Faith and Reason, Beauty and Holiness

From The Public Discourse:

 

We live in a society of rampant individualism and relativism, where man is the measure of all things. We hear people speak of human rights, for example, but rarely of human goods, or human nature, or nature’s Author. We hear people appeal to natural rights, but rarely to natural law, or the Natural Law-Giver.

 

Now, why does any of this intellectual work matter? Why did you devote the last four or so years of your lives to higher education? Universities were a creation of the Church. Christians believed that all knowledge came from God, and so using both faith and reason we could seek out unified knowledge of the truth. In the Middle Ages, Christians established some of today’s most storied institutions—Oxford and Cambridge, the Universities of Paris, and Salamanca, and Bologna—all to fulfill Christ’s command that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. Precisely because God is Logos, because God is Reason itself, it is good for man to develop his mind. As a being made in the image and likeness of God, man has reason to seek out the truths about God, about man, and about nature—truths that are embedded in creation, a creation that should be understood as the outgrowth of God’s designs. And in the universities established by the Church we see the flowering of theology and philosophy, science and medicine, human rights and legal theory, economics and ethics, literature and music and art. All of these disciplines were developed and deployed at the service of the truth, the truth about God and man and nature.

 

Robby George was my next teacher. Here’s what I learned: Bad philosophy needs to be answered by good philosophy. Bad science needs to be responded to with good science—this is true with the science of embryology and the social science of marriage and the psychology of gender identity. We cannot allow the other side to depict these debates as ones that pit faith against reason, that force a choice between backward superstition against enlightened science. As C.S. Lewis taught, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.” This takes work. Since our adversaries control the principal institutions of our culture, we have to work twice as hard as they do.

 

Today’s debates simply extend a faulty anthropology to a new domain: Whether it be debates about abortion or assisted suicide, same-sex marriage or gender identity, they all challenge three truths right on the first page of the Bible: That we are made in the image and likeness of God, that we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other.

 

Be generous in responding to God’s call in your life. Join a religious community. Get married. Stay married. Be a faithful spouse, knowing that adultery and divorce are always dangers that must be guarded against. Be generous in welcoming children, and be a devoted mother or father. Bear one another’s burdens, persevere through adversity, and let the family you create—the children you raise and the parents you care for—be your best long-term defense of life and marriage. Let the love you create and sustain—the holiness and beauty of your life—be what attracts others to Christ.


When giants appear

"We came unto the land whither thou sentest us … we saw the children of Anak there."  (Num. 13:27, 28)

It is when we are in the way of duty that we find giants. It was when Israel was going forward that the giants appeared. When they turned back into the wilderness they found none.

Source: Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.


Christ is All!

All emphasis mine.

We can do nothing, but only continually keep committing everything to Him and leaving it in His hands. And so our lives will come to be lost in His, and we will realize that the “pure life of God” is over all, and that He will work in us whatever is well pleasing in His sight. Our only part in this great work is to stop working. Abiding, resting, believing,—these are our part; Christ does all the rest.

Whether in temptation or in service, it is the same. If we cease from our own plans and our own activities and leave the whole care and ordering of our work to Him, He will plan for us, will work through us, and will use us as His instruments to accomplish His own purposes of love and mercy. The responsibility will be all His, the simple obedience only ours. And who can understand the peace of heart that we find in this, except those who have experienced it? Everywhere and in everything, we are nothing and Christ is all!

Oh that this truth might be brought home to the heart of every child of God. The promise is certain that “they which hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled.” But the fulfillment is all in Jesus. He in the believer instead of all the so called created habits of grace which we ourselves may develop. So that we shall not be filled with any goodness of our own, nor with any righteousness to which we can lay claim as an independent possession, but we shall be filled simply with Jesus and His righteousness. For He Himself says: “I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” Our hunger and our thirst are all satisfied forever in Him!

—Journal, 1867

Source: Smith, H. W., & Dieter, M. E. (1997). The Christian’s secret of a holy life: the unpublished personal writings of Hannah Whitall Smith. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.


Good Money

From The Public Discourse:

The most recent instance of using monetary policy to avoid making politically hard decisions is called “quantitative easing.” In simple terms, this involves keeping distressed economies ticking by increasing the money supply via the central bank’s buying of bonds and other financial assets from private banks and other financial institutions. The goal is to encourage private lending, which in turn increases the money supply, thereby stimulating the economy—but also avoiding or putting off the painful process of allowing fiscally unsustainable businesses to be liquidated.

Like all addictive stimulants, quantitative easing provides short-term stimulation at the price of some undesirable long-term effects. In market economies, for example, people need to be able to distinguish between viable and nonviable companies so that they can invest in the former and avoid the losses associated with the latter’s probable failure. Quantitative easing, however, helps to keep unsustainable businesses afloat. This distorts the information that people need to make prudent investment choices. That helps to undermine opportunity cost in the economy and facilitates serious misallocations of financial capital. And this means less economic growth over the long term.