Philosophy A.D.

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


True Philosophy – John Of Damascus

“Philosophy is a love of wisdom. But, true wisdom is God. Therefore, the love of God, this is the true philosophy.”
– John of Damascus

On Truth & Sin – Douglas Wilson

“To deny (the reality of) sin is to deny Christ… and sin lies hidden whenever Christ is veiled.”
– Douglas Wilson


If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8

On Tolerance – G.K. Chesterton

“Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.”
– G.K. Chesterton

Priesthood: The Calling Which Purifies


§I ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICES


You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:5 (ESV)

Our obedience to the priestly calling of every member of God’s house is the only source of our ability to please Him in what we do. And the priestly calling of all believers is not, as many evangelical traditions have made it, to primarily be the confidant of one another’s sins: it is rather to be a minister UNTO THE LORD, who purifies the true ministers of His temple.

For despite the small good that can come by the confession of our faults one to another (Jas 5:16), there is no overcoming power in the act of itself; and even the prayer of a righteous man, though it may avail much, is soon discovered by many to be of little use in the continued overcoming of worldly and fleshly lusts. This is because we tend to minister in these things not unto the Lord, but rather unto ourselves.

Men seek “accountability” for their besetting sins amongst themselves, and in so doing tend to quickly neglect the power of God; which is found only in each one offering his own incense upon the altar of the brokenness of interceding love to Him, through obedience according to the giftings and callings of God.

For there is but one mediator between God and men: “the MAN Christ Jesus.” And if that Man alone (to whom we truly have to give an account) does not appear or seem close enough as to keep us from falling, then we have found the real root of what besets us: that our present experiential knowledge of God Himself is lacking.

“…to offer spiritual sacrifices…”
A spiritual sacrifice makes no excuse for the self: this means that the one offering does not consider their present sins worthy of hindering an entrance into the holy places. For the blood that has been sprinkled for us, and the body that has been torn open for us, gives us entrance, so that “going boldly” we may find grace in the time of need. His throne in the temple is the mercy seat – and have not our own hearts become a seat of mercy for His holiness, if He has indeed regenerated us in Christ? We have no excuse not to offer the spiritual sacrifices that are pleasing to the Lord, in view of God’s mercy.

“…acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
To confess sin to a brother, or to receive prayer from an elder, is only a spiritual sacrifice as far as it is done freely as a love offering to the Lord (and this can only proceed from a heart enraptured in some degree by His goodness). But the confession of a sin or the receiving of a prayer as a resort to please the real or perceived standards of others, or to attain to a level of personal piety whereby one might feel spiritually accomplished, is idolatry, and is an unacceptable sacrifice.

Time will tell the source and motive of all personal piety. Even an external source or motive, if it is yet other than the goodness of God Himself, falls woefully short of His glory. God will not be mocked. And He will not uphold the proud: He will allow them to fall again, especially if one whom He loves cannot be humbled unto His grace by any other means.

Therefore, we are not left to our own devices, nor to the cleverness of schemes, nor to the wisdom of sound counsel only. But we are called to fulfill the calling of a new priesthood, wherein is found a santification that goes far beyond the overcoming of only one particular sin, though that victory is also given.

The office of priesthood is the office of intercession. If we will minister to the Lord acceptably as priests, then we will seek Him earnestly in all our motives – especially those pertaining to good works, though without delaying in action. We will also be willing for Him to lay upon our hearts the burden of His own soul for His house, and for the lost sheep of His pasture.

We too quickly excuse ourselves in saying, “But I am unworthy to minister to others.” Yet aren’t we much more unworthy to minister to the Lord, which is our first and primary calling, and for which He has made us a way into the holy of holies? Surely then, He will make us able to minister to others in word, in deed, and in prayer, if only we are found ministering to Him in the same things by the bearing out of our souls before Him, and the seeking of His heart to become our own.

And how, one might ask, can this ministry intercession cleanse a man’s way?


§II“LIFT UP YOUR EYES”


And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.
Acts 5:32

Ministering to the Lord in the seeking and doing of His will, despite ourselves and despite our existing shortcomings, is the magnet for His overcoming power. We become witnesses of His work only through obedience. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Exercise thyself UNTO Godliness.” A man with no living experience of walking by the palpably leading hand of God will be a man of little or no strength in God; since the scope of his walk requires little or no strength, and he sees nothing beyond where he sits.

The overcoming power of God is given according to the measure of obedient faith in the various callings of God upon each one. And although the obediences to which He may call us might appear irrelevant or unable to affect our present sins, that is not at all the point. Dare we counsel God in the methods by which He delivers us from our own folly? He places one step at a time in front of us; and He orders those steps according to HIS wisdom, not our own.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NKJV)

The Hebrew for “loyal” here carries the concept of which Jesus spoke when He said “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single (or sound), thy whole body shall be full of light.”

In other words, while men seek to rid themselves of particular sins by developing tunnel-vision for those sins, the greater answer is truly found in developing a focused vision for whatever places Christ is calling one to in Him. For what the eye beholds, the body will soon reflect. The beholding of He who dwells in us and calls us will transform the beholder and the obeyer – and He is only beheld unto transformation by those who obey Him.

To neglect any prompting of the Holy Spirit is to neglect stepping into a greater place of His power.

If we wait to cross the Jordan until we are first made perfect, then we will never cross. We need to cross in order to find the beginnings of His perfecting power; for in that obedience are contained the seeds of perfection, and also the loyalty of heart which God answers in overcoming strength. In stepping into Jordan, the floodwaters which seemed to prevent us from taking the promised land are suddenly backed away from us, even beyond Adam (Josh 3:16), and the conquering of Jericho (the stronghold) comes well within the realm of possibility.

God fights on behalf of devoted hearts, and teaches them through continued experience to also fight for themselves. We are being made perfect through the crucible of obedience unto greater obedience.

As it was prophesied of such a priestly generation, to whom He comes as God into His temple:

And He (the Lord) shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
Malachi 3:3

Priesthood in God’s temple means that we are called to fearfully minister to His heart through walking by faith in the face of all ungody fear; and in this ministry we will find that He begins ministering far more deeply to our own hearts in the purification of the Holy Spirit than by any other means. It is the office by which the exercise thereof will call up a dead church to rise and meet the Lord who calls her to “come away,” shedding all the trappings of self-made religion as the faces of heaven’s inhabitants beam with awe and joy at the sight of a worthy Bride.

The heart of sanctification is not to please ourselves, but to honour God, who is worthy.

They shall enter into My sanctuary, and they shall come near to My table, to minister unto Me, and they shall keep My charge.
…And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
Ezekiel 44:16,23


“Experience is the secret of power.”
Brian Troxel


SEE ALSO:

Neglect It Not: Intercession

HIS Intercession Is Our Calling

The Spirit Of Mockery

Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.
Genesis 21:9

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.
Jude 1:18-19

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.
Jeremiah 15:17

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!
Psalm 1:1

Contrary Or Consecrated

To the woman He said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
Genesis 3:16 (ESV)

The desire of the fallen woman was to become contrary to her fallen husband.

The desire of the redeemed church is to become consecrated to her Kinsman Redeemer.

He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”
And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.
Ruth 3:9-10 (ESV)

There are only two ways that we can be toward Christ: contrary or consecrated. There is no middle ground. Consecration is not a lukewarm state of affairs, it is a posture of focused devotion at the feet of One.