The Lord Jesus, in his human nature thus united to the divine, in the person of the Son, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure, having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, to the end that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be throughly furnished to execute the office of mediator and surety; which office he took not upon himself, but was thereunto called by his Father; who also put all power and judgement in his hand, and gave him commandment to execute the same.
In the summer the sinister sunlight is oppressive, but as autumn approaches it slants in friendlier. The air conditioner is out of the window and the room it disturbed is a pleasanter room. The window rejoices in its proper use. It is the great turning! Acorns are falling, and with the decline of the merely vegetable, the more intellectual life lifts out of its lassitude.
I like my many little Könemann editions: nice binding, good font, cream paper, useful notes. I do find quite a few typos. Is it that they’re set by Germans? Can it be just that I’ve become more observant of typos? Perhaps they stand out more in better editions.
In which, by the way, I’m enjoying Sense & Sensibility. I’ve listened to many of the older works this way, and I think it is a good way, but has to be alternated with one’s own reading. There is a different pace: one that is one’s own. There is also more time to look around, as it were, to pause and notice things than there would be otherwise.
I sense there will be something of a literary binge in my life coming up. We had quite a bit of discussion of Shakespeare today. One of the surprises of Princeton in which the students carry on when the teacher fails to show up: there are persons who can speak intelligently about literature. The Great Man can speak of literature, but he has nobody at Westminster with whom, generally. A bit more civilized at Princeton.
And a bit more accepting of notions as well. There was some dubiety about whether there is such a thing as all of us human beings having a common human nature. I am so glad my life is simplified by Platonism.
And a few more books obtain in the more picturesque portions of New Jersey. One is constantly enchanted while moving the compact shelving aside to find lots of the good stuff. Things you see cited and imagine reside very extremely distantly are suddenly there before you. The Princeton Seminary Library was built in 2012, so it is rather state-of-the-art; and it is all for housing treasures both old and new.
The thing there is to scan books, it appears. The scanners are also state-of-the-art, and I think on the whole the students must replicate the equivalent of the library’s holdings every semester. I will say that finding people poking around in the stacks is somewhat rare. I always check before moving something, but have yet to find anybody perusing in an aisle I want to shut.
Which is fine, since I rather enjoy browsing. There is nothing quite like starting another book, is there? It is the best way to spend an unexamined life.
We have had ourselves an arid spell in Philadelphia. Last year it was never brown, but this year things have begun to dry out. What you don’t get here, which leads me to conclude it is unusual for things to get this dry, is sprinklers. At least in suburban areas they are not waving, shooting or burbling, as in other parts of the country.
It is a friendlier place, you see. And today returns with long, penetrating rain to its accustomed ways.
This book is an argument for Platonism, for Christian Platonism, for a return to the medieval consensus which was destroyed by Nominalism and Voluntarism. It argues that wisdom ought to be considered anterior to information and knowledge, and that philosophy and theology ought to provide the context in which science is meaningful. It argues that the world is being destroyed in a mindless pursuit of power and prosperity without any moral values to guide that pursuit, so that means have eclipsed ends. Ironically, what mars this book is that it has a transformational thrust. Granted, it is probably the best argument that can be made for transformationalism: lets be metaphysical realists. But it is a bit more than that, it is: Lets be metaphysical realists to save the world. Or in the author’s own words, “Metaphysical truth is the only way to morally effective politics” (211). One feels that means are eclipsing ends. Still, who else is making the argument that the problem has been modernity and that we need to turn back from that mistake? The modern world is a product of the two medieval heresies mentioned above, and the way forward is to return to the place where we went wrong.
2 He begins arguing that philosophy ought to be conceived of as a love of wisdom, which means understanding a divine order, moral goodness, and innate purpose in the cosmos.
3 The Platonist is the essential Christian outlook, he will argue. Christian Platonism recognizes that the good, the true and the beautiful all mediate transcendence, all have real and absolute meaning.
6 “I seek to rehabilitate a way of thinking about reality that was powerfully advocated in classical, patristic, and medieval times.”
29 Because “metaphysics is never simply metaphysics” because it has all kinds of implications in practical life, it “is a matter of the utmost practical and political significance.”
60 “Modern logos is a product of late medieval thinking, and this thinking re-invents the idea of what reason is, of what knowledge is, of what the relationship between philosophy and theology is, and of what philosophy itself is, in ways that are genuinely new.” That last is the most dismaying. The whole is nevertheless a very concise insight into a whole epoch.
82 Biblical support: “The relationship between the visible transient world and invisible eternal truth that Paul maintains here is common to all the New Testament and is not just a distinctive feature of Pauline literature.”
83 “The New Testament outlook on reality, the realm of immediate tangibility is never just nature in the modern sense, it is always nature as reflective of a larger, more solid, more real spiritual realm.”
88 “It is worth considering how easy it is for modern readers of the New Testament to misread or simply miss the assumed metaphysics of the New Testament.” And that is not the only place we ignore the assumed metaphysics, but starting there would be a good point to begin a recovery.
99 Christian Platonism is not Platonism with a dusting of Christianity. It is Christianity that “always interprets Platonic philosophy through the lens of Christian doctrine.” Christian is the modifier because it is doing the modifying, not the other way around.
126 If Christian Platonists was what previous ages were, why didn’t they explicitly say so? “They did not think of philosophy and religion as separate things. Religion and philosophy are two words for the same thing—the way of life rightly ordered by a divinely enabled pursuit of the highest truth to which humans can aspire.” This is a good point badly put. They are, rather, distinguishable but inseparable activities. It thins religion out too much to say it is the same as the philosophy by which humans pursue the highest truth they aspire to. It aggrandizes philosophy too much to claim it is a divinely enabled pursuit. It is better to say that a life directed to a divinely enabled pursuit of the highest truth to which humans aspire requires the orientation of religion, and to be rightly ordered, beside the orientation and guidance of religion, the care of philosophy.
131 Here he concludes a rather wonderful section on the impossibility of reducing Plato to a few salient points, how the dialogues work to suggest and to woo the reader, and skillfully hints at the glory of Plato.
131-2 Four general points of Christian Platonism
1 “Christian Platonism is an entirely integrative outlook, yet it is not a reductive or closed (conceptually complete) outlook.” This is Plato’s own method and disposition. Integrative but not closed: always open, not without certainties of the widest consideration.
2 No such thing as pure nature. God upholds even the intelligibility of the world. (This had better not be occasionalism.)
3 Qualities (moral, aesthetic, spiritual) are real, and more primary than material facts.
4 Ontological participation. Everything that is in some way participates in absolute being.
142 The problem with modernity is that faith and reason have “become functionally autonomous from each other.” This is the great divide that casts each adrift, so that reason has no reason, no purpose, no context, and runs along madly going nowhere, and faith becomes devoid of structure and suffers a loss of content.
161 It was Kant who isolated “knowledge from metaphysics and religion.” Kant was attempting to prop up knowledge without speculation, without vision of what is invisible and without that which is given which every person who has had a religious experience possesses.
162 The result is that knowledge, not being metaphysically or theologically framed, is a methodological atheism. It is the scientific method, and unguided quest for the knowledge of everything that can be done to the exclusion of every other consideration.
171 “Christian Platonism is a way of seeing truth and reality that is grounded in the full bandwidth of human existence. Genuinely qualitative and transcendently derived realities are taken as primary truths in Christian Platonism, but such a conception of truth is outside of the bandwidth of modern quantitative and materially manipulative scientific truth.”
177 “The ancients distinguished between wisdom and what we call science along these lines. Wisdom concerns fundamental truths that are ontologically prior to sensory knowledge. Wisdom is essentially a contemplative (spiritual/prayerful) insight that cannot be a matter of opinion and approximation, but is true knowledge if one has it at all.” Would the parenthesis were not added. It seems too much to project that onto Plato. Contemplative = reason in its fullest, noblest sense, but mental is better than spiritual.
181 Modern knowledge, with its aversion to metaphysics, is barbaric. It is not the kind of learning that comes to us without a proliferation of barbarism. It would be blind to deny that we can see it in our world plainly.
202 More must be accomplished than that which can be done in the sphere of personal morality. He wants social transformation. Society could use some transformation; that is true. I wonder if these need to be aimed at quite as pointedly as he does. What about the contemplation of reality as an end in itself?
207 “Imagine if Australian Christians came to see land-care as a significant issue of faithfulness to the Scriptures.” Indeed, this is what troubles me. What if Christian Platonism were undertaken with the purpose of achieving land-care? If it is a side effect, I can accept it. But when it comes into focus, I wonder how much Platonism this Christianity really contains. My advice: skip the last chapter. The rest is good.
Time for school. Time for stickies at all times in the left pocket. Time to read as I have been reading all summer, only more. Time to put something between me and the deadlines in December so that I don’t feel the stress of them. Time for some serious work. I am probably one of the few people on the planet who hates coming down to the wire on anything: I feel stress if I don’t have things ready to wrap up in early November for December, I feel stress if I am working on something for Sunday past noon on Saturday, I feel stress if I sense I have had the bad judgment to over-commit on anything at all, with the possibility of looking a fool, presenting like a careless fathead, delivering shallowly, like an evangelical. I avoid that stress by stressing out early, while there is yet time.
I like that stress avoiding stress, however. It is a good way to move from one thing to the other in an unrushed but unrelenting process. Time to read this chapter, time to finish this book, time to make sure this next event is coming along, time to write the kernel of this paper, time to look back on a series of accomplishments and feel pleased. Time for something extra. And time keeps going, but not in a sinister or arbitrary way, instead it goes in a steady, persevering way. Time is then perceived as it is, as it goes, responsibility fitting to responsibility, event into time’s socket, sun, moon and stars ruling serenely as purposed, and as acknowledged.
Time for fall too. Time for more of the sun slanting through life, the late, the quiet hours and the early calm. Time for the cooler and for the cold, time for the frost and the thinking and preparation the cold brings. Time for having what is necessary, every bit. Time for the impending winter which requires, the way deadlines and time in general require, thinking about what it is to be in the place to which one is certain to come. Time for meeting what is necessary, time for death too, deliverance from time, from the moving image to the unmoving original. For now, time for responsibilities accumulating like a useful harvest, and a farewell to the summer, that fatuous season of waiting, that airport and bus terminal of time.
Curious what happened to Todd Pruitt. He did a number exposing the exegetical oddness of the complementarian submissionists and then took it down. He explains it all:
I made the decision to take down my post critiquing Denny Burk’s article on Philippians 2:6. It was not an easy decision. I still believe my critique was appropriate. I still believe Denny’s article is problematic.
But I don’t have very thick skin.
I learned a lesson today. It was a lesson I was warned of: Be very careful about taking on men with powerful friends.
It is interesting, isn’t it? He got savaged by email, perhaps after a first post challenging Burk to respond. I assume it was a more behind-the-scenes approach by a less cultivated customer going along the lines of Mohler’s and Moore’s irresponsible response to the situation so far: assertions rather than arguments. It is clear which side is making arguments and which side is not, but that fact is not likely to determine anything in the world of evangelicals. I don’t think they can even tell when they’re not making an argument, you know?
I wish the incriminating evidence had been published instead. How the hornets would have buzzed then! Oh well. You can read Pruitt’s rather thicker-skinned sidekick’s reaction here.
The Big Eva world is indeed run as the personal fiefdom of a few, even if many of those decent people involved on the various mastheads are unaware of this. But cross those few, or touch their dogmatic golden calves, and you can expect the fight back to be dirty, relentless, increasingly dangerous, and by and large hidden from the watching world – the world, that is, that funds evangelicalism on the assumption that hard-earned donations go to spreading the gospel, not building personal platforms and nixing the dissidents.
If Pruitt really gets qualms and drops the podcast, I suggest they start doing the podcast with dissidens. Wouldn’t that be great? I, for one, would actually start to listen to it.