Archive for the ‘god’ Category

Which God Do You Serve?

Posted: June 11, 2013 in books, c. s. lewis, god

An ‘impersonal God’—well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads—better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap—best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband—that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God!’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us!

– C. S. Lewis, Miracles (1947; repr. New York: HarperCollins, 1996), 150.

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Next time you’re outside and it’s dark, look up and marvel at the glory and wisdom of our God:

To investigate the motions of the heavenly bodies, to determine their positions, measure their distances, and ascertain their properties, demands skill, and a more careful examination; and where these are so employed, as the Providence of God is thereby more fully unfolded, so it is reasonable to suppose that the mind takes a loftier flight, and obtains brighter views of his glory. Still, none who have the use of their eyes can be ignorant of the divine skill manifested so conspicuously in the endless variety, yet distinct and well ordered array, of the heavenly host; and, therefore, it is plain that the Lord has furnished every man with abundant proofs of his wisdom.

– John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.5.2.

Jonathan BlanchardI have written you much less than I intended and hoped when I left home. The farther we get into life the faster flows the current of events, and the less we control our own motions, but crowd along carrying and being carried toward the ocean.  When I was a boy, I did ten thousand things just because I wanted to; now, I do almost all things simply because I must. Still there is nothing tyrannous in that “must”—but I do my life duties with more satisfaction because my mind is schooled to duty, and suffer far less from disappointment because I serve a blessed Master who takes all the responsibility himself.

– Jonathan Blanchard, “Letter to the Students of Wheaton College at Morning Exercises,” June 18, 1861 (Wheaton College Archives and Special Collections)

Augustine’s views concerning God’s providential rule over all of history:

[Augustine believed that] ‘there is nothing that is not subject to the administration of divine providence.’  It appears in his earliest works, and later he devoted much thought to the problem of God’s continuing activity in everything that happens at any time.  The vilest and least significant of things as well as the destinies of nations; the crimes of men no less than their finest achievements are in the hands of the Lord of history.  In them all he is at work, though his purposes remain inscrutable.

– R. A. Markus, Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St Augustine (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 11.

The Parable of the Holy Trinity

In this excerpt, Augustine reflects on the inherent insufficiency of human language to capture the reality of the triune Godhead.  This is a helpful reminder that our feeble attempts to understand and elucidate the Godhead do not exhaust the ineffable reality that is the divine Trinity.  Yet we must make the attempt, lest that reality remain “wholly unspoken.”

[With regard to the Trinity, we say] one essence or substance and three persons: as many writers in Latin … have said, in that they could not find any other more suitable way by which to enunciate in words that which they understood without words. For, in truth, as the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father, and that Holy Spirit who is also called the gift of God is neither the Father nor the Son, certainly they are three. …Yet, when the question is asked, What three? human language labors altogether under great poverty of speech. The answer, however, is given, three “persons,” not that it might be [completely] spoken, but that it might not be left [wholly] unspoken.

– Augustine, On the Trinity5.9

God’s grace is not given according to the deserts of the recipients, but according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise and glory of His own grace; so that he who glorieth may by no means glory in himself, but in the Lord, who gives to those men to whom He will, because He is merciful … For by giving to some what they do not deserve, He has certainly willed that His grace should be gratuitous, and thus genuine grace; by not giving to all, He has shown what all deserve. Good in His goodness to some, righteous in the punishment of others; both good in respect of all, because it is good when that which is due is rendered, and righteous in respect of all, since that which is not due is given without wrong to any one.

– Augustine, The Gift of Perseverance, 12.28

Rhett Dodson, “Our Hearts, Desperately Deceptive“:

When [Diane] Sawyer was with ABC’s 20/20, she did an exposé on “Prostitution in America: Working Girls Speak.” It was one of the saddest television programs I’ve ever watched. … Why would beautiful and intelligent young women throw away their lives this way? “Glamour” and “money brings happiness” were prominent answers. Promises of glamour and happiness—the Devil’s counterfeits for holiness and joy—lured these young women into a lifestyle of emptiness and untimely death. …

I then thought about Augustine. It wasn’t his immoral lifestyle (he lived with a woman prior to his conversion) that made me think of him; it was his theft of pears. As a teenager, Augustine had crept into an orchard under the cover of darkness and stolen some pears. Why? He confessed:

“It was not the pears that my unhappy soul desired. I had plenty of my own, better than those, and I only picked them so that I might steal. For no sooner had I picked them than I threw them away, and tasted nothing in them but my own sin, which I relished and enjoyed. If any part of one of those pears passed my lips, it was the sin that gave it flavor” (Confessions, 2.6).

Had Diane Sawyer interviewed Augustine, his face blurred on the television screen but clear to the eyes of God, he would have said, “It’s not about pears.”