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August 22, 2015

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While it is true that God wills our final good, and will conquer all pain, and all death, and hence we can trust Him to liberate us from such (ultimately), for us to expect that being a (actual) Christian here and now is going to grant us some kind of full-blown insulation from pain/loss right here, right now, is not the fruit of reason.


To clarify just a bit: We must avoid the anti-intellectual errors of pantheism and deism and the fool’s journey through the errors of occasionalism and conservationism. Indeed, if we are not careful to define our terms such mistakes will hasten us into the misfortune of their anti-intellectualism which mindlessly assigns God's Will either to everything (on the one hand) or to nothing (on the other hand). Insulation from pain? Well, Lazarus – raised from the dead – yet faced (probable) illness and (certain) death at some point somewhere. In short – in the current state of affairs for us to expect to somehow escape and evade such landscapes isn’t the work of the rational. While avoiding the errors of Universalism, Manning helps us find perspective on this or that bit of our own fragmented and temporal reality, “Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever.” While avoiding other anti-intellectual errors, Fischer helps us properly locate and properly define our immutable anchor of Hope, “…… the God who is glorified by sacrificing Himself for creation and not by sacrificing creation for Himself...." The OP (opening piece) hits the nail on the head: there is nothing, at all, anywhere, which His Hands do not use for the good of His beloved – that is to say – for our final good (and let us be clear – our final good is to know Him, immutable love Himself) and in fact we are told that He does in fact do just that. Our ends “here”, wherever they may “land”, do not define our final ends, our final good. Time and physicality do not stop His Work merely because they stop, at some seam somewhere, our work.


Insulation from pain? Well, to live in, oh, say, the 1800’s as a Christian just is to find one’s life under threatened or real harm as one follows the God Who is love towards rescuing slaves vis-à-vis the abolition thereof. To think that being involved in the funneling of escaped slaves through the proverbial underground railroad, given that you were following God’s actual Will for those slaves (contra any anti-intellectual heterodoxy which mindlessly defines all events in all lives and all conditions in all lives as God’s Will for said lives), would have “somehow” sort of “insulated” you from harm “because” you were in the will of God (and so on) is, again, not the work of reason. Christians have suffered great loss to bring messages (both word and act) of His love and His hope to the world stage. We must remember Manning and Fischer, and, we must remember to define our terms.


When it comes to assigning the will of God to this or that event or to this or that condition the errors of occasionalism, conservationism, pantheism, and deism are touched on, briefly, in the two essays linked earlier. Informing ourselves of such errors and informing ourselves with Scripture both serve to affirm the fact that only the absurdity of anti-intellectual heterodoxy manages to define all events in all lives and all conditions in all lives as God’s Will for said lives. Of course, none of that (those errors) changes what is at times the uncomfortable fact that following the God Who is love just is *not* some sort of ipso facto insulation from pain/loss. That is the case for two reasons – one reason is as in the Abolition of Slavery analogy, and the other reason is via the very simple fact that “ontologically speaking”, or that “metaphysically speaking”, it is the case that, well, “here” just is not “His Fullness”. A brief excerpt from the linked essays to help us avoid a few key errors:


“To affirm God as First Cause is not to embrace the occasionalist position that only God ever really causes anything to happen. [We must be careful to distinguish] between occasionalism, mere conservationism, and concurrentism. Whereas the occasionalist attributes all causality to God, mere conservationism goes to the opposite extreme of holding that although God maintains things and their causal powers in being, they bring about their effects all by themselves. Concurrentists like Aquinas take a middle ground position according to which secondary causes really have (contra occasionalism) genuine causal power, but in producing their effects still only ever act together with God as a “concurring” cause (contra mere conservationism). To borrow an example from Freddoso, if you draw a square on a chalkboard with blue chalk, both you as primary cause and the chalk as secondary cause are joint causes of the effect – you of there being any square there at all, the chalk of the square’s being blue. God’s concurrence with the secondary, natural causes He sustains in being is analogous to that. Concurrentism alone, the Thomist holds, can adequately account for both the natural world’s reality and its utter dependence on God. Occasionalism threatens to collapse into pantheism insofar as if it is really God who is doing everything that creaturely things seem to be doing, it is hard to see how they are in any interesting way distinct from him. (Consider that a mark of a thing’s having a substantial form rather than an accidental form – and thus of its being a true substance, with an independent existence, rather than being a mere modification of something else – is having its own irreducible causal powers.) Mere conservationism, on the other hand, threatens to collapse into deism, on which the world could in principle carry on just as it is even in the absence of God. (For if, as the Scholastics hold, a thing’s manner of acting reflects its manner of existing, then what can bring about effects entirely independently of God can in principle exist apart from God).”


We cannot ask to know the whole show – but – we can go into the darkness with our hand in His Hand.


In 1939, on December 25th, facing inevitable – certain – pain and possible, in fact very probable, annihilation, King George VI, who wasn’t slated to be England’s King, and yet was, carried his speech impediment to a microphone and addressed the world regarding the looming storm:


And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:

What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.”


(The poem “God Knows”, by Minnie Haskins, is also known by the title “The Gate of the Year”)

When we suffer in our democracies or anywhere else from legislated evil we know this is not from our triune God,as His Commandments and attributes insure our safety and well being even when we are severely ill ,but when a society which elects leaders to rule them turns its back on their Lord and the oath in government,law and education of"So Help Me God",then even more depravity is legislated by men who consider themselves god,rather than Lord Christ.Doctors who were healers are legislated to be killers also.

Thank you!

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