The CCEL Times 5.10 (October 1, 2010)
In This Issue:
From the Director
The relationship between faith and reason is a huge cultural issue these days, with battlefields like evolution and science education making big news. This month's From the Director will touch on the views of Aquinas and Augustine.
In the beginning of his magnum opus, the Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas asks whether "besides philosophy," any further knowledge is required for salvation. Aquinas answers that some truths are "above" human intellect—not that these truths are irrational, but that human beings, by themselves, cannot come to know them. God must reveal them to us. For Aquinas, reason does not "trump" faith, but in some of the most important matters, such as salvation, reason is unable to provide us with answers. For these matters, we must turn to God's revelation.
In On the Holy Trinity, Augustine distinguishes between wisdom and knowledge. For Augustine, knowledge is of temporal, human things, wisdom of eternal, divine things. Augustine notes that one can have much wisdom but lack knowledge, or have much knowledge but lack wisdom. However, true human flourishing involves the eternal and divine God and is consequently tied up in wisdom, not knowledge. Still, both wisdom and knowledge inform one's faith. They are thus not opposed to faith but cooperate with it to both bring a person closer to God and make that person more virtuous.
How do Christians know the Bible is true and comes from God?
Christians call the Bible their Holy Scripture. Historically, this is because Christians believed the Bible to be the only book inspired by God. But what does it mean that the Bible is inspired by God? And why do different Christian thinkers believe it is inspired? And why think it alone is inspired? For generations, Christians have simply wondered: what is special about the Bible that makes it trustworthy? Fortunately, the Christian tradition has spent a long time thinking about these issues. ... Here is a sample of perspectives on the issue. It's a list of different Christian theologians, spanning 1800 years, discussing the importance and inspiration of the Bible.
What's NewStory of Our Hymns by Ernest Edwin Ryden
The hymn lore of the Christian Church offers a fascinating field for profitable research and study. To know the hymns of the Church is to know something of the spiritual strivings and achievements of the people of God throughout the centuries. Henry Ward Beecher has well said: "Hymns are the jewels which the Church has worn, the pearls, the diamonds, the precious stones, formed into amulets more potent against sorrow and sadness than the most famous charm of the wizard or the magician. And he who knows the way that hymns flowed, knows where the blood of true piety ran, and can trace its veins and arteries to the very heart." This volume has been inspired by a desire on the part of the author to create deeper love for the great lyrics of the Christian Church.
Read this classic at the CCEL
Featured HymnCome Thou Fount by Robert Robinson (1735-1790)
Robert Robinson wrote this text in four stanzas for Pentecost Sunday in 1758 when he was a pastor in Norwich. ... This fine text about divine grace and providence contains various biblical images: Christ is the "fountain of life" (Ps. 36:9; Zech. 13:1) from which "streams of mercy" come. But Christ is also our "rock" (often used in the psalms along with "mount" or "Ebenezer," which means "stone of help"); he "rescues me from danger." Christ also "sought me when a stranger" (Col. 1:21) and "binds" or "seals" his own even when they are "prone to wander" (see Matt. 18:11-14). That phrase may have had special meaning for Robinson, who became successively a Calvinist Methodist, Congregationalist, Baptist, and finally a Unitarian.
Featured ClassicPreface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans
by Martin Luther
This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian's while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes. Therefore I want to carry out my service and, with this preface, provide an introduction to the letter, insofar as God gives me the ability, so that every one can gain the fullest possible understanding of it. Up to now it has been darkened by glosses [explanatory notes and comments which accompany a text] and by many a useless comment, but it is in itself a bright light, almost bright enough to illumine the entire Scripture.
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