Reason cannot justify its own existence. The philisophical impass of existence itself ever convicts the soul. Therefore God, the “unmoved mover” of the great philosophers, cannot simply be thought thinking itself, as they sometimes concluded.
For although there may be mind without thought, there cannot be thought without mind; and a mind which conceives of persons must know and experience personhood as much or more so than those conceived of. Yet also, if we are all merely thoughts in a greater mind, as some have concluded, then we ourselves may all be decieved in supposing that our thoughts are truly thoughts at all; and then our own “thoughts” about that very matter are also in vain, and, as likely as not, another layer of deception: and why then do we so speculate, and that willfully? We should then rightly abondon the whole discourse, and immediately attempt to discover what lies beyond this veil of tears through self-inflicted death!
Yet does it not burn deeply within our souls, that the reason by which we reason must have definite origin and definite purpose? And does not death also loom as a certain judgement over the soul, for good or for ill?
Therefore, we shall not speculate upon things which in themselves necessitate the meaninglessness of themselves; for this is madness, and we know that there is a good, and a true, as it has been imprinted upon us within and without, though our eyes have been cut off from its more explicit light. And that light without is what we ought to seek from within, seeing that our own light within has already proven itself quite inadequate to be sought from without.
Now, if the good and the true of that greater mind aforementioned shall be truly known, it must be more than a force of unseen nature: it must be the nature and character of a being who can be known not only as a mind but more importantly as a person; for a mind without personhood cannot create persons, only thoughts. Yet man is a person; and if we are speaking of the ultimate God at all, then we are speaking of man’s creator, who must therefore be a person – or else we speak of no god concerning man at all, but only of what is neither relevant nor existent (except in thought), and so deceive ourselves before we have scarcely begun to consider the matter.
For if man is a personal being – and we step into madness to deny such – then the good and true which is meant for him must have a like example to him in order to be truly known by him. If the good and true is only a force of unseen nature, then man, who is a personal being, can neither discover nor relate to it; and such is either not good and not true, or is at least not meant for him, since, being impersonal, it does not concern his person. Therefore, the good and true that is meant for him is the good and true found in a being relating to him personally. The great absurdity of the ages is that man, a manifestly triune being, scrambles to prove that a greater triune being cannot have created him. For, any good and true that is relevant to man, and especially the ultimate and transcendent, depends not merely upon the existence of that good and true as God, but upon that God being a person whose nature and character defines that very good and true, for which the created man longs, knowingly or unknowingly.
Therefore, as Christians, unless the person of Jesus Christ is our assumed presupposition in all argumentation, then all our philosophizing is in vain, try as Aquinas might to convince himself otherwise. His predecessors knew better.
“For I do not understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe – that unless I believe I shall not understand.”
– Anselm of Canterbury
The Person of Christ cannot be arrived at by outside wisdom: as all wisdom proceeds from Him. He cannot be reasoned to by outside knowledge: as all knowledge is hidden in Him from the wise. He cannot be found through the courses of the human mind: as true right-mindedness subsists only in Him through relationship.
How then shall anyone be saved through our apologetic?
They shall not; nor have they ever been.
For it is not our apologetic through which any are saved; but through the power of the God who knows men. The faith of Christ is the gift of God, and the apologetic is only the confirmation of the mind of the heart already being enlightened. Apologetics may at times be an instrument of the Spirit for the unbeliever, but they are a far more useful instrument for the believer.
Divine faith is not the fruit of true reason: true reason is the fruit of divine faith. Reason may discover by omission the chasm at its center, which is faith; but even so, it cannot fill that chasm with said faith – which is the work of God’s Spirit. The faith of Jesus Christ has root in the source of all things, God the Father, the transcendent, yet personal, uncreated God who subsits in Himself, who is “that than which none is greater,” regardless of our own failing conceptions or incomplete knowledge of Him.
Those who claim that they have arrived at, reasoned to, or found Jesus Christ by means of excellent philosophy fall into two categories: firstly, those who have not truly found Him, but only a concept of Him befitting their minds; or secondly, those who have truly been found by His faith, yet are still too proud to give Him the glory in their intellect.
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
[Or, “interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.”]
1 Corinthians 2:13 (NKJV)
The above words of the apostle leave us no intermediary stepping-stone between the carnal mind and the spiritual mind that can be relied upon; no bridge between reason and revelation that can be crossed; no means of God-pleasing enlightenment except that which the Holy Spirit Himself works upon the soul. A man is either carnal or spiritual; he will either understand spiritual things or he will not; and the knowledge of God will either be conceptual, unto his puffing up, or experiential, unto his building up.
True wisdom is either hidden from a man or revealed to him; and a man of philosophy is either hopelessly enthralled by the unknown god or hopefully enraptured by the revealed God.
Christ is the only true philosopher’s Stone, if there ever was one – whom the builders of such conceptions have themselves rejected from the beginning. The torch of Prometheus is lit with the fire of hell, and its wisdom glows with the sickly dying light of the fallen one.
The beyond of the merely reasoning mind is the void of the Word of God. But the man enlightened by the faith of Jesus Christ no longer has need of such an elusive beyond to be concieved of in his mind; for he is now present in the revelation of the Word, who is very near to him, even in his mouth and in his heart.
Our known reality is not the manifestation of abstract concepts from the beyond of true reality: rather, true reality has been manifestly revealed in our known reality in the Man Christ Jesus, of whom the most excellent philosophical concepts are only derivative, and speak only faintly. Reality is right before us; and He who defines it must open our eyes to begin to see Him as He is.
Experience is the shadow of reality, and concepts are the shadow of experience. Therefore, mere concepts of God are only a shadow of a shadow; and have no use without the experience of what is real in God.
We do not reason to God to open men’s hearts, we reason from God, who opens men’s hearts.
“Now, since we do not live with our soul stripped bare, but, on the contrary, have it clothed over, as it were, with the veil of the flesh, our soul has the mind as a sort of eye which sees and has the faculty of knowing and which is capable of receiving knowledge and having understanding of things which are.
It does not, however, have knowledge and understanding (by) itself, but has need of one to teach it; so, let us approach that Teacher in whom there is no falsehood and who is the truth. Christ is the subsistent wisdom and truth and in Him are all the treasures of hidden knowledge.”
– John of Damascus
“After reading the doctrines of Plato, Socrates or Aristotle, we feel the specific difference between their words and Christ’s is the difference between an inquiry and a revelation.”
– Joseph Parker
“Philosophy is a love of wisdom. But, true wisdom is God. Therefore, the love of God, this is the true philosophy.”
– John of Damascus
How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
“I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.
Isaiah 14:12-15 (NKJV)
The lowest depths…
As with the Devil, the heights of vanity also bring men’s hearts into the lowest depths of a living death; and this dark, hellish imprisonment of the soul makes it all the more fit for the even more real hell of eternity.
There is a kind of living hell in which some persons find themselves when the vanity of self, the lusts of the flesh, and the meaningless pursuits of the world have been permitted to take their full course through the life and being. This dark abode, this endless slide into the consuming void of emptiness, has at its core only eternal decay of spirit and bottomless despair of soul.
There lies within the fallen creature a restless evil, an insatiable lust for that which already infects it unto death. The more that it is fed, the more that its appetite grows; and the more that it is numbed through other courses of wickedness, the more that it longs for the inevitable and fearful death into which it reluctantly falls. Until the creature’s access to vain and wicked paths is cut off, it will forever return to its vomit as a dog, and go back to wallowing in the mire as the swine – loving itself in vain, hating itself in vain.
Yet even in the cutting off of its life from upon the earth, such a soul, in the torments of hell itself, continues the same inward spiral of wickedness and hatred towards God within the heart – and that with even greater despair upon despair, and sorrow upon sorrow.
The hopelessness of this woeful state cannot be sufficiently described in words – yet how many a soul is dragged away by his own lusts and enticed to the slippery sides of that pit, to crawl along the wall like a blind man unassisted by any means, his vision consumed by darkness within! The love of this world is as cold as it is sharp when it stabs one’s back; and the bitterness of this world is kindled into an unbearable flame that sears the conscience and scalds the mind to retreat into dull resignation.
But there is Truth which undercuts all excuse and disarms every defence of the thoughts.
There is Love which warmly bears all things until the heart’s complete surrender to it.
There is Light which makes bare every motive and intention, and graciously lays out a path once known to be impossible.
There is a LIFE of whole and unending goodness, a fountain of life and healing from within, which has been given in exchange for this existence of endless degeneration and vanity.
There is One who is all these things, Jesus Christ; and He is the mercy and grace of God to the lost sheep of His house.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
John 10:27-28 (NKJV)
He is calling.
Who is hearing?
Let them hear!
The hypocrites do not truly hear; but God is near to those who have been humbled.
Let His voice be heard throughout the land by whomever He is calling!
Let eyes of new faith be opened by His visitation!
Let hearts of stone be crushed and transplanted for hearts beating with the life of Jesus!
And may those who have already known His hand be found in the seeking and partaking of these things!
There is no captivity that He did not lead captive for the freedom of all those whom He is calling.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.”
Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)
His righteousness is not merely an external cloak for the covering over of transgressions: it is also a new pure and righteous state of the inward being which increasingly displaces and replaces the old unrighteous state of being that made us love to walk in vanity and sin. It is a spiritual food and a spiritual drink which increasingly sustains and overflows from within all those who partake of its living way through repentance.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, My steadfast, sure love for David.
Isaiah 55:1-3 (ESV)
“And all illusion ceases to exist.
The world’s caress is just the Serpent’s kiss.”
– Theocracy (band)
Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man!
For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.
Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So He bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.
Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man! For He shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.
Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.
He sent out His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.
Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His deeds in songs of joy!
Psalm 107:4-22 (ESV)
“Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.”
– G.K. Chesterton
Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.
A most notable characteristic that distinguishes the children of the flesh from those of God’s Spirit is the mocking spirit by which they operate.
These children after the flesh, whose eyes are full of scorn, walk about freely in the household of faith quite unnoticed. They are given to much commentary concerning the things which they see, hear, and think; at best feigning humility, hungry for argument; hearing many things and being understanding in few; hating reproach, scoffing without reason at those who have wise counsel; witnessing to the words of others falsely, so that they may steer men into the same bitterness by which they themselves walk.
But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
For as it was with Isaac and the son of the slave woman, so it is today.
But those who, like Sarah, have been blessed to carry the Son of Promise, and bear out His fruit of their womb, are able to discern the subtlety of that scorning which is seen in the posture of the fleshly children; and are sorely grieved by their presence, and become filled with a righteous anger that such are able to continue in their mocking ways among God’s flock.
I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, nor did I exult. Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone, for You filled me with indignation.
These walking mockeries of God’s children make sport of the righteous in their conversation, not fearing the Lord in their houses; and they make much outward fellowship among God’s people with the laughter of self-assurance, seeking always to be at ease in Zion. Alas for their souls! Unless they are struck with the true fear of the glorious God before the end, how great will be their final fall! For it is better to dwell more often in the house of mourning, and to quiet one’s soul before He who searches it, than to always break bread presumtuously, chattering on in the house of gladness, giving no thought to the day of judgement.
“These are ones who cause divisions,” the apostle says. For even if they are outwardly guilty of only a little of this mockery of the way of God’s Spirit, and even if they are not set above many brethren, nor so grieviously ravage the church as those described in Jude’s letter; it is still the same spirit (or spiritual posture) of mocking by which they walk. Even if they are not purposefully and conciously undermining the harmony of the body of Christ; these still are a blemish at its love feasts, waterless clouds, and raging waves of the sea, driven about by fierce winds.
For they love what benefits of the Lord’s table might numb their soul to His Spirit’s conviction of their depraved nature, and also what comradery of the brethren might justify them in the sight of certain men whom they percieve to be leaders. But because it is all a self-deception and a ruse, they indeed cause divisions by the very nature of their presence; since, being devoid of the Spirit, they cannot harmonize with those whose walk with Christ happens to challenge them, and so the flow of the Spirit is impeded by this dead wood that has fallen into the river.
Hence, brothers become divided over them unknowingly, and cease to work together in what the Lord is truly concerned with. Time is thrown into the void, and many a spiritual life is exasperated by the casting of pearls before the swine. Ever do they learn in order to keep up in the natural eyes of men, yet never do they come to a true knowledge of the truth. Ever do they hurl foolish and unlearned questions at those in God’s house whom they secretly despise, and ever is the proverb fulfilled in them, “A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain.” (Prov.14:6) For their wells are broken, and their soil salted.
In short, these sons of the slave woman are a mockery of the sons of the free simply by what they are.
Therefore, let the members of Christ see it fit to cease their worldly entreatment of the carnal; for such entreatment will not win such men over to Christ Himself. But the turning of them over to the world which they still love, which world is the mirror of all hypocrites, might bring even some of these to repentance.
The accomodating of Ishmael is not the mission of the church. He is rather to be repented of; so that perhaps God may later work salvation for him, and the church will also be blessed, and freed of his leaven. May we come to discernment! Without discernment there is no dividing between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit; and if division is not made between the workers of both, it will drive a wedge between the brothers of the latter. Because of this, even many a true son after the Promise is caught in the ways of the spirit of mockery, and are thereby driven to many unnecessary divisions.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
In secret halls of darkness grim,
The princes who love greed and sin
Have made to strike the Son their task,
But shall be foiled unto the last.
For He who searches mind and heart
Has let from them His light depart,
And as they serve the ancient snake
The Lord prepares the earth to quake.
Beneath their temples, high and bright,
They think their deeds shall see no light;
But flesh and blood of souls unknown
Have cried aloud before God’s throne.
His sword is whet, His bow is drawn,
The night brings forth His Day to dawn;
So let God’s children now awake,
For He has made the tyrants shake.
The punishment has never slept
For all in whom the serpent crept.
Let kings therefore, and every ruler
Remember He whose wrath is crueler.
Fear, therefore, and kiss the Son,
That to your good, God’s will be done;
For all shall bow without exception,
With or without His election.
Ever shall His rule increase
Within His kingdom’s reign of peace;
“Therefore,” He commanded, “Go,”
As holy leaven in the dough.
How can we then be excused
From in His kingdom being used,
When in this world we need not fear,
Since death itself brings Life more near?