1 Kings 19

And there he came to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” 

11 And he said, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And behold, there came a voice to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria; 16 and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meho′lah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And him who escapes from the sword of Haz′ael shall Jehu slay; and him who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Ba′al, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

1 Kings 19

Alone and wrestle

I have been thinking about Jacob wrestling with God. I have been struck by two things:

  1. Jacob is alone (24). He leaves behind family, position, and possession. He is alone with God, alone before God.
  2. Jacob is changed by the wrestle. The stranger touches him and changes him – physically (with his “thigh”) and spiritually (by giving him a new name). Jacob does not stand far off and reflect – he engages and physically struggles with God – sweat and pain! “The Strange” is not an object but a person.

I think the story is a great example of what it means to be a Christian in a modern context. SO …

I need to be alone before God, wrestle with God, and that will change me.

TM on SK

Pragmatism and positivism are therefore interested in the question how.  Traditional metaphysics, whether scholastic (realist) or idealist, is interested in the question what (the essence).  Existentialism wants to know who.  It is interested in the authentic use of freedom by the concrete personal subject.

The Other Side Of Despair, by Thomas Merton

I would like to “wrestle” a little more with this article but just wanted to get things started.

truth and love

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.

Ephesians 4:15-16

Let knowledge be used as a kind of scaffolding to help build the edifice of love and understanding, which shall endure forever even after knowledge itself shall be destroyed. 

Augustine, Epist. 55,21.39

Nothing conquers except truth. The victory of truth is charity. 

Augustine, Serm. 358,1

Gen 32

22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Tell me, I pray, your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peni′el, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”

From SK’s Journal (1846)

But this I thought was the meaning of life, that the individual shook off the habit of accepting the favors of difference, should that be tempting, steeled himself against its humiliation, should that weigh down on him, in order to find the universal, what is common to all human beings, to concern oneself only with that. Oh! How beautiful to lose oneself in this way. But then I thought again that in the having of this concern the meaning of life was to be concerned for oneself as if the particular individual were all there was. Oh! How beautiful thus to find oneself in the universal! If the universal is the rule then the individual is the paradigm [corrected from demand]; if the universal is the demand then the universal is the fulfillment; if the universal is everything, if the universal says everything, then the particular individual believes that the everything is said about him-him alone. So if the place and context here did not require signature, none would be needed, for again it is infinitely inconsequential who has said it (as though the favored one said it, the one who was wronged being in no position to say it, since after all they all have it in them to do it).

S. Kierkegaard 1846 Journals, Hannay 1996, VII IB200, p. 252

Love actually

I find the whole “violence in the name of religion” thing rather strange. And, can I be honest, it makes me want to cry. But this I find especially hard to comprehend:

In the manifesto, “you actually hear a frighteningly clear articulation of Christian theology in certain sentences and paragraphs. He has, in some ways, been well taught in the church,” said the Rev. Duke Kwon, a Washington pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America, another evangelical denomination which shares many of its beliefs with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

The alleged synagogue shooter was a churchgoer who talked Christian theology, raising tough questions for evangelical pastors – The Washington Post

If he could “articulate” what he had been “taught” but could not put it into action (or maybe he did?!) he has not inwardly “understood” what it is to be a follower of Jesus. “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.”

The real question is how people who are in all appearances “orthodox Christian” (by the standard of their particular denomination) can still act in ways that deny the very ideas they process. Or, to put it the other way, maybe your theology – the articulation of what you believe – is lacking when someone can draw this conclusion?! Maybe (just maybe!?) there is something fundamentally wrong with how people understand Jesus?!

Love is a choice that is actualised in compassion and empathy. Everyone (no matter what their choices!) is made in the image of God and is loved by God. That is the radical message of Jesus – “love even those whom you do not like because I love you”.