Peter Sanlon on Augustine on Theology

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s2smodern

In reading a student's work today, found this from Peter Sanlon on Augustine on theology. Well said, Peter!

The very idea that there is an appropriate mindset for the task of theology is not one that sits happily with the modern academy. The recovery of an appropriate mindset for the study of theology can, however, be seen in the lives of individual students who resolve to have Jesus as their teacher and accept that the student is not above that teacher. True theology is experienced when one makes the move from knowing facts about the Scriptures to wondering at the beauty of the one to whom the Scriptures testify.

From Themelios 33.1 (2008), p. 44.

The Ordered Peace of the City of God

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s2smodern

I am sitting here doing some reading, and a student pointed me to the following insight in Augustine's The City of God, on the ordered peace of the city of God.  Very thoughtful from Augustine, the Doctor of Grace:

So the peace of the body is an ordered harmony of its parts. The peace of the irrational soul is an ordered satisfaction of its desires; the peace of the rational soul is an ordered agreement of thought and action. The peace of body and soul is the ordered life and health of the living being. The peace of mortal man and God is an ordered obedience in faith under the eternal law. The peace of men is ordered harmony; the peace of an ordered household is the ordered harmony of those who dwell together, in commanding and obeying; the peace of the commonwealth is a similar harmony of its citizens. The peace of the heavenly city is a most ordered and most harmonious fellowship in enjoying God and one another in God. The peace of all things is the tranquility of order.
Augustine is always worth re-reading!



Is the Mind-Body "Problem" Really a Problem at All?

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s2smodern

I am still enjoying (immensely!) a time of study at Tyndale House Cambridge.  The last few days I have been translating Latin texts for a volume in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture.  I have discovered a Reformation-era biblical commentator named Benedict Aretius (1505-1574). He was a Reformed man who appears to have served mainly in Bern, Switzerland.  In his commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4:4.  Here is verses 3 and 4: "[3]For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; [4] that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor . . . "

In commenting on verse 4 Aretius writes: "For indeed the vessel [i.e., the body] is polluted with an appetite of illegitimate thought, as the Lord Christ says."  

Now, I suppose that one could take Aretius to be using "vessel" more in terms of the person as a whole.  But that would not necessarily countermand what struck me. When one has an "appetite of illegitimate thought" one does indeed pollute the "vessel"--whether the vessel is construed as simply the body, or is denoting the person as a whole.  Either way, one's thought life effects every aspect of one's being--the body included.   When one dwells on sinful thoughts, and does not control one's thought life, one is harming or polluting the "vessel."  

Interestingly, the English Standard version and NIV translate the Greek word here as "body," while other translations (NAS and King James) translate the Greek word as "vessel."

But here is what struck me: If we are simply working with biblical categories here, there is no obvious "problem" or crisis with how mind and body relate.  If one's thoughts are polluted, they pollute all of who we are.  I think it is imperative for Christians to allow such biblical categories and presuppositions and frameworks to have their way with how we think.  And especially for students in academic settings.  There is no reason to allow non-biblical and non-Christian categories set the rules for how intellectual inquiry is conducted.  This may mean being lonely, and being set aside by contemporary fashions, but so be it.  I will take Paul over Descartes any day. 

Being Effective in Unbelief

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s2smodern

Still thoroughly enjoying research leave time at Tyndale House, Cambridge, England.

Doing some translating work today.  The following is from a Reformation-era pastor/scholar, one Erasmus Sarcerius.  In his commentary on 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, where Reformers spend a lot of time, Sarcerius writes of the evil one:

"The devil is effective in his unbelief."

He is indeed.