Friday, November 26, 2010

grant me this

"Whatever else Thou sendesst, oh, send this-
Not ecstacy of love or lover's kiss,
But strength to know the joy of sacrifice,
To see life deeply as with opened eyes!
Oh, grant me this, dear God,
Through tears of loss-
To know the joyous secret
Of Thy Cross."
-Ralph Spaulding Cushman

Sunday, November 14, 2010

christianity: the all-transforming principle

In the midst of writing a 20-page paper of on Athanasius I found an incredible quote from Johann Eduard Eerdman's History of Philosophy, Volume 1:

“Christianity shows itself as an all-transforming principle also in the field of philosophy. For, as far as philosophy could penetrate, without receiving an impulse from this new principle, so far it has succeeded in advancing, in a way that irresistibly brings before our eyes, as we look back, the course of many a far-famed stream. For in the first period we saw what had sprung from the most various sources, gradually drawing nearer and nearer; in the second all these branches had united into a great stream flowing along in majesty; in the third it once more separated into many branches, which seem to lose themselves partly in the sands of skepticism, partly in the marsh of syncretism, but which really nevertheless contribute sustenance to the ocean of Christian philosophy.”

It is often assumed--wrongly--that Christianity is a flimsy, few-stranded religion that molds to the wearer. It is not. Jesus Christ transformed history and continues to transform the lives of those who see him still--born and crucified in real history, savior of humanity, friend of sinners. I have appreciated again Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. All men who spoke as well as they could. But their thoughts could not save the Greek city-state from the encroaching might of Rome. Rome met one mightier, but did not know it by looking at him. His kingdom was not of this world. Philosopher and monarch alike were humbled by Jesus. They put their best foot forward and were tripped by his unexpected response. They did not fall by idea or sword, but by the reality of the cross were "sorrow and love flow mingled down," where God became man and entered the world.