On Tuesdays I take Christian Ethics, Christian Apologetics, Theology II, and Sermon Prep. Today we covered the difference between theologians and philosophers of the rationalist tradition and those of the existentialist tradition. Robespierre and the ideology of the Terror and Heidegger and angst. Christian Ethics is actually one of my favorite courses and I have learned a lot in it. I think though, the more I learn, the more certain I am of a quote by Albert Einstein – “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” That’s not to say my school or any of my professors, individually lack knowledge concerning Jesus Christ or Theology. It is to say, after learning the vast and expansive pains man has gone through to understand God, it is evident that for many ages man has not understood God very well.
God became this indescribable ideology to some, to others an elusive philosophy that escaped literary definition as no words would suffice. To the theistic schools He became debatable and frameable, capturable almost in councils of great holy men, all sure of their election and their religion. Is he that complicated? Perhaps man’s persuit of even God is only his own inflated ego trying to prove his intelligence and capabilities and yet again creating for himself something to be worshipped- his ideas and his own intellect. No golden calf necessary this time – man can just worship his self perceived wisdom.
The beauty of Jesus’ sacred simplicity is that it is understandable and enthralling to even those holding the highest of educational degrees – yet his message can also be completely understood by an illiterate 40 year old homeless man, who has a shelter worker read to him from the pages of a donated bible. Jesus message is universal and it is for all. It is simply complex and complexly simple – and it holds universal and unilateral wisdom that speaks of an absolute truth – that the human heart longs for. That’s why it doesn’t matter if it’s 1217, 1517, 1817 or 2017 and it doesn’t matter if it’s read in Russia, China, or North America – Jesus Christ’s simplicity is boundless, timeless, and borderless it reaches out and is relateable to all mankind.
Mathew 16:15-17 “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
The beauty of Jesus Christ is his simplicity. He understands all classes of people, all tribes, all nations – he understands the one thing we all share – the human heart. He speaks to its condition and offers us an answer to our ailment. A solution to our suffering and he did it with three little words “Come follow me” – his language was such that ALL men could understand him, from the learned to the uneducated and illiterate. He again spoke to all people in a simple complexity that has withstood time, civilizations and transcends cultures. His message – unchanging. His truths – undeniable. The synoptic gospels are brief in comparison to the undefinable truths they hold. That’s why I love the Bible, that’s how I know it is the Word of God, because it alone does what Albert Einstein insisted, it explains the Gospel of Jesus Christ simply.
This is in contrast to man’s thoughts on the matter…here is an outline from today’s studies as we covered the age of non-reason. This is an excerpt from Dr. Francis Schaeffers Series entitled “How Should We Then Live” Dr. Shaffer is a brilliant man and I recommend this series to anyone who wishes to have a deeper understanding of the impact of Christianity on all formational periods of history. This outline is given to show the absolute historical struggle man has faced in wrestling with God. Reminiscent of the epic wrestling Jacob did with God in Genesis 32 in which God changed his name to Israel which means ” wrestle with God” – but I again contend this is the beauty of Jesus Christ – that even though our mind tries to “wrestle with the idea of God” our Spirit filled heart says “He is your Abba Father”. (Romans 8:15) When man asks who are you? His answer short and absolute, “I Am Who I Am”. In that historic moment in Exodus with Moses, if God had started explaining who he is via mans standards…on this day he would still be explaining…and there wouldn’t be any end in sight.
Because mans ways and mans knowledge are not Gods wisdom. He calls our wisdom foolish.
1 Corinthians 3:19-20 “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”
Alas does this mean we should abandon searching for who, what, and why Jesus Christ is – absolutely not – but search for him where he is always found in the Scripture first – so that man’s ideas do not have you seeking knowledge of the Lord over a relationship with the Lord.
THE AGE OF NON-REASON
I. Optimism Of Older Humanist Philosophers:
The unity and true knowledge of reality defined as starting from Man alone.
II. Shift in Modern Philosophy
A. Eighteenth century as the vital watershed.
B. Rousseau: ideas and influence.
1. Rousseau and autonomous freedom.
2. Personal freedom and social necessity clash in Rousseau.
3. Rousseau’s influence.
a) Robespierre and the ideology of the Terror.
b) Gauguin, natural freedom, and disillusionment.
C. DeSade: If nature is the absolute, cruelty equals non-cruelty.
D. Impossible tension between autonomous freedom and autonomous reasons conclusion that the universe and people are a part of the total cosmic machine.
E. Kant, Hegel, and Kierkegaard and their followers sought for a unity but they did not solve the problem.
1. After these men and their followers, there came an absolute break between the area of meaning and values, and the area of reason.
2. Now humanistic philosophy sees reason as always leading to pessimism; any hope of optimism lies in non-reason.
III. Existentialism and Non-Reason
A. French existentialism.
1. Total separation of reason and will: Sartre.
2. Not possible to live consistently with this position.
B. German existentialism.
1. Jaspers and the “final experience.”
2. Heidegger and angst.
C. Influence of existentialism.
1. As a formal philosophy it is declining.
2. As a generalized attitude it dominates modern thought.
IV. Forms of Popularization of Nonrational Experience
A. Drug experience.
1. Aldous Huxley and “truth inside one’s head.”
2. Influence of rock groups in spreading the drug culture; psychedelic rock.
B. Eastern religious experience: from the drug trip to the Eastern religious trip.
C. The occult as a basis for “hope” in the area of non-reason.
V. Theological Liberalism and Existentialism
A. Preparation for theological existentialism.
1. Renaissance’s attempt to “synthesize” Greek philosophers and Christianity; religious liberals’ attempt to “synthesize” Enlightenment and Christianity.
2. Religious liberals denied supernatural but accepted reason.
3. Schweitzer’s demolition of liberal aim to separate the natural from the supernatural in the New Testament.
B. Theological existentialism.
1. Intellectual failure of rationalist theology opened door to theological existentialism.
2. Barth brought the existential methodology into theology.
a) Barth’s teaching led to theologians who said that the Bible is not true in the areas of science and history, but they nevertheless look for a religious experience from it.
b) For many adherents of this theology, the Bible does not give absolutes in regard to what is right or wrong in human behavior.
3. Theological existentialism as a cul-de-sac.
a) If Bible is divorced from its teaching concerning the cosmos and history, its values can’t be applied to a historic situation in either morals or law; theological pronouncements about morals or law are arbitrary.
b) No way to explain evil or distinguish good from evil. Therefore, these theologians are in same position as Hindu philosophers (as illustrated by Kali).
c) Tillich, prayer as reflection, and the deadness of “god.”
d) Religious words used for manipulation of society.
With what Christ and the Bible teach, Man can have life instead of death–in having knowledge that is more than finite Man can have from himself.