Wednesday, March 07, 2007

St. Augustine Revisited

Joe came home from school energetic and vibrant after a "really good discussion" today.

He read me this quote:

"For as the same fire causes gold to glow brightly, and chaff to smoke; and under the same flail the straw is beaten small, while the grain is cleansed; and as the lees are not mixed with the oil though squeezed out of the vat by the same pressure, so the same violence of affliction proves, purges, clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked."

St. Augustine, "City of God, Book 1, Chapter 8"

Thought provoking.

Revisited: Been thinking about this quote. It reminds me of Romans 9. Also of the passage that says something like Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.

It's easy to think of God as a kind, wise grandpa who gently lifts us from a destructive path, carries a big stick to shoo away those people and things that would hurt us, with a twinkle in his eye, and doting pats to our little heads, straightening our halos, a grandpa who requires us to remind him of what needs doing down here in the universe. Or, to think of him as an angry, lightening-hurling, crazy-mad sort of megalomaniac just looking for an excuse to torture humans. He is neither.

It's imperative that we get this as right as we can, the true nature of God and his creation, otherwise, well, won't we be following a different god than the God of the Bible? Won't it be a different faith? Isn't our salvation at risk if we don't have it right, if we aren't believing the Truth, but some watered down, plucked, twisted, synthetic pseudoversion? Paul implores of us to, "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling [does this mean anticipation and excitement, maybe even anxiety?], for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." (Philippians 2:12-13) Some interpret that passage to mean you have to earn your salvation through works. That's inconsistent with the rest of the Bible. Was Paul intending to communicate to us that we need to know for sure that the belief we stake our very lives on is The Truth? That we understand correctly? To keep striving for more accuracy, and thus clearer alignment with this Truth, as God changes us from within? This makes more sense to me.

This whole God thing is not so sweet and easy as I was taught it was in Sunday School. "...but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked." I want to get it right, because it matters, more than anything. And I feel the urgency, and the longing, to know.


Anonymous said...

Tell Joe I like the quote, okay? It describes the amazing ability of God and the natural world he created to accomplish two things at once. Opposites in fact. Tell him I'll be thinking about it alot. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This is challenging, Cherie! Your questions are valid. Also I can relate to finding that often Sunday School (and I would add youth group) tend to do injustice to the Truth. I will be thinking these things over for awhile. Thanks!

Cherie said...

Ashley, you bet I'll tell Joe.

Ashley and Annie: I'm glad to have you two joining me in the ponderation of such things. Thanks for your understanding. Your perspective is always appreciated and helpful. I know I sometimes tread on unfamiliar ground, and I hear about it. But you two are always fair and pragmatic. From conversations such as this, more of the Truth can be discovered. Thanks for your help!