“Since one of the signs of the Divine Nature is its essential incomprehensibility, in this also must the copy be like the original. For were the nature of the copy comprehended, when the original was above comprehension, the copy would be a mistaken one. But, inasmuch as the nature of our spirit is above our understanding, it has here an exact resemblance of the all-sublime, representing by its own unfathomableness the incomprehensible Being of God.” — Gregory of Nyssa, quoted in The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto
According to the Orthodox Church in America, Gregory of Nyssa was “[e]ndowed with philosophical talent” and “saw philosophy as a means for a deeper penetration into the authentic meaning of divine revelation.”
Posted in Christian, Christian Humanism, culture, faith
Tagged Being of God, Christianity, Divine Nature, eastern orthodox, God, Gregory of Nyssa, Neo-platonism, Platonism, Spirit
Happy New Year! Does God know the future? Physicist, theologian, and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne thinks He might not. In the following short video excerpt of a longer interview for Closer to the Truth, Polkinghorne talks about the classical Christian view held by Augustine and Aquinas, and then offers his alternative point of view.
While we’re at it, why not listen to Polkinghorne define “time” for a different interview with Closer to the Truth? Here he also touches on theology and God’s knowledge of the future:
Posted in Anglican, Christian Humanism, God, John Polkinghorne, physics, theology
Tagged Aquinas, Augustine, Closer to the Truth, Does God know the future, future, God, Happy New Year, John Polkinghorne, physicists, physics, theologians, theology, time
Status is its own mode of self-destruction.
It depends not upon the self’s improvements, nor the soul’s refinements, nor God’s blessings, nor Fortune’s smiles, but upon the variable winds of others’ opinions. Status is tasty and unreliable. Instead, seek selfhood.
Posted in aphorisms, Christian Humanism, definitions, glossary
Tagged definitions, Fortune, glosssary, God, opinions, public opinion, self, self-help, selfhood, soul, status
Why would God tell us to love our enemies if at least some of our enemies are beyond redemption¹ and God has already decided to destroy at least some of them², so by asking us to love them, God therefore is asking us to do something that would be loftier and nobler than what God is willing to do³? †
¹ This phrase assumes, for the sake of argument, some are predetermined to be beyond redemption (predetermined in this case because of points made in the following notes). Then again, maybe none of “our enemies,” the ones who ultimately really are enemies, are beyond redemption. Furthermore, it might not be clear right now who “our enemies” really are, which might be one reason to love those who appear to be enemies.
² By choosing to save some and to damn others. This point of view, while very present in Christian theology, is difficult because God cannot choose to save some without choosing to not-save others. When One is an all-powerful being*, not-doing must be just as volitional as doing. When all-powerful, choosing not to embrace one sentient being You have created must be just as volitional as choosing to embrace another sentient being You have created.
*or even all-powerful and outside of being
³ This phrase assumes, for the sake of argument, that God does not love those whom He created yet knows ultimately will be His enemies, and additionally, assumes that God has decided to create some to ultimately become His enemies. In other words, God creates some people He does not love or plans to stop loving. So, by calling humans to love their enemies as themselves, God has asked us to do something noble and good that He neither is willing to do nor desiring to do, which you should admit is kind of strange. Again, choosing not to embrace one sentient being You have created must be just as volitional as choosing to embrace another sentient being You have created. Oddly enough, two verses later, Jesus asks, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” So maybe by asking us to love our enemies, God is asking us to follow His characteristics or part of His nature.
† The question seeks a coherent explanation of both the command to love our enemies and the interpretative and systematic traditions which affirm non-universalist positions on predestination and election in which some individuals are intentionally created by God for the purposes of committing sins and thereafter being held accountable for the sins without being given grace and therefore damned. Is there some achievable coherence between God’s decision to create some people to experience His wrath and God’s command to love our enemies?
Posted in Bible, biblical living, biblical worldview, Calvinism, Christian Humanism, Christianity, love, Reformed, sovereignty, theology
Tagged Bible, coherence, election, enemies, God, Jesus, limited atonement, love, predestination, questions, Reformed, sovereignty, theology, universalism
Margaret Evans, writer and editorial assistant to the late novelist Pat Conroy, within her column “That’s So Conroy:”
Did you know Pat had lately become enamored of fantasy fiction? He was fanatical about George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series, and compared Martin to Shakespeare. He had also discovered C.S. Lewis late in life, and was so enthusiastic about him – and his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien – that he ran the idea by me, about a year ago, of getting a group together to travel to an Inklings weekend in Black Mountain, NC. (How I wish we’d done it.)
You might not know that Pat was very interested in God. Though he didn’t go to church much, he still considered himself Catholic, and he wrestled mightily. During our chats about the Inklings, he once told me he wished he had a writers’ group like that of his own. “Wouldn’t it be great?” he said. “For those guys, the question of God was always on the table. Maybe you struggled with the idea of God. Maybe you rejected it altogether. But the question was always on the table. It mattered, and it mattered a lot. So many writers I know today don’t even address the question. They’re not even God-curious. I still think that’s the difference between a great writer and a merely good writer. Great writers – whether they’re believers or not – are God-haunted.”
Pat Conroy was God-haunted. Maybe you didn’t know….
While out walking in the Cypress Wetlands last week – thinking about Pat, and how he adored this season – a cardinal zoomed across my path at warp speed, eye level, so close to my face I felt the wind on my cheek and heard its whoosh. His feathers may even have brushed my sunglasses; I’m still not sure. It was all so swift and sudden, so frightening and wondrous, I was left shaking as I watched the red bird disappear into the rookery.
They say a cardinal encounter is a visitation from a loved one who has passed….
Posted in Christian Humanism, Humanities, The Inklings, writers
Tagged C.S. Lewis, Catholics, God, J.R.R. Tolkien, Margaret Evans, Pat Conroy, The Inklings, writers
“…I would be an Appalachian snake-handler.”
Snake-handling: Not just the distant past.
“Handling serpents at the Pentecostal Church of God. This church is not on company property, nor have any company funds been used towards its building or upkeep; most of the members are coal miners and their families. Lejunior, Harlan County, Kentucky., 09/15/1946.” Photo from The National Archives via Wikimedia
“…like back in the 1830s, when the churches were full, and our Christ-honoring ancestors forced the Natives to march to the other side of the Mississippi.”