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A treatise on thought, wisdom, and the Word Part Two

March 4, 2018

 my-thoughts-are-not-his-thoughts This is part two of a larger writing I have undertaken entitled “A treatise on thought, wisdom, and the Word.” I am trying to compare philosophy to theology to show that philosophy is incomplete without theology. It grew into a much longer treatise than I intended so I broke it down into two parts. I believe part two stands on its own but you can read part one here if this is something which interests you. You can also read “The Theist versus the Free Thinker: The Battle Between Faith and Reason.” This is the treatise which began this new exploration. I understand this goes pretty deep into the weeds and is not for everybody but I hope some will find this helpful so here we go with part two:

  Most who have studied ancient history–from atheists to agnostics to nihilists and absurdists–agree that Jesus was an historical figure even if they deny His divinity. Many of the Cynic and Skeptic philosophers were on the right path on some issues and it has been suggested by some thinkers that Jesus might be the ultimate Cynic philosopher, were it not for the fact He attributed everything to God.

  A great example of this can be found by contrasting the thought of Dio Chrysostom and Seneca with Jesus’ Word: Dio Chrysostom said “Consider the beasts yonder and the birds, how much freer from trouble they live than men, and how much happily also, how much healthier and stronger they are, and how each of them lives the longest life possible, although they have neither nor human intelligence.”

  Seneca said, “the greatest hindrance to living is expectancy, which depends upon tomorrow and wastes today.”

  Jesus combined these thoughts and said much the same thing with the Word but He took it to the next level according to the book of Matthew:

“26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life]?

28 ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:26-34 NIV)

  See what Jesus did there? “The pagans (Dio Chrysostom and Seneca) run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Jesus gave meaning to the absurdity.

  This is why I say Cynics and Skeptics were on the right path on some issues but Cynicism, Skepticism, and Stoicism  lead to absurdism and nihilism without Christian theology. These philosophies are similar and contain varying degrees of pantheistic theology. They basically teach us that god is nature, and life itself is meaningless because we are all part of nature and everything happens for the benefit of nature–what happens to us individually is of no consequence.

  At this point the slide into absurdism and nihilism is easy: Paraphrasing Albert Camus, once you realize the absurdity of the world you can be happy because there is no longer any expectation of anything greater so you will not be let down. “One must imagine Sisyphus happy” because he was resigned to his fate according to Albert Camus in the “Myth of Sisyphus.”

  If all life was born out of chaos and was by mere happenstance alone the absurdists and nihilists would be right, there could be no meaning to life because there was no meaning to our birth. I believe the idea that man came into existence by mere chance alone to be the true absurdity because something cannot come out of nothing without a prime mover. G.K Chesterton liked to use art as a metaphor for creation: A painting does not come into its own, it requires an artist. If life is art, and when you think about it life really is an art form, there must be an artist…

  Following up on that last paragraph please allow me a slight digression which I believe is relevant to this treatise: Even Charles Darwin recognized there was a paradox in his theory of evolution which he admitted could pose a problem to his theory, known as the Cambrian Explosion and here is more on that: “Charles Darwin considered this sudden appearance of a solitary group of trilobites, with no apparent antecedents, and absence of other fossils, to be “undoubtedly of the gravest nature” among the difficulties in his theory of natural selection. He reasoned that earlier seas had swarmed with living creatures, but that their fossils had not been found due to the imperfections of the fossil record. In the sixth edition of his book, he stressed his problem further as: “To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer.”

  Basically, there is no fossil evidence to back up Charles Darwin’s theory that all  life evolved from a single organism over time, but rather that all life appeared during the same period with no  antecedent proofs to justify his theory. How can this be if his theory of evolution is true?

  Charles Darwin had no answer but G.K. Chesterson did. He said, “evolution is a good example of that modern intelligence which, if it destroys anything, destroys itself. Evolution is either an innocent scientific description of how certain earthly things came about; or, if it is anything more than this, it is an attack upon thought itself. If evolution destroys anything, it does not destroy religion but rationalism. If evolution simply means that a positive thing called an ape turned very slowly into a positive thing called a man, then it is stingless for the most orthodox; for a personal God might just as well do things slowly as quickly, especially if, like the Christian God, he were outside time.” (Orthodoxy)

  Having allowed that digression let us continue: Jesus taught us something different altogether and this is where theology comes into play because Jesus taught us that we are all part of God’s creation, that He created all life and therefor we all serve a purpose greater than ourselves. Our lives should be dedicated to the One who gave us life and if we do so while giving the glory to God, through faith and with God’s grace, we will be rewarded in the next life. Again this takes the leap I wrote about in part one but which side of Pascal’s wager would you rather be on? But wagering just in case it is true is not enough, you have to earnestly put your faith in God, believe in the Word, and act accordingly.

   It makes one contemplate the idea that God was working through the Cynics and Skeptics but they did not realize it and could not complete the “thought” because of their ignorance of the Word.

  This is where Jesus differed from the Cynics and that was because he was the Word where the Greeks only had thought, and this is where the apostle Paul also differed because he took this discussion to the next level. Paul had the Word and he took the quantitative leap Soren Kierkegaard said all men must make to avoid the philosophical absurdity of the world and he did so thousands of years before the existentialist Danish philosopher posited this idea.

  Jesus is the one person (for he was fully man) who did not have to make this leap  between the absurdity of the world, philosophically speaking, and the belief in God (because He is fully God.)

  Jesus IS the leap. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Light. (A trinity within the Trinity?) He is the Word which brings us beyond thought. And again here is another example where Jesus differs from the likes of other great thinkers like the Buddha and Lao Tzu. They both claimed to give us the way but said we should not follow themselves but rather their teachings while Jesus said He is the way, follow Him. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

  Allow me another digression: It is interesting to point out here, as Dr. Peter Kreeft does in his “Fundamentals of Faith” that Buddha’s followers have deified him despite his assertion he was only a man while agnostics and atheists have tried to humanize Jesus, who claimed He was God. Why is that?

  The answer to that question is not something we will treat here, allow it to suffice that the reason for this is the Buddha offered the “way” of a good life devoid of any higher power and the consequences thereof while Jesus taught us the moral authority comes from above and there are consequences for our actions. This is a hard teaching from the humblest of people and so it needs to be undeified to remove sin from the equation in the eyes of non-believers. The gate is narrow…

    Pascal, who is most famous for his wager, said “there are only three types of people; those who have found God and serve him; those who have not found God and seek him, and those who live not seeking, or finding him. The first are rational and happy; the second unhappy and rational, and the third foolish and unhappy.”

  I have been on all three sides of this equation and I think this makes me qualified to speak on this. I would add the first are theologically sound, the second theologically hopeful, and the third are Skeptics, Stoics,  absurdists, and nihilists. But where do we go from here? I think there is one last example linking thought to the Word which can be used for the sake of this treatise.

   I stumbled across the Book Of Wisdom recently and this is controversial because while this book is considered Apocryphal by the Protestant Church it is considered canon by the Catholic Church and is included in Catholic versions of the Bible.

  The Book of Wisdom had been accepted as having been authored by Solomon but now there is serious doubt about its authorship, even within the Catholic Church, but it does try to link thought to the Word so I thought I would include a couple of passages here because it seems relevant to what I have been writing.

“She [wisdom] is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness” (Wisdom 7:26).

 While Wisdom 9:18 says that men were “saved through wisdom.”

  The first passage is not nearly as controversial in my mind as the second. Solomon could have had anything in the world he wanted and he chose wisdom and God gave it to him. Was not God showing Solomon an “image of His Goodness” by granting him wisdom? In this case Solomon’s wisdom, given to him by God, was the Word.

  The second passage seems heretical on the surface because the Bible teaches us that salvation is acquired through faith by God’s grace alone, but could all this be tied together?

 If God gave Solomon wisdom, which was His thought, his philosophy through the Word, is it possible that God was spreading his Word through wisdom (His thought) to the ancient Greeks and Romans although they could not comprehend it? “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:5 KJV)

  But this is not the only example of God granting wisdom in the Bible; Joseph was also granted wisdom. (Acts 7:10) And Proverbs is full of references to knowledge. (wisdom)

  So the answer seems to be yes if thought leads to wisdom and wisdom leads people to God’s Word but it is up to us to use this wisdom correctly. If thought leads to wisdom and wisdom leads one to Jesus and Jesus is God’s Word, then it would seem to me that wisdom through thought can lead to God’s Word and salvation if it is used to seek and find the Truth. Any thought which stops before this is incomplete and many philosophers stop thinking at the very point where they should start thinking.

  With this last statement I reaffirm an idea I posited in my first treatise–“The Theist versus the Free Thinker: The Battle of Faith and Reason”–that some philosophers stop thinking where they should start thinking, and while reading G.K. Chesterson’s “Orthodoxy” I just learned he posited the same idea. He said, “there is a thought that stops thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped.” And he continued,  “that is the ultimate evil against which all religious authority was aimed” and “it was against this remote ruin that all the military systems in religion were originally ranked and ruled.”

  “Seek ye the truth and the truth shall make ye free” This is the only way to escape an otherwise absurd world and once you are set free there is nothing in this world which can put fetters on your ankles because you serve a higher purpose and only then are you truly free. “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV)

  Or as the apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13: “11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)

  Contrast this with the rich man who asked Jesus what he had to do to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus answered in Mark 10:21-22:

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

  I would ask those who doubt the existence of God to think beyond the box, to think beyond where others stop. Many people consider Christianity to be a box which stifles free will and thought, a box which is used to control people, but I would argue the opposite. If you accept the Word you will be set free from the box which men use to bind you in the chains of this world. Then, and only then, will you be truly free. Or as Pascal said, as I referenced above, you will be rational and happy.

  As you can see in the references above, Paul was content even while he was in chains because he was free, while the rich man found himself bound in the chains of his riches and he was sad. He was a slave to sin. (John 8:34)

 Paul accepted the Word while the rich man rejected it and which man was happier? The rich man had everything in this world that he wanted but he did not have everything he needed but on the other hand Paul might not have had everything he wanted but he had everything he needed.

  I have written and rewritten several different endings to this treatise and after reading what I have written I realize this treatise took me in an entirely different direction than I originally intended but this is where I believe I was led and I hope it can be useful to some people out there who are struggling, who are laboring, and who are heavy laden and seeking the Truth through thought and wisdom but have not yet found it.

  I will end on a personal note which I pray can help others: On September 30th, 2015, when I was in the midst of a health crisis which shook me to the core and made me question what I thought I believed, my burden was lifted and I found rest in my soul when I needed it the most when I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as my Savior so I will leave you with this: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV)

  “Learn of me”


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Charles Dennis permalink
    March 4, 2018 10:41 pm

    Steve, you have done a great work on this treatise and you ended at a good spot in Philippians one of My favorite books in the Bible and verses “ I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength to do all things.” “ my God wil provide all of my needs according to His riches in glory.” Just be content with what you have and He is I’ll take care of what you need.
    Read the Apocalypse through. Man Said it wasn’t Gods Word not God.

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 5, 2018 6:25 am

      Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t read Philippians in a long time, I am going to have to reread it soon.

      Liked by 1 person

    • March 5, 2018 4:58 pm

      God Word is Encouraging when we TRUST HIS WORD how true!
      Knowing He’ll help us, even when we don’t know to ask, and guide us, equip us, teach us and as He did with Steve here, quicken us in ‘reasoning, wisdom and understanding!’ Comfort us in Peace, the armour of His covering of Truth, Protection and Light.
      Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 5, 2018 7:47 pm

        Thanks Zip! I really do want to start writing more on God in the future, nothing as involved as this got. 🙂 That is a great verse you quoted, I need to start rereading some of the books in the NT I have read only once–like Jude

        Liked by 1 person

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