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THE MORAL IMAGE OF GOD IN MAN
THE NATURAL MAN, THE CONSCIENCE,
THE LONGING AND THE LORD
The Australian April 23, 2006
NATURE, SUPERNATURE, FANTASIES AND FADS
The image of God in man is shown in the way a photograph represents some scene, taken in the mist, at some distance, with forms of trees sometimes weirdly distorted, flowers only in part visible in the swirls of vapour on the ground, and more in the series of images show warped figures of people, sometimes comic in their proportions, through the vices of the defective lens, or the poor quality of the photographic medium used.
Nevertheless, there is some appearance as you look at many of the photographs taken of the place, of a measure of consistency. Put otherwise, and to revert from the imagery to the reality, people often have some sense of restraint before inflicting great pain or evil on themselves or on others; but increasingly in our own decremental Age, manage to achieve a distortion, and don't heed the restraint. In this Age, like that terminal for Israel's ancient kingdom with Samaria the capital, positive incitation to evil becomes a cultural norm, complicating the inherent evil in man, still more. The conscience is then the readier to be misdirected, and evil called good (as in Isaiah 5).
Yet elementally, people will often appreciate generosity of spirit, stability of character and reliability of heart; but increasingly, with evil teachings proliferating and bad examples held up as good, they feel less and less need to show such qualities themselves. Conscience*1 will often prompt an action quite out of line with the snivelling, rat-like, self-seeking syndrome which, for example, is being touted in the fallacy of evolutionism (cf. The gods of naturalism have no go! SMR Ch. 2). For practical purposes, drawn by another rule, people may return what is stolen, help what is fallen, deliver what is oppressed, at considerable cost to themselves, being so driven from within.
Sometimes this inner rule, constraint, inhibition or drive, positive or negative as the case may be, depending on the issue in hand, becomes too is warped for action, and self-seeking; for the name or fame involved gains the ascendancy. Yet often, even in some advanced cases of spiritual pathology and moral ruin, there arises as from a spring within, such empathy and concern, that the habits of a life-time and the cultural fallacies fall behind, and things admirable and tender are wrought. Frequently, it is an inward dynamic, a tender and kindly call which works within the person, such as may even lead to death and loss of wonderful opportunities in life. Self-sacrificing and godly service may lead to the blessing of many at cost to the giver.
And why do we sometimes find, and often admire just this ?
It is because this is in our design, mode of birth as one race, and may be stirred by the realisation of vulnerability for me and for you, alike, when we see the devotion to march through all this, by faith in the only foundation which lives and keeps, Jesus Christ. Without the direct action of God, and the desire to live as one would like others to live, such enterprises would fail; yet their inspiration comes from the call of God, summoning us who are in the image of God, crying to that image, re-created in Christ, so that one can hear and act and follow Him who leads, summoning from the Cross and enabling from the resurrection.
The call at times can be moral, and indeed at times, even from God Himself, direct to the human spirit. Many, however, seek to fund such enterprises merely in the moral aspect, without actually knowing God; but then their foundation being absent, the actual basis is nebulous, and if set on man himself, becomes like a branch lying on the ground, imagining it has roots, but actually dying. Death in the end, has only itself to contribute. Such appears to have been the do-good phase in American culture, the Peace Corps perhaps of this kind. The intention was morally derived; but only when the God of grace and truth is back of such a work, is peace available where it counts, within, the balm to outrage, the grace for living clad with the armour for the defeating the snares and diversions to be found in the hideous hinterland of the unredeemed human spirit.
Like the Boy Scouts in Britain, at first with strong Christian background, but becoming more and more humanistically inclined, there is a vast change when the actualities on which the enterprise at length assert themselves. Detachments FROM the truth that God has given to mankind, become very readily defiles of defilement, detachments sent on missions unclear in their spirit, and mixed in their objectives. What had inspired, becomes then readily corrupted; and the results of Christ, like grapes from a vine, being detached, are more able to satisfy for a moment, than provide the enduring goodness of the well-settled vine itself, planted in the grace of God, and living by His nurture.
Sometimes, as with the YMCA, once a veritable power-house in Christian things, and with a Chicago Declaration concerning the scripture, of great force, there comes with a sense of service, a quest for a universality as broad almost as Broadway, a sort of humanistic lust which begins to eat away at the edges. One had occasion once to test this out, and found that the Chicago Declaration was not at all in force. Then the do-good emphasis can become prominent to the point that, like buck-teeth, it tends to exist in its own right, so severing the clarity of the vision, the certainty of the foundation and in the end, one may find, the very structure of the morality itself! If the churches themselves often lapse into liberalism which makes up its own doctrine and foists it onto Christ, as if by a lapse of memory, as foretold (II Peter 2, II Timothy 3, Acts 20), then it is not surprising if pseudo-Christian offshoots discover at last, that they have no foundation.
For all that, there are various enterprises, some in the power of God through faith in Christ, some in the hope of goodness, though bewildered as to their basis, and wherever there is a sense of goodness, there tends to be a response in those who watch, hoping that here is some work from beyond, if not beyond man, at least beyond the debased and miserable level of self-service.
Sometimes even this much of the vision of goodness may be quite clearly warped into self-serving, self-seeking, self-seeing indeed, where what is then the little meaningless fragment of separated man becomes the be-all, the end-all and the notoriously inadequate ground, like a dream substituted for the real light of logical day. It may moreover on occasion be a contrived thing, as if to seek for what real estate in heaven, at a superior level, by such actions. Love however is not like that; it loves and THEREFORE it acts.
Real estate is not its aim, whatever the result. God is a spirit, and the spirit of lovingkindness is there, or it is not. That is all. Life is a gift from Him, when grace abounding finds the foundling and brings him home, an orphan no more. It is God Himself who is the shield and exceedingly great reward, appreciated because of love, in truth. The schemes into which for a moment, even James and John fell, have no part in it! (cf. Mark 10:35-47). Jesus quickly corrected such a misconception.
To be sure, there is vast reward in heaven, but it is sovereignly despatched and not for the sake of dominion and arrogance, but of humility and service, so that he who would be first, let him be the slave of all! (Mark 10:44).
it is true, that a sort of hedonistic pseudo-spirituality may come to dominate in sad cases, even where what is ostensibly afoot is a work of compassion, out of a thrust of love. Pathology is not limited to physical things, and needs correction!
Similarly, 'doing good' may rest on a desire to 'feel good'; but even this has an indirect attestation, Though hideously astray, because self-centred and so not in the domain of love, it is still an index to the image of God, that it should make one feel so, as if it is fitting, just, right and true. It feels that way because it is! If however you do it for the feeling, a diversion not entirely uncommon, then it is just an extension of selfishness. Its immediate results may be helpful, but they remain spiritually hideous, like an infected drink of cold water given to the thirsty. At first it refreshes, but at length there is the reason for it, and the impure motivation at length soils more than the purity of the water. It soils human relationships as well.
It reaches at last its own level, since it has no reliability and faithfulness; as if a dentist is not really interested in your teeth, just the fee, but acts to the extent the fee, in the long run may thus be made more sure. It is not difficult to tell that sort of dentist from another; and the results mirror it. There is simply no substitute for sincere concern and objective helpfulness, founded not on oneself but on the power of God in the grace of love, where no deviation from the truth spoils or soils the motivation and defiles the program.
This sort of sincere goodwill and kindness, this among men is also a thing of much respect, when it is artlessly found; but even then, it may be regarded with suspicion by some, and indifference by others, to a considerable measure, because as their own souls have rotted, so has their ability to realise primary data of love shrivelled. Hence they are inclined to generalise, and make good evil, call righteousness wrong, in order not to rock their own boats, or make themselves feel as bad as they actually are!
They have become cynically sick, expanding horizons from their own manner of life to include all. Engulfed in their own turmoiled waters, they project the sickness of their own souls onto others. It seems for some imperative to do this, because their pride refuses to believe that they could have sunk so low in life's performances, as they know they have; and so the impression of others must be defaced, and their own motives are superimposed onto the psyches of others. If they can bring others down in your own mind, on the basis of immoral assumptions contrary to all logical integrity, then the illusion of superiority and the badge of pride can remain for a while.
Yet in all this, there are certain things APPRECIATED, whether or not they have immediate negative or positive impact on the observer. There are things to which people are often PROMPTED, whether or not they do them. At times, they may indeed do them falsely, in the line of self-serving virtue and merely ostensible kindness. There is indeed often such a glow and joy when one does such things, that some would even be kind IN ORDER to be kind to themselves; but this is a pathology very far from universal, though as with many things fallen to the sod and slush of anti-spirituality, it is now being taught as a self-serving mode for the alert twenty-first century egotist: though not always in those terms!
We are a mixed race, and there are those who are the children of God, born again in spirit, changed in heart, and there are those who seek to admire themselves, but do not thereby change.
At times, people even like to THINK of themselves in pleasant modes, and do much to create or preserve an illusion when reality does not conform to the painting of the heart by itself; but even this, inadequate as it is, is being subtly and perhaps for many irretrievably undermined by the TEACHING that evil is good, so directly defiling the conscience itself, in the case of many too vulnerable to realise the impact.
The self-portraits of the psyche thus can be founded on what is base, and the self-congratulation may be based on what is already defiled. It rather like some of the modern teaching programs which do not compare a student's work with what it SHOULD be, but with what it is assessed the student could well be expected to achieve! Apply this morally, and you can pass in anything, by anything, and marks become meaningless, mere psychic subjectivism.
Self-assertion, self-gratification, self-satisfaction, self-belief, these become the foursome that is playing another game, game for anything, but absorbed into its own sphere, ways and criteria, like a dead pool in a deep gully.
Further, this false teaching, contrary to a more realistic and workable approach, a more sensitive and kindly one for the kin of the race, is treated by some as a great ENLIGHTENMENT, not the last stage of self-corruption, defilement, an acquired cultural pollution, which in actuality, it is. As unnatural as smoking, such surreal levitation from the ground of man, is about as useful.
In all these cases, of course, the Gospel of grace has its sovereignly directed power to deliver; and the Lord who knows all things knows who are His own (II Timothy 2:19, Romans 8:29ff., Ephesians 1:4), right down to John Newton, rescued slave trader and exponent thereafter of the divine grace which restored in him the image of Him who made him! There is an answer and it is long out, readily gained, alone logically valid and secure in all its consistency over time and place (cf. Barbs... 17, TMR Ch. 3, SMR Chs. 1, 4).
He who seeks to honour another is more likely to be honourable than the self-server, and where that other is God, and where that God is the God of self-revelation, truth, prophetic testimony and Christ's own fulfilment in salvation, then it is the only resource that matches the need of man which is activated: that of God Himself. In that is cleanness, and there is the amplitude which alone fits the human spirit, drawing it upwards to its heavenly origin, because He who made it has come down to its level, yet without sin. Salvation is necessary legally, but also morally, and for the inward interstices of the spirit of man.
Similarly, and SECONDLY, there is a positive side to another facet of human character. It is a capacity to SENSE kindness, love, sympathy, justness or aptness or fittingness in things, patience, longsuffering and endurance in others. It is at the very human level, not of abstract ethics merely, but of a certain rightness of feeling, admiration of kind, empathetic involvement, psychic realisation. Such a response may appear even in the most grisly, and influence the most debased: for a time, perhaps sometimes, just for seconds; or again, it may lead to the deepest reflections.
Take music*2A, Schubert's To Music, for example.
Take the singing of Isobel Bailey, in the September 1941 recording. It was she who after one performance had a message sent from Sweden concerning this, and it did not mention her name. Instead it called her the nightingale. It is easy to see how this response could be made. Without the apparent power of some great singers, without their bold effervescent dynamic, yet she had a certain RIGHTNESS of voice, of articulation, a delicacy of handling things, a measured resonance (seemingly, perhaps, almost a self-contradiction, but not formally, and certainly not experientially), a certain composite quality of word, voice, timbre, delicacy of utterance and topic, which held appeal.
What was that appeal ? Doubtless it had many elements, but one refers to the one amongst them which fits out topic.
There was a sense of fittingness plus restraint, tenderness plus fidelity, composition with lyrical poise. There is, one is reminded by such singing, a selective difference in man from the operation of instinct. In the latter, there is a move which does not necessarily require much in the way of conscious motivation. It moves and one is moved. In man, it may be resisted or contradicted while some teach or seek to impel otherwise; but often such a sense of what is fitting, just, honest, honourable, true may bring realisation of an operational felicity, which overpowers all distortion. To be sure, at times, man having fallen, may yield even then to a defilement of what otherwise is seen to be right. Equally, he often carries with him, as a significant or even substantial part of his psyche, the reminiscence of these things, of his struggles, his impulse to goodness and his desertion because of fear of others, of being different, or of the cost.
The thing may go both ways, and for various reasons, but there is an elemental reality to the issue.
TESTIMONY IGNORED AT PERIL, ABUSED FOR RUIN
Instead of instinct, in man, very often there is a drawing (rather than a driving), a trend, a sense of seemliness, of fitness, of justness, an appeal that lingers, an esprit, an entente, a realisation which impels, but more than that, commends itself with reason and natural force alike: when certain beauties of conduct, spirit or display touch the heart, anoint the eyes, refresh one's sight. It is a multiple inspiration, a manifold stirring and a ramification of relish.
They are like
|the nest for the hen|
|the eyrie for the eagle,|
|the ocean for the vessel,|
|the glade for the rest of man,|
|the slope for exuberance in running.|
Their appeal is as to an image, a configuration of character, a divine and sublime gift of orientation and perspective, meaning and an inward rejoicing at sightly, not unsightly, blessed and not baneful, endearing and not challenging realities that resound within, just as certain oboe may evoke thought of a clear and matching human voice, and cause one delight in finding the two so intimately blended. The image of God in man is certainly defiled; but it is not defunct.
Such perceptions and conceptions, grounds and intimations, feelings and attractions are inviting a natural response of aesthetic, moral, spiritual or personal character, distinctively, with a sense of rest, blessedness or delight, indeed a combination of such things. Moreover there is in many a sense of justice which may even sting their heel when they perform some outrageous, drastically selfish action, or become witlessly morally inert, to the vast detriment of someone who suffers as a result.
In such cases, their guilt can outwit their own subtlety to protect themselves, and their consciences can become inveterate in judgment; and to some may even seem intemperate in persistence, while they themselves languish in a turmoil of inner events.
They have violated not some mere cultural code, in the deeper cases, but what is integumental to their souls, equal in strength to their own existence, as necessary inwardly as is a wing to the single-engined airplane outwardly, the tail to the whale or the wing to the flitting bird.
They insult their own specifications, not of choice, but of construction. Such times, such occasions, such actions may become mordant with regret, justifiable guilt ;for it is simply not true that one is the centre of the universe, or that one's survival is intrinsically essential, and end in itself to end other ends - that is mere subjectivism without any thought or weighing of realities at all, as superficial as a scratch when surgery is needed.
Seeking to fly without wings is an uninviting pursuit, and to proceed contrary to one's specifications an unrewarding pastime. Yet now in our generation, progressively over the sixties of the last century, and then in steps into the valley of catastrophe, there is a more and more systematic endeavour, as an ideology, to violate the sanctity of wisdom, justice, righteousness, equity and peace in the inane endeavour to be what we are not, and to become what is impossible to attain: our own little gods, or else to have a culture which has a cultural god, or an international regime which will impose one.
What is this ideology, or to what does it tend ? It must be logically ludicrous, ethically abominable and morally inert, in order to appeal to the lost souls who raise the flag of self-assertion as their god, and seek to have something spelled out for its nature. As the Bible says of idols, they who make them are like them. There is an assimilation process, and in practice, politically, it often has a dominating drive of force to aid capitulation to its irrational wilfulness.
Indeed, our generation seems to specialise in the unseemly, the unsightly, the selfish, the striving, as if it cannot quickly enough cast off from its docking site into the oblivion of darkness where there is no light, but to fight, no goodness but to survive, no justice but to grab, and no kindness but to manage, the soulless witlessness of the unmanned. It seems disposed to drift, this generation, in its cultural mode, not without a driver or captain, but without a chart or even a desire for one, as it sets to sea and sees only dangers, reefs, escapes, but neither beauty nor wonder. To keep going seems long ago, now, to have become an icon, without regard to the direction, the ground for movement or the nature of man or destiny. It is increasingly about keeping alive, ignoring WHAT it is that keeps alive, and its results, rationality and ground, far more its design, destiny and the point of its dynamic.
The image of God in man, increasingly despised, makes for both fear and fecklessness by the fractures from its abuse, as for dishonesty and corruption, unreliability and unfaithfulness in business, in friendship, in domestic issues, in paternity and maternity as children are cast off as some new passion drives the weak to their woeful ways. It makes for a peace-free zone, like a nuclear free zone in reverse. It is about generating this, and maintaining that empty desideratum, and so the selves war, and the selfish-cultures clash and the self-willed clamours abut onto each other's soil. Jurisdiction flames as in the Middle East, and the abominable agitates, as in Moslem militancy, or what denies persons, as in Communism, has persons nonetheless tell other persons what to do, like a headless monster, except that that head feeds itself quite well, few better!
Many in this way are tilted by this environment to slippage and a guilt unrelieved, which turns pathos to bathos, and joy in the Lord and His truth to desperate antics of avoidance, so making void the structure for harmonious and happy relationships, between the image-bearers of God, the human race. These individuals, nations, ideological armies, increasingly are now found, each loving its importance and both hating and betraying one another, in diplomacy no less than in domesticity, while teaching that this IS LIFE!
Slavery was once more common in the gross and physical sense, of some over acting in this demanding way over others; but now it is becoming all but de rigueur to make oneself into a personally induced slave of desire, or of self-fulfilment, a variety of selfishness. Thus, although this MAY contain an element of right use of talent, often it is based on pleasure, satisfaction, self-gratification and has no ethical component whatever, an output judged by experience, devoid of reason, abstracted from its ground, like a dead branch considering how best to fall.
FROM SHAKESPEARE TO HITLER AND BACK TO THE BIBLE
Why is Shakespeare so almost incredibly popular to this unliterary day*2 ? It is not least because there is in many of his plays a prominent and almost dominant sense of FITNESS, of moral tone, of moral law, of what is abidingly RIGHT. There is a sense of the divine eye which sees, and of the need to regard one's fellow beings not with arrogant disdain as in The Merchant of Venice, not with passionate seeking for overlordship, as in Macbeth, not with misused power to seize dominance as in King Lear's inveterate daughters, abusing his kindness: but with a just eye, a spiritual regard, a godly composure. This one finds, and with it ? all of that is more or less directly to be seen in the light of the Gospel of grace and godliness so often present that one little book makes its topic the rehearsal of just these elements in Shakespeare, in detail! (The Gospel in Shakespeare, Hubert Little).
Allied to this perspective, is the dynamic of events, Macduff dealing personally with the unthinkable Macbeth who had violated all feeling in his vast evils to the poor man's family, Cordelia in Shakespeare, loving but not parading it, seeking redress for Lear, her father, the outcome of vaporous passion unfitted with wisdom and restraint, as in Romeo and Juliet, an intensely poignant vulnerability becoming ruin, and the Richard II who having wasted time, now finds that time wastes him.
Here is the image speaking, the image of God in man, violable but not so far that man is inviolate when he violates it, capable of gross distortion, but exacting its claims, appealing to all men, and if disregarded for selfish ambition or security and peace, yet clamant to the end. In literature as in life, there is the secret quality which evidences itself on all sides, like an ungroomed horse, or a starving dog. It may live; yes it may, but it is not fitting, not apt, not according to design, and as the defection from design, so the desertion of that glorious aptitude which is in man, for peace ineffable and content unfathomable, not in himself, but in the One who gave him place, where peace is to be found. Limping life may be richly clothed; but only partially anaesthetised from its follies.
When man, on a high crest of sublime feeling, a devious and delinquent dream where imagination outruns reason and ambition makes a sacrifice of kindred feeling, among those near or far, and when he does this, as with al Qaeda, or the intifada, with slavery, either at the male-female level or at the commercial, the rifling of Africa in the 18th-19th centuries, as if their manhood was a source of cheap labour: then there are hideous results. At first, it may appear in a veritable cyclotron of passion, in which evil deeds incite more, as if the tyrant in man has gained its outlet from the bottle, and is determined in drunken wreckage to deploy its deluded power. Then there comes national or international or social revulsion, which may as with slavery owe its onrush not least to the prevailing prayer and performance of one man, as with Wilberforce; and it may leave the remnants of the ongoing generations aghast at what these their forefathers have done.
That can lead to cynical power-play or moral refinement. The cyclotron may pursue man to the third and fourth generation of those who hate God, as these seem to do, with worse and worse radiations coming from its products, radiant evil with black-hearted smiles, as whole realm begins to submerge, as in the days of Hussein before his fall, cynical unbelief and careful conformity mixing as in the last days of the USSR, to form a ready reactivity.
When the passion subsides, and the pure arrogance of pathetic dreams becomes the ground of humiliation, as for Germany after Hitler, then the realities of justice, of equity, of what life is as distinct from what mere power can perform, come back intrepid, and there is bewilderment that such steps in contravention not to some hypocritical body, itself the death of an ideal as one has put it, but to life itself, to its design, to its parameters, to justice and to truth could possibly have seemed if not right, then at least acceptable (cf. SMR pp. 294-307, 611ff., 620ff.). It may happen socially, politically, nationally, internationally as indeed it shows more and more it is doing (cf. SMR pp. 750Bff., at 731 Demonic Head); or it may be an individual assault on the design specifications of one person, carried out in isolation or in company with abettors.
Then, if life continues at all in the relevant body or person on this earth, there comes the sobering for the slathering, the awareness for the moral anaesthesia, now wearing off, the recognition of the need, unless this too being suppressed, there is the ultimate tearing of the fabric of design, and man or organisation lapses into the wilderness from which there is no return, only that combination of ashes and asininity at which the world has often looked in saddened horror, or an understanding mixed with revulsion.
In the meantime, the stress of such impostures naturally leads to lives emotionally impoverished, to the rupture of seemliness, the breach of spirituality, the ransacking of godliness, the entrainment of endless sorrows and griefs, as to the children of divorcees, to confusion and upset, to suit and counter-suit, to gross inequities as now this now that oddity of thought takes control of law and judiciary alike, and the house of this or that person is swept away in some construction of what happened, and someone is left homeless. One such person, casually met on the top of a great hill, found sitting regarding in the growing dusk, the distant view, unburdened his woes, and it seemed that he who had been prosperous and well-placed, was now in this manner virtually a vagrant.
There is, moreover, in the very midst of war, a capacity for some to appreciate certain HUMAN values, such as the care of animals whose suffering should be reduced, whose welfare should be considered, and to relate with warmth to a NORMAL and NATURAL concern for their lives, as if there was still something which was ... right, fitting, seemly and good. Indeed, there are cases where the natural concern for one another comes out, as when in World War I there could be a Christmas sharing of food between enemy troops, with some measure of joy and relief. There is the action by which someone sacrifices himself for another, perhaps for a civilian, and the event not proving fatal, there is a reciprocity of kindness which may even be fatal, but which is a fulfilment of what is perceived to be not only a better way, but a relief, a naturalness that is needed, that brings rest, that is right.
You see this sort of thing often enough, but one such case is to be found in the novel, BEL RIA, by Sheila Burnford, in Reader's Digest format. In this story, not alien to what may be found in actual history, there is a kindness shown TO the occupants of a gipsy caravan, a travelling circus, and as of necessity, this is repaid, leading to the death of the latter. The heart responds, and a natural delight in sound and appreciative human relations comes to the fore, becomes all but directive.
In Dr Paul White's Doctor of Tanganyika, very much a history and a record, remarkable the sheer pleasure and delight, the naturalness of happy response, gratitude and understanding (as when one learns in Primary School mathematics, for example, and 'all is explained', and this develops into many dimensions later, or some other discipline akin to one's natural talents), as the native people find a more natural, a more workable, a more industrious and a more effective way of meeting and transcending mere natural instincts, covering needs and discovering a well-grounded and founded joy. Here is the biblical way, not dependent on some vision of some man, be it intellectual, of the essence, of some weird contrivance or in some delusive state, but on the tried, valid, verified and victorious word of the living God, able to be re-tested by any individual at any time (Psalm 34:8).
There is an underlay of experience and action described by Dr Paul White in this far off scene, where he slaved night and day, for the people in the name, power and grace of God, the living God who acts, who can be trusted.
There was seen in that land, in this dynamic milieu of faith, the case of the son who sees the fatherliness, the father who sees the filial propriety, the daughter who finds the motherly need met, the afflicted who see the lifting of their problem, the onlooker who finds deep appreciation in the avoiding of the merely hostile, the perspective of good humour, the sick who finds care, the abused by witch doctors who find healing and sanity, sanctity and reason, joy and a foundation in Christ. No longer are they dependent on the undependable, but on what works, has sincerity behind it and the power of God in front of it.
Again, deeply appreciated and evoking the greatest of responses for those helped or watching work done on their companions or loved one in Tanganyika, is the changing of selfish responses in care for the sick, into disciplined and devoted meeting of challenges they present, and this with character and faithfulness.
The people speak of the works, the deeds of the doctor being themselves a sermon, for there is to be seen something clearly identified and tagged by the doctor as both for and from Christ, some expression of the kindness, grace, application, sacrifice, reliability, self-discipline, resolve, motivation that Christ showed, used and deployed in gaining salvation for man, as many as received Him. Here is found the rational ground in Christ for all of these things, flowing as naturally as fruit from a tree. Here is the basis exposed, the dynamic illustrated, the concern exhibited in practice, all over the years becoming a thing of delight, a fulfilment of things dimly hoped for, of graces sometimes seen, in a systematic manner.
There is thus a joy in finding the truth parallel to that in the funding of the truth, by the power of God, the sacrifice of Christ and the mercy that this unleashed, stable and sure for those who use it in heart by faith.
THE REAL MISSING LINK IS THAT TO GOD -
NOT THAT BETWEEN THE CREATURES WHICH HE MADE,
ONE NEVER FOUND, BUT THAT TO HIM:
WHOSE WAY IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE, AND CLEARLY VISIBLE
There is in man multiply, the attestation of the image of God in which he was made, from defilement of which he often moves with relief, though in multiplied deceptions; for the heart of fallen man is a maestro of deception as Jeremiah points out (17:9-10). When man by the grace of the immeasurably loving God, summoned, comes to receive life direct from God, unsoiled in newness, grand in design, restored to intimacy with Himself, then is seen the real change. Then he moves in a way which becomes contrary to defilement, resists and detests it, while it is in harmonious accord with fulfilment of what is good, right, gracious, effective, self-controlled, and moves to this as a child to its mother' milk.
And why does the now reconciled man so move (Colossians 3:10) ? It is BECAUSE he is moving to an image, a perspective which covering all responsibilities and cases, the dynamic of his natural design, and this brings the joy of seemly spirituality, of walking in what is freely adapted to and suitable for man. He has then returned home, as a person to the Father, to his image as a smashed vehicle new-made from the panel beater. When he becomes as child before God, which is factual, then he comes to find the stability which such a link provides, the assurance which lies in the family shape, and the power to prevail for the will of God, which the living God freely supplies (II Peter 1, Romans 7-8).
Such is the failure of the fallen, that something in this sense is often distorted, misused, and becomes merely a snare. Thus when a young man takes up smoking because of a sense of social belonging, or because it leads on to a sort of fellowship of those who follow similar paths, and such considerations may be strong: a PART of the sense of fitness is at war with another part. There is no help in aping sin, copying futility or trying to short-circuit an electrical system, by cutting some fo the wires!
The camaraderie of such folly is strong, but it is merely a pathological exposition of the camaraderie of what is right. Misused in this way, it has its own guilt, and as in the case of Saddam Hussein's reported modes of steeling his followers to 'faithfulness' to the works of his regime, by requiring them to watch torture or murder, as an enveloping psychic mood for initiation! Yet participation in such gaunt horrors, though it may bind the deluded, and increase fellowship between the demented, is but a flower of evil. It uses one good thing, to assist an evil one, and is merely a handshake that crushes the bone .
This brings up a conflict of desire to be ONE OF US, to have fellowship, to belong, to have a common role or approach, and that to be ONE OF THE HUMAN RACE, and to adjust to its needs, aware of its condition, thoughtful for its improvement, and not a mere scavenger of what may be picked up from it, for profit.
You have the same when doctors, for example, may reduce fees for some people, because of concern for their welfare. There is a sense of a meaning to life, to man, which has its roots in goodness, concern and sympathy, in loving one's neighbour as oneself.
Yet what if one's neighbour is Hitler, or Stalin, or Mao: what if his sense of rightness is so warped, that acting as if God, he decides to rub out a few millions of people, for this or that reason. What if, in far less extreme cases, he has a penchant for taking pleasure in things dubious or vile! How does the love of good operate then, especially if he is insistent that this is good, what life is for, and cradles his cruelty with talk of his own vision for man ?
What then ? Then it is clear, as ever, that you have to know not only how to relate with kindness and concern to your fellow man, but what man is for. Hence the wars often have this stimulus, that different planners are ruthless in their contributions, so felt, to the new and indeed novel architecture for the human race. The failure of such dreamers can make many cynical, because they are not filling to pay the price of truth, for peace. Hence they refuse with error, truth as well, and pondering much, know nothing but a jaded spiritual appetite, and the height of unreason, appropriately buried in the depths of their souls (cf. SMR Ch. 3). Suspicion of the dreams of others, when it is undiscriminating, and given carte blanche, can then lead to the dubious joys of false generalisation, while life is extinguished in a paralysis of ineptitude.
Indeed, now passion, outrage, distrust, vengeance and even genocide can result, while people seize whatever new thing at last takes their fancy, and disdaining truth, they yield to whatever partial desire is divorced from reality, and made king for the day!
It is clear that such things can ruin the underlying image in man; but it is no less clear that failure to know what the good of man is, remains a number one category for any rational approach to his problems.
To be sure, the sense of naturalness, goodness, fellow feeling and concern, can be diverted by master plans and philosophies which are either morally derelict, grossly and outrageously indifferent to one's fellows, or arrogant in selecting certain human attributes and subsuming all else to them, or to the conception of them which someone has. Nevertheless, there does come out a sense of fitness, kindness, concern, tenderness, thoughtfulness, mutual involvement, naturalness in many ways: as if the whole human race were but one family, and its mutual concern were the most solemnly obvious of considerations.
Thus although the sense of conscience and goodness may be diverted or defiled, it is there. What is missing is the utter certainty of what is the final direction, purpose and program for the whole human race. If you simply shut your eyes, and hope for the best, and leave the chameleon to take up what colours it will, or tartans it can, then you have little items like the atomic bomb which, in the hands of those who like militant Islamics, Nazis of the past and Communists, the Inquisition of yesteryear, or their equivalents, what can bring desolation to the whole human race. It is not possible to shut the eyes and be rational.
What then is to be found to direct the ultimate vision ? Man, coming at times to another distortion of the sense of goodness, fitness, rightness and splendid naturalness, concern for each other and provision, can insist on this or that, coming out of the beard of some savant without verification, without authentification and often without even a preliminary validity. It is popular, it goes, it remedies some real or imagined evil (as did Hitler's rant for many Germans after the 'impossible' Treaty of Versailles, with its acute financial resultants): it is seized, it meets certain criteria, it will DO!
But do what ? It will meet the sense of a proper destiny for man, a proper plan, a set of propositions which explains, which directs, it meets the uncertainty and meaningless conflict setting which seems so derelictly irresponsible, and gives to man the goal. But the goal is where it is, and moving the posts during a game is merely confusing.
It is of course as in SMR, the case that rationally there is no God but the God of the Bible, none with verifiability but He*3, none to be seen even in validity logically, but He. There is the answer of the millenia; but man being a rebel, does not take it. Or he may even try to FORCE it or some distortion, as in the Inquisition, upon people, thus defiling the very nature of the love in view. That concerns One who focussed on strength, in profound solicitude, becoming weak, on richness becoming poor, that we by His grace might be redeemed.
FORCE is not relevant here, except in judgment, which is far removed from an operational ground, being the end of the road, where truth is applied as is just and true. It is similar in its own way, in ordinary life: judgment may meet certain misdeeds, but this is far from what motivates man in the beginning. Judgment is the result of error before God, or non-conformity before man: but this judgment is of different types. God's judgment is for the enemy of truth who disdains mercy or rejects it; man’s judgment is on what displeases his sacred self, individual or social, political or military, unless it be directly subordinated to God. It is mere prelude to its own judgment, a catawauling in the night. It may have this or that restraint or amiable feature showing some relic of the image of God in man, but in the end, it is of itself.
You see that sort of thing when Babylon is used by God to bring judgment on many nations, but then, its job done in selfishness and in a self-serving mercilessness, God brings judgment there also.
CASE OF BABYLON IS ILLUSTRATIVE OF CONSCIENCE SEARED, JUDGMENT GEARED AND
COMING TO AN INOPERABLE END
This is found, for example, to a profound degree in the case of Babylon whom God predicted (Isaiah 14) would strip bare Israel, in judgment. However, when its own time came, God gave a special delivery to Babylon, to receive what it had given, and to be laid out eternally as an example of folly. Its ruis are still spread out today, while Hussein tried to make a short-lived exhibit next to it, one now plundered and likewise in ruins. It is a mere site for observation, a place to consider its fall. Jeremiah shows the divine attitude held in reserve, till the time comes for Babylon, the rod of judgment, to become the victim of its own furies and the object of its own scorn.
" 'Declare among the nations,
Proclaim, and set up a standard;
Proclaim—do not conceal it—
'Babylon is taken, Bel is shamed.
Merodach is broken in pieces;
Her idols are humiliated,
Her images are broken in pieces.
'For out of the north a nation comes up against her,
Which shall make her land desolate,
And no one shall dwell therein.
They shall move, they shall depart,
Both man and beast.
'In those days and in that time,' says the Lord,
'The children of Israel shall come,
They and the children of Judah together;
With continual weeping they shall come,
And seek the Lord their God.
They shall ask the way to Zion,
With their faces toward it, saying,
"Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord
In a perpetual covenant
That will not be forgotten."
'My people have been lost sheep.
Their shepherds have led them astray;
They have turned them away on the mountains.
They have gone from mountain to hill;
They have forgotten their resting place.
All who found them have devoured them;
And their adversaries said,
"We have not offended,
Because they have sinned against the Lord, the habitation of justice,
The Lord, the hope of their fathers."
'Move from the midst of Babylon,
Go out of the land of the Chaldeans;
And be like the rams before the flocks.
For behold, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon
An assembly of great nations from the north country,
And they shall array themselves against her;
From there she shall be captured.
Their arrows shall be like those of an expert warrior;
None shall return in vain.
And Chaldea shall become plunder;
All who plunder her shall be satisfied,' says the Lord.
'Because you were glad, because you rejoiced,
You destroyers of My heritage,
Because you have grown fat like a heifer threshing grain,
And you bellow like bulls,
Your mother shall be deeply ashamed;
She who bore you shall be ashamed.
'Behold, the least of the nations shall be a wilderness,
A dry land and a desert.
Because of the wrath of the Lord
She shall not be inhabited,
But she shall be wholly desolate.
Everyone who goes by Babylon shall be horrified
And hiss at all her plagues.
'Put yourselves in array against Babylon all around,
All you who bend the bow;
Shoot at her, spare no arrows,
For she has sinned against the Lord.' "
Thus man shows the image of God in him, its violation and defilement, and in his anxious wrigglings and impositions, psychically, politically or both, he seeks for what he does not want to find, in many cases, because the solution is simply unacceptable to the spirit of rebellion, which absolutely refuses to have any god, far less God, over it; but if any, then it is often to be one made up to conform to specifications, as when a tailor is DIRECTED as to the dimensions of a suit to meet requirements.
Yet this still does not stay the hand of God; and judgments adorn the earth like holes from meteors, dark and deep, with a residue of metallic strength embedded. Freedom is not God, though God has made it, and given it enormous rein. Its lessons are manifest, but its misuse is pandemic on this earth.
TRUTH HAS NO SUBSTITUTE, AND ITS PEACE HAS NO EQUAL
Man simply has to realise that all this natural sense of rightness, when related to the Creator, and to His message in the DNA and then in the Bible, has all the realisation and fulfilment it requires. There is entire amplitude in meeting man, covering the need of what he is for, what is to be done, and providing the power to have something better, and not less, than sympathetic and sound natural feeling. If it be rejected, then man is like a patient open on the operating table, but who intemperately walks away, open bellied. Pain and suffering, infection and weakness, wildness and woe all result. What else could one expect!
Indeed, this answers the question of what, indeed WHO man is, and of what, being a person, he is FOR, to the uttermost that one could wish. It is more than that; for it surpasses it, in meeting the seeking in man, providing all that might be imagined, though by no means in the way imagined, for its profundity of love and simplicity of operation practically, its cost to God and its freedom for man, is like finding that one needs a canoe to cross and stream, and being given a helicopter!
The Biblical Gospel*4 of divine grace, action, cover of sin, judgment on the King Himself, breach of death, opening of the power of God to the life of godliness freely because of this action and all it implies, continues alone in verifiability and validity. Reason can find no squall with which to sink it; and intemperance can merely verify its need, while force used where faith belongs, is merely a ground for divine irony, as man plays with the childishness of a ten year old, and the misguided power of an emperor: a fateful combination which expresses itself many times, and has done so four times in the last hundred years, if one merely looks at the main players in the haunted game!
That historic expression, the dust of which still cavorts in the polluted light of the sun, has all the loveliness of the final stages of leprosy and cancer; and man, lost in his pride, is in danger of becoming so revolted by the ruin induced by his revolt from God, that he will make himself yet more revolting in the dying endeavour to kill life and invent himself in the face of wisdom.
The other and lively option remains to the end. This brings not only naturalness instead of a thwarted or distorted love, as in a sound family, but a creative and incandescent love. It brings not simply a relief to outraged feeling, as people are cruel, not this merely; it produces a ground for sacrifice and a mutuality almost like that in a body. It does not bring it to all; for many do not want it. Yet where it brings it, it brings it altogether. It is not available (*4) to formalism and cermonialism, to priestly men outdoing the Christ who died and rose ONCE, to bring life FOR EVER. It is available in the realm of faith in the regality of the King who did it, Jesus Christ, in His deity, His love and His power. It is operative where He HAS OPERATED, begetting as in a human physical birth, so here spiritually, a new creation through the faith which receives Him, the deliverer within and outside alike (II Corinthians 5:17ff.).
Here is the word and the work of God. It is induced supernaturally, applied naturally, and produces peace for His body, the Church which is obedient to His word. In this our generation, the vast ecclesiastical structures of yesteryear are becoming harder and harder to find, in the realm of obedience to the Bible. The peace within is not harder to find; but it is easier to find, in this, that the fraud of much being apparent, honest dealing with God is the more clearly necessary. The fall helps many to arise, and the false teaching brings many to seek for themselves, and find what is precious past all comparison, the life of peace with the Prince of life, who arisen, knows His people and sustains them with joy unspeakable, even in the midst of torment, as they suffer for His name, just as at the first (Acts 5:41).
As to the vast decline: This is as foretold, and is part of the unnaturalness of man, as he dives and drives himself into artificial and merely subjective configurations and plans. It is because the way is narrow, that the spiritually obese cannot enter. You have to release all your burdens of pride and arrogance, fear and pushiness, or contraction into a corner, as a weakness for any decisiveness, and casting yourself on the mercy of God, find in Him the Maker who knows, the lover who gives, the friend of deep concern, the power to meet need and the joy of truth.
It is fitting ? Yes, it is more than that: it is delightful, releasing all hope, fulfilling all desire, overcoming every defect, because, you see, it is right. He works on our imperfections and labours on our lives (II Corinthians 3:18), as a father with his children.
There is here found what fits not only the thoughts of the mind but the unspoken yearnings of the heart, for what is right, what meets specifications, as for a car mechanically, as for a computer system electronically, as in a body disciplined into efficiency, athletically. It brings a certain joy of relationship and seemliness, of knowing that it is as designed, and operating now comes with felicity.
In Christ, all is met; and slaving to make targets for oppression in the interests of some selfish drive, leading to war, is overcome by working to make deliverance available for those who being one's own fellow humans, have needs as one has oneself, visible and invisible, known and unknown. It is as when one visits the physiotherapist: one finds that not only are the known things to be met in ways suitable, but more is under thought, and what had been only dimly realised, this too is to be covered.
Here lies just one more verification which we have consistently and persistently found to be present in whatever field we examine, pertaining to man, concerning the God of creation and His wisdom and availability, His justice and His truth, His realism concerning pathology which He by no means endorses, and His responsibility toward His creation. This is found passing beyond all mere demands of reason, if it could make so bold, though it does fully meet them, to the free abundances of grace, mercy and peace past all understanding.
Here is the natural trend, contrary to the pathological and varied distortions. Here are met the enduring insistences that mere mentality cannot dismiss entirely, the sub-structural impetus, free from mere social convention, searching, desiring, seeking design, appalled or enlisted as the case comes. It has just that categorical character which relates to underlying construction revealing, in its own godly light, that distortion and vulnerability aspect which is not yet finally fatal, because of divine mercy. With it is to be seen, by its light also, an end to that pathological capacity to gnaw and churn, which is fitting for the woes of the sinfully oppressed, and voluntarily misled.
Here is spiritual health and pathology alike defined; and better yet, the former made available and the rest explained.
The image of God in man in conscience, in a sense of artistic and human fitness, diverges to the uttermost from the other and deadly option. That ? it is to survive as a thrust, but here is the aim to BE human as a must, and this in awareness of a configuration and sympathy with wisdom which meets every longing and specification, conscious or not: this finds at last its progenitor, its meaning and its divine relationship. Man becomes man only when he ceases to be mannish, or a mannequin for spiritual or worldly display, and coming to his senses, finds the missing heart, which had become stone, or plastic, and the missing link, his own to God, and repenting discovers the authenticity back of all his wishes, the answer behind all his problems and the power needed for all his works of grace and goodness.
Only then is the fundamental query of man, quo vadis ? met with joy, the stratification of spiritual design fulfilled, and peace to be found where it matches its place. And this place ? it is personal, as is man. It is in the niche of the Rock from which he came, in the abiding relationship of peace and friendship with the Creator who has redeemed, and provided cover for as many as come to Him (John 1:12ff.), which may be done more swiftly than light. Thus, it takes quite a time even for light to cut across vast space; but man can come to the God who made space without any delay in time whatsoever. And then comes the end ...
As in the resurrection, it can be, this happy reunion and restoration to design, to image, performed in a moment, for where infinite power is available, time is a mere cipher! Thus does man regain in Christ the image which by rebellion he has defiled, so that it becomes almost like a grave stone. Now it comes back, a lively testimony to the life of God.
But the end ? Then man can face it with more than equanimity, yes with delight and an expectation hungrier than that for anything on earth. Now comes a destiny of desire, to match the ineffable peace of authenticity and divine authority, which heals. The platform will go, but the players will not.
At the end, as the child of God stands ready for the eventual consummation (Hebrews 9:27-28), so it is found. It comes when God resurrects those who belong to the resurrected Christ, and then is His image found, in the lives at last, of just people made complete.
And this, it comes as in the twinkling of an eye, the spiritual rebirth the prelude, this the final symphony of the spirit, for the children of the living God, who desire nothing more than the milieu of their Maker and the realm of their Redeemer.
WHAT an image is that conferred on us, in the twinkling of an eye! ( I Corinthians 15:57ff.). Yet it is to Hebrews 9:27-28 that we now turn:
"And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation."
In Predestination and Freewill, Section 3, Endnote 91, the concept and operation of conscience is given attention, and for analytical accuracy and scope, this is added here, with slight variation and some extension, especially at the end. This is done for our present purpose, at B below. First however, it will be well to produce the prefacing material in that thesis, for this section, marked A.
In this Section, it must be clearly apprehended that our concepts concern persons, their wills, feelings, consciences, reactions, responses, criticisms, judgments; the integration and partial disintegration of personality; they concern confrontation by what is infinite, actual and inescapable, and compromise which appears escape but which merely enacts judgment indirectly. To describe the actions and qualitative procedure, to exhibit the composure of 'situations' or assist an apprehension of the field in prose convenient for inanimate particles, would be as great a stylistic aberration as would the use of this, our terminology, with its special idiosyncrasies, in a reciprocal description of the detailed behaviour of particles. Thus just as some scientist, though perhaps enjoying occasion to romance in personalising particles, would not appreciate the joy if it became a duty so our task demands too much acuity, accuracy and appositeness to allow the serious use of such jejune stylistic tricks as would appear if we pretended in our terms and phrases to depersonalise our province.
Accordingly we make no apology for our choice of style and vocabulary in that which follows, which is frankly adapted to its content.
The text at this point has "conscience", which we may define:
A normal moral continuum born of a reflex action of the spirit upon itself in terms, ideally, of acquaintance with the Lord and His law; but in sin, with considerable variability of terms and acuity, though rarely to the point of apparent nullity.
See Romans 2:15, where conscience acts in terms of a law "written in their (pagan) hearts", exculpating or inculpating internally thereby. Thus their inward thoughts, their unsolicited emotions and moral stimuli arrive to accuse or excuse, to provide some form of involuntary but deep-seated censorship, intuitive guide or searching insight, often not sparing! This is said to "show the work of the law" and so it does, however much there is distortion (Ephesians 4:17-19) by their impaired sight as they 'read' it there.
With this, compare Proverbs 20 :27, where a man's spirit is used by the Lord in one mode of spiritual searching. It is like a candle to examine and probe. An excellent etymological, theological and logical treatment of the term by Bruce F. Harris of the University of Auckland, appears in The Westminster Theological Journal, May 1962, REF.BIBL.43.
Of our passage here noted (1 Timothy 4 :2) he says of the Greek adjective idian that this, " 'their own conscience' " would seem to suggest that not only do these men corrupt others, but they are themselves grievously corrupted in their own souls: their consciences, which should have reflected the voice of God within, have been irreparably damaged in the process of their apostasy'' (p.184, emphasis added). Cf. Titus 1:1516. This is the particular pathological case of having conscience, through works of intimate and abiding corruption, 'seared' as with a 'hot iron'!
The indirect monitoring and morally musing effect of human conscience appears clearly in 1 Corinthians 10 :28, 11 Corinthians 4:2, 5:11, 11 Timothy 1:3, Hebrews 13:l8, 1 Timothy 1:5, and correlatively in 1 Corinthians 4:15.
In the first of these texts, we find that a conscience may be unduly sensitive, because of lack of growth in Christian understanding, the mind lacking the grasp of a situation; but that in this case, one should abide by it in terms of restraint, not stepping even into what appears evil. In the case in point, if meat offered to an idol is available cheap on the market, still don't get it, or take it, if you have not yet realised that the idol is nothing to the point, the thing is empty. If in your spirit, by conscience, the reality of the thing seems attached, then till you realise otherwise, so act.
In the second, you see how Paul, in the Spirit of God and His leading, with scrupulous care, seeking to obey God in all things, avoiding any duplicity or insincerity, with his companions acts so that they commend themselves to everyone's conscience. This appears very much in the manner of Samuel, in his coronation address for Saul, making very clear what conscience would readily confirm in his listeners, that with abundant simplicity of purpose and integrity of heart, keen not to burden or to compromise truth or spirituality in any way, he had lived before them (I Samuel 12). There is an image of God reciprocity like the pull of the tide, which brings justice and truth to mind in the affairs of men, before the light of truth which, though often for reasons prejudicial to honesty and uprightness, suppressed, tends to secrete its strength even in the most lively antipathies to the Lord.
All of this is as one would expect on two principles: firstly, that man is so made in the image of God that transcending his polluted purposes (if so be), there is an impact, almost a moral instinct, but certainly a voice of transparency to actuality, which interferes with abandon, resists opportunism and exacts a response. Though this can, by degrees, be not only culturally warped, yet by the choice of preferred cultural models, a man can show the relative independence of such a force and thrust within, by choosing other models than those which custom may impose. Though, again, this impetus of a morality may be misguided by foolish philosophy, yet beyond the domain of such sickness, there is a tendency at least, for realism and justice, honesty and equity, kindness and concern to manifest themselves, beyond the artificial strictures which devilish substitutes for the truth, at the highest level, may impose.
See News 110.
There has long been an exposure of the de-emphasis of the intrinsic value of language, in the English field in this and in some other countries. Here the emphasis, in the typically pragmatic and de-valued manner, is on communication - did you get the stuff into the mind of the other person or not ? that is all that counts.
What 'the stuff' is is entirely irrelevant. It is, in parallel, like a similar approach to architecture, or music. Did the building cover the case needed or not ? Does glass and steel give them the place they need ? Good. Does the music give some sense of stirring or whirring or whatever else is the declared need ? Good, get on with it.
This soulless and devastated ruin prescribed for the food and need of the human mind and spirit is common, like dirt. It is not like sand with the ocean roaring and cleansing by its side. It has no concern for what is good, but for what people want to do, feel.
The human spirit is debased in such enterprises to a mere appendage to eating, drinking and feeling the sort of good-guy strength which helps to survive; but what on earth one is to survive for, or what to become, this escapes their attention.
Man is a spiritual being, and the cynicism of debased philosophies, when applied to actual living, as in these realms of language, architecture and music, merely brings an amputation of what is most elevated in man, most distinctive and what is his own essential level of life. To achieve this is easy: any grubby boy never cleaned by his mother, any poor student passed because it is socially nice for him, any deceptive entrepreneur who can keep up his profits, any slack worker who can use unions to protect his folly: these have the same ease. Its end is unloveliness, its mode is disgrace and its contribution is mere disaster. It is a form of blindness which despises the heights to which man is called, of which he is capable, and in self-serving romance, fails to find the insecurity which lie always produces.
When one first taught in a school, in 1960, in NSW, an inspector gave congratulation on checking one's class. This, he said is good. You give attention to spelling and grammar and this is needed. There has been, he declared, a movement away from all this, but it is necessary to counter it and to bring things back in the direction in which you are moving.
In one's own Diploma of Education course, there was a Lecturer who criticised my 50,000 word thesis on the ground of this type: that no one could be expected to know enough to cover it in assessment! The same man-based, unvisionary and debased style of non-soaring drabness is to be found in language work also. Why have words ? grunt, or symbolise something with a gesture, or with any grammar: it does not matter. Make the wheels turn, that's what counts.
WHY ? why make them turn ? To get a wage if you cannot get support from the government grants. Why get a wage ? so that you can eat. Why eat ? So that you can live. Why live ? Because survival is the first and the greatest commandment. Why is it so ? Because one's own life is what counts. Why does it count above all else ? It is because it is all one has. Why does that make it a good thing to keep at all costs ? Because self-centred life is the only one there is. Why is it so, when the love of parent, soldier for country and child for parent, even dog for master can lead to willing death ? Because that is up to them, but for my own part, says the accuser, it is my life which counts. How does this make the idea sound, since you are not the centre of the universe in fact, did not make it, have not constituted your own life or that of anyone else ?
It is because I WANT IT TO BE SO.
All right, then this is merely an expression of will, by one whose will does not control, nor did it create itself or its environment, its world or its mission. ANY mission is for it, provided it survives; and any form, lying, dereliction of duty, irresponsibility: ruin of the lives of others will do, provided the thing called your own life continues for you ?
Well, some might say, not necessarily would I go as low as that.
Why not then ? On such a philosophy there are no rules, it is all dream
Well, I want to dream my own dream in my own way! might come the reply.
Let us pursue this answer, and address it now.
So you have morals in your dream, which you invent for no reason but desire. What if you desire to escape such absolute depravity, and yet the ONLY way to do so would be to become very base, such as to watch torture to prove you approve of it, when you do not, in order to escape your own death at the hand of some tyrant ?
It is here that the test comes.
If the fall would go so far as that, then it is mere irrationalism and confusion, self above all, despite its meanness and restriction, limits and mutual involvements. If however it would NOT, then there are values beyond what is presented as the tiny, tinny little squeak of self, self-aggrandising, which count more than life. If this is so (as it would be in some cases for those in this well), then one asks:
What is the basis of such inhibition, of such standards ?
If it is one's self, then what is the way in which self-preservation and self-expression mix ? Is self-expression to lead to the death of the self, for moral reasons ? If so, then it is clear that that self values some things more than its self. Why ? If it is only because of its self, then it denies itself in order to assert itself, which is simple self-contradiction.
If it is for something more than one's self (a sense of society, of brotherliness, or decency or whatever), then are these things self-generated, or do they exist beyond one's self ? If self-generated, there is the same self-contradiction, mere confusion.
If beyond oneself, however, these strange seeming desires, in such a milieu, attest the image, the moral image of God in man. There is something which WILL NOT leave one to seek first mere survival, to make the self the centre. If it be said that this is a greater value put on society than on oneself, then why should a number of selves by held to be better than any one of them, when the model means that there is no VALUE objectively, but only subjectively! If this is a preference, it is will, not reality itself, desire and not objectivity, and does not escape its place.
If then it be put that one wishes to objectify a self-made moral, then this is mere will. Subjectivity CANNOT objectify anything. It is what it is. The model does not allow for such a thing, and when you demand it, you have a new model, one in which there are objective values, which is in itself impossible, unless there is FIRSTLY, absolute truth in existence, and SECONDLY, absolute truth attainable. This is impossible unless there be what is past all creation in its illimitable completeness, and it makes itself available freely, for otherwise the limitations of the self would be intrusively defiling and invading the read-out.
That is possible only with the living God and His verified revelation (cf. SMR Chs. 1, 3, 5, 10).
Thus do people often try to avoid God, but affirm His image in themselves in their very self-contradictions, being impelled to one thing while the model adopted as a philosophy, does not allow it.
As to language, as one illustration of the self-debasement of man, it has reached once more into the popular press. Thus in The Australian of April 21, 2006, we read that PM Howard is caning 'rubbish' teaching. "I feel," the report quotes him to have said, "very, very strongly about the criticism many people are making that we are "dumbing down" the English language."
In what way does he then feel so strongly about this, and what is his attitude ?
We find in the report that the PM believes the post-modern literature being taught in schools is "rubbish". Parallel assessment is cited in this same article from Dame Leonie Kramer, distinguished literary scholar, whose view is reported that "the notion you have to read, le us say Shakespeare, in relation to contemporary preoccupations such as race and class" is a cause of deep concern.
There is, the PM is presented as holding, a certain political correctness which intrudes and defiles the necessary standards. In the same vein, Associate Professor Peter Morgan, University of Western Australia, has written in the same edition of The Australian, and points out much the same. He also notes that expectations for say, year 11 students, that they CAN assess literary products in terms of some economic theory, such as Marxism, or in terms of some view of preferred philosophy, implies that they know the views.
It also of course would imply an educated ability to criticise them.
Yet the insistence on seeing some aspect of life, materialised into a supremacy or a formula for criticism, when it is merely the forsaken and irrational result of intemperate human passion is itself a debasement of truth to philosophy, of students to cattle prodded by philosophic illusion, and a defilement of literature, as if it is to be seen from blindness as its criterion (Aviary of Idolatry, News 44, 69, 97,Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8; The Grating Grandeur ... Ch. 2; SMR pp. 925ff.; Beauty for Ashes Ch. 6 , News 98, News 37).
Another academic (Giles Auty), who writes an allied article in the same edition of The Australian, derides the 'omniscience' of the teachers who claim they know what is best for their students, in the forthcoming academic and other realms to which they are moving. He indicates that this is precisely what met in the attitudes to education in the Communist nation, where political pride was so vast that even obvious defeats were cited as showing the victory of the regime and its ideas, and if nothing else could be cited, then the HOPE would become something that was used instead.
In terms of the debasement of the knowledge of English, so often made a mere servant to controlling ideas, and non-attainment, he declares that there is an 'accelerating decline in quantifiable standards of learning and achievement' in government schools. One evidence of this, of course, is the very thrust to have evaluation based on what the student 'can do' or is assumed to be able to do, rather than on actual skill displayed.
In English, one performed an experiment once in a relatively good High School, while on contract as a supplement for pastoral work. One taught grammar with some rigour, spelling, creativity was emphasised and rewarded, and one gave Greek and Latin prefixes while increasing the whole approach to language in terms of of a store house of treasure, an exercise into understanding and a tool for truth and its expression.
The result ? The students worked very hard, and there was great progress both creatively and in knowledge. After the time was over, the Vice Principal asked them how they had found it ? It was apparently fine, but very HARD WORK!
One has not taught at various times over a period of 28 years in English, as a 'tent-making' supplement, in different school types, States and systems, elevated and not, even Technical, to be without evidence of change.
It is not only the amount of hard work required in this field which has fallen, that is, concerning ENGLISH itself as a mode, medium, skill arena and resource, but above all, the attitude to it. It is a slave, not a wonder. It works for you; it is not to stir your heart, challenge your mind and by its very grandeur and potential, make you soar into new realms of understanding and power to express. Instead, philosophy uses it as a tool. This has been the trend. The standard of English in Universities is also tending to match the input potential of those so lightly educated in this field. Thus spelling and grammar will not necessarily make too much different to tertiary marks, if the ideas are grasped. Man is being debased into producer of attached ingredients; what he is and can do and understand is increasingly forfeited in such approaches.
Knowledge can even be derided, and ignorance an asset. Indeed, in one's own case in the Diploma of Education thesis presented, the provision by the student of LESS demanding material of lesser breadth would apparently have been preferred by the Staff! In the end, the donkey must hee-haw, and if not so inclined, being a horse, he will not get the donkey vote. Fortunately, at that time, this had only a very limited result, but that appeared not least because the Staff could not prevail in argument. It is the principle, however, that is important.
This debasement is only part of the debasement of man, of truth, of vision, of power and energy in man to find what is there, and express it, while materialism sinks (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 7) with people in its down-bound cage, and spurious philosophies make for degradation, and conformity to them, to listless thought and a mere slavery of the mind which needs little language, since it is relatively easy to be 'politically correct' and use the accepted modes of phrasing and speech. This is the way of this frenzy into fairy-land, where myth only is permitted as proper approach (cf. Secular Myth and Sacred Truth). This is undoubtedly the trend one confronts in all levels of education, where it can hope to be effective.
Thus one has also found that language itself can be painfully regarded, if it is too demanding of the spirit of man, of his understanding and of his background. What once was commended for reaching the heights, is now often degraded for occasioning too much work, or being too demanding of the intellect. Why use words not common! is the cry. Then, as what is common commonly becomes more limited, because as Giles Auty points out in his article, attitude is becoming more regarded than skill, as an aim in education in this field, this becomes a double debasement and a gross defilement.
Thus the misled educational process gradually degrades language, and potentially thought and meaning also, by a double action. You first reduce what the students know about language, and then instil the philosophy that the practical result is all, the means nothing; and then by a combination, you make a scare-crow out of the living reality of language, most useful in stultifying understanding and preventing informed enterprise in the field of truth. George Orwell's 1984 had remarkable grasp of the process, which is thus not so new, but just being renovated!
His satire was most effective, concerning newspeak! and its effects.
It is as if language, like some small child, is to be put in place, while the important work of debasing the race in its ideas, its ideals and its expression of them, went on. In this, there is a painful resemblance in part to Orwell's version of the new world.
English like all else, must be subordinated to the aim, to indoctrinate with myth, to despatch reality, to dismiss truth and to say that this is the truth of the matter. As the false prophet has his motors tuned for his Prate-Craft, this is all part of the process of accelerating acceptance of folly, and multiple rule by a single fatuity, whose chief enemy is the truth. It is the one whom Christ called 'the prince of this world' and of whom He declared, "he has nothing in Me!" (John 14:30).
That now, it is a low score and a fatal assessment. One always remembers in a senior school class in Chemistry, how the teacher would start with the lowest mark and hand back each examination paper with comments in some way or other, and come at last to the highest. "Smith, nought!" was the first declaration ...
So is the case here, for the language-smith in this setting receives nought; it is the work of the destroyer, unakin to the Creator, except in this, that what is being created is havoc, delusion clothed in minimalist rags, the bikinis of anti-scholarship alluring through fraudulent philosophy while neglecting the language itself, and the free use of its skills as if smog were a fundamental first for any breathing. There may be much smog, but its compulsion as an ingredient in class-rooms is unhealthy, and tends to stunt the students' growth, facilitate their diseases and betray their desires to learn.
Both the desire to reduce language, debase linguistic integrity, attack viable vision and the resistance which the news above shows to it, are fully explicable in terms of two basic dynamics and their sources. One is the hatred of the living God (it does not need to be so formulated, merely conformed to - as in any murder or attempted murder). The other is attested by the horror in man, with God's image implanted, however much now defiled, at just that desecration which results EVEN IN MAN HIMSELF, from such a deadly and debased program. There is that wrench when truth is dispelled, that sadness when righteousness is lost, which even the glamour of power does not entirely supplant...
As always, facts verify, and leave nothing unaccounted for, when you start where we as a race, did start, with the Creator, and end where man must end, or come to an end of his rashness, with the Redeemer. In this fight (Ephesians 6), it is spiritual weapons which count, and corpses almost uncountable declare the tenderness of the alien visions, which count men but meat and murder but policy.
On this field, see SMR Ch. 8, Biblical Blessings Ch. 2, The Moon Soon and Journey to God or Fantasy's Flight to the Infernal.
The gods of naturalism have no go!
The Necessity of the Location of the Divine Remedy,
Scientific Method, Satanic Method and the Model of Salvation,
Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host.
See Question and Answer Ch. 2, TMR Ch. 3, Barbs ... 17.