Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Name above every name

"Now when we are calculating God’s goodness, we must take measure by the family, according to Christ’s own declaration. On one occasion he taught the disciples on this very matter. He said to them, after giving them some other instruction, “if ye being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him!” What is the exact logical position here? When you argue from a man to God, you are accustomed to say, “Ah! That is not a fair argument – God is a different being.” “No,” says Christ, “take whatever is good in man and argue that God is not only that, but infinitely better than that. In fashioning your conception of God, make it as resplendent in justice, as august in truth, as noble and pure in love, as radiant and wondrous in pity, and as enduring as you please. Never be afraid that you will over draw the divine character. God is never better in your thought or imagination than he is in himself. You may pile on, and pile on, as much as you please, and your descriptions of God will not transcend, but will come short of, the reality. When you heart is warmest, when it is noblest when it is truest, when it is best, when it flashes out its ideal conceptions of God, that ideal is far more likely to be near the truth than one that is coldly, critically, philosophically deduced from definite premises. For God’s nature really outruns the human capacity for reasoning."

This piece affirms thoughts I began developing a number of years ago. I believed the emotions of compassion within men's hearts was a God given thing and that His level of compassion must far exceed ours. I saw within me a repulsion to see anything suffer, be it man or beast. How then can one reconcile this with the doctrine of eternal torment?

Henry Ward Beecher - Painting by Norman Rockwell.

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