It Ain’t Easy Believing: Just Let Me Touch His Cloak

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It ain’t easy believing. Being a Christian can be a challenge enough for most of us who realize that we are not perfect and were not completely perfected by our altar-call conversion or adult confirmation in the Faith. We’re all screwed up on some level and God knows each of us all too well. His Grace allows us to fulfill the Christian destiny we are intended to realize through the commission and fulfillment of our lives. The necessary fulfillment of our natural destiny exists regardless of our sickly natures and the desire to live by the example of worldly leaders or materialism.

What makes it difficult to believe in today’s Christianity, as a whole, is the division, denominationalism, and radically varying interpretations of even basic Scripture. See generally, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_translations . Frankly, it seems that just the ongoing debate about ‘Faith Alone’ versus ‘Sanctification through Works’ is enough to get Traditionalists and Contemporary Evangelicals into a fight which arrogantly ignores the desperate pleas of those hungry for an undivided relationship with Christ. To put it bluntly, the blood-spray caused by Church infighting has unfortunately clouded the vision of those observers possessing a heartfelt desire for an immediate relationship with Christ.

In many ways, this repulsive division among denominations or individual churches is comparable to the story of the bleeding woman set forth in Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, and as described below where the Good News says:

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” [Luke 8:41-48].

As the fight between Traditionalists and Contemporary Evangelicals rages on, individuals, families and married couples are left to struggle amongst themselves as to where they fit into the picture.

Metaphorically, we are all left trying to touch the healing robe of Christ, while those in charge are trying to aggressively maintain crowd control. Christ is perfectly willing to heal any of us by individual touch, but it certainly does seem that the Church leadership is far more concerned about their Jesus being able to move through the crowd uninterrupted. Indeed, church leaders seem to feel that Christ is only fit to speak from their pulpit and no other. They seem to completely forget that He preached from the Temple, on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, on the Mount, and gave the ultimate sermon by his Crucifixion. There was no cathedral, there was no chapel, and there was no temple per se’.

Indeed, the story of the bleeding woman aptly describes Catholic believers, such as me, who are deemed to be out of the Church fold because I love and married a non-Catholic. I am considered to be out of necessary unity with the Church, and unable to touch the robe of Christ through the Eucharist, and the division has admittedly hurt my marital relationship at times. In fact, I cannot even demonstrate the power of the Eucharistic purpose because of the inability to participate in the Communion of the Church so that I might be able to be a good example to my family and to have reason to explain the deep and moving conversion of the heart realized through the altar-call that takes place at every Eucharistic Mass.

For those who immediately think that I ought to completely abandon the Catholic Church, I respectfully suggest that this particular call ignores our Church forefathers’ long history of Faith and practice (as consistently traced back to the Didache), it may be ignoring the literal translation of the Holy Act of the Last Supper, it fails to recognize the value of the Mass (as an all-senses experience of the Glory of Christ), and it fails to acknowledge the identity of a unified Church hierarchy as clearly set forth in Titus and elsewhere in the New Testament. Unfortunately, I think Evangelicals are apt to quickly forget that there was, and remains, an unbroken line of apostolic succession and a method of truth verification, which can be traced to Christ and his Apostles.

All too many American church-leaders have come forward, especially in the last 200 years, who maintain no respect for Church history, a lineage of theological analysis and truth, nor a respect for the basic practices of our Faith as described by the earliest Christians themselves. For some nondenominational pastors, if some portion or a personal interpretation of the Bible seems compelling to them, that’s good enough for the Flock. The sum Truth of the Gospels is vested in no man alone, whether he be the shepherd or the sheep.

Moreover, the ability to trace the internal and practical truth of the Good News exists regardless of the various mistakes made by the organized and human-led Church in the course of Man’s history. The fact that a human-led organization makes mistakes should be no shock to anyone. Along these same lines, critics of Christianity are always ready to point out that there are hypocrites in the Church (i.e., leaders who speak against a sin and commit it themselves). Make no mistake about it! The Message can be true and the messenger false.

Nevertheless, I fundamentally know that Christ would not have denied me his presence and healing on an individual level. If the Church’s leadership constitutes the Vicar of Christ on the Earth, why would it stop anyone from touching the healing power of Christ? If the Church be the body of its believers, how can it stop itself from touching Christ? Just like the disciples, it does not seem that the [c]hurch has the ability to stop a member of the crowd reaching out to Christ on an unmediated and direct level.

To those in Rome, your practices and your theology are correct in His Essence, but your failure to allow the meek and hurting to inherit the unmediated healing power of Christ is nearly a form of spiritual theft. Stop acting like crowd control officers. Christ himself has plenty of authority to allow his fans and followers to touch him and He demonstrated many times that He is also perfectly capable of deciding when to keep on going or whether to stop to help someone in pain. He didn’t stop and heal every person. Not only would this deny important parts of our God-given humanity, His conduct suggests that he knew there was a time and a place for everything and that not every person can or will set forth the legacy of His Truth.

With respect to the mixed-marriage issue referenced above, I am following the mandate of the Catechism at §§ 371-373 [duty to understand that man and woman are created with an inherent unity of purpose, that “God created man and woman together and willed for each other,” and, that they are to be united in transmitting life to their descendants].

In a society that is redefining the definition of the ‘natural family’ on a nearly daily basis, it seems that the Catholic Church ought to give some minimal thought to the idea that there are many Christian couples who aptly demonstrate the purposes of unity, marital sanctity, and holiness that God endowed in his creation of the male and female couple in the Garden of Eden. Should those committed marriages and families not be placed on a pedestal? Or, is it more important that the Church get its shot at nullifying the allegedly invalid marriage and getting the Church’s paperwork straight?

Instead, in this day, we are left with a Catholic Church who can barely define or restrict the sexuality or asexuality of many of its own priests, whose garments have been blood stained by the mortal sins of deliberate pederasty and pedophilia, and a confusing theology which denies men the very purpose set forth in the Catechism and the Bible itself. On the other hand, I’d like to believe that my years of faithful marriage to my wife, our daily work on the health of our marriage, and the four children we have been gifted with, are an apt demonstration of God’s Love as intended to be reflected through the unity of a family.

It is incredibly difficult to maintain family unity without spiritual unity. Once the family is destroyed in its spiritual unity, the natural consequence is a further destruction of society as a whole. The Church’s own failure to recognize the value of a faith marriage, even between those of different specific theologies, can be just as destructive as the division caused overtly by the Enemy.

One might say that spiritual division should not be caused by theological division, but it does seem that one’s theology will color one’s spirituality. Indeed, knowledge of the Bible can easily become a basis for liberation or an intellectual cause for rebellion. The rebellion comes from the flesh not wanting to accept the spirit as described in Scripture (regardless of the exact translation or version). I think most can agree that the basic message of Christianity is set out in the four Gospels.

More important, if the Church truly be the body of its believers, then the destruction caused by theological division and confusion leads to the very atrophy and potential death of the Church as a whole. It is not all that hard to believe that the rigidity of the debate between more than a hundred denominations in the United States alone could cause such havoc. Without a visible and unified Church in society, there can be no rational expectation that believers will be able to find solace in Her arms. The idea of a one holy and apostolic church was based on a solid understanding of human nature. At all times, humans must be led by something greater than themselves.

Those who followed Luther, and continue to do so today, have completely failed to recognize the value of this necessary posit toward true unity in faith. Allowing individuals to simply define themselves as “saved” without the knowledge of the Church’s history, developing philosophies, creeds of faith, and other essentials, is akin to allowing someone to practice surgery without any knowledge of medicine or the process of diagnosis. Again, being a Christian is not an easy task and Christ did not intend it to be so.

One need only review the Book of Matthew to quickly observe that a hefty number of mandated behaviors are described. In fact, He repeatedly describes acts or failures to act that could result in eternal damnation. Not once does he mention that a single altar-call serves as dispensation for the failure to abide in His direct commands. Nor should the Act at Calvary be readily confused or substituted by one’s own personal experience of an altar-call.

Not once does Christ say that all acts of Christian charity will be overlooked because one did not sign up with a particular denomination. The failure to act as a Christian will certainly lead to damnation. However, the commission or living out of different Christian acts by and between believers and others did not seem to be deemed relevant to salvation as defined by Christ himself. The Bible seems to acknowledge that we each have different gifts, talents, and modes of individual and collective worship, and spiritual celebration within our souls.

Nor does it appear that there was a complete and unequivocal forgiveness of all human sins at Calvary. Rather, it was made clear that certain sins could be “retained” by the Apostles, even after Christ left this Earth. What was made clear is that the Grace available upon voluntary remission of sins was all powerful, unlimited, and available for all of human history, until its Earthly end, moving forward from the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

Onetime altar-call Christianity does not neatly fit into this oft-ignored dimension of Christ’s life after Calvary. His comment about retention of sins was made after the Crucifixion and His subsequent Resurrection. See, John 20:22-23. This comment is essentially unaltered as between the King James, New King James, New International Version, and New American Bible.

It appears to be very true that Grace and Salvation are available to those who cooperate in God’s Plan, but it says nowhere that the life of a Christian is defined only by an altar-call. Also, I must say that I am tired of hearing non-Catholics accusing Catholics of not giving in to the plan of Salvation. Do they really know what it means to be confirmed as an adult member of the Church? Do they not see the value of the humble acknowledgment that “I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed” before doing a full altar-call through acceptance of the Eucharist?

Moreover, on some level it is probably true that one or more of the denominations are mostly consistent with what the Bible requires of them with respect to fundamental beliefs. However, it also follows that unity in any Church body requires that the congregants maintain similar beliefs and define themselves as a group by the same. Humans, to some extent, really do act like herd animals.

The consistent use of the terms “shepherd” and “flock,” throughout all versions of the Bible, aptly demonstrates the fact that our Maker is all too aware of our herding tendencies. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a member of the flock. All too often, atheists and agnostics accuse Christians of being too easily led. This ignores the fact that we are all apt followers of just about anything pleasing to the body, senses, or self-image. This includes the unbridled adoration of Evolutionism, Nature, or Man itself by so many of Christianity’s accusers.

All the while, we Christians (i.e., the Church) are expected to maintain a number of key beliefs about Scripture and, in many cases, about a specific theological set of principles. The key areas of concerns are seeming as follows: a.) How one is to achieve salvation from the bondage of sin; b.) What sacraments if any are required as part of the faith; c.) The degree and extent to which a Church hierarchy ought to control the dissemination of Scripture and the management of the practices of the Faithful. These views have a direct and, often, negative impact on the credibility of the Church or any organized religion. Most unfortunately, these differences can destroy families, individual Faith, and even nations as a whole.

Every single Church has its own unique view of what Christians are expected to believe about the Church and Christ. Each also has its own view of who ought to be at the helm of the Church. In the past, I have regularly attended Calvary, Catholic, Quaker, Revivalist, Assemblies of God, Southern Baptist, Pentecostal, Contemporary Evangelical, home churches, and denominationally vague churches. I could not find a single one that was willing to accept that the others were ‘just as good’ in terms of theology and each church body presented with a pastor, priest or other leader who was presumed to have the correct view of the life of a Christian. Yet, not a one of these was willing to acknowledge they could be wrong about their colleagues. Respective unities among Catholics and Protestants seem only to be maintained for the purpose of disavowing the other.

Catholics, Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants, Conservatives, Reformists, and Liberals all have their own views of how we ought to think about our relationship with God and how we ought to practice the beliefs we maintain.

The Red Letters are not incredibly instructive as to what the Church actually might look like in the 21st Century nor any other time after the ‘veil was torn.’ Furthermore, I am convinced, after reading through the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Luther’s Freedom of a Christian, that there is simply no way that Luther intended to destroy the entire hierarchical and historical infrastructure of the Catholic Church nor did he intended on diluting the importance of Christian works to the point that all that matters is our “faith alone.” Asking that Catholics leave behind the importance of “works” is akin to asking a surgeon to give up his or her scalpel. Asking that Protestants give up the altar-call is akin to asking the same physician to give up his or her reason for being a healer in the first place. See, Matthew 9:12.

In sum, just following the Bible’s Red Letters requires that we fundamentally change our lives and that we work toward being Christ-like. For me, anyway, this is a difficult task because I am not always loving, do not always stand up for what is right (even in public or especially in private settings), and, while I like many people, I have not learned to love them as Christ loves His people. I think we all desire a Church that will help us better lead the life of a Christian and which can act as a vicar for Christ here on Earth. Most people are not born leaders and need to become part of a flock to be naturally effective in their practical exercise of Faith and religious education. However, the Church does not have four walls per se and it is, without a doubt, made up of each of us as believers who may or may not regularly attend a given Church. Who among us will lead the need for unity in Christ, while not ignoring His lineal and eternal history?

As for me, just let me touch His robe. I’m bleeding.

Evolution and Creationism: Simple Truth

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The difference between Man and animal is that Man’s evolution is self-directed, but not self-created.  Rich Ackerman

Sharks and Lawyers: Study in Taxonomy

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Under peaceful conditions, a warlike man will turn upon himself.  . . . Nietszche

Lawyers and sharks, again. Bunch of ’em swimming in the pool of life with traces of blood in the water. The problem is that sharks have sharp teeth. With nobody but themselves or another to bite, everyone gets an infection after a while. Some lawyers, on the other hand, simply view their clients as the unfortunate minnows who exist between gorging sessions.

On the Ontology of Love

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Is there a thing called `love’? Is it an identifiable object in reality?.

There is but one real need of Man. It is the need to be loved and to be capable of loving others. Moreover, it is even more important that Man become cognizant of the agapic love extended to us by our Maker. Seemingly, Man has lost any conception of the experiential differences between filial, agapic, erotic, materialistic, and other forms of “love.” For this reason, the concept of “love” is one that is in need of a definition that can operate in a manner which makes divorce impossible, hatred a thing of the past, and in a way that brings an immersive sense of reality to the experiences that are said to be of “love.”

Indeed, when the term “love” is commonly used, it performs various functions and can be conveniently used in public settings. From an ontological perspective of sorts, this multifarious usage and function may very well lend itself to a coherent and objective meaning to this oft used term.

It will be accepted, for purposes of this piece, that so long as we can create statements about `love’ for usage, place the statement into public usage, and have it effectively understood by a listener or other communicatee, then the statement carries meaning and which has a truth value that can be understood by reference to corresponding experiences in the `real world’.

Simply, the term `love’ may rightfully be used as a substitute for a given set of experiences.

In fact, one might be found to say any of the following statements involving `love’:

A.) `I love my wife’ or `I love you’; B.) `I love my cat’;

C.) `I love Mozart’s Requiem‘;

D.) `I’d love to go to the park this afternoon;

E.) `I’d love to send every criminal to a labor camp’; F.) `I am in love’, or;

G.) `My love of “X” is unyielding and strong’.

Interestingly, “love”‘s usage, as elucidated above, can find its genesis in the following: a.) relations between two human lovers; b.) between a conscious human and an animal; c.) between a human and an experience; d.) between the subject and a nonmaterial desire or idea of the subject, or; e.) can be presented as an independent object or entity per se’.

In each of the above uses, the term `love’ is used in an understandable and normative way. There is also some identifiable `object’ of love in some of the propositions, whether it be an animate object as in Propositions “A” and “B” or, as an idea or experience as expressed in Propositions “C” though “E.”

However, in Proposition “F,” the term takes on an inclusive nature and quasi spatio-temporal quality in that the statement can be compared to a statement like `I am in this room’. The quasi spatio-temporal nature of the use of the term “in” seemingly lends credence to the idea that one might become `encompassed by’ or `surrounded by’ love in the same objectively real way that we might say, in spatial terms, of being “in” a forest. As well, the use of the term “am” in the phrase `I am in love’ ostensibly carries with it the temporal notion that there was a prior time that the declarant was not `in love’ (i.e., thus placing love `in’ time). With this in mind, the claim that a statement like `I am in love’ is less capable of a truth value than a proposition like `I am in a forest’ is unpersuasive. This position is more fully set forth below.

Nevertheless, in Proposition “G,” love is specifically used as an independent object and is described by adjectives. It is the uses found in Propositions “F” and “G” that are the subject of this chapter. The other examples will assist in the analysis of Propositions “F” and “G.”

The thoughts expressed herein serve to investigate the possibility that there is a corresponding object in reality to the term “love” even though we often speak of love as though it were a purely abstract or ethereal object or subjective state of mind.

If it were that `love’ carried with it only an abstract meaning, one might fall into the trap of having to always subjectively define it and would, upon mere employment of the term, fall into the realm of logical fallacy. However, common sense dictates that the common place beloved would hardly be found to be accusing his lover of equivocation, ambiguity or amphibologies when faced with the declaration that `I love you’.

In fact, it seems that the term `love’ does not have a perfect synonym and, being so, does not carry with it the possibility of being associated with anything else but that which it is understood to stand for in the ordinary course of usage as a word in language. As shown below, we come to `bump into’ manifestations of love much in the same way that we might come to experience a distinct piece of music. We only come to say that we are `in love’ when we are in the midst of those physical experiences which make for love. This notion is discussed below.

It must be acknowledged that we often use the term `love’ as though it were associated with a specifically identifiable object or set of objects in reality. Necessarily, we must examine the reasons for our usage of `love’ in this quite ordinary and understandable sense. It does not necessarily make sense to say that the word `love’ is philosophically clumsy in the same way that we might say the term `predetermined’ is. Simply stated, the term `love’ is not ordinarily used as a abstract term of art, highly technical term, or in some otherwise arcane sense.

`Love’, when used as noun in a statement, is a term very much like `freedom’, `opinion’, `falsehood’ or `success’. Each of these terms is capable of carrying with their common usage a corresponding set of observable events in reality. For example, if we were using the term `freedom’, we might very well associate this term with observable events such as a person be released from jail or a POW camp. As well, associations related to the uncaging of a bird or animal might be appropriate or we might even use it to take the place of a description of the conduct that citizens of the United States are permitted to engage in under the Constitution.

Where the difficulty arises is when we compare a statement like `Love exists’ to a statement like `God exists’. By virtue of the syntactical nature of these propositions, we might readily have to conclude that: A.) God and Love are existents; B.) Love and God are entities, and; C.) God and Love have a `quality’ of being or existence.

However, it might be claimed that this is not that same as saying that, “My cat named Nietzsche is an existent entity and has being.” Without much challenge, it can be readily said that the characteristics of the idea of a cat might be much more verifiable and correspondent to external reality. Yet, by the same token, it seems easier to say that `love’ exists much in the same way that a cat does for the reason that we seem to accept the notion that we can specifically identify instances of love. For purposes of this chapter, I shall not extend the same graciousness for the concept of `God’.

Nevertheless, I shall heretofore analyze the usage of the term `love’ and make some cursory attempts to identify its corresponding and observable characteristics in reality such to say that `love’ is a self-sufficient entity in reality and thus has the status of `being’.

As stated above, the term `love’ is often used as though it were referring, in some quasi-ontological way, to an object (i.e., My love of/for “X” or I have [a] love for “Y”). Upon introspection we find that speaking of `love’ might seem like talking about `God’, `virtue’, or the `devil’. Such terms manifest themselves as objects in our language in terms of how we speak about such ideas. Simply stated, one would not reasonably expect to touch or physically sense a `virtue’, `God’ or `devil’. Nevertheless, it does somehow make immediate sense to say that we might physically experience a thing called `love’ in the world around us.

In some sense, `love’ maybe an object in the sense that a piece of music maybe considered to be. Certainly, the proponent of a proposition like, `Mozart’s Requiem is a musical composition’ would not be expected to visually point out a thing identifiable in reality as the Requiem. Rather, he would be asked to play a recording of the musical piece or might be asked to attend a concert where it is being played. At some point in time, there would presumably be played or sung an identifiable series of musical notes or choruses which correspond to the listener’s idea of what it is to hear the Requiem and so make it publicly identifiable as such and give the term `Mozart’s Requiem‘ a function in communicative discourse.

The series and sequence of particular notes and choruses become the necessary and agreed upon conditions for the identification of particular piece of music as a unique object in reality. As well, the temporal occurrence or recordation of this particular sequence and series seemingly allows for a readily identifiable object in reality which corresponds with the idea of `Mozart’s Requiem‘ and linguistic propositions about it.

Alternatively, love, as an identifiable object, might also very well be like a university with satellite locations. One might not be able to point to any one given location or building to identify `the’ university, but would not deny the existence of `the university’ as a thing in the real world (Space & Time). Nor would it be necessarily said that the person had not `seen the university’ or that they did not `know what the university was’.

It is by coming to know the conglomerate of certain observable characteristics or identifiers, existing in space and time, that we come to know of things like Mozart’s Requiem or a university and come to accept them as uniquely identifiable things in the world. It is by this acceptance of coming to know things like a musical composition and universities that we do not deny that such things exist. With this notion in mind, some consideration should be given to what might be possible identifiers for an object known as `love’.

In terms of lexicologic definitions of the term love, one is left with word associations such as “passion,” “personal attachment,” “warmth,” “deep affection,” “concern,” “strong predilection,” “benevolent affection,” “reverent affection,” “pleasure,” “enamored,””sexualintercourse,””adore,” “worship” and other various words.

The accepted singular presence of any one of these states of mind or conditions does not allow one free rein for the use the term `love’. If the presence of any one of these states were sufficient for the use of the term `love’, then one would be left to ask why it is that one would not simply use a base term like “passion.” Rather, we seem to want to observe other public things or conduct before we are willing to say that `love can be found’ or that `they are in love’.

By way of analogy, it would not make sense to refer to the Requiem by mere reference to the words “Mors stupebit et natura . . . ,” introits or kyries, or E and G notes on a musical scale. It is only by understanding the particular series and sequence of words, choruses, rhythms, and musical notes that Mozart’s Requiem stands in place of.

Analogously, the singular use of a term like `adore’ doesn’t have the primae facie quality of being functionally synonymous to `love’ in terms of its usage: Nor do haphazard conglomerates of such terms allow for a primae facie justification for using the term `love’.

Perhaps paradoxically, it does not seem that one would be justified in saying something like, `Well, love is all of these things’. This position allows for the claim that if any one of the base terms is missing, then the term `love’ cannot be used. For whenever the element of, for example, “passion,” were missing from the event described as `love’, one would be left to come up with an alternative term since the `whole of love’ would be lacking. However, by way of former analogy, it would nonsensical to claim that Mozart’s Requiem had not been played by an orchestra and chorale merely because they had missed one note or did not sing its verses.

Word associations, even if taken together as parts of a whole, would not result in a workable and consistent use of `love’ nor could one construct a strict and consistent rule allowing for such use. It does not make sense to say that `love’ is somehow the sum of its constituents or parts. We want to say that love has its own distinct identity and has a general substance known to those who have experienced it. Certainly, propositions about one’s `love’ of an idea or desire cannot be said to be associated with “sexual intercourse” or be considered as part of what it is to be a “sweet heart.”

Further, it doesn’t seem that `love’ could be put to meaningful use unless there were some criteria or rules for such usage (i.e., `expectations’ regarding appropriate public identifiers for usage of the term). I personally accept it that: The truth of a proposition like “I love you” is dependent upon the necessary and agreed upon conditions for usage of the term `love’. If one is able to identify these conditions for proper usage, then perhaps a rule can be `discovered’ which allows for an understanding of a corresponding object to the term/idea.

In order to construct a workable rule that would allow for the consistent usage of the term `love’, one needs to consider the oft claimed notion that `love’ is subjectively defined.

In the context of interpersonal `love’ of another human being, one’s concept[ion] of `love’ may be dependent on and defined by one’s expectations about `intimate’ relationships. The usage of the term may differ in various cultures, groups, localities or religions. As well, one’s background could be rightly expected to color their usage of the term “love.” But, what are these `expectations’? They can only be the occurrence of physical manifestations of a public thing which can be mutually identified just as the Requiem might be.

One person’s usage of the phrase “love for another” depends on the ability to have honest and open communications with another which eventually result in a `comfort level’ allowing for physical contact. It may be enough that they are engaged in sexual activities in order to allow for such use. Or, it may be that a combination of the above criteria would be appropriate for one to initiate usage of the term “love.” As well, one human being merely being designated by another as `family’ is sufficient to allow for `love’s usage. (I.e., status-based bestowal).

The person who believes that earmark of love is the ability to `openly communicate’ with another would necessarily be expecting something entirely different when juxtaposed to the person who bases their conception of love on sexual intimacy. The person whose usage depends on a designation of `family’ would necessarily expect something quite different.

For the `communications person’, a length of time may be needed before the usage of the term “love” may be applied. For another, mere biological activity (sexual stimulus and response) would be a sufficient criterion for such usage. One is expecting a comfort level in communication; The other merely expects physical sensation. Yet, the person requiring a designation of `family membership’ may only expect the birth or adoption of another.

In terms of each human’s usage, it must be recognized that there exists a definable series of physical events and observable items in the external world which are used as identifiers for a situation in which the term `love’ might find appropriate usage.

It is of no import that, two persons might have their own agreed upon conditions for its usage. The mere fact that both parties can find something within the scope of public discourse, which acts as an identifier of something deemed `love’, gives credence to the notion that there is a thing called `love’ in the public world.

Certainly, the mere fact that another person and I could come up with a new `code word’ for identifying and conveying a sense of the mutual experience of hearing the Requiem, would not change the fact that a given series of musical notes, choruses, and related events had existed in the public world and rendered itself capable of our recognition and having the ability to be made a part of that which is public. Moreover, it is only by the experience of hearing the Requiem that we come to know `what it truly is’. In this spirit, I claim that we can only come to know `what love is’ by experiencing whatever it is that we come to talk about as `love’. Fulfilling our God-given destiny requires that we actually develop an attitude toward love that will bring us to it

The Freewill Problem

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The free will/determinism debate is central to my sense of self and any real notion of moral accountability or salvation by Faithand surrender to our Maker’s Divine Will. If all is predestined, moral accountability makes no sense. Freedom only makes sense in a world where Man is left some discretion even in the face of determinate epistemeological factors. For this reason, before we can claim to be moral, we need to achieve some understanding of the bounds and nature of the free will-determinism debate.

This said, the genesis of any perceived problem in the concepts of free will or determinism is rooted in our human frailty and epistemological blindspots. In other words, there are things that we simply cannot know because of our limited human disposition. It is also likely the case that God has limited our perception in order that we might be able to demonstrate a responsible stewardship over the gifts He has given to us. There is also an inherent problem of the inaccessibility to a language adequate to describing the subtle truths that we do claim know. Even so, Martin Luther, came extraordinarily close to giving a good description of what the problem with free will really amounts to.

Luther essentially upheld a loose doctrine of predestination. He was logically bound to accept this position since he believed that faith is a gift from God that cannot be derived from the human condition ab initio. For Luther, the human condition is inseparably bound to sin. Paradoxically, however, Luther did feel that Christians were truly free in the earthly world since they are spiritually bound to serve no worldly leaders.Any possibility for free will must exist at the level of one’s spiritual attitude toward their human condition and existence.

Luther’s position is naturally consistent with his opposition to salvation by works since indulgences and works are, by their very definitions, voluntary acts of the will and subject to weighing by the scales of moral accountability. Indeed, the importance of the acts of the will were made the subject of the Bull of Pope Leo X at item numbers 4, 5, 9-14, 17-22, and 31-32.

Indeed, Catholicism, EasternOrthodoxy, and similar frameworks rely on the notion that we choose to act toward our salvation and that condemnation comes through the voluntary decision to disavow a commitment toward good acts. The sacrament of confession furthers the belief in freedom of the will by encouraging the idea that priests can voluntarily participate in the absolution of sin and can voluntarily control the contrition process.

In many ways, Luther forcefully took away the free will of both priest and penitent. No longer could either justify themselves before God: God would have to justify them before any act, however great or minimal, would be ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ “Since then works justify no man, but a man must be justified before he can do any good work.”

Naturally, the above theological dilemma leaves one to ponder several key issues. They are as follows:

• If God predetermines everything, can He or does He therefore participate in the process of evil to the extent that He knows of every evil act before its commission?

• Can God be held to a moral accountability for that which He created?

• Is each person condemned to predetermined selection to the ranks of those who are to go to heaven or hell? In simple terms, are we all unknowingly labeled as being bound for heaven or hell?

• Does our Maker’s omniscience completely preclude any substantive notion of human free will? How can one make any meaningful deliberate and free choice where our choice is already known by a higher being?

• Can God exist in a state of scientia media or does his omnipotence require a state of static scientia visionis? Do both God and Man possess and regularly utilize simple intelligence (awareness of possibility / simplex intelligentia) to the exclusion of higher forms of omniscience or knowledge?

• How can we be held accountable for moral decisions where we have been given no choice as to the ultimate/known outcome of our worldly existence?

• Is the Divine Will of God mutable by human choice? In other words, can the omnibenevolence of God in the act of creation and its aftermath be simply overcome by man’s simple will?

• Can faith be a voluntary act of Man by which moral accountability might begin?

• Can Satan have a meaningful existence where Man has no freedom of the will? What purpose could evil have if all is done and said in the omniscience and infallibility of our Maker?

• Most importantly, is Faith a surrender of the will for a higher liberty afforded by the Grace of God?

Simply, free will is a highly elusive concept that defies pragmatic, material or spiritual explanation.

Firstly, to the extent that we are caused by something other than ourselves, free will can only be an involuntary effect or happenstance. True freedom would have to exist separate from its cause or origin. We did not choose to have free will and thus cannot claim to have any objective understanding of it, assuming that such a thing existed.

Secondly, most of our actions are inexplicable and it would be arrogant for us to take credit for whatever thoughts or actions we might take. Any true choice assumes the existence of deliberation. If something has been deliberated, the deliberative process can be remembered and reiterated. Most of us cannot explain our actions, words or beliefs by reference to conscious deliberation. In any instance where we cannot explain our actions, we are hardly in a position to make a claim of human volition as a motivator or primary cause.

Thirdly, a material or atomistic view of the world compels one to the belief in determinism. Seemingly, free will cannot be derived from the workings of individual atoms no matter how complex their arrangement with each other. Even if free will could be the byproduct of our biological/atomic composition, we are still not free from the fact that we could not have chosen it. As such, freedom is clearly bounded at best and cannot be attributable to human origin or derivation.

Lastly, just because we may be able to imagine the existence of free will (i.e. God’s Will) we cannot lay claim to true freedom for ourselves for the foregoing reasons. Our ability to envision a state of being is simply not the same as being able to possess it. Our human limitations are so obvious that it, again, seems arrogant that we should even remotely believe that we are free.

In sum, in order to make sense of whether or not humans have free will, the only possible source of an answer comes from thinking about that which must have created us. In other words, coming to understand moral accountability can only be derived through contemplation of the source of our morality. God is the source of all morality and Faith is the only way by which any man can come to knowledge of what is right and wrong.

Living In An Active State of Be-ing

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“We didn’t come into this world — we grew out of it, in the same way that apples grow out of an apple tree. And if apples are symptomatic of an apple tree, I’m sure that after all, this tree apples — when you find a world upon which human beings are growing, then the world is humane, because it humans.” Alan Watts

This section of thought focuses primarily on whether or not we can make what are best characterized as “philosophical mistakes.” In order to determine whether this is possible, I rely on Martin Heidegger’s claimed distinctions between historical reflection and historiographical exploration and the implications thereof. This chapter is directly inspired by his thoughtful works set forth in the Basic Questions of Philosophy.It is oft claimed that people are capable of making the same philosophical mistakes that other before us have made. For this reason, we are told that we are to avoid independent thought and that we are to focus on the fateful mistakes or slight intellectual victories of those who came before us. This is devaluing to the human spirit and its capacity to understand the humanly perceived universe. We do not need history to confirm the existence of truth or falsity in philosophical revelation.

I am of the opinion that philosophy only arises from one’s mere human be-ing. As such, there is no need to regress into the past to understand what is now unfolding before me in my current and future being. The past is no condition (logical or otherwise) to understanding that one is human/contemplative being and, because of one’s humanness/contemplativeness, that there is a cognitive ability to reflect on our state of being human. Moreover, reliance on historiographical considerations is indicative of the belief in the notion of `philosophical mistakes’ — a notion that is based on a `correctness of the assertion relative to object’ basis for truth determination.

As a general matter, I believe that contemporary academic philosophy is so busy focusing on what was said in the past or how it was said that the academicians of philosophy have forgotten or overlooked what it was that was being talked about in the first place — our mere human be-ing (i.e., human existence). One need not be an academic historian, philosopher, linguist or logician to realize that we are human beings and, as such, carry within us the clues to the ground of our humanity inasmuch as we are a part of the ground.

PHILOSOPHY AS ESTABLISHING A GOAL: SCIENCE AS A DISAVOWAL

It should be first noted that Heidegger claimed that philosophy has its power in establishing a goal for all of man’s reflection and to place a “hidden sovereignty” in the “history of man [emphasis added].” To wit, “The grandeur of man is measured according to what he seeks and according to the urgency by which he remains a seeker.” Nothing could be more true.

Natural science nor logical principles /methodology will place any such sovereignty in our history. In fact, science is a “disavowal of all knowledge of truth” according to Heidegger. The goal of science is a striving for a complete “technologizing in order to proceed to the end of their course, laid down for them so long ago.”

This inability of science to place a “sovereignty” in the history of man is for the reason that “truth” is a matter of the process of seeking at the level of the ground for our being — it is not a methodological progression from a set and determined point or accepted truth. We, in scientific thinking, seemingly forget that philosophy should “respect form less than substance.”As well, it is ostensibly forgotten that, “The incident follows the principal, and not the principal the incident.”Simply stated, scientific thinking is a mere incident of our human be-ing — science is seemingly a wholly empty concept without precedent human thought grounded in a beginning and/as future.

In this same vein, science also serves to act as a refutation against the simple claim that, “[The way human beings are] formed calls into being the phenomenon of light, and sound, and weight, and color, and smell. [emphasis added].” Simply stated, scientific thinking dictates that our be-ing acts as something subservient to the external regardless of the contention that there is an ultimate ground of being in which we and our empiricism are rooted.
Furthermore, “Truth” is not a mere matter of accepting that certain truths exist without reflecting upon the ground from which such `self evident’ or `a priori’ truths might arise.

The scientific disavowal of truth, by bald acceptance of certain `logical truths’ or `laws of nature’, is highly notable in the thinking of contemporary logician/linguist Willard Von Orman Quine.71 Notwithstanding, science posits no goal for all reflection as does philosophy in the Heideggerean sense — Heideggerean reflection constitutes a knowing by questioning itself without root in accepted truth or objectification.

TRADITION AND NECESSITY

Traditionally, philosophy has committed itself to establishing the `basic problems of philosophy’ or designated `branches of philosophical discourse’. These problems, branches or objectifications include logic, ethics, metaphysics, aesthetics and other objectified conceptsor accepted areas. Yet, as in science, these areas have been “frozen as questions, and it is only a matter of finding the answer or, rather, modifying answers already found, collating previous opinions and reconciling them.”

This designation of accepted areas of thought is a limiting factor in reflective thinking in that they bound the scope or range of philosophical questioning even though it is the very process of questioning that is perhaps the goal of philosophy. The accepted areas of inquiry are only afterthoughts to one’s or man’s initial coming into being and the reflective realization that one is a being and within being. However, it must be admitted that the positing of certain accepted areas of philosophical inquiry is not arbitrary or capricious in that such positing has a long history.

This traditional mode of philosophical inquiry has its ostensible roots in a `correspondence theory’ of truth and as such becomes a “problem of logic.” Yet, and quite appropriately I believe, “It could be that the presuppositions of all logic do not permit an original questioning of truth.” After all, even the basic propositions of logic originated in man and thus have a superseding ground — the ground from which man is compelled to question and posit logical principles in the first place or primordial sense.

To return to the ground, according to Heidegger, is to engage in an historical confrontation with Western philosophy. However, this can be no mere historiographical confrontation or, in other words, revisitation, perceived correction or collation of past thinkers’ world views or creations (as objectified). The historical and historiographical are conceptually different.

With these important thoughts in mind we may now proceed into a discussion of what history and historiography might be and what role they play in our positing of the goal of philosophy.

HISTORY VERSUS HISTORIOGRAPHY

Historical reflection relates to questioning at the level of the `simple’ or that which in its mere being compels us to extend our thinking about being, to elaborate, to reason and posit, and to depart from that which prompts our questioning being. It is not a revisiting of accepted truths or beginning posits as abstracts.

This `simple’ is the ground of/for/underlying truth under any standard of determination or comparison for determination of the `true’ versus the `false’. However, this `simple’, because of our firm ostensible rooting in accepted truths of logic and the like, is not as conspicuous as one might desire. Yet this `simple’ is what brings us to the “arena of the necessary” in terms of the goals and aspirations of humanity.

“We have to strive for a genuine experience of what is compelling us toward the question of truth.”What is meant by a “genuine experience” is an experience that is unadulterated and unaffected by our ready acceptance of logical/analytical/scientific truths or historiographical objectifications. Man as history (or “a being that perceives beings” and engages in the process of future-ing), and beyond mere `correctness’, relates to a unitary openness toward all that is `being’ as things (the questioned), the questioner, the region between the questioner and the questioned, of the questioner relative to that which is questioned, and between questioner and fellow questioner. “This openness is therefore the ground of the possibility of correctness and as this ground it is something worthy of questioning and inquiry.”

Historical reflection is the destination of a road which is defined by the creative or revolutionary question of truth that asks about truth as the essence of that which is true — this road is the “return to openness as the ground of correctness.”This questioning is searchful and permeating in nature in that it is fueled by a desire to pursue that which is “correct in the sense of that to which all commission and omission and all judgments about things are connected in advance, that to which our historical humanity is attached. [emphasis added].” The question seeks to find the essence of `true’ and not a mere abstraction of what it is to be true.

In historical reflection we are seeking the event-ing process within human history (as the course of events) and not the mere events precipitated by being and the essence underlying human event-ing. History is the happening or event-ing as the unfolding of the future.87 After all, “The future is the beginning of all happening.”

For this reason, however, the beginning is concealed inasmuch as the future is yet to unfold and remains concealed.History is now future and, thus, beginning. As such, “This does not allow itself to be “considered” [or “explored”]; instead, we must “reflect” on it. We have to be concerned with the meaning, the possible standards, the necessary goals, the ineluctable powers, and that from which all human happenings begin.”With all of this said, it must be noted that historical reflection is bound to the past more stringently than historiography in that such reflection remembers that “the past is one and the same as the future . . . ” As well, according to Heidegger, historiography is not dispensable or useless in that we are supposed to protect ourselves and our revolutionary historical reflection from “an often ignorant and weak limitation of the past . . . ”

Historiography can take place in an exploratory revisitation of the thinking and world views of past thinkers and tradition(s) of thought or can take the form of an exploratory consideration of the past “from the viewpoints and according to the standards of the living present. In doing so, the past is loosened from its frozen state and is related to the present and made contemporary.” However, one is not assured that present thinking can, in any way, be commensurate or comparable to the past. “[T]radition,” is not a foundation. Nevertheless, the present may only be a conglomerate of all that was and, in this sense, is as frozen as the past itself.

In the above light, the appearance of human progress becomes an intoxicating distraction away from the ground of our truth seeking being. Yet, progress is only a further extension of the artifices/objectifications of man that have already been projected or abstracted out of a forgotten ground. Historiographic explorations are not geared toward the finding of a meaning in being or the original/genuine experience of a questioning state — the event-ing within being. These explorations merely serve to discover springboards or significant events for `new’ extensionally based thought in the present.

This “extension” from basic posits and presupposed logical/analytic truths, at the `core’ of an ontology, is highly glorified in the analytic tradition of Willard Von Orman Quine.The finding of a particular event (For example: The initial act of positing of the statement, “All `A’s are `A’s,” now objectified as an analytically true statement) now becomes an accepted object, objectification, abstraction, truth or beginning of truth as opposed to reflection on the process of event-ing that brought about the evented posit in the first place.

Heidegger has stated that, “The return to the Aristotelian doctrine is not to be a mere historiographical consideration but a historical reflection.” We are to seek the ground for Aristotle’s “positing of the correctness of the assertion as the essence of truth . . . ” Further, we are told by Heidegger as follows: “Historical reflection will question the basic experience and basic conception of the Greeks, or of Aristotle in particular, about “nature,” the body, motion, place, and time. And historical reflection will recognize that the Greek and the Aristotelian basic experience of nature was of such a kind that the velocity of the fall of heavy and light bodies and their belonging to a certain place could not have been seen otherwise or determined differently than they were. A historical reflection will realize that the Greek theory of natural processes did not rest on insufficient observation but on an other — perhaps even deeper — conception of nature that precedes all particular observations.”

From the standpoint of historical reflection, the advanced modern science of nature is not a whit more true than the Greek; on the contrary, at most it is more untrue, because it is altogether caught in the web of its own methodology, and notwithstanding all its discoveries, it lets escape what is genuinely the object of these discoveries: namely nature, and man’s relation to it, and man’s place in it.”When reflecting on these comments by Heidegger, I am compelled to ask myself the following questions:

● Am I required to be a historian to be a philosopher or theologian?
● Am I required to even know about Aristotle to be a philosopher?
● Are there philosophical or theological mistakes to be avoided?
● What is a philosophical mistake or ignorance?
● Can I avoid philosophical errors/ignorance, if there be such things, by engaging in philosophical-historiographical explorations?
● Isn’t my contemplative be-ing enough of a basis for philosophical thought?
● Is it not possible for God to speak directly to me and others? Did God stop speaking at some point?

To each of these questions, excepting the last, I answer with a resounding “NO!!!”.

Seemingly, even Heidegger has objectified the seeking process of the Greeks and placed it on par with historiographical consideration. Heidegger seems to be further overlooking the ostensible reality that Aristotle, as a man/human being, shouldn’t be said to have a different essence in form or substance than Heidegger himself, the reader of this chapter, or myself. Should one assume that each individual thinker has an individual essence as a conditional to being a `seeking being’? Am I to presuppose that there are millions upon billions of individual essences having come into being and now having passed from being before I came along?

We each, in our mere be-ing, have the faculty to seek the ground of our individual existence since our thinking is within our existence — a human existence — a questioning existence. That I question is enough to compel me to the belief that I am capable of philosophizing. Inasmuch as one’s mind may only be a tool — it is a tool that forges existence. For what else does the tool have to work upon? Moreover, it may be very well that we cannot describe the tool itself or the exact nature of the substance (existence) being worked upon, but we can describe our experience of using the tool and the effect or lack of effect that it had upon/within existence.

I fail to see how an understanding of Aristotle or another’s traditional thought is necessary to historical reflection. Each human in the present is no less a part of the future as history than Aristotle, Heidegger or any other human thinker. We cannot speak of any objective qualities to Aristotle’s thinking or mind processes in that we only have left an objectification of his thinking — an edifice based upon historiographical considerations and mere speculation on history. Instead of attempting to step into his mind’s be-ing, perhaps we should each step into our own mind’s be-ing — we are just as close to the ground of our being as those who preceded us.

It is ludicrous to assume that those wholly unfamiliar with philosophical tradition are less capable of philosophizing and directing their thought toward the ground of being and truth. Such criticism of the unlearned smacks more of academic egocentricity than of being on the road to truth as the essence of that which is true. Perhaps, by Heidegger’s own arguments, such unlearned persons would be closer to the truth than those well versed in philosophy since such a person would have less undoing to perform in terms of appropriately excising themselves of the metastatically cancerous tumors of thought associated with accepted philosophical tradition, accepted philosophical posits, and a keen sense of the history of philosophy.

As indicated above, Heidegger felt that historiographical consideration was important for avoidance of ignorance and weak limitations of the past. This claim wrongfully presupposes the notion of the possibility of philosophical mistakes or weakness.

I dare submit that such a notion is a preposterous one. Against what standard shall we say that one has made a `philosophical mistake’ or is `philosophically ignorant’? Shall our standard be based on a `correspondence theory of truth’ relative to the objects or objectifications of the field of logic (of which we have already rejected out of hand)? Or shall our standard of correctness be based on one’s being? If so, whose be-ing shall be the determinate one? May I not be in possession of an unverified truth? If the ground has not yet been uncovered/unconcealed, how shall I know of the falsity of a philosophical claim or the presupposed ignorance underlying such a claim? Does Heidegger not commit us all to the possibility of universal ignorance in philosophical questioning?

Inasmuch as there have been many a night where I laid my head to rest with a serious and unresolved problem in mind and awoke to a workable `true’ answer without a clue as to whether it was logically based or not, I am convinced that philosophical truths may be gained in the same conceptual fashion. Such concealed methodology(ies), if there be such a thing, to determining truth often exist without explanation or need of explanation. Being itself becomes the definiens, methodology and explanandum.

I have long been of the opinion that books can prove to be an obstruction to philosophy as a search for the ground of being and truth. I have been of this opinion for the simple reason that study of what `was’ requires a rather unfortunate regression and diversion away from that which prompted me to question in the first place. This regression is a denial of my own ability to think on a par with Aristotle or others although realizing that we are/were all human and that philosophical thought on what is true is probably grounded somewhere near (metaphorically speaking) to the same place the shared commonality of all questioning men is located. I would rather not spend the time on regressing into thoughts about what tradition dictates to be the commonality amongst myself and others.

Before me unfolds an incredible world, full of millions of minds and events and an ever present event-ing process, providing a source by and through which I may make such grandiose considerations about the ground of truth and being — I may even find instructive commonalities among those who are amongst me in my be-ing. I refuse to relegate my contemplative being-ness to the ink-on-paper objectifications of the `great thinkers’ and only arrogance could compel me to believe that `I think like them’. The quite humble realization that I am a questioning being, in my own process of be-ing, and the occasional fervor with which I question is enough to compel me to believe that I am engaged in historical reflection and future-ing.

Thoughts on Revelation …

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“There is a great advantage in proving the existence of God . . . by means of the idea of God. For the method enables us at the same time to come to know the nature of God, in so far as the feebleness of our nature allows. For when we reflect on the idea of God which we were born with, we see that he is eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, the source of all goodness and truth, the creator of all things, and finally, that he possesses within him everything in which we can clearly recognize some perfection that is infinite or unlimited by any imperfection.” Renee Descartes

What was arguably learned from the Catholic experience is that despotism by Scripture or Papacy is not the best way to find the Christian ‘experience’ or to share it with others. Religion begins with an internal desire for God’s Grace and a willingness toward the rejection of sin.To wit, the following position on the Friends’ Movement is well stated:

“From what I have said . . . we are dealing with a type of religion which may appropriately be called mystical. This word is a loose and fluid one. It has various meanings. I am using it to signify that God is essentially a God who reveals and communicates Himself, and man is essentially a being with spiritual capacities and therefore susceptible within himself to the “radio activity” of the life of God.”

On an earthly level, it seems fairly obvious that there must be an inclination toward Scripture before it can even become meaningful to the believer. This initial inclination must be on an inward spiritual level. Even if Scripture awakens the Spirit within us, the Spirit is spatiotemporally primary. There must first be a Spirit to receive the voice of Scripture which is, by its nature, external to the Spirit that accepts or rejects it.

Whether one is Christian,Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish or otherwise, I think one is forced to accept that there is something within our internal human constitution which makes us capable of accepting or rejecting theological thought. It is this element of our humanity where religious aspiration can begin. If we deny our own internal capacity for understanding our Maker, we render ourselves open to the inherentfalsity of a merely propositional religion. To be truly free in philosophy and basic humanity, we must form our own spiritual postulates before becoming amiable to those of higher human/fleshly authority.

Being, for the most part, a radical empiricist, I am inclined to say that our Faith is a purely experiential matter that is indeed primary to the Reason that may be presented by way of Scripture or fellowship. Faith (after experience) is like a flame placed upon the kindling which is our physical body and physical experience— Fellowship (with the entire human community) and Scripture become the fuel for a full illumination of the world in which we move about and through which we can become morally accountable to our Maker.

Nevertheless, one might well argue that if one is capable of having knowledge of the Scriptures, then one has knowledge of God. The interaction with the Scripture itself could be deemed to be the ‘religious experience’ per se’.

In fact, an Evangelical might well argue that a face-to-face confrontation with Scripture is the only ‘true’ religious experience worth theological mention. However, what the person does with the experience, in terms of conduct and judgment, may render inconsistent observations on the part of the beholder of such a person. In other words, the hypocrisy of higher human authority goes a long way to destroying the notion that Scripture, as presented by Man, must be the only source of Divine Revelation. Perhaps it is at this level, of the acknowledgment of rampant hypocrisy, that moral accountability can begin since our acceptanceorrejectionofdirect religious/theophanic experiencebecomes the touchstone for what determines ‘moral’ conduct.

It is probably also the case that we are held to a higher standard of accountability once we have had the ‘religious experience’ and, then, reject or ignore the knowledge gained from the experience. I have to believe that those unfamiliar with such experiences, if this be fully possible, cannot be justly held to the same standard of those who know then reject.

In this regard, the general revelation that I aspire to can be controversial as it infers that there may be adequate grounds for coming to understand the nature of God within the parameters of human reason. To the extent that human reason is itself God given, I personally see no need for theological concern. In my view, we must trust that God will not allow our reason to be taken to any place that we cannot voluntarily return from. This is much in the same sense that we should not be tempted beyond what we can handle.

The choice to sin or to deviate from the ‘natural light’ of our reason becomes a voluntary aspect of our humanity — not a frailty in the gift of reason or conscience. As indicated below, I do not believe that we can use humanly derived fears about deviations from Scripture as a firewall between God and those that he, within his exclusive omnipotence and omniscience, may wish to speak to in a manner other than that which was chosen for us.

I certainly do think that the acceptance or rejection of God is a moral activity of each individual’s spirit and mind. The rejection of God bears a direct moral cost.Similarly, the acceptance of God would render moral reward. In this sense, Faith and Revelation become moral behaviors at the level of human acceptance or rejection. By “behaviors,” I do not mean conduct in a physical sense. Rather, I mean the mentalistic and spiritualistic mechanics of acceptance and rejection of inward revelation. The physical works that flow from this acceptance or rejection become the touchstone for moral accountability and judgment before our Maker.

Now, I am aware of other criticisms that one might well level against the notion of ‘inward revelation’. It may be contended that this presupposes a purely subjective standard upon which one might determine the nature, veracity or quality of the ‘religious experience’. One might even wish to supplant Scripture as the tether upon which our inward revelations are bound. I am inclined to reject this notion.

It seems to me that the ‘revelations’ to Adam, Moses, Saul or others, are indicative of an open and quite direct communication line between the created and their Creator. But for the receptivity (forced, voluntary or otherwise) of Saul, Moses or others, the word of God would not have borne out the effect that it did. In order to have an open line of communication, it seems that there must be an initial acknowledgment of the fact that God is indeed speaking to or through one’s spirit/person. This initial acknowledgment and acceptance is a revelation involving fear, immediacy and a need for further responsive behaviors on the part of the person being spoken to by God. Certainly, we are not more or less human than Moses or Saul. We probably just to a better job of failing to be receptive to our Higher Destiny and God’s call to each of us.

Indeed, the receptivity and responsiveness of a Man becomes a manifestation of Faith and acknowledgment of theDivine acting within us. This is not a subjective matter since we do not nor can we claim accountability for the initial stimulus that leads us to an acknowledgment of a Divine interaction. Either we have had an experience or not. If we cannot claim credit or identify the specific origin for the stimulus, then we can only attribute the experience to God or the evil one. In either human event, the validity and nature of the experience are purely objective.

We cannot be mistaken about the raw experience of revelation. It seems that only our interpretation, judgments and receptivity can fall prey to subjective standards. Indeed, when dealing with the raw experience of God, regardless of the form of manifestation, we are certainly not left to the analytic frolics and detours that human language may make of our experience. One must also acknowledge the role of one’s ego and inclination toward spiritual vanity in assessing the meaning and impact of a direct one-on-one with God’s divine act of Revelation.

For this reason, amongst others, I must very respectfully submit that Scripture cannot ever bear the same qualitative primacy as the initial religious experience which prompted the actual writing of Scripture. Language, whether Greek, Hebrew, English or Latin, leaves room for ambiguity. This ambiguity can be compounded by the passage of time and the separation of others (through time, voluntary conduct or controversy over translation of Scripture) from those who originally had a direct interface with God. Further, one must have an experience of acknowledgment of God or a need for God before Scripture could ever possibly have an effect.

On a separate, but important, tangential point, it seems rather inconsistent with God’s omnipotence that we should ostensibly require God to speak to us through Scripture. The primacy of God’s power over all must necessarily overcome any conclusion that Scripture must be the only or primary way that God might speak to one.

Seemingly, it would be rather arrogant of us to presuppose that we might have the full intellectual authority to bind others to the conclusion that Scripture is the only way that they can come to know God. It is this very type of spiritual despotism that gave rise to the Protestant movement in the first place. Rather, we must kneel before the fact that God is not so limited — He speaks to his people in ways that are not and cannot be categorized or specifically delineated by purely referential treatments.

Certainly, we must all admit of the fact that He did not speak to Moses, Abraham, the Apostles or even us in the exact same fashion or with the exact same content. In Barclay’s Apology, we are even reminded that God obviously would not be limited in His ability to reach disabled and illiterate humans. No single man or church can place one over the other in an advantaged position when it comes to the Word of God as expressed through God’s Revelation. The Holy Spirit can speak directly to any one of us at a time appropriate to the Providence and Judgment of our Maker.

With the above points in mind, I think that it must be properly conceded that God reserves and bears the ultimate right and characteristic of being able to speak in a manner befitting only to Him and which may well lay well beyond our comprehension. Who might we be to so arrogantly limit God’s methods of speaking to any one of us or his People as a whole? It seems that it can be rather cogently argued that the whole of our human experience is a direct communication from God since he is the maker of all that is and can be perceived by us.

In this regard, certainly one might have accused the Jews of spiritual arrogance by pointing to their rejection of Christ as Savior. Were they not presented with a ‘new’ language from God? Were they not strangers to the ‘new’ and ‘vibrant’ way of speaking chosen by God? Was it not that Christ was a physical manifestation of God’s revelation to man? Should the Pharisees, Sanhedron, Priests, or others have precluded the possibility of a new ‘religious experience’ beyond that which was provided in the Old Testament? We must readily concede that no one could have precluded any method, mode or messenger chosen by God.

It makes no theological sense to limit God to methods of communication which remain palatable only to our tastes, desires, weaknesses, and perceptions of the world. We can only remain accountable for rejecting or accepting the modes that have been Godchosen for us on a personal level. If it be that Scripture was God’s way of reaching any one of us, then we must remain fully accountable to Scripture and, in this sense alone, Scripture may assert a necessary primacy in our lives.

Certainly, Moses was in no position to bear accountability to the primacy of Christ’s teachings, especially those which may have ‘changed the rules’. Moses and his people could only be accountable for those manifestations/revelations of God as chosen for them at that time and place. Religion should not be merely seen as the “concept of faith as intellectualadherencetopropositionalbeliefs.” Unfortunately, ‘religion’ has generally become just this.

As stated above, the traditional role or authority of priests and pastors propagates the a merely propositional religion whose ultimate message comes not from within but from the human purveyors of any given set of written or memorialized religious propositions. Again, the self-explanatory life of Christ and His unobstructed presence within each of us is the essential and only necessary religious proposition and the apodeictic response thereto.

Man truly need not bring to God what God already understands through the miracle and direct testament of His creation and the work of His Redeemer. We can only be accountable for our spiritual health or lack thereof before God since these are the only things left to the ostensible discretion of man. “Religion is the work of man. It is something for man to do. It consists in obeying God. It is man’s duty. It is true God induces him to do it. He influences him by His Spirit, because of his great wickedness and reluctance to obey. . . . [U]nless God interpose the influence of His Spirit, not a man on earth will ever obey the commands of God.”

The only possible avenue for truly mistaken theology has to be on the level of one’s philosophy. However, there isn’t much room for philosophical error since philosophy brings Man closer to his Maker. It is only in the development of propositions about philosophical experience that we fall short and commit what might be called “mistakes.”

Day in the Park -- Deep Green

Day in the Park -- Deep Green

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