For virtually all of my adult life the culture and times in which I live have been concerned with the question of "the environment." Various trends come and go, and the latest is "global warming." It is essential that Christians think long and hard about who man is (particularly as revealed in Holy Scripture), and how man is related to, and should relate to, the rest of the created order. It is striking to me how otherwise sane and sober-minded persons can get rather odd when it comes to "the environment." I am appreciative of the work of the Cornwall Alliance, an organization which offers some good thinking--theologically, scientifically, and economically. Their web page is: www.cornwallalliance.org
The world is sometimes filled with many official pronouncements and "declarations" on this or that. It is easy to get cynical. However, I am pleased to have signed "The Manhattan Declaration," an important and timely document dealing with some of the most pressing moral issues of the day.
It addressess the following issues:
- the sanctity of human life
- the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
- the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
I would encourage you to look at it: www.ManhattanDeclaration.org
Augustine and the Beauty of Perseverance
It is worth noting that when Augustine speaks of the “peace that surpasses all understanding” (a peace that flows from the cross), he suggests that “we can only know it by coming to it.”
Augustine through the course of his writings gives great emphasis to the grace of God in initiating our salvation, helping Christians to grow in grace, and in persevering His people. And Augustine quite consistently and repeatedly denies that human merit has anything to do with bringing about God’s grace. He writes: “the grace of God both for beginning and for persevering up to the end is not given according to our merits, but is given according to his most hidden and at the same time most just, most wise, and most beneficent will.” . . .
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- Published: 30 November 2009 30 November 2009
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As I have been writing on this site for a bit, I have had a wonderful time reading Augustine, as more than one writing project has required doing so. What a blessing to spend hours reading this giant of the Christian church. I am always struck when reading Augustine how "relevant" he is for our day. He is very intent on counseling his readers to speak of God correctly, for we can get terribly confused by either (1) being too timid in speaking about God, or in (2) being too brash and arrogant in speaking about God. Here are some nuggets from Augustine (and readers aware of the "open theism" debate may find these interesting). Augustine is aware that one must be humble and careful when speaking about God. Indeed, as Augustine continues:
In any case, when we think about God the trinity we are aware that our thoughts are quite inadequate to their object, and incapable of grasping him as he is; even by men of the calibre of the apostle Paul he can only be seen, as it says, like a puzzling reflection in a mirror (1 Cor. 13:12) (The Trinity V.1)
Augustine wants to approach God correctly: "there is no effrontery in burning to know, out of faithful piety, the divine and inexpressible truth that is above us, provided the mind is fired by the grace of our creator and savior, and not inflated by arrogant confidence in its own powers" (The Trinity V.1). Language used at the human level cannot simply be simplistically applied to God:
God does not repent as a human being does, but as God. So too, he is not angry as a human being is or merciful as a human being is or jealous as a human being is, but does all things as God. God's repentance does not follow upon a mistake, and the wrath of God does not include the agitation of a mind in turmoil (Answer to an Enemy of the Law and the Prophets 40).