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Beauty, Science and Theology, Part 3

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July 25, 2012 Tags: Worship & Arts

Today's entry was written by Ruth Bancewicz. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

Beauty, Science and Theology, Part 3
Fluorescent image of Chlamydomonas algae showing location of Fa2p enzyme at the base of the cilia, courtesy Dr. Lynn Quarmby.

Note: It doesn't take a scientist to appreciate the beauty with which God has arrayed his creation. Anyone can recognize that the intense colors of tropical flowers, the orderly symmetries of crystals, the fleeting, dynamic movements of waves, and songs of common birds. Certainly the stars, nebulae and galaxies of deep space all speak to the way that not only the heavens, but all the earth "declares the glory of the Lord."

But scientists do have the opportunity (and training) to appreciate different kinds of beauty than do most non-scientists, whether they are ordinarily "hidden" in the extremes of scale, the elegant processes of an experiment, or in the abstraction of mathematics. Indeed the appreciation of various kinds of beauty has always played a critical role in motivating scientists to investigate the world, and in helping them decipher its workings. Today, in the final part of this three-part essay, Ruth Bancewicz explores the relationship between beauty and God's character.

Beauty and the Character of God

What beauty tells us about God1

Studying God is a balancing act. At times the theologian has to hold their breath, as it were, and suspend their sense of the sacred in order to understand deep truths, but they should also spend time on their knees – perhaps both mentally and literally - revelling in the presence of God as they study his attributes.2 I feel the same about natural theology. It’s fascinating to look at examples of fine-tuning in the universe: here, perhaps, is evidence for the existence of God. Logical analysis of physical constants requires a good deal of spiritual breath-holding, but it’s possible - at least for a time - to remain focused on the physics. It’s when I look at what creation3 reveals of God’s character that I begin to find it difficult to sit still and calmly rational in the library.

There is a huge literature on the biblical concept of the beauty of God4 and, as I have mentioned in my previous posts, there is also a strong Christian tradition of studying what creation reveals about the Creator. Exploring this area of scholarship has helped me to understand what I experience when I see beauty in creation: either intuitively as I walk in a garden or wilderness area, or through the highly developed techniques of science or art. There are two main strands of Christian theological thinking on natural beauty that are relevant here. In the first, the beauty experienced in creation is something we can learn to transcend to reach God who is the perfect source of beauty. This ascent from earthly to spiritual beauty is a Platonic idea that was adopted by some Christian theologians early in the history of the church. The beauty of creation was seen as a pale shadow of the beauty of God. The second way to view the beauty of creation is that is somehow transparent to the transcendent or, when rightly interpreted, it reveals a transcendent reality: it shows us something of God. This second, more horizontal concept of beauty has a more solid basis in the biblical idea of creation revealing God’s glory,5 but is also more complex because it requires discernment.


Lungs, from fact sheet © Euro Stem Cell.

There are four main dangers in natural theology. Creation is not God, so it does not fully reveal his character or purposes (for that we need Jesus) but our universe was created by God and so bears marks of his character, however dimly perceived. As creation is not God, it is not to be worshipped or idolised in itself. Also, we are not perfect, so we need to be aware that we might deceive ourselves and say things about God’s character that might be false. Finally, creation is described as ‘groaning’: the world we live in is not perfect and will only reveal God’s character fully when it is restored. For these reasons, some theologians have rejected natural theology entirely.6 Others have decided that, rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater, we should learn to discern what we can of God’s attributes from creation. We should test every new insight thoroughly, and keep what we learn firmly in the context of the Christian gospel. Alister McGrath put it this way: ‘The Christian doctrine of creation provides an intellectual framework for seeing God through nature; the doctrine of the incarnation allows us to see God in nature, culminating in Christ himself’.7 Outside of the theological debate, many Christians today intuitively experience creation as an important point of contact with God.

So what does creation reveal about God? First, and most generally, the beauty of God is reflected in the beauty of the world. Basil of Caesarea said that ‘from the beauty of the visible things let us form an idea of Him who is more than beautiful’8. What does the beauty of God mean? Perhaps the next best word is ‘glory’. Theologian Karl Barth thought that to explain God’s glory you needed both the concepts of power and of beauty, but he considered beauty to be secondary to glory (he was worried about nature-worship).9 Hans Urs von Balthasar, on the other hand, went beyond Barth’s cautious handling of glory and spoke of beauty as an analogy of God. His multivolume work ‘The Glory of God’ has been highly influential across many theological traditions. Creation is for God’s glory, and its beauty reflects his glory. Augustine of Hippo also expressed this well in his book, Confessions. His love for the beauty of the world reflected his love for God.10

The 'glorious' corresponds on the theological plane to what the transcendental 'beautiful' is on the philosophical plane.

-Hans Urs von Balthasar11


Secondly, creation could be seen as a vast and harmonious work of art. For earlier generations of theologians this balanced and coordinated functioning of the whole universe was creation’s supreme demonstration of God’s character.12 The grand picture of the world painted by science today is even more impressive: many animals, plants and microbes interacting together; an environment where seismic events and thermal cycles combine to create varied ecological niches; a planet with lunar and solar systems that provide tides and seasons; a universe where stars produce the ingredients for life and immense physical forces create the stability needed for that planet to exist. The order and harmony of the universe that we see reflects the unity and wisdom of the Trinity.

'The world is a work of art, set before all for contemplation, so that through it the wisdom of Him who created it should be known.’

-Basil of Caesarea


‘Each creature manifests God in some way, but the best manifestation of God is the beautifully ordered universe of all creatures functioning in relation to one another as God intended.’

-Aquinas



Spider MRI © Gavin Merrifield, University of Edinburgh

Finally, the symmetry, pattern, order and intricate detail we see are the result of finely balanced physical properties. If beauty is at times an indicator of truth, particularly in the more mathematical branches of science, could beauty in creation be a reflection of the wisdom and truth of God the ultimate lawgiver?

Some have spoken of beauty as evidence for God, but I would prefer to think of it as a thought experiment. If a good God created a world, what would you expect? I would expect great beauty. And if we are created ‘in God’s image’, it is perhaps not surprising that we are equipped to appreciate the beauty we see. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar has put forward the idea that scientists who are more aesthetically aware are more likely to do great work.13 In a more recent paper Tracee Hackel has suggested that Christians are necessarily more aware of the beauty of God, and therefore more likely to be attuned to the beauty of creation.14 Or would people who are more attuned to the beauty of creation be more likely to recognise the beauty of God?

Terrible beauty

The elephant in the room during this discussion is suffering. We live in a world of great beauty and great pain. Often the wonders we see have a terrible side, and need to be ‘handled with care’. Spectacular mountain ranges can be the death of unwary explorers, the sea that has inspired so many great paintings has claimed countless lives, and animals can inflict injury or disease if not approached in the right way. Any tropical ‘paradise’ is usually fraught with dangers for the unwary: poisonous snakes, biting insects and horrific infectious diseases, not to mention the danger of earthquakes, hurricanes or volcanoes. If a creator god exists, could he or she resemble the caring personal God of the Bible?15 Even if we are satisfied that, despite all this, God is good we have some serious problems to face in applying natural theology. At best creation is a cracked mirror, reflecting only part of God’s glory. It has been suggested to me that because creation is groaning, natural beauty is not an effective pathway to God – but I’d challenge that assumption for the following reason.

An analogy needn’t be perfect to be effective. Jesus used parables to demonstrate how God reveals something of himself in creation. For example, God is compared to a shepherd, his word is like seed, and beautiful flowers in a field are an example of his lavish provision. If you push them too far, all of these analogies break down: God does not have a boss as a shepherd does, he doesn’t have to ‘sow’ his words in order to make a living, and God’s provision for us usually involves some effort on our part. Jesus also said that we should call God our father, but no dad is faultless, and some people are unfortunate enough to experience extremely bad parenting. Somehow the existence of terrible fathers didn’t stop Jesus emphasizing this aspect of God’s relationship to us. I think our flawed human experience only makes Jesus’ teaching more effective. We know what to expect of a good dad. At times we see glimpses of perfection, and we long for more. Rather than shying away from speaking about God as our father for fear of misinterpretation, Jesus knew that our best parenting moments shine out as an illustration of God’s love for us. On that basis I think that creation, while flawed, can often be an effective illustration of God’s own power, perfection and beauty.

Olive tree ©Ruth Bancewicz

Notes

1. Key references for this post are McGrath, A.E. The Open Secret. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2008; Viladesau, R. Theological Aesthetics: God in Imagination, Beauty and Art. Oxford University Press, 1999, chpts 1 & 4; Schaefer, J. Theological Foundations for Environmental Ethics: Reconstructing Patristic & Medieval Concepts. Georgetown University Press, Washington, DC, 2009, chpt 3.
2. Viladesau, R. Theological Aesthetics: God in Imagination, Beauty and Art. Oxford University Press, 1999.
3. I try to avoid using the words ‘nature’ or ‘the natural world’ as much as possible because of the ambiguity of the word nature, which is often wrongly used to create a divide between natural and supernatural worlds. This is ancient Greek philosophy and has nothing to do with the God of the Bible. When addressing Christians I usually use the word ‘creation’ in its traditional theological sense, meaning ‘everything that exists apart from God’, without connection to any one particular interpretation of Genesis 1-3.
4. God is ‘perfect in beauty’, Psalms 48 & 50, Lamentations 2, Ezekiel 16; Worship God ‘in the beauty of holiness’, I Chronicles 16, 2 Chronicles 20, Psalms 29 & 96; The coming saviour as ‘beautiful’, Isaiah 4:2 and 33:17, Psalm 110, Hosea 14:6; God’s beauty: Job 40:10, Psalm 96:6. From Hackel, T. Physics and Christian Theology: Beauty, a Common Dialect? Pursuit of Truth: A Journal of Christian Scholarship, 2007.
5. For example, the Psalms speak of creation revealing the glory of God, Jesus uses nature parables to describe God, and Romans 1:19–20 indicates that we can see something of God in creation.
6. Holder, R. The Heavens Declare: Natural Theology & the Legacy of Karl Barth. Templeton Press, Philadelphia, (2012). Templeton Press, May 2012.
7. McGrath, A.E. The Open Secret. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2008, pp209-10.
8. Schaefer, J. Theological Foundations for Environmental Ethics: Reconstructing Patristic & Medieval Concepts. Georgetown University Press, Washington, DC, 2009, p68.
9. Viladesau, R. Theological Aesthetics: God in Imagination, Beauty and Art. Oxford University Press, 1999, pp26-29; Cootsona, G.S. The Telos of Beauty. Paper at Metanexus Conference, 2007. www.butte.edu/~barnettd/documents/triad/TelosOfBeauty.doc
10. McGrath, A.E. The Open Secret. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2008, pp262-263.
11. Viladesau, R. Theological Aesthetics: God in Imagination, Beauty and Art. Oxford University Press, 1999, pp37.
12. Schaefer, J. Theological Foundations for Environmental Ethics: Reconstructing Patristic & Medieval Concepts. Georgetown University Press, Washington, DC, 2009.
13. Chandrasekhar, S. Beauty and the Quest for Beauty in Science. Fermilab, 1979.
14. Hackel, T. Physics and Christian Theology: Beauty, a Common Dialect? Pursuit of Truth: A Journal of Christian Scholarship, 2007.
15. Others have dealt with this topic in detail. This article is a good start: http://www.rzim.eu/how-can-you-say-that-there-is-a-good-god-of-love-when


Ruth Bancewicz is a Senior Research Associate at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Cambridge (UK), where she currently works on positive expressions of the science-faith dialogue. Ruth studied genetics at Aberdeen University, and completed a PhD at Edinburgh University. She then spent two years as a part-time postdoctoral researcher at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, Edinburgh University, while also working as the Development Officer for Christians in Science. She moved to the Faraday Institute in 2006 to develop resources on Science and Christianity – a project that generated the Test of FAITH materials, the first of which were published in 2009. Ruth blogs at Science and Belief, and her latest book, God in the Lab: How Science Enhances Faith will be published by Monarch in January 2015.

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Roger A. Sawtelle - #71354

July 25th 2012

Life is real. Life is serious.  Life involves real choices.

The existence of pain, suffering, and death does not make life less precious, but more precious and wondrous.  God did not create the universe without risk for Godself.  Do people who are made on God’s Image really want a life without real consequences, risk, and challenge?   

There is no way humans can have a meaningful, purposeful life without pain, suffering, and death.  They are part of God’s plan, although humans can and do misuse them as they abuse everything else that is right and good. 

When we abuse nature and the enviroment, we reap the consequences. 

 Gal 6:7  Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow.


wesseldawn - #71355

July 25th 2012

I agree that God’s amazing creativity is revealed in nature. It is both beautiful - and tainted (a contradition of perfection) as you said. And we should be awed by those inspiring parts as the more we study the more awed we become.

Yet everything here is but an imperfect reflection of the perfect. We are here for a short duration and for the many people living in horrible circumstances I am glad that it’s short so that their suffering is not prolonged.

And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. (John 8:23 & 18:36)

Jesus meant it literally - He is not of this world. God would never design a place of suffering. In Paradise there will be no suffering - showing that suffering is contrary to God’s nature.

God is our Father but those that are more fortunate through chance must not live in a bubble and forget that for a large part of the world’s population, this world is neither confortable nor beautiful. 


Francis - #71360

July 25th 2012

Ruth Bancewicz,

“a universe where stars produce the ingredients for life”

What does that mean?

 

Stars, not God, produce the delicious ingredients which a) then mysteriously bake themselves into a cake of “life”, or b) God gratefully receives (thank you, stars!) and assembles into “life”?

Or that, since stars are throughout the universe, life must be throughout the universe?

Silicon is the seventh most abundant element in the universe. The planet Mars apparently has a heavy dose of it. Should I then say that Mars has the ingredients for computer chips and laptops, with the intended implication that computer chips and laptops may have self-assembled on Mars in the past, or might in the future?

 

P.S.

I had asked on a previous blog [“The Vision Lives On … and On”] how many Christian denominations were represented in BioLogos’ meetings with leading pastors and theologians, and whether the Catholic Church was represented. I haven’t yet received an answer. However, I can see that Catholics are given some space on BioLogos. All of the big quotes in the above article are by Roman Catholics.


George Bernard Murphy - #71361

July 25th 2012

Well I don’t know about stars producing the"mysterious ingredients of life” but they produce the heavy elements necessary for our planet,.. and everything heavier than iron on the periodic table is produced only when a star blows up as a supernova at the end of it’s life.

 So our earth. with its geomagnet [giving us a filter on  the lethal portion solar radiation], could not have been  possible until an adequate supply of thorium was on hand.

So God built the sky before he built the earth. The sky was the thorium factory,... like a brick factory to make bricks for houses. It had to come first.

 But is there a way to penetrate the concrete domes of theologians so that they read Genesis 1 correctly.

 They continue to see  the first object as  “earth without form”,.... as a big dark cold mudball.

 Of course a mudball HAS FORM! [It is formed like a mudball.]

 God’s first creation was “the waters”.

 The waters were partially consolidated into clumps. by the “expanse”.

 The clumps became stars.

 They stars went through their normal life cycle and exploded as supernova.

 In that explosion atomic nuclei were pressed together to form the large unstable atoms that are fissionable.

 Only after we had a supply of these could earth be built.

 But try to get that sequence accepted among seminarians.

 They still see earth as the FIRST thing formed.


wesseldawn - #71374

July 26th 2012

I agree George, that the universe itself produced everything, but the contradiction is Gen. 2:4 where the order is strangely reversed in the second part:

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

I agree with you that the ‘heavens’ had to have come first (Big Bang), which this verse agrees with in ‘the first part’.  Then we see something strange happening in the second part of the verse where it reverses the order, earth and heaven.

The way I read this seeming contradition is that something happened to ‘the earth’, which it appears then affected ‘the heavens’. I think it had something to do with the fall as Adam forfeited the original creation to Satan.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71378

July 26th 2012

wesseldawn,

As usual you are reading into the text something that isn’ there.

Adam and Eve never forfeited the original creation to Satan.   


George Bernard Murphy - #71379

July 26th 2012

Wess I  think the terms “earth and the heavens” as well as “heavens and the earth”,... both just mean EVERYTHING!

I DON’T THINK ORDER IS SIGNIFICANT THERE.


wesseldawn - #71381

July 26th 2012

I think it is important. I believe you said on another thread something to affect that the ‘heavens’ had to have come before the earth (which is chronologically correct), and you interpreted the heavens to be “the Big Bang”  - so then in your mind, heavens does not mean “everything” but “the cosmos”!

God does not waste His words on meaningless lessons! There’s a good reason why the words are reversed in the second half, we just need to find out why God did it.


wesseldawn - #71382

July 26th 2012

Creation is not God, so it does not fully reveal his character or purposes (for that we need Jesus) but our universe was created by God and so bears marks of his character, however dimly perceived. As creation is not God, it is not to be worshipped or idolised in itself.

I agree. If the creation were perfect (as God is) we could then worship it because it would be a true representation of God. For that to be however, it would have to be immortal/eternal as God is. Instead it’s mortal and everything here is subject to death and decay. Which all means that something went wrong somewhere (with the creation). Therefore, we must not worship this creation because it cannot be trusted to represent God.

Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator… (Romans 1:25)

I admire Stephen Hawkings work. He believes that the earth is capable (through evolutionary processes) of sustaining itself and he is quite correct. When has anyone ever seen God interfering in nature? It’s more rather that nature self-propagates and has throughout time.

So the question is, if God made it - what happened to it that it became so much less than perfect? And where is God that wars, disease, famines, earthquakes, etc. devastates the planet? If this were God’s creation, none of those awful things would ever take place and the entire earth would be an immortal paradise, not subject to time, death or corruption! 


ruth-bancewicz - #71466

July 30th 2012

As I said in response to a comment on my second poast, I think we need to be careful what we say about how God does things. How do you know what ‘good’ creation would look like to God? It had to be subdued, and we were given work to do right from the start.

As Denis Alexander has said - we need to be careful to get our ideas about creation and fall from the Bible, not from Milton’s Paradise Lost, or our own desires. 


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71471

July 30th 2012

Ruth,

Thank you for your wise comment.

You could have added Greek philosophy to your list of places from which we should not get our ideas about creation and the fall. 


wesseldawn - #71482

July 30th 2012

I thought you didn’t like Greek philosophy as you’ve said so many times, equating Gnosticism with Greek philosophy in the same breath!!


wesseldawn - #71481

July 30th 2012

I took so long to respond because I sometimes don’t get notifications.

How do you know what ‘good’ creation would look like to God?

So then you think that a planet where sex-trade trafficking, grand-scale starvation, etc. is a good creation? What kind of a bubble do you live in?

So then you must believe that the garden of Eden/Paradise (where God lives) is ‘less than’ perfect?

What happened to Adam and Eve? A curse resulted:

“cursed is the ground for your sake” (Gen. 3:17b)

 “so he drove out the man” (Gen. 3:24)

Where were the man and his wife driven to? A less than perfect place:

“Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee…In the sweat of thy face…Therefore, the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken” (Gen. 2:18-23)

Obviously the garden is perfect but “the ground from whence he was taken” is not! 


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71390

July 27th 2012

wesseldawn,

I will address your questions, but first let me say that it seems strange to me that those who claim to be the defenders of the true faith seem unwilling or unable to speak to your Gnostic views.

You are Gnostic because of your dualistic world view of the spiritual vs the physical.  The Bible does not label the physical as sinful, as does Greek thought and you do.  Humans are mortal and the universe is mutable because they have a physical aspect, not because they are evil.

While it is true that some “Christian” world views also have a similar dualistic world view, they are redeemed in part because they understand that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  It seems from what you have said that for you salvation comes through Wisdom, the ability to understand the hidden meaning of the scriptures.   

You ask, “Where is God that wars, diseases, famines, earthquakes, etc. devastate the planet?”  So you are blaming all these things on God.  Does God create wars?  No humans do, so why should not humans suffer the consequences?  What is wrong with that?

God has given humans the ability to feed every one, so there is no need for famine, yet humans allow them to happen.  Whose fault is that? 

God has given humans the ability to treat and cure diseases and to limit sharply the effects of earthquakes, so how can we blame God for these?

Even though we all must experience physical death, God has even given humans eternal life through Jesus Christ.  So how can you ask, “Where is God?” as if God is doing nothing.  How is God to blame for the mess humans have made of the physical and social world God made for us and called it good? 

Humans would not be human if they are immortal.  If you think that God made a mistake by creating humanity as mortal with the ability to make real decisions, then I feel sorry for you.  You are rejecting your own human nature made in the Image of God and the world/home that God made for all of us.     


wesseldawn - #71417

July 28th 2012

I am dualistic Roger, not because I say so but because the Bible clearly says that we are so. I merely presented what the scriptures say and nothing more - and the scriptures are well able to speak for themselves.

You have been shown more than sufficient Biblical evidence of which you reject time and again. Certainly you are entitled to your opinion but I’m not likely to engage you further as you clearly do not hold all of the scriptures as being divinely inspired.

Those that recognise the entire Bible as being the ‘final’ authority are those that will appreciate the amazing wisdom that God reveals in His writings through the interpreting process I call ‘the law of confirming’.


wesseldawn - #71418

July 28th 2012

And further Roger, no Gnostic will ever say that the Bible is their ‘final’ authority!!


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71419

July 28th 2012

wesseldawn,

Do you believe in the resurrection of the body? 

Both the body of Jesus Christ and the body of all who are saved?


wesseldawn - #71430

July 28th 2012

Roger, I grow tired of your redundancy. I have already given you my answer but for the benefit of others here I will respond to you this one last time. I believe that the entire Bible is the ‘infallible word of God’.

...for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:14)

Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. (Luke 20:36)And

shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:29)

 

Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1 Cor. 15:12)

Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. (Acts 1:22)

He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.  (Acts 2:3)


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71448

July 29th 2012

wesseldawn,

I apologize for my redundancy, but a person has got to do what a person has got to do.

I am glad that you look to the Bible as the source of your faith, however the Bible does not claim for itself to be “infallible.”  In fact John 1 claims that Jesus is God’s divine Word thus giving us the Trinity of Father/Creator, Son/Logos/Savior, and Holy Spirit/Love. 

If the Bible is infallible, then it must be perfect and thus God and equal to Jesus.  Christians to not believe that the Bible is God.  We believe in Jesus Who came, lived, died, and rose again as the beginning and end of our faith, not the Bible.   

If I were to give you some advice it would be based on the words of Jesus Who told the rich young ruler, “You are missing one thing.  Give up all that you have, and Follow Me!” 

Also Romans 12:1-2.

(Rom 12:1 NIV)  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

(Rom 12:2 NIV)  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Here Paul tells us to sacrifice our bodies or selves to God as the highest act of spiritual worship, so that the Holy Spirit can transform and renew our minds into harmony with God’s Will.

God bless.

 


wesseldawn - #71459

July 29th 2012

You are misquoting, Jesus did not say “Give up all that you have, and Follow Me”, He said:

Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. (Luke 18:22)

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he hath, and buys that field. (Matt. 13:44)

Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. (Prov. 23:23)

wisdom/instruction/understanding = synonyms 

poor:

...and the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Matt. 11:5, Luke 7:22)

The poor don’t receive money or goods, they have the gospel preached to them, which is God’s treasure.

Blessed are the poor ‘in spirit’: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt: 5:3)

Therefore, to be ‘poor’ is referring to a condition of the ‘spirit’!

 but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isaiah 66:2, Psalm 34:18)

Jesus was telling the rich young man to “sell his old ideas of God” and “buy the truth” (the gospel/treasure) which he could then give to (share with) the “poor in spirit”.

Jesus would never infringe free will by telling anyone to give away their possessions. 


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71463

July 30th 2012

wesseldawn,

My statement was entended to be a paraphrase.

My emphasis was on the last part of the statement, which is “Follow Me.”

You as many others put all the emphasis on the first part, which was about selling his belongings and you ignore the positive emphasis of the statement of Jesus, which is Follow Me.  

Jesus did infringe on the free will of the rich young ruler by telling him what he had to do and was saddened when he failed to do it and lost his salvation. 

Jesus gives us the choice and it is up to us to make it.  Jesus gives you the choice and I hope that you take it, rather than hiding behind gnostic wisdom.


wesseldawn - #71487

July 30th 2012

My statement was entended to be a paraphrase.

If you truly appreciated their value Roger, you would not “paraphrase” God’s words because in so doing, you change the meaning! God’s words are perfect and to remain so they must be quoted as they are (word-for-word) because only in that manner can we find verses with the exact same features.

My emphasis was on the last part of the statement, which is “Follow Me.”

No, you emphasised more than “follow me” as you will see if you just re-read your post.

You as many others put all the emphasis on the first part, which was about selling his belongings and you ignore the positive emphasis of the statement of Jesus, which is Follow Me. 

You conveniently ignore the first part (and all the other confirming verses that add to ‘the whole’ picture) to suit your own beliefs and the “Follow Me” part is really, “follow Roger”.

I don’t know where this gets us, as we keep reiterating the same points as I show you time and again just how off your theology is from Jesus’ words!


wesseldawn - #71488

July 30th 2012

I realise of course that the Old English of the King James (in my estimation, the best translation) is tedious, but it suffices in terms of finding consistently ‘repetitive’ data (the only means by which the scriptures can be properly interpreted).


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71491

July 30th 2012

Well, my friend, I can assure you that I know the difference between myself and Jesus.

If you don’t know Who Jesus is, please find out soon.  Follow Him!


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