Lecture 17

This is now the third round of lectures

Structure and direction
Nothing can be properly discussed philosophically adequately properly without structure and direction. They are interwoven – a cosmic structure and these are two religious directions of human activity.

The Baptists/ Anabaptists talk about ‘saving souls’ out of the world of sin; but remember Jesus came to save sinners and also to save from destructive influences – the creation is being redeemed.

The word of God set bounds to creaturely activity – we find human cultural activity: a cultural activity that is either adverse or in obedience to God’s order. There are elements of covenantal obedience/ disobedience and cultural order that underlies that.

In a footnote – there is no human selfhood except in the relation in dependence on God and his law word. We are created in a religious covenantal situation.

One inescapable condition we are creatures – partners in covenant – before God.

Historical note: something in itself – individual autonomous person – is called a substance (invented to mean something in creation something that exists in its own right – exists for and by itself res cognitans)

(How can Christian college lecturers lecture on Descartes and ays ‘ these are the good bits’? – when it is all based on substance?

Man’s in-built dependence on fellows has been emphasised. Group therapy came from a connection man’s existing is also relative – the way we interact in a group.

Changeover – a growing recognition of the way that man exists here.

Man doesn’t exist as a sovereign.

Liberal theologian Schliermacher (1768-1834) was raised in strict pietistic circles.

We have ‘a complex of mutually implicated moments of reaction toward another and of being determined by another’

Let’s take one moment:

Self A and Self B

Self A out of freedom does something that affects B; B is dependent upon B. B may act in freedom upon A so B affects A.
Free action towards another A to B.
A free action toward another – one moment. There may be a logical moment, an economic moment, an aesthetic moment etc.

The mode (modus = way/ manner) in which we exist in the world involves a complex of mutually implicated moments of all these various moments – they involve one another that’s how we are in this world. Various dimensions action proceeds in freedom towards each other – they mutually involve each other. The whole thing is a complex.

Our horizontal life is this complex of mutually implicated moments. Relative freedom and relative dependence imply each other.

In all this complex of horizontal relations between men we have freedom and dependence of a relative sort. Relative freedom, relative dependence. He initiates actions on A and B is dependent.

So far, it is not much different from horizontalism. Schliermacher sensed something.

What is for a human to sense something like this? If can answer then have it made – is it logical reasoning?

There is something deep in our hearts – why are they sensitive

He clearly distinguishes what he called absolute dependency.
There is something more in our lives: a sense of feeling of absolute dependence!
Pervades total; self-consciousness
Being in relation, in this absolute relation, this appears as the fundamental phenomenon of our self-consciousness.

Schliermacher even though he was a liberal theologian – God leaves no man without a witness himself – observed what men themselves have observed in their inner most lives.

Being in relation – pervades all these relative relations – appears as a fundamental phenomenon of self-consciousness.

I wanted to call these to your attention – because it serves to relate a lot of things that have happened in this modern world about men as religious beings and the meaning of religion.

Man exists in covenant relation with God – out of church cultic activity proceeds

In this relation Brunner ‘Man is relational being’

Most definitions of religion define it in an operational sense (= cultic activity); something must presuppose that activity.

For this reason men are not secure in themselves.
Why? They don’t have their existence in themselves; they cannot be satisfied without reconnecting.

They are not able to find their ultimate ground and comfort in themselves –even before the fall – this has to do with creation because we are created beings. Need assurance of God’s favour – fellowship assured him of himself.

Fall – falling away from fellowship that gave him assurance
(Bible doesn’t declare metaphysical truth.)

God and his covenant word remain – all we have to do is get back to it. IAM THAT I AM
Always the same, covenant keeping God – you can rely on me.

Two Hebrew words in OT that are significant in this connection:

Cheseth (dependable, faithfulness)
Difficult to translate & determine meaning KJV translates it ‘mercy’.
Steadfast love, covenant grace.

God’s faithfulness
Calvin: ‘most notable attribute of God in the Scriptures – covenant faithfulness’.

‘Immanentisation’ of God and covenant – Dooyeweerd

A philosophy that abides within creation

Man is created within a relationship with God; when outside of it then he can only invent something to take the place of God – something within the world.

Totalitarianism – State takes over the whole of human life – arises because of the need for a final authority.

The Catholic’s pope – a personal representative on earth as total authority of Christ. – so he has a secular political.

God’s authority is a delegated authority to the state.
Women – confused gifts and office. Women can utilise all the gifts but not in office.

Men’s need for security – safety, experience of a comprehensive religious need.
Satisfied only by obedience in covenantal obedience.

Meaning of live = to be obediently subject to the word of God
Meaning of die = to fall away from that obedience.

The fall is an act of rebellion, a declaration of independence against the law word of God.

This is particularly evident in the Renaissance – it was more shrill in the eighteenth century Enlightenment. The French Revolution was its political outworking. In 1917, the Russian Revolution – the leaders had read the French Encyclopaedists.
A continuous history of ideas. The American Revolution was an exception in part. There were two ways, side by side: the Jefferson party and the Adamses.

The Jefferson party were the progressive rationalists, they had the same ideas as the French revolutionists. The Adamses fighting for historically religious (?) rights.

The fall was an act of rebellion, fall turned backs on firm foundation; but created situation didn’t change.

God becomes a hostile power and they have to ward off him with sacrifices – they had to hide.

Strong movement to engage in comparative study. They look at all religious sacrifices in cults, and ask what is in common? I deny that Christian religion sacrifices were to placate a hostile deity. Sacrifices were the promise of a yet to be fulfilled promise. Points out the problem of comparative religion – the method is wrong.

Once you proceed along their method – you have already lost.
We don’t love the word enough we don’t let it feed our souls.

Rebellion is a refusal to acknowledge the created position. They had to hide, to deceive, to gain a magical advantage over God. It explains the rapid growth of cult magic.

Substitutes couldn’t take the place of reality. In the course of time, men found no substitutes for the true knowledge and service of the sovereign Lord, which only our standing-right-before-God as creatures in the totality of our existence makes possible, and produces in us that assurance and certainty, for which we feel a need.

There was the carefully planned state and often the absolute monarch; men gave themselves over to a foolish regime which had power to establish a measure of security.

Right down to Greek times to Plato and his Republic, the polis was an ideal, just communal life – by permitting the state to organise society.

The state and society are not identical unless you are a totalitarian. Totalitarianism is an absolutisation of the state.

• Glorification and cultivation of physical strength – a Nimrod figure.
• Acquisition of fame, the love of glory.
• Classic Greek devotion to the formation of the younger generation, paideia.
• The determined pursuit of wealth
• The cultivation of sexual power

Each in its own ay offered a power and a certain pleasure. Among them too was the pursuit of philosophy.
It semed to offer a more penetrating insight or knowledge than the common run of men possessed, and with that a certain power over individuals – it also provided a certain pleasure of understanding.

We need examples – William James Pragmatism we will read a short section next time.

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