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2010.01.21 23:01

MERE CHRISTIANITY

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RIGHT AND WRONG AS A CLUE TO THE MEANING OF THE UNVERSE


THE LAW OF HUMAN NATURE
We can learn something very important from listening to the kind of things they say. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behaviour which he expects the other man to know about. It looks very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behaviour or morality or whatever you like to call it, about which they really agreed. And they have. If they had not, they might fight like animals, but they could not quarrel in the human sense of the word. Quarrelling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are.
Now this Law or Rule about Right and Wrong used to be called the Law of Nature. Nowadays, when we talk of the ‘laws of nature’ we usually mean things like gravitation, or heredity, or the laws of chemistry. But when the older thinkers called the Law of Right and Wrong ‘the Law of Nature’, they really meant the Law of Human Nature. The idea was that, just as all bodies are governed by the law of gravitation, and organisms by biological laws, so the creature called man also had his law-with this great difference, that a body could not choose whether it obeyed the law of gravitation or not, but a man could choose either to obey the Law of Human Nature or to disobey it.
We may put this in another way. Each man is at every moment subjected to several different sets of law but there is only one of these which he is free to disobey.
This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that everyone knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it.
I know that some people way the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behaviour known to all men is unsound, because different civilisations and different ages have had quite different moralities. But this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference.
We are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. None of us are really keeping the Law of Nature. The truth is, we feel the Rule of Law pressing on us so-that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility.
Human beings have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.

SOME OBJECTIONS
Many people find it difficult to understand just what this Law of Human Nature, or Moral Law, or Rule of Decent Behaviour is.
Supposing you hear a cry for help from a man in danger. You will probably feel two desires-one a desire to give help (due to your herd instinct), the other a desire to keep out of danger (due to the instinct for self-preservation). But you will find inside you, in addition to these two impulses, a third thing which tells you what you ought to follow the impulse to help, and suppress the impulse to run away. Now this thing that judges between two instincts, that decides which should be encouraged, cannot itself be either of them.
The Moral Law tells us the tune we have to help: our instincts are merely the keys. If two instincts are in conflict, and there is nothing in a creature’s mind except those two instincts, obviously the stronger of the two must win. But at those moments when we are most conscious of the Moral Law, it usually seems to be telling us to side with the weaker of the two impulses. And surely it often tells us to try to make the right impulse stronger than it naturally us to try to make the right impulse stronger than it naturally is? If the Moral Law was one of our instincts, we ought to be able to point to someone impulse inside us which was always what we call ‘good,’ always in agreement with the rule of right behaviour.

THE REALITY OF THE LAW
The laws of nature may only mean ‘what Nature, in fact, does’. But the Law of Human Nature, the law of Decent Behaviour, it is a different matter. That law certainly does not mean ‘what human beings, in fact, many of them do not obey this law at all, and none of them obey it completely. Law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do and do not.
‘Men ought to be unselfish.’ Ought to be fair.

WHAT LIES BEING THE LAW
When you say that nature is governed by certain laws, this may only mean that nature does, in fact, behave in a certain way. But in the case of Man, we saw that this will not do. The Law of Human Nature, or of Right and Wrong, must be something above and beyond the actual facts of human behaviour. In this case, besides the actual facts, you have something else-a real law which we did not invent and which we know we ought to obey.
Ever since men were able to think they have been wondering what this universe really is and how it came to be there. And, very roughly, two views have been held. First, there is what is called the materialist view. People who take that view have existed, nobody knows why; and that the matter, behaving in certain fixed ways, has just happened, by a sort of fluke, to produce creatures like ourselves who are able to think. By one chance in a thousand living creatures developed into things like us. The other view is the religious view. According to it, what is behind the universe is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know. That is to say, it is conscious, and has purposes, and prefers one thing to another. And on this view it made the universe, partly for purposes we do not know, but partly, at any rate, in order to produce creatures like itself.
Is it not plain that the questions, ‘Why is there a universe?’ ‘Why does it go on as it does?’ ‘Has it any meaning?’
We know that men find themselves under a moral law, which they did not make, and cannot quite forget even when they try, and which they know they ought to obey.
This seems to me fatal to their view. One reason why many people find Creative Evolution so attractive is that it gives one much of the emotional comfort of believing in God and none of the less pleasant consequences.
The Life-Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you.

WE HAVE CAUSE TO BE UNEASY
If you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on. We have not yet got as far as the God of any actual religion, sill less the God of that particular religion called Christianity. We have only got as far as a Somebody of Something behind the Moral Law. WE are trying to see what we can find out about this Somebody on our own steam. We have two bits of evidence about the Somebody. One is the universe He has made. If we used that as our only clue, then I think we should have to conclude that He was a great artist (for the universe is a very beautiful place), but also that He is quite merciless and no friend to man (for the universe is a very dangerous and terrifying place). The other bit of evidence is that Moral Law which He has put into our minds. You find out more about God from the Moral Law than from the universe in general. The Being behind the universe is intensely interested in right conduct-in fair play, unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness. The Moral Law does not give us any grounds for thinking that God is ‘good’ in the sense of being indulgent, or soft, or sympathetic.  There is nothing indulgent about the Moral Law. IT is as hard as nails. It God is like the Moral Law, then He is not soft. But ‘good’ God is a God who can forgive. On the other hand, we know that if there does exist an absolute goodness is must hate most of what we do. If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day. God is only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from.

WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE


THE RIVAL CONCEPTIONS OF GOD
As in arithmetic-there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong; but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.
The first big division of humanity is into the majority, who believe in some kind of God or gods, and the minority who do not.
Now I go on to the next big division. People who all believe in God can be divided according to the sort of God they believe in .There are two very different ideas on this subject. One of them is the idea that HE is beyond good and evil. These people would say that the wiser you become the less you would want to call anything good or bad, and the more clearly you would see that everything is good in one way and bad in another, and that nothing could have been different. The other and opposite idea is that God is quite definitely ‘good’ or ‘righteous’, a God who takes sides, who loves love and hates hatred, who wants us to behave in one way and not in another. The first of these views-the one that thinks God beyond good and evil-is called Pantheism. It was held by the great Prussian philosopher Hegel and the Hindus. The other view is held by Jews, Mohammedans and Christians. And with this big difference between Pantheism and the Christian idea of God, there usually goes another. Pantheists usually believe that God, so to speak, animates the universe as you animate your body: that the universe almost is God, so that if it did not exist He would not exist either, and anything you find in the universe is a part of God. The Christian idea is quite different. They think God invented and made the universe. All beauty and interest has come out of his head. If you do not take the distinction between good and bad very seriously, then it is easy to say that anything you find in this world is a part of God. But  of course, if you think some things really bad, and God really good, then you cannot talk like that. You must believe that God is separate from the world and that some of the things we see in it are contrary to His will. For Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world that God ‘made up out of His head’ But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again. And, of course, that raises a very big question. If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong?
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. IF the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were not light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.


THE INVASION
Real things are not simple. They look simple, by they are not. Very often, however, this silly procedure is adopted by people who are not silly, but who, consciously or unconsciously, want to destroy Christianity.
Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. It is a religion you could not have guessed. The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simple either.
What is the problem? There are only two views that face all the facts. One is the Christian view that this is a good world that has gone wrong, but still retains the memory of what if ought to have been. The other is the view called Dualism. Dualism means the belief that there are two equal and independent powers at the back of everything, one of them good and the other bad, and that this universe is the battlefield in which they fight out an endless war.
The two powers, or spirits, or gods are supposed to be quite independent. They both existed from all eternity .Neither of them made the other, neither of them has any more right than the other to call itself God. Each presumably thinks it is good and thinks the other bad. One of them likes hatred and cruelty, the other likes love and mercy, and each backs its own view. Now we mean when we call one of them Good Power and the other the Bad Power? Either we are merely saying that we happen to prefer the one to the other. One of them is actually wrong, actually mistaken, it regarding itself as good. So we must mean that one of the two powers is actually wrong and the other actually right. But some low or standard or rule of good which one of the powers conforms to and the other fails to conform to. But since the two powers are judged b this standard, then this standard, or the Being who made this standard, is father back and higher up than either of them, and He will be the read God. What we meant by calling them good and bad turns out to be that one of them is in a right relation to the real ultimate God and the other in a wrong relation.
If dualism is true, then the bad Power must be a being who likes badness for its own sake. The badness consists in pursuing everything by the wrong method, or in the wrong way, or too much. You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness.
Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.
Enemy that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed.


THE SHOCKING ALTERNATIVE
Christians believe that an evil power has made himself for the present the Prince of this World. And, of course, that raised problems. Is this state of affairs in accordance with God’s will, or not? If it is, He is a strange God, and if it is not, how can anything happen contrary to the will of a being with absolute power?
God created things which had free will. That means creature which can go either wrong or right. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world on automata would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Hi and to each other in an ecstasy.
Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk. Perhaps we fell inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will. God made a creature cleverer and stronger and freer then the better it will be if it goes right, but also the worse it will be if it goes wrong.
How did the Dark Power go wrong? The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first-wanting to be the centre-wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.
The reason why it can never succeed is this. God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.
And what did God do? First of all He left us conscience, the sense of right and wrong: and all through history there have been people trying (some of them very hard) to obey it. None of them ever quite succeeded. Secondly, He sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men. Thirdly, He selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into heir heads the sort of God He was. Those people were the Jews, and the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.
Then comes the real shock. Among these Hews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Among Pantheists might say that he was a part of God, or one with God. But this man, since, He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God in their language meant the Being outside the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.
Yet even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is ‘humbled and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.
‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. You must make your choice. Either his man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.

THE PERFECT PENITENT
God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form. And now, what was the purpose of it all? What did he come to do? To teach, of course; but as soon as you look into the New Testament or any other Christian writing you will find they are constantly talking about something different about His dead and His coming to life again. Christians think the chief point of the story lies there. They think the main thing He came to earth to do was to suffer and be killed.
According to that theory God wanted to punish men for having deserted and joined the Great Rebel, but Christ volunteered to be punished instead, and so God let us off. The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. We believe that the death of Christ is just that point in history at which something absolutely unimaginable from outside shows through into our own world. A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it.
We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed. Christ has volunteered to bear a punishment instead of us. If God was prepared to let us off, why on earth did He not do so? And what possible point could there be in punishing an innocent person instead? None at all that I can see. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent. Only a good person can repent perfectly.
Remember, this repentance, this wiling submission to humiliation and a kind of death, is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could let you off if going back to Him is like. We now need God’s help in order o do something which God, in His own nature, never does at all- to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die. Nothing in God’s nature corresponds to this process.
But supposing God became a man-suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God’s nature in one person-then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God.


THE RPACTICAL CONCLUSION
The perfect surrender and humiliation were undergone by Christ: perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was man. Now the Christian belief is that if we somehow share the humility and suffering of Christ we shall also share in His conquest of death and find a new life after we have died and in it become perfect, and perfectly happy, creatures. This means something much more than our trying to follow His teaching. In Christ a new kind of man appeared: and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us.
There are three things that spread the Christ-life to us: baptism, belief, and that mysterious action which different Christians call by different names-Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord’s Supper. At least, those are the three ordinary methods. We have to take reality as it comes to us.
As long as the natural life is in your body, it will do a lot towards repairing that body. Cut it, and up to a point it will heal, as a dead body would not. A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself. There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ. Christians think He is going to land in force; we do not know when. But we can guess why He is delaying. He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely. Now, to-day, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.

CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOUR

I
THE THREE PARTS OF MORALITY
The sort of idea that the word morality raises in a good many people’s minds. In reality, moral rules are directions for running the human machine. Every moral rule is there to prevent a breakdown, or a strain, or a friction, in the running of that machine. That is why these rules at first seem to be constantly interfering with our natural inclinations.
Now it is, of course, quite true that moral perfection is an ‘ideal’ in the sense that we cannot achieve it. This would be a disastrous mistake.
Morality, then, seems to be concerned with three things. Firstly, with fair play and harmony between individuals. Secondly, with what might be called tidying up or harmonizing the things inside each individual. Thirdly, with the general purpose of human life as a whole: what man was made for: what course the whole fleet ought to be on: what tune the conductor of the band wants it to play.
You may have noticed that modern people are nearly always thinking about the first thing and forgetting the other two.
Again, Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live forever, and this must be either true or false.


THE ‘CARDINAL VIRTUES’
They are PRUDENCE, TEMPERANCE, JUSTICE and FORTITUDE. Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it. Christ said we could only get into His world by being like children. He told us to be not only ‘as harmless as doves’, but also ‘as wise as serpents’. He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers.
Temperance is of those words that has changed its meaning. It now usually means teetotalism. Temperance referred not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further.
Justice means much more than the sort of thing that goes on in law courts. It is the old name for everything we should now call ‘fairness’; it includes honesty, gives and take, truthfulness, keeping promises, and all that side of life. And Fortitude includes both kinds of courage.
(I)        We might think that, provided you did the right thing, it did not matter how or why you did it. But the truth is that right actions done for the wrong reason do not help to build the internal quality or character called a ‘virtue’.
    (2)     We might think that God wanted simply obedience to a set of rules
    (3)     We might think that the ‘virtues’ were necessary only for this present life.


SOCIAL MORALITY
The first thing to get clear about Christian morality between man and man is that in this department Christ did not come to preach any brand new morality. The Golden Rule of the New Testament is a summing up of what everyone, at bottom, had always known to be right. ‘People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.’
The second thing to get clear is that Christianity has not, and does not profess to have. It could not have. It is meant for all men at all times. When it tells you to feed hungry it does not give you lessons in cookery. When it tells you to read the Scriptures it does not five you lessons in Hebrew and Greek, or even in English grammar.
By the Church they ought to mean the whole body of practicing Christians.
All the same, the New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like.
In the passage where the New Testament says that everyone must work, it gives as a reason ‘in order that he may have something to give to those in need’. Charity-giving to the poor- is an essential part of Christian morality.
A Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us really want it: and we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian. ‘Do as you would be done by’ I cannot learn to love my neighbor as myself till I learn to love God.


MORALITY AND PSYCHOANALYSIS
We should never get a Christian society unless most of us became Christian individuals.
There are two more general points I should like to make. First of all, since Christian morality claims to be a technique for putting the human machine right, you would like to know how it is related to another technique which seems to make a similar claim-namely, psychoanalysis.
When a man makes a moral choice two thing s are involved. One is the act of choosing. The other is the various feelings, impulses and so on which his psychological outfit presents him with, and which are the raw material of his choice. Now this raw material may be of two kinds. Either it may be what we would call normal: it may consist of the sort of feelings that are common to all men. Or else it may consist of quite unnatural feelings due to things that have gone wrong in his subconscious. Psychoanalysis undertakes to do is to remove the abnormal feelings, that is, to give the man better raw material for his acts of choice; morality is concerned with the acts of choice themselves.
Free choice is the only thing that morality is concerned with.
The bad psychological material is not a sin but a disease. It does not need to be repented of, but to be cured. Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges tem by their moral choices.
Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what is was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God.


SEXUAL MORALITY
We must now consider Christian morality as regards sex, what Christians call the virtue of chastity. Some of the language which chaste women used in Shakespeare’s time would have been used in the nineteenth century only by a woman completely abandoned. When people break the rule of propriety current in their own time and place then they are offending against chastity. At its present stage, however, it has this inconvenience that people of different ages and different types do not all acknowledge the same standard, and we hardly know where we are.
Chastity is the most unpopular of this modern society. Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct.
The biological purpose of sex is children. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose. Contraceptives have made sexual indulgence far less costly within marriage and far safer outside it than ever before.
Christianity is almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves of the body-which believes that matter is good. Christianity has glorified marriage more than any other religion: and nearly all the greatest love poetry in the world has been produced by Christians.


CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE
The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ’s words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism for that is what the words ‘one flesh’ The inventor of the human machine was telling us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined. Christianity teaches that marriage is for life. There is a difference here between different Churches: some do not admit divorce at all; some allow it reluctantly in very special cases. Now everyone who has been married in a church has made a public, solemn promise to trick to his (or her) partner till death .The duty of keeping that promise has no special connection with sexual morality.
The idea that ‘being in love’ is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all.
What we call ‘being in love’ is a glorious state, and in several ways, good for us. It helps to make us generous and courageous, it opens our eyes not only to the beauty of the beloved but to all beauty, and it subordinates our merely animal sexuality.
So much for the Christian doctrine about the permanence of marriage. Something else, even more unpopular, remains to be dealt with. Christina wives promise to obey their husbands. Two questions obviously arise here. (1) Why should there be a head at all-why not equality? (2) Why should it be the man? (I)The need for some head follows from the idea that marriage is permanent. But when there is a real disagreement, what is to happen? They cannot decide by a majority vote. (2) If there must be a head, why the man? He has the last word in order to protect other people from the intense family patriotism of the wife.


FORGIVENESS
Christian rule, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ Because in Christian morals ‘thy neighbour’ includes ‘thy enemy’, and so we come up against this terrible duty of forgiving our enemies.


THE GREAT SIN
It is a one part of Christian morals where they differ most sharply from all other morals. There is one vice of which no man in the world is free. Except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves.
The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility.  According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind. The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive. Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power.
The Christians are tight: it is Pride which has been chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. But pride always means enmity. And not only enmity between man and man  but enmity to God.
In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that-and, therefore, yourself as nothing in comparison- you do not know God at all. As long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object.


CHARITY
First, as to the meaning of the word ‘Charity’ now means simply what used to be called ‘alms’- that is, giving to the poor. Originally it had a much wider meaning. Charity means ‘Love, in the Christian sense’. But love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion. It is a state not of the feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people.
Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about. Christian Love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will.


HOPE
Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who build up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely occupied with Heaven.
Most of us find it very difficult to want ‘Heaven’ at all except in so far as ‘Heaven’ means meeting again our friends who have died. One reason for this difficulty is that we have not been trained: our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world. Another reason is we do not recognize it.
The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendor and power and joy.
FAITH
The word Faith seems to be used by Christians in two senses or on two levels. In the first sense it means simply Belief-accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. TH

BEYOND PERSONALITY: OR FIRST STEPS IN THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY
MAKING AND BEGETTING
Theology means ‘the science of God’, and I think any man who wants to think about God at all would like to have the clearest and most accurate ideas about Him which are available.
Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God. There is nothing to do about it. In fact, there is just why a vague religion-all about feeling God in nature, and so on- is so attractive. But you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God.
Theology is practical: especially now. In the old days, when there was less education and discussion, perhaps it was possible to get on with a very few simple ideas about God. But it is not so now. Everyone reads everyone hears things discussed. If you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. IT will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones-bad, muddled, out-od-date ideas. To believe in the popular religion of modern England is retrogression-like believing the earth is flat.
It is quite true that if we took Christ’s advice we should soon be living in a happier world. But as soon as you look at any real Christian writings, you find that they are talking about something quite different from this popular religion. They say that those who give Him their confidence can also become Sons of God. They say that His death saved us from our sins.
There is not good complaining that these statements are difficult.
Now the point in Christianity which gives us the greatest shock is the statement that by attaching ourselves to Christ, we can ‘become Sons of God’. I mean, God has brought us into existence and loves us and looks after us, and in that way is like a father. But when the Bible talks of our ‘becoming’ Sons of God, obviously it must mean something different.
One of the creeds says that Christ is the Son of God ‘begotten, not created’; and it ads ‘begotten by his Father before all worlds’. Before nature was created at all, before time began. ‘Before all world Christ is begotten, not created. What does it mean?
We don’t use the words begetting or begotten much in modern English, but everyone still knows what they mean. To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make. And the difference is this. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers. But when you make, you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, a man makes a wireless set.
Now that is the first thing to get clear. What God begets is God: just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Sons of God in the sense that Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind.

2
THE THREE-PERSONAL GOD
A good many people nowadays say, ‘I believe in a God, but not in a personal God.’ They feel that the mysterious something which is behind all other things must be more than a person. Now the Christians quite agree. But the Christians are the only people who offer any idea of what personality could be like. All the other people, is beyond personality, really think of Him as something impersonal.
Theology is practical. The whole purpose for which we exist is to be thus taken into the life of God.
The human level is a simple. On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings. On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine. In God’s dimension, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one cube. Of course we cannot fully conceive a Being like that. But we can get a sort of faint notion of it. However faint, of something super-personal-something more than a person. It is something we could never have guessed.
If we cannot imagine a three-personal Being, what is the good of talking about Him? The thing that matters is being actually drawn into that three-personal life.
An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God-that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying- the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is punishing him on-the motive power. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers.
People already knew about God in a vague way. Then came a man who claimed to be God. He made them believe Him. They met Him again after they had seen Him killed. And then, after they had been formed into a little society or community, the going God somehow inside them as well: directing them, making them able to do things they could not do before. And when they worked it all out they found they had arrived at the Christian definition of the three-personal God.


TIME AND BEYOND TIME
What I cannot swallow is the idea of Him attending to several hundred million human beings who are all addressing Him at the same moment. Most of us can imagine God attending to any number of applicants by one and He had an endless time to do it in. The idea of God having to fit too many things into one moment of time.
Our life comes to us moment by moment. One moment disappears before the next comes along. That is what Time is like. Past, present and future-is not simply the way life comes to us but the way all things really exist. We tend to assume that the whole universe and God Himself are always moving on from past to future just as we do. But many learned men do not agree with that. Theologians idea some things are not in Time at all: later the Philosophers took it over: and now some of the scientists are doing the same.
God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call ten-thirty. Ten-thirty- and every other moment from the beginning of the world-is always the Present for Him. He has all eternity in which to listen to the split second of prayer.
God is not hurried along in the Time-stream of this universe any more.
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