Monday, May 21, 2007

Being Triune

A (perhaps faulty) assumption I have in my consideration of the Trinity is that we can observe some qualities in our own being that can be applied to being in general. Or, in other words, since we are made in God's image we can partly conceive of God's Being by analyzing the nature of our own being. But, to be sure, I do not think that God can be fully apprehened, especially not by the intellect alone.

I'd like to look at Descartes' (pronounced ''day cart'') famous affirmation of being: Cogito ergo sum. ''I think, therefore I am.'' After realizing senses can deceive Descartes said that the only proof for his existence is his awareness that he is a thinking entity. He stated that there is one thing he cannot be seperated from while retaining his being, which is his thoughts, because by them he knows that he exists. By ''thoughts'' he meant that which a being is immediately conscious of. Now, I'm not specifically concerned with Descartes' proof alone but with the necessary elements at work here.

First, you need a willful source from which the thought proceeds; namely, in this example, Descartes' will.

Second, you need the object in which and by which the will manifests itself. In other words, you need content which becomes the substance of the will. In this case, it was the words, ''I think therefore I am,'' which was the something that Descartes was immediatly conscious of that showed him his own being. Without this content the will has no grounding in existence. Having no form or substance the will does not exist; indeed, nothing exists without either form or substance.

Third, you need the power or ability to produce the thought without which Descartes could not affirm his own existence. Ignoring the contradiction for the sake of example, let's see the opposite of his axiom: ''I cannot think therefore I am not.'' In other words, without the ability to give substance to the will, neither can be said to exist.

Now, for a thought experiment, let's place Descartes' affirmation of being before the beginning of the universe. He, having never experienced anything other than his own being, cannot affirm or substantiate his own existence except by what already constitutes his own being. And, we have already seen the existential necessity of a willful source, a substance and the ability for the will to substantiate itself, so to say that a being exists indepedent of and before everything else is to say that it inherently contains within itself those three necessary elements.

To put it another way, for Descartes to willfully proclaim ''I think therefore I am'' before the beginning of the universe, the will must be Descartes, that sentence must be Descarte and the ability to produce the sentence must be Descartes. It would be illogical to isolate any of the three elements as independent ''parts'' of Descartes because by the dynamic, interdependent relationship occuring among them the fullness of his being is realized and his existence is possible. Descarte the willful source, Descarte the sentence and Descarte the ability. Each is Descarte but each is not the other.

To anyone familiar with Christian doctrine the correlation between this illustration and the Trinity should be apparent:

The willful source is God the Father.

The sentence (or the Word) is God the Son.

And the ability is God the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

And What is a Temptation?

The Temptation of St. Anthony by Dali

This post is in response to a friend that asked me what temptations I was resisting.

Upon accepting Christ the Son of God as Lord and Savior all my past, present and future sins were washed away out of God's sight; all He sees in me now is His Son. He paid the debt I could never pay by His death on the cross, He took the death I deserve and conquered it by His resurrection. And thus I have been justified, I am acceptable in His sight by my faith in Him. Beyond that saving faith I cannot be any more or less saved. BUT, at the core of my being I have received God's Holy Spirit, His life. That life desires to burst forth from the core of my being, but I know I can be quite stubborn and I often do not allow Him full reign. He seeks to express Himself in all that I think, say and do. That life-long (often painful) process is known as sanctification, which is a bi-product of being saved and a direct result of a personal relationship with God.

This, by the way, was one of the major points of contention in the Reformation. You are not saved through doing good works and being a good person. You are saved by faith in Christ, and that genuine salvation produces good works. It's an inside-out process.

For me, a temptation is anything that is contrary to how God wants to express Himself in me. A temptation is not only something that I should not do. It can also be anything that I do not do that I should do according to His will for my life. And it can be just about anything. The only reason I fail to do God's will is because I do not always actively put faith in Him. I often do not acknowledge that God is GOD, and that He is good, and that His will is the best possible thing for my life, for the lives of others and for His eternal kingdom. He is the almighty God of heaven...if only I could lean on that notion always and completely.

I know this might not be the answer that my friend wanted, but any specifics I might give about what temptations I battle with is ultimately irrelevant compared to what I have said. The question you should ask yourself is "In what way am I currently resisting God?"

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Living Faith

I have recently made great strides in resisting temptation and I'd like to relate to you exactly how, in my personal experience, it is done.

As a caveat, I must say that I did not feel that I needed to resist temptation to ''earn points'' with God or to become acceptable in His sight. That work was done by Christ on the cross, which applies to me because of my faith in Him. Instead, I felt a strong desire to resist temptation out of my love for God and His love for me. So, just as you might want to obey a loving parent, I wanted to grow closer to God by doing His will and getting rid of things that hindered our relationship and harmed me. As a different picture, I am like a sprouting sapling that wants to grow around opaque objects toward the light.

So, here is the Christian formula for resisting temptation as I have experienced it:

1.) Know that resistance is impossible without God.

2.) God, in any situation you're in, has given you sufficient grace to resist the current temptation.

3.) Have faith that God's grace is sufficient.

4.) Your faith in God is the open channel through which God fills you with the power to resist.

So, you are NEVER in a situation wherein you can't resist through faith in God. BUT to make that applicable, you must believe it. Your ability to resist temptation is in direct proportion to how often you actively and practically put faith in God. This is the living faith that every Chrisitian should cultivate. It is our struggle, but it is the good fight. It is our expression of love for God; it is our glorious approach toward the light.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lewis on Eternity

Since starting this blog I've tried to write something on the nature of eternity, but have never been completely satisfied, so the topic continually troubled me until I read this quote from C.S. Lewis from The Great Divorce.
"Ye can know nothing of the end of all things, or nothing expressible in those terms. It may be, as the Lord said to the Lady Julian, that all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. But it's ill talking of such questions."

"Because they are too terrible, Sir?"

"No. Because all answers deceive. If ye put the question from within time and are asking about possibilities, the answer is certain. The choice of ways is before you. Neither is closed. Any man may choose eternal death. Those who choose it will have it. But if ye are trying to leap on into eternity, if ye are trying to see the final state of all things as it will be (for so ye must speak) when there are no more possibilities left but only the Real, then ye ask what cannot be answered to mortal ears.

Time is the very lens through which ye see — small and clear, as men see through the wrong end of a telescope — something that would otherwise be too big for ye to see at all. That thing is Freedom: the gift whereby ye most resemble your Maker and are yourselves parts of eternal reality. But ye can see it only through the lens of Time, in a little clear picture, through the inverted telescope. It is a picture of moments following one another and yourself in each moment making some choice that might have been otherwise. Neither the temporal succession nor the phantom of what ye might have chosen and didn't is itself Freedom. They are a lens. The picture is a symbol: but it's truer than any philosophical theorem (or, perhaps, than any mystic's vision) that claims to go behind it. For every attempt to see the shape of eternity except through the lens of Time destroys your knowledge of Freedom."

Monday, March 26, 2007

by W.B. Yeats

Sailing to Byzantium

THAT is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Stolen Child

(Shores of Ireland)

Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
- W. B. Yeats

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dead Give-Away

Here's an article about a baby that was pronounced dead and, thirty minutes later, starting breathing again. Astoundingly, doctors said there was no brain damage. Without any scientific explaination for events like these can they be considered evidence for miracles?

Link: Baby Brought Back to Life

"'This case clearly represents nothing short of a miracle', said Dr. Gregory Fontana...''