The truth is closer to whether we memorize the doctrine out of devotion to him, or in the interest to win an argument. Some in their zeal, do a super convincing double backflip, “do away with the map, and go after him.” But this is neither in devotion to him, but to avoid an argument or to win it on a reversal.
Now such things no man can ever truly judge in someone else. We are all guilty to one degree or another, and the measure of our devotion, it seems sometimes Paul didn’t even feel fit to see in himself.
I don’t think Mr. Giles would disagree with you in that. (Though I don’t know him either, other than from currently working through this book.) But so far - yeah - he’s all about relationship with God as a larger priority than storing up lots of certitudes about God. (And yet we all could point out here some certitudes of his own he is advancing, and I think he would agree.) It is all in vogue lately to be hearkening more toward mysticism (given lots of current books and articles on offer), and I think it quite possible that such a current trend is probably situated as a reaction to … the opposite of mysticism? (Whatever we could call that … ‘dogmatism’?) And reactions can often be excessive in their own right, but are probably born from excesses on the other side too.
Merv, thanks for this. I am among the least mystical christians I know. I am comfortable in realms of words and of objects. My mind leans to the mechanical, something I can take apart, examine, see how it works, how it’s constructed. I am very comfortable with doctrine.
But memorizing doctrine is not the same thing as faith. Understanding doctrine is not the same thing as faith. Living ethically is not the same thing as faith, either. Part of the mystery to explore, I think, is learning to understand what we can from doctrine, from revelation, and exploring from there.
So the excerpt quoted below which comes from McGilchrist’s The Matter With Things follows on from the one I quoted on @Mervin_Bitikofer’s MacDonald thread here
In politics, coming up with a list of clearly defined ends and then looking for the technical means of realising them most efficiently ignores the complexity, the many-strandedness, the non-absolute nature, of all ideals, of all knowledge, of all experience. The best of what we glean from experience is not technical in nature; and the kinds of knowledge it affords can be articulated only with great difficulty and subtlety, and are the first kinds to be ignored in articulation. They are acquired, honoured and transmitted only through our participation in a community extending over time in which we are immersed, and from which we take our very identity as individuals, our distinctness, even our capacity for intelligent opposition to received wisdom – what is called a tradition.
Beyond all such considerations, many rational and desirable goals are simply incompatible with the state of mind required to pursue them: they must come, if they come at all, as the by-products of a life well lived. Among these are humility, courage, love, admiration, faith and understanding. As the philosopher Jon Elster points out, in his brilliant book Sour Grapes (subtitled Studies in the Subversion of Rationality), trying to bring about such states directly is a moral fallacy. The corresponding intellectual fallacy is the attribution of such states, when they occur, to intentional action.
It’s not just that linear thinking may be unproductive, even self-defeating, when applied to the setting and pursuit of goals. It’s that, more generally, linear thinking may not get us past first base: instant apprehension of a Gestalt is our only chance to understand certain things. ‘Some things are such that if you do not understand them immediately, you never will’, wrote Mme de Sévigné. This insight, too, is something you must already have – if not, I cannot help you. An understanding can never be given to another; it has to be awoken within them, and so must be there, in latent form, already. Reasoning about it, evaluating it, and then deciding to acquire it will lead you nowhere. This thought lies behind many insights of the Oriental wisdom tradition.
I keep trying to tie this up but it disappears in my hands like smoke. What I note is the role having a graduated process can play in a wisdom tradition. Somehow earlier stages in the process plant the seeds which enable people’s intuition as already inside them higher insights at a later stage. This helps n me make peace with my disappointment in not finding the fuller fruit of the tradition more plentifully apparent. But I would still like those in lower, transitory stages cognizant of the gap still to cover. The impulse toward triumphalism and exultation of what is less accomplished still nettle me.
This has been on my mind much of today, and I am taken in by the imperfect and unstable mean between mysticism and dogmatism. As much as I can appreciate Packer’s rejection of Keswick theology, I am also awe inspired by the intercession of Rees Howells or the ministry of William Seymour.
I started listening to Cecil Robeck’s The Azusa Street Mission and Revival. Coming from a charismatic and reformed theology background, even I am perplexed by how imperfect the relationship is. But what a wonderful imperfection it is!
It looks to me like some here, and it’s hard for me to blame them, are annoyed by how imperfectly a perfect kingdom is coming into this world.
This quote from James Smith, who is small p-pentecostal, could be worse than evolutionary creation for some of our brothers and sisters who are legalistic and severe with their enjoyment of creation.
You might think of this as a distinction between lowercase-e and capital-E “enjoyment”: when, by grace, our love is rightly ordered so that we Enjoy God, then we’ll realize that God gives us his creation so that we can Enjoy him. But when our love is ordered, we can then enjoy creation as the means of Enjoying God. And so you get my little gloss on the Shorter Catechism: “What is the chief end of man?” “To glorify God and Enjoy him by enjoying his creation forever.”
“Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition” by James K. A . Smith.
Should be fascinating! It’s been a long time since I read Mary’s book. 1980, I think. Got it for Christmas from my cousin in a fat 3-book volume with Frankenstein, Dracula and Dr. J& Mr. H.
I’m looking forward to what you pull out.
Frankenstein was a good book. I read it last about a decade ago. I should definitely res fit again. This book is not actually Frankenstein but it’s a book on the history of the Frankenstein from its creation, to how it’s influenced science fiction, horror and was made into films and so on. It’s pretty good so far. So far it’s basically stuff I was already aware of.
Mary Shelly wrote “ Modern Prometheus / Frankenstein “ while she and others were staying with Lord Byron. They were all in a story telling game which is how Frankenstein came up after Mary having a nightmare and Byron wrote “ The Vampyre “ which was a major source for “ Dracula “ later on. Mary was a mistress to Shelly, who she married a few weeks after his abandoned wife killer herself. Her husband also was sleeping around with Shelly’s half sister who later on fell in love with Byron and had a kid by him.
It’s even more dramatic than how a “satanist” in the hellfire club created the modern sandwich so they could eat meat while playing cards without having to wipe their hands lol.
The reason why there are so many of God’s people without divine power today, without experimental salvation, wrought out in their hearts by the Blood, by the power of the blessed Holy Spirit, is because they have not accepted Him as their Teacher, as their Leader, as their Comforter. Jesus said in His precious Word that if He went away He would send us another Comforter. The need of men and women today in their lives is a Comforter.
Praise our God!
We have received this blessed Comforter, and it is heaven in our souls. We can sing with all our hearts:
What matter where on earth we dwell
On mountain top, or in the dell,
In cottage or a mansion fair,
Where Jesus is ‘tis heaven there.
Bless His holy name!"
An excerpt from a sermon by William Seymour as quoted in Cecil Robeck’s The Azusa Street Mission and Revival