It is self-evident that an individual’s worldview affects their thought, behavior and action. One’s worldview is a major component of personality formation. Of the many parameters that constitute one’s worldview, belief in God is a crucial one. The worldview of a believer is sharply contrasted to that of a non-believer. Apostle Paul expounds on this point in his esteemed epistle addressed to the Romans. In Romans (1-8) he outlines how the worldview of a Christian is shaped with respect to the natural world, human identity, human relationships and culture. This essay will highlight St. Paul’s theological insights into each of these domains, as articulated in the Romans (1-8).
The Natural World
Paul believes how ‘justification’ of the penalty of sin is part of the divine order of things. He sees no marked difference between the divine mandate and the natural order of things. Paul informs the faithful . . . Read More
As philosophers like Frederic Nietzsche have pointed out, Christianity tends to curtail the full meaning of human existence by making it devoid of spontaneity and adventure. In other words, faith in God is made incompatible with ‘seeking’ in its broadest sense. Faith, it would then seem, is merely an “illusion which blocks the path of a liberated humanity to its future.” (p.1) As a result, faith is referred to as darkness. Yet, an attempt was made to accommodate faith with the light of reason. Such room would open up in those areas and moments where the light of reason alone proved insufficient. Faith was thus understood “either as a leap in the dark, to be taken in the absence of light, driven by blind emotion, or as a subjective light, capable perhaps of warming the heart and bringing personal consolation…” (p.2)
With faith thus relegated to a role subordinate to that of reason, it’s value will have to be revived, for when faith fades away, true . . . Read More
Newman finds fault with a certain tendency among the faithful, whereby they are complacent with what is given in scriptures. As a result, they no longer inquire and seek to acquire new knowledge. In other words, they are “not persuaded thereby to see and hear more, are not moved to act upon their knowledge. Seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not; they are contented to remain as they are”. (p.1) Newman argues that faith does not preclude rationality. Yet, he equally condemns those who lack faith at the cost of embracing rationality. These people, lacking in the faculty of religious belief, can only acquire incomplete knowledge.
According to Newman faith is about assenting to a doctrine as veritable, even when faced with lack of sensory evidence to back up its claims. Since God cannot lie, what is revealed will have to be true. At the centre of Divine faith is the total lack of doubt in the heart and mind of the believer. This is so because “God is true, because . . . Read More
At the heart of Proslogion is the expression of the idea of ‘faith seeking understanding’. In the very first chapter Anselm implores “Lord my God, teach my heart where and how to seek You, where and how to find You. If You are not here, Lord, where shall I seek You who are absent?” (p.90) Hence, even a firm believer will have to go seek God, for it is this spiritual journey which leads to salvation. The challenges facing the seeker are obvious. Omnipresent as God might be, he is yet non-corporeal and difficult to behold – God dwells in the light inaccessible.
‘Faith Seeking Understanding’ is also linked to the concept of Original Sin. It was Adam’s ill-advised satiety that has burdened generations of Eve’s sons with repentance. In other words, “Adam burped with satiety; we sigh with hunger. He abounded; we go begging…But, alas, unhappy me, one of the other unhappy sons of Eve who are far removed from God.” (p.91) But gaining God’s grace through . . . Read More
Anselm makes it clear in his preface that his contemplative work seeks to demonstrate that a. God truly (i.e. in reality) exists, b. That he is the Supreme Good and the Divine Substance. One of the ontological proofs of God’s existence is due to the fact that God cannot be thought not to exist. Adding merit to the thesis of God’s existence is his omnipotence, even though He does not impose his will on many natural phenomena.
It is only the proverbial Fool who could ever doubt God’s existence. It is only the Fool who in his heart cannot conceive of that which is the greatest. The Fool would also think that since God is not found in any corporeal form, he does not exist. But “”alone existing through Hmself, He makes all other things from nothing.
Further evidence for God’s existence comes from the fact that he is merciful and impassible. Only the supreme authority governing the cosmos can deliver mercy upon various life forms graced to live on earth. Indeed, . . . Read More
While both authors comment on the significance of the event of the Resurrection, their emphasis is quite different. Wright bases the Resurrection to draw upon broader themes within Christianity, like “Why did Christianity arise, and why did it take the shape it did?” (p.111) Wright acknowledges the exceptional nature of Christianity, when at the time of its birth, so many new prophets and messiahs were being purged by pagan enemies. Yet, under such hostile circumstances a new faith was able to take root. To fully comprehend the magnitude of this achievement one has to consider the milieu of first-century Judaism in which Christianity was born.
As Wright points out, there were even social and political factors that hindered belief of the after-life, and by extension the occurrence of Resurrection. For example, kingdoms like that of the Sadducees discouraged such beliefs thinking that it would lead to ready revolt and sacrifice on part of dissenters. The socially prominent . . . Read More
John Wesley’s explanatory notes on Genesis-3 throws light on the intricacies of the relationship between Adam and Eve. At the outset, the choice of Serpent as the incarnation of devil is explained. The serpent is a sly creature that can operate with subtly in capturing its prey. Since the serpent can strike a fatal blow, its choice as the agent of Satan is apt. The first few stanzas of Genesis-3 also states how reason and speech are deceptive and can lead humans on the path of immorality. Adam and Eve, our first parents, were thus deceived by the serpent’s persuasive discourse of words. Eve, having thus been seduced by the power of reason, bit into the forbidden fruit, thereby condemning all further generations of humankind as bearers of that sin. Wesley’s interpretation is elaborate, in that, he lays out the methods of logic employed by the serpent. For example, the serpent spoke the following falsities in convincing Eve to commit the original sin:
“He . . . Read More
In the first chapter titled ‘Is Belief Wishful Thinking?’ Herbert McCabe throws light on the evolution of faith. According to McCabe, one of the lazy pretexts for religious belief is its comforting illusions. People have a tendency to want to believe in a fair and wise God who dispenses justice to all. But this is nothing more than wishful thinking. Yet, the validity of religious belief does not stand negated just because some of the faithful indulge in wishful thinking. Unlike scientific facts, religious beliefs have two components – fact and interpretation. So a combination of literal truth and metaphoric suggestion is at play in the system of beliefs that comprise a religion. In Christianity for example, “beliefs do entail certain simple factual historical beliefs, and in their case it is certainly possible to show what scientific evidence would count against them.” (p.2) McCabe cites the resurrection of Christ as an example of a belief that can be scientifically . . . Read More
Anselm of Canterbury was one of the early promoters of the Ontological Argument supporting the existence of God. He argues that God exists on the basis that ‘something-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought’ should necessarily exist in reality. In other words, just as anything a painter can conceive of can be materialized into a painting, the conception of God is a terminal point for human imagination. To the extent that it is imaginable, the object exists. To the extent that it is the ultimate in the scale of imagination, it must be God. Anselm goes on to claim that that God cannot be thought not to exist is further proof. He says, ‘something-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ exists so truly that it cannot even be thought not to exist. If a creature is able to think of something better and bigger than God, it would have to be above its Creator and be judging its Creator. Since this is logically impossible, it is only God who not only truly exists but also exists to . . . Read More
It is important for all of us to have spiritual moorings. To be able to negotiate the vagaries of life, a spiritual support is essential. Sharon Salzberg’s informative book Faith is a personalized account of the necessity of faith. Talking from her experiences as an American Buddhist teacher, Salzberg offers readers several insights on the subject.
One of the main concepts spoken by Salzberg is the ‘discovery of truth’. Citing Buddhist understanding of cognitive processes, she reckons that human senses are not adequate to comprehend spiritual insights. To be able to get enlightened, disciplined pursuit of truth is necessary. Salzberg talks about how her own spiritual journey was marked by phases of doubt and confusion. Indeed, it is these challenges which make knowledge concrete, pulling away from its conceptual abstractions. In her own case, she encountered confusion whether to follow the Burmese or the Tibetan tradition of spiritual contemplation. She states that such . . . Read More