I have come across a particular sectarian church (that is to mean “Protestant” for our purposes here) that has participated in a practice of fashioning symbolic imagery in the form of the Jewish Ark of the Covenant; I will not name this church, but many of my readers will identify with this church. The practice that was engaged in involved–if my analysis is correct–worship of God around the symbolic image of the Jewish Ark of the Covenant. To our understanding: the actual Ark of the Covenant found in the Old Testament has been lost as a partially preeminent artifact to history; but, in my estimable understanding, the church in dispute performed a re-fabrication to the spatial dimensions of the original Ark in the Old Testament; such a doing is not without its problems, and there are many, and they exist as multidimensional. But, as to the nature of this submission: the purpose is to admonish those that seek to instigate heresy in the Christian Church by fashioning such Old Testament imagery while abandoning what proper imagery remains to be found, and elsewhere, it’s to dismantle Calvinism as a logically inconsistent theological doctrine, and then replace it with something better, namely the teachings which have been lost to history in the eyes of many adherents to Calvinism.
Now, the title of this entry is On Protestantism: The Necessity of Reproach and Exhortation for the Charismatic Appeal Toward Jewish Tradition and Further Exegetical Deliberations on the Church Teachings of Purgatory and Indulgences. I intend to do both: reproach and exhort, as well as provide clarification as to why purgatory and indulgences make perfect sense when the basic, and essential parts of Church teachings are seen through the light of reason and the Divinity of the Word; but in order for that to happen, the heretical views of Protestant sects must be removed. To use Derrida’s terminology, such a specific task is deconstructed through logic in order for the partaker in the heretical view to show why it doesn’t even make logical sense to hold to their heresy. After the deconstruction, then we would hope the Scriptures might be approached outside of one’s idiosyncratic exegetical/eisegetical approach.
Contrary to the wisdom of old proverbs, I won’t begin to catch the fly with honey–at first and initial impression–instead it’s to crush the fly, then hope in some kind of resurrection in which the fly responds to the honey. Moreover, that involves crushing the figurative fly with logical argumentation first, and theological argument second. With that being said, the reproach comes first.
The content of this journal (well it’s something like that or something other) will be as follows:
I. An Introduction for Reason: Reason as Necessary to Assuage Heretical Dogmatism
II. Concerning the Ark of the Covenant: Jewish Faith Meets Greek Mindfulness
a. On the Grammatical-Historical Approach and the Sufficiency of Christ
b. On the Advent of Christ
III. The Problem of Paradox: The Concern Against Protestantism
a. A Brief Note on Sola Fide
b. The Problem of Paradox
IV. A Brief Note on Jewish Implementation of Abuse in the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist
V. A Solemn Exhortation to Perceive Wrongdoing for All
I. An Introduction for Reason: Reason as Necessary to Assuage Wrongful Dogmatism
Please, reader, take note of the sub-heading: An Introduction for Reason: Reason as Necessary to Assuage Wrongful Dogmatism. In a frightening way, this heading is necessary given the reality that many permit dangerous immoderations toward the canonical Scriptures: that sounds absurd in some sense, but yet my meaning is such as: to some degree the skeptic and atheist are right in ascertaining a belief of some ‘dogmatic religion which inhibits and eradicates reason.’ Bible worship is a dangerous exercise in the excess of assumption. The skeptic and atheist exist on the planes of the wobbly and topsy-turvy,–but even the fool can say a word of good meaning. So for reason entails an order of logic and an air of mindfulness, of which, for the modern Judaizer and the outward implications of Calvinism, such is a difficult task, for they appear within a state of perpetual denial about the usefulness of logic; their perpetual denial is a foreboding presumption that reason need not be an enormous benefit in their discerning of truth. The Judaizer must be encouraged continuously to reason, so it appears a Calvinist thoroughly entrenched in their theological presuppositions; and so, God, in His Sovereignty, found fitting the necessity for the Greek culture to dominate Jewish culture before the Advent of Christ: the practical way of understanding this is in understanding that the Jews had long abandoned their honest diligence to reason. God deemed it necessary that they be Hellenized so that they might come to reason with the Ratio Christi Himself. But, I admit, they do not ascent.
Many of sensible mind will find my analysis of Scriptural text in-proof to be adequate, or perhaps some may consider it sufficient; more importantly, I’d like to encourage the reader to consider upon what basis their interpretation of Scripture rests. Peter the Venerable, calling that great logician of the 12th century “Christ’s philosopher,” would agree with the logician’s statement:
I want to use the sword of logic to cut through all the confusion that surrounds our reasoning about God. (1)
I see two fundamental hermeneutical methods and, consequently, two possible reactions to such interpretative methods–as well as two possible approaches to biblical exegesis: (1) if the interpretation rests upon knowing the infinite upwardness that the Scriptures bestow, then one may be struck in good reason to know that they really don’t have everything figured out; (2) if their interpretation rests upon a crude and vulgar interpretation of particular passage(s) whereby one believes themselves to have it all figured out, then that one will find, very likely, that the reasoning presented here is odd to them, at least, and at most, a misuse. If it be that misuse, then I’ll be accused of bibliomancy, perhaps. Of course, these fundamental approaches are not to deny that there are many approaches–in a general sense–and they are all applied differently in various contextual frameworks. Withstanding all, I’d encourage the enlightened portions of your mind–those portions enlightened by the Spirit–to consider, and be open to reason.
The usual charge against many of those that perceive of the first interpretative method as true is in how they are accused by another of “improper hermeneutics;” but to say that only begs a question of concern. That question of concern gets directed to the accuser of the first interpretative method: ‘And you believe you are the sole-proprietor of infallible Bible-reading and discerning?’ to which they, the unaware and unsuspecting individual responds, ‘No, but the Holy Spirit is’ and by which the defender of the first interpretative method might respond, ‘The Holy Spirit is, yes, but your logic may lead you, one of great cataclysm in interpretation, to claim to speak by the Holy Spirit, and yet while you do profess of Christ, you would then perhaps profess that your interpretation of the Scriptures is infallible based upon the wrongful assumption that your interpretation is infallible;’ with or without wisdom, it’s clear to see how the accuser of the first interpretative method can move toward a direction of dislocation. Of course, it’s also a dangerous logic of ‘claiming to so wholly know the great diversity of the Scriptures,’ and upon such logic many of a deceiving sedition are formed. In the higher acumens of the human mind, we find, as it appears in the instance above, that relenting our interpretations to those of high governing councils is wise; although of course, one need not feel so deeply restrained to such councils, and we need not be so very alarmed at that statement.
Calvinists are often oblivious to the aforementioned. Their theological framework excuses them from doing their philosophical homework. Following a Thomistic model, I’ll present a Calvinistic view, my objections, Calvinism’s rebuttals, and then my final objections.
The Calvinistic view: Calvinism is notorious for its tight, masterfully woven theological framework. Once one accepts all the tenets of Luther’s Solas, and then accepts all the tenets of Calvin’s doctrine, therein is an expert intermingling between the entities. I know of no one who denies Calvin’s expert intellectual ability, but I know of many that deny the madness and subsequent heresy resulting from such (that’s a pretty typical case of intellectuals in the Church at-large). Calvin, along with the necessary Sola Fide, affirmed 5 Points: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints (TULIP). Total Depravity is particular to the inability of man to attain to the Truth for himself, but it necessarily involves an utter incapacitating effect of the fall which renders a person’s mental faculties irrevocably damaged unless superseded by God’s Grace. Thus we enter the second tenet: Unconditional Election. Unconditional Election is particular to the deterministic feature of God electing those to whom he covenanted within Himself to save because of their inability to freely choose Him. Thereby, (3) Limited Atonement, which gives a reasonably accurate depiction of the reality that universalism is inconsistent with the Scriptures and Church teaching; in other words, Christ’s sacrifice is limited in the sense that not all will be saved–limited in that sense, as I understand the Calvinist’s position (see U.V. Balthasar on the issue of universalism). Michael Horton depicts this as something close to, “[the Atonement is sufficient for all, but only selective for some.]” Irresistible Grace then follows: if man is totally depraved and unable to choose the Good, then God’s Grace, if He has then elected that individual, must be irresistible to accomplish the task. Lastly, Perseverance of the Saints: those to whom God elects will not lose their election, to put it plainly. There we have it: TULIP. A tight, interconnected theological system which is waved around with advocacy; rightly so, it’s a masterful feat in theological architectural engineering.
Does it hold up though?
Now, my position is a bit different than some typical Protestant critique. My friend Tim Stratton might say it’s not philosophically important that my position is that way, and I’d be inclined to agree, although, of course, our philosophical views aren’t entirely synonymous. I do still find a real danger of semi-Pelagianism in the Arminian view. How do I avoid it? By approaching the Arminian and Calvinist view as two-sides of the same coin. To be frank, the good essence of the Arminian position provides the necessity of reproach towards the Calvinist’s total depravity, while the Calvinist provides the necessity of reproach towards the Arminian’s susceptibility to semi-Pelagianism. Both are understood within Sola Fide though, and that’s why I disagree with both views. Both views are open to criticism from within the understanding of Sola Fide. However, if justification by faith and works is present, then we grab the essentiality of both of these views; the Catholic position: there is nothing one can do to attain the initial faith and grace of God, but once it’s there, we are justified by that faith and our works which justify the true faith–a synthesis of the essence in both views (James 2:17; 2:24; RCC 2027). But I like to be clear; I have an enormous task before me and it’s daunting. My Arminian friends will appreciate my critique of Calvinism, but not so entirely. The Calvinists? Well, they’re going to hate me. But I hope they see I’m not totally rejecting the essence of their view–predestination. It’s just their double predestination has got to go.
My Objections: In rectifying their fatalism by virtue of a misspoken case of Adamic generational cursing, Calvinists fall into a very obvious trap (obvious to those outside of Calvinism, most likely). On one hand, they affirm total depravity (i.e. that man, although he exists in a world in which there is good and evil, is causally determined to only freely choose evil). More so, they’d affirm that man himself is totally depraved in and of himself–he retains only some vague notion of identity in God. This has been evidenced in a few conversations, namely that “infants do commit personal sin”. Why do they say that? Simple enough: they are trying to justify their view of total depravity which springs from the Adamic generational cursing.
So, moreover, the professions of sufficient interpretative capability by those unaware of the immensity of what sufficient interpretative capability entails, demonstrates an example of a clear and simple need for reason. We’re told by Christ to “beware the Scribes” (Luke 20:46) and it’s precisely those Scribes, of which many excuse themselves from, that are in fact the same kind of persons that many say they do not associate themselves with. The Scribe is always excusing Scriptural passages to fit their agenda. So, therefore, we must know to balance reason and faith, Scripture and Tradition. Luther said notably, while being thrown into the bowels of the Magistrate, that it wasn’t the Pope, nor magistrates, nor anything other than being convinced through “the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason.” And so, for all intent and purpose here, we are to utilize our reason to take into account the testimony of the Holy Scriptures while also we know that we may be convinced through evident reason of the Holy Scriptures; as the LORD tells Isaiah, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
II. Concerning the Ark of the Covenant: Jewish Faith Meets Greek Mindfulness
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither bond nor free,
there is neither male nor female:
for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
I’ll raise the general conditional requirement upon a conditional that will be discussed in good human effort:
RC: If you, as a self-professed Christian do venerate the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant while considering its symbolic imagery, then you’d do even better to venerate the New Testament Ark of the Covenant while considering its symbolic imagery.
P1: The Jews were right to venerate the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant, even so while considering the symbolic imagery.
P2: The Old Testament Ark of the Covenant had angelic images on its exterior, and contained the Law of Moses within (of primary importance).
P3: However, the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant has been done away with, and is supplanted by the New Testament Ark of the Covenant.
Conclusion: Therefore, as Christians, we ought venerate the New Testament Ark of the Covenant.
Undoubtedly, I will set out to describe and explain what is meant through saying, “the New Testament Ark of the Covenant,” as well as what is meant through a writing of “symbolic imagery.”
I find the fashioning of the Ark of the Covenant of the Old Testament in modern times to be disturbing–and not the good kind of disturbing; it’s not disturbing in that there is some glory to it–a changing light,-yet it is disturbing inasmuch as it misses the mark of completion. Man has, in relative time, sought to make the Christian Gospel into that appearance of the Judaizers (Acts 15). What I intend to mean is not so much a mention about a faith/works salvation (although much is to be said of that–may it be said sooner than later), but more of a mention about the blasphemous try to bring the “deliverances” of the Jewish faith-tradition into Christian praxis; Judaism and Christianity are not the same; Greek-ness and Christianity are not the same. Christianity is the amalgam of both Jewish and Christian belief into something entirely different. To answer a skeptic in this, allow me to present the Trinity as the amalgam. Jews do not believe in the Trinity. Greeks do not believe in the Trinity. Each tradition believes in something entirely akin to their own tradition. Jews believe in an entirely singular God, whereas Greeks believe in multiple gods. Now, what do Christians believe? Christians believe in One God in Three Persons: an amalgam, a synthesis of the Jewish faith and the Greek natural religion. Therefore, Judaism is not Christianity and Greek-ness is not Christianity either. Christianity is something entirely different and unique. The Scriptures after all predominate two primary languages (to not include the brief Aramaic writing) and they are Hebrew and Greek. There: we have the morality in faith of God’s Oneness, and the Greek philosophical ideal of multiplicity; and there we have the Christian doctrine in pure form.
To fashion the Ark of the Covenant of the Old Testament as symbolic imagery for the purposes of alleged Christian worship is misled, dangerous, deceiving, and a heinous move of the worst banquet; there is no place for such a practice in the Christian Church; yet, those that do such will, in forms of Hawthornesque-shame or quiet mumblings, crucify the Catholic faith and their fashioning of Christian symbolic imagery. This crucifixion stems from a few different misunderstandings from within their worldview: (1) a wrongful (or complete lack of) grammatical-historical approach to the Ten Commandments, (2) an inadvertent denial of Christ’s Sufficiency, and (3) utter misappropriation of the Advent of Christ vis-à-vis its parallelism with the Old Testament advents. I hear the appeals, so allow me to provide you with your sought after Scriptural, Traditional, and reasonable proofs to elucidate my meaning(s):
a. On the Grammatical-Historical Approach and the Sufficiency of Christ
First, we must take the Ten Commandments in the context in which they are meant to be understood. The Ten Commandments were given to the Jewish people of primal importance. Of foremost necessity is our understanding of the 2nd Commandment, which reads:
“You shall not make for yourself any graven image, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them [i.e., the graven images]; for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6, adapted from the NASV).
What is being discussed there? This is first and foremost a commandment to serve Israel in the purpose of being against serving (or worshiping) the idols and gods of the polytheistic cultures that surrounded Israel. This was not a command given to command the Israelite people to not venerate symbolic imagery (only if the symbolic imagery is sanctioned by God, and it was through the Ark of the Old Testament). It’s also not a command against the continuation of symbolic imagery that presented itself in the form of Jesus Christ as this was sanctioned by God (to be discussed further on). Clearly, we also find that the explicit Hebrew language here is indicating that the Israelite people not give themselves to the idolatrous objects as one would give themselves to Jehovah. Nevertheless, we see no direct reference in this passage to abstain from veneration of God-sanctioned imagery.
So, onto the sanctioning of symbolic imagery; we find first–and perhaps as the only true case of proper use of such symbolic imagery for the Jews–the Old Testament, which details the rightful use of symbolic imagery after the Exodus. The veneration of the Ark in the Old Testament is easy to spot, incredulously easy; as one example, we read that Uzzah was smote when he touched the Ark of the Old Testament Covenant i.e. he was killed instantaneously (2 Samuel 6:1-7). Such a reference is a clear reason indicating that the Jews were allowed to venerate the symbolic image of the Ark in the Old Testament. The Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament is shown to possess one important thing in particular, the Law of Moses:
“There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets Moses had placed in it at Horeb, the tablets of the covenant which the Lord had made with the Israelites when they came out of the land of Egypt…” (1 Kings 8:1-9).
However, the issue here is that the Law of Moses was not complete. Jesus testifies to the insufficiency of the Law of Moses:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled“
Jesus is the sufficiency of the Law of Moses, and thereby He is the completion, or the fulfillment of it. So, in reference to the very opening of this excerpt: venerating a symbolic imagery in the vein of the Old Testament nowadays–being that the fulfillment of the former Old Testament Ark has already been established–is sacrilegious. But then one appears to ask, ‘Well, is it OK to venerate some other symbolic imagery nowadays?’ For those Charismatic Judaizers in question, the answer would be an apparent ‘yes!’ (although they do it wrongfully). And, as those Charismatic Judaizers will come to know better: the answer, apart from their wrongful understanding, is a resounding ‘yes!’
The Ancient Jewish Library states, “But in the history of the Jewish people, there was one exception to this rule [of venerating symbolic imagery]. One man-made object was considered intrinsically holy–the Ark of the Covenant.” There exists much Scriptural evidence to support the claim that the Jews venerated this symbolic image of the Ark, and so we can say, and should say, that God does allow for the veneration of symbolic imagery. Now remember the words of Christ, “One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled;” Christ is not dismissing the practice of veneration in such an instance (given that the veneration of the Ark of the Covenant of the Old Testament is acceptable in the law, and it was) instead He is proclaiming His Sufficiency as the basis for such veneration. Veneration, in this sense, is to be distinguished from worship, and is to be rightly understood as high respect, and honor. There are numerous passages indicating veneration as a rightly practiced exercise: Exodus 18:17; Revelation 19:10; Genesis 18:1-4; and there exist many others. The act of veneration, not only to symbolic imagery but other people, is highly praised in the Scriptures, but adequately as that which distinguishes itself from the worship of Deity, or considerably, deity; and likewise I’ll also distinguish it from acts of pagan men bowing before the apostles, because every case of that incessant practice was a case of the heathen bowing before the apostle as one would a deity (Acts 14:14).
b. On the Advent of Christ
Given the testimony which states that the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament is insufficient and unfulfilled, then what do we say about symbolic imagery nowadays? I think the only case that can be made is to agree with what the Ark of the Covenant represents in the New Testament; and that symbolic image is Christ as Primacy (the Cross or Him depicted in lieu of such and other), and Mary–as some secondary means (we will cover this soon). There is no other sufficient explanation than to give the appearance of the New Testament Ark of the Covenant to Christ of primacy, and Mary as secondary. We need only to look to the immediate relation between the advent of the law, and the Advent of The Law: venerable vessel and holy law to Blessed Vessel and Holy Christ. If it is offensive to the reader to begin an understanding on that, then consider the Ark of the Covenant of the Old Testament which withheld the Law of Moses, which was only a mere inanimate object and yet believed holy; if it be further offensive, then consider the veneration of the Law of Moses itself, and consider that soon after the fulfillment of that came–that is, Christ–we see now, even very now!–a modern veneration of the New Testament Ark, and it is shown for all!; be it His image an icon, be it His image the Cross, or be it the image of Mary: New Testament veneration is apparent nowadays and exists as that which is, inevitably, a good practice.
John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This Word was the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses. How was Christ, the Word, contained? God is the God of His Word, and so just as the Law of Moses was contained within the Ark of the Old Covenant, so too was the Sufficient Word, Christ Himself, contained in an Ark, and that Ark was Mary, necessarily so. Just as we have an Old Adam, and an Old Eve, so too is there a necessary and direct correlation to the New Adam, Christ, and the New Eve, Mary (but don’t jump to wrongful conclusion on this). Clarification is necessary in this sense: the Mother Mary was and is not the wife of Christ. That goes without saying for many, but again, others would accuse me of bibliomancy. It pains me to say this in view of how horribly corrupt other people have become in their thinking, but it should be said: Christ, being God, was wholly complete of Himself being God, and therefore did not need an amorous marriage of fleshly-legalization*; Mary does not fulfill the role of the New Eve on any comparison relating herself the New Eve to that person which must have been married to Christ in an amorous marriage. And yet, Mary, true to her immediate relation to the Old Eve, was indeed married to a man, Joseph. Furthermore, Mary does fulfill the role of the New Eve on the grounds of her distinctiveness of eminence in the Scriptures and for the other various arguments that were presented (Luke 1:26-38). She also appears to fulfill this role based on the proximity of the messianic prophecy in Genesis to the fulfillment of that prophecy in the New Testament. The translations of the messianic prophecy from Genesis are of concern in that they provide no ever-lasting depiction of what the subject-pronoun is:
“I will put enmities between thee [the serpent] and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: it/he/she/they/that shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her/his/their heel.”
(Genesis 3:15, KJV “it”; ESV “he”; JPS Tanakh “they”; Douay-Rheims “she”; Jubilee “that”; NET and Douay-Rheims “her and her offspring’s”; many translations “his”).
Thankfully, the comprehensive account is best summed up in Christ Jesus, but many translations exist that do promote a clear indication that there exists many subject-pronoun diversities. What is agreed upon is that the imagery in the Garden presents itself as a clear foretelling of the Virgin that will give birth to a Son. *Further, any understanding of Mary as being comparable in utter likeness to Eve through the understanding that Adam was married to Eve in amorous fashion is ludicrous–no sane person believes that, and certainly no Christian person. Nevertheless, we see a meta-narrative in which the messianic prophecy in the Garden of Eden directly correlates to the Advent of Christ (Genesis 3:15; and compare Isaiah 11:1-10 to Matt. 1:18-25).
We must see a direct correlation between the Old Testament prophecies and the New Testament prophecies. Obviously, this need not imply worship of symbolic imagery, as Mary is not God, nor was the Old Ark of the Covenant God. But it does warrant veneration; and yet, only God is deserving of our worship, for He is Creator; and it is not the created that are deserving of that distinctiveness which only God occupies. Now, one may disagree with my pronouncements, but all logic and coherence points to the aforementioned subject(s) of veneration, et al.
As Martin Luther himself professed, “The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart” (Sermon, September 1, 1522).
And elsewhere, “No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity” (Sermon, Feast of the Visitation. 1537).
Here we have the progenitor of the Protestant faith subscribing to the good and pious beliefs of Mary. It should be said that Luther himself subscribed to other conservative beliefs such as: the Eucharist (the Real Presence of Christ in such, even though consubstantiation is something misleading), baptismal regeneration, and the veneration of Mary (2). Of course, none of Luther’s subscriptions would advocate for the liberal theologies that seek to raise Mary above her place, as such liberal theology is no dogmatism.
The Early Church Fathers are insistent (not of individual but in accord). Here is one example from St. Irenaeus of Lyon:
“Just as Eve, wife of Adam, yet still a virgin, became by her disobedience the cause of death for herself and the whole human race, so Mary, too, espoused yet a Virgin, became by her obedience the cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race…And so it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by Mary’s obedience. For what the virgin Eve bound fast by her refusal to believe, this the Virgin Mary unbound by her belief” (St. Irenaeus of Lyon, d. 202, p. 4).
Elsewhere documents and testaments of the Early Church in devotion of Mary is positively startling:
“Historians have compared the expansive spreading of Marian devotion in both Eastern and Western “lungs” of the Church to the post Anno Domini development of Western civilization itself. Marian prayers, Marian liturgical feast days, Marian icons, Marian paintings, and Marian artwork became ubiquitous through the Christian world after the Council of Ephesus…[following such] there was a remarkable growth [in the cult that was then known as the Christian Church] of the People of God towards Mary, in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation, according to her own prophetic words; ‘all generations shall call me blessed, because he that is mighty hath done great things to me‘ (Luke 1:48) (Lumen Gentium, No. 66).
So, therefore, why is one so quick to dismiss the veneration of Mary, or the worship around Mary (the worship around being likened to how the worshipers of the Charismatic-Judaism worshiped around the re-fabricated Ark of the Old Covenant)? I can think of one reason: it’s that others think Catholic Christians worship Mary as if Mary is God. But, that’s nonsensical given the fact that the Jews, while venerating the Ark of the Old Testament, never worship the Ark as they worship God. So that argument can be tossed out, granted that one believes Catholics do not worship Mary as God, or in other consideration: as Deity. The disagreements to precious common sense on the subject of Mary, and upon Scriptural proof, is a disagreement based on three things: (1) an emotional response/reaction upon wrongful pretense, (2) a flimsy interpretation of the Scriptures, and (3) an inadequate (or wholly wrong) understanding of the Catholic Catechesis.
And with that I will rest my numeral.
III. The Problem of Paradox: A Brief Concern Against Protestantism
I hope to perform the vocation of mediation in this concern. By remaining as objective as I may, I will position myself as neither Catholic nor Protestant, although the writings do appear as a direct challenge to Protestantism. The intention is a good one.
For the benefits of mediation, Aristotle may be a good byway into objectivity:
“Let us resume our inquiry and state in view of the fact that all knowledge and every pursuit aims at some good” (Nichomachean Ethics, 1095a).
Let us not be at some good, but The Good, that is, uttermost objectivity in Christian doctrine.
a. A Brief Note on Sola Fide
A brief and relatively simple note on Sola Fide: I think a quick reference to the Reformed doctrine of Sola Fide is important. My intention isn’t to attack the doctrine in my understanding that the doctrine is, without question, partially correct–(now allow for an explanation). In the view that “Faith Alone” corresponds to “Justification by Faith” as an adjectival truth, and “Salvation by Faith,” then yes, it is true. In the view that “Faith Alone” corresponds to “Only Faith,” or “Faith Only” as an adverbial truth for justification, then no, it is not true. So, in other words, Sola Fide as “Justification by Faith Alone” is not true, because true faith necessarily incorporates good works within itself, and if it doesn’t then it’s not true faith.
The only pure mention of “faith alone” in the Scriptures is found in the Book of James, and the instance in which it is used is to intend that justification is not by faith alone:
“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”
The next immediate counter to such a passage may be Romans 3:28, which reads:
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law”
But, this is not a fair passage to raise in objection to the works that James is discussing. Paul is addressing the Roman Christians of the day, and is giving a clear exhortation that it’s not the keeping of Jewish law that justifies man, but it is faith, and that faith produces good work through which man comes to full justification. So, it is both faith and works, and not “only faith” or “faith alone.”
We see, however, that Ephesians discusses the preeminence of grace and faith over works. Without grace, and without faith, man cannot be saved:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Without a doubt in the mind: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). Any man that believes his own good works alone will carry him into heaven is mistaken, utterly mistaken. Nevertheless, the Christian life, and the sanctifying work of God in the individual into actualized salvation, is brought about by faith which produces good works, and these works acting in accordance with faith justify men (not works of the law, but good works: the good works that Christ teaches of every man). For we have an apostolic commendations to equip our Christian life with both faith and works for the purpose of salvation:
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”
The Reformed doctrine of Sola Fide is not nearly as clear and concise as one would lead you to believe. The doctrine is filled with too many nuances itself, and therefore, should be explained clearly. Because it isn’t usually explained clearly, I raise an objection to the Reformers doctrine on the grounds of it not remaining authentic to the Sola Scriptura that is professed–it’s an eisegetical approach that is lacking sufficiency.
b. The Problem of Paradox
Ab intra the problem with Protestantism is primarily upon their trouble with interpretation which therein creates a problem of paradox. I question whether the Protestant has truly come to grip with the infinitude of God’s Word in the Bible; I doubt they have. Any reasonable person will understand that among the various translations of the Scriptures, the constant travailing in the Word from passage to passage, context to context, pretext to pretext, leads one to say, ‘Surely there are others that are more wise than me and must better diligently study God’s Word;’ but alas, the Protestant does not do that honestly. While proclaiming to have the Revelation, he bases such a Revelation on the interpretation of one, or perhaps two, or perhaps some few other men: Martin Luther, or John Calvin, or some others. They say, ‘Well, we have synods and councils that distinguish the Scriptures,’ and I say to that, ‘What makes those Protestant councils and synods different from the Magisterium? Or from the Early Church councils?’ Well, in order to address this, I’ll tell you the difference, my dear reader: the difference is that such Protestant synods and councils believe that their own nesting has acquired to that which the Catholic Church hasn’t for thousands of years. They base that exact belief of misdirected acquisition upon the abuse of doctrines by the Papacy and Magistrate; but therein we reach another problem: Protestants do the same exact thing in that they abuse the doctrines of their own predecessors. Further, the Protestant hierarchies are guilty of their own accusing toward Papal decrees, as even the Protestant predecessors claimed to have (and still do claim) the sole-truthful interpretation of the Scriptures, and so the Protestant Church cannot escape the paradox of interpretation. Thus, Protestant belief appears incoherent to a Catholic, just as the Catholic belief appears incoherent to a Protestant.
The turmoil caused by the Papal abuse resulted in the Reformation; the turmoil caused by Protestant abuse of their own predecessors has resulted in further sedition. The turmoil over the abuse of Reformed doctrine has led to the emergence of over 30,000 Protestant denominations; so much so that many Protestants can’t recite essential creeds, Biblical mandates, and doctrinal truths; so much so that the regressing nature of Protestantism has led to a modern culture alienated from God to the degree of incredulity and incomprehensibility; as that apologist and polemicist has noted, ‘Protestantism is the first step to atheistification.’ This saying is troubling–and it’s disagreeable to many minds; but it warrants deep consideration.
Sola Scriptura finds itself in a contradictory position in which it can neither affirm itself nor deny itself; for even those of Reformed leanings must value tradition, albeit they wax and wane between their own tradition and the Catholic Sacred Tradition; and even as that Protestant says toward the Catholic, ‘the devil masquerades as an angel of light, and that devil is you!’ so too does the Catholic say to the Protestant, ‘the devil masquerades as an angel of light, and that devil is you!’ Therefore, a Christian is not without the problem of paradox. And the problem of paradox remains upon the shoulders of the Protestant in their interpretation of Scripture as the Scriptures are the infinitesimal, the Great Depth, the Word of God. Paradox is that modern day vehicle–much like the vehicle of Old Testament prophets ushering forth Christ–that propels one forward into the Catholic faith, Orthodox faith, or any various Protestant denomination.
I see in light of neutrality that one is to make a decision in either of these directions. The beauty of simple belief in Christ does warrant good acceptability, and yet the insidious proclamations among factions must find solid landing upon solid doctrine. I find that Protestantism has only exacerbated the problem of solid doctrine through its constant splintering and sedition amongst itself. An honest evaluation of the evidence is necessary, yet it is done seldom.
As the philosopher Georg Cantor said of paradox:
“Thus this ‘domain’ is a definite, actually infinite set of values. Thus each potential infinite…presupposes an actual infinite” (Cantor 1887).
It appears the Beautiful Lady that is the Domain of Paradox does not reside in Protestantism, but in the mystique of the Catholic Church. One may be convinced that the platitude is true:
Weak Catholics become Protestants, and Strong Protestants become Catholics.
IV. A Brief Note on the Jewish Implementation of Abuse in the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist
There is much to say of this in view of the Lord’s Supper (as Protestants call it), and the Eucharist (as Catholics call it), but for now I will relinquish my polemic by saying that those in the Charismatic-Jewish appeal not only give there ceremony a mere symbolic meaning, but must (in the ignorance of their minds) continually present a Passover meal (a Passover symbolism), and such a practice is heretical for a Christian to do in a Christian service. We have already distinguished that Christianity is not Judaism, so I’ll forego discussing that again.
The Passover meal is not Holy Communion; Passover is not the Eucharist. Passover may be understood via the methods of mere symbolism in the Lord’s Supper (as this Supper meets a middle-road of interaction between Jewish belief and Christian true belief through the symbolic way in which Christ partook in the Passover meal with His disciples) but the Passover was not substantiated of itself in the symbolic act, rather, it was substantiated in Christ through the partaking of His flesh and blood in Holy Communion. The Christian practice of partaking in Christ is only intended to wholly and completely necessitated on those grounds. Only Christ, His Body and Blood shed for us, is substantiated; Passover, or the Lord’s Supper (the mere symbolic and the symbolic) are not the true testifying act of Christian belief, “For there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together [in one place] it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat” (1 Corinthians 11:20); and, verily, the “crucifying of Christ over again” does not fall onto the Catholic faith, rather it falls onto those that–having believed in faith in Christ–seek to return back to their Jewish fathers in order that they might crucify Christ again (Hebrews 6:6). There is no Jewish Passover for Christians. There is only the Spiritual Nourishment in Substance of Christ and His Sacrifice. To deny that is to deny True Christianity.
As Our Lord Jesus Christ, who remains Immutable on High, proclaims:
“Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever”
(John 6:49-58 KJV).
Protestant readers will likely profess this to be non-literal, as though they be equipped to deny such a Scriptural text on the grounds of metaphor and consequently be like the Judaizer himself (note the question above that is asked by the Judaizers); a shame for those that do such a hermeneutic, as I believe that it’s disingenuous; and a shame for those that arouse such disingenuous suspicion in the concupiscence of their minds.
V. A Solemn Exhortation to Perceive Wrongdoing
An exhortation upon holy affections:
Understand you have not acquiesced the truth in its entirety. As James notes, “You believe that there is one God, good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder”(James 2:19); therefore, humble yourself underneath the humility of the Word, and return to The Bride. For even as much, “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lam. 3:22), will He tolerate more? Will He tolerate the profuse accusations heightened towards His Church as you remain insistent upon forming your own traditions based through the unnecessary formulations of Jewish belief? I pray for your sake that He will be. But I also pray that you return, in haste, to the wisdom of folly–the wisdom of knowing others exist that are much wiser than you.
This discussion is straightforward, and runs parallel to the whole Revelation of the Scriptures. It is true that men suppress the truth in their unrighteousness, and love self more than God (Rom. 1). So, by that may God be quick to bridle and chasten the culpable and self-professed wisdom of these charlatans upon their individual mantles of false-authority. Such mantles they wear, hoping to give good answer, and yet they, themselves, are in need of higher council. For inasmuch, they do not have higher councils of men upon which to rest their mantle, but yet striving to have such, they return to the Church Fathers. Little are they aware of the reality of doing such. The reality of doing such is a return to the Early Church. The reality of doing such is to return to the Catholic faith.
Likened to that admirable Puritan Thomas Watson bringing about his sanctification through continuing penance of fire, so too is likened one’s need of grace to blush for his sin. O sinner, you’d have the grace to blush, and the grace to feel blush. I hope that you may.
In truth, it is better to reside as a layman in the House of God, than a charlatan or celebrity in the House of Satan. They, these Charismatic Judaizers, have received their reward; and their reward appears as their spiritual authority, but yet their spiritual authority is a sham of the worst kind.
“It is pride that turned angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”
Gloria in excelsis Deo
Sweeney, Jon M. The Saint vs. The Scholar: The Fight Between Faith and Reason. Franciscan Media Publishing, Cincinnati, OH. 2017. Print
Ramsey, Patrick. “Sola Fide Compromised? Martin Luther and the Doctrine of Baptism” http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/article/sola-fide-compromised-martin-luther-and-the-doctrine-of-baptism. July, 2009. Web.
Encouragement to Affection (Prelude): Christian society is inundated with deceptive philosophy that seeks to undermine the brilliance of mind that God has given abundantly. Will you not take the time to analyze what interpretation you are residing upon?; that interpretation could be one of raising a heightened awareness of Truth; but rather not let it be upon an interpretation that is one of the natural brute beast’s perception that only distinguishes right from wrong: God forbid we believe the Truth is a game of right and wrong; God forbid we receive His Word without good conscience; God forbid we approach the Word with the kind of dumb assumptions that typify the zealot without wisdom, and not the wise man with zeal.
Let the Philosopher return to the Christian Church with vengeance,
and let him hammer for Truth.
May God damn the mindless Christianity of our age,
but may we love our brothers and sisters with the ferocity fit for the King.
Beasts possess personhood (fysikόs psychē i.e. natural soul). They possess a fleshly body of distinct animal kind, spirit that is breath (ruach), and soul of living form (Job 12:10;) the beastly-soul is identified as following: (1) not of the same human significance i.e. comparably diminished (2) of living form (mental perception, sensation, reasonableness, etc.) and (3) speculative immortality/mortality; but yet, they do not possess the (1) esteem of being created in the imago Dei i.e. the physical-actual imago Dei, nor do they possess (2) the ability of themselves to reason their soul through language in explicit human fashion, nor do they possess (3) the degree of moral awareness that homo sapiens do. In truth, the designations of body, soul, and spirit are given to the beast (fysikόs psychē), whereas humans occupy a necessary triunity with divisions amidst soul (i.e. the exceeding form-life of bestial form-life) and spirit (Heb. 4:12, Luke 10:27), and the absolute privilege of being made in the imago Dei. Nevertheless, triune personhood is not defined solely through the esteem of dominion, or the ability to reason soul through language as some do, nor the moral awareness of humans: triune personhood is defined upon the necessary triunity of being regardless of the degree to which the triunity is expressed or inoculated. Understanding the personhood of beasts is crucial to understand the exceedingly high personhood of man—when the animal kingdom is elevated, man’s dominion is elevated; when man’s dominion is elevated, then the immensely sacred person of man is elevated. The persuasion is that beasts do possess a triune nature, and consequently, ethics should be proposed for the benefit of both man and beast in society.
The beastly-flesh of land was formed from the dust of the earth; let us entertain that the beastly being was breathed on-in spirit; and soon the beast became a living soul i.e. the fysikόs psychē of living form comparable to a human’s living form. Do we have sufficient reason to believe that beasts were not fashioned this way?—with the only principled exception being that man was made in the image of God? What is the imago Dei and why does man get this role? I submit to you that it is not simply because man has a triune nature of which this role is attained, but rather that it is because of man’s physical image. Beasts can undoubtedly occupy a triune nature, however, they cannot occupy the imago Dei. In the sense that metaphoric principles are applied (i.e. “Lamb of God,” “Lion of the Tribe of Judah,” “’Living Beings,’” etc.), then we may entertain the idea and apply theoretical ideas to the image of God, but with regard to the True Reality of God’s image in actual human-bodily manifestation, we are then wise to affirm that the “The Word [when] became flesh” is indicative of man-flesh, not beast-flesh (John 1:1). Contrary to the thought of many scholastic philosophers, the intellect of man is not the sole reflection of the imago Dei: the imago Dei is principally the physical appearance of the invisible God that manifests in human likeness of body. Yet further, given the exceeding wise nature of animal behavior (Prov. 30:24), we cannot be certain that animals do not possess some sense of natural intellection. Yet even further, we cannot be certain (inasmuch as we know now) that scientific achievement has shown that animals do possess intellect. Withstanding the aforementioned, the discussion of animal personhood remains a distinctly theological and philosophical undertaking—with the foremost emphasis upon the philosophy of analytics in scriptural writings.
Undoubtedly the Preacher holds the Word true when he declares, in view of this temporal life, that: “Humans have no advantage over the animal;” (Ecc. 3:19) and yet, why do we assume preeminence, instead of a proper understanding of dominion wherewith we govern through our language of reason, our moral fiber, and capable physical image whereby we may perceive the ethics of ourselves in the regeneration of Holy Spirit? What is the ethic? The ethic is Rational Compassion: a thought-ethic which seeks to conjoin Siddhartha’s compassion for all living beings, and Solomon’s profession of discerning time and judgment (Ecc. 8:5). Rational Compassion is the withholding of alternate consciousness for the benefit of All; Rational Compassion is promulgation of gentleness through limited assumption in wisdom from above for Love’s chief end; it is the necessary coupling of will and intellect through mind’s reason on behalf of the imago Dei. Rational Compassion is a High Order ethic, and while not a pragmatist’s approach, it is indeed a Higher Order of thought-ethic.
“A Woman’s Heart”
by L.H. Gracy
We move together, and I love your
Shining a breath, passing, yet never
will I forget.–
The glowing austere of holiness, or,
the way my mind was lit
aflame: sudden bursts of transcendence,
angel light, nether worlds–destroyed
shattered in Beauty’s eminence. Love
All speculation will not slay this
the glory underneath,
the Greater than the Sun.
A woman’s heart shews forth, and
dispels deceptive will.
A partial, yet complete act
of God’s aesthetic fill.
“Memories that Wander”
by L.H. Gracy
Recalling a melodious pitch,
or forms of movement, thus
Swarms of creatures the mind adventures,
the swooning of the thrush
And while I beckon hitherto,
ineffable thoughts I ponder:
the motive of a person’s word of deed
when that one says, what’s wrong dear?
Further, have I not known
the brilliance of mind on earth–
the one that makes me move in glory,
and relinquish undue search?
If not, will I declare
I must continue onward
And love that which is from above–
those objects and things we ponder.
Memories that wander
stay of place in some sweet nexus
A taste of pondering eminence
a taste of Nature’s Sexes
And while I sit, I wait
for Heaven’s inspiration
to be greater than the vile amorous
to rejoice in my long sation.
Memories that wander
stay of place in some sweet nexus.
If you haven’t, try observing your beloved pet while keeping in mind the possible mystery of his behavior. Take careful note of the sweeping motion of the cat and dog’s tail, the manner in which they both present their head to be scratched, the attentiveness a dog gives when they “listen” to your words, how a dog rests that unusually heavy head on your lap, or the beautiful truth in how they never enjoy being away from you (dogs, that is). These, and so much more, display quite a marvelous mystery. But have we asked ourselves what the actions, and more importantly the personable companion, represent? I think this is the greatest mystery of all.
I’ve been going through some immensely challenging and difficult times lately, and I believe that the challenges have opened me up to the great mysteries of God. I have learned that through adversity, God furnishes us in high fire to work His glory in us. One defining feature of this is in the revelation of mystery; Paul, concerning himself and his fellow ministers, gives notice to others of how himself and others should be accounted: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). We can assume we’re in a favorable place when mysteries have been entrusted to our care so that we may steward them. Such mysteries are found in the most unlikely of places–including the loving face of that furry creature that commits himself faithfully to your care.
What are these mysteries? Well, I can disclose to you a particularly marvelous mystery: the mystery of an animal as an object of knowledge.
The Book of Ecclesiastes speaks to the extraordinary development of man as an animal: “Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless” (Ecc. 3:19). I would say furthermore that within this verse is the allowance of man to contrive deep, fathomable truths from animals, given that they clearly hold a special place amongst the wisdom tradition found herein. Even further, the Book of Proverbs relates the wisest of behavior and characteristics to animals: the writer gives introduction to the creatures by saying, “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise” (Prov. 30:24). We would do wise to unravel the mysteries of God’s creatures. Now that the reality of wisdom in animals has been established, then what more? What is the specific mystery I speak of?
Not only do I believe animals are persons (albeit not the same manner in which we might ascribe personhood to a human person) but I also believe that animals represent vast objects of knowledge that are pertinent to our lives as humans. These objects are pertinent to our lives as humans because they stand in place of figments of our imaginary life by displaying a natural reality. Our companions represent ideas–godlike impressions we hold dear–and give those ideas character, a loving face, and a sweet countenance of adoring admiration. It can be no little wonder that God, speaking to the caressing of those good godlike impressions, tells His people to be righteous in “caring for the needs of their animals” (Prov. 12:10). We fulfill a biblical obligation by holding our companions, that is, those objects of knowledge that are the manifestation of good ideas, in loving care. We are to fulfill biblical obligations.
So, what’s my story?
My German Shepherd, Dennis, represents the consolation of philosophy in my life, and all the actions associated with him speak directly to the dimensional relationship that philosophy has had in consoling myself through a difficult time: for, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Our relationship transcends time, and moves into a category unique to us–it is the story of a man’s walk in faith through difficult and challenging times with a warm friend. There have been times where my bed was wet with tears; there have been times where despair wrenched my spirit and soul into marred submission; and there have been times where hope seemed too faint to recall. But, in my reason to believe and question my existence, I found solace–much like Solomon counted as worthy his questionable belief. But, these questions and reasons appeared manifested in my dear and warm friend; Dennis my compatriot of nighttime angst, and Dennis my arbiter of gloom: there be but only a paw-in-hand or a doleful look from him to inspire my spirits–much like reason provides. Can we recall our misery, and see not a friend around to console us? Well, my friends, look to your sweet, furry companions. Look to the objects of knowledge they represent.
When I think of my beloved companion, I’m led to the wonder in enjoyment of God. My friend, representing that desirous contentment found in the pursuit of wisdom, has been a dear friend. Surely when C.S. Lewis wrote that some of his best friends were books, he had in mind objects of knowledge, and likewise I say the fulfillment of that is in an animal, and the further fulfillment of that friend is in the best friend a man can have: Christ. Dennis has been an object of knowledge which has helped to, “direct me toward the discovery and enjoyment of the supreme good,” and, in part, has been “the object of desire capable of fulfilling perfectly the best of human aspirations” (xiv). Animals are more than what our unwitting minds may conceive of. They are treasured allies in a race toward the finish. They are man’s bubbly bristled bearer of sorrow. Yes, they are treasures, and where our treasures are, there our hearts are.
May I present a poem penned from my heart to you?
“The Dog and Man“
by Lance H. Gracy
The dog and man a peculiar bunch
God upholding tears
Man alone is not good, and such
A dog to share his cares
Gentle have I felt
And through the warmness of dreams I know
The transfer of knowledge through his pelt
The whispering eyes of wisdom shown
Many mysteries in wonder
The tale of a wagging tail
My friend in fits of soul asunder
My friend whom never fails
Stern leading is his joy
And his joy my pleasure
A soft touch, a sweet good boy
With love, my pal, a treasure
If he could speak my language
I know surely he would say
I have known love, yet dearly miss
Your presence every day
The dog and man a peculiar bunch
God upholding tears
Man alone is not good, and such
A dog to share his cares
What does your special animal mean to you? Which idea does he bear? What station in your life is he a representative of?
Seek the wonder of God, and discover the many mysteries that await.
All my love in Christ,
Lance H. Gracy
The Death of Socrates, Jacques-Louis David, 1787
The whole counsel of God is not solely political, nor is it solely theological, nor solely philosophical, nor solely literal, nor solely metaphorical, nor solely ontogenetical, nor solely naturalistic, nor solely national, nor solely transnational, etc.
The whole counsel of God is the compatibility of all these. Without the whole counsel of truth, then we will operate in a partial understanding. This partial understanding may be necessarily subjective, but ultimately the concern is that there be an understanding about the whole counsel of God. I am not arguing against the relative demand of subjective understandings, however, I do believe that we must revisit the totality of God’s counsel so that we can better keep in mind the nature of truth.
Civilizations have risen and fallen throughout the span of human existence. What does this mean though? What have these civilizations offered? Well, I can tell you that these civilizations, great in their grandeur, have offered a significant natural representation of the whole counsel of God, and more specifically in the formulation of America. The apologist Ravi Zacharias writes in his book Light in the Shadow of Jihad, “[Jerusalem has offered the moral conscience; Greece (Athens) has offered the philosophical backdrop; Rome has offered the legal and political frame; and London has offered the cultural ethos that carried into America’s early years” (29). Knowing this then, why do so many Americans seem to operate without compatibility–insisting that one of these frameworks is to be so highly elevated while denying the necessity of the others? This understanding of compatibility is the desirable impression of education in our society. Without this understanding of compatibility, then we may very well be subject to fits of inadequacy, misunderstanding, and unnecessary fervor. Christ himself appears to be this understanding by positing himself as the answer and the ultimate incorporation of all these components to the whole counsel of God when he says: “I am the way [Roman political strategy], the truth [addressing the Greeks in their search for truth], and the life [addressing the moral conscience of dead religion in Jewish custom]” (John 14:6).
Lately, it has seemed to me in my awakened dreams and passions of good, that American society has chosen to neglect the philosophical and thus, I am stirred to raise awareness about this particular framework. Philosophy is the personification of wisdom, and not merely the love of wisdom. While theology may be the “Queen of the Sciences,” philosophy is the resolute and steadfast Handmaiden of Theology–inseparable, unwavering, and devoted to the pursuit of truth. Just as St. Augustine, while reading Cicero’s Hortensius, was stirred to an honest love for wisdom, so too do I hope that our society might be awakened, and rekindled for wisdom, and thereby put off the vitriol sentiments that are often associated with the study of philosophy–especially within the Christian Church.
Do you see? Philosophy is a component of the whole counsel of God; how does it operate then? Philosophy challenges the presuppositions of man in their dogmatism: it is the act of critical thinking; much like how Jesus challenged the religious dogmatism of his day (Mark 7; Matthew 15). Philosophy is an essence of godliness that instills in us the yearning for meaning. Philosophy appears to be understood in the Biblical Scriptures as having feminine characteristics, and is personified therein (Prov. 4:13). The medieval philosopher Boethius noticed this, and gave sight to her beauty in his Consolation of Philosophy where she “appeared standing above [Boethius], a woman of majestic countenance whose flashing eyes seemed wise beyond the ordinary wisdom of men” (3). One should ask, since wisdom is personified in the Scriptures, is that not a call to adore such? To venerate such (my Roman Catholic friends might be attentive at this point). Surely, within the abiding covenant of Christ we can rest in such adoration– given that our hearts are holy-sanctified by the Spirit. Please take heed to understand the essence of this exhortation. Principally the essence of this exhortation is to give an exhortation to philosophy as that necessary component of the whole counsel of God, and thereby sanctify its rightful, and dare I say, holy place.
Interestingly enough, the role of philosophy seems to also be a primary importance in education. Many are unaware that the natural sciences themselves were fashioned by the philosopher Aristotle, and therein he accentuated the purity of philosophy as the foundation for all academic pursuit. Furthermore, the majority of educational exhortations in the Scriptures are from the known Books of Wisdom:
For wisdom [is] a defence, [and] money [is] a defence: but the excellency of knowledge [is, that] wisdom giveth life to them that have it. Ecclesiastes 7:12
How much better [is it] to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! Proverbs 16:16
Take fast hold of instruction; let [her] not go: keep her; for she [is] thy life. Proverbs 4:13
The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding. Proverbs 9:10
What are the downsides to philosophy? Clearly the apostle warns the Church, “not to be deceived by vain [hollow and deceptive] philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Col. 2:8). However, exposing this passage in its literal context is important. First and foremost, the early Church, especially those inhabited by Greeks, were prone to the peripatetic nature of philosophy during that time i.e. an appearance of godliness in the Greek philosophers whilst they remained not in profession of the saving power of Christ. That “vain philosophy, which depends on human tradition…rather than on Christ” was precisely the type of pagan philosophy that depended upon itself rather than upon Christ; in no manner do we find such aforementioned pagan philosophy good, for such philosophy was bred adjacent to the sound doctrines of the Christian Church (e.g. Gnosticism, Arianism, Modalism, etc.) However, this warning is NOT a reason to avoid philosophy, nor is it a reason to not engage in philosophy. The apostle Paul is NOT telling Christians to avoid philosophy, but rather not to be deceived by vain philosophy; the apostle Paul might as well be saying “gird up the loins of you understanding” and develop yourself so that you will NOT be deceived by any sort of philosophy (1 Peter 1:13). As one of my dear professors has mentioned: we cannot escape philosophy because immediately after such an apostolic exhortation to not be deceived we might then ask “what is vain philosophy?”
Given the nature of the current political climate, I cannot help but think that there is not enough philosophical undertaking going on. To be quite honest, there isn’t even high-level rhetoric going on–the general theme nowadays is one of misinformation, a severe lack in wisdom, and, adequately enough, an ignorance on display that is so apparent and egregious that there is seemingly no wisdom to be found in it, of consideration, that is.
I’d like to propose one solution: ask questions. Do not assume your understanding of the mind of another, rather seek the truth in the dialogue through asking questions, challenging understanding, and pursuing the Heart at which the relativity of ideas resides. Plato said that “philosophy begins in wonder,” and as true as this statement is, we would be wise to engage ourselves in the act of wonder and enchantment for the sake of returning back upon the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, the apostles, His prophets, and the inspiration of Holy Scripture.
All my love in Christ,
Lance H. Gracy
I am incredibly perplexed; recent circumstances have enveloped my understanding to the point where I believe restitution will not be made. How is man to live, if he is to live with his perplexities? St. Augustine is right, no philosophy can sufficiently be made for the ordering of life, and therefore I am left to no other effective choice than to lean in on my Christ–that One through which gives true understanding; these perplexities are not of some lesser sort, but rather break a man’s character to the point in which he is despairing of his own character–what is this? Vanity, I assume, but even then am I not justified to resolutely cast judgment onto another? Is that it then: a temptation towards my own resolution in character? I cannot help but to think you (that poisoning hand of dainty deceitfulness) are the one that fashions me a certain way while behaving that way yourself: I am sickened at the behavior. Is my own wrath entirely unjustified? No, but surely it cannot produce what is most desirable. Surely it is so that my Lord withholds his wrath, although His wrath towards me is in deepest and most affectionate love–why then should mine be any different? The pining of contempt–that is what you bring forward from myself.
Here I write, and yet I am lacking. I pity myself sometimes, but mostly, I pity the manner in which you position yourself. Am I, just I, the one who should be cast aside? My Lord has not forsaken me, and yet, others do? Is this because they cannot fathom the weight of the eternal self?–the eternal self being me. But wait, perhaps this is just a matter of…understanding. Yes, there it is: understanding. They lack understanding, along with me, and yet I may say I am aware of the love of Christ and be the better for it! What other reason is there for them to so poignantly cast me off and forsake me? Because of illness? Because of fear? This is not the faith that looks through death, but is rather a sham, a farce, and an inadequate and insufficient faith that is prone to the most grand illusions of harm.
My statement becomes: do not pity me, but instead pity yourselves! You mockers, look at yourself and blush with shame! Be ashamed and confounded with your state of being! My contempt for you is my anger, but my anger is but a moment. Do not be ignorant of your own devices, and your own shortcomings, and your own deceptiveness! Fix your eyes upon God, and allow him to bring about the restitution that you are undoubtedly worthy of.