The CCEL Times 5.11 (November 1, 2010)
In This Issue:
From the Director
In the faith vs. reason debate, Thomas à Kempis seems to lean about as far in the "let reason go to smash" direction as any of the CCEL authors. In The Imitation of Christ he urges that we trust true faith over reason. Thomas argues that human reason is weak and can be easily deceived. True faith, in contrast, cannot be deceived, for it comes from God. Thomas says that God does not require a life devoted to understanding "things beyond" ourselves. Indeed, he warns that some have lost faith because they inquired after such things. Rather, "faith is required of you, and a sincere life, not a lofty intellect nor a delving into the mysteries of God." God will provide the "light of understanding" for what is necessary for human salvation and flourishing.
It is tempting to dismiss this point of view as dangerously ungrounded in reason. And yet, he is undeniably correct when he says "What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God." (Bk. 1. Ch. 1.)
Featured HymnNow Thank We All Our God by Martin Rinkart (1586-1649)
Martin Rinkart was a pastor during the horrors of the Thirty Years' War, and that difficult ministry inspired him to both sacrificial service and to the writing of hymns of praise and confidence in God. As a youth he was a choirboy at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, and then studied at the university there. He became a schoolmaster and cantor, held several pastorates, and became the archdeacon in Eilenburg in 1617, a position he held until his death. Because of the war the walled city of Eilenburg was overflowing with refugees, causing widespread disease and famine. During the epidemic of 1637 Rinkart officiated at over four thousand funerals, including his wife's; at times he presided at fifty burials a day. But in spite of these incredible demands on his ministry, he wrote many theological works and sixty hymns, of which "Now Thank We All Our God" is best known.
Do humans have free will?
Many Christians find themselves in between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, they want to affirm the Biblical teaching that God is in control of all things. On the other hand, they also want to affirm the Biblical teaching that humans are free, and can be held responsible for their actions. But these two teachings can seem incompatible; how can one reconcile these contradictions?
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Classic CommentaryJohn Calvin on 1 Thessalonians 5:18:
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