Tuesday, September 8, 2009

what defines humanity

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us" (Tozer 1961:1). So writes A. W. Tozer in an effort to encourage his readers not only to think about God, but to think rightly about God. The implied distinction is of such weight and import that it should not be overlooked easily, for the potential reality of God, or by contrast, the potential reality of non-God, predetermines the reality that directly impinges upon, for example, humankind. I know that it is not a unique claim (though I apologize that I cannot offer a citation) to state that true religion is a balance between orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxy (right action). This is because what we believe intrinsically relates to, and inevitably affects or informs, what we do in and through our lives. Applying this to theology, what we entertain about God necessarily determines how we act and respond to God. Additionally, our thoughts we hold about God, by extension, translate into how we act towards His creation.
If Tozer's declaration is correct, than we do well to devote ourselves to the task of thinking rightly about God which, given the relation between belief and action, leads to (if not already implies) "knowing God," as J. I. Packer puts it (Packer 1973). Notice, however, that Tozer does not write, "God is the most important thing about us," or something of this sort. Again, we should not overlook the implication. In one sense, God is the most important thing about us, since He created us and "in Him we move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Accordingly, our existence cannot make sense apart from Him, a truth that is expressed by the ontological distinction that holds between us. That is, God is by nature distinct from the entirety of creation: God exists a se ("from Himself"), which is "a unique perfection of God," whereas we exist ad ablio ("from another") (Craig 2004:173). God, therefore, informs our reality and existence because He precedes it, initiates it, and substantiates it.
On the other hand, it is one thing to assent intellectually that Christ lived, died and rose from the dead in order to redeem humanity and all of creation to God, and it is another to believe in the validity and actuality of the person and work of Christ and desire its application. So, while God, as the ultimate reality, defines our reality, our response (thinking rightly) to His prior action enables the efficacy of what He has already inaugurated, such as salvation through His Son. If this conceptualization is accurate, then what we think about God is indeed the most important thing about us.
Engaging in theological reflection is therefore a momentous task, which presses upon us with urgent immediacy. In it we either admit to the reality to which we are all predisposed, or we deviate under misconceptions and false illusions that potentially bring about eternal consequences. The one frightening thing about the entire undertaking is the moment of realization that the subject of our inquiry is alive (see Kreeft 2008) and, alive not only in a manner which merely resembles our state of being, but in a manner which defines it.

Craig, W. L., and P. Copan. (2004). Creation Out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker and Apollos.
Kreeft, P. (2008). Jesus-Shock. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine's.
Packer, J. I. (1973). Knowing God. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
Tozer, A. W. (1961). The Knowledge of the Holy. New York, NY: Harper.

Monday, July 20, 2009

why this blog?

Whether you are an aimless wanderer, or whether your arrival here is the product of your purposeful intention, let us say, Welcome. At this junction, you may wonder, 'Why this blog?,' or 'Another blog on theology?!,' or even perhaps something more colorful. Allow me to take this time to proffer an explanation, and even a justification, for the existence of this site.
The primary intended foundation for the contents herein stem from Jesus' terse but profound summation of the Law and the Prophets. Namely, love towards God and love towards humankind (cf. Matthew 22:35-40). Accordingly, the principal act and goal of these writings is the worship of God with the edification of others in mind.
This type of expressive medium points to a secondary function: that of an outlet for sharing the intimacy of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It is our hope that God would graciously shine through our words, so that those who have and take the time to read these posts may begin to or further realize a desire to draw nearer to God by His ever-extended invitation and tireless initiation. Furthermore, as has been most likely discerned by the reader already, these writings intend to be situated within a larger framework of Christian theology, though we urge the reader to thoughtfully consider the potential universality of the thoughts and claims herein. Also, while the authors come and speak predominantly from the Protestant tradition, the majority of thoughts shared will most likely be considered uncontroversial to those within Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions within Christianity.
Finally, and not unrelated to the previous statement, the content within these posts is not intended to be new per se. That is, on the one hand our worldviews have inevitably been shaped by those who preceded us and, to borrow a phrase from Orthodox Christian Peter Bouteneff, "there are effectively no new teachings," but "rather, new formulations, new expressions, and new implications drawn from the revelation given us in the person of Jesus Christ as witnessed in the Holy Scripture." (2006:135)
Thank you for visiting our site; please feel free to comment. May you "grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity." (2 Peter 3:18)

Bouteneff, P. (2006). Sweeter than honey: Orthodox thinking on dogma and truth. New York:
St. Vladimir's.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

in regards to the name of this blog...

The name of this site is taken from the opening line of one of my most cherished poems. Specifically, it is the beginning of the fourteenth of the 'Holy Sonnets' by 17th c. 'metaphysical' poet John Donne. Thus, I think it fitting that, for the first post, I should let Donne speak for himself (Hayward, 1950:171-172):

Batter my heart, three person'd God; for you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,'and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely'I love you,'and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:
Divorce mee,'untie, or breake that knot againe,
Take me to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

Hayward, J. (1950). Donne: Selected poetry. New York: Penguin.