Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Loving God above all

From Augustine:
'What is the object of my love?' I asked the earth and it said:  'It is not I.'
I asked all that is in it; they made the same confession.  I asked the sea, the deeps, the living creatures that creep, and they responded: 'We are not your God, look beyond us.'
I asked the breezes which blow and the entire air with its inhabitants said: 'Anaximenes was mistaken; I am not God.' 
I asked heaven, sun, moon and stars; they said: 'Nor are we the God whom you seek.'
And I said to all these things in my external environment: 'Tell me of my God whom you are not, tell me something about him.'
And with a great voice they cried out: 'He made us.'
My question was the attention I gave to them, and their response was their beauty.'
Confessions, 10.9.

The sure path to idolatry

More from Weinandy on Athanasius:
This falling away from the vision of the good inevitably led human beings, Athanasius argues, to idolatry.  Having become consumed with earthly and bodily pleasures, human beings lost all vision of the heavenly reality. 
The soul no longer 'sees God the Word...after whose [likeness] (lit. 'after whom') she is made; but having departed from herself, imagines and feigns what is not' (8.1). 
'Truth' and 'goodness' are now solely, but falsely, perceived in the visible and earthly.  Thus human beings 'made gods for themselves of things seen, glorifying the creature rather than the Creator, and deifying the works rather than their Cause, Fashioner and Master' (8.3).
Athanasius, A Theological Introduction, p. 16

Monday, June 24, 2013

Shutting out the atmosphere of eternity

What is sin?  
It is the narrow, temporal, pursuit of pleasure, significance, and security, without and against our good Creator and Father

In his analysis of Athanasius' Contra Gentes, Thomas Weinandy's  makes some perceptive comments about sin and desire.  Listen to the notes that he strikes...pleasure, anxiety, security, temporality, delusion:
Sin, for Athanasius, is the turning away from God and all that pertains to him and a lustful self-centred turning inward to what pertains to man and his earthly bodily life with all its sensual pleasures.  Sadly, human beings became 'habituated to these desires, so that they were afraid to leave them' (Contra Gentes, 3.4).  Thus the soul anxiously feared death for in death all bodily lust and pleasures ceased. (Athanasius: A Theological Introduction, p. 15) 
For sin, to Athanasius' mind, is more than a turning toward and seeking after the sensuous things of the world; rather these are but symptoms of human beings being more concerned about themselves than they are about God. (p. 17)  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Still doing good

It is personally heartening to see my book Risking the Truth being recommended in the Spring 2013 edition of the Western Seminary Magazine.  The whole issue is on the subject of 'Contending for the faith without being contentious' and can be found here.

Against the Trinity

"It cannot escape observation that scarcely a heresy ever appeared which did not, when carried out to its logical results, come into collision with the doctrine of the Trinity at some point.  

Through the whole history of opinion, the ever-recurring fact presented to us is that, however a man may begin his career of error, the general issue is that the doctrine of the Trinity, proving an unexpected check or insurmountable obstacle in the carrying out of his opinions, has to be modified or pushed aside; and he comes to be against the Trinity because he has found that it was against him."

George Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, p. 5

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Folly and the Wisdom

Basil of Caesarea recounting his conversion:
—“I had wasted much time on follies and spent nearly all my youth in vain labours, and devotion to the teachings of a wisdom that God had made foolish. Suddenly I awoke as out of a deep sleep. I beheld the wonderful light of the gospel truth, and I recognised the nothingness of the wisdom of the princes of this world. I shed a flood of tears over my wretched life, and I prayed for a guide who might form in me the principles of piety.”