Saturday, September 24, 2016

For us, in order that it might be our own

"All that can be said of us is that without this perfect action of God we would be lost; that apart from it we can have no refuge or counsel or consolation or help. But of God we have to say that this perfect action which He Himself did not need has in His merciful good pleasure taken place for us; that He willed to make it and did make it a need of His, a matter of His own glory, to do this for us, that is, to accept the perfect sacrifice, the righteousness of Jesus Christ as our righteousness, our sacrifice, and therefore as the finished work of our reconciliation. Not only as though we had brought this sacrifice, but as the sacrifice which we have brought. Not only as though the righteousness of Jesus Christ were ours, but as the righteousness which we have achieved. Not only as though the work of reconciliation finished in Him were our work, but really as the work which we have done. We remember that in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we no longer have a substitute for that which we cannot do. It is no longer a question of a Quidproquo, an 'as if,' beyond which we still need something more perfect, a real reconciliation which has still to come. In the doctrine of the justification of man, of the reach of that which has taken place in Jesus Christ, we have to see that we are saying far too little when we use a favourite expression of the Reformers and call it an imputation of the alien righteousness of Jesus Christ. It cannot in any sense be an improper justification of man which has its basis in this happening. Otherwise how could it be a perfect happening, and how could the love of God for man realised in it be a perfect love? Rather, the alien righteousness which has been effected not in and by us but in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ does become and is always ours, so that in Him we are no longer unrighteous but righteous before God, we are the children of God, we have the forgiveness of our sins, peace with God, access to Him and freedom for Him. That this is the case is the righteousness which Jesus Christ has accomplished for us, the perfection of His sacrifice which cannot be added to by anyone or anything. He has sacrificed in our name with a validity which cannot be limited and a force which cannot be diminished. What He has done He has done in order that being done by Him it may be done by us; not only acceptable to God, but already accepted; our work which is pleasing to Him; our own being as those who are dead to sin and can live to righteousness. He alone has done this, but because He has done it, in a decision which cannot be reversed, with a truth which is absolute, He has done it for us."

     Karl Barth, CD IV/1, 282-283, underscoring mine.  Very subtle!

Pro nobis, sed etiam propria nostra

"All that can be said of us is that without this perfect action of God we would be lost; that apart from it we can have no refuge or counsel or consolation or help. But of God we have to say that this perfect action which He Himself did not need has in His merciful good pleasure taken place for us; that He willed to make it and did make it a need of His, a matter of His own glory, to do this for us, that is, to accept the perfect sacrifice, the righteousness of Jesus Christ as our righteousness, our sacrifice, and therefore as the finished work of our reconciliation. Not only as though we had brought this sacrifice, but as the sacrifice which we have brought. Not only as though the righteousness of Jesus Christ were ours, but as the righteousness which we have achieved. Not only as though the work of reconciliation finished in Him were our work, but really as the work which we have done. We remember that in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we no longer have a substitute for that which we cannot do. It is no longer a question of a Quidproquo, an 'as if,' beyond which we still need something more perfect, a real reconciliation which has still to come. In the doctrine of the justification of man, of the reach of that which has taken place in Jesus Christ, we have to see that we are saying far too little when we use a favourite expression of the Reformers and call it an imputation of the alien righteousness of Jesus Christ. It cannot in any sense be an improper justification of man which has its basis in this happening. Otherwise how could it be a perfect happening, and how could the love of God for man realised in it be a perfect love? Rather, the alien righteousness which has been effected not in and by us but in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ does become and is always ours, so that in Him we are no longer unrighteous but righteous before God, we are the children of God, we have the forgiveness of our sins, peace with God, access to Him and freedom for Him. That this is the case is the righteousness which Jesus Christ has accomplished for us, the perfection of His sacrifice which cannot be added to by anyone or anything. He has sacrificed in our name with a validity which cannot be limited and a force which cannot be diminished. What He has done He has done in order that being done by Him it may be done by us; not only acceptable to God, but already accepted; our work which is pleasing to Him; our own being as those who are dead to sin and can live to righteousness. He alone has done this, but because He has done it, in a decision which cannot be reversed, with a truth which is absolute, He has done it for us."

     Karl Barth, CD IV/1, 282-283.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

"How is it that You have come into my presence, and what will become of me in Yours?"

"Wie kommst du in meine Umgebung und was wird aus mir in der deinigen?"

     Karl Barth, CD IV/1, 290 =KD IV/1, 319.  According to Barth, this is the real question that "Lessing's [famous] question concerning the relationship between the contingent truths of history and the necessary truths of reason", or "the gaping and wide chasm which I cannot cross" (287), only culpably avoids (since the difficulty "has in fact been removed"):

     And now we have to ask whether our whole concern about our temporal distance from Jesus Christ, our indirect relationship to Him, is not a genuine problem only in the sense that it represents a genuine movement of flight from this encounter.  Are we not putting up a technical difficulty, knowing all the time that this difficulty is not so great that it cannot be removed, that it has in fact been removed?
(290-291).  Etc.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Blessed are the cheesemakers

     "The raising and habitual using of Tobacco is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel.  The weed is a narcotic poison; so virulent that a drop of its oil is a fatal dose.  A wilted leaf placed on the breast of a child will soon be followed by death.  Its use is an exceedingly filthy and loathsome practice in all its parts and phases.  Its nauseous and unsightly pools of disgusting slime are almost unendurable; defiling every thing with which they come in contact.  It unnerves the system, injures the health, produces irritability of temper, and creates an appetite for strong drink.  The raising and using of it involve an inexcusable waste of time, a perversion of valuable lands, and a misapplication of millions of money.
     "The raising of the wine-plant and hops for the market we regard as little better than the rum traffic generally.
     "We place the making of cheese, and the selling or delivery of milk to the factory on the Sabbath, in the category with Sabbath-breaking generally.
     "Adopted by the Conference."

     Committee on Raising and Using Tobacco, Raising Hops, Raising the Wine Plant, and Making Cheese on the Sabbath, Minutes of the [Fifth] Genesee Annual Conference [of the Free Methodist Church], Akron, New York, Sept[ember] 29, 1864.
     This seems to have been an ad hoc committee, as it does not appear either before or after this point in the Minutes of the Genesee Annual Conference.
     Are all of the claims about tobacco accurate?  The statement on the making of cheese makes, of course, perfect sense, especially if meant to be closely associated with (as seems undeniable) the phrase "on the Sabbath".  And, of course, Genesee County, New York, would have been a dairy region.  Still, it strikes the funny bone for some reason today.
     At the Third Genesee Annual Conference of 1862, by contrast, a powerful resolution on slavery had been adopted.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

give simplicity "side of" complexity

I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.

And variants (right arm, everything I have; far side; etc., etc.).

     Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.?  I have my doubts.  I wasn't able to turn up so much as a promising initial clue via a Google Books search stripped down to the following:  give simplicity "side of" complexity.  Indeed, it raised suspicions the moment I first encountered it, as the sort of thing one might not even have said before 1935.  After all, wouldn't a construction with something like naivet√© have come first?  (I could be quite wrong, of course.)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

An informed and operative "faith before feeling"

Look upon us, O God, creator and ruler of all things,
and, that we may feel the working of your mercy,
grant that we may serve you with all our heart.
Through. . . .

Respice nos, rerum omnium deus creator et rector,
et, ut tuae propitiationis sentiamus effectum,
toto nos tribue tibi corde servire.
Per. . . .

Sacramentarium Veronense, fol. 132r
(ed. Mohlberg, pp. 161-162).
Bibliotheca Capitularis Veronensis
     Collect for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Roman missal.
     This is "Leonine" i.e. Veronese sacramentary no. 1045, and, according to Corpus orationum (no. 5110), at least, hadn't appeared in any others since, until re-enlisted for the Missal of 1970.  This means that it was abandoned after the early 7th, 6th, or even 5th century, depending upon when it was actually composed.  In the edition of the "Leonine" ed. Mohlberg, "et" follows rather than precedes "ut":  "Respice nos, rerum omnium deus creator et rector; ut et tuae propitiationis sentiamus effectum, toto nos tribue tibi corde servire:  per" (p. 132, i.e. fol. 107r).
     What's striking to me about this prayer is that it assumes that the Lord must make it possible for us to serve him wholeheartedly if we are going to "feel the operation of [his] propitiation".

Friday, September 9, 2016

"To generate and superinduce a new nature or new natures, upon a given body, is the labor and aim of human power."

"Super datum corpus novam naturam sive novas naturas generare et superinducere, opus et intentio est humanae potentiae."

     Francis Bacon, Novum organum II.1, trans. William Wood.  I was put onto this by Michael Hanby, "A more perfect absolutism," First things no. 166 (October 2016):  28 (25-31):
If nature is essentially a machine or, in contemporary nomenclature, a system, then the knowledge of nature is essentially engineering.  The task of science, as Bacon put it, is 'to generate or superinduce on a given body a new nature or natures.'  And if knowledge of nature is really engineering, then the truth of this knowledge is essentially whatever is technically possible.  But since the ultimate limits of possibility can only be discovered by perpetually transgressing the present limits of possibility, a technological view of nature and truth commences an interminable revolution against every antecedent order or given limit.  A thoroughgoing technological society will therefore establish revolution as a permanent principle, paradoxically giving it the stability of an institutional form.
Hanby quotes Bacon more accurately in "The gospel of creation and the technocratic paradigm:  reflections on a central teaching of Laudato Si," Communio:  international Catholic review 42 (Winter 2015):  724-747.
     Latin from Bacon's Novum organum, ed. Thomas Fowler, 2nd ed., corr. & rev. (Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1889), 343.
     By "natures" (naturae), Bacon seems to have meant something like the simple and (in combination) complex properties that bodies (corpora) canin keeping with "laws of matter" (legibus materiae, II.4) that, if exceptionless, constitute what Bacon calls "form" (forma (II.2, 4))be induced to exhibit or bear.  These (e.g. "whiteness", "heat" (II.3), "color", "weight", "transparency", "tenacity", "vegetation" (II.4), "malleability", "ductility", non-volatility, flammability, meltability, separability, solubility, "stability", "deliquescence" (II.5), etc.) we might call qualities, characteristics, or even accidents, rather than natures in some more deeply metaphysical sense.  They can be "superinduced . . . upon a given body" in combination in such a way as to transform, say, silver into gold, but each is conceptually simple.
     But all of that within the context of the claim that whatever can be accomplished in practice "is most correct in theory" (quod in operando utilissimum, id in sciendo verissimum (II.4)).
     It is the latter point that has to be the main one here.  What we suffer from, according to Hanby, are the implications of this Baconian "pragmatism" as they have worked themselves out downstream:  this identification of the true with what can be physically "superinduced", this reduction of "metaphysics" to "physics" (II.9).
     For this reason, the fact that Bacon wasn't actually talking about "nature" in some more deeply metaphysical sense (e.g. what it means to be human, or a human male on the one hand and a human female on the other) is of less importance than this mentalit√© that he insinuated in germ, this idea that the truth about me can be discovered or confirmed by physical manipulation experimentally.  And that it can therefore be anything allowed for by the laws of "physics" (as, for example, a "reality" "superinduced" or confirmed by surgery).