Friday Theology

Before we get into discussing the learned theologians, Papist and Reformed, from a half century or more ago, Briggs has a book out. Briggs is always a hard read. But useful. If you think you are educated, if you have credentials, you will need this book. Because much of your knowledge is false.

If you are an Expert, professional, bureaucrat, teacher, professor, Democrat or Republican, liberal, progressive or conservative, consider yourself in any way in the educated classes, the odds are high that everything you believe is wrong.

Not everything. Not simple things. Only the most important things. If you are in the majority, then a great deal of what you hold true about the world and of life is false.

Here is a small sample of things that majority of educated believe are false, but which are instead true: Science cannot answer every question put to it; It is not always right to correct a wrong; There is no wisdom in crowds; A consensus among elite academics does not prove the belief of the elite academics is true; That you are offended is irrelevant to whether a proposition is true or false; Defining yourself as your sexual desire is nonsensical; Voting does not make the majority position right and the minority position wrong; Voting is a leading cause of discord; Democracy is rarely to be desired; You cannot choose to believe you do not have free will; God exists.

Some will hate this. They consider thinking it is good is all that matters. There is not place for duty, truth, honour or beauty. This is a post modern hell. The forget that we will see God in our flesh, our body matters, and what we does matters. Let’s start with Aquinas.

AGAINST THOSE WHO SAID THAT THE SOUL AND BODY DO NOT CONSTITUTE A UNITY IN CHRIST

1 From the foregoing it is clear that there is only one Person in Christ as the faith maintains; and that there are two natures, contrarily to what Nestorius and Eutyches held. Yet this appears foreign to what natural reason experiences, and therefore there were some later on who took a position on this union such as the following. The soul and body union constitutes a man, but the union of this soul and this body constitutes this man. And this is the designation of person or hypostasis.

Wishing, then, to avoid being pushed into asserting in Christ some hypostasis or person other than the hypostasis or Person of the Word, these men said that the soul and body were not united in Christ, nor was a substance made from them. In saying this they were trying to avoid the Nestorian heresy. This also seemed impossible: that one thing be substantial to another, yet not be of the nature which that other previously had, without any mutation taking place; and the Word, of course, is entirely immutable.

Therefore, lest they be forced to make the assumed soul and body belong to the nature which the Word had eternally, they laid it down that the Word assumed the human soul and body in an accidental fashion, just as a man puts on his clothes. By this they wished to exclude the error of Eutyches.

2 But this position is entirely repugnant to the teaching of the faith. For a soul and body by their union constitute a man, since a form which accrues to matter constitutes a species. If, then, soul and body were not united in Christ, Christ was not a man. This goes against the Apostle’s words: The mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

3 Again, everyone of us is said to be a man on this account that he is constituted of a rational soul and a body. But, if Christ is not called man on that account but only because He had a soul and a body, although not united, He will be called man equivocally and will not be in the same species with us. This is against the Apostle’s words: “It behooved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren” (Heb. 2:17).

4 Furthermore, not every body belongs to human nature, but the human body alone. Of course, it is not a human body except for the fact that it has been vivified by union with the rational soul. For one says neither eye, nor hand, nor foot, nor flesh, nor bone, with the soul gone, except by equivocation. Therefore, one will not be able to say that the Word assumed human nature if He did not assume a body united to a soul.

5 What is more, the human soul by its nature has a capacity for union with the body. Therefore, a soul which is never united to a body to constitute something is not a human soul, for “what is apart from nature can never be.” If then, the soul of Christ is not united to His body to constitute something, we conclude that it is not a human soul. And, thus, in Christ there was no human nature.

6 There is more. If the Word was united to the soul and body accidentally, as one is to clothing, the human nature was not the nature of the Word. Then the Word, after the union, was not subsisting in two natures; just as a man in his clothing is not said to subsist in two natures. It was for saying this that Eutyches was condemned at the Council of Chalcedon.

7 Again, what the clothes suffer is not referred to the wearer. One does not say a man is born when he is dressed, nor wounded if his clothes are torn. If the Word, then, took on a soul and a body, as a man does his clothes, no one will be able to say that God was born, or that He suffered by reason of the body He assumed.

Calvin is considering not as much the trinity but the state of man. This is another confrontation of our current postmodern set of assumptions. We all know right from wrong, after infancy. But we do what is wrong, knowing it is wrong.

It is not ignorance that damns us, but our own deliberate fault.

22. It remains to consider the third branch of the knowledge of spiritual things–viz. the method of properly regulating the conduct. This is correctly termed the knowledge of the works of righteousness, a branch in which the human mind seems to have somewhat more discernment than in the former two, since an Apostle declares, “When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meantime accusing or else excusing one another” (Rom. 2:14, 15). If the Gentiles have the righteousness of the law naturally engraven on their minds, we certainly cannot say that they are altogether blind as to the rule of life. Nothing, indeed is more common, than for man to be sufficiently instructed in a right course of conduct by natural law, of which the Apostle here speaks. Let us consider, however for what end this knowledge of the law was given to men. For from this it will forthwith appear how far it can conduct them in the way of reason and truth. This is even plain from the words of Paul, if we attend to their arrangement. He had said a little before, that those who had sinned in the law will be judged by the law; and those who have sinned without the law will perish without the law. As it might seem unaccountable that the Gentiles should perish without any previous judgment, he immediately subjoins, that conscience served them instead of the law, and was therefore sufficient for their righteous condemnation. The end of the natural law, therefore, is to render man inexcusable, and may be not improperly defined–the judgment of conscience distinguishing sufficiently between just and unjust, and by convicting men on their own testimony depriving them of all pretext for ignorance. So indulgent is man towards himself, that, while doing evil, he always endeavours as much as he can to suppress the idea of sin. It was this, apparently, which induced Plato (in his Protagoras) to suppose that sins were committed only through ignorance. There might be some ground for this, if hypocrisy were so successful in hiding vice as to keep the conscience clear in the sight of God. But since the sinner, when trying to evade the judgment of good and evil implanted in him, is ever and anon dragged forward, and not permitted to wink so effectually as not to be compelled at times, whether he will or not, to open his eyes, it is false to say that he sins only through ignorance.
23. Themistius is more accurate in teaching (Paraphr. in Lib. 3 de Anima, cap. 46), that the intellect is very seldom mistaken in the general definition or essence of the matter; but that deception begins as it advances farther, namely, when it descends to particulars. That homicide, putting the case in the abstract, is an evil, no man will deny; and yet one who is conspiring the death of his enemy deliberates on it as if the thing was good. The adulterer will condemn adultery in the abstract, and yet flatter himself while privately committing it. The ignorance lies here: that man, when he comes to the particular, forgets the rule which he had laid down in the general case. Augustine treats most admirably on this subject in his exposition of the first verse of the fifty-seventh Psalm. The doctrine of Themistius, however, does not always hold true: for the turpitude of the crime sometimes presses so on the conscience, that the sinner does not impose upon himself by a false semblance of good, but rushes into sin knowingly and willingly. Hence the expression,–I see the better course, and approve it: I follow the worse (Medea of Ovid). For this reason, Aristotle seems to me to have made a very shrewd distinction between incontinence and intemperance (Ethic. lib. 7 cap. 3) Where incontinence (ajkrasiva) reigns, he says, that through the passion (pavtho”) particular knowledge is suppressed: so that the individual sees not in his own misdeed the evil which he sees generally in similar cases; but when the passion is over, repentance immediately succeeds. Intemperance (ajkolasiva), again, is not extinguished or diminished by a sense of sin, but, on the contrary, persists in the evil choice which it has once made.

We can, and do rationalise anything. We forget what is the principles of the law. We think the circumstances are extreme, and that makes our actions right. This is wrong.

What we need to do is repent and turn to Christ. Here all the church, all the ancient theologians, and all the people of faith speak as one.

Which is why the elite of this world hate us. They want to think everything that beleive is right, though they know that this is indeed a lie. Which is why the truth is now offensive, and being offensive is now a crime.

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John Wilder
27 days ago

“. . . repent and turn to Christ . . .”

Amen.