem so right to me may not seem right to you. The total package of my values seems just about absent in our current political discourse.
Who do I vote for? Who represents my values? For all my thoughts and blogging and conversations and voting, my voice is fairly marginal.
Full text of "SENSE AND SILENCE: COLLECTED POEMS"
I live in the tension between power and weakness. Paul was someone who learned how to embrace both power and weakness in his walk with Jesus. Paul knew the power of the Holy Spirit, yet he did not turn that power inward for selfish purposes, but rather used that power to serve God's purpose.
God used Paul to heal people, cast out demons, convert people to faith in Jesus Christ, shape lives, inspire hope, and plant churches throughout the Roman empire. Yet Paul also knew heartbreaking moments of powerlessness. He was beaten, arrested, conspired against, abandoned by friends, shepherded erring churches, battled against despair, and had personal struggles he asked God to remove. In Paul's correspondence with the Corinthian church, he has piercing meditations on the power of the cross 1 Cor and Christ's strength in our weaknesses 2 Cor.
For Paul, he had learned that when he was weak, it was not a time to give up hope or throw it all away. The crucified Jesus shows that there is a hidden strength at work even when it seems evil and suffering have the day. The crucified Christ displays the power of suffering love that can transform lives. Paul knew power. Paul knew weakness. And he could see God at work in both. I find myself in this tension often. Sometimes I need to be reminded that even when I'm weak, Christ is strong through me, so stop trying to force it, carry the world on my shoulders, or pretend I'm invincible.
Other times I need to be reminded that God and society have given me power, so stop acting like I don't have it and get out there and do what I can for God's good purpose. We have power. Problems get solved. We overcome difficult odds. We beat the other team. Our candidate gets elected. Our influence changes someone's life. We rebuild after tragedy. We help those who are down and out. God shows up in an undeniable way. We have weakness. There are many people whose mind we will not change.
We struggle with personal faults we wish we didn't have. We can't fix everything and everyone. We have bouts with doubt. The challenge is walking well with both power and weakness. You can use power for good or it can be your downfall. You can let weakness cripple you or you can embrace it as a means of God shaping you into Christlikeness. God uses both power and weakness to mold us into who he calls us to be. This is a gathering of high level leaders from various spheres—church, business, education, justice, etc. There are several tidbits that stood out to me as I think back to the speakers and what they had to say about leadership.
I share some of the notes I took with you here as things all of us could chew on. This is the final installation on faith and science, as I've introduced the conversation and looked at what evolutionary science has found in the first blog , and the second blog looked at interpreting Genesis Now, I want us to look at original sin, Romans 5, death, and some concluding thoughts. McKnight reserves the final chapter of the book for addressing original sin and unpacking Romans , which is the passage St.
Augustine used to formulate the doctrine. I include the English Standard Version of this text in full here:. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. Jerome completed a translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into Latin back in the early s, which became known as the Vulgate a Latin word meaning "current" or "regularly used". If you assume we inherit sinfulness, then based on the text, with Jesus being set up as the antithesis to Adam, it seems logical to assume universalism as well, that all will inherit salvation.
In verses , it says one act of disobedience led to condemnation for the many which is a Jewish way of saying everyone , so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for the many. I think pretty much everyone agrees the Bible teaches not everyone will be saved, so it seems natural to interpret this as people not automatically inheriting condemnation because of the passing on of a sin nature.
Rather, Adam is put forward as a representative of a disobedient humanity, because all of us sin. We are worthy of condemnation when we follow the example of Adam in Genesis and sin, and we receive grace, righteousness, and life from Jesus when we trust him in faith. These two are set up as examples of two different courses of life—Adam representing the life of disobedience to God whom all of us follow in some way or another , while Jesus is the means of our salvation and the example of a holy life. Is Adam set up here as a historical person from whom we have inherited a sin nature?
In short, Paul is not teaching hereditary sinfulness predicated on a historical Adam, but a participatory sinfulness following the example of Adam in Gensis. McKnight goes to great lengths to show that Adam was not understood in only one way throughout the history of interpretation. Read the book to get the full scope of his argument!
I think that is a miss in the book. A pervasive biblical teaching is that sin leads to death. Sin can lead to the death of full personhood and dehumanization. Sin can even lead people to take life. Part of the work of Jesus is that he took the worst people and spirits controlled by sin and the power of death could throw at him. They worked to kill his reputation. They worked to kill his relationships with others—he was betrayed by one of his friends and his disciples fled.
They worked to kill his sense of self by shaming, stripping, and mocking him. They worked to kill and disrupt his relationship with God, calling him a heretic, a sinner, and demonic. They worked to kill his comfort and quality of life, beating him and crucifying him. And finally, they physically killed him. The long biblical narrative is that sin brings death in the quality of our lives, our relationships, and our physical bodies.
To me, biological death seems inextricably tied up with the biblical picture of what sin and death is. Some aspect of physical death is implied as a consequence of sin and is something Jesus has overcome. If creatures have been dying long before human beings ever showed up on the scene, then how are we to understand death theologically and biblically? Does the badness of death depend upon a historical Adam and Eve? Should we look at a primordial, Satanic fall as the true incursion of the badness of death in the world as some have interpreted Revelation ?
Is there a moment along the evolutionary timeline where human beings became morally responsible to God and a different significance was given to death? You can read the Bible in a way that makes the science and faith irreconcilable, or you can read it in a way that synchronizes them. Science isn't infallible, but when it's true to its method and has been confirmed repeatedly, we would be wise to heed it. You appreciate the advances in medicine, technology, convenience, conservation, etc. When it comes to origins, I think science is helping us read our Bibles better, leading us to ponder more deeply just how God is at work in our world.
As I've said throughout these blogs, I think there are good reasons for Christianity and science to be friends. You may or may not agree with me, and I acknowledge I could be wrong on several counts. But I hope we all will seek truth together and not settle for cheap answers. This is a continuation of my previous blog concerning science and faith in light of reading the book Adam and the Genome by Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight. This has been a stimulating book by two scholars in their respective fields of Genetics and New Testament, and they both take an in-depth look at evolution and the Bible, working to see what sort of synthesis might come from the two.
Both Venema and McKnight are connected with Biologos , an organization which promotes biblical Christianity and evolutionary creation. In this blog, I want to focus on some aspects of biblical interpretation that often come up in this conversation. What better place to begin than Genesis? Genesis are some of the most important chapters of the Bible. The question is, how are we to interpret these passages, especially in light of the findings of science? For any close reading of the Bible, we need to work to understand the genre of a particular text and the background out of which that text arose in order to best interpret it.
First, genre. Rather, he is using metaphor to tap into our emotions and carry us along with him, conveying a sense of fear, danger, and overwhelming odds against him. Genre makes a difference in whether I read this as a historical narrative or a poetic expression. A good question we should ask of any text of Scripture is what genre it is. It may also describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one's self or animals. Every morning I shall concern myself anew about the boundary Between the love- deed -Yes and the power -deed-No And pressing forward honor reality.
We cannot avoid Using power, Cannot escape the compulsion To afflict the world , So let us, cautious in diction And mighty in contradiction , Love powerfully. Just as a mother with her own life Protects her child, her only child, from harm, So within yourself let grow A boundless love for all creatures. Let your love flow outward through the universe, To its height, its depth, its broad extent, A limitless love, without hatred or enmity.
Then as you stand or walk, Sit or lie down, As long as you are awake, Strive for this with a one-pointed mind; Your life will bring heaven to earth. Excuse me I'm sorry to bother you, But don't I know you? There's just something about you. Haven't we met before? Nor means a tinseled dream pursuing lovers Find altered by-and-bye, When, with possession, time anon discovers Trapped dreams must die, — For he that visions God, of mankind gathers One manlike trait alone, And reverently imputes to Him a father's Love for his son.
Years, ye shall mix with me! Ye shall grow a part Of the laughing Sea ; Of the moaning heart Of the glittered wave Of the sun-gleam's dart In the ocean-grave. Fair, cold, and faithless wert thou, my own! For that I love Thy heart of stone! From the heights above To the depths below, Where dread things move,. There is naught can show A life so trustless! Proud be thy crown! Ruthless, like none, save the Sea, alone! And pray that a wreath like a rainbow May slip from the beautiful past, And Crown me again with the sweet, strong love And keep me, and hold me fast.
The light came through the window, Straight from the sun above, And so inside my little room There plunged the rays of Love. The daily actions of religious people have accomplished uncounted good deeds throughout history, alleviating suffering, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick.
Anglican Parish of Sandringham and Mt Roskill
Religions have brought the comfort of belonging and companionship to many who would otherwise have passed through this life all alone, without glory or adventure. They have not just provided first aid, in effect, for people in difficulties; they have provided the means for changing the world in ways that remove those difficulties. As Alan Wolfe says, "Religion can lead people out of cycles of poverty and dependency just as it led Moses out of Egypt".
There is much for religion lovers to be proud of in their traditions, and much for all of us to be grateful for. The fact that so many people love their religions as much as, or more than, anything else in their lives is a weighty fact indeed. I am inclined to think that nothing could matter more than what people love. At any rate, I can think of no value that I would place higher. I would not want to live in a world without love. Would a world with peace, but without love, be a better world?
Not if the peace was achieved by drugging the love and hate out of us, or by suppression.