Comprehended to Comprehend
Wednesday of Pentecost 20
5 October 2016
Today, God's self-revelation in nature counts for nothing. We have become tone deaf to the divine speech that comes through His creation. Perhaps this is not due to our scientific sophistication as much as it is due to our deepening perversity. In these last days, itching ears are not merely being scratched but positively boxed by a thousand satanic voices. While in Northern Minnesota on a clear night, I had occasion to lie on my back and drink in a sight that I seldom witness. I was awed by the light show put on by the Father of lights (Jas 1:17). Here in Houston in the cacophony of light (Houston is the second brightest location in night satellite photos of the United States) the sound of God's creative speech is nearly silenced.
 
It was not always so. Hilary of Poitiers (d. c. 367), an adult convert to the Christian faith, heard the divine speech in nature (Ps 19:1). While the ears of human reason cannot hear the gospel speech of God, they can hear nature's testimony to the goodness and greatness of God. This is not yet Christian faith. It is merely a creature acknowledging his Creator. In this knowledge he knows whose he is, but does not yet know properly the One to whom He belongs. This faith is only known through the revelation of Christ in these last days. Reason serving faith will conclude that there is much more to God's self-revelation than can be reached by unaided reason. Faith allows us to be comprehended by what we cannot comprehend.
 
Hilary claimed that one could deduce that there would be life after death from human reason. The goodness and majesty of nature alone should lead us to conclude that the One who created us for fellowship with Him would desire that that fellowship should be unending. The perfection of creation is a creation that does not cease to be by perishing. Perhaps he was right. This instinctive hope still lives in the breast of every human, even if it is not fully comprehended. It is our task as Christian interpreters of reality to show how the longing for perfect and unending fellowship with the Creator has been fulfilled for us creatures by the Word who became flesh so that in Him God has reconciled the whole creation to Himself. The emptiness left by reason's instinctive longing can only be filled by Christ, who comprehends those who have faith in what they cannot comprehend.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
 
"My mind, full of these results which by its own reflection and the teaching of Scripture it had attained, rested with assurance, as on some peaceful watch-tower, upon that glorious conclusion, recognizing that its true nature made it capable of one homage to its Creator, and of none other, whether greater or less; the homage namely of conviction that His is a greatness too vast for our comprehension, but not for our faith. For a reasonable faith is akin to reason and accepts its aid, even though that same reason cannot cope with the vastness of eternal Omnipotence.
 
"Beneath all these thoughts lay an instinctive hope, which strengthened my assertion of the faith, in some perfect blessedness hereafter to be earned by devout thoughts concerning God and upright life; the reward, as it were, that awaits the triumphant warrior. For true faith in God would pass unrewarded, if the soul be destroyed by death, and quenched in the extinction of bodily life. Even unaided reason pleaded that it was unworthy of God to usher man into an existence which has some share of His thought and wisdom, only to await the sentence of life withdrawn and of eternal death; to create him out of nothing to take his place in the world, only that when he has taken it he may perish. For, on the only rational theory of creation, its purpose was that things non-existent should come into being, not that things existing should cease to be." 

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 1.8-9
Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (ESV)
Prayer
O Father of lights, grant us in our day that the light of reason would comprehend the speech of creation, leading many to be comprehended by You through Jesus Christ the Light of the world. Amen.
 
For teachers, staff, and students of the Lutheran Education Association of Houston, that God our heavenly Father would grant both the light of reason and the Light of the world to them
 
For all public safety officers, that they might be kept safe in the proper conduct of their office as those who deter evil and arrest evil doers
 
For John Meyer, that he might be upheld by the grace of God
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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