Today is the anniversary of Blaise Pascal's night of fire. He turned decisively from the god of the philosophers and found Jesus Christ, the true and living God:
The year of grace 1654
Monday, 23 November.
From about half past ten in the evening until half past midnight.
'God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob,' not of philosophers and scholars.
Certainty, certainty, heartfelt, joy, peace.
God of Jesus Christ.
God of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God.
'Thy God shall be my God.'
The world forgotten, and everything except God.
He can only be found by the ways taught in the Gospels.
Greatness of the human soul.
'O righteous Father, the world had not known thee, but I have known thee.'
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
I have cut myself off from him.
They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters.
'My God wilt thou forsake me?'
Let me not be cut off from him for ever!
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.'
I have cut myself off from him, shunned him, denied him, crucified him.
Let me never be cut off from him!
He can only be kept by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Sweet and total renunciation.
Total submission to Jesus Christ and my director.
Everlasting joy in return for one day's effort on earth.
I will not forget thy word. Amen.
0 thoughts on “Not the god of philosophers”
Thanks for this. What a great moment when a man who had perhaps the finest mind of his age realised that any god who can be known without revelation is no god at all... that Jesus is the beginning and end of all wisdom and knowledge.
The god of the philosophers is the great idol [and idle], for the western world over the past 200 years. It is a god that says nothing, does nothing and demands nothing. It is a god who is absolute, infinite, 'perfect', supreme, uncontained, unlimited, transcendant, the first cause, the end of all things... and utterly irrelevant, unconvincing, unlovely, unbelievable, unmoved and unmoving, far away and far fetched.
When we come to Jesus, He is so completely awesome, lovely, frightening and worthy. He turns our expectations around in every direction. With the Father and the Spirit He is the One Living God, who acts and speaks, loves and weeps. He does whatever He pleases and no one can even question His actions, and yet He listens to our prayers and answers them. How far beyond all comprehension Jesus is! How near and yet how far! He was touched and handled, inspected and questioned... and yet He has a Name that no one knows but He Himself. He strides through history knowing the end from the beginning, and yet He shares the everlasting life of the Father with us, allowing us into the joyful anticipation and ever-living hope that eternally bubbles up in the life of the Trinity.
When I turn to philosophy and try to find secure ground under my feet, I find myself sinking. Each human argument melts away into culture, history, opinion, perspective etc. Yet, when I come to those Gospels, as Pascal said, there is a Way, a Truth and a Life that is the Rock - solid and secure, personal and available.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
When I was a little boy I could not understand how you could take 3 away from 2. It seemed so illogical and absurd. Then, I was introduced to the idea of negative numbers and a whole new way of thinking was opened to me. The same experience happened many times as I grew up, as unimagined vistas of thought opened up with each new paradigm shift of possibilities. What was once unthinkable became so obvious with the new horizon.
Of course, we reach a point in our education when human thought has reached the end of its creative abilities and there are no new horizons available to lift us to new ways of comprehension. The limits that melted away with the new paradigms as we were being educated now stubbornly remain, seemingly unmovable because there are no 'teachers' or 'adults' who can show us amazing new ways of seeing. Yet, deep down, we surely know that we are all still the three year old children with such clumsy and limited ways of thinking. We surely suspect that just ten minutes with the Glorious Ascended Jesus would blow apart every paradigm we have, every limit we have reached, every 'rule' that seemed so secure.
At the end of the day the apparently awesome god of the philosophers is all too human. It is all that Feuerbach accused religious people of. The god of the philosophers is a projection of human concepts of knowledge, power, eternity and justice. It is human, all too human.
In Jesus, we are lifted to such a different level of thought and life. The old logic, the wisdom of the flesh [as impressive and ancient and respected as it is] is left blinking and bewildered... protesting? [sure], comprehending? [no!].
The god of the philosophers is said to be All Powerful. Is this not a common truth? No! The kind of power that the Father exercises, through the Son, by the Spirit is nothing like the tyrannical power of the philosophical god. Is the god of the philosophers powerful enough to become flesh and die, powerful enough to genuinely respond to prayer, powerful enough to rule the universe by the sprinkling of His blood, powerful enough to not only number the hairs on our head but also take on all our cares because He so cares for us?
I remember years ago, when I was ill, having a kind of internet forum debate with a man who now runs a leading Reformed website. It was so strange - and taught me lessons that I needed to learn about how easily I could be misunderstood. For him the greatest threat was from the open-theists; whereas for me the greatest threat was from the gods of the philosophers/Islam. We spent so much time speaking past each other - each believing the other was a kind of heretic. For him, the emotional life of God was weakness and played into the hands of the open-theists. When I said that the Living God was more emotional than us, he thought that I was claiming that the Living God was moody, emotionally unstable, subject to erratic passions, volatile and uncertain! He was so hesitant to ascribe anything other than absolute, unmoving will to this Supreme Deity. [Looking back, I was unwise in my use of the word 'emotion' when it was causing such misunderstanding. The Puritan distinction between 'emotion' and 'affection' may well have cleared up much of the confusion]. When I said that the Father was on the glorious throne of heaven, he was outraged that I could ascribe any kind of form or location to the 'God'. It was almost a physical shock to me to think that a fellow believer would relativise all those basic Christian confessions as 'anthropomorphisms' because they were so difficult to fit into the pattern of classical theism. Yes, I was foolish and unwise and stupidly provocative [I'm sure]... and yet even now as I look back I could not agree to the kind of philosophical god that controlled his thought at that time.
I understood what he was worried about, and yet he was falling constantly into the equally terrible trap of the god of the philosophers. The god of the philosophers simply does not look, sound, speak, act or exist like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This is not to say that we abandon any attempt to think about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Quite the reverse. Rather, we abandon any starting point outside of Jesus Christ and the Bible... and instead we begin that really profound, cosmic, earthy, holistic, rigorous thought that has captured the greatest minds and elevated the simplest.
As Pascal said, this is all about Jesus. If we try to go around Jesus and access 'god' directly we are doomed to wander aimlessly around in a maze of abstractions, fear and ideas that cannot change a single life. Yet, when we come to Jesus; come to that Person [rather than an idea]... or rather when He comes to know us and we meet with Him in a genuine personal relationship, joined to His family, walking in His ways... glory; fire; joy!
This is very interesting. I have recently myself in the past two years had the whole foundations of my faith completely rocked as I discovered that my doctrine of God was essentially that of the philosophers. Retelling everything in Trinitarian terms has been such a life-changing experience (huge thanks to people like Donald Fairbairn, Dan Hames, Glen, Mike Reeves for aiding me in this journey!), it feels like coming up for air! All of a sudden there is beauty and sweetness where before there was a lot of dryness and bewilderment.
One recent observation - the integrity of which I am still trying to establish - has to do with the popular evangelical perception of "holiness". While I have always been taught it purely in terms of "separateness" from sin (since this works well philosophically), it seems that this definition on its own is not only insufficient but serves to undermine the whole purpose of holiness itself.
Let me explain... As far as I can tell, whenever holiness is discussed in the Bible, it is never divorced from community. So in holiness we are not called simply to 'be separate' from sin but also to 'cleave to' God (through Jesus by the Spirit) and to one another in the community of faith and "this" is what true holiness is all about.
In other words, holiness is not simply about avoiding/shunning/separating from sin - it is about separating from sin 'in order' to participate in trinitarian community, which is driven by love. In 'this' sense, not only is the exclusive understanding of holiness as "separatedness" insufficient, it is damaging. It makes God out to be a prickly, country-club snob. Yet again, the God of the Bible is (rightly) not given a hearing, because the God of philosophy has taken his place and it is not the Triune God being represented at all...
Completely agree with the relational aspect of holiness. My current working definition for holiness is something like loving right relationship. Since sin destroys right relationship, holiness is consequently opposed to sin.
Any definition of holiness which is dependent on sin (hating sin, separating from sin etc) begs the question of whether God is holy before Genesis 3 or merely has the potential to be holy.
I've not heard of Donald Fairbairn or Dan Hames - where should I start with reading them?
If you click the link a little above and to the right of your post called "Breeze of the Centuries", you'll be on Dan Hames' blog.
Josh, sounds like a great start. It's further than I have got at any rate :-) Excellent observation also about God being holy before Genesis 3! I hadn't actually thought of it in those terms before, although I certainly had felt the implicit unease associated with this issue.
You can find Donald Fairbairn on Amazon - he's written a few books on the church Fathers and the Trinity. I don't think Dan has published yet but he does have a blog worth checking out - it's actually on the blogroll to the right, under the name "Breeze of the Centuries" :-)
I should also add to the list Dr Lane Tipton (lecturer here at WTS Philadelphia). Since I've been here, he's officially rocketed into my list of theological - and godly - heroes!
The 1st Day of Creation. (see Adam Clarke's commentary concerning Light & Fire) (The Messiah, "The True Light" will baptize with the Holy Spirit and Fire"!)
"The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of GOD moved upon the face of the waters." (Gen 1:2)
Then GOD spoke HIS Word into being.......
"Let there be Light"!
And "There was Light".......(Gen 1:3)
And such 'Light' was to be, and is, Eternal!
So it is that Hope is Alive!
Even though this wicked world begins and ends it's day in darkness it is good to realize that the 1st Day of Creation, although begun midst the darkness, ended in 'Light'! (Gen 1:5)
And such 'Light' was not the sun, moon or stars for they were not created until the 4th Day. (Gen 1:14-19)
GOD's Word "Let there be Light" became "The Light which enlightens every man born into the world" and was "the glory The Messiah had with Our Father before the world began".......(John 1:9, 17:5)
LIGHT Begot Light.......
LIKE Begot Like.......
The Messiah, "The Light of the world".......(Jn8:12)
The Messiah, "The beginning of The Creation of GOD".......(Rev1:1, 3:14)
The Messiah, "The Son of The Living GOD".......(John 6:69)
And Our Father, HE "created all things by(of, in and thru) The Messiah".......(Ep3:9)
The 1st Day of Creation.
"And GOD called The Light, Day, and the darkness HE called night. And the evening(darkness) and The Morning(Light) was The 1st Day." (Gen 1:5)
Now if the beginning can not be 'seen' nor understood, then what of the end?
Confusion would reign! And today confusion does reign midst the religious systems of this world, for apart from "The Light" there is only darkness, "the blind leading the blind" ;-(
And the Apostle Paul saw "The Light" that is The Messiah on the road to Damascus:
"At midday, O king, I saw in the way a Light from Heaven, which was above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
And when we had all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.
And I said, Who are you, Master? And The Messiah said, I am Y'shua(for He spoke in the Hebrew tongue) Whom you are persecuting". (Acts 26:13-15)
GOD's Word "Let there be Light" became "The Light which enlightens every man born into the world", "The Light" that is The Messiah, and was "the glory The Messiah had with Our Father before the world began".......(John 1:9, 17:5)
Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world and it's systems of religion "for the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one", indeed and Truth.......(1John 5:19)
Truth IS, a lie never was and is not.......
Abide in Truth.......
Throughout the Scriptures, there is overwhelming evidence that the trinity is a purely theological doctrine, a.k.a., the "forbidden fruit" (Gen. 2:17), responsible for displacement by the church of the timely universal self-revelation of God (Jer. 31: 31-34) as unmistakably powerful "life-giving Spirit" or critical mass, in Christ's death on the cross (the "tree of life"), for the transformation of lives (John 3: 1-21).
The choice is between self-revelation of God and trinity. The former is the exclusive source for endless growth in his grace and knowledge; the latter a dead end (Matt. 13: 11-12). AMEN.
Would you provide any scriptural evidence to support the claim that Genesis 2:17 is a reference to the catholic doctrine of the Holy Trinity?
The passage that you cited from Jeremiah 31 is specific as to "a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah". How do you understand this as "universal"?
Even if one knows nothing of Christ's atonement, isn't Paul correct in Romans 1:18-21 when he describes, in your phrase, the "universal self-revelation of God"?
At the Last Supper, in his Upper Room Discourse, why did Jesus spend so much time speaking to his disciples about the mystery of the Holy Trinity? Was he speaking to them then in parables? Is that what you have in mind by your Matthew 13 reference?
I found your blog while searching for more knowledge of The Word. I've been a Christian for 40 years, but had fallen away from Christ to the point of death. Since April 7th at midnight through the night of October 27th I was sick and out of my mind for most of each day. On the night of October 27th, all night, Christ dealt with me. I finally confessed with my mouth all of my sins to Christ and asked for and received forgiveness. He immediately began healing me from brain damage, surgery, addiction to alcohol and pain medicines, and constant never ending pain that has lasted for 12 or so years. Prayer is continous as is study. Christ is in control and directing me daily. I've said all this to help you understand that I lack the depth of study of those that are corresponding with you.
After reading your website, and the words of those writing to you, I have learned that I did not know what I did not know. This aside, thank you Francis for pointing out the words in Genesis, I've read it many times but never grasped the difference between the Light and the sun, thank you.
Now to my lack of knowledge, the discussion of interpretation feels to me like the Jews of old whom Christ was crucified by. It feels as if someone has become caught up in their own significance as a Bible scholar instead of being filled with the Holy Ghost and being about GODs work. As a very unknowing, uneducated person when I read these discussions it feels as if someone that is in need of salvation and is being spoken to by Christ will turn away and say I will have nothing to do with these Christians. I have heard and through limited reading that Christ requires faith and that the balance of any discussions of Mary being the mother of God or the mother of Christ, or
whatever the next theological argument is, is moot.
Are we spending too much time debating our superior knowledge and not doing Christ's work?
Appreciate your responding to my comment.
To war against the spirits that possess those held captive by the religious systems of this world is Our Father's work(Will) and as The Messiah did, so also will His brethren desire above all else "Father, not my will, But THY Will Be Done"!
To do the work of the "imag"ined pagan catholic/chrisitan "jesus christ" is to do "d"evil's work!
Hope is that one day your eyes would be opened to The Truth concerning pagan catholicism and her harlot christian daughters.
We can both be thankful for The Wonder Working Miracles we have experienced, for Miracles can deliver one from the clutches of 'christianity' and all other systems of reliigion that are of this wicked, evil world.
Wanted to mention that i strive only to declare that which is of The Truth and i cry unto Our Father to help me not to enter into discussion and debate concerning that which is of The Truth for Truth can not be proven, Truth must be received! And those who have not received "the love of The Truth" not only "can not be saved" they can not receive of The Truth ;-(
i believe it is quite clear that i am at war against the spirits that permiate pagan catholic/christian folklore(they call it theo'ry'logical doctrine) ;-( So it is that when such is published i will post a rebuke if led to do so.
May we share only that which we have "seen(experienced) and heard(recieved) so that we might have fellowship one with the other".......
Father Help! and HE does.......
Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this wicked, evil world and it's systems of religion....... francis
Francis, I have nothing nothing more to say except "AMEN" over and over again! God bless you.
No faith is secure if it rests only on our own assertions and speculations. The foundation of the catholic faith is the knowledge of God, who Christ has revealed to us is "one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity".
The scriptural imagery of "light" is so powerful, because we are by nature filled with delusions. When the morning star dawns, our faith begins with the belief that the true God who Jesus reveals actually exists. God's being is in trinitarian communion, and we too partake of eternal life by knowing the only true God, who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
"And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?"
We'll leave the light on for ya—and"...Christ will shine on you."
woldeyesus and francis - I can't help but wonder if have fallen for a god of philosophy - a different one to the standard one, but one nonetheless. I find your comments often hard to follow (speaking as someone who can normally get a series of connecting points not greatly expressed as that's how my brain works), but they superficially look great, with the quasi-biblical nature, but I dig a little bit deeper and all I see, and likewise on your websites, is quasi-biblical philosophising. I'd love to see some answers to John B's questions, and some engagement with Glen's posts on the trinity.
Now, I'm not for the god of Catholicism (where the Father doesn't love his Son, or the Son isn't fully divine, or else how can you not be assured of salvation!), nor religion - I'm interested only in what God has said, but I can't see how trinity being 'forbidden fruit' could possibly be, nor how such a doctrine is pagan.
si hollett: Yes, you are right. For you, liken unto others who have not seen The Light, just can not see ;-(
So it is that i am simply sad for you ;-(
However, could be that one day you would see that The Messiah was "the beginning of The Creation of The ONE and ONLY True Living GOD, Father(Creator, Spirit) of ALL"!
And simply, The ONE and ONLY True Living GOD, Father(Creator, Spirit) of ALL, HE had no beginning!
And HE spoke HIS Word into being!
"Let There Be Light"!
"There was Light"!
GOD WHO IS LIGHT Begot Light, The Messiah, "the beginning of The Creation of GOD(Father(Creator) of ALL)".......
The Messiah, "The True Light who enlightens every man born into this world".......
"The Light", "The glory The Messiah had with The Father before the world was".......
Truth needs be published, and must be received not debated.
Father Help! and HE does.......
"However, could be that one day you would see that The Messiah was “the beginning of The Creation of The ONE and ONLY True Living GOD, Father(Creator, Spirit) of ALL”!"
And simply, The ONE and ONLY True Living GOD, Father(Creator, Spirit) of ALL, HE had no beginning!"
I see that the Messiah is the one who was there in the beginning with God, and was God, the one through who all things were made - nothing was made without him (which would include himself - he's not created!). The one who is the true light, which enlightens everyone and came into the world that was made through him, but didn't know him. This 'Jesus' (which is just the Anglicised Latinisation of the Hellinisation of the Aramaic name his step-father was told to give him by the announcing angel, that means "Yahweh saves" - I've read some of you site and know you make a mountain out of a pimple on that name) is the one who became flesh and tabernacled among us, showing us the Father's glory. He's the one who, to those who believe in his name, he gives the right to be children of God, born of God.
This thing you call "The Light", it sounds like it's a lightbulb-strength demiurge, barely able to light a room, rather than the glorious Son that actually lights the earth. It's not you who should feel sad for me, but vice versa.
But, worst of all, by taking Father to mean Creator and Spirit, you rob him of his glory, changing him into a philosophical construct, rather than the loving Father he reveals himself to be, eternally loving the Eternal Son and the Eternal Spirit, with their mutual love overflowing into creation and redemption.
A complete aside to wind up Glen - Cook just got a double century and Trott got his hundred! A lead of 218 (439 for 1) - do they bother carrying on batting after lunch, or just try and get the 10 Aussie wickets needed for the win? Apparently the only people left in the stands are the Barmy Army :P
It'll all be over when you've read this, but I just want to say that it's looking rather good as lunch is served in Brisbane.
Simply sad for you and all others who but serve the "imag"ined pagan catholic/christian 'jesus' the son of "the god of this world", he who is 'd'evil spirit that has bound you in the chains of strong delusion ;-(
Hi John B,
There are two Creation-old dichotomies continuously contending for the position of source for knowledge of God. They are: sustainable image of God’s direct and personal self-revelation to man by means of God’s “life-giving Spirit”, memorialized in the “tree of life”; and the death-producing “tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad” defining theology as mixed fruit of self-reliance and Scriptures (Gen. 2: 7-17).
The irreconcilable differences are highlighted throughout the Scriptures climaxing at the cross of Christ as weathered, for example, by the rise, immediate and precipitate fall, final 40-day rehabilitation and complete transformation of Simon Peter (Matt. 16: 13-28; 26-27; Acts 1; 2).
With baby Jesus in the arms and led by the Holy Spirit, a man named Simeon declared with thanks the extension of the coverage of God’s salvation to embrace “all peoples”, i.e., Gentiles, in addition to the people of Israel and Judah (Luke 2: 29-32). The universal self-revelation of God was confirmed and executed in the ministry of Jesus (John 3: 14-21; 4: 21-26; Matt. 27: 50-56).
Contrary to conventional wisdom, Paul himself is the first to recognize the utter insufficiency of Rom. 1: 18-21 as basis for knowledge of the universal self-revelation of God (1 Tim. 1: 10-11).
My understanding of Matt. 13: 11-12-17 is the following. The central question is the benefit of having and the detriment of not having firsthand “knowledge about the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven”, i.e., self-effacing expression for Jesus’ own divine identity and authority –the key to God’s entire secret as presented in the Good News! (Col. 2: 2-3; Rev. 5)
Phil, francis and woldeyesus,
I fear you're all in danger of making Jesus a line in your philosophical arguments. An important line. But not *the Truth*. The point of this post is to remind ourselves that the living God is *not* the god of the philosophers. And Jesus cannot be understood according to their terms of reference. We must begin again with the Jesus of Scripture.
This doesn't mean randomly sprinkled proof-texts. It means sitting down with the Scriptures and getting to know Jesus. Why not begin with John's gospel and allow the Spirit to point you in His own way to the Truth who *is* Jesus.
Thank you for your thoughtful responses to my questions. I hope that we may further discuss and ponder these things together.
PS - You've said that you're going against the "conventional wisdom" on this, but I'm still guessing that your reference to 1 Tim. 1:10-11 is a typo! ;-)
Glen, thanks for a great challenge!
Here is the gospel of John in a nutshell.
The truth about Jesus is knowable only by whoever puts into practice the power in his diacritical death on the cross –a critical mass with never-ending multiplying effect dispensing eternal life!
John B, thanks for your kind words!
My reference to 1 Tim. 1: 10-11 actually reinforces Paul's position vis-à-vis the gospel as the exclusive source of "sound doctrine".
Could you explain this a bit more:
The truth about Jesus is knowable only by whoever puts into practice the power in his diacritical death on the cross –a critical mass with never-ending multiplying effect dispensing eternal life!
I simply don't understand what you mean by his "diacritical death", where the power of that is, and what it means to put it into practice...
Forgive me for being slow - from what I see you're making John's gospel to be about those who know Jesus (in whatever sense we understand that) as opposed to being about Jesus that we might know him.
Hope you're able to help...
After reading your "nutshell" summary of the Gospel of John, I fear that you've missed it entirely! I didn't hear any "challenge" made here to encapsulate John's Gospel. But rather, the suggestion was made that you allow the Spirit to lead you to Jesus through this Gospel. Since you deny the Trinity, you really need to come to grips with John's Gospel and deal with it far more comprehensively than your "nutshell" summary indicates that you've done.
John is far too vast to be neatly summarized. But to briefly convey something of the scope of this gospel I'd say that it is this:
The Father sends the Son, whom he loves and glorifies. He also sends the Spirit upon the intercession of Jesus. The Father is worshiped in Spirit and in Truth (Christ). He has committed all judgment to the Son. The Father is the source of life and he has given to the Son to have true life in himself. The Father and the Son indwell one another. The Spirit bears witness to the Son and glorifies him. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are ever united in one will. The Spirit binds the followers of Jesus into communion with the Father and the Son.
Neither summary, mine nor yours, can even begin to encapsulate the wealth of the knowledge of God contained within John's Gospel. That's why we really should heed the suggestion to allow the word of God to penetrate our hearts and minds through this Gospel. For now, we have one Gospel and two summaries that are in such stark contrast that it looks like we're not even reading the same texts!
The bedrock of faith is our answer to Jesus' question, “But who do you say that I am?” How we answer this question depends entirely on our knowledge of, or rejection of, the Holy Trinity. Ultimately, we can't dodge the question and we can't sidestep John's Gospel witness.