Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Marriage of Natural and Supernatural Religion

This is one of the things that intrigues me about Maximus, that he leant "new brilliance and new validity" to "the element in Christian thought that had its living roots in Asia" (Balthasar). I think this may be important because he therefore serves as a kind of bridge between the supernaturalism of Christianity and the more "natural" (or "naturally supernatural") religions of the East, i.e., Vedanta, Taoism, and Zen.

You might even say that this approach forms a nexus -- or performs a sacred marriage -- between "Father sky" and "Mother earth," in that man's religious instinct is analogous to the "maternal soil" that must be fertilized from above.

As discussed in my book, manhood is the basis of civilization. That is, maternity -- and therefore the mother-infant dyad -- is a biological category that excludes any necessary role for men aside from a little help with conception.

But the emergence of humanness is characterized by the trimorphic, intersubjective structure of Mother-Father-Baby. This can only take place because the male now has a social (not biological) role: father, husband, protector, etc. Thus, you might say that these categories are the very "essence" of civilization.

Even on a purely practical basis, a civilization that fails to produce manly men to protect it is not long for the world. But more subtly, in psychoanalytic terms, "father" is also a symbol of the Law (in its most generic and universal sense, in that reverence for the abstract Law is one of the things that lifts us above the animals).

In contrast, the mother is mercy, which is felt, not thought. Nor could it ever be reduced to granite tablets, like the Ten Commandments. Law is always masculine.

It reminds me of when Senator Feinstein was questioning Justice Roberts at the confirmation hearings. She said something to the effect that she wanted to know how he felt, not what he thought. Or more recently, think of the supremely feminized Obama saying that he wanted justices with "empathy." I think you can see why that leads directly to the unraveling of civilization at its very foundation, for it is a passive aggressive attack on masculinity. Judicial tyranny is the result.

By the way, it's the same with socialized medicine. One of the reasons Obama needs to ram through any kind of bill, no matter how bad, is that once we have socialized medicine, there's no turning back (or forward, to be precise). Like it or not, most everyone becomes dependent upon the state, so that for the rest of our lives, we'll be arguing over government run healthcare.

Which is exactly what the Democrats want. It's the same with Social Security. Once you lock up a significant portion of the populace into dependency upon the state, conservatives can be caricatured as people who want to throw grandma out in the cold.

Anyway, back to natural religion. In a way, you could say that natural religion is (↑), while supernatural religion is (↓). The former embodies all the techniques of ascent available to man. (I should point out that in reality, these natural religions must also ultimately be "from God," but that's a subject for a different post.)

Here is how Balthasar describes natural religion: "As the elemental groping of man toward God, it is, first of all, a way of renouncing the world -- for this transitory, spatio-temporal, destiny-determined world is surely not God! It is a way of stripping off form, in order to find the infinite Absolute in a state of formlessness. The world, compared with God, is unreality, a falling away from the eternal unity."

Balthasar has a tendency to caricature theologies with which he disagrees, but this strikes me as a pretty fair assessment, for this ascent into the formless "beyond being" is the basis of all natural religions, from Vedanta in the East to Plotinus in the West. There's nothing really wrong with it, except perhaps that it rarely "works" (even Plotinus had only a few brief swooning episodes of egoic dissolution into the One).

I remember reading an interview of Ken Wilber (who is a Buddhist or something), and he said something to the effect that the chances of a human being achieving liberation in this life were less then one in a billion. Hence the need for lots of reincarnations to do the job. But that is the way of pure (↑). It really is a case of trying to lift yourself up by your own buddhastraps. Good luck with that.

Also, from the natural side of things, the "god-man" can only be understood in relative terms. Even the most exalted avatar -- say, Krishna -- is not literally God. As Balthasar explains, "expressed in terms of this picture of things, an incarnation of God can only mean a concession, the gracious descent of God into multiplicity, into the realm of matter, in order to lead what is multiple back into unity." Thus, it is not a real reconciliation of the One and the many, God and world. Rather, it is again a means of escape from the world.

And there is an inevitable elitism associated with the way of pure (↑). It's somewhat like golf, which you can only be good at if you have lots of time and money. This is how a sinister clown such as Deepak becomes "guru of the stars," or how poor Ken Wilber becomes the leader of a children's crusade of affluent new agers with skulls full of mush. Remember, his way has nothing to offer the other 99.999% of poor slobs on the planet.

But the Christian way is a way of grace, of pure (↓), although naturally we must do what we can to make ourselves worthy of it. Unlike Eastern approaches, it takes the individual seriously. He is not just an illusion of maya, with no value or purpose beyond escaping the dreary play as soon as possible.

Rather, the purpose of God's (↓) is to lift creation "beyond itself to fulfillment." It is a divinization of the world, so that you might say that God's descent is our ascent, if you catch my meaning.

I'm trying to think of a human analogy... Imagine the gifted artist, who, by infusing a common landscape with his artistic vision, is able to elevate it beyond itself and reveal its metaphysical transparency. As a matter of fact, this is the very purpose of art, which is to imitate the Creator.

I always think of that scene in American Beauty, where the young videographer shoots a film of a brown paper bag spontaneously blowing in the wind. Thus, he is "elevating" the most common reality by descending fully into it in an empathic way.

Now imagine God fully descending into reality in an "empathic way," thereby transforming the most ugly realities -- including death and suffering -- into a kind of aching beauty.

But the key remains our own participation in this drama, which is why there is surely a place for the Eastern approaches, only fully "baptized," so to speak, which is what Balthasar claims that Maximus was able to do. The danger of Roman thought, and later scholasticism, is that they tended to create a kind of masculine imbalance, forgetting about the experiential side of things. This is why Balthasar himself -- who was a Jesuit by training -- felt so spiritually reanimated by going back to the early fathers such as Maximus.

Balthasar believes that Maximus confronted that same duality, "and recognized that Christianity could not survive without the religious passion of Asia. But how much of this impulse, this human way of thinking, can be assimilated into Christianity? How can it be done without endangering the core of Christianity itself?"

All good questions. It reminds me of why leftism never works and never can work. Why? Because it forgets what man is. In contrast, free enterprise works because it takes man as he is, and transforms his self-interest into great public good.

Might we apply the same idea to religion? If so, then we have to take man as he is, and focus his private, natural religious impulses onto something far grander.

To be continued....

27 Comments:

Blogger Warren said...

A post very near and dear to my heart - thanks!

>> the chances of a human being achieving liberation in this life were less then one in a billion

Correct Buddhist doctrine, I believe. Which is why what most Westerners call "Buddhism" is so very laughable. Meditate a little bit, get some warm tummy feelings, and you're liberated - hey, that was easy! They have no conception of the seriousness and (let it be said) pessimism of genuine Buddhism.

>> Even the most exalted avatar -- say, Krishna -- is not literally God

My understanding is that Krishna IS literally God. Despite appearances, he's not a man at all - rather, he's God (Vishnu) appearing as a man. (For those of you scoring at home, this is "docetism" - also a favorite Muslim heresy.) So you're right, being merely God (rather than God-man), Krishna cannot bring about any reconciliation between the human and divine orders. He merely appears in this world to teach.

>> And there is an inevitable elitism associated with the way of pure (↑)

Which is one big reason why liberals tend to lap it up.

>> The danger of Roman thought, and later scholasticism, is that they tended to create a kind of masculine imbalance, forgetting about the experiential side of things

Very true, although this is mostly a product of the last few hundred years (reaction to the Reformation, wars, and all that crap). It's also why devotion to the Blessed Mother is so prominent and important in the Catholic Church.

7/23/2009 09:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Phillip Berry said...

"By the way, it's the same with socialized medicine. One of the reasons Obama needs to ram through any kind of bill, no matter how bad, is that once we have socialized medicine, there's no turning back (or forward, to be precise). Like it or not, most everyone becomes dependent upon the state, so that for the rest of our lives, we'll be arguing over government run healthcare.

Which is exactly what the Democrats want. It's the same with Social Security. Once you lock up a significant portion of the populace into dependency upon the state, conservatives can be caricatured as people who want to throw grandma out in the cold."

This is quite true, as we can observe in the UK or Canada, where even "conservatives" like a Margaret Thatcher would never dream of touching socialized medicine.

On the other hand, "conservatives" long ago, in America, threw grandma out in the cold, forsaking her for the almighty dollar. Americans prefer trinkets to authentic family values, we prefer multi-national corporations to mom and pop shops, federally funded school systems to local education, and enormous farms to small family farmers. We prefer to move every two years to living in a place and establishing thriving communities.
In this kind of anti-culture, where "conservatives" bray on about family values while undercutting them at every turn, socialized medicine is a logical step, as is the UN, and, indeed, a world goverment. As Eric Gill loved to write, "it all hangs together".

7/23/2009 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Well, as much as it's worth, conservatives must have something to conserve. From that standpoint, most conservatives are simply conserving yesterday's leftovers.

You need a real abiding tradition to hang together, or you hang apart. So it is undoubtedly true that some conservatives (particularly the fiscal kind) may be more interested in conserving the traditions of the 'gesellschaft' (sp?) or mercantile culture at the expense of the 'gamineschaft' (sp?) folk culture. It is typical of those of the romantic variety to overvalue the folk culture and ignore the mercantile, and those of the classical variety to overvalue the mercantile and ignore the folk.

However, I think it should be noted that leftism in any case always desires a hastening of the Ragnarok, whereas with the conservatives you at least can go slow enough to take the first exit off of hell's highway.

That many have sold out to the almighty dollar is revealed in the prevalence of varieties of Prosperity Gospel teaching among the Christians of the USA (even the most conservative) - which is the idea that God wants you to give so you can have, rather than have so you can give.

This is not to suggest anything left of center as an option; God forbid it! That would be like being in a 19th century mental asylum and deciding to replace the treatment of daily beatings with doses of strychnine.

Mammon = power, which ultimately is worshiped by the Left as where there is no absolute, there is only me and my own power. There are still more than 7000 though, who have not bowed their knee to Moloch.

7/23/2009 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"...many have sold out to the almighty dollar..."

Would that that were true. Would that they had sold out to the Dollar... that would at least imply trading something of value, for something of value.

No such thing happens among the proregressives of either the left or right, they pass only counterfeit pledges but demand full values in return.

They aren't interested in Money or compassion, they want, and always have wanted, something for nothing, and slobbering praise is at the top of their list.

7/23/2009 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

You guys don't see the REAL selling point of socialized medicine. Here in Europe, the medical establishment makes all the hard decisions, so nobody needs to wake up screaming because they pulled the plug on grandma to save the kid's college fund. Instead, we just get a phone call that unfortunately grandma passed away, there was nothing more that could be done. True, the suicide rate among female doctors is disturbingly high, but it is nothing natural selection can't fix given enough time.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled sanctification.

7/23/2009 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting, and apropos. Via Spengler.

7/23/2009 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I have been pulling the last week or so of posts offline and reading as time permits. I finally got caught up today. I'm kind of glad I had to do it this way. It's given me more time to soak.

Several years ago I was talking to a young man who was a sort of natural religion dilettante. He was also a devoted leftist greenie. He was dismissive of Christianity primarily because it wasn't based on his own efforts, which, of course, is the very reason I embrace it.

7/23/2009 02:28:00 PM  
Anonymous slackosopher said...

for this ascent into the formless "beyond being" is the basis of all natural religions, from Vedanta in the East to Plotinus in the West. There's nothing really wrong with it, except perhaps that it rarely "works"

Being that I am smackdab in Wilber Country, that seems to be a fairly accurate description of the Wilbernian strain of "Integralism"--which could be defined as the desire to integrate *ALL* knowledge as long as it isn't Christian or conservative.

(or to be fair, any and all Christians are allowed--just as long as they sound like Buddhists).

7/23/2009 02:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

(↑) = requires we build the Tower of Babel - we usually lose focus on the goal/plan and focus on the minutiae of the building materials, resulting an unstable edifice that falls.

(↓) = requires we make ourselves an ark and be open to the flood from above so we are floated by the deluge that comes when God wills.

Magnus: Great point on the infantilization and moral/spiritual malformation that results under a socialist system.

7/23/2009 05:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

I just had to post this...

Bloggingheads: What is Wisdom

Description:"Rex Jung, left, of the Mind Research Network and Robert Sternberg of Tufts University discuss a scientific understanding of wisdom."

Favorite Quote: "People can be smart and still do stupid things." - yes, like think that wisdom can be measurable or not question their own leftist assumptions about what is wise in the first place.

7/23/2009 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher Olson said...

I am sorry, but please bear with me while I hijack a large swath of comment space here. I’ve held back as much as I could… but it is still quite winded.

Here is how Balthasar describes natural religion: "As the elemental groping of man toward God, it is, first of all, a way of renouncing the world -- for this transitory, spatio-temporal, destiny-determined world is surely not God! It is a way of stripping off form, in order to find the infinite Absolute in a state of formlessness. The world, compared with God, is unreality, a falling away from the eternal unity."

Heh… That description was me about 10 years ago. How well said.
I had discovered the Tao Te Ching at the age of 15 and it struck chords in me that I never knew I had. I knew they “were there” I guess, but no one had ever “struck them”. I felt this pull, this urge, drawing me to that Person, that Place, that Time that was, that is, that always will be. It was like a memory of something before the world began, before “this” was ever “this”. And it was Real, and I knew it.
That people spoke of this Way, that there was even a chance that I could “find” it, was such good news… I had never entertained the hope of actually finding so much as a signpost. But everywhere, I began to see “clues”.
Desperately, I gravitated towards it. I doubted all knowledge, forms, words. Everything men said, I felt that it was all so incomplete, and lacking “that which could not be uttered”. Who could show it to me? It was not to be found in the world… and yet I knew of no one who had “grasped” it. I was determined to do it alone… somehow.

(even Plotinus had only a few brief swooning episodes of egoic dissolution into the One).

Did he, really? Lol.

It really is a case of trying to lift yourself up by your own buddhastraps. Good luck with that.

Very well and cleverly put. Indeed, good luck with that.

I gave every ounce of energy I could muster – and even more than that would not have been enough. I was quite ragged near the end of my travels when I encountered the One who had arrived before He had even walked out the door.

In Him, Jesus Christ, my struggles ceased. He alone knew the Way. He was the Way. He alone knew the Total Truth – He was the Truth... And His command to me was to believe on Him, and on the One Who sent Him. And that He promised to do the rest, perfectly, completely. I found that there was no way I could refuse to believe in Him – I did believe, and I most eagerly took His name, as that of my savior and Lord. I could see quite well that in Him, and in no other, was the Eternal Life proposed by God before the world began – the name of God which no man could utter – expressed to me in the fire in His eyes.

" All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him."

What is more… is that this One Who knew and commanded all things did that wholly incredible, unexpected act which was the only thing that could save me. He died, for sin. And not just for ‘sin’ in general, but for mine ‘specifically’ at the same time. He subjected Himself totally to the darkness below, and allowed it to swallow Him whole… to snuff Him out. For His endless Life, to end! How is this possible? It was nothing I could comprehend… but I believed, and I saw as He revealed. His Life ended, but still He could take it back again. SURPRISE DEATH! It is not Life that is swallowed up in victory, but death.

”Thus, it is not a real reconciliation of the One and the many, God and world. Rather, it is again a means of escape from the world.”

Yeah, that’s the thing. Nobody can escape their past. It must be faced. Judgment must be meted out. The accounts must be reconciled. There must be a reckoning. There is no escape.

7/23/2009 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher Olson said...

”although naturally we must do what we can to make ourselves worthy of it.”

Not sure I am on that page with you? There is nothing that makes any of us more worthy than another to believe the Gospel, to be saved. It was while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us, not ever when we were righteous or “worthy”. All of my worth has been imputed to me by Him and through Him, that He alone may be worthy of all worth-ship and praise.

”Rather, the purpose of God's (?) is to lift creation "beyond itself to fulfillment." It is a divinization of the world, so that you might say that God's descent is our ascent, if you catch my meaning.”

Not to be a nitpicker, now, but the though comes to me... that God’s purpose was to seek and to save that which was lost. Not to make it “divine”, but to restore it to the pure, unbroken image of the divine. Not divine, but like the divine, like His Son. We are now one of many brethren, but He is the first, the foremost, and forever shall there be none higher than He.

But yeah, I do think I catch your meaning.

Thanks for your blog Bob. It has been nice (and rather surprising) “meeting” you here.

7/23/2009 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher Olson said...

..."the idea that God wants you to give so you can have, rather than have so you can give.

Awesome. You nailed it right on the head - that is perfectly put.

"Mammon = power, which ultimately is worshiped by the Left as where there is no absolute, there is only me and my own power. There are still more than 7000 though, who have not bowed their knee to Moloch."

I love the way all of you here think!!

Last stand on Mt. Carmel: because YHVH is our God, and His Son is our king.

Our Absolute vs. theirs.

7/23/2009 06:48:00 PM  
Anonymous lurker uncloaking said...

"I'm trying to think of a human analogy... Imagine the gifted artist, who, by infusing a common landscape with his artistic vision, is able to elevate it beyond itself and reveal its metaphysical transparency. As a matter of fact, this is the very purpose of art, which to imitate the Creator."

....This got my goosebumps working over time...Partly because I've considered this true for many years...Partly because I so desperetly NEED it to be true.

7/23/2009 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Here in the Nordic countries, a brand of Lutheranism ruled supreme which focused very strongly on how important it was that we were saved by grace alone and not by works. Which is true enough, but this message was so dominant that it sounded like you'd go to hell if you tried to live a life worthy of the gospel.

It was projected a God who did not want his children to grow up, but to remain helpless babies soiling themselves forever.

Not only did my homeland fall to socialism like a ripe apple, but I struggle with the residue of this mindset day by day.

Then again, I would probably have struggled anyway. I don't know of any part of the world or any culture where holiness comes easy to humans.

7/23/2009 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger phil g said...

I love where this is going lately.

Warren,
Very good comments and nice compliment to this post.

Thanks!

7/24/2009 03:13:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

There's some confusion about Buddhism in many of the comments I read from Bob. The older schools (Theraveda) were focused more purely on liberation - a sense of escape from pain and suffering. Hoever, the later schools (Mahayana) are about engaging in the word and using your individuality to reduce suffering for others. Many of these practices come from Vajrayana - fully embodying and purifying the vehicle to offer itself to the world. Also, the later schools are less pessimistic as the dharmakaya is affirmed as full as well as empty. This can be compared to Christian salvation or grace. Yes, Buddhists don't call it 'god', but that is all semantics. What they believe in is God, what is us and more than us, what instills a virtuous sensibility, what makes us responsible for its essence, and for what we must evolve towards and is already as we are.

I love how Bob is reinterpreting and evolving Christian thought, but I would also appreciate if he did it in a way that didn't disparage other belief systems that may be quite compatable and complete in their own right.

7/24/2009 04:26:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Mr Olsen,

There is a prayer to one's Guardian Angel that goes as follows:

"Angel of Christ,
Protector of my soul and body,
Forgive me for the ways which I have offended thee every day of my life,
And keep me from the temptations of the evil one,
That I may no longer anger God by any sin.
Pray also that I be made worthy of the grace of the All-holy Trinity, the most holy Theotokos and all of the Saints,
Amen.

In other words, I am not worthy, but I wish to be made worthy. Otherwise, what is the grace for? To move me around like a meat puppet?

Grace descends not simply to comfort, but to raise each man, 'from glory to glory' - St. Paul.

7/24/2009 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

phil g,

Thanks back!


ted,

No intent to disparage Buddhism, at least on my part (or on Bob's, I'm sure) - just trying to see it with clear eyes. I largely agree with your comments.


Christopher,

You're right to feel that we are eternally unworthy before God. And yet, paradoxically, we are commanded to make ourselves worthy ("Be ye perfect" and all that). I guess all we can do in such a situation is to just be obedient and trust that God knows what He's doing....

7/24/2009 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ted:

Sorry, I'm not trying to crack on Buddhism. I was just referencing one of its most famous practitioners in Wilber. But if Wilber is one of those enlightened ones who is using his individuality to reduce suffering in others, we've got a hell of a problem, because he is a loon. I don't see much practical wisdom there, just a cultish mentality that caters to his narcissism.

Having said that, I believe the direction we're headed in this series of posts would encompass the best of Eastern thought. One of my central purposes is to show that one doesn't have to leave Christendom for the more experiential psycho-pneumatic technologies, so to speak, as embodied, for example, in Eastern hesychastic practices.

7/24/2009 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

"But the Christian way is a way of grace, of pure (↓), although naturally we must do what we can to make ourselves worthy of it."

Grace, Absolutely. But there is no "worthy". Only He is worthy. Any efforts of mine to be "worthy" of the free gift are as filthy rags. There is no earning the gift.

HOWEVER, having received the gift (new nature), what I then do to please Him and conform to His Will is only a result of my new nature and glorifies Him, not me. Any good works I do as a result of my new nature are a credit to His grace and working in my life as HE transforms me into His image (that which was lost).

7/24/2009 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Off topic...I heard Glenn Beck ask if Obamacare isn't really about reparations. I would go further. I believe that everything he does is motivated by the notion of rebalancing, or paying back, redressing some kind of injustice. The whole system he is attempting to construct might be called "global reparations". The "noble" side of socialism and the lust for power.

FWIW

7/24/2009 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

The New Testament contains numerous heartfelt pleas to live worthy of the calling, worthy of the gospel and worthy of God. This is hard enough to do without being told that it is a bad thing or at least superfluous, or that it will happen automatically if you're a real Christian. Even the apostle Paul had to subjugate his body and keep it in slavery so as to not be found unworthy. I cannot imagine the day when I am trying too hard to be worthy - every day so far has been the opposite problem.

7/24/2009 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Magnus - I'm with you as regards the process of sanctification that is set in motion by the event of salvation.

7/24/2009 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher Olson said...

River,

I would agree with you to a point, in that we are to be made worthy, in a sense. Indeed we are to be made like the Son, even by the power by which He is able to subject all things unto Himself. But this is not an effort of our wills, but our sanctification is the result of He Who has willed it.

Indeed: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" and "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

I just want to make sure that all the glory and credit goes to its proper place, the author and finisher of the entire good work of god. And that includes any of my good works - for they are not my works, they are His.. even as the works Christ did were not His but were the works of His Father which were given to Him to do. "for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do..." "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do..."

When Christ said "be ye perfect", He was not commanding this as the basis of salvation. I am speaking of being worthy of the grace salvation, which we cannot make ourselves. Grace by definition is the giving of that which was in no way due to the one who received.

But I do agree that we shall be made perfect. It is His promise to us, to sanctify and to perfect us by the work of His Holy Spirit.

NoMo:"HOWEVER, having received the gift (new nature), what I then do to please Him and conform to His Will is only a result of my new nature and glorifies Him, not me. Any good works I do as a result of my new nature are a credit to His grace and working in my life as HE transforms me into His image (that which was lost).

Yes, precisely. Amen. I think you said it much better.

7/24/2009 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Mr. Olsen:

Paul calls he and Timothy 'coworkers with God'. It is when the human will wills what the will of God wills - as it happens in Jesus - that this is truly happening. Christ did not intend that we look like him, but be like him.

As for be ye perfect; tell me what salvation is, if not healing, and tell me what man is made for, if not perfection, then is a man whole until he is perfect? And this is impossible for us alone, but with God, with Christ and all of his saints and the hosts of Heaven, and the all-Holy Spirit these things become possible.

So it is quite both; entirely a work of God and entirely a work of Man. Just like Christ is true man and true God.

Sanctification is war, for he has said, 'the violent take the Kingdom by force' - we war against the Demons and our wicked habits, and God permits evils to befall us so we may be chastened from former sin and for current and future sin - it is an active work of our will to resist, but all would be in vain if we did not place all of our hope in Christ.

Lewis himself has said, that 'God intends us to be shining gods and goddesses' and it is true, 'God became man so that man might become god.'

Gods by grace, while Christ is by nature. And is this a surprise? As it is said by our Lord, 'he who endures until the end, the same shall be saved.' What makes real the promise of eternal life granted to those who believe on Christ? It is certainly not the pulling of a magic switch by saying 'I believe' - no - for eternal life means no cessation of life. And to not cease from life, one must not separate oneself from the source of life, who is God. So belief on Christ makes it clear, this saving faith, that one must cling to God and God alone. And insofar as we do this, we are being saved; but if we do not, who may deliver us from the Father's hand? Oh, if only the mountains would fall on us in that day!

7/24/2009 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Do you believe you can lose your salvation? I don't believe I can lose mine. Although certainly an important distinction between believers, it's not one worth fighting over. Here is a short, non-judgmental study on "eternal security" that is worth reading.

7/24/2009 03:06:00 PM  

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