Category Archives: Faith Seeking Understanding

Teaching, Thinking & Important Questions

“The really hard part about teaching is the thinking. Because if you want to help people as an educator, you have to know what people are for, why they exist, what it would mean for them to be fulfilled, and what Good their existence is ordered toward. Suddenly, you are up to your chin in the most important philosophical questions that can ever be asked.”

~ Fred Sanders, review of “Education for Human Flourishing

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Knowing: from Lordship to Fellowship

“The motive that impels modern reason to know must be described as the desire to conquer and to dominate. For the Greek philosophers and the Fathers of the church, knowing meant something different: it meant knowing in wonder. By knowing or perceiving one participates in the life of the other. Here knowing does not transform the counterpart into the property of the knower; the knower does not appropriate what he knows. On the contrary, he is transformed through sympathy, becoming a participant in what he perceives. Knowledge confers fellowship. That is why knowing, perception, only goes as far as love, sympathy and participation reach. Where the theological perception of God and history is concerned, there will be a modern discovery of Trinitarian thinking when there is at the same time a fundamental change in modern reason — a change from lordship to fellowship, from conquest to participation, from production to receptivity.”

~ Jurgen Moltmann, “The Trinity and the Kingdom of God: The Doctrine of God” quoted by Craig Gay in The Way of the (Modern) World, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1998), 272.

Workers Within the Kingdom

Aside from the use of the word “rebuilding” in this quote, I like what it says about the claims that the Kingdom of God makes upon our lives. I think the grace of the gospel through the church will have transformative influence in the world, but I don’t see “rebuilding” the good creation as a Kingdom mandate or possibility. When Jesus returns, the creation will be more than rebuilt – it will be transformed! Re-creation, rather than rebuilding, is what the future holds for this groaning world.

Christians seek to live their whole lives in continuity with Christ, taking on his mind and affections, acting as his body in the world, sharing his sufferings and his victories in the project of overcoming misery and rebuilding God’s good creation. Christians gladly join this project out of gratitude to Christ, out of obedience to Christ, and out of an enkindled desire to work within the Kingdom of Christ. As faithful workers within this Kingdom, Christians struggle to align themselves with the redemptive purposes of God in this world.

~ Preface to “An Engagement with God’s World: A Statement of Purpose for the Core Curriculum of Calvin College” quoted by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. in Engaging God’s World (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2002), 124.

A Christian View of Suffering

“At the heart of Christian belief lies a suffering, crucified God. Yet in recent years some have argued that Christian emphasis upon a suffering Jesus is dangerous, that it gives rise to an ideology that encourages those who suffer oppression simply to accept suffering. There are more things wrong with this argument than I can take up here, but it is not surprising that such arguments should arise in a culture devoted to self-realization. In such a setting, the cross must always be countercultural.

Suffering is not a good thing, not something one ought to seek for oneself or for others. But it is an evil out of which the God revealed in the crucified and risen Jesus can bring good. We must therefore always be of two minds about suffering. We should try to care for those who suffer, but we should not imagine that suffering can be eliminated from human life or that it can have no point or purpose in our lives. Nor should we suppose that suffering must be eliminated by any means available to us, for a good end does not justify any and all means.

Unless we are thus of two minds, understanding suffering as an evil that can nonetheless have meaning and purpose, medicine is likely to go awry. It seeks health — but not Health. The doctor is a caregiver, but not, we must remind ourselves, a savior. Ultimately, all of medicine is no more than an attempt to provide care for suffering human beings. That care, however, cannot by itself offer the Health and Wholeness we ultimately need and desire. If we respect the moral limits that ought to bind us, we will not always be able to give people what they desire. We may not be able to give the infertile couple a child, the elderly man an old age free of dependence, the young woman freedom from the child she has conceived, parents the healthy and ‘normal’ child they had wanted, the terminally ill patient a painless death. But we can and should assure them that the story of Jesus is true — that the negative and destructive powers of the universe are not the ultimate powers we worship.

Part of the pain of human life is that we sometimes cannot and at other times ought not do for others what they fervently desire. Believing in the incarnation, that in Jesus God has stood with us as one of us, Christians must try to learn to stand with and beside those who suffer physically and emotionally. But that same understanding of incarnation also teaches us that to make elimination of suffering our highest priority would be to conclude mistakenly that it can have no point or purpose in our lives. We should not act as if we believe that the negative, destructive powers of the universe are finally victorious. Those who worship a crucified and risen Lord cannot give themselves over to such a vision of life.”

~ Gilbert Meilander, Bioethics: A Primer for Christians (Grand Rapids, Mi.; Eerdmans, 1996), 7-8.

Serious Fun!

“Our leisure, even our play, is a matter of serious concern. There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan. . . . It is a serious matter to choose wholesome recreations.”

~ C. S. Lewis, Christian Reflections (Grand Rapids, Mi.; Eerdmans, 1967), 33-34.

Thinking Christianly

“‘Thinking Christianly’ is  a vital part of expressing a Christian worldview, but thinking will arise from a worldview. And our worldview is deeply connected to our life in Christ. If thinking Christianly becomes disconnected from the whole experience of life in Christ Jesus, it leads to a distorted, intellectualized Christianity lacking grace and humility. A truly biblical worldview is centered in an existential relationship with Christ; it will be as much about nurturing this relationship as it is about rigorous critical thinking that arises from this relationship.”

~ Michael Goheen and Craig Bartholemew, Living at the Crossroads (Grand Rapids, Mi.; Baker Academic, 2008), 20.

On the Knowledge and Love of God

“A virtuous man may be ignorant, but ignorance is not a virtue. It would be a strange God Who could be loved better by being known less. Love of God is not the same as knowledge of God; love of God is immeasurably more important than knowledge of God; but if a man loves God knowing a little about Him, he should love God more from knowing more about Him: for every new thing know about God is a new reason for loving Him.”

~ F. J. Sheed, Theology and Sanity (New York, NY; Sheed & Ward, 1946), 9-10.