Thursday, February 15, 2007

eternal truths?

"The Christian religion, then, teaches men these two truths; that there is a God whom men can know, and that there is a corruption in their nature which renders them unworthy of Him. It is equally important to men to know both these points; and it is equally dangerous for man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness, and to know his own wretchedness without knowing the Redeemer who can free him from it. The knowledge of only one of these points gives rise either to the pride of philosophers, who have known God, and not their own wretchedness, or to the despair of atheists, who know their own wretchedness, but not the Redeemer. Let us herein examine the order of the world and see if all things do not tend to establish these two chief points of this religion: Jesus Christ is end of all, and the centre to which all tends. Whoever knows Him knows the reason of everything.
Those who fall into error err only through failure to see one of these two things. We can, then, have an excellent knowledge of God without that of our own wretchedness and of our own wretchedness without that of God. But we cannot know Jesus Christ without knowing at the same time both God and our own wretchedness.
Therefore I shall not undertake here to prove by natural reasons either the existence of God, or the Trinity, or the immortality of the soul, or anything of that nature; not only because I should not feel myself sufficiently able to find in nature arguments to convince hardened atheists, but also because such knowledge without Jesus Christ is useless and barren. Though a man should be convinced that numerical proportions are immaterial truths, eternal and dependent on a first truth, in which they subsist and which is called God, I should not think him far advanced towards his own salvation.
The God of Christians is not a God who is simply the author of mathematical truths, or of the order of the elements; that is the view of heathens and Epicureans. He is not merely a God who exercises His providence over the life and fortunes of men, to bestow on those who worship Him a long and happy life. That was the portion of the Jews. But the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of Christians, is a God of love and of comfort, a God who fills the soul and heart of those whom He possesses, a God who makes them conscious of their inward wretchedness, and His infinite mercy, who unites Himself to their inmost soul, who fills it with humility and joy, with confidence and love, who renders them incapable of any other end than Himself."

I just started reading some Pascal the other night and he says some interesting things about Christ. Often times I wonder why I read so many accounts written by man concerning the nature of God, and I so very seldom read the bible. I can't answer the question completely, the bible is hard to fathom, and it is hard to apply. It is very distant and unreal to me when I read it. When I read of other people's understanding of God, it makes God real, maybe the literary technique, or maybe it's just the fact that if a normal person can gather these ideas, then why can't I? It's some sort of fallacy. It's like I don't know how to read the bible or something strange like that. I've been having a hard time making sense of anything, my mind seems to exist in some fog where any lead I have on a breakthrough merely ends up at a point of contradiction, nothing is connecting. I'm adrift in some current circling an absolute truth, which by definition itself can be understood as a paradox. The "leap of faith", the fact that God will never be understood, and yet, we are to have faith in him. We are to put faith in something we don't understand. I can say that I believe that God loves me, but those are merely words. Kierkegaard talks about the idea that having faith (by defintion of "faith") implies doubt at the same time. It would not take faith to believe in something you can not doub (like the objective), a rather rational way of looking at it perhaps. God is simple, and he is just as complex. I'm just a ball on the end of some tether in space, miles and miles of rope twist and knot and swirl all leading back to the one thing I can't deny...God as the center of reason and motive, and love. This cognitive awareness is a handicap.

"For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either. The ends of things and their beginnings are impregnably concealed from him in an impenetrable secret. He is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness out of which he was drawn and the infinite in which he is engulfed."

10 Comments:

Anonymous Michelle said...

I agree with you! The bible is oftentimes to vague and extremely open to interpretation. I always feel like interpreting something wrong would be a disaster, too. I've been reading The Secret Message of Jesus and The Mind of God by Davies, and I can tell you that having certain ideas laid out in a way that is easier to understand has truly helped me to expand my comprehension of God and faith as a whole.

4:36 AM

 
Anonymous MIchelle said...

* The Secret Message of Jesus - by Mclaren. Forgot to add that ha.

4:38 AM

 
Blogger Andrew plays music a lot said...

it stinks that things are confusing.. i certainly know how that goes. But i wouldn't get too frustrated. There are 2 things i think we forget a lot when it comes to understanding God and the bible. 1) Trying to find God or to understand him more usually implies the need for more than one mind to contemplate. It's hard for us individually to understand God because at the core of who He is is a relationship, so i think the easiest way for us to come to understand God is through relationships that focus on the same goal, knowing God. 2) Faith is a gift. It's easy to forget to ask for it, but Christ says ask and you will receive. If we ask for faith, He will give it to us.

sorry it took so long... hope that all the things that go into getting ready for the tour are going well. I'll shoot some prayers up for you. -Andrew

11:40 AM

 
Blogger Melanie said...

I don't have much trouble with reading the Bible and understanding much of it, especially the New Testament. I can certainly say that I cannot totally understand the infinite being finite myself nor have I solved all of the mystery's in it. I'm not sure why it seems sometimes more difficult to pick up the Bible to read just the same. Perhaps it is that it cuts so to the heart. It takes thought. I can't just whip it out and read it, I want to study it. It's much easier to read what someone else has written because it takes less effort. That might not be how it is for others, but it most definitely is the obstacle for me. Yet, when I read it, there is quite often nothing more encourging. Romans always blows me away everytime. I think it is my favorite section to read.

The citation you posted is amazing. I love it. I am currently (and almost finished) reading, "Story: Recapturing the Mystery" by Steven James. It is more simply written, but the theme of understanding your wretchedness and exactly what it is that Christ has done and sacrificed for us are key themes of the book.

--Melanie

2:03 PM

 
Blogger Grover said...

"God is simple, and he is just as complex."

This is the part that I have been strugling with so hard lately, I may have told you before about a book called "dear mister God, this is Anna." by Fynn.
I'm reading it for the seccond time, because I find that I understand A book better when I read it again and I see more details.
but anyway, the story is about this little girl, who completely understands the ways of God, and there is no doubt in her mind about Him..
What I admire most about her is that she can see all of God's complexity and at the same time He is so simple and true to her.

I wish I could always live like her, by this book I started to uderstand what Jesus meant when He said that we should have faith like little children.
That is what I try to do and I'm finding out that everything gets more and more clear to me, it also makes it easyer for me to read the bible.
There are A lot of days where I find myself trying to find out who God is exactly, I get frustrted because I know could never totally figure him out [which is also good I think] but then Jesus comes along and I can let go of it all. This week I've really had a lot of letting go time, it was great! I really love Jesus.

I am not entirely sure why I'm telling all this [as usual] but this is what came to mind when I read your blog, and I thought maybe it would be of help.
If not, thanks for letting me share my story anyway. :]

5:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

have you read "I and Though" by Martin Buber?

6:09 PM

 
Blogger Lorenzo said...

Nothing to say except I know how you feel...I think.

11:05 PM

 
Blogger Peter said...

Zach,
I know what you mean about how reading the Bible can be disheartening. I grew up in a Christian home and felt extremly disillusioned sometimes. But hear me out when I say that the Message Remixed is astounding. It has changed the way I read and understand God's word.

Just a thought,

Peter

8:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but you know..the bible was written by man also

11:17 PM

 
Blogger Ethan said...

It was written by man, but inspired by God.

1:25 PM

 

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