Week ? – Forgotten Being

December 7, 2009

In the Bonhoeffer reading (which I totally didn’t do at all, and only skimmed over during class) from his book The Cost of Discipleship, he talks about this idea of “cheap grace” – which he points out, is no ‘grace’ at all. What I found interesting in some of his writings is that it seemed to be influenced at least superficially by the contemporary philosophical ideas of his time, namely that of Heidegger, and his idea of ‘Dasein.’ Admittedly I’ve only had brief introductory descriptions of the thoughts of this philosopher, but it seems plausible given the time and place of his seminal work, published in 1927 in Germany, to have had at least some influence on Bonhoeffer and other theologians of the era.

Which made me wonder: can our theology have been molded and shaped by the secular philosophers of the past, that it has lost its essential meaning? For example, when Aquinas approached the bible through the lens of Aristotelian systematization, did he somehow leave out or bring in something that which did not belong to the core of the message? I guess I don’t really know of famous philosophers before or around the time of Reformation, although one could argue that the humanist writings of Erasmus probably laid the ground works for Luther. The answer to this question is crucial, for it can mean that our understanding of the Bible could be at best skewed, and at worst totally wrong. Even though we have reliable scrolls and manuscripts, even though we know the exact Greek and Hebrew words, has our interpretation and the view of it shaped along the distance of thousands of years, and countless secular philosophers, that it reflects not the intent of our Divine Author? (By the way, contrary to what Mr. Dan Brown thinks, we have a pretty darn good idea of the exact words the original authors of the Bible had written.) The bigger issue is, can we be certain in our understanding, our interpretation of it? Beyond the poison is subjectivism, is the black well of deconstructionism. Once our society falls into it, there is but chaos.

This is why we need the Holy Spirit. (Yes, I realize that whatever I say will now seem circular, since I will be using the bible to prove my point. But once you fall into the deep black well, you must grab a hold of something in order to reason about anything at all.) This is why we need the Spirit of God to dwell in us, even in reading and interpreting the Word. We cannot approach the Bible purely on our intellect, nor by our own sense of mysticism. We must come with the aid of the Helper, who teaches us all things. We will then be able to say to Derrida, that we can read and understand the Bible, for we have the One who wrote it within us and explaining to us. We can then answer Sartre that we can exist for God sees and has seen all. We can then remind Heidegger to remember the great “I AM THAT I AM.” We can encourage Wittgenstein to not remain silent but burst forth in praise. And all the way on to Socrates, who would have been stilled in his dialogues and questioning, at the Fountain of Truth, the Author of Life.

All these philosophers throughout history have sought to answer the questions of and about truth. Sometimes, through common grace, they have seen glimpses of it. But only in coming to the full knowledge of Jesus Christ, the ultimate reality, the ultimate truth, will all the pieces of the puzzle fit together to form the entire picture of God.

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