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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Christian Philosophy

Seeking the Face of God


As the world’s greatest philosophers sought the good and ultimate standard, the Christian worldview cultivated its own great minds. They knew the ultimate standard and from there showed the world what philosophy and literature really was. Dante, Augustine, Boethius, and Aquinas were models of Christian thought and not only wrote them down, but did this with eloquence and form.

Dante shows fullness of God’s attributes and how they can be seen in the everyday lives of men and women. It shows vividly the image of God in their lives. In each sphere an attribute is chosen and depicted in the life of saints who lived virtuous lives. Like the nuns who were torn from their vows, but in their lives kept their love for God keeping their hearts dedicated to Him alone. They showed God’s devoted and unalterable love. In Genesis 1:27 God said, "So God created man in His own image; the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." A wise man once said, “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Dante shows how to glorify God in his writing and through his writing. God gave him the gift of poetry and he used it to glorify God by writing a poem that fully displayed the attributes of God.
Boethius was a Roman who was raised in the ways of Rome. He was a scholar, poet, and politician. He was thrown into prison on charges of treason and sentenced to death by torture and beatings. As he awaited his death, he wrote about meeting a woman named Wisdom and together finding through discourse that God is with them and death brings man closer to Him.“For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory…but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15: 53 -54, 57) Boethius wanted to be closer to God and knew death would bring him closer to Him. Every day he woke up to face torture and I the end bludgeoning and death, but he knew this to be a refining process that would bring him closer to God.” Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)
In his youth he was a philanderer and the opposite of everything that he became later in life. Augustine of Hippo was changed by God and then dedicated his life to God when he became the priest of the town of Hippo. City of God was written to instill hope in Christians who had been persecuted. He reminded them of the certainty of true salvation and that the “City of God” was a place of eternal Sabbath, rest and fulfillment. While we are in our mortal bodies, we cannot reach fully understand the nature of God and His displayed attributes. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) But in the City of God our eyes shall be opened and we will be able to understand the fullness of the presence of God when the Psalmist says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Aquinas brings to light in the Summa Theologica things that previously seemed sundry and unimportant. He taught that God is simple. He is one and unified within Himself. He is not composed of parts and no part of Him is separate from the rest. His Goodness is not separate from Him because He is Good. And love, justice, mercy, grace, omnipotence, and the rest of his attributes are the same way. He is His attributes, whereas we, humans, are only mirrors of that, thus we can see goodness in ourselves as a passing act and then continue in sin. Not only is He His attributes, but also each attribute is not contradictory and complementary to the rest. His Goodness is a Just Loving Merciful Gracious and Omnipotent Goodness. God is independent of all things making Him a simple being. “With us composite things are better than simple things, because the perfections of created goodness cannot be found in one simple thing, but in many things. But the perfection of divine goodness is found in one simple thing.” (A Shorter Summa, pg 67) It is one of the most traditional concepts in Christianity, “Hear! Oh Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” But the depth of His oneness is seldom thought about.
God has given men minds to think, yet we have allowed them to waste away, a sin, and instead of using them for good, we use them to further our own jealous schemes and sinful desires. These men knew how to think and what to think. These Christian saints sought the face of God and were rewarded with a glimpse of His attributes.

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