Josiah Audette

"Aware of the past, curious about the future, ready to argue the present." Tocqueville

Category: Philosophy

The Bachelor’s Wife

Tobacco Pipe Smoking

A most astute observation on pipe smokers (Among whom I happen to be) from Cecil B. Hartley’s 1860 work, “The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness.”

“But what shall I say of the fragrant weed which Raleigh taught our gallants to puff in capacious bowls; which a royal pedant denounced in a famous “Counterblast”; which his flattering laureate, Ben Jonson, ridiculed to please his master; which our wives and sisters protest gives rise to the dirtiest and most unsociable habit a man can indulge in; of which some fair favourers declare that they love the smell, and others that they will never marry an indulger (which, by the way, they generally end in doing); which has won fame over more space and among better men than Noah’s grape has ever done; which doctors still dispute about, and boys still get sick over; but which is the solace of the weary labourer; the support of the ill-fed; the refresher of overwrought brains; the soother of angry fancies; the boast of the exquisite; the excuse of the idle; the companion of the philosopher; and the tenth muse of the poet. I will go neither into the medical nor the moral question about the dreamy, calming cloud. I will content myself so far with saying what may be said for everything that can bless and curse mankind, that, in moderation, it is at least harmless; but what is moderate and what is not, must be determined in each individual case, according to the habits and constitution of the subject…

…In another point of view, I am inclined to think that smoking has conduced to make the society of men, when alone, less riotous, less quarrelsome, and even less vicious than it was. Where young men now blow a common cloud, they were formerly driven to a fearful consumption of wine, and this in their heads, they were ready and roused to any iniquity. But the pipe is the bachelor’s wife. With this he can endure solitude longer, and is not forced into low society in order to shun it. With it, too, the idle can pass many an hour, which otherwise he would have given, not to work, but to extravagant revelries. With it he is no longer restless and impatient for excitement of any kind. We never hear now of young blades issuing in bands from their wine to beat the watch or disturb the slumbering citizens, as we did thirty or forty years ago, when smoking was still a rarity; they are all puffing harmlessly in their chambers now. But, on the other hand, I foresee with dread a too tender allegiance to the pipe, to the destruction of good society, and the abandonment of the ladies. No wonder they hate it, dear creatures; the pipe is the worst rival a woman can have, and it is one whose eyes she cannot scratch out; who improves with age, while she herself declines; who has an art which no woman possesses, that of never wearying her devotee; who is silent, yet a companion; costs little, yet gives much pleasure; who, lastly, never upbraids, and always yields the same joy. Ah! this is a powerful rival to wife or maid, and no wonder that at last the woman succumbs, consents, and rather than lose her lord or master, even supplies the hated herb with her own fair hands.”

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Idolatrous Iconoclasts

Devil's DictionaryThis message is borrowed heavily from Rev. Douglas Wilson’s message at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, “The Politics of Sodomy IV: Remember Lot’s Wife.” Worth the listen.

ICONOCLAST

“I is the first letter of the alphabet, the first work of the language, the first thought of the mind, the first object of affection. In grammar it is a pronoun of the first person and singular number. Its plural is said to be We, but how there can be more than one myself is doubles less clear to the grammarians than it is to the author of this incomparable dictionary. Conception of two myselfs  is difficult, but fine.” You will read this excerpt in a favoured book of mine from the Scottish satyrical writer Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary.” I have often perused this book since its first introduction to me through the frequent references of it in the debates of the reputable polemic Christopher Hitchens and theologian, Douglas Wilson. As you may deduce, this brief excerpt in the volume of satyrical word definitions is from the introduction in the alphabetical category of the letter “I”. The other week I interested myself in the second word listed in the category, namely, Iconoclast. In its serious definition and modern connotation Iconoclast means a person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions. It was love at first sight for me. After all, the dictionary is a book of love and one giant romance novel to the effervescent bibliophile. “A person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions. Iconoclast.”  Its historical meaning refers to A breaker or destroyer of images; a name which Catholics gave to those who reject the use of images in religious worship. Indeed I should like to conceive of myself as an Iconoclast after the Puritans and reformers before me. More specifically, as a Christian Iconoclast modelled after that peerless Iconoclast in Biblical history, King Josiah. “Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord.” As I perceived it, Christians ought and are the congregation of Iconoclasts bringing about the decimation of societies’ idolatrous abominations. Removing every revered institution, dismantling every venerated ideology which abrogates the law of God. So the Christian is either an Iconoclast or an Idolator. As Mr. Amberson observed in his last message, their are several and sundry idolatries without the Church that if we as Iconoclasts do not crush, they shall doubtless crush us.

IDOLATER

By idol or idolatry I mean something beyond some conception of a pagan figure or object, I mean rather a created thing which endeavours to place itself where only the uncreated God is. In “The Anatomy of Melancholy” Robert Burton writes, “We are thus bad by nature, bad by kind, but far worse by art, every man the greatest enemy unto himself. We study many times to undo ourselves, abusing those good gifts which God hath bestowed upon us, health, wealth, strength, wit, learning, art, memory to our own destruction.” So we can be idolatrous with our without images. Idolatry as such is strictly forbidden, “Turn ye not unto idols, more make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.” For we are doomed if we do so. “I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.” I wonder if we realize just how doomed our society is by its idolatrous abominations. If we are blind or just ever belligerent optimists to the present and future state of our culture. Now I am no fan of optimism or its denomination. In the words of Ambrose Bierce, optimism, “Is a blind faith, it is inaccessible to the light of disproof – an intellectual disorder, yielding to no treatment but death. It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.” As Douglas Wilson illustrates, two days before the destruction of Sodom was it possible for Lot’s wife to say, “Well, its all right so far.” We may even confess to ourselves, Yes, we have some issues in our city, a looming crises in politics, and other problems in the economy, but its not so bad.” Thus we join the company of the idols which are reserved by God for complete annihilation. However I don’t see that being the common response to the state of the nation in our church. I don’t think any of us are saying, All right so far.” I believe rather that each of us are concerned with responding to the current situation. We all want to do something about it. The question merely, is, “What is something constructive which we can do?” How can we be Christian Iconoclasts? How can we effectively and actively quell the present judgment?

WORSHIP

The one thing which we can do, and indeed the only thing which we can do is worship God as we have the privilege of doing every Lord’s Day.  “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Not just the iconoclasts maxim, but also our prayer and model. Since idolatry is placing ourselves where God belongs we know to combat idolatry in our hearts we must place ourselves at the feet of where God is. When we worship we rise to the courts of the Lord in heaven. When we worship we ascend that holy hill, we boldly enter into the holy of holies, we have entrance into the heaveanlies. In response to our worship, God in heaven comes to us. We do not pray, “Thy Kingdom go” because it is coming. Heaven only comes through worship. His Kingdom only comes only as we hallow our heavenly Father’s name. How do you hallow God’s name on earth? Hallow it in heaven. How does God’s Kingdom come to us? We go to it. How do we go to it? Worship our Father in the name of is Son in the power of his Holy Spirit in the heavenly places with the congregation of God. Our church’s mission statement rightly begins with the simple declaration that we exists “For the right worshipping of God.” This is the central function of Christ’s Church and its local, visible expression here in Grace Haven.

WEAPON OF WORSHIP

The statement, “Thy Kingdom come” doesn’t just infer it does not “go” but rather “comes” through hallowing worship. It also infers that here on earth we are under an entirely different and opposing kingdoms and kings. The Christian Iconoclast comprehends this reality more so than others. The Christian Iconoclast knows what the Kingdom of God actually is. Morecraft writes, “Christ’s mediatorial kingdom is the manifestation of the sovereign rule of God in power and grace which establishes a new civilization of righteousness and blessedness in history by the power of the Holy Spirit in, under and through the Lord Jesus Christ in fulfillment of God’s covenantal promises.” It is establishing the crown rights of King Jesus for all of life, for all the world. Thus the Christian iconoclast as they read the news realizes it is far from being so. The troublesome problems, the idolatrous ideologies, the crisis and catastrophes, we have done on earth as it is not done in heaven. They comprehend the extent the Kingdom of God has to come just in order to be realized. The Christian iconoclast realizes how our nation is enclosed and fortified within the bulwarks of hell. But the Christian Iconoclasts also knows what weapon the parapets of hell cannot withstand. As states just a few Sundays ago, it is the church. “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” So you want to do something? You read the news and ask what equips you to stop that stuff? You browse the internet and wonder what to do with all the stupidity out there? You want to storm the gates of hell? Well every seven days Grace Haven gathers at their castle gates and has the privilege of taking up the battering ram of worship and taking another swing. Our one weapon and our only weapon is the right worship of God. But it is no small weapon. Rather against its force, “The gates of hades will not prevail.” 

God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shin upon us; Selah.

That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.

Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.

O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.

Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.

Then shall the earth yield ehr increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us.

God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.

SPOILS OF BATTLE

When we prevail against these gates there will be many consequences. We will experience change and reform in economics where we take credence to the seventh commandment and no longer steal through inflation or redistribution. We will experience political consequences as we begin to recognize God’s order of state, local, church, family, and individual government. We will experience social consequences in dealing with the poor, widows, and orphans and exercising restitution through justice in the courts. We will experience cultural consequences as we shed the ideals of humanism and statism. We will experience artistic consequences as we stop thinking outside the Bach and in the Cage. However, we must keep in mind that these areas are the spoils of battle and nor our weapons.

IDOLATROUS ICONOCLASTS

This is where the Iconoclast can made an idol out of his very iconoclasm. Politics, economics, arts, sciences, education, food, culture are what we are fighting over and for, but they are not what we are fighting with. It is a form of idolatry for the Iconoclast to think he is going to change anything by advancing particular economic policies, advocating certain educational conventions, applying a political agenda, or adjudicating on artistic or cultural methods.  “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” “Confused be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols.” Christopher Hitchens quipped on stage with his Jack Daniels whiskey flask in hand, “I don’t believe we need better politicians. I believe we need a better electorate.” Close, but no cigar. Conservative politics, family economics, home education, multi-generational families, artistry or culture are not our saviours, but they do still need saving. How are they to be saved? Who is their saviour? The only saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ. How do we appeal to our only Saviour? Through the triune worshipping God in Jesus’ name, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in the heavenly places. Worship is our weapon in the battle. These things are the spoil of battle and not our weapons. As Douglas Wilson exhorts, “So, you want to do something constructive? Its right before you. You have a Bible? A Car? You got a hymnal? You can go to church and worship God.” If you are watching the news during the week and wonder what you are able to do about it all you should say, “Well today’s Friday… Sunday’s coming.” But instead what do we often do as misguided Iconoclasts? We watch the news first thing in the week, are horrified, encounter the urge to bring resolution, and imbue our week with all kinds of activities. On Monday we study the weapon of political agendas. Tuesday we really hone in on our home education pedagogy. Wednesday we start to overtake the artistic scene. Thursday we maneuver ourselves into becoming a cultural influence in the community. Friday we experiment with family economics. Saturday we busy ourselves with social engagements and ministry. Sunday we engage with raising our multi-generational homes, and oh wait a minute…. what about church worship. Right, this too is idolatry. This is backwards. Politics, family, economics, education, social welfare, the arts and sciences are the spoils of battle not the weapons. Worship is our one and only weapon effectual to prevailing against the bastion of hades.

ENGAGEMENT & INTEGRATION

Douglas Wilson illustrates worship in the local Church on Sunday as the centre or the engine of reformation and revival. There are some dualist, gnostic Christians who are all about majestically liturgical worship but disavow any engagement in the nitty-gritty of politics, economics, education of the world. This is like starting a big engine, but without ever putting it into gear. There are other Christians who are all about cultural integration, political agendas, artistic influence, social engagements but this whole worship thing just weighs the car down. Their Christianity is never any good at going up hill. Worship is the engine with which we engage all of life with and furthermore integrate with all God’s people for. The right worship of God is our only pure, entire, whole, and peaceful common ground. If you make anything other than worship your engine for reform you commit idolatry and your car falls apart. When you make anything other than worship your integration point your fellowship divides and everyone exits the vehicle. If you make politics your engine then your will integrate based on your political agendas. If you make generations of children your engine you will collect passengers based on their family discipline and educational customs. The problem is not that these pursuits are intrinsically bad, but rather such prioritization is idolatry (Placing the created where the uncreated God is) and are insufficient grounds for full fellowship and effective reform. You will never fully integrate on political agendas, artistic influence, social engagements, culture, educational conventions, or child raising principles. These things do not produce worship. These things are not the ladder by which we ascend into heaven. These things are not the red carpet upon which the Kingdom of God proceeds. Rather, when you worship God on the Lord’s Day in the local church His kingdom comes as promised in Christ. He makes you right with Him. He makes you a charitable Christian, a hospitable disciple, a submissive wife, an honouring child, an industrious daughter, a godly patriarch, an epistemologically self-conscious educator, an inspired artistic influence, and so on. These are the fruits of worship, not the works of worship. These are the spoils of battle, not the weapons of battle. So ask yourselves why do we hang out together? What bring us together? Is it our common practice of home education? Is it our calvinistic theology? Is it our multigenerational family model? Or is it ultimately and unfailingly the triune worship of God in the name of His Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in the heavenly places? If it were not for Jesus Christ would you be hanging out with these people? No. Then why do you qualify your fellowship with others on any other basis than worshiping the One who was whole that was made broken that we who are broken may be made whole?

REFORMATION & REVIVAL

Judgment begins in the house of the Lord. Francis Schaeffer writes, “The church in our generation needs reformation, revival, and constructive revolution. At times men think of the two words reformation and revival as standing in contrast one to the other, but this is a mistake. Both words are related to the word restore. Reformation refers to a restoration to pure doctrine; revival refers to a restoration in the Christian life. Reformation speaks of a return to the teachings of Scripture; revival speaks of a life brought into its proper relationship tot the Holy Spirit. The great moments of church history have come when these two restorations have simultaneously come into action so that the church has returned to pure doctrine and the lives of the Christians in the church have known the power of the Holy Spirit. There cannot be true revival unless there has been reformation; and reformation is not complete without revival.” This brings us to the second portion of the Lord’s Prayer we have before us. “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Reformation and revival as Schaeffer writes, doing the will of God as Mr. Johnson last spoke about, rightly worshiping God as was covered today is not possible without the Holy Spirit. We live in the Spirit and the Spirit in us by regeneration and continually receive him through prayer and the Scriptures. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth… the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are life.” “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” How do we walk in the Spirit? Romans 8:5, “They that are after the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.” What are the things of the Spirit we are to be mindful of? “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodnesss, faith, meekness, temperance.” What does the Spirit do in our worship? “He shall testify of me.” “For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” “The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” “Now we have received… the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

CONCLUSION

Want to be a Christian Iconoclast? First repent of being an idolatrous one. Restore through reformation and revival worship as the engine of all of life and the integration of all God’s people. Avail yourself of the weapon of worship and gather with the congregation of Iconoclasts each Lord Day to prevail against the gates of Hades. In the fullness of the Spirit realize God’s transformation in your life. Worship God the Father in the name of the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit with the assembly of God in the heavenly realms.

On The Origin of Sin: By Means of Natural Selection

Origin of Sin

Question 13: Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?

Answer: Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

“Nothing is so easy to denounce, nothing is so difficult to understand.” Augustine.


Original Righteousness

Before we can address the doctrine of Original Sin we ought address first the much neglected doctrine of Original Righteousness. Namely, that period in Scripture and history where man was created and living in righteousness, knowledge, and holiness in the image of God. In the prose of Milton,

“Of living creatures new to sight and strange…

The image of their glorious Maker shone,

Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure.”

Here was the life of our representative heads in the Garden of Eden under the Covenant of Life. The estate wherein they were created was that of original righteousness. God created Adam and Eve, “very good.” C.S. Lewis observes, “God created all things without exception good, and because they are good, ‘No nature (i.e. no positive reality) is bad and the word Bad denotes merely privation of good,’…. What we call bad things are good things perverted.” Lewis goes on to say, “From this doctrine of good and evil it follows that good can exist without evil, but not evil without good.” Adam’s original existence was that of the former, good without evil. While Adam was created perfect, his perfection and the benefits of his perfection were not yet guaranteed. Hence, “God entered into the Covenant of Life with him, upon the condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience.” In Milton’s fictive reflection of Eve speaking to Adam,

Needs must the power that made us, and for us this ample world

Be infinitely good, and of his good

As liberal and free as infinite,

That raised us from the dust and placed us here,

In all this happiness, who at his hand

Have nothing meretied, nor can perform

Aught whereof he hath need, he who requires

From us no other service than to keep

This one, this easy charge, of all the trees

In Paradise that bear delicious fruit

So various, not to taste that only Tree of Knowledge planted by the Tree of Life,

So near grows death to life, whatever death is,

Some dreadful thing no doubt, for well thou now’t

God hath pronounced it death to taste that Tree,

The only sign of our obedience left

Among so many signs of power and rule”

Probationary Prohibition

This Covenant of Life was a limited, representative probationary period. An indefinite opportunity was given to innocent Adam to virtuously secure for himself and all his posterity that state of righteous innocence. “Innocence is life untested, but virtue is innocence tested and triumphant” says one reformer. Within this probationary period Adam’s innocence was not guaranteed. Morecraft writes, “A temporary probationary period of testing was accepted by God in place of an everlasting exposure to the possibility of falling into sin under the perpetual demands of God. God limited the probationary testing period for Adam, and in so doing, accepted temporary obedience during that time frame, as equivalent to what Adam’s perpetual innocence would have accomplished.” However God not only graciously limited the time of probation, but also the persons under the probation. “Without the Covenant of Life” says Morecraft, “Wherein Adam stood for all men, representing all who would descend form him in ordinary generation, each individual would have to stand or fall according to his own individual obedience.” Hence the Covenant of Life was an indefinite, representative, probationary period by prohibition upon reward of life or threat of death. A probationary period constitutes four elements. 1. In a probationary period, the status of the probationary persons are not yet confirmed. So while Adam did not have death in him from the Tree of the Knowledge, neither had he yet attained to eternal life through the Tree of Life. 2. In probation, the persons are tested. The test for the Covenant of Life was very clear, a prohibition against eating of the Tree of the Knowledge. 3. In a probationary period the outcome has the status of the probationary persons confirmed. The outcome of obedience in the Adamic Covenant was eternal life from the Tree of Life and of disobedience, death. The fact that Adam (post-fall, post-probation) was denied the Tree of Life indicates that the Tree of Life was in fact the reserved, future award for obedience to the Covenant of Life. 4. Consequently, in a probationary period the testing is for a limited period of time. Albeit indefinite, Adam’s testing was indeed limited otherwise their would have been no mention of a promised reward or threatened punishment indicating finality to the probation.

Free Agency & Moral Ability

“I made him just and right, 

Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.”

Illustrates Milton of God concerning Adam. Scripture is incredibly clear that post-fall, post-probation man is not able not to sin by reason of his sin nature.  In this regard Karl Kraus was correct in stating that “The Devil is wildly optimistic if he thinks he can make human beings worse than they are.”  We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. “Free-Will” for us, the moral ability to select between good and evil, is an empty word. A man cannot prefer against his preference or choose against his choice, and Scripture is clear our only preference is evil and our only choice is sin. This is what we may call “The freedom of slavery.” Not free-will but self-will. As Lorraine Boettner writes, “We deny the existence in man of a power which may act either way, on the logical ground that both virtue and vice cannot come out of the same moral condition of the agent.” Martin Luther wrote, “Free will is an empty term, whose reality is lost. And a lost liberty, according to my grammar, is no liberty at all.” However, if there ever was a man who had free-will, apart from the incarnate God-man, it was Adam. He had no such “freedom of slavery”, no lost liberty, no self-will, no sin nature. To say differently would be to hold God liable as the creator of faultiness, or author of evil. Our representative’s moral ability and free-agency to guarantee his state of righteous innocence was being tested in the probationary period. Unlike us, Adam had both the capacity and ability for either virtue or vice. The power of contrary choice, as the angels before him, and the incarnate Christ after, was his to avail. John Murray notes, “There was no necessity arising from his physical condition, nor from his moral nature, nor from the state of his environment, why he should sin.”


The Origin of Original Sin

Original Sin did not originate in Adam, although it was indeed perpetuated by him.

“He trusted to have equaled the Most High,

If he opposed; and with ambitious aim

Against the throne and monarchy of God

Raised impious war in Heav’n and battle proud

With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power

Hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky

With hideous ruin and combustion down

To bottomless perdition, there to dwell

In adamantine chains and penal fire,

Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.”

The origin of sin as Milton here portrays, was with Satan. As one theologian writes, “Sin did not break out on earth in the first instance, but in heaven, in the immediate presence of God, and at the foot of his throne. The thought, the wish, the will to resist God arose first in the heart of the angels.” Now sin’s originator, the original sinner, Satan, conspired against God’s creation vowed to his legions,

“To waste his whole creation, or possess

All as our own, and drive as we were driven,

The puny habitants, or if not drive,

Seduce them to our party, that their God

May prove their foe, and with repenting hand

Abolish his own works. This would surpass

Common revenge, and interrupt his joy

In our confusion, and our joy upraise

In his disturbance, when his darling sons

Hurled headlong to partake with us, shall curse

Their frail original, and faded bliss

Faded so soon.” Milton.

Thus arose the originator who would supply the external suggestion of original sin to Adam. Laidlaw writes of original sin in Adam, “It arose with an external suggestion, and upon an external occasion, but it was an inward crisis.” Samuel Rutherford clarifies, “Can Satan force us against our will to sin? A. No, he tempts us and knocks at the door without, but our will and lust opens the door. Satan is the midwife that helps forward the birth but our will and lust is the father and mother to all our sins.” So our parents fell from the estate wherein he was created by sinning against God. “What is the Fall?” asks C.S. Lewis, “The Fall is simply and solely Disobedience – doing what you have been told not to do: and it results from Pride – from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God.”


Original Knowledge

The fall from original righteousness was through the original sin of original knowledge.

“Will God incense his ire

For such a petty trespasss, and not praise

Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain

Of death denounced, whatever thing death be,

Deterred not from achieving what might lead

To happier life, knowledge of good and evil;

Of good, how just? Of evil, if what is evil

By real, why not known, since easier shunned;

God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just;

Not just, not God; not feared then, nor obeyed:

Your fear itself of death removes the fear.

Why then was this forbid? Why but to awe,

Why but to keep ye low and ignorant,

His worshipers; he knows that in the day

Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear,

Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then

Opened and cleared, and ye shall be as gods,

Knowing both good and evil as they know.”

Know as they know the knowledge of Good and Evil. The prohibition of the probationary period went far beyond sensual intemperance and mammon appetite. Its grimace was graver than gluttony. It would also be a mistake to say that knowledge was prohibited in the Covenant of Life. Our first parents were indeed created in, “knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.” Their knowledge must have been surpassing for Adam to have the originality of thought and the discernment to give names to the creatures and to manage paradise itself. This quality of knowledge, this pure and vast natural knowledge was not an inducement to the fall. So too ought we not abandon learning, scholarly pursuits, and intellectual cultivation in the work of the dominion mandate. It was not the quantity of Adam’s knowledge (as vast as it was) which induced the fall, but rather the quality of knowledge. Namely, moral knowledge. Francis Bacon writes in his essay on “The Advancement of Learning” , “It was not the pure knowledge of Nature and universality, a knowledge by the light whereof man did give names unto other creatures in Paradise as they were brought before him according unto their properties, which gave the occasion to the fall; but it was the proud knowledge of good and evil, with an intent in man to give law unto himself, and to depend no more upon God’s commandments, which was the form of the temptation.” The limitations of righteous knowledge are therefore threefold as Bacon considers, “1. That we do not so place our felicity in knowledge, as we forget our mortality.” This was the original lie in the original sin of original knowledge. “Ye shall not die.” Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes, “As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? As the fool.” Momento Mori, remember your mortality. Bacon continues, “The second, that we make application of our knowledge, to give ourselves repose and contentment, and not distaste or repining.”  The latter quality of knowledge puffeth-up. It set our first parents at enmity with God and then with themselves. “The third, that we do not presume by the contemplation of Nature to attain to the mysteries of God.” Herein again was the lie of original knowledge. “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Bacon wonderfully summarizes, “Let no man upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an ill-applied moderation think or maintain that a man can search too far, or be too well studies in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works, divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavour an endless progress or proficiency in both; only let men beware that they apply both to charity, and not to swelling; to use, and not to ostentation;” 


Apologetics for Dogmatics

It makes God the author of sin.

Not so.

“And man there placed, with purpose to assay

If him [Satan] by force he can destroy, or worse,

By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert;

For man will hearken to his glozing lies,

And easily transgress the sole command,

Sole pledge of his obedience: so will fall

He and his faithless progeny: whose fault?

Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of me

All he could have; I made him just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.”

Again, the fall arose out of external suggestion, upon external situation, but from an inward crisis. Adam was the author of his own sin. “God left him [Adam] to the freedom of his own will, and that freedom he abused. No doubt God could have prevented his fall if he had pleased, by giving such influences of his Spirit as would have been absolutely effectual to hinder it; but this he was under no obligation to do. He did not withdraw from man that ability with which He had furnished him for his duty, nor did He infuse any vicious inclinations into his heart – He only withheld that further grace that would have infallibly prevented his fall.” Robert Shaw. Consequentially, God allowed the fall. We meant it for evil, but God decreed it for good.

“As my eternal purpose hath decreed:

Man shall not quite be lost, but saved who will,

Yet not of will in him, but grace in me

Freely vouchsafed; once more I will renew

His lapsed powers, though forfeit and enthralled

By sin to foul exorbitant desires;

Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand

On even ground against his mortal foe,

By me upheld, that he may know how frail

His fall’n condition is, and to me owe

All his deliv’rance, and to none but me.”

So if God decreed the Fall as Milton depicts, how then can there can be moral responsibility without free agency?

The decretive will of God which is the cause of the futurition of the Fall is neither its physical cause (infusion of sin in Adam) or its ethical cause (Approval of sin in Adam). Nor because Adam fulfilled the decretive will is he held less guilty as he still violated the preceptive will of God graciously revealed to him. John Piper refers to this most wisely as the two wills of God. Piper writes, “We must certainly distinguish between what God would like to see happen and what he actually does will to happen, and both of these things can be spoken of as God’s will.” The preceptive will of God is “His general intention and longing, not his effective purpose.” The decretive will of God is his inviolable sovereign decree or effective purpose of what will happen. The former is what he would delight in happening. The latter is what he finally decides in happening. The former is what he would want to happen. The latter is what he wills to happen. The two wills of God working together are paradoxical but not contradictory. Furthermore, the Pelagian doctrine that goodness and vice are measured in proportion to the selection  of either being devoid of any influence is fallacious. Calvin deduces, “The goodness of God is so connected with his Godhead that it is not more necessary to be God than to be good; whereas the devil, by his fall, was so estranged from goodness that he can do nothing but evil. 

Should anyone give utterance to the profane jeer that little praise is due to God for a goodness to which he is forced, is it not obvious to every man to reply, “It is owing not to violent impulse, but to his boundless goodness, that he cannot do evil?”

Therefore, if the free will of God in doing good is not impeded, because he necessarily must do good; if the devil, who can do nothing but evil, nevertheless sins voluntarily; can it be said that man sins less voluntarily because he is under a necessity of sinning?”

The voluntary or involuntary nature the natural selection of virtue or vice does not effect the praiseworthiness or blameworthiness of such a choice.


Conclusion

“But to destruction sacred and devote,

He with his whole posterity must die,

Die he or Justice must; unless for him

Some other able, and as willing, pay

The rigid satisfaction, death for death.

Say Heavenly powers, where shall we find such love,

Which of ye will be mortal to redeem

Man’s mortal crime, and just th’ unjust to save,

Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?”

He asked, but all the Heavn’nly choir stood mute,

And silence was in Heav’n: on no man’s behalf

Patron or intercessor none appeared,

Much less that durst upon his own head draw

The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set.

And now without redemption all mankind

Must have been lost, adjudged to death and Hell

By doom severe, had not the Son of God,

In whom the fullness dwells of love divine,

His dearest meditation thus renewed.

“Father, thy word is past, man shall find grace;

And shall grace not find means, that finds her way…

Behold me then, me for him, life for life

I offer, on me let thine anger fall;

Account me man; I for his sake will leave

Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee

Freely put off, and for him lastly die

Well pleased, on me let Death wreck all his rage;

Under his gloomy power I shall not long

Lie vanquished; thou hast giv’n me to possess

Life in myself forever, by thee I live,

Though now to Death I yield, and am his due

All that of me can die, yet that debt paid,

Thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome grave

His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul

Forever with corruption there to dwell;

But I shall rise victorious, and subdue

My vanquisher, spoiled of his vaunted spoil;

Death his death’s wound shall then receive, and stoop

Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarmed.

I through the ample air in triumph high

Shall lead Hell captive mauler Hell, and show

The powers of darkness bound. Thou at the sight

Pleased, out of Heaven shalt look down and smile,

While by thee raised I ruin all my foes,

Death last, and with his carcass glut the grave:

Then with the multitude of my redeemed

Shall enter Heaven long absent, and return,

Father to see thy face, wherein no cloud

Of anger shall remain, but peace assured,

And reconcilement; wrath shall be no more

Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire.”

His words here ended, but his meek aspect

Silent yet spake, and breathed immortal love

To mortal men, above which only shone

Filial obedience: as a sacrifice

Glad to be offered, he attends the will

Of his great Father. Admiration seized

All Heav’n, what this might mean, and whither tend Wondering.”

Home Education Graduate Panel

School Boy

The following is a series of questions and answers from a graduate panel of which I was a part.

2015 SHBE CONVENTION

Grad Panel Questions:

1. Describe your homeschooling experience.

In a word, at the risk of sounding pretentious, successful. But I suppose that raises the question of what successful homeschooling is.  Initially, my education was a basic imitation of the public school system. We exercised with inimitable discipline classroom itinerary, curricular grade order, standardized testing, scoring, textbook modules, and other such organons of bureaucracy. The objective of this quixotic pedagogy and the success measurement was to get into university. We subscribed to the common notions that a successful homeschooler gets the highest grades, or performs extracurricular studies, or becomes a peerless career person, or an entrepreneur, or university student. While some of these are laudable pursuits they are limited and misconceived objectives. Through a series of providential events my parents came to discover that “schooling” was not necessarily annexed to “success.” Postman’s evaluation was that, “We have been taught (that is, schooled) in this country to think “success” is synonymous with, or at least dependent upon, “schooling,” but historically that isn’t true in either an intellectual or economic sense.” Thus, pragmatically speaking, for the times of substantial economic development in America and Canada schooling was in its most puerile form and thereby inconsequential to the prosperity encountered. My parents recognized as Whitehead writes, “Education is the acquisition of the art of utilization of knowledge” and therefore, “There is only one subject-matter for education, and that is Life in all its manifestations.” Contrary to common opinion, homeschooling is not by the book, or at least, the textbook. Home education reformed in our family away from being merely well-informed individuals on the systematic facts regarding a particular series of textbook disciplines. The bureaucratic instruments I mentioned earlier became more and more foreign and alien to my education as sound learning and sound character was imparted to me by the discipleship of my parents. My education began to look something like John Milton’s exhortation where he states, “I call a complete and generous education that which fits a man to perform justly, skillfully and magnanimously all the offices both private and public of peace and war.” Summarily, my homeschooling experience was not defined by my grades, my character development, the intensity of my curriculum, my career, or secondary education although I underwent all of those components. Rather, my parents acknowledged that a successful homeschooler was not a well-taught person as the public school system would propose, but instead a self-taught person. That is to say, autodidactic. Hence I have difficulty saying that I am a “graduate” from schooling. Because I am learning more now than I ever did as a homeschooler. My years as a homeschooler were not to inculcate me with a supposedly sufficient systematic knowledge of facts so I could be “successful.” My years as a homeschooler was an introduction and inducement to continue to learn and teach myself to “perform justly, skillfully, and magnanimously all the office both private and public.”

2. Is there anything you would change about your homeschooling experience?

Again in short, everything. I believe it to be my duty and every succeeding generations duty to be actively and constantly reforming upon the previous. An unfortunate misconception in homeschooling is to raise our children to be “well-informed.” We teach them to think and know multiple facts about science, math, logic, music etc… However, education of mere half-digested facts and too many of them is “The devil in the scholastic world” and we’re really being no different than the public institutions except for the fact were just more stubborn. Neil Postman warned, “The teaching of a scientific outlook in the curriculum does not insure that students will develop a scientific mind-set.” Alfred North Whitehead had this critique for such curriculum, “We must beware of what I call ‘inert ideas’ that is to say, ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilized, or tested, or thrown into fresh combination.” Teaching children disconnected, contextless, and fragmented facts is not only useless but harmful. Useless, idle, inert thoughts are brain cancer to the autodidactic mind. They will kill any desire and love of learning. Contrary to educating our children to think about science, math, logic, and music Whitehead is saying we must educate our children to think scientifically, mathematically, logically, and musically. The key is knowledge applied. “Let the main ideas which are introduced into a child’s education be few and important… The child should make them his own, and should understand their application here and now in the circumstances of his actual life.” Education follows life, not life education as is the characteristic of some homeschooling expectations. What I would make to be the “Few and important” ideas which are introduced into a child’s education is, as Postman recommends, the Trivium model of the Middle Ages. The Trivium consisted of teaching the child to think critically through logic, rhetoric, and grammar. Grammar diagrams, rhetoric form, and logic laws not taught as facts, but as the applicable means to think grammatically, logically, and communicably. Once the child is able to think critically I would continue to the Quadrivium. The Quadrivium consisted of the scientific art disciplines (Physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc…). I would most definitely include the lost sciences such as jurisprudence. Teach your children Biblical Case Law, and Lord William Blackstone’s English Common Law, and Kennedy’s Canadian constitutional law. Lord Blackstone acutely wrote, “For I think it an undeniable position, that a competent knowledge of the laws of that society, in which we live, is the proper accomplishment of every gentleman and scholar; an highly useful, I had almost said essential, part of liberal and polite education.” Additionally, I would teach everything from etiquette, economics, culinary arts, culture, worldview, philosophy, history, to horticulture. Benjamin Franklin, a model autodidact illustrated the development of the mind which should characterize the multi-generational, autodidactic, homeschooling family. “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” Finally, there is a simple but difficult process for attaining all of this and Francis Bacon summarizes it well. “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” In other words, specialized, active, applicable knowledge in these disciplines can be attained through reading good books to and with your children, conversing about them, and requiring essays of them. This is what I did at home, it is what I do now, and this is the very same model Cambridge uses to remarkable success. Notice how foreign standardized testing, grading, textbooks, and such like bureaucratic organons are to this model. As Postman noted regarding these modern conventions, “I shall not argue here that this is a stupid or dangerous idea, only that it is peculiar. What is even more peculiar is that so many of us do not find the idea peculiar.”

3. What was the best part about being homeschooled? (You can include favourite subjects or activities)

Discipleship. Geoffrey Botkin observes the hebraic discipleship model practiced in Cambridge university where students need no GPA, or credit hours, or typical grade averages, or even lecture attendance. They only have need of an understated endorsement from their tutor which goes something like this in Latin. “Here is a man I know to be of sound learning and good character, suitable to receive his degree.” In order to merit such an endorsement the student was placed under a mentor and tasked to write an essay on their particular discipline with which they know nothing about. It was the responsibility of the student to discover the resources, time, lectures, books, and interviews needed to form their essay. Periodically, the student met with their mentor in order that they might have opportunity to defend and review their essay work. It was a difficult and refining process for the student. One defined these interview moments as, “Exploring the vast wildernesses of my ignorance.” Finally, the essay was authoritative, clear, and sufficient and the understatement for the endorsement was granted by the mentor. Notice the parallel to the earlier quotation from Francis Bacon. “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and wiring and exact man.” I practice this method to this day. For instance, I am currently reading a stack of books and writing an essay on “The English Common Law Doctrines of Primogeniture & Coverture as distinguished from their counterparts of Gavelkind and Universal Suffrage together with their consequences upon English & Canadian society in the 1800s.” With regards to reading John Taylor Gatto writes, “Close reading of tough-minded writing is still the best, cheapest, and quickest method known for learning to think for yourself… Reading, and rigorous discussion of that reading in a way that obliges you to formulate a position and support it against objections, is an operational definition of education in its most fundamental civilized sense.” This is nothing less than homeschooling, where face-to-face discipleship imparts sound character and stimulates sound learning.

4. Do you feel your home education has prepared you for your education choices since high school and for adulthood? Explain.

Yes, so much so I have yet to want or need it. Higher education or post-secondary is not helpful to the autodidactic homeschooler for two reasons. One, Universities are not places of higher learning. Geoffrey Botkin acutely defines them as, “Pseudo-academic bureaucracies of politically correct indoctrination and statist compliance.” Secondly, by definition, autodidacts don’t need post-secondary or credentials to be successful. The real achievement of a homeschooler is not entrance into university to succeed in life but to succeed in life without university all together. If the very intent of home education is to separate ourselves from wicked influence then why are we so attracted to the modern university which is the very scourge of depravity itself? If the very intent of home education is family independence, liberty of content and freedom of expression why would we desire to place ourselves in an environment which revokes such rights? University professor himself, Niel Postman, writes, “Schools became the first secular bureaucracies, structures for legitimizing some parts of the flow of information and discrediting other parts. Schools were, in short, a means of governing the ecology of information.” If we are truly self-made individuals and self-learners why the lust to institutionalize ourselves? I simply do not understand how homeschoolers hate public school with such vehemence, but have this inordinate love for university, the veritable culmination of the vices of compulsory schooling. Autodidacts don’t need or want post-secondary credentials. Again, contrary to common opinion schooling and success are not necessarily conducive towards each other. John Milton writes, “The end of learning is to repair the ruin of our first parents, by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge, to love Him, to intimate Him, to be like Him.” You can’t do that in university.

5. a) Are you taking or have you taken any post-secondary education? Explain, including any difficulties you encountered and how you worked those out.

I have taken post-secondary. Again, the difficulty and challenge is not in doing university but doing without it. Employers or customers are far more eager for an individual who has the experience which states they have done it rather than the piece of paper which states they can do it. Alfred North Whitehead remarked, “The valuable intellectual development is self-development.”

5. b) Did you go directly into the workforce instead of post-secondary?  Explain, including any difficulties you encountered and how you worked those out.

I have worked in both white and blue collar vocations during and after homeschooling. A mentor of mind shared with me recently a enormously true consideration. Just because your homeschooled doesn’t mean you get a head start in the workplace. We deceive ourselves if we consider public schoolers as failures and rejects. They will give you a run for your money so think critically and don’t take opportunities for granted.

6. Do you plan/hope to home school your own children someday?

As a homeschool “graduate” I am engaged in Bacon’s curriculum of reading, conference, and writing more than ever before. While reviewing my answers for these questions I came to the realization that I am currently learning, reading, writing, and communicating more ideas regarding more subjects more efficiently and more effectively than I ever remotely did while being educated at home. Therefore the notion of passing this love of learning and accumulation of knowledge on as a homeschool dad if the Lord wills is something beyond pleasure to my mind.

Antidotes to Melancholy

Angst

Q. What are God’s works of providence?

A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing of all his creatures, and all their actions.

PROVIDENCE & JOY

The foregoing doctrinal thesis is a fundamental understanding of Christendom. One which we at Grace Haven are more than familiar with. Acknowledging simply, that providence is the collation of the Divine Provision and the Divine Government of God exercised in His righteousness, wisdom, and omnipotence. It is a necessary doctrine due to the doctrine of Creation (Which the Catechism most wisely explained in the question and answer before). Creation and Providence are intimate doctrines of an inseparable relationship to be preserved to the utmost degree. Just as all creatures were called into being by the creative act of God in Creation, so they instantaneously fall under the sovereignty of God in Providence. This is antithetical to modern man’s philosophy. They are incompatible, and when held in error are egregious. No philosophical idea is religiously neutral. No idea is without consequence. Thus, philosophy and theology answer the same questions, but in different manners. If we were to imagine an atheistic catechism on the question of teleology or meaning we could read thus. Existentialism believes all creatures and all their actions are governed by free will. Nihilism believes all creatures and all their actions are governed by meaninglessness. Platonism – by social engineers. Rationalism – by science. Pragmatism – by the polls. Socialism – by total equality. Environmentalism – by nature. Evolutionism – by chance. These  are all summarily anthropocentric ideas of meaninglessness and purposelessness. Such philosophies are exhibited in the Oxford and Cambridge comedians of Monty Python’s film, “The Meaning of Life.” In the film the meaning of life is dramatically alluded to but never discovered. Contrarily, life is portrayed in the film as absurd and meaninglessness due to the total absence of a discovered purpose. Such abandonment of teleology ought to leave us the audience with an intense emotion of apprehension and anxiety. To overcome this anxiety, Monty Python induces in the audience amusement and comedy, which is nothing less than artificial joy. Neil Postman was absolutely correct when he wrote we a-muse (literally, not-think) ourselves to death. Only a sick and twisted world can come to the most sobering conclusion that there is no meaning and laugh at it. The resulting emotion of anxiety from existential thought was so widely and strongly felt 19th century society that it was given its own word. The term given to depict something of the inner turmoil which terrorized the minds of adherents to existential philosophy was “Angst.” The social ill still persists to this day on a massive scale, just we now call it “mental illness.” Indeed everything and anything outside God’s control leaves man in Edvard Munch’s “infinite scream passing through nature.” Whereas the true realization of providence produces eternal joy in the heart of the believer, an ultimate denial of providence and acceptance in its stead of chaotic chance produces only angst.

ORTHODOXY & ORTHOPRAXY

Therefore, doctrine of Providence may be applied to combat despondency and depression in our lives. It mercifully provides a promised future, not a meaningless chaos. It relieves us of the angst that the philosophies of man will helplessly leave us in. Despondency is fought by preaching the truth of God’s providence to ourselves concerning God and his promised future. Providence is a not just a profound truth, but a profound reality. Morecraft explained this possibility as follows, “In theory it is easy to understand the premise of all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose, but to get this into our blood-streams is another matter. It is one of the most difficult tasks of the practicing Christian. It involves not only believing in God but believing God.” In other words, just shelving this doctrine in your orthodoxy does not permit you to “Pass Go and Collect $200.” It must also affect our orthopraxy. True orthodoxy results in right orthopraxy. Orthodoxy is concerned with believing what is true where Orthopraxy is concerned with doing what is correct. Simply interpreted, what you believe will affect what you do. To have one without the other is hypocrisy and potentially heresy. The great scholastic Robert Burton wrote, “By ignorance we know not things necessary, by error we know them falsely. Ignorance is a privation (Omission), error a positive act (Commission). From ignorance comes vice, from error heresy.”  Without applying the orthodox doctrine of Providence to our orthopraxy, whether through ignorance or error, we will still experience that inner angst. However, if we do apply it the result is a glorious doxology.

DOXOLOGY

The glorious result of true orthodoxy subjoined with right orthopraxy is doxology, that is, praise to God. Piper expounds upon this notably, “There is a deep release and a relief that comes when we find a way of seeing and saying some precious or stunning reality that comes a little closer to closing the breach between what we’ve glimpsed with our mind and what we’ve grasped with our heart.” No matter the intentness of your listening, length of your notes, or eloquence of my speech can the joy of God’s providence be unleashed in our lives. It is a work of the Holy Spirit, requested through prayer, when the heart embraces the true doctrine in the mind. So my prayer today is that God would be pleased to move from an intellectual acceptance of believing in God to a wholehearted embracement of the foundational Scripture to the doctrine of God’s providence. “Also we know that all things work together for the best unto them that love God, even to them that are called of his purpose.” Romans 8:28

BLACK DOG

As stated earlier it is not a difficulty to believe  Providence in Romans 8:28. (There have been many a quixotic and romantic sermon done upon it.) But the Providence of God in Romans 8:28 is a lifetime struggle to believe in and take joy from. The realities of our lives, feelings, and emotions seem so very far from the idealism of the mind. Our lives are so riddled with problems and burdens to carry. We are encumbered with thoughts pensive upon sin in and all around us. Life is ultimately too much work for too little a result, a vanity and futility at best. “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. What remaineth unto man in all his travail, which he suffereth under the sun?” Such at least is the pattern of my own thoughts and while I adhere to Question 11 of the Westminster Catechism I still experience that angst of the unbeliever. As I am aware, this spiritual depression has proven itself to be the predominant sin and battle in my Christian life. Martin Lloyd Jones prophetically wrote, “I have no hesitation in asserting again that one of the reasons why the Christian Church counts for so little in the modern world is that so many Christians are in this condition [of spiritual depression]… The greatest need of the hour is a revived and joyful Church… Unhappy Christians are to say the least, a poor recommendation of the Christian faith.” Lloyd Jones’ assessment has been a painful indictment even in my own life. Countless times family, friends, coworkers, even complete strangers have remarked on my melancholy attitude and countenance. I am not alone in such depression and by far not the furthest overwhelmed. Such spiritual hero’s as the missionary David Brainerd, preacher Charles Spurgeon, and hymn writer William Cowper experienced ineffable suffering under depression. Try as these powerful Christians might, they could not shake throughout their lives their angst. Missionary to the North American Indians, David Brainerd, journaled, “Was so overwhelmed with dejection that I knew not how to live: I longed for death exceedingly: My soul was “sunk in deep waters,” and “the floods” were ready to “drown me”: I was so much pressed that my soul was in a kind of horror.” Spurgeon wrote of it, “Causeless depression cannot be reasoned with, nor can David’s harp charm it away by sweet discoursings. As well fight mist as with this shapeless, undefinable, yet all-beclouding hopelessness… the iron bolt which so mysteriously fastens the door of hope and holds our spirits in gloomy prison, needs a heavenly hand to push it back.”  Winston Churchill throughout his life referenced personal depression as his “black dog.” It is said that his capacity to rally those who felt overwhelmed by the Nazi threat was built after his sixty years of personal adversity with his black dog and acquaintance with the darkness of horror. In 1621, Oxford Scholar, Robert Burton wrote his encyclopedic monograph on clinical depression called, “The Anatomy of Melancholy.” It was and is an exhaustive and heavy theological, medical, and philosophical compendium on the subject. His reasoning for writing such a work was, “I write of melancholy by being busy to avoid melancholy.” Oliver Cromwell’s chaplain, Richard Baxter, preached extensively on depression “Lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.”  Lloyd Jones noted, “Some of the greatest saints are introverts; the extrovert is generally a more superficial person. In the natural realm there is the type of person who is always analyzing himself, analyzing everything he does. The danger for such people is to become “morbid.” Introspective individuals seem to be highly centred on themselves.” So if you find yourself experiencing something of the same, you are by no means the only soul followed by this “Black dog.”

ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY

As a matter of fact, if you as a Christian have not or are not now experiencing depression be sure that you shall in good time. This black dog attacks without discrimination, mercy, or end. Some of you have a mind that is habitually troubled and disquieted. Some of you may know personally a fellow brother or sister in Christ that sees nothing but matters of fear and trouble and all that they hear or do only feeds it. Because they are constantly accused by what they read and learn they cant find delight in anything. Richard Baxter further described depression’s syndrome with, “Fearful dreams trouble them when they sleep, and distracted thoughts do keep them long walking; it offends them to see another laugh, or be merry; they think that every beggars case is happier than theirs; they will hardly believe that any one else is in their case they have no pleasure in relations, friends, estate, or anything..” Men like William Cowper and John Bunyan struggled with the apprehension of God having forsaken them and that their day of grace was past or mind’s were haunted with deprived and blasphemous suggestions. “In a word” finished Baxter, “fears, and troubles, and almost despair, are the constant temper of their minds.” Probably the most fearful reality of this depression is that in many cases those suffering, cannot be consoled nor say anything against those that attempt to convince them of the sincerity of their faith in God. Encourage them as you may, it relieves them of not of the slightest degree of their trouble. “Quiet them a hundred times, and their fears a hundred times return.” “Thy life shall hang before thee, and thou shalt fear both night and day, and shalt have none assurance of thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were evening, and at the evening thou shalt say, Would God it were morning, for the fear of thine heart, which thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes, which thou shalt see.” Deuteronomy 28:67. And so it seems to the poor Christian that “all things work together for their worst.”

UNBELIEF

The causes of despondency are as complex and numerous as their syndromes. Depression is never a simple thing. It can be as much spiritual as physical. Lloyd Jones clarified, “You cannot isolate the spiritual from the physical for we are body, mind and spirit.” Psalm 73:26 reads, “My flesh faileth and mine heart also…” Both Burton and Baxter go to great lengths in their respective monographs to address the physical causation and reliefs of melancholy. Says Burton, “Now the instrumental causes of these our infirmities, are as diverse as the infirmities themselves; stars, heavens, elements, &c. And all those creatures which God hath made, are armed against sinners. They were indeed once good in themselves, and that they are now many of them pernicious unto us, is not in their nature, but our corruption, which hath caused it.” There is no simple or single cause of despondency, however it is safe to say there is an ultimate one. Unbelief. Unbelief in God. Unbelief in His providence, His justification, His expiation, His imputation, His grace and such like is the ultimate cause of all spiritual depression. A believer may experience grave depression and it is only unbelief that would let it take its course without resistance. But is it a sin to helplessly  feel depressed? John Piper clarifies this quandary, “The first shockwaves of the blast of despondency are not the sin. The sin is not turning on the air-raid siren, and not heading for the bomb shelters, and not deploying the antiaircraft weapons. If Satan drops a bomb on your peace, and you don’t make ready for war, people are going to wonder whose side you’re on.” So when the believer experiences a spirit of melancholy, however anatomized, they must wage war on it by activating their belief. It is not a sin to feel that sickening rush of depression come suddenly upon you, or to struggle months on end in its clutches, yet it is a sin to not give up a fight at the least. It is not a sin to be as Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:8, “afflicted on every side, yet we are not in distress: we are in doubt, but yet we despair not.” When we permit without resistance for our situations, condition, feelings, or emotion to control us we are implying a lack of belief in God’s Providence. Lloyd Jones warned, “A Christian should never, like the worldly person, be depressed, agitated, alarmed, frantic, not knowing what to do.” God’s abundant grace still remains to take up that which we did not. The Christian is not impervious to pressure and suffering, its only that the Christian is the one who can rise above such things. Christianity is not a monastical repression of feelings. The more Christian you are does not mean the greater absence of feelings you will experience. On the other hand, the further your walk with Christ the more feelings you will experience, both good and bad. As one poet wrote,

“Ah my dear angry Lord,

Since thou dost love, yet strike;

Cast down, yet help afford;

Sure I will do the like.

I will complain, yet praise;

I will bewail, approve:

And all my swore-sweet dayes

I will lament, and love.”

So the Christian is always engulfed in feelings. Overall, as stated earlier, when we believe in the Providence of God in our own lives to “work all things together for the best” will we experience victory over angst. In angst, the imagination runs wild and we spend ourselves in a mad dream chasing and arguing imaginations all the while depriving ourselves of the joy of the Lord.  “Peace, peace, there is no peace.” But, we may assure ourselves that we can and shall be revived by God if applied. “The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Ps 19:7He restoreth my soul.”  Ps 23:3 “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is the fullness of joy: and at they right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Ps 16:11 “Joy cometh in the mourning.” Ps 30:5. The difficulty is not in intellectually accepting Question 11 of the Catechism, nor agreeing with the testimony of Scripture, but in applying it as a weapon against our depression or helping others apply it in their own struggles.

SOLILOQUIZE

Martin Luther wrote, “Preach the gospel to yourself every day because everyday you forget it.” There is a radical method herein and it is “Soliloquy.” Soliloquy is the act of speaking one’s thoughts when by oneself. It is a notable pattern in the Psalms to read soliloquy phrases as Psalm 42:5, “Why art thou cast down, my soul, and unquiet within me?” Lloyd Jones acutely observed, “Notice the psalmist addresses himself – “he talks to himself,” and herein he discovers the cure.” It is mainly when our feelings and emotions and perception control our lives that we succumb to  depression and melancholy. Our emotions are as Delilah’s pleading to Samson.  They are importunate upon us with their wailing words continually, and vex us, and our souls are pained unto death. The psalmist recognized the main issue of spiritual depression is that we permit our “self” to do the talking instead of “talking to ourself.” Lloyd Jones goes on to describe this inner soliloquy, “Most unhappiness in life is due to the fact that we ‘listen to ourselves’ instead of ‘talking to ourselves.’ David, in effect, says, ‘Self, listen for a moment to what I have to say – why are you so cast down?’ The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself, question yourself, and preach to yourself – you must remind yourself who God is, and what God has done, and what God has promised to do – this is the essence of the treatment in a nutshell. We must understand that this ‘self’ of ours – this other man within us has got to be handled; do not listen to him! turn on him! speak to him! remind him of what you know! So rather than listening to him and allowing him to drag you down and depress you – you must take control!” When depression hits, someone is doing the talking. Someone is doing the convincing. The question is who is? When your eyes open in the morning and stare at the ceiling who is reintroducing you to all your problems? When you read your bank statement who is reciting all your failings in your head? When you read your Bible who is reminding you of all your guilt? When you fellowship who is saying how unworthy you are to receive? Who is instilling unbelief in your soul? Be as the soliloquizing psalmist and preach to yourself everyday the providence of God, because everyday you forget God’s providence.

WHAT TO SAY?

You must preach Christ to yourself. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness” not happiness. “Seek for happiness” says Lloyd Jones, “and you will never find it; seek righteousness and you will discover you are happy!” Preach so that you may have an understanding of justification, not sanctification. Piper cautions, “Confusing justification and sanctification will kill joy.” See with John Bunyan that “Thy righteousness is in heaven… I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, he lacks my righteousness, for that was just before him. I also saw, moreover, that it is was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, “The same yesterday, today, and forever.” Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful Scriptures of God left off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing for the grace and love of God.” A common issue in spiritual depression is a sense of our own unworthiness. Preach to yourself the difference of the kingdom of God to the kingdoms of men. “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” Leave off your bargaining spirit and remember “I am who I am by the grace of God.” Lloyd Jones encourages, “Do not keep a record or an account of your work! Give up being a bookkeeper… Leave the bookkeeping to Him and to His grace. Let Him keep the accounts. The truth is, there is nothing so gracious as God’s method of accountancy. Be prepared for surprises in this Kingdom. The truth is, you never know what is going to happen! The last shall be first! What a complete reversal of our materialistic outlook – everything in God’s kingdom is upside down!” Preach to yourself James 1:2, “Count it exceeding joy, when ye fall into divers tentations.” Philippians 1:29, “For unto you it is given for Christ, that not only ye should believe in him, but also suffer for his sake.” John 16:33, “In the world ye shall have affliction, but be of good comfort: I have overcome the world.” Acts 14:22 “We must through many afflictions enter into the kingdom of God.”

HAVE FAITH

Christian faith is a very concrete, logical, and intelligent act. Christian faith is never blind.

“Blind unbelief is sure to err,

And scan his work in vain;

God is his own interpreter,

And he will make it plain.”

Faith is by nature an act or action, and must be manually started and put into operation. Faith is not a feeling. Faith is not “feeling assured” or “feeling at peace.” Feelings are fleeting, moment to moment and cannot be faith itself. “Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet” is has been defined. Faith does not oblige or intreat the temptation, it rejects it without deliberation. How it does so is far from blind, but incredibly logical and intelligent. The foundation of true, logical, intelligent faith is naturally the truth, God’s Scripture. Baxter wrote, “Hold to God’s word, the sacred Bible, written by the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost… It is not divine faith if it rest not on divine revelation, nor is it divine obedience which is not given by divine government or command.” Faith rejects just as naturally the temptation’s lie as it naturally affirms the truth. Faith considers, agrees, and logically thinks through all that we know to be true and then applies the truth against the onslaught of lies. 1 John 5:4, “This is that victory that overcomes this world even our faith.” Faith is a immune system to the soul, a logical algorithm which carefully calculates all the statements of our temptations and puts them into antithesis with all the propositions of Scripture and concludes the temptations to be logically invalid. The key is to only consider and preach to yourself God’s providential plan. “Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” The moment you pensively consider and permit your self to do the talking you loose ground. As with the Apostle Peter, the moment you take your eyes of Christ and start “focusing on those things that are in juxtaposition to faith” such as the billowing waves, the temptation gives birth to sin and you sink. So the cure to spiritual depression is knowledge of Christ and we hear that in Scripture and we receive Scripture by faith. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” “For ye have not received the Spirit of bondage, to fear again” “He that hath begun this good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” “Now not him that is able to keep you that ye fall not, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with joy, That is, to God only wise, our Saviour be glory, and majesty, and dominion, and power, both now and forever, Amen.” Faith refuses to be tyrannized by circumstances, reactionary on an extreme level, or dependant upon conditions we desire to control. Burton wrote, “the actions of the will are belle and nolle, to will and nil.” Faith wills contentment and nils anxiety. Faith even refuses to “Just suck it up” and repress emotion from the conscious mind to the subconscious. Faith also does not mean we will “feel better” or that our situation will “change.” Paul learned by faith to be content in all situations not controlling of all situations. Lloyd Jones summed it up as follows, “Conditions are always changing, therefore I must not be dependent upon them. What matters supremely is my soul and my relationship with God. God is concerned about me, and nothing happens to me apart for His approving it. God’s will and God’s way are a great mystery, and whatever He permits is for my good. Every situation in life is the unfolding of some manifestation of God’s love and goodness. I must regard circumstances and conditions as a part of God’s perfecting my soul. Whatever my conditions may be at the present moment, they are only temporary.” Summarily, don’t just believe in Question 11, believe God’s providence.

MEANS OF GRACE

Give thanks in all things. Richard Baxter in a message on melancholy instructed, “Resolve to spend most of your time in thanksgiving and praising God. If you cannot do it with the joy that you should, yet do it as you can. You have not the power of your comforts: but have you no power of your tongues?… Doing it as you can is the way to be able to do it better. Thanksgiving with the mouth started up thankfulness in the heart.” Now you may say that to your weak and weary soul all of this speaking, faith, prayer, and thanksgiving in the battle against the depression of your mind sounds exhausting. Well, you are absolutely correct. Exercising the very practical methods and means of waging war on despondency will deplete you of almost everything, but it is more exhausting not to resist and remain in your disquieted state. It is more devastating to listen to yourself to you than for you to address your self. Baxter stressed that, “A delight in God and goodness, and a joyful, praising frame of soul, from the belief of the love of God through Christ, is far more to be desired than grief and tears, which do but sweep away some dirt, that love, joy, and thankfulness may enter, which are the true evangelical, Christian temper, and likest to the heavenly state.” Behold in this, the example of Christ in Gethsemane who took with himself his close disciples. So too, use with thankfulness the help of men. For others, be not unwilling to support those suffering in such wise. “There is no wasted work in loving those without light” says Piper. Again to the despondent, do not be alone. Burton wrote of solitude, “When I would solace myself with a fool, I reflect upon myself, and there I have him.” Baxter encouraged, “Though lawyers, as such, have none of the legislative power, you need their help to understand the use of the law aright. And though no men have power to make laws for the church universal, yet men must be our teachers to understand and use the laws of God.” Refuse the confusion and despondency of man’s anthropocentric philosophies. Refuse to confuse. “Never set a doubtful opinion” said Baxter, “against a certain truth or duty; reduce not things certain to things uncertain.” Faithfully serve Christ as far as you have attained remembering that “I am who I am by the grace of God.” Never stop learning the truth of God to preach to yourself. Continue as Christ’s scholars in learning more and more. Remember the difference between justification and sanctification. Remember, “It is not by some extraordinary act, good or bad, that we may be sure what state the soul is in, but by the predominant bent, and drift, and tenor of the heart and life.” Forget not also to pray,

“When all things seem against us,

To drive us to despair,

We know one gate is open

One ear will hear our prayer.”

CONCLUSION

William Cowper, a dear Christian sustained through his life by the his Christian brother John Newton was immersed in depression for all his days. He wrote the following hymn:

“God moves in a mysterious way 

His wonders to perform;

He plants his footsteps in the sea

And rides upon the storm.

Of never failing skill

He treasures up his bright designs

And works his sovereign will.

You fearful saints, fresh courage take,

The clouds you so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on your head.

His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.”

To end with Baxter, “Digest these truths, and they will cure you.”

Is Science Good for the World?

Rusticated in a small, bucolic village their lived two priests who were responsible for their own respective parishes. Both priests had a dilemma, and that was the desire to smoke while they prayed. To resolve this quandary both decided to write to the Pope in inquiry. The one priest wrote to the Pope, “Is it permissible to smoke while praying?” to which the Pope reposted that it was not, since prayer should be the focus of one’s whole attention. Now, the other priest, being more crafty than his contemporary wrote to the Pope and asked tactfully, “Is it permissible to pray while smoking?” To which he frabjously received the reply that it is was, since it is always appropriate to pray. The moral of the story is that the form of every question may hinder us from identifying the answers to problems that otherwise become noticeable when the question is ever so slightly rephrased. Hence the title of this lecture “Is Science Good for the World?” You may find it humorous for the fact that it is a word-play and slight alteration to  one of our culture’s more clamorous debate titles, namely, Is Religion Good for the World? We have witnessed the new atheist movement mantle its intelligentsia on this issue with such polemics as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. In 2010 Hitchens engaged in the enormously popular Munk debate with former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, entitled, “Is Religion a Force for Good or Ill?” In 2007 Hitchens and pastor Douglas Wilson published a series of written exchanges on the topic of “Is Christianity Good for the World?” and in the following year filmed a documentary on the same subject. Both Dawkins and Hitchens have respectively debated with the Christian Oxford Mathematician, John Lennox, over “The God Delusion” and “God is not Great”.  Dawkins has written, “As a scientist, I am hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise. It teaches us not to change our minds, and not to want to know exciting things that are available to be known. It subverts science and saps the intellect.” Hitchens likewise, “There are, indeed, several ways in which religion is not just amoral, but positively immoral. And these faults and crimes are not to be found in the behaviour of its adherents (Which can sometimes be exemplary) but in its original precepts.” I herein have entertained the notion to hoist these assayer’s own petard by interchanging the object of the discourse. The inquiry now concerns whether or not science is good for the world. Is science a force for good or ill? Is science a delusion? Is science even great?

Science Poisons Everything

The mechanical clock was a remarkable invention of the Benedictine monks of the thirteenth century. It was conceived as a instrument to regulate the seven times of devotion to be conducted each day. It provided a salient solution to the quandary of maintaining routine. The clock thus originated as an instrument of worship, a mechanism to advance holiness. However, the Benedictine monks did not foresee the revolution it would bring forth once it moved outside their monastery walls. Once the merchants had obtained this new scientific technology, they transformed the material world by it. It opened the possibility and birthed the reality of regular production and labor. It made possible Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations.” As Neil Postman wrote, “The clock was invented by men who wanted to devote themselves more rigorously to God; it ended as the technology of greatest use to men who wished to devote themselves to the accumulation of money.” It transmogrified from an instrument of righteousness to an instrument of mammon. Similarly when Galileo took hold of Johann Lippershey’s toy and transformed it into an instrument of science that we now call the telescope, it was to discover the glories of God’s heavens in a manner that had not been possible before. Like the Benedictine monks, Galileo could not foresee the injury this instrument would do to the offices of the Roman Church by collapsing it’s geocentric doctrine. With righteous pure intention, devoid and unadulterated by any inclination toward subverting religion, the sciences of these men eventually deposed the very design of their contrivance. These events (Among the other inventions and technologies such as the printing press and stethoscope as Postman would argue) were the accouchement of modern science. These new instruments simply didn’t add or subtract from the world, rather, they changed both the world and its words. With the invention of the telescope “heavens” took upon itself an entirely new meaning, for no longer was it an abstract expression of God’s glory and man’s centre in it.  Societies perception of reality, meaning, and truth was reordered. With the invention of the clock whole nation’s were now commandeered by a capitalism endowed with order. Their interests and what they thought about was restructured. With the invention of the printing press “knowledge” received an entirely new definition and purpose. With new technologies competing for a dominance of world-view over the old technologies, institutions, (Especially the church and state) were threatened and created a cultural crisis. Postman critiqued, “Technologies change what we mean by “knowing” and “truth”; they alter those deeply embedded habits of thought which give to a culture its sense of what the world is like – a sense of what is the natural order of things, of what is reasonable, of what is necessary, of what is inevitable, of what is real.” Science was now the prolegomenon of the future and in this future man could scientifically measure all things. When man is the one measuring all things, he himself becomes the measure of all things. Man was now more interested in the age of rocks than the Rock of Ages. Science poisons everything.

The Poison in Science

The poison in science is its’ major tenant that we can know everything about the science of anything by science and science alone. So it is its own end and its own means or as Henry David Thoreau stated of technology, “Inventions are but an unimproved means to an unimproved end.” In our neurosis for assimilating how to measure all things, the inquiry as to why we measure all things also abates in relevance. The poison is in science for the sake of science. Science tells us that we must develop our knowledge of truth, meaning, and value absolutely on our own initiative by rationally building out from ourselves, having only man as our integration point. This is no more than one pulling himself up by his own bootstraps. Francis Schaeffer wrote in The God Who is There of this kind of rationalism, “If you want to understand the century you live in, you must realize that it is not the outward form which the dialectic takes which is the real enemy. This may be expressed in theistic or atheistic forms. The real enemy is not the form it takes, but the dialectical methodology itself.” We have deified  science to the point where it validates our meaning, it authorizes our actions and it satisfies our wants. Those most affable to this poison are those who recognize science as the chief achievement of man and the solution to all our extremities. In the time of the Benedictine monks, Galileo, and the Gutenberg Press people believed in the authority of their religion, no matter what. Today, we believe in the authority of our science, no matter what. And as Postman argued, “We believe, because their is no reason not to believe.” Furthermore science is best prescribed and performed by experts such as our friends Dawkins and Hitchens. As Postman said, “We must not be dazzled or deluded by differences in method between preachers and scholars.” For these and other scientist do not merely diktat scientific laws of biological or chemical matters, but arrogate our social and moral affairs such as preachers would. With the weakening of the church and historic cultural institutions by the invasion of new technologies and sciences the people lose confidence in these old values and tradition. The Galileo Heliocentric Trial and three hundred years later the Scopes Monkey Trial illustrate the enfeebling of our institutions as Postman argued, “In their defeat, more was lost than the Bible’s claim to explain the origins and structure of nature. The Bible’s authority in defining and categorizing moral behaviour was also weakened.” Herein science’s cognoscenti come to fill in the vacuum left by the institution of the church. Neil Postman in his book Technopoly provides a Huxleyan like prophesy of this, “In Technopoly, all experts are invested with the charisma of priestliness. Some of our priest-experts are called psychiatrists, some psychologists, some sociologists, some statisticians (And I would add, some are called scientists). The god they serve does not speak of righteousness or goodness or mercy or grace. Their god speaks of efficiency, precision, objectivity. And that is why such concepts as sin and evil disappear in Technopoly. They come from a moral universe that is irrelevant to the theology of expertise. And so the priests of Technopoly call sin “social deviance,” which is a statistical concept, and they call evil “psychopathology,” which is a medical concept. Sin and evil disappear because they cannot be measured and objectified, and therefore cannot be dealt with by experts.” We live and are encompassed by the age of science and are desensitized to these very ideologies, to the poison of our science. Postman dissected this poison into three principal parts, “The first and indispensable idea is, as noted, that the methods of the natural sciences can be applied to the study of human behavior. The second idea is, as also noted, that social science generates specific principles which can be used to organize society on a rational and humane basis. The third idea is that faith in science can serve as a comprehensive belief system that gives meaning to life, as well as a sense of well-being, morality, and even immortality.” Before and since the mechanical clock the increasingly secularized scientific world is looking for an alternative moral authority to the church. In their desperation they plead, wish, and hope for the natural scientist to say it is science that speaks, not the subjective, frail judgments of mere mortals, to moral issues. They long for the illusion that their data, their structures, their procedures, their science speak as accurately, precisely, quantifiably, and reliably on moral matters as they do on material matters. That science not only is the solution for the narrative of life, but even provides us with the narrative in the first place. This kind of science is a poison.

The Science Delusion

The delusion of this kind of science is simple. To put it in the basic explanation of John Lennox, “Science can tell you that, if you add strychnine to your grandmother’s tea, it will kill her. But science cannot tell you whether it is morally right or wrong to put strychnine into your grandmother’s tea so that you can get your hands on her property.” Real science, natural science, principled science, can explain how the world around us operates, but it cannot explain why or how it morally and metaphysically ought to. Or as Postman wrote, “Science can tell us when a heart begins to beat, or movement begins, or what are the statistics on the survival of neonates of different gestational ages outside the womb. But science has no more authority than you do or I do to establish such criteria as the “true” definition of “life” or of human state or of personhood.” None of the experts of modern science can quantify or qualify values to metaphysical and moral matters. They cannot be measured, to attempt such would be a misapplication of technique. Postman identified this impasse of quantifying metaphysicals in Technopoly, “The first problem is called reification, which means converting an abstract idea (mostly, a word) into a thing. The second problem is ranking. Ranking requires a criterion for assigning individuals to their place in a single series”  So no matter how desperate the cry for a new moral authority, science has no answer, anything else is a romantic delusion.

Science is not Great

“Christianity on the other hand is not romantic; it is realistic” writes Schaeffer, “Christianity is realistic because it says that if there is no truth, there is also no hope; and there can be no truth if there is no adequate base. It is prepared to face the consequences of being proved false and say with Paul: If you find the body of Christ, the discussion is finished; let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. It leaves absolutely no room for a romantic answer… Christianity does not look over this tired and burdened world and say that it is slightly flawed, a little chipped, but easily mended. Christianity is realistic and says the world is marked with evil and man is truly guilty all along the line. Christianity refuses to say that you can be hopeful for the future if you are basing your hope on evidence of change for the better in mankind. The Christian agrees with the people in genuine despair that the world must be looked at realistically, whether in the area of Being or morals.” Neither though is Christianity nihilistic as principled science would leave the individual, without salvific word on moral authority or redemption. Christianity alone gives the answer to the meaninglessness that principled science logically concludes with. Christianity answers that our revolt has separated us from the God who is there, and this God who is there is not silent, but has sent his only begotten Son. Science is not great enough to measure all things (i.e. Being, morals, metaphysics) and science is not great enough to be the measure of all things.

Science Kills

So then is this poison of science good for the world? Is the delusion that man can scientifically measure issues of morality, being, and metaphysics a force for good? These are but rhetorical questions. When we, as the crafty priest, rephrase the question, we find, in Marshall McLuhan’s words, “The medium is the message.” That is to say that scientism is not just a vehicle of knowledge, but it has become the driver. “Along the way” Postman wrote, “It ceased to be merely a servant of social institutions and became their master.” Scientism we now observe has ideologies and a teleological concept. The plinth of this concept is that all things can be calculated. Not just the age of rocks, or weight of microscopic matter, or human anatomy, but even the worth of these things. Even human beings and their souls as Michel Foucault phrased become, “A calculable person.” The illusionary ability to assign a concrete, logical number to an abstract idea. This is a fairly tale like question, “Who is the fairest of them all?” As if we can measure beauty, intelligence, and life itself. This fairyland makes possible the discipline of eugenics, genocide, abortion, censorship, and other such atrocities where science commandeers itself outside the physical world into the metaphysical. History has only to tell us that this science has and does kill, literally.

Science a By-Product of Religion

The greatest prestidigitation of science is the illusion of being able to give authority to the realm of morality. Pastor Douglas Wilson in his Huffington post article, “Athiests Suck at Being Athiests” removes the smoke and mirrors behind such a nefarious claim. “So if the universe is what the atheist maintains it is, then this determines what sort of account we must give for the nature of everything — and this includes the atheist’s thought processes, ethical convictions, and aesthetic appreciations. If you were to shake up two bottles of pop and place them on a table to fizz over, you could not fill up an auditorium with people who came to watch them debate. This is because they are not debating; they are just fizzing. If you were to shake up one bottle of pop, and show it film footage of some genocidal atrocity, the reaction you would get is not moral outrage, but rather more fizzing. And if you were to shake it really hard by means of art school, and place it in front of Michelangelo’s David, or the Rose Window of Chartres Cathedral, the results would not really be aesthetic appreciation, but more fizzing still.” If you remove the romanticism from science you are left with an abject despair, because all science can really observe about morality is that the universe doesn’t care, it just keeps on fizzing and so should we. Yet in their romantic fantasy they still make pronounced moral claims. Take Dawkins in his book “The God Delusion.” “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Once again, Dawkins, as a scientist could very well make such observations about the God of the Old Testament, but what he is limited to do as a scientist is assert whether such attributes of the God of the Old Testament are good or evil, great or pathetic. When Dawkins and science would declare that such attributes are, for instance, bad they are speaking as men not scientists. Furthermore, they are speaking as men who borrow Christian capital to arrange their own sense of morality and they use this concoction of morality to poison Christianity in return. Science hereby becomes a by-product of religion that hijacks the vehicle of religion and crashes it into a tree.

Child Abuse

The new atheist movement has held little reserve in expressing its rage toward the teaching of religion to children by parents and persons of trust. Dawkins wrote, “I am persuaded that the phrase ‘child abuse’ is no exaggeration when used to describe what teachers and priests are doing to children whom they encourage to believe in something like the punishment of unshaven mortal sins in an eternal hell.” Hitchens similarly in “God is not Great” writes, “When we consider whether religion has “done more harm than good” – not that this would say anything at all about its truth or authenticity – we are faced with an imponderably large question. How can we ever know how many children had their psychological and physical lives irreparably maimed by the compulsory inculcation of faith?… But we can be sure that religion has always hoped to practice upon the unformed and undefended minds of the young, and has gone to great lengths to make sure of this privilege by making alliances with secular powers in the material world.” Hence in the age of scientism, schools have replaced the institution of the Church and become science’s firs bureaucracies. Bureacracies designed for the governing of, as Postman said, “The ecology of information.” Yet science has poisoned this institution as well with the chimera of being purely scientific in the sense of being religiously and morally neutral, object, and observatory in its content, methodology, and culture. As Cornelious Van Till observed, “Brute factuality does not exist.” That is to say, all facts must be interpreted to have meaning. Furthermore, the selection of facts we include and exclude in our education system reflect as Postman argued, “The theory of the purpose and meaning of education.” Doug Phillips in his excellent article, “Education Choices are Not Neutral” remarks, “The very culture in which education takes place is a reflection of the religious assumptions, values, beliefs, and character qualities of the people who form the environment in which education takes place.” The poison in the school institutions of the scientistic age is the guise of moral neutrality when in reality it has no moral center. It is an education which has been emptied of a coherent worldview, a meaningful narrative of life, a teleological concept, a moral, intellectual, and social centre. It is Dawkins platitude, “Children should be taught not so much what to think as how to think… The important point is that it is their privilege to decide what they shall think and not heir parents; privilege to impose it by force majeure.” This is an ineffable abuse, of the souls of countless children today in school institutions being expunged of reality and surrogated with the poisonous myth of science being both the measurer and measure of all things. The incalculable damaging effect of having their worth and meaning calculated for them by the austere scientism medium.

Resistance Fighters

The only coherent worldview, complete narrative, and moral authority can be found in the Scriptures. The words therein are true and sufficient for all of life and godliness. True science may indeed reveal to us the “how” in the operations of this physical world. But if we are left only with this science, it will lead inevitably to a rationalism of despair or an empiricism of romance. Both are insufficient and poisonous to societies. What’s required is not an additive, but rather a base consisting of the true revelation to us of the “why” in the operations of this physical and metaphysical world. We must be watchful and wary of the ideologies that are the invisible hand behind new technologies and sciences as the Benedictine monk and Galileo and the Gutenberg press exemplify. We must be attentive to what things we measure by science and leave that which cannot be measured untouched. While we may use science to measure certain things we must not permit science to become the measure of all things. We must free ourselves from the magical delusion of science having the ability to calculate the worth of being and ideas. We must not regard the lauded scientific calculation of our age and society as an adequate substitute to judgment or synonym to truth. We must not lose the battle of definitions that are waged against old traditions and words by new institutions and technologies. We must rather take seriously the institution of the Church as being the depository of the doctrine and words of God. We must furthermore refute science being an institution that acts as the depository, producer, and wholesaler of truth. We admire science but do not embrace it as the chief end of man.

The Peacemaker: Cromwell Prt. 3

A Peacemaker

Cromwell lived in a time while the European continent trembled with horrendous conflicts against the powerhouse of Popery. Oliver and his generation witnessed more wars, divisions, tumults, and rebellions than any other single generation in history up to the Great Wars. King Charles the 1st, son of King James the 1st, was the second of the Stuart Kings and was introducing popery and the blood-soaked persecution of thousands of England’s protestants with the aid of the Catholic Irish. Attempting to rid himself of resistance the King had silenced Parliament for over eleven years which historian refer to as the “Eleven Years of Tyranny.” During such times the protestants were placed in pillories, indebted with unbearable fines, publicly whipped, bodily disassembled, branded, and executed. Whereupon the Scottish Covenanters took up arms and marched against the King. English parliament had reassembled and formed their own Independent Model Army and began therewith to disassemble the engines of tyranny. Our Huntingdonshire yeoman now forty-two years old and father of six, Oliver Cromwell, was among those in the House of Commons to take leave of their peaceful country life and undertake commanding positions in the Parliamentary militia against the King. It was this man as D-Aubigne records was, “To become one of the greatest statesmen of modern times.” This was the first modern war we see in post-medivial history, a war for religious, political, and social freedom. Contrary to the European model of nominating men of nobility and estate as officers, Cromwell elected men of poor and lowly parentage but men who were nonetheless godly and precious. It was not the French Jacobites or Russian Marxists who pioneered such revolution, but the English Calvinist, Oliver Cromwell. Of his men Cromwell stated, “I will raise men who will have the fear of God before their eyes, and who will bring some conscience to what they do; and I promise you they shall not be beaten”, and indeed the “Old Ironside’s” cavalry was never beaten. After four gruesome years of war in 1646 the King surrendered to the Scottish Covenanters. Three divisive years later after the King had contrived his own demise he was beheaded by the English Parliament. Ireland retaliated with the sanguinary slaughter of 50,000 to 200,000 protestants and puritans. As Carlyle wrote, “Oliver descended on Ireland like the hammer of Thor; smote it, as at one felt stroke, into dust and ruin, never to reunite against him more.” Oliver forged with his hammer of Thor, a peace and prosperity in Ireland which has never been witnessed since. And thus, in the space of a few decades God called his servant Cromwell from his family life in the country, to being a representative in the House of Commons, to a leader of the Model Army, to the saviour and protector of puritan England against the tyranny of popery and the maker of peace among divided sects and nations. Cromwell reproduced that same peace of his own soul in England, Ireland, and soon Scotland and the rest of Europe. Though it seem at first a paradox or irony, Cromwell was of all men in Church history, a peacemaker.

Here and Here Only

But what is peace and did Cromwell bring about true peace or was he no more of a power hungry tyrant than King Charles l who preceded him? What peace are both Cromwell and even we to make in our own day? Peace is simply a social state of existence characterized by individual uniformity in thought, word, and deed to a particular belief of that which is true, good, beautiful, and eternal. Peace is not just some abstract philosophy or political term, it is a special state of existence. You either exist in peace or outside of it. Additionally, peace is a state of uniform existence between two or more parties. On a personal level, this peace is a harmony between a plurality of thoughts or emotions, on a social level, this peace is an unity between individuals, groups, and associations, on an ecological level this peace is an order between man made in the image of God, and God’s “ex-nihlo” made creation. Peace doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it presupposes two or more parties living in unison. Thus peace is not just a state, but a social state of existence where each member of this society unites all their faculties with each other individual member of that society in a particular order of belief. Naturally, this is the point where the peace is broken, and this is where it was divided in Cromwell’s day. What was England, Ireland, and Scotland to believe to be true, good, beautiful, and eternal and how were they to exercise their faculties thereto? Was the King to be true and Catholicism good? Or was Cromwell’s puritanism true and religious freedom good? What the persecution of heretics under the Popery of King Charles a beautiful thing? Or was the prosperity of a new Ireland under freedom beautiful? Was the doctrines of man in Catholicism eternal? Or was God’s Word in Scripture eternal? Here once again Cromwell’s cry to Ireland for God’s peace of religious freedom, “As for the people, what thoughts they have in matters of religion in their own breasts I cannot reach; But shall think it my duty, if they walk honestly and peaceably, not to cause them in the least to suffer the same. And shall endeavour to walk patiently and in love towards them, to see if at any time it shall please God to give them another or a better mind. And all men under the power of England, within this dominion, are hereby required and enjoined strictly and religiously to do the same.” In our day and in our modern Canadian culture peace would be described to us as a society that uniformly believes that humanism is true, socialist equality is good, individual expression is beautiful, and the only thing eternal is the previous three beliefs. Thus “peace” for the humanist society is “made” through statist means of restricting all forms of individual “Force” which would change the social peace, diminishing all forms of “Privilege”  which would uproot social equality, censoring all forms of “discrimination and intolerance” which would say that not every form of individual expression is beautiful, and silencing any claim that there is an eternal “Prince of Peace.” We see such acts of “peacemaking” daily in our nation alone. Cromwell believed as a Christian that God desired a much different and far better state of uniform social existence for England, Ireland, and Scotland than the tyranny of the Kind and the popery of Catholicism. I hold with Cromwell that Paul stated this state of peace clearly in Colossians 1:16, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” Thus for the Christian, peace, true peace, is a state of existence where I, as an individual, am right with God. What God says to be true, I believe to be true. What God says to be good, I believe to be good. What God says to be beautiful, I believe to be beautiful. What God says to be eternal, I believe to be eternal. And in all these things I unite the totality of my faculties in worship and observance. I only have true peace when I am right with God, and my society only has true peace when it is right with God. Outside of God, there is no peace. Furthermore, this peace with God is achieved through the work of the cross of Jesus Christ. Christ alone is the means to reconcile all things whether on earth or in heaven as holy, unblameable, and unreprovable in the sight of God. This makes God, the ultimate peacemaker. All of God’s acts in redemptive history were toward making final, lasting peace between Himself and mankind. When God made man in his image it was make peace between himself and man. When God destroyed the world in the flood, it was to save Noah and his family and all their descendants through the water. When God crushed his own Son on the cross, it was to make peace between Himself and me. Outside of God, and outside of the cross, there is no peace. Isaiah 57:20-21, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” This is why total peace will only be realized in heaven, where each soul present, “Shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Herein, and therein only is perfect peace and it was this state of peace Cromwell made and wrote of in the following to his son. “This commends the love of God: it’s Christ dying for men without strength, for men whilst sinners, whilst enemies. And shall we seek the root of our comforts within us, What god hath done, what He is to us in Christ, this is the root of our comfort: in this is stability; in us is weakness. Acts of obedience are not perfect, and therefore yield not perfect Grace. Faith, as an act, yields it not; but only as it carries us into Him, who is our perfect rest and peace; in whom we are accounted of, and received by, the Father – even as Christ Himself! This is our high calling. Rest here, and here only.”

Pax Queritur Bello

So what does it mean to be a peacemaker like the Apostle Paul and Cromwell? If being a peacemaker is an indicative of being a child of God then how do I show myself to be that selfsame child of God? Jesus answers this question further on in his Sermon on the Mount in the context of verse 45, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” In other words, want to be a child of your Father in heaven? Want to be a peacemaker? Want to be a Cromwellian? Want o be an Ironside? Make and take the practical initiatives for peace where there is a lack or absence of peace between you and another. Love them, bless them, do good to them, and pray for them. Hear in Cromwell’s own words, how he loved his enemies in Scotland after Charles’ death, “We made great professions of love; knowing we were to deal with many who were godly, and who pretended to be stumbled at our invasion: indeed our bowels were pierced again and again; the Lord helped us to sweet words, and in sincerity to mean them. We were rejected again and again; yet still we begged to be believed that we loved them as our own souls; they often returned evil for good…” We will see each of these specific steps of Biblical peacemaking carefully observed by Cromwell as he sought to make peace with his brethren in Scotland. As D’Aubigne wrote, “Peace and the blessing of peace were all that he ever sought in war: he now wished to impart them to his people.” Later in England, on Cromwell’s medals and coins was engraved the following “Pax Queritur Bello” “On earth Peace!”

Peace or Truth?

The paradox facing the peacemaker every day as it faced Cromwell is the dilemma of could it be the peacemaker’s fault when the division is caused by their taking a stand? Was Cromwell as a peacemaker wrongly disturbing the peace when he united and defended an antithetical belief to the King, or claimed the King’s belief to be antithetical itself? Must Cromwell stand for peace or for truth? At what point should Cromwell brake the peace and come to the defence of truth? And what means should Cromwell use to brake the peace? Again we go back to the definition. Many Christians hold a humanistic definition of peace, a view of peace which, as stated earlier, holds all use of force or acts of violence as wrong or ineffectual. A view which holds peace as superior to truth. A view which sacrifices truth on the alter of peace. Such a view is antithetical to Biblical thought. These Christian’s infected with such humanism may quote Romans 12:19-20, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” These verses are true and beautiful, but they neglect the provisions and instructions which come both before and after this instruction. Verse 18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” And verse 21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” If this is not enough, you can point these humanists to Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 11:18-19, “For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” Paul would have obviously not recognized the place for breaking the peace if he only averred that the Corinth church should have compromised the truth in order to prevent the division at all cost. In these instances, the Apostle Paul here acknowledges the eternal value of peace, as written in verses nineteen and twenty, but also recognized the earthly dilemma and gave the Christian a means of escape and grace in the provisional eighteenth verse and the clarifying twenty-first verse. So, how long and in what circumstances may the Christian live in peace? “As much as possible.” Under what circumstances may the Christian make out God’s peace on earth? When about to be “Overcome with evil.” The hegemony of all arguments in this case is Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:34. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” Furthermore we read in James 3:17, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable…” As John Piper wrote on the subject of peacemaking, “You must love peace and work for peace. you must pray for your enemies, and do good to them, and greet them, and long for the barriers between you to be overcome. But you must never abandon your allegiance to me and my word, no matter how much animosity it brings down on your head. You are not guilty; you are not in the wrong if your life of obedience and your message of love and truth elicit hostility from some and affirmation from others. Perhaps its just this warning that Jesus wants to sound when the next beatitude says “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. In other words righteousness must not compromise in order to make peace with your persecutors. When Jesus pronounces a blessing on you for being persecuted for the sake of righteousness, he clearly subordinates the goal of peace to the goal of righteousness.”

Scotland

Now again we turn to our great peacemaker Cromwell and his division with Scotland. Although it was the Scottish Covenanters who had initiated the noblest movement of that time in objection to the Tyranny of the Stuarts and of Rome, it was also the Covenanters who would now retract their stance upon the King’s execution and put themselves in opposition to Cromwell and the Commonwealth by having Charles the Second instituted as King over them. Therewith, they gave invitation to the prince to take welcome in Scotland and possession of his kingdom. Prince Charles was like his French Mother Henrietta in his Catholic convictions and like his beheaded father with regards to his duplicity. Cromwell saw in this instantaneously the peril Scotland was inviting upon not only themselves, but all of England. On June 26th, 1650 Cromwell, having been appointed commander-in-cheif of all armies of the Commonwealth, set out for Scotland immediately. Naturally, Cromwell’s feelings towards his fellow Scottish Covenanter’s was different than the feeling he had when fighting the Irish. For Cromwell felt as though he was moving against his brethren and was determined to restore Scotland to herself. And it is in this war we can witness the special steps Cromwell took towards peacemaking with his brethren.

Battle of Dunbar

This can be observed in Cromwell’s letter to the Scots Army, “We return you this answer; by which I hope, in the Lord, it will appear that we continue the same we have professed ourselves to the Honest People in Scotland, wishing to them as to our own souls; it being no part of our business to hinder any of them from worshipping God in that way they are satisfied in their consciences by the Word of God they ought, though different from us. But that under the pretence of the Covenant, mistaken, and wrested from the most native intent and equity thereof, a King should be taken in by you, to be imposed upon us.” Nonetheless, the Scots marched against the English army. It would have seemed to any witness that this was the first and only battle to which Cromwell was to lose as he quickly took full retreat of the Scots, but this only to seize a more favourable position in the field. He thereupon attacked them victorious and took 10,000 prisoners in the battle of Dunbar on September the 3rd. Once again, Cromwell, a true child of God, acted as a peacemaker towards his enemies. After the battle of Dunbar he distributed food among his defeated enemies and attended presbyterian services in their own churches where the ministers did not hesitate to pray for Charles the King and call Cromwell a usurper in his own presence. Nonetheless Cromwell did not retaliate by returning evil for good, but only sought reconciliation. During the entire war against Scotland, Cromwell assured his enemies of their minister’s and pastor’s freedom to walk freely through the land to preach in their respective churches, without in any manner being disquieted. “No man hath been troubled in England” said Cromwell to the Scots, “nor Ireland for preaching the Gospel; nor has any minister been molested in Scotland since the coming of the army hither. The speaking truth becomes the ministers of Christ. When ministers pretend to a glorious Reformation, and lay the foundations thereof in getting to themselves worldly power, they may not know that the Sion promised will not be built with such untempered mortar.” Such was the general’s cordial and humble disposition towards his enemies. We shall now recount a brief letter as always that Cromwell wrote to his family after his battles, and this to his wife. “My Dearest, I have not leisure to write much. But I could chide thee that in many of thy letters thou writes to me, that I should not be unmindful of thee and thy little ones. Truly, if I love you not too well, I think I err not on the other hand much. Thou art dearer to me than any creature, let that suffice…. The Lord has shoed us an exceeding mercy; who can tell how it is! My weak faith hath been upheld. I have been in my inward man marvellously supported; though I assure thee, I grow an old man, ands feel infirmities of age marvellously stealing upon me. Would my corruptions did as fast decrease! Pray on my behalf in the latter respect…. I rest thine, Oliver Cromwell.”

Edinburgh

With his triumph at Dunbar, Cromwell marched to Edinburgh and on the 12th of December the Scottish army who had taken refuge in a castle, surrendered as Cromwell threatened to blow out the foundations. In Cromwell’s letters and speech we observe him making distinction between the two parties he found in Scotland. The first he referred to as “Milignants” these were such men as were friends of Charles Stuart, and on the other, the godly people of that beautiful nation, the true Presbyterians. Dr. Morecraft observed, “Throughout the period of Cromwell’s domination there prevailed a degree of civil peace before what had ever before been experienced. There were more souls converted to Christ than in any season of the Reformation. Thus the result of Cromwell’s campaign both in Ireland and in Scotland was the peace and prosperity of these two countries. There are few wars in all of history which have reproduced such beneficial consequences.” This extraordinary effort was not without consequence on Cromwell’s health. The anxiety and utter labor had fallen him dangerously ill while in Edinburgh. During this time Cromwell, that man of incomparable calibre, wrote the following, “Indeed, my Lord, your service needs not me; I am a poor creature; and have been a dry bone: and am still an unprofitable servant to my master and you. I thought I should have died of this fit of sickness; but the Lord seemeth to dispose otherwise. But truly, my Lord, I desire not to live, unless I may obtain mercy from the Lord to approve my heart and life to Him in more faithfulness and thankfulness, and to those I serve in more profitableness and all diligence. And I pray God, your Lordship, and all in public trust, may approve all those unparalleled experiences of the Lord’s wonderful workings in your sight, with singleness of heart to His glory, and the refreshment of his people.”

Lord Protector

As soon as Ireland and Scotland’s peace was made and secured by Cromwell, he then turned his attentions to the peace and prosperity of England. The Long Parliament itself had been infected with the same pride as their now dead King had been. It grew increasingly unpopular in the nation, and was attacked by every party. From all sides it was called to dissolve itself. Monday the 12th of December 1653, it was moved by the House that the sitting of that parliament was no longer beneficial for the commonwealth, and it should be delivered up to the Lord General Cromwell. This motion wa received with wonderful unity from all parties, the Royalists and Episcopalians, Soldiers and Lawyers. All now turned to Cromwell as the sole means of safety for England. Cromwell received the title of “Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland.” Furthermore, all the courts of Europe, recognized and praised their neighbouring nation’s new governor. On September the 4th 1654 Cromwell gave a three hour address at Westminster Abbey. “Gentlemen,” said Cromwell, “You are met here on the greatest occasion that, I believe, Engalnd ever saw; having upon your shoulders the interest of three great nations; and truly, I believe I may say it without any hyperbole, the interests of all the Christian people in the world.” Truly, Cromwell was the peacemaker for puritains throughout the world. Morecraft observed, “Cromwell’s advancement of protestantism throughout Europe assigned to England its position as protestant Queen of the world.” Cromwell produced England’s first and only constitution entitled, “The Instrument of Government.” This preeminent document would present to history the first separation and limitation of powers, local government representation, a system of checks and balances, and a guarantee of liberty of conscience. Cromwell exhibited the same love for protestant churches across the channel as he did to those within. He came to the defence of the Waldesians, Huguenots, Swiss, and German protestants. Morecraft wrote in praise of Cromwell, “It is seldom that a great man is a Christian, but Cromwell was both. The result has been that many of the men of the world has scouted him as a hypocrite. What most distinguishes Cromwell above all great men and especially above all great statesmen is the predominance in him not only in his person but also in his government of a solemnly reformed theology, worldview, and way of life. He thought that the political and national ravens of Great Britain could not have been established in a firm and lasting manner unless the pure and unmixed Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached to the people and unless a truly Christian life flowed though the veins of the whole nation.” On September 3, 1658 Cromwell died. We shall let our peacemaker’s own last words conclude this lecture. “Lord, though I am miserable and wretched creature I have been covenanted with you through grace and I may and I will come to thee for thy people. Thou hast made me, though very unworthy, a mean instrument to do them some good and thee service. And many of them have set too high a value upon me. Though others wish and would be glad of my death. Lord, however thou dispose of me continue and go on to do good for them. Pardon thy foolish people, forgive their sins and do not forsake them, but love and bless them. Give them consistency of judgment, one heart, mutual love, and go on to deliver them and the work of reformation and make the name of Christ glorious in the world. Teach those who look to much on thy instruments to depend more upon thyself. Pardon such as who desire to trample upon the dust of a poor worm for they are thy people too. And pardon the folly of this short prayer and give me rest for Jesus Christ sake to whom thee and thy Holy Spirit be all honor and glory now and forever. Amen.”

All Very Good: A Christian View of Ecology

In todays lecture we will address both the eighth and ninth questions of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The battle of the last century was the doctrine of the  Inerrancy of Scripture, in this century it is that of the doctrine of Creation.  Both God’s first decretive act and his specially revealed words are immediately controverted by man, “In the beginning God created…” Man ever since has sought unfalteringly to destroy the Creator. Consequently, man has started that pursuit by destroying his creation. Men who profess themselves to be wise, so became unthankful, vain fools. They bring to pass the evolution of God. From His Creator glory to creature corruptness. They observe nature around them with its division, desecration, and un-benevolence and condemn the God they deny for creating it so and derogate Christianity as having “established a dualism of man and nature, and also insisted that it is God’s will than man exploit nature for his proper ends.” The battle for the doctrine of Creation is on two fronts. The first, we as a church, as individuals, and families are highly educated and aware of, namely, how God created the world. the second battle front, which is often underestimated or neglected by the Christian community, is what it is for. Again, there are two battles in the war waged for Creation. The first is how our universe is created and the second is what it was created for. Last summer my parents encountered an old friend who was was a presbyterian pastor with his masters of divinity. Along the course of their conversation creationism was introduced. Upon being asked my parents’ old acquaintance stated that, “The jury was still out” on its viability. Later my parents told me of his statement and how they wished I was there to give a witticism to this fellows remark. Last night I finally developed a response. Before I share it however, it would be helpful for us to understand the issue at hand and especially its consequences. What has this fictional jury met for in the first place? What consequences do their decisions have? What does Scripture say?

Q. How doth God execute his decrees?

A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.

I must say of all the catechism question thus far, this is the most self explanatory. One could very well dive into why God chose the work of creation and whilst doing so address the doctrine of the Providence of God. However,  I trust from previous lectures that you already have an understanding that God created the world as a Triune undertaking, not out of a inner deficiency but of the overflow of His glory. That being so, due to recent political and cultural events I would like to specifically devote this lecture to that of creation. For the purpose of this lecture, one must merely remember from this question that creation was the first decretive action or work of God.

Q. What is the work of creation?

A. The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six normal consecutive days, and all very good.

BLIND FAITH OR RATIONAL FAITH.

For the purpose of clarity I annexed Spurgeon’s, “normal consecutive” to the shorter Westminster question. I am unaware of any doctrine in Scripture which presents itself so clearly, so authoritatively, and so sufficiently as the doctrine of creation in Genesis 1. The starting point for each and every Christian in receiving this doctrine is firstly that of faith in God and in His word. Our faith in God’s word rests on the objective witness of the Bible to its own authority and secondly to the internal witness of the Holy Spirit in us as believers to the Bible’s authority. As a Christian I have no problem saying that I believe in a young-earth, six literal, six normal, and six consecutive day creation accomplished by the God of the Bible. The accusation immediately received from opponents is that such is a “blind faith.” While I do not deny that it is faith, I do deny that it is blind. On the contrary, I would protest to any who said otherwise that they were functioning off of a blind, irrational faith. Morecraft acutely wrote, “Scientific investigation and human experiences can tell us nothing about the origin of the universe, since no human being was present at the creation of the universe. Therefore the theory of evolution does not have the competence to explain the origin of life. It’s basis that matter in its undeveloped state has existed eternally, is a totally undemonstratable assumption based on blind faith, not on reason, experience or scientific investigation. Moreover, it is fully in accord with the written Word of God.” Christians not the other hand do not take a “leap of faith” as evolution believers do. Francis Schaeffer illustrated the difference between a blind, leap of faith and a rational faith with the following story. Suppose you and I are hiking up a mountain through a dense fog and quickly loose all sense of direction and location. There is no hope for us finding our way back or surviving the freezing temperatures overnight. However, suppose I decide that if I were to leap of the edge of the mountainside and possibly land on a ledge lower down beneath the fog I could survive the night. So, with absolutely no knowledge or any reason to support my decision, I leap of the cliff into the fog. This would be a kind of faith, a leap of faith. Yet, suppose again however that we are once again lost in the fog on the side of the mountain and heard a voice through the fog from another ridge which told us to jump off the edge of the cliff and assured us a safe landing and survival on a ledge below. Naturally, we would want to confirm this voice’s identity and ascertain whether the voice knew what they were speaking about. In our desperation we would ask sufficient questions and become convinced by its answers. And if in the course of our questions we learned that the voice was a local mountain guide who lived from early childhood in these very mountainous parts we would, out of desperation and shortness of time, hang off the cliff and drop. This again is faith, but a faith of a very different kind from a blind, and irrational one. So with regards to the origin of the universe, it is only the Christian who can provide an authoritative, rational, and dependable answer to that event which was unseen by any one but God. So my response to my parent’s acquaintance who considered that the jury was still out on the subject of creationism would be, “Then out with the jury.” Because I agree with the atheist that there is no place for blind leaps of faith. Certainly not with juries.

GLORY & DOMINION

Again, as we are already well educated on the doctrine, science, and evidences for a six literal day creation of the universe I will succeed quickly to the next battle-front. Namely, what God’s decretive act of creation is for. I would phrase my answer just as John Piper phrases the answer to the first catechism question. The chief end of nature is to glorify God by the dominion of mankind over it. St. Ignatius of Loyola stated, “Man is created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created. Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment of his end.” Dominion, as Dr. R.C. Sproul put it, is, “all about conquest, that’s what were made for, man lives for a cause, and this is the cause of the crusade of which we have a call, to make manifest the reign of Jesus Christ.”  Man was created for God’s glory, and creation was created for man’s dominion. Possession of the earth is the privilege of God’s grace, and as man reflects God’s glory, the earth and all things therein reflect God’s glory. Because the glory of God prevails over man,  His glory prevails thereby also over man’s dominion. When man forsakes his dominion mandate over the earth, the earth then gains a dominion and judgment over man. Just as when man is holy his dominion will likewise be holy, when man is profane so is nature. Nature becomes profane when fallen men abandon the development of the Kingdom of God on earth to instead exploit the earth for the Kingdom of man and the tower of Babel. Francis Bacon gave this marvellous statement on dominion, “Man by the fall fell at the same time from his state of innocence and from his dominion over nature. Both of these losses, however, even in this life, can in some part be repaired; the former by religion and faith, the latter by the arts and sciences.”

ENVIRONMENTALISM VS DOMINION

Francis Schaeffer, who I will often be quoting in this lecture from his book, “Pollution and the Death of Man” wrote the following, “As Christians we should know the roots in order to know why those who speak and act against Christianity are doing so, and in order to know the strength of the Christian answer in each area.” So who are the antagonists which speak out against the content of the Westminster Catechism question concerning God’s work of creation? Additionally, what our antagonists saying when the speak out against it? Furthermore, what is the strength of the Christian answer to them? When it comes to the Catechisms question regarding God’s work of creation debate often in focus is that of creationism vs. evolutionism. Nonetheless, at this point in our lecture we are going to observe the debate when it comes to the purpose of creation or nature, namely, dominion vs. our antagonist party, environmentalists. The latter, environmentalism, is becoming an ever increasing rancorous attack on dominion, and thereby, an attack on God’s work of creation. Dominion is  a mandate given by God the Creator to man for his dominion over nature, to take ownership and responsibility, stewardship and care, where cultivation, utilization, and development of the earth is a necessary aspect. Environmentalism is a mandate given by atheists, pantheists, and panentheists, to society for their domination under nature where political, legal, and economical domination  is a necessary aspect. We have to recognize environmentalism, not merely as a movement, nor just as a political capaign, but as an antithetical worldview to the Biblical doctrine of creation.

ENVIRONMENTALISM

Why has this word-view risen to such heights in our society? What is it’s origins? Environmentalist, Lynn White, acutely wrote the following, “What people do about their ecology depends on what they think about themselves in relation to things around them. Human ecology is deeply conditioned by beliefs about our nature and our destiny – that is, by religion.” Summarily, men do what they think. Environmentalism is a strong ethics based worldview as Richard Means wrote, “The great fault of all ethics hitherto has been that they believed themselves to have to deal only with relation of man to man. The notion that man’s relation to nature is a moral one finds very few articulate champions, even among contemporary religious writers.” Up to this point Christians can very much concur with the statements of these men. How we treat ecology, the balance of living things in nature, does pivot upon our religious beliefs and is an ethical decision to make. Furthermore the decisions we make concerning nature and ecology today are becoming increasingly important. The environmentalist is witnessing every day a drastic upsetting in the balance of nature. They realize that nature is divided and it is a matter of upmost importance, of quality of life, and of future survival. Their only theory for this division in nature is the greed and haste of pollution and only plan redemption is social control. The Christian too witnesses great division in nature with every day but knows the reason for its “groaning and travailing in pain” as the apostle Paul wrote. The reason is the Fall of Man. When man fell, man was decidedly divided from God. Man was also divided from other men. Man was divided from nature, and nature was divided from nature. Now the environmentalist seeks to heal this division in nature, but not through God’s provided way of redemption.

CHANGED THE TRUTH OF GOD

Environmentalism as I stated previously is a radically antithetical worldview to the Bible. Firstly, its primary doctrine is the denial of a Biblical Creator. To the environmentalist, as E. Calvin Beisner wrote, “If there is no personal Creator distinct from the universe, who created the universe out of nothing, then the universe effectively takes God’s place, since it turns out to be the Supreme Being. If all of nature is part god, it becomes impossible to distinguish sacred from profane. Consequently, environmentalism tends to define all of the earth and all that dwells therein as holy.” Of course then, when everything is holy, nothing is. Why do they hate God so? We as Christians realize that the word as it is today is in an abnormal state from the normal state it had in the Garden of Eden. However, the environmentalist in denying God’s original perfect creation, sees the world in its abnormal state today as normal, that is to say, the way it has always been. They see its pain, its groaning, its travailing and say only an evil creator could create the world in such a state. The Christian answer is simple, He didn’t, but you did. Now it stands to reason that since the first environmentalist lie is about the Creator’s  existence, the second would be about His creative purpose, dominion. “The Lord gave; man hath taken away. Cursed be the name of man.” This is a statement concerning the ocean written on a tombstone on a beach in California. The teaching of environmentalism on the Christian dominion mandate can be summarized in Lynn White’s remarks, “Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia’s religions, not only established dualism of man and nature, but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.” The second lie of the environmentalist is that dominion is simply and excuse for exploitive domination. Now that the environmentalist has summarily dismissed God and his overpopulating capitalistic Christians, they proceed to lie about the redemption of our fallen world.

ROMANTICIZING NATURE

The first indoctrination of the environmentalist is the romanticizing of nature.  Incessantly in media, films, and papers you see this romanticizing of nature. Romanticizing simply means that one looks at an object of nature and projects into it human reactions, emotions, and feelings. The pure fabrication and mysticism of the trees and the birds and the bees having feelings, thoughts, reactions, and even souls as we humans do. As ludicrous as it sounds it is a logical conclusion which follows from the denial of the Creator. If God did not create the word, then mankind was not created in His image, and if mankind is not created in his image we have no inherent difference than the animal. Romanticizing is also the attempt to evade the reality of fallen nature. It is a futile attempt to explain the benevolent and un-benevolent sides of nature. Rather than the division in nature being a indictment and judgment against fallen man, it is simply romanticized. But this leaves the environmentalist with a series dilemma. As Francis Schaeffer put it, “To project our feelings and thoughts into a tree would mean that we would have no base upon which to justify cutting down and using the tree as a shelter for man.” The sane and Biblical response of the Christian is, no, to romanticize a tree is to invade the true reality of nature. While we are not to romanticize the tree or nature, Christians must also realize that God made it out of nothing, just like he did us, and therefore it deserves from us the same value, respect, and use as God endowed it with when he created it. Once again the root of the environmental debate is origins. Environmentalists have a wrong sense of origin; and in having the wrong sense of origin, they have no categories sufficient to treat nature as nature any more than they have to treat man as man. Could their be an any more extreme  and grievous example of this severe confusion than the saving of unwanted pets and the murder of unwanted children? Francis Schaeffer encapsulated this misconception, “So if nature and the things of nature are only a meaningless series of particulars in a decorated universe, with no universal to give them meaning, then nature is become absurd, the wonder is gone from it. And wonder is equally gone from me, because I too am a finite being.” Environmentalists have now fully worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator by synthesizing humanity into nature via romanticism. As Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi observed, “Once you being to worship nature, you are making yourself inferior to nature, which is paganism. If I am responsible to take care of nature then I am the ruler over nature. That is why environmentalists are destroying the very basis for environmentalism, which is man has a unique dignity as being made in God’s image and created to govern nature. Pagans believe that mother, mother earth, is to take care of them, not them take care of her.” To the environmentalist nature is best untouched by human hands. Nature is no longer to be ruled by mankind but mankind is to be ruled by nature.

CREATION & DOMINION

The Church has not gone unadulterated by the  murderous heresy of the environmentalist. Modern Christians have been notorious for imagining a dichotomy between the spiritual and the natural. Even among us young earth creationists we have the tendency to reduce nature to merely an academic proof of the existence of God with otherwise little value in itself. We have come to accept a platonic conception of the natural as having less value than the spiritual. Of being so heavenly minded we are no earthly good as the saying goes. This again comes down to a wrong sense of origins and a mistaken belief of the future redemption as well. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” There is no place here for any sense of “lowness.” To think of any created thing as intrinsically “low” or “inferior” or “menial” is to insult the God who made it. This truth rests upon the reality of creation being ex-nihlo, that it to say, out of nothing by God. It follows then that since all things, including man,  are created equally out of nothing by God that they are equal in their origins. Nature does have intrinsic value, the value that God endowed each thing with when he created it. If we deny value to these created things it not only insults God but it degrades us. If we treat nature as having no intrinsic value, our own value is diminished. God did indeed create things in a sense of order and category, but for us to imagine the spiritual being superior to an inherently evil or deficient natural order is to reject God’s first decree of creation. On the side of God’s infinity and eternality, everything, the man, the animal, the plant, and the machine are equally separated. To say that we are closer to God’s infinity and eternality than an animal would be like a tall man boasting he’s closer to the sun than a child. But on the side of God’s personality, man, unlike all else, is created in His image. Therefore man’s relationship is upward rather than downward. He is united to God in his image; but he is united to all other creatures as being created. Man must not diminish or deny the proper relationship he has downward on the side of him being just as equally created out of nothing and dependant upon God as the fowls of the air or the lilies of the field, or the grass of the field clothed by God. The second reality which corrects the misconception of the spiritual having some superiority over the natural is Christ’s ascension. We often emphasize his resurrection but neglect that Christ ascended into heaven as the incarnate God-man. Therefore the material and the spiritual are not opposed. In fact our bodies are going to be raised as Christ’s body was. Much to the chagrin of those who embrace the dichotomy of the physical from the spiritual Christ sits at the right hand of God in incarnate human form. This is the line of serration between the Christian and the Environmentalist. The Christians relationship is primarily upward. The Environmentalists relationship is totally downward.

DOMINION VS DOMINATION

So, having reviewed both the creationists and the environmentalists view of God, origins, dominion, and the fallen world let us observe how each worldview seeks to heal the divided world we live in. For the environmentalists as stated previously, “Environmentalism is a mandate given by atheists, pantheists, and panentheists, to society for their domination under nature where political, legal, and economical domination  is a necessary aspect.” For them nature is divided due to the the sin of a society having an overpopulating, capitalist word view of historic Western Christian civilization. Redemption and healing is achieved through reversing the decree of God. No longer does man have dominion of nature, but nature has domination over man. The saviour is national government controlling our laws, economics, property, and population. Dominion on the other hand embraces a proper view of origins. God created everything equally out of nothing. He created everything in its own sphere and category and treats them throughout redemption history in their respective categories. He treats his creation with integrity; each in its own order, each in the way he made it. So it is that the Christian is a man who has a true reason for dealing with each created thing with a high level of respect. So it is that the Christian can rationally refuse to mythologize and romanticize nature as much as he can refuse to dichotomize it. So it is that the Christian can not only say that one day there will be healing to the that which the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, but that substantial healing can be attained now. It is the Christian that knows that his division from God is healed by justification. That their division from other men is healed by reconciliation. That their devision from nature is healed by stewardship. That nature’s division is healed by godly, holy dominion. As Schaeffer wrote, “The Christian is called upon to exhibit this dominion, but exhibit it rightly: treating the things as having value in itself, exercising dominion without being destructive.” As Francis Bacon observed, the first fruits of this is a new sense of beauty. No longer with the natural by romanticized or minimized, but recognized with the sense of beauty that God has created all of nature with. So practically how is this realized. When it comes to the proper treatment of nature mankind is faced with two choices. The first is an economical one and the second is a matter of timeliness. These are also the two leading factors of destruction, money and time, or to say it otherwise, greed and haste. We can take the extra time and extra money to develop the Kingdom of God here on earth or we can choose the greed and haste to build the Kingdom of Man. Our decision between the two ultimately comes down to our view of origins. That God created the world, all out of nothing, all by his power, all in six normal consecutive day, and all very good. Our duty as Christians is to keep it, by exercising godly dominion, all very good.

THE SINGULARITY OF GOD

Continuing in our teaching series on the Westminster Shorter Catechism we come upon a singularly simple and short inculcation of Christian doctrine. Despite its short measure in pronouncement, it’s profoundness in thesis is without measure. For many there is not a more repudiating doctrine to be averred than in all Christendom. The eminent theologian, John Owen wrote, “This is the whole faith’s concernment in this matter as it respects the direct revelation of God made by Himself in Scripture, and the first proper general end thereof. Let this be clearly confirmed by direct and positive divine testimonies containing the declaration and revelation of God concerning Himself, and faith is secured as to all its concern, for it has both its proper formal object and its sufficiently enabled to be directive of divine worship and obedience.” To put it in layman’s terms, this doctrine has the greatest effect on our worship and obedience. But in our egalitarian and pragmatic age such a declaration by the Catechism is interpreted as a doctrinaire parti pris. This one question is the point of departure and indeed many have departed. To the Legal Positivist, monotheism cannot be observed. To the pragmatist, monotheism has no practical outworking. To the existentialist, monotheism is yet another discussion of vanity. To libertarian theology, monotheism is elitist. To the new age cultist, monotheism is a heresy. To the feminist who sings “A Mighty Goddess is our Forte”, monotheism is masculine and stereotyping. Yet, this question is a necessary conclusion of the last question we studied and furthermore the premise for the next question. If one answers this question in any enigmatic terms or with any dubious, dithering dubiety we will have sure cause to be concerned. With a doctrine of this magnitude there is no place for cunctation, but only concurrence.

Q: Are their more God’s than one?

A: There is but one only, the living and true God.

ONE BEING. ONE ESSENCE.

Why only one? Foremost, because He asseverates so. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” John Owen in his treatise on the Trinity taught we are simply to accept this declaration. “It is not to be prostituted to the captious and sophisticated scanning of men of corrupt minds, but to be humbly adored, according to the revelation that He has made of Himself.” Secondly, He forbids otherwise. “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” In this last passage God affirms His Aseity, that is, His self-existence. As was stated previously, numerically speaking, only one Divine Being can exist. Furthermore this one Being must have a oneness of inner unity in His essence. He cannot be any more divisible in essence than He can be multiplied in being. There are not parts of God (Essence) and there are not gods in part (Being). We cannot consider God to be composite even to the most exiguous point of essence or that of being. There is not room for more than one God or more than one essence in God because both the essence and the being of God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. There is mathematically not sufficient room for two coterminous beings of such nature. The riposte of the Greeks and Romans was to celebrate multiple gods. But as Francis Scheffer acutely observed, the problem with many gods is they are not big enough. Scheffer wrote that, “Plato understood that you have to have absolutes or nothing has meaning. But the difficulty facing Plato was the fact that his gods were not big enough to meet the need. So although he knew the need, the need fell to the ground because his gods were not big enough to be the point of reference or place of residence for his absolutes, for his ideals. In Greek literature the Fates sometimes seem to be behind and controlling the gods, and sometimes the gods seem to be controlling the Fates. Why the confusion? Because everything fails in this thinking at this point—because their limited gods are not big enough. That is why we need a personal-infinite God.” There is no room for multiple infinite Gods and finite gods are no gods at all.

ONE GOD. ONE LAW.

Because there is on infinite, eternal, and unchangeable God there can only be one infinite, eternal, and unchangeable law. Morecraft noted, “To abandon God’s law revealed in the Bible for another system of law and morality is to change gods.” Rushdoony wrote, “The strength of man is in the absoluteness of his God.” Law is the revelation of righteous character and consequentially the outward expression of inward holiness. Man has denied the righteous character and holiness of God by renouncing his law in various and sundry manners. The legal positivist claims the only absolute is there are no absolutes and consequentially in denying infinite, eternal, and unchangeable law, must in return deny it’s infinite, eternal, and unchangeable lawgiver. The pragmatist is one who holds himself as his own law-system because there is no universal order in his worldview. The pragmatist in his anarchy denies the King of kings in His monarchy. The libertarian in affirming his own economic order denies God’s created order when it is in contradiction to his. As Rushdoony wrote, “Men’s social applications and approximations of the righteousness of God may alter, vary, and waver, but the absolute law does not.” The new ageist confuse the separation between God and man and thus abjure God’s exclusive law order. The feminist in throning her own social order dethrones God of His in the process. Two infinite Gods is one to many and two law orders likewise. Many little gods are not enough and many law orders either. You cannot abandon God’s law without abandoning the God of that law first.

ONE GOD. ONE TRUTH.

Rather than their being a nimiety of hierologies there is one truth. Only God sets the terms of the law. Man does not set the terms of obedience, repentance, salvation, and peace with God. Only God sets the terms of reconciling us lawbreakers to Him, the lawgiver. Only God sets the terms of both the present remedial judgment and ultimate, final judgment of lawbreakers. Because there is one God there is one truth, the Gospel of God. Whosoever will may come, but he must come according to the one God’s terms in His one Gospel.

ONE GOD. ONE OBEDIENCE.

God does not require our ceremonial sacrifice but rather our obedience to His law. Those who worship God must worship him in Spirit and in truth. David Chilton in his excellent book, “Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulation”, stated “The mark of a Christian movement is its willingness to submit to the demands of Scripture.”  Some would attest my approbation of Biblical law and obedience would border on legalism. This misjudgment is due to an incorrect understanding of true legalism. If indeed legalism was an ardent and zealous application and maintenance of the law, then Jesus Christ would be the prevailing legalist of all times. Legalism, rather, is based on justification by works and obedience to man-made regulations. Righteousness is based on God’s one Law, or to state it in reverse, God’s Law is the basis of righteousness. Whereas, legalism is based on man’s myriads of laws. Righteousness is the response to grace. Legalism is a response of antinomian rebellion. You may reasonably question how I can logically annex legalism with antinomianism. As one understands, that Antinomianism seeks to dispose of God’s authority in human affairs. Furthermore, Antinominaism can only replace the void of God’s law with the legalism of man’s. Legalism and antinomianism are not diametrically apposed, but fundamentally agreed in the rebuffing of God’s law. “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20. Without obedience to God’s law we only face obedience to man’s law. It takes Biblical wisdom to connect all of life to God’s laws. It takes a fool to disconnect all of life from God’s laws. Otto Scott wisely wrote, “The figure of the Fool is widely misunderstood. He is neither a jester nor a clown nor an idiot. He is, instead, the dark side of genius. For if a genius has the ability to see and make connections beyond the normal range of vision, the fool is one who can see – and disconnect.”

The Aseity of God

The following is the fourth lecture on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Q: What is God?

A: God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. 

In the last lesson of the Westminster Shorter Catechism we considered the third question which  inquires as to what God’s Holy Scriptures principally teach. With this lecture we reviewed how during the reformation, man’s humanistic teachings had foisted themselves on God’s precepts and thus abraded the depository of true doctrine, namely the Church. We examined how Wycliff, Huss, Luther, and Calvin exerted themselves, by God’s grace, to purge the Church’s doctrinal depository of such adulterated theology with the reformation’s unblemished exposition of all  the Scriptures. The reformation doctrine contrasted itself to that of the humanist liberalism with the tenant of Scripture’s revelation being authoritative over that of man’s humanistic dogmas. Scripture was first principally revelatory of God and not man. We appraised Scripture principally second being revelatory of God’s law and not the humanist’s decree. We denied the sin of the knowledge of good and evil, namely, the humanist intent to give moral law unto himself, and positively affirmed God’s revelation of Himself and His law for man. Our next systematic inquiry leads us to the Catechisms next question. Since the Scripture’s principally teach who God is, who then is God? In this lesson we will observe several attributes of God. It is important to understand for something rightly to be associated as an attribute of God, it must have first subsisted among the Trinity and second been dynamically demonstrated in their union. Among God’s attributes there are two theological classifications. Communicable and Incommunicable. The communicable attributes of God are those attributes which God has shared with us non-God image-bearers and the incommunicable being those which he cannot share due to the limitation of our being.

SPEAKING IS READING

In AD 383, a young Latin rhetoric professor from Rome was living in Milan and under the tutelage of the city’s wise bishop, Ambrose. Bishop Ambrose was prestigious teacher of the Christian faith, much aged with wisdom and knowledge. Moreover, Ambrose was recognized among his pupils as a fastidious reader. This young professor from Rome remarked how his mentor could read, and at that, read in a most remarkable manner. “When he read”, said the student of Ambrose, “his eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice and his tongue was still… Often, when we came to visit him, we found him reading in silence, for he never read aloud.” This account is the first recorded instance in Western Literature of the now common method of silent reading. The young Latin Professor from Rome who was a student of this remarkable, mysterious Ambrose was none other than St. Augustine. In Augustine’s day reading was always executed out loud. It was assumed that if you were not speaking the text, you were simply not reading the text. But when St. Augustine witnessed  the sheer wonderment of his mentor sitting with an open book while silently scanning it as he would a landscape view, he was dumbfounded. Naturally, today we find St. Augustine’s bewilderment simple and foolish, especially of a rhetoric professor. “You don’t have to read out loud, this is a puerile methodology for children! Silent reading is of course the standard form of polite and proper study.” Yet we have the same thought pattern dilemma with God. “I must see God, feel and hear Him for His existence to be real and recognized by me. Who would believe in anything less?” The common dismissal of “Seeing is Believing” is just as foolish as “Speaking is Reading” was in Augustine’s.

VIA NEGATIVA

Speaking of St. Augustine, our young Latin rhetoric professor from Rome, an oft employed method of his teaching was called “Via Negativa”, that is to say, “Way of Negation.” With this technique, rather than defining what a particular object was, one would first define what the particular object was not. In faithfulness to St. Augustine’s practice of “Via Negativa” I would commence this lesson with a few observations of what God is not. Firstly, He is not who you think he is. The God of the Scriptures is not the selfsame god which our post-christian society recognizes today in its humanist philosophy. Now when I say philosophy, it means not exclusively an academic discipline, it also includes an individuals world-view. In this sense of the word philosophy, all are philosophers because all have a world view. Christians, although, have been disposed to place a spurned dichotomy between philosophy and religion. Lauding ourselves for not being intellectuals we perpetuate the disaffiliation of philosophy to our theology. Nonetheless, as Dr. Francis Schaeffer observed, philosophy and religion fundamentally confront the same enigmas.  “Philosophy and religion” wrote Schaeffer, “do not deal with different questions, though both give different answers in different terms. The basic question of both philosophy and religion are questions of being, that which exists; man and his dilemma, that is, morals; and how man knows.”

IMPERSONALISM

It can be observed as a rule that both the philosophical answer and religious answer to who God is, is altogether dependent upon one’s view of origins. Humanism claims our origins to be chaotic by well timed chance and therefore definitively “impersonal.” This humanist philosophy of impersonalism has besmirched itself upon the Christian doctrine of God. Thus now, the Christian may not declare, like the humanist, that our origins were determined by that of chance and time, but they would concede rather that the universe was indeed created by a god, yet an impersonal one. That this god of the universe does not exist as a person, but is rather a being of no personality who does not involve himself or show any certain concern in the affairs of men. This religious philosophy of humanist descent may answer the first enigma of being, namely, the philosophical branch of metaphysics, but it gives no desirable answer to the dilemma of absolute morals. Both impersonal philosophy and impersonal religion cannot have absolutes. Chance and time are not the author of morality and an impersonal deity is also a dissolute one. As soon as you attempt to bring order to a universe of chance, or morals to an indifferent deity, impersonalism is no longer self consistent. As Dr. Schaeffer astutely wrote, “If you begin with an impersonal, you cannot then have some form of teleological concept.” Teleological meaning, an explanation of a phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than its hypothesized causes.

PANEVERYTHINGISM

Humanism and liberal Christianity have riposted this self-inconsistency is with a semantic answer of what Schaeffer termed as, “Paneverythingism.” This, “Paneverythingism” Dr. Schaeffer attributed liberal theology, is much more civilized than the barbaric worship that admits all is god. Rather, in the more unique sense of the word, it signifies a god that admits all worship. Thus, liberal theologians have evolved god from an impersonal deity, to that of a mystical and romantic one, that they may give an answer to man’s moral dilemma. This impersonal god can now be detached from the world’s moral, physical, or environmental calamities, while being romantically tolerated to everyone’s personal worship and obedience. Liberal impersonalism teaches of man’s impersonal god. Liberal “Paneverythingism” teaches of man’s personalized god. Liberal “Paneverythingism” like Impersonalism, comes down to a religious excuse for believing in a god unseeable. Both the liberal’s religious answer and the humanist’s philosophical answer deny, limit, or control the existence of an unseen deity. “Seeing is Believing” is just as ridiculous as “Speaking is Reading.”

GOD IS SPIRITUAL

God’s spiritual and invisible Incommunicable attributes are the simple answer of why God is unseeable. No excuses necessary. To state it “Via Negativa”, God cannot be physical. God cannot be material because God can have no physical limitations and no spatial location such as we do. A physical, visible deity cannot be a holy God, spiritual God, an invisible God, an infinite God, an eternal God, or an unchanging God. The second commandment in the decalogue forbids us to degrade the image of God with the likeness of any image. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” Ex. 20:4. Any creature like references to God in Scripture are to be considered as only anthropomorphisms (Language which speaks of God in human terms.) Theophanies in Scripture, solely consist of God employing various visible forms to be compatible with the bodily senses of his people. Ultimately, God’s spirituality is essential to his holiness. He is not supremely holy if his being fails to be altogether different from and transcendent of every other mode of existence.  To define it positively, God exists as a being not consisting of corporeal matter, has no autonomy or size, our external senses are not compatible with His being, and our existence or that of any other is incomparable to the supremacy of His. Finally, you cannot worship something which is in any capacity like yourself. Which is why we worship God not with the imaginations and physical inventions of men, but rather in spirit. “God is Spirit; and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.” Jn 4:24. As Joseph Morecraft wrote in his masterful Volume 1 of “Authentic Christianity: An Exposition of the Theology and Ethics of the Westminster Larger Catechism”, “We are to conceive God, under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible – in His perfections, His works, and supremely in His Son, Jesus Christ.”

GOD IS BOTH INFINITE AND PERSONAL

God’s incommunicable attribute of infiniteness has two expressions. First, God is not subject to any limitations or finite in any capacity. Second, God is infinitely superior to anything other than Himself. On this point we seemingly reach the impasse of impersonalism. How can a God who is both infinitely not like us and infinitely superior to us be capable of relating to us? The Psalmist recognized this paradox. “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the sone of man that you care for him?” Man is as much comparable to God as a worm is, in that both can’t be contrasted. The notion of God regarding man would be just as ridiculous as His regard for a worm. Schaeffer illustrates this contrast intensely, “On the side of God’s infinity, there is a complete chasm between God on one side and man, the animal, the flower and machine on the other. On the side of God’s infinity, He stands alone, He is absolutely other. He is in His infinity contrary to all else. He is differential from all else because only He is infinite. He is the Creator; all else was created. He is infinite; all else is finite. All else is brought forth by creation an so all else is dependent and only He is independent. This is absolute on the side of his infinity. Therefore on the side of God’s infinity man is separated from God as is the atom or any other machine portion of the universe.” This is the gruesome reality of an infinite being. Absolute impersonalism. Absolute segregation. If we were to conclude the attributes of God on this point one could understand the rejection of God by humanists or the mystifying of God by liberals. But praise be to God it is not the arrangement. Only the one true God of the Scriptures is both an infinite and a personal God. Schaeffer continued to write, “But on the side of God being personal the chasm is between man and the animal, the plant and the machine. Why? Because man is made in the image of God… This is really down in the warp and woof of the whole problem. Man is made in the image of God, and therefore on the side of the fact that God is a personal God he chasm stands no longer between God and man, but between man and all else. But on the side of God’s infinity, man is separated from God as the atom or any other finite of the universe. So we have the answer to man being finite and yet personal.” 

GOD IS ETERNAL

The doctrine of God’s eternality is more than His existence being infinite in the category of time.  That is to say, God’s relationship to time is not a mere endurance through eons of endless duration.  Paul Washer wrote in his workbook entitled, “The One True God”, “The eternality of God does not simply mean that He has and will exists for an infinite number of years, but also that he is timeless and ageless, always existing and never changing.” Just as God’s spirituality means He exists without reference to space, His eternality also means He exists without reference to time. No beginning, no end, no succession of moments in between, or progress from one state of existence to another. This attribute is also annexed to his infinity. God is not limited by the space of time but his realization encompasses all of time, whereas we only realize the moment we are in. This attribute is also annexed to his spirituality. The fact of God’s immaterial existence precludes any initiation of his existence. As God’s spirituality does not exist in the realm of physical space and therefore with space, time. As Wayne Grudem observed in his work on Systematic Theology every period of time never ceases to be “present” in his realization and consciousness. Thus, God sees and knows all events, past, present, and future with equal vividness. “But do not overlook this on fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Pet. 3:8. This does not prohibit God acting through various ways in different points of time. The clearest illustration of this is His sending His son, “In the fullness of time.” God exists not in time, but over it. “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born, or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Ps. 90:1-2.

GOD IS UNCHANGEABLE

For I, the Lord, do not change.” Mal. 3:6. God is one, “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” “But you are the same, and your years have no end.” Ps. 102:27. This attribute by its very title is, “Via Negativa.” The positive term for this attribute is the immutability of God. As much as our society celebrates change, the reality is change is a limitation of finite beings. We cannot control change. Change preludes need for desired betterment, weakness to undesirable state, and subservience to a superior force or being. Weather, age, and governments change us. We can never maintain our existence to perfect permanence. We can imitate sempiternity but not qualify this attribute. Although change is not a limitation to which God is subject. Unlike us he can never improve, or deteriorate, or adapt. Because firstly, unlike us, he is in a state of absolute perfection. Second, because God has no natural force or being over Him to manipulate or coerce His state of existence. His existence is immutable and His acts are infallible. An interesting observation of God’s immutability is its relation to his infinity. The reality of an infinite being is there can only be one. There is no room in any sphere for two infinite beings of different essence. Thus, if there were one inconsistent aspect of the essence of God which changed from the original his infinity would be self contradicted and void. Furthermore the eternality of God is annexed to His immutability. An eternal being who changed would cease to be eternal. Change is a limitation of time, energy, and space, all of which God is not subject to.

GOD IS WISE

“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” Ps. 147:5. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and inscrutable his ways!” The Catechism writes it very beautifully when it states that God is not merely wise, but rather, his wisdom is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. Wisdom is the attribute of God according to which He, for the highest glory, purposes whatever comes to pass and, for the highest glory, what will bring it to pass. As Dr. Morecraft wrote, “God’s wisdom is His ability to use His knowledge and power to accomplish His plans in a way that brings the most glory to Himself and the most benefit to His people. Wisdom without knowledge is impossible. Without power it is pathetic. Power without wisdom is terrifying. And knowledge without wisdom is useless. In God, boundless knowledge and boundless power are used by His boundless wisdom for the accomplishment of all His plans, thus making Him worthy of our greatest admiration and fullest trust.” The council of God’s wisdom has displayed itself for the highest glory in the  work of creation, His acts of providence, and the redemption of His people. Wisdom is communicable to us, although not to an infinite degree such as God qualifies. It is important to remember that wisdom is intrinsic or inherit in the nature of God. Wisdom is not to be understood as a commodity in God’s disposal. Wisdom neither,  is to be recognized as an end in itself. God is wisdom, therefore with wisdom comes God and with God comes wisdom. Wisdom cannot be disaffiliated with God. Thus, when you receive more of wisdom, you receive more of God’s holiness to be not wiser, but holy. “For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous.” Prov. 2:6-7.

GOD IS ALMIGHTY

God is not unable to take effective action in anything and over anything of his own council and initiative. Of all God’s attributes, this is most slighted by various doctrines taught and believed in our day. A God limited in power would be as repulsive as to say God is limited in holiness, love, or wisdom. But again, it is God who is infinitely, eternally, and unchangeably almighty in bringing whatsoever He wills to pass. God’s infinite power and actions are qualified by his other attributes. Can God build a rock to big for him to carry? Can he create another deity? Can he make an emotional tree? Can he design a square triangle? The answer to these absurdities is He wouldn’t. God would not act out of character, He would not change, and furthermore He would not do meaningless, absurd, self-contradicting actions. An interesting observation is since God is infinite, he has never been exerted to his uttermost. That is a fearful, awing thought. As great as creation and redemption was an act, it did not exhaust or diminish His power. The attribute of God’s omnipotence is annexed to all his other attributes. William Shedd illustrates, “God’s wisdom would be empty without the power to exercise His plans. His mercy would be feeble pity, if He had not power to come to our relief. His justice would be no more than a scarecrow without power to punish. His promises would be empty without the power to fulfill them. God’s omnipotence is His arm by which all His perfections lay hold if they would act.” God is not merely almighty to do all but He is almighty over all. We are all objects of His power. Stephen Charnock has written, “The blessed in heaven, that are out of the reach of punishing justice, are forever maintained by power in that blessed condition; the damned in hell, that are cast out of the bosom of entreating mercy, are forever sustained in those remediless torments by the arm of power.” “Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” Jer 32:17.

GOD IS HOLY

As some of you may know I enjoy “Collecting words” as I like to coin it. Every book I read, every conversation I have, every talk-radio I listen to, every song I hear I like to copy down new words I come across onto my growing list simply titled, “New Words List.” I’m coming up on my one year anniversary of starting this “New Words List” and I have already topped 1,070 words. Some people mistakenly think when they see my list of new words that I am really quite smart. Maybe they can’t quite read the title, but what they fail to comprehend is these are words I don’t actually know. I should try changing the title of my list to be “Via Negativa”, like, “1,070+ Words I don’t Know.” if it would help get the point across. Anyways, as I was researching the holiness of God I came across a new word to me, sorry, I meant to say a word I didn’t know. It is a remarkable word. It isn’t even recorded in the Oxford dictionary like Rex Murphy’s favorite word, Chalcentrous. It has an incredible definition. R.C. Sproul stated there wasn’t any other word like it in the English language that captured the otherness of God. Most surprising to me of all,  it’s small enough to get away with on a scrabble board. The word is aseity. The Aseity of God is a definition coined by theologians and Christian philosophers such as St. Augustine. It comprehensively means “self-existence.” The philosophy of aseity affirms that God contains within himself sufficient cause for his own existence while being Himself uncaused. Aseity depicts God as absolutely other than us, He is self-existent, without cause from outside himself, without dependance or origination from another, without sustenance from another, existing by his own energy, maintained by his own cause, defined by his own meaning. (Excellent proof that introverts are more godly than extroverts.) In that sense of the word we can understand what God means when he states, “I am who I am.” The first and foremost meaning of the term holiness refers to God’s otherness, His aseity, His transcendent majesty, His august superiority. The second sense of the word is with regards to His purity or separation from all else. The first is a relational quality, in that he is totally unrelated to anything other, and the second is a moral quality, in that he is completely separate from any evil. With regards to the first meaning of the term holiness, God is not merely quantitatively different, the same but greater, but furthermore qualitatively different, altogether completely different. It is no wonder the psalmist can only describe holiness as being “beautiful.” Most all the theologians I have read stated that God’s holiness is the culmination of all His attributes. I am not sure what difference it makes, but I would state that God’s holiness is rather the fountain from which of all His attributes proceed. Holiness is an intrinsic attribute, both ontologically and logically necessary for God’s aseity. From God’s holiness emanates all the glories of God and his attributes. Holiness is a communicable attribute to us, not in the sense of transcendence, but rather that of purity and separation.

GOD IS JUST

“His work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” Deut 32:4. There are two aspects of God’s justice we must understand. The first is in relation to His righteousness. God is intrinsically righteous in and of himself according to His wisdom. There is no moral proceedure, no law concept to which God is held accountable outside himself. God is moral, righteous, lawful, and just inherently. William Shed wrote, “God is not under Law, nor above Law. God is law. He is righteous by nature and necessity.”  Once more, God’s righteousness is infinite, transcendent to any other standard and surpassing to all others. Negatively, God’s righteous is not substandard. Secondly, God’s righteousness is eternal. It’s relevance it not limited by time. Thirdly, it is unchanging. God’s righteousness is the unwavering measure of justice. The second aspect of God’s justice is judgment. Morecraft defined this facet of justice well, “God’s judgment or justice is His discrimination against evil and for good, growing out of his righteousness, plus the vindication of his name, covenant and moral order, which leads to the destruction of the wicked and the salvation of the righteous.” It is important to recognize that judgement is a consequential attribute to God. Firstly, God must judge to establish Himself as a righteous standard and not a righteous suggestion thus contradicting his omnipotence. Second, God must judge to preserve and maintain His holiness by repress ing those who would oppress his righteous standard. For where the law ends tyranny begins and God alone is almighty.  Without judgement God’s righteous standard would be more of a righteous suggestion and contradict his omnipotence. It is a fearful thought to consider that the God’s judgement in the destruction of the wicked is also infinite, eternal, and unchanging. Contrastingly, it is awing to comprehend the infinite, eternal, and unchanging salvation of the righteous.

GOD IS GOOD

The goodness of God means that God is our highest good, just as God is are most excellent wisdom. To achieve goodness we must receive God. To do goodness we must reflect God. An interesting observation of all these attributes is their spiritual nature. God’s wisdom and goodness are spiritual in nature, not gained or recognized by physical conventions. Furthermore God’s goodness is infinite, exceeding all else, eternal, without end, and unchanging, without variation or deviation. Once again I turn to St. Augustine, “God is the supreme good – in Him alone is everything which all creatures need and seek to obtain. He is the one unto whom all creatures strive to attain, whether consciously or unconsciously; He is the object of every one’s desire. And the creature finds no rest except in God and in Him alone… Let God be all in all to Thee, for in Him is the entirety of all that Thou lovest.”

GOD IS TRUE

The two dimensions of this attribute are truthfulness and faithfulness. Truth is defined by first by God’s being, His inherent attributes. Second by God’s words, the special revelation of himself. Third by God’s works, the general revelation and decrees. Fourth and finally by God’s thoughts, His knowledge and wisdom. This is a qualifying attribute of all God’s other attributes. Meaning, it is true that for God to be God he must be spiritual, eternal, and unchanging in his being wisdom, power, holiness, and justice. To state it differently, only God is the perfect idea of what the true God should be. The reality of this reality being circular does not prohibit it from being ontologically and logically necessary. To be truthful we must act according to God’s will, think His thoughts, and speak His words. Negitvely, whatever is contrary to God’s will, God’s words, and God’s thoughts is untrue and lies. God is the final standard of truth. God’s faithfulness is His always performing of His covenant promises. Such  promises as the Edenic, Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New Covenants. God’s faithfulness is infinite, eternal, and unchanging. Like the communicable attributes of holiness, wisdom, power, justice, and goodness, truth and faith are spiritual and gotten by the getting of God.

CONCLUSION

There is both much more that could be stated on these attributes, and still yet many, many more attributes left unspoken. I hope we have seen something of the Aseity of God, Who is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. I trust also we have seen who God is not. That God is not a spirit to be excused from being personal to His image-bearers. That God is not limited in any sphere, aspect, capacity, or degree of transcendence and perfection. That God is not subject to the eons of time and space. That God is not subject to need, weakness, or subservience to change. That wisdom cannot be disaffiliated with God as a simple commodity . That God is not limited in power to do what He has willed to accomplish. That God is not comparable, dependent upon, or like any other. That God is not apathetic or morally neutral. That God is not a substandard measure of goodness. That God is not a substandard of truth or unfaithful. The result of our study of the attributes of the Aseity of God should result in our awe in the beauty of His holiness. Wherein us (As sinners out of a true sense of our sins, and apprehension of the mercies of God in the cross of Christ) do (With hatred of our sin, and desire for our highest good in God) turn from our sins to God with full purpose to strive after His holiness with renewed obedience empowered by His grace.