Monday, July 9, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Different

I'll be mountain climbing for the next few days so I wanted to post something before I left. I was thinking about posting a cool quote from John Calvin on holiness, which I will probably post later, but I decided to post something I've wanted to put on here for a long time. I read a lot of good books my last semester at Asbury. But one quote from one book has stayed with me. It is from a book I read in Jerry Walls' class on theodicy called "The Doors of the Sea." It is by Eastern Orthodox theologian, David Bentley Hart...

Until that final glory, however, the world remains divided between two kingdom, where light and darkness, life and death grow up together and await the harvest. In such a world, our portion is charity, and our sustenance is faith, and so it will be until the end of days. As for comfort, when we seek it, I can imagine none greater than the happy knowledge that when I see the death of a child, I do not see the face of God but the face of his enemy. Such faith might never seem credible to someone like Ivan Karamazov, or still the disquiet of his conscience, or give him peace in place of rebellion, but neither is it a faith that his arguments can defeat: for it is a faith that set us free from optimism long ago and taught us hope instead. Now we are able to rejoice that we are saved not through the immanent mechanisms of history and nature, but by grace; that God will not unite all of history's many strands in one great synthesis, but will judge much of history false and damnable; that he will not simply reveal the sublime logic of fallen nature, but will strike off the fetters in which creation languishes; and that, rather than showing us how the tears of a small girl suffering in the dark were necessary for the building of the Kingdom, he will instead raise her up and wipe away all tears from her eyes - and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor any more pain, for the former things will have passed away, and he that sits upon the throne will say, "Behold, I make all things new."

Obviously I am not a Calvinist. Dr. Walls cured me of that. Don't get me wrong, I have great respect for John Calvin and I like many Calvinists. My favorite line is, "
God will not unite all of history's many strands in one great synthesis, but will judge much of history false and damnable." There are things in this world that happen and exist and are contrary to the will of God. It is only a hope in God's victory in the Eschaton that can make sense of the world we live in. I thank God for the tokens of His promise that we receive in this life.


Northern Plains Anglicans said...

That quote leapt out at me, too. Thanks for this wonderful post. It encourages those of us who try to be "watchmen" (Ezekiel 3 & 33). Our message will not always be welcome and, even if true and compelling, many who hear will still make "false and damanable" choices.

Praise God for our portion of charity and sustaining faith.

I've also been moved by John of the Cross (Spain, 14th Century). In his Ascent of Mount Carmel , he likens our spiritual life to being "weaned" of "consolations." (He brings up the example of how women in that time rubbed bitter herbs on their breasts to encourage weaning). Even good things must be let go, as anything short of God Himself is "nada" (nothing).

Matthew J. Perkins said...

Hey NPA, I read John of the Cross' "Dark Night of the Soul" and loved it. It helped to get me through a tough time. I will have to find that "Ascent of Mount Carmel." Thanks for the suggestion.