Belief Systems and Christian Counseling
Even a cursory survey of belief systems may enhance the Christian counselor's effectiveness by enabling him to ascertain underlying beliefs that are influencing the counselee.
What does a minor war between Persia and Greece centuries before Christ have to do with today's evangelical Christian counselor? Simply this: it ushered in the Golden Age of Athens and subsequently ushered in new ideas about humans that persist even to this day.
Most of us engaged in advanced seminary studies have had at least some introduction to world history, world religions, philosophy, and the development of Western thought. Possibly most of us took those courses only because they were required. They seemed irrelevant to teaching or preaching the Gospel. What we have studied relevant to the development of Christianity has generally been limited to the spread of Christianity. Few of us have studied the development of Christian thought and doctrine. How many of us have even given thought to whether Christ actually came in the flesh or whether he came only in the form of flesh? Yet, this was a raging issue in the early Church. And the conclusions reached by the scholars of that day influence how we view the issue today.
Most who would consult a Christian counselor adhere at least verbally, although usually very loosely, to some form of formal religious belief. However, in this paper, the term, "belief system," is not used to refer to formal beliefs. Rather, it is used to refer to patterns of thought so common to our society that we seldom, if ever, give them any consideration. Someone once said that an awareness of the past can help us plan for the future and avoid errors in the present. It is hoped that this thesis will help make the Christian counselor to become more aware of the past and its impact of the present. From this perspective, he may be able to more quickly ascertain underlying beliefs that may be influencing his counselee's thinking.
In this thesis we will begin by examining six belief systems so firmly and finely woven into our own culture that we are only rarely aware of them, much less aware of the influence they exert on our thoughts and thus on our actions. The belief systems we will examine are:
(1) Protagoras' "Man is the measure of all things."
(2) Aristotle's "is" of identity.
(3) Aristotle's "either/or" logic.
(4) Augustine's doctrine of original sin.
(5) "God has a purpose for this."
(6) "A person can do anything if he really wants to."
Each thought pattern first will be presented in its original historical setting. Where applicable, it will be traced briefly to its contemporary setting. Second, various arguments, including Scriptures when used, will be discussed. It is not this writer's intent in this paper to either affirm or refute any argument herein presented. Our primarily purpose is to make the reader aware of the existence of these belief systems and to make him aware of both those arguments used by those who subscribe to and those arguments used by those who refute these systems. This is not intended to be an exhaustive study. Numerous renowned theologians have already presented their arguments in texts that are readily available to the reader who desires to study the subject further. Third, the possible impact on counselees of the thought pattern under discussion will be considered. This will include contemporary expressions that may indicate the thought pattern under consideration and possible counseling considerations unique to the situation. This discussion will include pertinent Scriptures.
A discussion of how one acquires his own particular beliefs and how those beliefs motivate his speech and behavior will follow identification and discussion of these belief systems. A brief discussion of counseling in general will follow acquisition of beliefs. Before making our final conclusion, we will examine in depth a current form of the New Age Movement that is a modern version of the ancient Eastern religions. This belief system is currently making inroads into our society in the form of building self-esteem programs. That there are any religious overtones is sometimes very skillfully hidden. Other times those religious overtones are apparent, but go unrecognized. Some of these programs are being lauded even by Christians who teach and counsel in the public school systems. And, without awareness of it, these teachers and counselors bring into the church that which they have learned in the secular setting.
Finally, we will draw a conclusion as to whether an awareness of historical belief systems is important to twentieth-century Christian counselors. Historical, sociological, and cultural factors, linguistics, and religious ideas all influence how we think. And these, in turn, influence how we act, "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by its fruit. Ye offspring of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. The good man out of his good treasure bringeth forth good things: and the evil man out of his evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:33-37). [ 1 ] And how we think and act influences our future and the future of those who follow us. You do not see the threads in a beautifully woven tapestry, but nevertheless, those threads are there. Without them you would have no tapestry.
But the tapestry will not be complete until our Lord returns. Now it is our turn to do the weaving. And we need to pick up the threads of the past and continue weaving so that we can make the tapestry even more beautiful. We cannot, and even if we could, we should not, change the threads of the past. Our past has determined our present. But we may want to weave in different threads, different perspectives. And for the Christian counselor, this means truly biblical perspectives.
Some of the reference materials used in this thesis will be unfamiliar to most readers. Though most materials are fairly easily obtained through the library and university inter-net programs, some may be difficult to obtain. For these reasons additional information will sometimes be given either in the endnotes or bibliography.
Though the writer has attempted to avoid undue "sexist" language, this is a theological thesis. The Bible clearly recognizes and uses gender terminology. Also, some terminology quoted by other writers may be obsolete or obscure to today's reader. However, these terms are generally found in a good unabridged dictionary.
Even very busy counselors spend many hours consulting various textbooks. Most subscribe to current periodicals to keep abreast of modern techniques in diagnosis and therapy. I suggest that there is one avenue seldom explored: the underlying belief systems into which those in Western society are born. Even a cursory survey of these belief systems may enhance the Christian counselor's effectiveness by enabling him to ascertain underlying beliefs that may be influencing the counselee. The purpose of this thesis is to help make the Christian counselor aware of some of these beliefs that the counselee will, often unknowingly, bring forth even in his casual conversation. A thoughtful and listening Christian counselor may often detect his counselee's underlying thought patterns without going through seemingly endless hours of analysis that focus on the symptoms of problems rather than solutions. The multitude of cold "remedies" of the market may lessen the symptoms of a cold, but they do not cure it.
Chapter One: Protagoras' "Man is the measure of all things"
Though we may speak of Greece being the cradle of Western civilization, we in the United States usually think of the saying in terms of it being the cradle of Democracy. Few of us realize the extent to which we have been and are still being influenced by Greek thought. While Christian education owes an incalculable debt to Hebrew education and to Old Testament theology, [ 2 ] it is Greek epistemology that has shaped the thinking of Western civilization. Few of us ever realize the extent to which it has influenced the interpretation of the New Testament.
The Grolier Encyclopedia defines Epistemology as: "the branch of philosophy that studies the nature and limits of knowledge; it examines the structure, origin, and criteria of knowledge. Epistemology also deals with a number of related problems: sense perception, and the relation between the knower and the object known, the possible kinds of knowledge and the degrees of certainty for each kind of knowledge, the nature of truth, and the nature of and justification for inferences. The word epistemology comes from the Greek words episteme ("knowledge") and logos ("theory"). A common definition of epistemology is the theory of knowledge." [ 3 ] Epistemology originated in Greece with the Sophists, somewhat the equivalent of our university professors, who challenged the possibility of knowing.
To understand another's ideas, we must attempt as much as we are able to place ourselves back in time and try to make ourselves aware of the historical events, and the cultural, sociological, and religious currents then prevalent. Then we must attempt to understand the language within which those ideas are expressed. In other words, we must somehow make ourselves see, experience, understand, and express another person's ideas as he expressed them from HIS then current perspective rather than from our present perspective of hindsight.
In the course of history, Persia had conquered Greece. However under its last five rulers Persia weakened internally. Revolting against Persian imposed taxes, an alliance formed among the independent-minded Greek city-states defeated in 479 BC a Persian invasion against them designed to collect those taxes. Following that victory, the Athenian Alliance freed other Greek cities held captive by the Persians. [ 4 ] Considered symbolically as the victory of civilization over barbarism, the defeat had far-reaching implications. [ 5 ] The fifth century before Christ became a strange, new time of peace, of rebuilding, and of re-thinking old ideas. This time, later to be remembered as the classical period of the Athenian democracy, the middle of which became known as the Age of Perciles, marked the beginning of the Greek culture capable both of becoming a vehicle of thought and of being exported to other peoples. Pericles, the leading political figure, encouraged the arts and education. [ 6 ]
Greek thinkers became conscious of a human being as human. Homeric literature had portrayed individuals as victims of fate and facing death. The gods whom we refer to as only mythological, were perceived by the Greeks as controlling the destiny of man. In classical thought human beings overcame fate. [ 7 ] It is within this framework that Protagoras made his statement: "The measure of all things is man." [ 8 ]
Protagoras (c. 490 BC - c. 420 BC) was an epistemological subjectivist who explained that since all knowledge is dependent on an individual's experience, for which that individual alone is judge, knowledge is thus relative to each individual. [ 9 ] Protagoras, who called himself a Sophist, a teacher of wisdom, was a man of high character and highly respected. [ 10 ] Among his many distinctions was the founding of European grammar and philology. [ 11 ] Highly educated and also highly paid, he taught rhetoric and law. He introduced into legal training the "adversary system," in which a student argues both sides of a case, thus enabling him to see it from different perspectives. [ 12 ] According to Durant, Protagoras was conservative in temper and professed to educate and to develop the ethical tendencies of the good citizen. This education included the teaching of prudence in private and public matters, the orderly management of home and family, the art of persuasive speaking, and the ability to understand and to direct the affairs of state. [ 13 ]
There are controversial thoughts about whether the term, "man," used in Protagoras' statement refers to individuals or to the human species as being the criterion of truth. There is also controversy over whether "things" refers only to objects of sense-perception or whether it extends to cover the field of values as well. [ 14 ] Copleston accepts the view that it should be interpreted in the individualistic sense in regard to sense-perception. [ 15 ] According to Durant, Protagoras accepted sensation as the only means of knowledge, refusing to admit any transcendental-supra sensual reality. [ 16 ] "No absolute truth can be found," said Protagoras, "but only such truths as hold for given men under given conditions; contradictory assertions can be equally true for different persons or at different times." [ 17 ]
According to Durant, Protagoras himself applied his subjectivity to theology in a famous statement that frightened the Athenian Assembly "With regard to the gods I know not whether they exist or not, or what they are like. Many things prevent our knowing: the subject is obscure, and brief is the span of our mortal life." [ 18 ] However, in this writer's view, Protagoras' statement regarding the gods does not appear to be a subjective statement but rather a questioning of the then currently held view of the gods. Remember, the gods under discussion were subject to human frailties and human capriciousness.
With Protagoras began the subjective standpoint in philosophy, which, though often held in restraints by church or state, survives until this day. Though the Bible teaches that there is an absolute truth, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6), subjectivity, too, has it place. The Scriptures affirm this, "To the pure all things are pure: but to them that are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled" (Titus 1:15). And the area of sense-perception would seem to be almost completely subjective. To one person a room seems warm; another might come in and immediately turn up the thermostat. Subjectivity, in its proper place, is appropriate. Certainly, one who has NO personal opinion on ANY subject is in need of serious counseling.
However, the subjective attitude that underlies many counseling problems is the subject of this portion of our thesis. This attitude may be expressed in many ways: "In my opinion," Well, I think," "As I see it," "To each his own," "That's your opinion," "That's your interpretation," "We are all headed in the same direction (meaning Heaven)". Most of these expressions may be appropriate at given times, but when they occur on a regular basis in casual conversion, the counselor should give heed and begin trying to determine if the counselee has any absolute foundation from which his beliefs and actions are motivated. Careful listening may reveal the needed information. Or the counselor may ask the counselee directly on what basis he is expressing a specific opinion. Usually he will not be able to give a specific answer.
Possibly most personal and interpersonal problems originate from a subjective, unfounded basis. The counselee with an underlying subjective attitude will have problem after problem. If a counselee can be taught the principle that there is an absolute truth, and that truth is to be found in the Scriptures and was manifested in the life of Christ, he will be well along the way to solving many of his existing problems and to preventing future problems. Protagoras was more correct than we might realize. The universe as we know it was made for man, "And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Genesis 1:25-27). It will disappear when man is taken from it, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). To man was given the naming of the animals (Genesis 2:19-20). To man was given the instructions to replenish and to subdue and to have dominion over ever living thing, "And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food: and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food: and it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day" (Genesis 1:28-31). Protagoras perhaps caught a glimpse of truth: Man is the measure of all things: and that Man is Jesus Christ, "He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:10-13).
Chapter Two: Aristotle's "is" of identity
In order to properly understand either Aristotle or Augustine, one must know somewhat of the thoughts of those who preceded them. In raising questions that became central to the Hellenistic philosophical schools, the Sophists brought about the conscious intellectualism that provided the background to Socrates and Plato. [ 19 ] Reacting against the questioning carried on by the Sophists and against the old naiveté about willful, amoral deities, Socrates (469 BC - 399 BC) made human beings, rather than some principle, central. Questions raised needed to be answered, but on the other hand, something true and secure in place of the relativism that was beginning to prevail was also needed. [ 20 ] Through his method of questioning and making individuals think for themselves, Socrates was responsible for philosophy becoming concerned with the conscience and personal religion. His method of inquiry involved examining several particular aspects of the subject in question and looking for what is common to each: the method later referred to as induction. [ 21 ] Among those greatly influenced by Socrates was Plato, who was to become one of the most important and creative thinkers of the ancient world. [ 22 ]
Plato's epistemological objectivism held that the object of knowledge is independent of the knowing subject. [ 23 ] In his Theaetetus, Plato examines several definitions of knowledge. Rejecting the view that knowledge is perception, Plato argued that the sensation involved in a perception seems to be subjective insofar as it depends for its existence and nature on the state of the perceiver, whereas the object perceived is not so dependent. [ 24 ] Though Plato's ideas are pertinent to this thesis only in so much as their influence on Aristotle and Augustine, this particular point will be dealt with at an appropriate place in the thesis.
On the assumption that knowledge must be unchanging and have reality as its object, Plato developed the theory of Forms. The constantly changing world of sense experience cannot be the object of knowledge--and hence cannot be real. [ 25 ] Therefore, there must be another unchanging realm that is the object of knowledge. [ 26 ] Knowledge, according to Plato, was having true belief that could be justified by appealing to the Forms. [ 27 ]
Plato summarizes his philosophy of ideas in his "The Myth of the Cave" in the Republic 7 (514A-19A). [ 28 ] According to the myth, human beings live in a cave. From birth they are chained facing the inside wall of the cave. Their chains prevent them from looking at each other. A fire is burning outside the mouth of the cave. Between the fire and the entrance to the cave other beings pass by and cast their shadows on the inside wall. Like those chained facing that wall, we never see anything but the shadows, hence we mistake that for reality. We know only shadows of reality and shadows of ourselves. To "know thyself" is to get out of the cave. Some break their chains, but light from outside the cave is so dazzling that they prefer to remain in the cave. A few overcome the initial dazzlement and exit out of the cave. These climb a steep hill and finally reach the top where they can see the sun. After an experience of ecstasy they return to the cave out of duty to their fellow prisoners. As they return, they stumble in the darkness of the cave. Those who remained in the cave laugh at them and in their impatience may even put them to death. [ 29 ]
Thus, the philosopher who has seen the world of ideas can explain the realities better than those who know only the shadowy world of sense. Some, however, cannot stand the light of truth. Those who know only darkness treat harshly those who have come from the world of light. Their prejudices and appetites are the chains that bind people. The real truth is represented by the sun, not by the man-made fire. "The highest life is a combination of contemplation (the mountain top) and action (returning to instruct others), of theory and practice." [ 30 ] Plato's myth leaves unanswered the question of what breaks one's chains. [ 31 ]
Aristotle is considered the most famous of Plato's students, but before we discuss his thoughts we should look briefly at the pre-Socratic philosophy of Heraclitus that Reality is One. According to him it was "essential to the being and the existence of the One that it should be one and many at the same time; that it should be Identity in Difference." [ 32 ] Regarding the nature of the world, Parmenides' first great assertion is that "It is." "It," i.e. Reality, Being, of whatever nature it may be, is, exists, and cannot not be. It is and it is impossible for it not to be." [ 33 ] He indicates that Being is spatially finite, for It must be definite, determinate, complete. [ 34 ] According to Copleston, "Parmenides does assert the distinction between Reason and Sense, but he does so not to establish an idealist system, but to establish a system of Monistic Materialism, in which change and movement are dismissed as illusory. Only Reason can apprehend Reality, but the Reality which Reason apprehends is material" [ 35 ] Parmenides' disciple, Melissus, held that Being, the One, but he would not accept that Being, the One, is spatially finite. [ 36 ] It is against this background that Aristotle introduces his "Is" of identify.
Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC) was the son of a physician with close connections to the Macedonian court. [ 37 ] At seventeen he went to study at Plato's Academy. At this point, Plato was interested in logic and the criticism of the theory of ideas. [ 38 ] Plato had gathered around him outstanding men specializing in various fields ranging from medicine and biology to mathematics and astronomy. Aristotle became one of those teachers. Though sharing no common doctrines, these teachers were united by the systematic effort to organize human knowledge on a firm theoretical basis and expand it in all directions: the same effort that was to characterize Aristotle's work. [ 39 ]
Aristotle remained at the Academy until Plato's death. Though he had begun to have different views from those of Plato, he initially saw himself as a true successor of Plato. [ 40 ] While away from Athens after Plato's death, Aristotle was commissioned to teach the then thirteen year old youth who was to become Alexander the Great. [ 41 ]
Upon his return to Athens, Aristotle opened his own school of rhetoric and philosophy which he called the Lyceum. However, he set his pupils to gathering and coordinating knowledge in every field: the history of science and philosophy; the chronology of victors of the Pythian games and the Athenian Dionysia; the customs of barbarians and the constitutions of the Greek cities; and the character and distribution of plants and the organs and habits of animals. The material provided by these researches provided him a treasury of data upon which to draw for his varied and innumerable treatises. [ 42 ]
We begin our introduction to Aristotle's "is" of identity by presenting an opposing view held by a modern (AD 1948) semantics scholar, Alfred Korzybski who has been instrumental in establishing an International Non-Aristotelian Library:
The elimination of the 'is' of identity appears as a serious task, because the A-
system [Korzybski uses "A" as an abbreviated reference to Aristotle] and
'logic' by which we regulate our lives, and the influence of which has been
eliminated only partially from science, represent only a very scholarly
formulation of the restricted primitive identification. Thus, we usually
assume, following A disciplines, that the 'is' of identity is fundamental for the
'laws of thought', which have been formulated as follows:
(1) The Law of Identity: whatever is, is.
(2) The Law of Contradiction: nothing can both be and not be.
(3) The Law of Excluded Middle: everything must either be or not be. [ 43 ]
According to this formula, a is a; a cannot be both a and not be a; it must either be a or not be, it cannot be anything else. However, this is not as simple as it may sound. Let us put it in different terms. Man is man. Man can not both be man and not be man. Man must either be man or not be. As we will see later, Aristotle saw man as substance, but as substance having certain qualities. He also saw substance, including man, as being in a constant state of movement, or change. Because of the changes in his very substance, man a is different from man A (note that in this example we are speaking of just one man), but man is still man and cannot be otherwise.
Korzybski's objections seem to lie primarily in the semantic and linguistic errors having resulted from Aristotelian thought. Calling it a pathologically reversed order, Korzybski says that from childhood up we are inculcated with words and language first and the facts they represent next. He says that Aristotle's two-valued system cannot deal adequately with electro-colloidal sub-microscopic levels of the functioning of our nervous system upon which our sanity depends. He stresses that though we are not entirely ignorant about ourselves, we may have only false knowledge or half-truths which breeds maladjustment. When we orient ourselves by verbal structures that do not fit facts, we react and act as if our false knowledge is the total of all that is to be known. Mistakes due to our mis-evaluations cause us to become bewildered, confused, obsessed with fears, etc.
Pointing out that he is not anti-Aristotelian, Korzybski says that a new non-Aristotelian system of evaluation must be established by which the Aristotelian system can be revised evaluated properly. He explains:
As a matter of fact we live in a world in which non-identity is as entirely
general as gravitation, and so every identification is bound to be in some
degree a mis-evaluation. In a four-dimensional world where 'every
geometrical point has a date', even an 'electron' at different dates is not
identical with itself because the sub-microscopic processes actually going on in
this world cannot empirically be stopped but only transformed. We can,
however, through extensional and four-dimensional methods translate the
dynamic into the static and the static into the dynamic, and so establish a
similarity of structure between language and facts, which was impossible by
Aristotelian methods. Unfortunately even some modern physicists are unable
to understand these simple facts. [ 44 ]
In refutation of the doctrines that Being is One held by Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Melissus, Aristotle raises the question, "In what sense is it asserted that all things are one?" He goes on to state that 'is' is used in many senses. [ 45 ] Further on he writes, "Even the more recent of the ancient thinkers were in a pother lest the same thing should turn out in their hands both one and many. So some, like Lycophron, were led to omit 'is', others to change the mode of expression and say 'the man has been whitened' instead of 'is white,' and 'walks' instead of 'is walking', for fear that if they added the word 'is' they should be making the one to be many--as if 'one' and 'being' were always used in one and the same sense." [ 46 ]
Aristotle divided things two ways: as substance and as motion. Substance is what we see in nature in a moment. Motion is when we see it as a world of change. [ 47 ] Everything in nature is a particular substance; substance being what something is in itself. [ 48 ]
In his Categories, Aristotle defines substance as that which is neither predicable of a subject nor present in a subject. [ 49 ] He has already stated: "Expressions which are in no way composite signify substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, position, state, action, or affection." [ 50 ] He then illustrates his definition through application to man.
After a lengthy discussion pertaining to primary and secondary substances as they pertain to the biological aspects of man, Aristotle discusses the expressions which signify substance. The reader is asked to pay particular attention to the following paragraphs. In discussing qualities, Aristotle states, "But one and the selfsame substance, while retaining its identity, is yet capable of admitting contrary qualities." Substances themselves change to admit contrary qualities. That which is white, by the process of change, may become black, or some other color. That which is good, by the process of change, may become bad. The following statements are of extreme importance. "Thus, in respect of the manner in which the thing takes place, it is the peculiar mark of substance that it should be capable of admitting contrary qualities; for it is by itself changing that it does so."
"If, then, a man should make this exception and contend that statements and opinions are capable of admitting contrary qualities, his contention is unsound. For statements and opinions are said to have this capacity, not because they themselves undergo modification, but because this modification occurs in the case of something else. The truth or falsity of a statement depends on facts, and not on any power of the part of the statement itself of admitting contrary qualities." To sum up, it is a distinctive mark of substance, that, which remaining numerically one and the same, it is capable of admitting contrary qualities, the modification taking place through a change in the substance itself. [ 51 ] Quality, in respect to man, will be discussed further in the thesis.
Among Quantities, Aristotle gives instances of discrete quantities such number and speech and instances of continuous quantities such as lines, surfaces, and solids, and time and place. Speech is considered a discrete quantity because its parts (syllables) have no common boundary and therefore are not continuous. Time, on the other hand, is a continuous quantity because past, present, and future form a continuous whole. Space, occupied by the parts of the solid having common boundaries that form the whole, is a continuous quantity. "Quantities consist either of parts which bear a relative position each to each, or of parts which do not." The parts of time and speech do not bear a relative position to each other. Their parts have no abiding existence and therefore are better spoken of as having relative order. The category of quantity does not admit of variation of degree. One period of time is not said to be more truly time than another. The most distinctive mark of quantity is that equality and inequality are predicted of it. That which is not a quantity can by no means be termed equal or unequal to anything else, but are rather compared in terms of similarity. [ 52 ]
Those things which, being either said to be of something else or related to something else, are called relative. The significance of habit, disposition, perception, knowledge, and attitude is explained by a reference to something else, and in no other way. "Those terms, then, are called relative, the nature of which is explained by reference to something else." All relatives, if properly defined, have correlatives, but the terms of that correlation differ according to that which is being examined. [ 53 ]
Quality is a term that may be used in many difference senses. In reference to man, Aristotle says, "By 'quality' I mean that in virtue of which people are said to be such and such." Habit and disposition may be called qualities, the difference being that habit is more lasting and more firmly established. [This was the perspective from which Aristotle distinguished between habit and disposition. Modern vernacular thought usually makes the distinction from the opposite perspective]. Various kinds of knowledge and virtues are called habits because they are more abiding in character and difficult to displace, unless some great mental upheaval takes place, through disease or any such cause. Disposition, on the other hand, is easily replaced by its opposite; that is unless disposition through lapse of time becomes difficult to replace and thus becomes habit. Affective qualities and affections comprise a third class within this category. Aristotle does not use the term "affective quality" as indicating that those things which admit these qualities are affected in any way. What he means is that these said qualities are capable of producing an "affection" in the way of perception. Sweetness has the power of affecting the sense of taste; heat, that of touch. There are also affections of the soul that are called qualities. "That temper with which a man is born and which has its origin in certain deep-seated affections is called a quality." By this, he refers to such conditions as insanity and irascibility, and to those abnormal psychic states which arise from the concomitance of certain other elements and are difficult to remove. Notice that they are only DIFFICULT TO REMOVE, NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO REMOVE. However, those which are easily rendered ineffective are called affections, rather than qualities. Qualities also admit of varying degrees. In discussing the category of quality, Aristotle included in it many relative terms, and that if anything should happen to fall within both the category of quality and that of relation, there would be nothing amiss in classing it under both these heads. [ 54 ]
" Action and affection both admit of contraries and also of variation of degree." The category of position was spoken of when dealing with that of relation. The categories of time, place, and state are easily intelligible. [ 55 ]
As we can see, Aristotle's "is" of identity took a multitude of factors into consideration. But that is not how it has been handed down to us. From birth, perhaps even before, labels of identity are hung on us. And we all too often try to live up to those labels. Some survive the labels and go on to achieve greatness. Thomas Edison was labeled as "too stupid to learn anything." Albert Einstein was labeled as "mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams." The sculptor Rodin was labeled "an idiot" by his father and "uneducatable" by his uncle. [ 56 ]
While my mentor was attending Northwestern University many years ago, a young honor student failed one class. He labeled himself a failure and committed suicide. [ 57 ] In a poem about me, my mentor wrote, "Not only was she told so oft she was a worthless brat, She had almost been led to think her life was just like that." [ 58 ] The label of worthlessness very nearly led me to commit suicide. One of my roommates in the nursing home had muscular dystrophy that did cause her gait to appear to be that of a drunken person. As she would walk down the street, she would overhear, "Look at that old drunk woman." She finally gave up, slashed her wrists, and attempted to drown herself in the bathtub. Fortunately someone found her in time. Hanging labels on people can be devastating. [ 59 ]
In the "jail" experiment conducted by Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo and his students in the summer of 1971, it was found that people tended to take on the roles expected of them. Volunteers were screened for physical and mental health problems, and twenty-one men were selected who seemed the most healthy, mature, and "normal." They were told fully of the experiment and then selected at random to play the role of either jailer or inmate. The experiment was to last only two weeks. Within a few days, both jailers and inmates had begun to take on the roles with which they had been labeled. All of the eleven guards behaved toward the prisoners in abusive and dehumanizing ways. The prisoners displayed "learned helplessness," doing less and less, initiating fewer conversations, and becoming more surly and depressed. Five of the prisoners, unable to cope with their own reactions, asked to leave. Zimbardo called off the experiment after only six days. [ 60 ]
Loren, thirty-eight years old and a Christian, was the owner of a successful small business. Loren, who had not had a drink for eight years, told a group of high school students "I'm a drunk." [ 61 ] The Alcoholics Anonymous creed begins, "I am an alcoholic." This writer recognizes that there may be a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. Also, some babies are born addicted to drugs or alcohol. But there is NO evidence that all who have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism become alcoholics, nor is there any evidence that a baby, once detoxicated, will develop into an addict. Many complications may develop as a result of infant addiction, but future addiction cannot be predicted. Sometime back I read an article, perhaps in Reader's Digest, of a minister who has successfully mastered whatever problems he may have had and had not had a drink in over thirty years. Yet he begins his lectures with the statement, "I am an alcoholic."
Has God not cleansed him of his past sins? Does not the blood of Christ keep cleansing him from sin? Dare he, as did Peter when the sheet descended from heaven containing all manner of four-footed beasts, wild beasts, creeping things, and fowls of the air, label what God has cleansed as "unclean"? "And a voice came unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thou common" (Acts 10:15). Very often a Christian labels himself, "I am a sinner." Why then does he not repent and be cleansed from his sin? "And this is the message which we have heard from him and announce unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 John 1:5-10). "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother" (1 John 3:9-10). If we label ourselves as sinners after God has cleansed us of our sins do we not make God a liar? Throughout the epistles, believers are addressed or referred to as saints, not as sinners. Have we sinned in the past? Of course. Do we sin now? Yes. But do we continue in the practice of sin? Absolutely not. If a Christian counselee continues to believe in his heart that he is sinner, out of the abundance of that belief will continually come sinful actions (Cf. Matthew 12:34). If, however, he believes in his heart that he has been cleansed from his sins and that he can live a life pleasing to our Lord, then he will grow and abound in the fruits of the spirit, "Seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue; whereby he hath granted unto us his precious and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in that world by lust. Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue; and in your virtue knowledge; and in your knowledge self-control; and in your self-control patience; and in your patience godliness; and in your godliness brotherly kindness; and in your brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:3-8). Contrary to popular interpretation, the term "virtue" used in this passage and in other Scriptures does not mean "purity." Rather, it is interpreted from the Greek arete, which means "force" or "strength" of either mind or body. Even the English term is derived from a term that has reference to force rather than to purity, as "a virile, or strong, man."
This writer was raised and lived for many years on the West Coast, which is heavily Catholic. Possibly because they go to confession, get "absolution" of their sins, and do their penance, Catholics do not appear to have as much difficulty with labeling themselves or others as do Protestants. But New England was settled by the Puritans holding hyper-Calvinistic beliefs. [ 62 ] Mankind, including infants, was considered born in total depravity. Since "only supernatural grace could overcome total depravity," the ability to love and keep God's law indicated that a person was a child of God. Having the virtues that led to prosperity were also indications that one was in God's favor. However, because it was by God's grace and not one's own merit, it was considered sinful to say anything good about oneself. Subsequently, failure in any area was frowned upon by oneself and by others. Even though original beliefs may have been long forgotten or even denied, frowning on failure to this day remains an underlying current in our society. And to acknowledge one's well-earned achievements is considered as boasting.
The counselor should begin to take careful heed to the counselee who, in general conversation, hangs labels upon himself or upon others: "I guess I'm just a failure," "I'm not much account," "I keep messing up," or "I just can't seem to do so and so," "He is so and so." Possibly in most cases these statements will indicate an unwillingness to take responsibility for one's own life. The last statement given may indicate self-irresponsibility, a tendency to blame others for one's own failures, or a comparison with others so that one's own failures do not appear as failures. Sometimes a counselee may belittle himself for any number of reasons.
However in some cases they may indicate that the counselee lacks understanding of who he is as a human being beloved by God and that he lacks understanding of the power of God to change his life. The sincere Christian counselee needs to have Hebrews 6:1-2 strongly impressed upon him, "Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection; not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the teaching of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." Then he needs to become firmly established in Philippians 3:12-16, "Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before. I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you: only, whereunto we have attained, by that same rule let us walk." Certainly no Christian should be boastful in a sinful manner. But certainly no Christian should ever belittle himself in any way, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law. And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof. If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk" (Galatians 5:22-25). Even Aristotle recognized that great mental upheaval could bring about a change of the most ingrained qualities. How much more so the power of God.
Chapter Three: Aristotle's "either/or" logic
Korzybski, in rejecting what he refer to as Aristotle's either-or logic: everything must either be or not be, says that it gives the two-valued character to Aristotelian logic, "establishing as a general principle, what represents only a limiting case and so, as a general principle, must be unsatisfactory." [ 63 ] Durant, in describing Aristotle's logic, says, "He lays down resolutely, as the axiom of all logic, the principle of contradiction: 'It is impossible for the same attribute at once to belong and not to belong to the same thing in the same relation." [ 64 ]
The passage containing Aristotle's own statement under consideration in this thesis is quite long, but for clarity perhaps it is best to quote all of it that it might be seen its own context.
Evidently then it belongs to the philosopher, i.e. to him who is studying the
nature of all substance, to inquire also into the principles of syllogism. But he
who knows best about each genus must be able to state the most certain
principles of his subject, so that he whose subject is existing things qua [This
is an obscure word to most of us. It means, " by virtue of being."] existing
must be able to state the most certain principles of all things. This is the
philosopher, and the most certain principle of all is that, regarding which it is
impossible to be mistaken; for such a principle must be both the best known
(for all men may be mistaken about things which they do not know), and non-
hypothetical. For a principle which every one must have who understands
anything that is, is not a hypothesis; and that which every one must know who
knows anything, he must already have when he comes to a special study.
Evidently then such a principle is the most certain of all; which principle this
is, let us proceed to say. It is, that the same attribute cannot at the same time
belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect; [italics
and emphases mine] we must presuppose, to guard against dialectical
objections, any further qualifications which might be added. This, then, is the
most certain of all principles, since it answers to the definition given above.
For it is impossible for any one to believe the same thing to be and not to be,
as some think Heraclitus says. For what a man says, he does not necessarily
believe; and if it is impossible that contrary attributes should belong at the
same time to the same subject ( the usual qualifications must be
presupposed in this premise too) [emphases mine], and if an opinion which
contradicts another is contrary to it, obviously it is impossible for the same
man at the same time to believe the same thing to be and not to be; for if a
man were mistaken on this point he would have contrary opinions at the same
time. It is for this reason that all who are carrying out a demonstration reduce
it to this as an ultimate belief; for this is naturally the starting point even for all
the other axioms. [ 65 ]
Aristotle does not seem to be imposing a two-valued limitation on man as Korzybski indicates. As we noted earlier, he took into consideration the categories of substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, position, possession, activity, and passivity. [ 66 ] A man might possess many different attributes. Or he might possess the same attributes in different respects. Health and illness are contrary attributes. Yet a man might possess both these attributes, but in different respects of time and in differing degrees. In other words, he might be well and then gradually become sick.
In introducing his Metaphysics, Aristotle says, "All men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to do anything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything else. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know and brings to light many differences between things." [ 67 ]
Somehow we fail to take into consideration the many different attributes and situations that are common to man. We seem to see man in only one of two aspects. He is "either/or" something. He is a success or he is a failure. He is either well or he is sick. He is either a good citizen or he is a bad citizen. We consider that he is a good citizen in that he fulfills his civic responsibilities of voting, of serving on a jury, or of holding public office. Yet we do not consider that perhaps at the very time he is going to fulfill those responsibilities, he is a bad citizen during that brief time span when he makes only a rolling stop at the stop sign. These are contrary attributes, but they are held in different respects.
In a chart comparing what he refers to as the old Aristotelian orientations (circa 350 BC), with his new general semantic non-Aristotelian orientations (AD 1941), Korzybski compares Aristotle's "Two-valued, 'either-or', inflexible, dogmatic orientations" with his own "Infinite-valued flexibility, degree, orientations." [ 68 ] Korzybski does acknowledge the excellence of Aristotle's work considering the very few scientific facts known 2,300 years ago, but insists that the orientations of that day were by necessity two-valued and "objective" [ 69 ] Durant, while acknowledging Aristotle's many errors, says that it was characteristic of his methodical approach that he arranged into ten "categories" the basic aspects under which anything may be considered. [ 70 ] "Universals," says Aristotle, "are generalized ideas, not innate but formed from many perceptions of like objects; they are conceptions, not things." [ 71 ] Aristotle, says Durant, was weakest in mathematics and physics and in those areas confined himself to the study of first principles and sought to establish clear definitions of the terms used: matter, motion, space, time, continuity, infinite, change, and end. Though he did nothing to solve the problems, he did have some conception of inertia, gravity, motion, velocity, the law of the lever, and the parallelogram of forces. [ 72 ]
Daily we hear such "either/or" expressions as "He has to be either for or against" what ever may be the topic of conversation under consideration. "He is for the proposed new recreation area," or "He is against the new recreation area." "He is for school prayer," or "He is against school prayer." "He is a good child," or "He is a bothersome child." Whatever comes up in general conversation, most persons seem to think they have to take a stand on one side or on the other side. And, generally, it is woe to the person who tries to insert some reason into the conversation.
Weldon Payne, a retired newspaper journalist whom this writer personally knows to have deep insight into human behavior, writes: "For none is so dangerous as he who claims unique possession of absolute rightness." "Such delusions," Payne says, "can grow out of grudges but more often find their origin in fear." "Afraid and alone, a person feels himself alienated from mankind and seeks an enemy, perhaps even one of his own making, upon whom to dump all wrongness. In doing so, he takes unto himself absolute rightness. So he can destroy all else and feel justified in doing it". [ 73 ] This was written following the recent tragedy in Oklahoma City.
Those with strongly held ideas, though usually recognized by a counselor as needing counsel, do not seek counseling. In their own eyes, they are right, there is no other viewpoint. If a court orders counseling, secular counseling will generally be recommended. However, on some rare occasions, if a Christian counselor recognizes that a problem exists in someone with whom he comes in contact, he may be able to reach the person through some other means, such as establishing friendship or participating with the person in non-controversial interests. If the person likes fishing, the counselor may be able to open the door by inviting the person to go fishing--or, as my mentor did once--even ask the person to teach him how to fish. [ 74 ]
Those with strongly held ideas can divide a country, divide a community, or divide a church. But perhaps the most tragic consequences are seen in individual lives. Seeing life from an "either/or" perspective may limit one's mental, emotional, or spiritual growth. To entertain a new idea means to that individual that his old idea was wrong. To become acquainted with a person holding a different religious view and to see that, though his religious view is non-Christian, the person is still a nice person and a good citizen puts the individual in the position of either changing his old viewpoint or denying what he now knows to be true. If he denies what he knows to be true, then he limits his mental growth. To become aware that there are better ways to handle one's emotions puts that individual in the position of either changing the ways that he handled his emotions or denying what he now knows to be true. Again, if he denies what he knows to be true, then he limits his emotional growth. Likewise in the spiritual realm. Learning new spiritual truths puts the individual in the position of either accepting or denying what he now knows to be true. If he denies what he now knows to be true, he limits his spiritual growth.
Because of the torment one suffers when torn between changing his views or denying what he now knows to be true, this individual is likely to seek counseling. The presenting problem causing one to seek counseling may be any number of things. The person himself probably is quite unaware of what is happening to him. However, a counselor who listens with his heart may often apprehend the problem rather quickly upon hearing a number of "either/or" expressions that the counselee unawares will use in his general conversation.
When writing what is supposed to be a scholarly thesis, this writer has reservations about bringing in personal experiences. Yet when using other resources, one often uses the personal experiences of others to illustrate his point. And what can one be more knowledgeable about than that he has himself experienced? My husband served in the ministry over twenty years. During that time we came into close contact with many beliefs. Some we accepted for a time. Neither of us had even a high school education. But as we would study the Scriptures to the best of our knowledge, we would find some beliefs to be false and discard them. I had seen him discard some beliefs that his grandfather, a Separate Baptist preacher, had held. So, after he died, I had no difficulty in discarding what I found to be unscriptural. But for us, this had been an "either/or" perspective. A belief was either true or it was false.
Shortly after my husband's death, I met T. Pierce Brown, who was later to become my counselor and mentor. My husband and I were strong believers in baptism by immersion, though many of our associates over the years had tried to tell us it was unnecessary. During the course of conversation, Brother Brown perceived that I did not understand that the purpose of baptism was for the remission of sins, "And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). We spent several hours studying the Scriptures. At that point I could not agree with him and was determined to show him that he was wrong. But I was seeking the truth. After he left, I took Young's Concordance, and with prayer and fasting, studied the Scriptures on my own, taking into consideration those he had left with me, those my husband had used, and those I found on my own. After three days and two nights of almost continual study, I found that somehow my husband and I had misread 1 Peter 3:21, "Which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" to read "baptism doth not now save you, but the answer of a good conscience toward God." Brother Brown was right. The very Scriptures that I thought would prove him wrong, proved me to be wrong. Probably, in my husband's early ministry, we had heard someone misquote the passage, and, having confidence in the person at that time, simply had not taken time to check the Scriptures for ourselves.
But this put me in a serious quandary. If I obeyed the gospel and was re-baptized, this time for the remission of sins, would not this set at naught everything that my husband and I had tried to do in the service of our Lord? Yet if I did not, I knew I would be in disobedience to the Scriptures. I perceived of it only as an "either/or" situation. Many of those whom I now call my brethren still view things from an "either/or" perspective. Most would have given up at that point and issued an ultimatum. Brother Brown, however, perceived change as part of one's growth, "That ye be not sluggish, but imitators of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made promise to Abraham, since he could swear by none greater, he sware by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee" (Hebrews 6:12-14). He pointed out that my husband and I had walked faithfully and had grown spiritually in all the light we had. To be re-baptized was not a denial of our faith (Hebrews 6:1-2), but another step in my spiritual growth; a step my husband also would have taken had he known to do so.
This writer read Korzybski in 1987 and reviewed portions for this thesis. After reading all of Aristotle's Categories, and considerable portions of Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics, Physics, and Metaphysics, this writer does not find the "is" of identity or the "either/or" logic as attributed to him by Korzybski. NEVERTHELESS, THOSE ARE THE IDEAS THAT HAVE BEEN HANDED DOWN TO US AND WHICH HAVE BECOME PART OF THE FABRIC OF OUR LIVES.
Chapter Four: Augustine's doctrine of original sin
Before discussing Augustine's doctrine of original sin, we need to examine the beliefs held by earlier Christians that are relative to our subject. The great commission given in the Scriptures reads, "And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:18-20). These new disciples came from the diverse worlds of Judaism, Greco-Roman culture, and from a multitude of various forms of paganism. They brought with them into the church those beliefs which they held. Christian doctrine, as do other doctrines and beliefs, developes as questions arise within the Christian community.
As these questions arose, many were addressed in the writings of the church fathers, now known as Patristic literature. Patristic literature, written between the latter part of the first century AD and the middle of the eighth century, is to be distinguished from the New Testament theology at one end and from the medieval scholasticism and Byzantine systematization at the other. Reflecting the philosophical and religious thought of the Hellenistic and Roman world from which it derived the bulk of its concepts and vocabulary, the theological reflection of the Fathers focused for the most part on questions of Christology and the Trinity. [ 75 ]
Perceptible shades of difference can be found in the theologies of the writers of the East and those of the West. Eastern theology tended to be scientific, and was marked by a blend of biblical theology and Platonic idealism (especially in Alexandria) or Aristotelian realism (especially in Antioch). Western writers depended on the Greek theological tradition, but clarified definitions or interpreted in juridical categories until the emergence in the late fourth century of a sophisticated Latin theology. [ 76 ]
Falling into three main periods, the anti-Nicene period (before AD 325) includes the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, the apologetic and anti heretical literature, and the beginnings of speculative Greek theology. Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Origen, and Tertullian were the major figures of this period. Between the councils of Nicaea (AD 325) and Chalcedon (AD 451), what is referred to by some as the golden age of the Nicene fathers included Eusebius of Caesarea, (the first major church historian), the Alexandrians (most notable Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria), the Cappadocians (Basil, the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa), and the Antiochenes (John Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia. Included in this period also were the great Latin fathers: Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose, Jerome, and above all, Augustine. Patristic literature ends with Gregory I (the Great) in the West and in the East, John Damascene. [ 77 ]
Since the doctrine of original sin falls under the category of Christology, we will begin by examining patristic literature pertinent to our subject. In view of today's theology, these writers held some views that were unscriptural. However, it is to be remembered that some of the earliest writers wrote about the same time the Scriptures were still being compiled. Also, it is to be remembered that it was some years before there was what we refer to as the canon of Scripture. The Scriptures had been completed by Augustine's time, however. And in this writer's understanding of the Scriptures, Augustine, to whom is formally credited the doctrine of original sin, also held to formal Catholic views that to Protestants and other non-Catholic believers are unscriptural.
The works of the Apostolic Fathers, though non biblical church writings, are important because their writers are presumed to have known either the Apostles or their associates. Their writings, expressing pastoral concern, are similar in style to the New Testament. Before the official canon was decided, some were venerated as Scripture. These writers included Clement 1 (d. AD 101), Hermas (2nd.-century), Ignatius of Antioch (d. c. AD 101), Polycarp (c. AD 69 - c. AD 155), and the author of the Epistle of Barnabas. Papias of Hierapolis (f1. 130)and the authors of the Epistle to Diognetus and of the Didache were later considered Apostolic Fathers. [ 78 ] One of the beliefs held by most non-Jewish converts was that man's destiny was controlled by their pagan gods or by cosmic design. For this reason, much of the patristic literature focused on man's free will and responsibility for his own actions.
Clement of Rome (d. AD 101) was the bishop of Rome from c. AD 92 to AD 101, and was, according to Irenaeus, the third successor of Saint Peter. Until the fourth century, Clement's epistle written to the Corinthians appealing for restoration of peace, harmony, and order, was accepted by some as Scripture. While giving a valuable picture of early church organization, belief, and practice, the document also demonstrates Clement's familiarity with Greek Stoic philosophy and mythology. [ 79 ]
In rebuking the Corinthians for their envy, Clement quotes the following passage from the Septuagint: "And it came to pass after certain days, that Cain brought of the fruits of the earth a sacrifice unto God; and Abel also brought of the firstlings of his sheep, and of the fat thereof. And God had respect to Abel and to his offerings, but Cain and his sacrifices He did not regard. And Cain was deeply grieved, and his countenance fell. And God said to Cain, Why art thou grieved, and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou offerest rightly, but dost not divide rightly, hast thou not sinned? Be at peace: thine offering returns to thyself, and thou shalt again possess it.." [ 80 ] This passage is extremely important, regardless of from what version it is translated, because it clearly shows that man, even after being removed from the garden and placed under the sentence of death by being cut off from the tree of life, still had a will that was free to serve God in an acceptable manner.
Justin Martyr (c. AD 100 - c. AD 165), in his dialogue with Trypho, of the Jews who were hoping for salvation because they were the sons of Abraham, quotes Isaiah 1:9, "And unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we would have been like Sodom and Gomorrah." Further on he quotes Ezekiel 18:20, "But neither shall the father perish for the son, nor the son for the father; but every one for his own sin, and each shall be saved for his own righteousness." He concludes that chapter by stating that what he has said in his previous chapters had proved "that those who were fore known to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God's fault, but each man by his own fault is what he will appear to be." [ 81 ]
Anticipating that those whom he was addressing would have a pretext to say that Christ must have been crucified by their nation and the matter could not have been otherwise, Martyr says "God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness; possessing reason, that they may know by whom they are created, and through whom they, not existing formerly, do now exist; and with a law that they should be judged by Him, if they do anything contrary to right reason: and of ourselves we, men and angels, shall be convicted of having acted sinfully, unless we repent beforehand." Because God fore knew that some angels and men would be unchangeably wicked, the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall be certainly punished. But God did not thus create them. If they repent, all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God. Scriptures teach that the one who repented of his sins is blessed by receiving remission of them, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin" (Psalms 32:2). [ 82 ]
Irenaeus (AD 120 - AD 202), in writing against heresies, says that those who claim that Christ did not assume actual flesh reject the analogy between Him and Adam. If the one springing from the earth had formation and substance from both the hand and the workmanship of God, and the other not from the hand and workmanship of God, "then He who was made after the image and likeness of the former did not, in that case preserve the analogy of man, and He must seem an inconsistent piece of work, not having wherewith He may show His wisdom. For if Christ appeared only putatively as man while taking nothing from man, then He was neither made man or the Son of man. If He did not receive the substance of flesh from a human being, He did no great thing when He suffered and endured. Since we are composed of a body taken from the earth and a soul receiving spirit from God, 'Therefore the Word of God was made, recapitulating in Himself His own handiwork; and on this account does He confess Himself the Son of man' and blesses 'the meek because they shall inherit the earth'" (Matthew 5:5). [ 83 ]
Citing the Pauline epistles, Irenaeus says that the Scriptures declare plainly, "God sent His Son, made of a woman" (Galatians 4:4). Using Romans 1:3-4, he declares, "Concerning His Son, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was predestinated as the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord." [ 84 ]
Irenaeus then raises the question of why Christ descended from heaven into the body of Mary if He took nothing from her. Pointing out those things that are tokens of the flesh which Christ took upon Himself through Mary, Irenaeus says that He availed Himself of foods that are "derived from the earth by which that body taken from the earth is nourished." He points out that unless His body was craving earthly nourishment, He would not have hungered after fasting forty days, as did Moses and Elias. Citing John 4:6, he points out that Christ was wearied from the journey and sat to rest. Also, David proclaimed of Him beforehand, "They have added to the grief of my wounds" (Psalms 69:27). Irenaeus points out that He wept over Lazarus. He sweated great drops of blood. And He declared, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful" (Matthew 26:38). And when His side was pierced, blood and water came forth. "For all these are tokens of the flesh which had been derived from the earth, which He had recapitulated in Himself, bearing salvation to His own handiwork" [ 85 ]
The following paragraph is lengthy, but I quote it in full that the reader may grasp its full context.
Wherefore Luke points out that the pedigree which traces the generation of
our Lord back to Adam contains seventy-two generation, connecting the end
with the beginning, and implying that it is He who has summed up in Himself
all nations dispersed from Adam downwards, and all languages and
generations of men, together with Adam himself. Hence also was Adam
himself termed by Paul 'the figure of Him that was to come' [Romans 5:14],
because the Word, the Maker of all things, had formed beforehand for
Himself the future dispensation of the human race, connected with the Son of
God; God having predestined that the first man should be of an animal nature
with this view, that he might be saved by the spiritual One. For inasmuch as
He had a pre-existence as a saving Being, it was necessary that what might be
saved should also be called into existence, in order that the Being who saves
should not exist in vain." [ 86 ].
Using the parable of the strong man, Irenaeus, points out that in sinning, Adam became a captive of Satan, thereby entailing death upon himself. But when the stronger man freed the captive, He also freed all those begotten unto him while in captivity. Irenaeus points out that God pronounced no curse against Adam personally, but against the ground. As punishment, man received, the toilsome task of tilling the earth, and to eat bread in the sweat of his face, and to return to the dust from whence he was taken. As punishment, the woman received toil and labor and groans and the pangs of parturition, and a state of subjection to her husband, "so that they should neither perish altogether when cursed by God, nor, by remaining unreprimanded, should be led to despise God." Citing Genesis 3:14, Irenaeus says that the curse in all its fullness fell upon the serpent. He backs this up with Matthew 25:14, "Depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire, which my Father hath prepared for the devil and his angels." This, says Irenaeus, indicates that eternal fire was not originally prepared for man, but for him who beguiled man, thus causing him to offend. [ 87 ] Man, says Irenaeus, was driven out of Paradise and away from the tree of life because God pitied man and did not desire "that he should continue a sinner for ever, nor that the sin which surrounded him should be immortal, and evil interminable and irremediable." By imposing death, He set a bound to his state of sin, so that man, "ceasing at length to live to sin and dying to it, might begin to live for God." [ 88 ]
Citing Proverbs 1:7; 9:10, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," Irenaeus points out that man, after having transgressed, hid himself from God. Adam's sense of sin led him to repentance as shown through means of the fig-leaves with which he covered himself while there were many other leaves that would have irritated his body to a lesser degree. [ 89 ]
Irenaeus, in another thesis against heresy, says that men are possessed of free will, and endowed with the faculty of making a choice and therefore it not true that some are by nature good, and others bad. [ 90 ] Matthew 23:37, "How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not," Irenaeus says, sets forth the ancient law of human liberty. From the beginning God made man a free agent, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests [This is an obscure word meaning "commands."] of God voluntarily and not by compulsion of God. In man, as well as in angels, "God has placed the power of choice so that those who yield obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves. There is no coercion with God, but a good will is continually present with Him and therefor He gives good counsel to all. Those who "have not obeyed shall, with justice, be not found in possession of the good, and shall receive condign [obsolete word meaning "worthy."] punishment: for God did kindly bestow on them what was God; but they themselves did not diligently keep it, nor deem it something precious, but poured contempt upon His super-eminent Goodness." Irenaeus then cites Paul as his proof text, "But dost thou despise the riches of His goodness, and patience, and long-suffering being ignorant that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest to thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God." "But glory and honor," he says, "to everyone that doeth good." (Romans 2:4, 5, 7). God has given that which is good, and they who work it shall receive glory and honor, because they have in their power not to do it. But because they did not work good when they had it in their power so to do, those who do not shall receive the just judgment of God.
If some had been made bad by nature bad, they would not be reprehensible, for thus they were originally made. On the other hand, if some had been made good by nature, they would not be deserving of praise for being good, for such were they created by nature. All men are of the same nature, able both to hold fast and to do what is good; and, on the other hand, having also the power to cast it off from them and not do it. Because it is in our power to do justly or to not do justly, God exhorted men through the prophets to what was good, to act justly and to work righteousness, because by excessive negligence we might become forgetful, and thus stand in need of that good counsel which the good God had given us to know by means of the prophets. [ 91 ]
As additional proof, Irenaeus cites Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Luke 21:34 says, "Take heed to yourselves, lest perchance your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and worldly cares." And Luke 12:35-36, 47 reads, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning, and ye like unto men that wait for their Lord, and when He returns from the wedding, that when He cometh and knocketh, they may open to Him. Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when He cometh, shall find so doing." "The servant who knows his Lord's will, and does it not, shall be beaten with many stripes." Luke 6:46 says, "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" These passages demonstrate the independent will of man. These passages also demonstrate the counsel that God conveys to man by which He exhorts us to submit ourselves to Him and seeks to turn us away from the sin of unbelief against Him. However, as these passages also demonstrate, God in no way coerces us. [ 92 ]
One who is unwilling to follow the Gospel itself has it within his power to reject it, but it is not expedient. But to do so brings injury and mischief. According to Irenaeus, when Paul says, "All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient" (1 Corinthians 6:12), he refers to the liberty of man, in which respect "all things are lawful," because God exercises no compulsion in regard to him. The expression "not expedient" points out that we "should not use our liberty as a cloak of maliciousness" (1 Peter 2:16) for this is not expedient. Using Ephesians 4:25, 29; and 1 Corinthians 6:11, Irenaeus poses the question, "If then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things and to abstain from others?" He then answers that advice is always given to man to keep fast the good because man, created in the likeness of God, has from the beginning been possessed of free will. [ 93 ]
Citing Matthew 8:13; 9:29; and Mark 9:23, Irenaeus says that these expressions demonstrate that man also is in his own power with respect to faith. It is for this reason "He that believeth in Him has eternal life; while he who believeth not the Son hath not eternal life, but the wrath of God shall remain upon Him" (John 3:36). In the same manner Matthew 23: 37-38 shows God's own goodness and indicates that man is in his own free will and his own power, "How often have I wished to gather thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. Wherefore your house shall be left unto you desolate." [ 94 ]
Clement of Alexandria (c. AD 150 - c. AD 215),originally a pagan philosopher whose date of birth is unknown, upon embracing Christianity and being instructed of its most eminent teachers in Greece, Italy, Egypt, Palestine, and other regions of the East, became the illustrious head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria at the close of the second century. [ 95 ] In his "Stromata," Clement writes, "Now the devil, being possessed of free-will, was able both to repent and to steal; and it was he who was the author of the theft, not the Lord, who did not prevent him. But neither was the gift hurtful, so as to require that prevention should intervene." [ 96 ] He explains that neither praises nor censures, neither rewards nor punishments, are right, when the soul has not the power of inclination and disinclination, but evil is involuntary, "Whence he who prevents is a cause; while he who prevents not judges justly the soul's choice." [ 97 ] "Sinning arises from being unable to determine what ought to be done, or being unable to do it," wrote Clement. "But application of ourselves and subjection to the commandments is in our own power; with which if we will have nothing to do by abandoning ourselves wholly to lust, we shall sin, nay rather, wrong our own soul." Clement is addressing Christians, but he goes on to illustrate his point by referring to the Euripides' Greek tragedy, Medea. [ 98 ] After quoting Paul, "For there is no unrighteousness with God" (Romans 9:14), Clement quotes Deuteronomy 10:12, "And now, Israel, what doth the Lord God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, and to walk in all His ways, and love Him, and serve Him alone? Clearly, this is asked of those who have the power of choosing salvation." [ 99 ] Clement says Plato writes of man as a creature subject to change. [ 100 ] Since Augustine embraced neo-Platonism, this is an important point to remember and will be considered in more detail further in the thesis. Clement says the Lord has, in proportion to the adaptation possessed by each, "dispensed His beneficence both to Greeks and Barbarians, even to those of them that were predestinated, and in due time called the faithful and elect." [ 101 ] From the first it was the law that virtue should be the object of voluntary choice. The Commandments, according to the Law, and before the Law ordained that one should receive eternal life and the blessed prize, who chose them. [ 102 ] "Everything, then, which did not hinder a man's choice from being free, He made and rendered auxiliary to virtue, in order that there might be revealed somehow or other, even to those capable of seeing but dimly, the one only almighty, good God--from eternity to eternity saving by His Son." [ 103 ] "Now everything that is virtuous changes for the better; having as the proper cause of change the free choice of knowledge, which the soul has in its own power." [ 104 ] Clearly, Clement viewed all mankind as having the power to choose between good and evil, a view later to be denied by the doctrine of original sin.
Tertullian (c. AD 155 - AD 220) is considered one of the greatest Western theologians and writers of Christian antiquity, his writings greatly influencing the development of Western thought and the creation of Christian ecclesiastical Latin. A man of fiery temperament, great talent, and unrelenting purpose, Tertullian was an extremist by nature who wrote with brilliant rhetoric and biting satire. His passion for truth led him into polemics with his enemies; whether pagans, Jews, heretics, or Catholics. [ 105 ]
In his Treatise on the Soul, Tertullian describes the soul as being rational as its natural condition, having its rationality impressed upon it from its very first creation by its Author. God, who is Himself essentially rational, expressly sent forth by His own breath into man. According to Tertullian, "The irrational element, however, we must understand to have accrued later, as having proceeded from the instigation of the serpent--the very achievement of (the first) transgression--which thenceforward became inherent in the soul, and grew with its growth, assuming the manner by this time of a natural development, happening as it did immediately at the beginning of nature." [ 106 ]
Tertullian ascribes a triad of qualities operating in Christ and also in man. His rational quality was that by which He taught, by which he discoursed, and by which He prepared the way of salvation. His quality of indignation was that by which He inveighed against the scribes and the Pharisees. And His quality of desire is seen in his desire so earnestly to eat the Passover with His disciples. God, with perfect reason, will be angry with those who deserve His wrath. We, likewise, are permitted to feel indignation, as did Paul, "I would that they were even cut off which trouble you" (Galatians 5:12). His desire to maintain discipline and order were in perfect agreement with reason, as was his wrath against those causing disorder. God will desire whatever objects and claims are worthy of Himself, showing indignation against the evil man and for the good man desiring salvation. We, likewise, are permitted to desire, "If any man desireth the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work" (1 Timothy 3:1). This desire is in perfect agreement with reason. Sin, however, is irrational, proceeding from the devil, and being extraneous to God; the irrational being an alien principle to Him. The incentive to sin likewise proceeds from the devil. "In our own cases," says Tertullian, "accordingly, the irascible and the concupiscible elements of our soul must not invariably be put to the account of the irrational (nature), since we are sure that in our Lord these elements operated in entire accordance with reason." [ 107 ] (Concupisicible is an obscure word usually referring to sexual lust, but may be used to refer to any very strong desire, as indicated by the presence of this element in our Lord operatine in entire accordance with reason.)
Pursuing his treatise that the soul has within it two natures, the rational and the irrational, Tertullian say that notwithstanding the depravity of man's soul by original sin, there is yet left a basis whereon divine grace can work for its recovery by spiritual regeneration. That which is derived from God may be obscured but it cannot be extinguished because it comes from God. "Just as no soul is without sin, so neither is any soul without seeds of good." [ 108 ]
In refuting Marcion's idea that man's fall showed failure in God, Tertullian says that God, in His subsequent laws, also sets before man good and evil, life and death, and that this is on no other ground than that man is free, with a will either for obedience or resistance. It is proper that one created in the image and likeness of God should be formed with a free will and a mastery of himself. "For this purpose such an essence was adapted to man as suited this character, even the afflatus [Afflatus is an obscure word meaning "the communication of supernatural knowledge, as in a state of exaltation." An obsolete meaning, which may have been the meaning used here is "a breathing." Remember, man became a living soul when God breathed into him His own breath.] of the Deity, Himself free and uncontrolled." [ 109 ] He goes on to say that God would not have made all things subject to man if he had been too weak for that dominion. Nor would have put the burden of law upon him, if he had been incapable of sustaining so great a weight. Nor would He have threatened with the penalty of death a creature whom He knew to be guiltless on the score of his helplessness. "And thus it comes to pass, that even now also, the same human being, the same substance of his soul, the same condition as Adam's, is made conqueror over the same devil by the selfsame liberty and power of his will, when it moves in obedience to the laws of God." [ 110 ]
In his Exhortation to Chastity, Tertullian says that the one power that rests with man is the power of volition. If we contend that nothing is done by us without the will of God, then would every sin be excused. There are some things that God not only forbids but denounces with eternal punishment. On the other hand, there are some things that He does will and enjoins with promises of the reward of eternity. When we have learned from His precepts what He does not will and what He does will, we still have volition, and an arbitrating power of electing the one, "Behold, I have set before thee good and evil: for thou hast tasted of the tree of knowledge." It is a volition of our own when we will that which is in antagonism to God's will. Our volition has its source in ourselves, even as did Adam, the seed from whom we sprung, have volition within himself. The devil did not impose upon Adam the volition to sin, but subministered material to the volition. The will of God, on the other hand, had come to a question of obedience. In like manner, if one fails to obey God who has trained him by setting before him the precept of free action, will, through the liberty of his will, willingly turn into the downward course of doing what God nills [This is an archaic term meaning "to be unwilling," i.ed. doing what God is unwilling for man to do.]. Albeit the devil does will that one should will something that God nills, still he does not make you will it, inasmuch as he did not reduce those our protoplasts to the volition of sin; nor against their will, or in ignorance as to what God nilled. God nilled a thing to be done when He made death the destined consequence of it commission. The work of the devil is to make trial whether we do will that which it rests with us to will. When we have willed, it follows that the devil subjects us to himself; not by having wrought volition in us, but by having found a favorable opportunity in our volition. "Therefore, since the only thing which is in our power is volition--and it is herein that our mind toward God is put to proof, whether we will the things which coincide with His will -- deeply and anxiously must the will of God be pondered again and again, I say, (to see) what even in secret He may will." [ 111 ]
Origen (AD 185 - AD 254) says that the holy apostles "delivered themselves with the utmost clearness on certain points which they believed to be necessary to everyone . . .." [ 112 ] After discussing God the creator, Origen then takes up the subject of Jesus Christ, saying that He was truly born and did truly suffer, "and did not endure this death common (to man) in appearance only, but did truly die; that He did truly rise from the dead; and after His resurrection He conversed with His disciples, and was taken up (into heaven)." Following a brief discussion of the Holy Spirit, Origen takes up the subject of the soul, saying that it has a substance and life of its own and after its departure from the world, will be rewarded according to its deserts, "being destined to obtain either an inheritance of eternal life and blessedness, if its actions shall have procured this for it, or to be delivered up to eternal fire and punishments, if the guilt of its crimes shall have brought it down to this." He goes on to say that the teaching of the Church clearly defines that every rational soul is possessed of free-will and volition. He says that it a struggle to maintain with the devil and his angels and opposing influences because they strive to burden the soul with sins. However, "if we live rightly and wisely, we should endeavor to shake ourselves free from a burden of that kind." It therefore follows that we also understand that we are not subject so as to be compelled by all means, even against our will, to do either good or evil. Though some influences may impel to sin or others help us towards salvation, we are our own masters and are not forced by any necessity either to act rightly or wrongly. [ 113 ]
In a later passage, Origen says, "That the working of the Father and the Son operates both in saints and in sinners is manifest from this, that all who are rational beings are partakers of the word, i.e., of reason, and by this means bear certain seeds implanted within them, of wisdom and justice, which is Christ." [ 114 ] As his proof text, he gives Romans 10:6-8, "Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (i.e., to bring Christ down from above;) or who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith the Scripture? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart." Origen says that Paul means that Christ is in the heart of all in respect of His being the word or reason by participating in which they are rational beings. He backs this up with John 25:22, "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin." He says this passage renders it manifest that man is liable for sin "from the time they are made capable of understanding and knowledge, when the reason implanted within has suggested to them the difference between good and evil; and after they have already begun to know what evil is, if they are made liable to sin, if they commit it." That all men are in communion with God is taught by Christ in Luke 17:20-21, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo here. or, or Lo there. but the kingdom of God is within you." Origen then suggests that this bears the same meaning as Genesis 2:7, "And He breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul." "If this is to be understood as applying generally to all men, then all men have a share in God." Referring to Genesis 6:3 and Psalms 104:29-30, Origen then explains that the Spirit of God is taken away from all who are unworthy. [ 115 ]
Returning to the order in which he began his discussion, Origen summarizes, "God the Father bestows upon all, existence; and participation in Christ, in respect of His being the word of reason, renders them rational beings. From which it follows that they are deserving either of praise or blame, because capable of virtue and vice. On this account, therefore, is the grace of the Holy Ghost present, that those beings which are not holy in their essence may be rendered holy by participating in it. Seeing, then that firstly, they derive their existence from God the Father; secondly, their rational nature from the Word; thirdly, their holiness from the Holy Spirit,--those who have been previously sanctified by the Holy Spirit are again made capable of receiving Christ, in respect that He is the righteousness of God; and those who have earned advancement to this grade by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit will nevertheless obtain the gift of wisdom according to the power and workings oft he Spirit of God." [ 116 ]
After lengthy discussion, Origen say that there is no rational creature that is not capable both of good and evil. "But it does not follow, that because we say there is no nature which may not admit evil, we therefore maintain that every nature has admitted evil, i.e., has become evil." He illustrates his point by saying that it is possible for every man to learn grammar or medicine, but that does not prove that every man is either a physician or a grammarian, "so, if we say that there is no nature which may not admit evil, it is not necessarily indicated that it has done so. For, in our view, not even the devil himself, was incapable of good; but although capable of admitting good, he did not therefore also desire it, or make any effort after virtue." [ 117 ]
Cyprian (c. AD 200), who would himself be martyred in AD. 258, in his epistle to the people of Thibaris exhorting those who might be facing martyrdom, says, "Let us, beloved brethren, imitate righteous Abel, who initiated martyrdoms, he first being slain for righteousness' sake." [ 118 ] In addressing Fidus on the baptism of infants, Cyprian speaks of the infants slain at Christ's nativity, saying that those not yet fitted for the battle appeared fit for the crown. "That it might be manifest that they who are slain for Christ's sake are innocent, innocent infancy was put to death for His name's sake." [ 119 ] To those who thought that an infant could not be baptized in its first days after birth because it was still impure, Cyprian answers, "For with respect to what you say, that the aspect of an infant in the first days after it birth is not pure, so that any one us would still shudder at kissing it, we do not think that this ought to be alleged as any impediment to heavenly grace. For it is written, 'To the pure all things are pure.' Nor ought any of us to shudder at that which God hath condescended to make. For although the infant is still fresh from its birth, yet it is not such that any one should shudder a kissing it in giving grace and in making peace; since in the kiss of an infant every one of us ought, for his very religion's sake to consider the still recent hands of God themselves which in some sort we are kissing in the man lately formed and freshly born, when we are embracing that which God has made." Further on he describes an infant being lately born as not having sinned, "except in that, being born after the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death." These passages do not seem to imply inherited Adamic guilt but only the contagion of death. After stating that infants and newly-born persons deserve more from our help and from divine mercy, Cyprian says that in their lamenting and weeping, they do nothing else but entreat. [ 120 ] This refutes the belief held by some that an infant's crying indicates its inherent selfishness and thus its inherent sinful state.
Having examined one of the Apostolic Fathers, Clement of Rome; and the major writers of the anti-Nicene, period, including Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian, let us now examine at least briefly some of the writings Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Different ages have necessarily focused on different aspects of Christianity. The focuses of the post-apostolic age were primarily ethical, with the Gospel being the new law, and the promise of eternal life being founded on true knowledge of God, and accepted by faith. [ 121 ]
Athanasius (c. AD 296 - AD 373), from a wealthy and influential family, received a liberal education that acquainted him with Greek philosophies and with the Greek of the Septuagint and that of the New Testament. His theological training was in the school of Alexandria. A man of commanding personality, Athanasius advanced quickly in decisive making power with Church and with secular rulers. But the glory of God and the welfare of the Church absorbed him fully at all times. [ 122 ]
The Incarnation of the Son of God and His death on the cross was the center of Athanasius' faith and theology. The conception of "salvation" raises the questions from what is man saved and to what destiny is he saved? [ 123 ] "In the beginning," writes Athanasius, "wickedness did not exist. Nor indeed does it exist even now in those who are holy, nor does it in any way belong to their nature." God fashioned man after His own image and constituted him able to see and know realities by means of assimilation to Himself. God also gave him a conception and knowledge even of His own eternity that man might preserve his nature intact, not departing either from his idea of God, not recoil from the communion of the holy ones. Having the grace of Him that gave it, and having also God's own power from the Word of the Father, man might rejoice and have fellowship with the Deity, living the life of immortality unharmed and truly blessed. Through contemplation of that Providence which through the Word extends to the universe, man by the power of his mind, might be raised above the things of sense and bodily appearance and cleave to the divine and thought-perceived things in the heavens. [ 124 ]
Man, however, by the counsel of the serpent, departed from the consideration of God and began to regard himself. And regarding themselves, they fell to bodily lust, but knew that they were naked and knowing, were ashamed. "But," according to Athanasius, "they knew that they were naked, not so much of clothing as that they were become stripped of the contemplation of divine things, and had transferred their understanding to the contraries. For having departed from the consideration of the one and the true, namely God, and from desire of Him, they had thence-forward embarked in divers lusts and in those of the severally bodily senses." Thus, through abuse of his power of choice, man gradually became more and more absorbed in the material things, and becoming absorbed in them, became so habituated to them that they were even afraid to leave them. The soul became subject to thoughts of mortality, for not being willing to leave her lusts, she fears death and separation from the body. [ 125 ]
That the soul of man is rational is seen in that man alone is capable of things external to himself and reasons about things not actually present. He exercises reflection and chooses by his judgment the better of alternative reasonings. The intelligence of mankind is distinct from the bodily senses in that, perceiving with his senses, man judges by thought and recollection that which he perceives. "But for its knowledge and accurate comprehension, there is need of none other save ourselves. Neither, as God Himself is above all, is the road to him afar off or outside ourselves, but it is in us, and it is possible to find it from ourselves in the first instance, as Moses also taught when he said: 'The word' of faith 'is within thy heart'. Which very thing the Saviour declared and confirmed when He said: 'The kingdom of God is within you'" (Deuteronomy 30:14; Luke 17:12). Having, therefore, within ourselves faith and the kingdom of God, we shall be able to see and perceive the King of the Universe, the saving Word of the Father. [ 126 ]
Rectitude of soul consists in its having it spiritual part in its natural state as created. When it swerves and turns away from its natural state, that is called vice of the soul. When the soul has its spiritual faculty in a natural state, virtue has need at our hands of willingness alone, since virtue is in us and is formed from us. In his exhortation, Joshua, the son of Nun, said to the people, "Make straight your heart unto the Lord God of Israel." John admonished, ""make your paths straight" (Joshua 24:23; Matthew 3:3). "Thus the matter is not difficult. If we abide as we have been made, we are in a state of virtue, but if we think of ignoble things we shall be accounted evil. If, therefore, this thing had to be acquired from without, it would be difficult in reality; but if it is in us, let us keep ourselves from foul thoughts. And as we have received the soul as a deposit, let us preserve it for the Lord, that He may recognize His work as being the same as He made it." [ 127 ]
Athanasius points out that even before the coming of Christ in the flesh, "He was wont to come the Saints individually, and to hallow those who rightly received Him." As illustration, Athanasius says that "Jeremiah was hallowed even from the womb, and John, while yet in the womb, lept for joy at the voice of Mary bearer of God" (Jeremiah 1:5). Even though many had been made holy and clean from all sin, nevertheless, "death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression" (Romans 5:14). Note that Athanasius is not denying the general prevalence of sin in the world.
Nor is he denying the efficacy of the Cross. In taking on flesh, that is, in being born, Christ "furnishes to others an origin of being, in order that He may transfer our origin into Himself, and we may no longer, as mere earth, return to earth, but as being knit into the Word from heaven, may be carried to heaven by Him. Therefore in like manner not without reason has He transferred to Himself the other affections of the body also; that we, no longer as being men, but as proper to the Word, may have share in eternal life. For no longer according to our former origin in Adam do we die; but hence forward our origin and all infirmity of the flesh being transferred to the Word, we rise from the earth, the curse from sin being removed, because of Him who is in us, and who has become a curse for us. And with reason; for as we are all from earth and die in Adam, so being regenerated from above of water and Spirit, in the Christ we are all quickened; the flesh being no longer earthly, but being henceforth made Word, by reason of God's Word, who for our sake became flesh." [ 128 ]
Hilary of Poitiers (c. AD 315 - AD 367), the leading theologian of Western Christianity in the fourth century, had a strong sense of the dignity of man and the freedom of man's will. [ 129 ] In discussing John 17:21-22, Hilary notes the difference between glory and will, defining will as an emotion of the mind. Glory is an ornament or embellishment of nature, received from the Father and given by the Son to all who shall believe in Him. "So then it is the glory received from the Father that the Son hath given to all who shall believe in Him, and certainly not will. Had this been given, faith would carry with it no reward, for a necessity of will attached to us would also impose faith upon us." [ 130 ]
Basil the Great (c. AD 329 - AD 379) is known as one of the Cappadocian Fathers, who, along with his brother, Gregory of Nyssa and his friend Gregory of Nazianzus, brought to fulfillment the theological work of Athanasius against Arianism. Basil is one of the eight major Doctors of the Church. In The Hexaemeron. Basil, after describing the natural and innate care that creatures without reason take of their lives, says that virtues exist in us by nature, and that the soul has affinity with them by its own nature. Without having need of lessons, the soul praises temperance, honors justice, admires courage, and aims at prudence in all things and attains these for herself, for these virtues are what is fit and comformable to its nature. [ 131 ]
"The mind," says Basil, "is a wonderful thing, and therein we possess that which is after the image of the Creator." The primary function of our mind, says Basil, is to know one God. However, there are two faculties in the mind: one that draws us towards evil, and one that draws toward the good and brings us to the likeness of God. There are three conditions of life, and three operations of the mind. Our ways and the movements of our minds may be wicked. Or our ways and the movements of our minds may be indifferent, inclining neither to virtue nor towards vice. The mind, however, that "is impregnated with the Godhead of the Spirit is at once capable of viewing great objects; it beholds the divine beauty, though only so far as grace imparts and its nature receives." [ 132 ]
Gregory of Nyssa (c. AD 330 - c. AD 395) says that "the soul issues on the stage of life in the manner which is pleasing to its Creator, and then (but not before), by virtue of its power of willing, is free to choose that which is to its mind, and so, whatever it may wish to be, becomes that very thing." Since the soul derives its constitution from God and there is no vice in him, there is no necessity of being vicious. If God really superintends our life, then evil cannot begin it. If we owe our birth to evil, then we must continue to live in complete uniformity to evil. One who owes its nature to vice cannot possess any deliberate impulse to virtue because it will be completely foreign to its nature. Though the soul enters this world without vice, it may, by it own free will, be attracted to evil by shutting its eyes to the Good or by letting them "be damaged by that insidious foe whom we have taken home to live with us, and so passing through life in the darkness of error." Or we may "persevering undimmed its sight of the Truth" and keep far away from all weaknesses that could darken it. [ 133 ]
John of Damascus (c. AD 675 - AD 749), in his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, holds that free-will comes on the scene at the same moment as reason. Reason consists of a speculative and a practical part. "The speculative part is the contemplation of the nature of things, and; the practical consists in deliberation and defines the true reason for what is to be done. The speculative side is called mind or wisdom, and the practical side is called reason or prudence. Every one, then, who deliberates does so in the belief that the choice of what is to be done lies in his hands, that he may choose what seems best as the result of his deliberation, and having chosen may act upon it" [emphases mine]. Man, thus endowed with free-will, acts and makes and is the author and master of his own works. While some events are not in our hands, others are. Those within our own hands are done voluntary and all are followed by blame or praise and depend on motive and law. "Strictly all mental and deliberative acts are in our hands." Deliberation poses equal possibilities, the action of each possibility being within our power to perform. Since we are free to do or not to do, all voluntary actions imply virtue or vice in their performance. [ 134 ]
These church writers differed in many areas, including the creation and fall of man. Some took an allegorical interpretation, others a literal. They agreed on the general prevalence of sin. They agreed, though from different perspectives, on the efficacy of the Cross of Christ and that salvation came only through Christ. And, they agree that even after Adam and Eve sinned, man retained his freedom of will.
Augustine (AD 354 - AD 430), one of the foremost philosopher-theologians of early Christianity, had a profound influence on the subsequent development of Western thought and culture. He, more than any other person, shaped the tradition of Christian theology. A classical education schooled him in Latin literature. Having received his training at Carthage in rhetoric, a requisite for a legal or political career in the Roman empire, he became a teacher of rhetoric in Carthage, in Rome, and finally in Milan, a seat of the imperial government at the time. [ 135 ]
Though reared as a Christian by his mother, Augustine's early youth was spent in promiscuity and in boasting among his peers about his nightly naughtiness. When he lacked opportunity to commit a wickedness, he would feign himself to have done that which he never did that he might boast among his peers. At sixteen, the age to take a wife, he preferred a concubine, a custom then sanctioned by pagan morals and Roman law. At eighteen he found himself the father of a son whom he at one time called "son of my sin." When he was thirty-two, his mother persuaded him to give up his concubine and marry. He found himself, however, unable to remain continent until the girl became of age and took unto himself another concubine, "Give me chastity," he prayed, "but not yet.". [ 136 ]
Augustine was an apt student in Latin, rhetoric, mathematics, music, and philosophy. Though so fascinated by Plato that he did not cease to be a Platonist when he became a Christian, Augustine disliked Greek. Though Augustine did have some knowledge of Greek, he never mastered it nor learned its literature. "His pagan training in logic and philosophy prepared him to be the most subtle theologian of the Church." Casting off his mother's simple faith, Augustine still found time for theology and accepted Manichean dualism as the answer to a world filled with both evil and good. Later, after flirting with skepticism, he found himself too emotional to remain in suspended judgment. After studying Plato, neo-Platonism dominated his philosophy and became for him the vestibule to Christianity. [ 137 ]
His mother had taken Augustine to hear Ambrose speak. Ambrose commended him to read the Scriptures in the light of Paul's statement that "the letter killeth but the spirit maketh to live." As He read Paul's epistles, he felt that here was a man who like himself had passed through a thousand doubts. As he and a friend were sitting in a garden in Milan, Augustine seemed to hear a voice saying, "Take up and read; take up and read." Opening to Paul, he read "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof." Finding something infinitely warmer and deeper in this strange faith, Christianity came to him as a profound emotional satisfaction. For the first time in his life, he found the moral stimulus and mental peace. On Easter Sunday of AD 387, Augustine, his son, and his friend were baptized by Ambrose. They and his mother resolved to live a monastic life. [ 138 ]
Briefly stated, original sin refers to the sin committed by Adam and Eve and its subsequent consequences upon Adam's posterity. Unger's Bible Dictionary defines original sin: "A term used to denote the effect of Adam's sin upon the moral life of his descendants. It is formally defined as 'that whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil.' The fact of sin in this sense is plainly declared in the Scriptures (Rom. 5:12, 19; comp. Gen. 3:4; Eph 2:1-3; 2 Tim. 2:26; 1 John 3:4). In accord with this is the further fact of the universality of sin, also proclaimed in Scripture (Matt. 7:11; 15:19; Rom. 3:9, 23; 1 John 1:19; James 20:9), and borne witness to by history and human self-consciousness." [ 139 ]
Christian theologians through the years have taken a variety of positions relative to the nature of Adam's original sin, its transmission to Adam's offspring, and its effects in general on mankind. Unger says, "The nature of the connection between the sin of Adam and the moral condition of his descendants is, however, a matter upon which opinions have greatly differed." He then gives the chief forms of doctrine as those held by Calvinists, Arminian, and Pelagianism. Calvinism and Pelagianism will be discussed further on in the thesis. Arminianism differs from Calvinism in that it holds that man does not inherit any guilt from Adamic sin. It differs from Pelagianism in tha it holds that man does inherit a sinful nature whereas Pelagianism denies that man is born with a sinful nature.
In an early treatise, De libero arbitio (On Free Will), Augustine had sought to square the existence of evil with the benevolence of an omnipotent God. In this treatise, he says that evil is the result of free will. God could not leave man free without giving him the possibility of doing either good or evil. Later, as he studied Paul's epistles, Augustine argued that Adam's sin had left a stain of evil inclination upon the human race. No amount of good works, but only the freely given grace of God could enable the soul to overcome this inclination, erase this stain, and achieve salvation. Divine foreknowledge does not destroy man's free will. Grace was offered to all, though God fore knew that many would refuse it, but this possibility of damnation was the price of that moral freedom without which man would not be man. [ 140 ]
Augustine's own experience of sin and of the "voice" that had converted him, had left him with the conviction that the human will is from birth inclined to evil and can be turned to good only by the gratuitous act of God. It seemed to him that the only explanation of the evil inclination of the will resulted as an effect of Eve's sin and Adam's love. Since we are all children of Adam, we share his guilt. Augustine believed the original sin was concupiscence. Since concupiscence still befouls every act of generation by the very connection of sex with parentage, mankind is a "mass of perdition" and most of mankind will be damned. According to Durant, Augustine thought that the world would be improved if all reproduction should cease. [ 141 ] Some will be saved, "but only through the grace of the suffering Son of God, and through the intercession of the Mother who conceived Him sinlessly. Durant quotes, "Through a woman we were sent to destruction; through a woman salvation was restored to us." [ 142 ]
Since most non-Catholics have but scant knowledge of Catholic doctrine, we will digress to discuss the term "Immaculate Conception." Rather than having reference to Jesus' conception, as most think, including myself until researching this thesis, it refers to Mary's own conception. The Protevangelium of James was one of many books deemed authoritative because they were supposedly written by Apostles. According to this account, Mary's parents, Joachim and Anna were anguished over being childless. Being told that it was not fitting for him to offer gifts at the Temple because of his childlessness, Joachim fled to the wilderness to fast for forty days. During his absence, an angel visited Anna and told her, "Anna, the Lord has heard your prayer. You shall conceive and bear, and your offspring shall be spoken of in the whole world." Anna replied, "If I bear a child, whether male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God, and it shall serve him all the days of its life." Thus, Mary was conceived while Joachim was in the wilderness. In accordance with the promise made by Anna, Mary was given to the Temple when she was three and lived there until she was twelve when the Priests decided that it was time for her to be married. Joseph, already an elderly widower, protested that he was old and already had sons of his own, "She is a girl, I fear lest I should become a laughing stock to the children of Israel." Fearing the Lord's wrath, however, Joseph agreed to marry the child of the Temple and act as her guardian and preserve her virginity. [ 143 ] To my knowledge, there is no scriptural prophecy for this event. Nor is there, to my knowledge, any scriptural evidence to authenticate this event. Therefor, in my estimation this idea of immaculate conception is unscriptural.
In his many and often hurried writings, Augustine fell more than once into exaggerations which later he strove to modify. "At times he propounded the Calvinistic doctrine that God arbitrarily chose from all eternity, the 'elect' to whom He would give his saving grace." Though a crowd of critics rose to plague him for such theories, he conceded nothing, fighting every opposition to the end. [ 144 ]
Pelagius, from England, became Augustine's ablest foe. With a strong defense of man's freedom and of the saving power of good works, "God," said Pelagius, "indeed helps us, by giving us His law and commandments, by the example and precepts of His saints, by the cleansing water of baptism, and the redeeming blood of Christ. But God does not tip the scales against our salvation by making human nature inherently evil. There was no original sin, no fall of man; only he who commits a sin is punished for it; it transmits no guilt to his progeny. God does not predestine man to heaven or hell, does not choose arbitrarily whom He will damn or save." Pelagius saw the theory of innate human depravity as a cowardly shifting to God of the blame for man's sins. Man feels responsible, and therefore is responsible; "If I ought, I can." [ 145 ]
Pelagius had earned a reputation for virtue, but had to flee Rome because accused of heresy. An Eastern synod tried him and found him orthodox. However, an African synod, prodded by Augustine, repudiated the Eastern synod's findings and appealed to Pope Innocent I, who declared Pelagius a heretic. Augustine considered the case closed, but Innocent died and was succeeded by Zosimus who pronounced Pelagius guiltless. When the African bishops appealed to Honorius who was the Emperor at that time, the Emperor was pleased to correct the Pope. In AD 418 Zosimus yielded and in AD 431 the Council of Ephesus condemned as a heresy the Pelagian view "that man can be good without the helping grace of God." [ 146 ]
A direct quotation of Augustine , followed by well documented statements attributed to Augustine are of extreme importance to those who believe the Scriptures to be the final authority to all questions. "The authority of the Scriptures is higher than all the efforts of the human intelligence." The documented statements attributed to Augustine read: " The Bible, however, need not always be taken literally; it was written to be intelligible to simple minds, and had to use corporeal terms for spiritual realities." " When interpretations differ we must rest in the decision of the Church councils, in the collective wisdom of her wisest men [emphases mine]." [ 147 ] Because of the importance and implications of these statements, Durant's full documentation will be given in the endnotes. Though we may differ in interpreting the Scriptures, we who are evangelical Christians must always place the Scriptures themselves above the decisions of any so-called Church councils.
Through 230 treatises dealing with almost every problem of theology and philosophy and his two books, the Confessions and the City of God, Augustine is considered by the secular historian, Will Durant, to be "the most authentic, eloquent, and powerful voice of the Age of Faith in Christendom." [ 148 ] In the West, Augustine gave a definitive stamp to Catholic theology, formulating the claim of the Church to supremacy over the mind and the state. The great battles of popes against emperors and kings were political corollaries of his thought. According to Durant, Wyclif, Huss, and Luther believed they were returning to Augustine when they left the Church. Calvin based his creed upon Augustine's theories of the elect and the damned. Eastern Christianity, however, did not take to him. He was considered un-Greek in his limited learning and in his subordination of thought to feeling and will. Also, Eastern Christianity submitted to the state rather than having the state submit to the Church. [ 149 ]
This thesis considers Augustine's doctrine of original sin rather than Pelagianism, but since Pelagius was Augustine's primary opponent, we will take a brief look at his doctrine as given in church history: "Adam's sin injured only himself, so that there is no such thing as original sin. Infants therefore are not born in sin and the children of wrath, but are born innocent and only need baptism so as to be knit into Christ, not 'for the remission of sins' as is declared in the creed." Pelagius further "taught that man could live without committing any sin at all. And for this there was no need of grace; indeed grace was not possible, according to his teaching. The only 'grace', which he would admit the existence of, was what we may call external grace, e.g. the example of Christ, the teaching of his ministers, and the like." At the Third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus AD. 431, Canon IV was ratified: "If any of the clergy should fall away, and publicly or privately presume to maintain the doctrines of Nestorius or Celestius, it is declared just by the holy Synod that these also should be deposed." Following that ratification is Excursus of Pelagianism in which Pelagius is considered a fellow heretic with Celestius. [ 150 ]
Having examined Augustine and his doctrine from a recognized secular, historian's perspective, let us briefly examine our topic from a philosophical historian's perspective before moving on to a noted theologian's perspective. Copleston, who wrote his history of philosophy for Catholic ecclesiastical seminaries [ 151 ], says that in Augustine's search for truth, he, accepted the Manichaean's dualism as a rational presentation of truth. The doctrine that God, who is good, created the whole world and yet evil and suffering existed seemed as barbaric ideas and illogical doctrines. The Manichean doctrine maintained that there are two ultimate principles engaged in eternal strife: a good principle, that of light, God, or Ormuzd, and an evil principle, that of darkness, Ahriman. The soul of man, composed of light, is the work of the good principle. The body, composed of grosser matter, is the work of the evil principle. Because of its fundamental materialism and because it explained the problem of evil, Manichaeanism appealed to Augustine. At this point, Augustine could not yet conceive how there could be an immaterial reality, imperceptible to the senses. The "elect" Manichaeans were obligated to forego sexual intercourse, the eating of flesh-meat, and were to engage in prescribed ascetic practices such as fastings. However, these practices were not obligated on the "hearers" to which level Augustine belonged. He felt he could now attribute his own passions and sensual desires to an evil cause outside himself. This detached Augustine both morally and intellectually from Christianity for about nine years, at which time he read some neo-Platonic treatises that conceived of evil as privation rather than as something positive. This made it possible for him to see the reasonableness of Christianity and he began to read the New Testament again. Readings in neo-Platonism were instrumental in his intellectual conversion, while the words of Ambrose, Simplicianus, and Pontitianus, confirmed by the New Testament in the words of St. Paul, were instrumental in his moral conversion. His passions were still strong in him, and he felt himself without the power to accomplish that which he knew he ought to do. However, under the impulse of grace he gave 'real assent', and his life was changed. [ 152 ]
Rather than playing the two parts of the philosopher who considers the 'natural man' and the part of the theologian who considers the soul of man, Augustine thought of man as he is in the concrete. He saw man as able to obtain truth, but only able to obtain it through the grace of God. Augustine saw reason and faith as instruments in the moral preparation in the total process leading, "under the impulse of grace, to supernatural faith in God's revelation and to a life in accordance with Christ's teachings." Augustinian "contemplates always man as he is, man in the concrete, for de facto man has only one final end, a supernatural end, and, as far as actual existence is concerned, there is but man fallen and redeemed: there never has been, is not, and never will be a purely 'natural man' without a supernatural vocation and end." While Thomism places emphasis on the distinction between the supernatural and the natural and between faith and reason, Augustinianism envisages man in the concrete and is primarily interested in his actual relation to God.. [ 153 ]
Augustine considered man to be the peak of material creation. It is important to note that he considered man to consist of material body and a substantive, immortal soul, that together constituted one being. His definition of man is "a rational soul using a mortal and earthly body." Augustine's Platonic attitude toward the soul is seen in his thought that the soul uses the body as an instrument animating certain parts of that body. Rather than perceiving body and soul as a total psycho-physical organism, Augustine sees the soul as being superior to the body. The soul, seen by Augustine as a substance in its own right, cannot be acted upon by the body, but it does perceive the changes in the body due to an external stimulus. Utilizing arguments going back to Plato, Augustine says that the soul's immateriality and its substantiality assure it of immortality. [ 154 ]
However, Augustine disallowed the Platonic idea that the soul was put into the body as punishment for faults committed in a pre-earthly condition. He questioned whether God creates each individual soul separately or created all souls in Adam. The Traducianism idea that the soul is handed on by the parents appears logically to hold a materialistic view of the soul. Though Augustine insisted that the soul is not present in the body by local diffusion, for theological reasons he inclined towards Traducianism as the explanation for the stain of sin being transmitted on the soul. [ 155 ]
Though perceiving the human will as being free to turn to God or away from God, Augustine insisted that the relationship of a finite creature to the infinite Being cannot be bridged without the divine aid. Divine grace is necessary even to begin to will to love God, "When man tries to live justly by his own strength without the help of the liberating grace of God, he is then conquered by sins; but in free will he has it in his power to believe in the Liberator and to receive grace." He says that the moral law seen in the book of light that is called Truth was given that grace might be sought. Grace was given that the law might be fulfilled, "Our will is by the law shown to be weak, that grace may heal its infirmity." "The law of teaching and commanding that cannot be fulfilled without grace demonstrates to man his weakness, in order that the weakness thus proved may resort to the Savior, by whose healing the will may be able to do what in it feebleness it found impossible.' [ 156 ]
Augustine never elaborated a philosophical system, nor did he develop, define, and substantiate his philosophical ideas. As a result, it is difficult to know precisely what he meant by particular ideas or statements, or how precisely he understood them. The 'suggestiveness' found in his incompleteness and lack of systematization in his thought may be what has contributed to the longevity of his tradition. Not facing a complete system to be accepted, rejected, or mutilated, but by an inspiration, certain basic ideas that are capable of considerable development, one can remain faithful to the Augustinian spirit even though departing from what the historic Augustine actually said. [ 157 ]
Now let us examine Augustine's doctrines from the perspective of a modern Lutheran theologian, Jaroslav Pelikan. As it has been shown, Christian anthropology formulated by the debates during the ante-Nicene and immediate post-Nicene periods leaned noticeably to the side of free will and responsibility, rather than to the side of inevitability and original sin. Augustine noted that "before this heresy [Pelagianism] arose, they did not have the necessity to deal with this question, so difficult of solution. They would undoubtedly have done so if they had been compelled to respond to such men." However, though Augustine is credited with the Christian formulation of the doctrine of original sin, its most explicit doctrines were taught by the Gnostics. [ 158 ]
Gnosticism appears to have been a blend of Christianity, religious speculation, mysticism, Greek philosophy, and Judaism. "Gnostics denied the potential goodness of humanity, since it sprang from the material realm." Not only did many Gnostic leaders come from mainstream Christianity, many of the principles of Gnosticism spread into mainstream Christianity. [ 159 ] Gnosticism divided the human race into three classes, each of which had a pre-determined destiny. Only one class, the "psychics," could transcend the nature with which they were born. Simon Magus is said to have taught that one predestined to be saved, would be saved regardless of his moral actions. In their determinism, moral responsibility became meaningless. This denial of the Christian doctrine of the goodness of the Creator and denial of the Christian doctrine of the responsibility of the creature created a theology that subjected both God and man to the slavery of an all powerful fate. [ 160 ] Thus, we see that the church fathers were indeed compelled to deal with the questions of inevitability and original sin, and in doing so they leaned noticeably to the side of free will and responsibility.
The distinction between the Gnostic doctrine of original sin and the Augustinian doctrine of original sin should be pointed out. Gnosticism perceived all of this material realm as being evil. Rather than perceiving the material realm as evil, Plato perceived the material realm as only a shadow of reality, with comprehension of true reality being the desired goal of mankind. At least to some extent, Augustine, with his strong attraction to Plato, seems to have combined the two to form his own doctrine. While he does not appear to perceive of all this material realm to be evil, his own ascetic practices indicate he perceives the spiritual realm to be more desirable than the physical. He does, however, consider the act of reproduction to be that which was forbidden to Adam and Eve and therefore perceives reproduction as evil. All human beings come into being through the act of reproduction, therefore all human beings bear the stain of Adam and Eve's original sin.
Augustinian teachings, even those later repudiated, determined the form and the content of church doctrine for most of Western Christian history. Though neo-Platonic elements are unmistakably present in his definition of God, Augustine believed himself to be, and was, expressing the Catholic creed. In speaking of divine essence, it was usually defined in relation to the absoluteness and impassability of God rather than in relationship to the active involvement of God in creation.. In drawing his line firmly and finally between the one Maker and the many things made, the question arises whether this doctrine of the Creator was determined in its fundamental content by the Christocentric perspective that Augustine espoused in principle. What appears to distinguish his version of was his awareness of the sovereignty of divine power and divine grace. "This awareness took the form of a doctrine of predestination more thoroughgoing than that of any major orthodox thinker since Paul." His definition of predestination was: "God's arrangement of his future works in his prescience, which cannot be deceived and changed." In distinguishing between Christian-Pauline predestination and pagan fatalism, Augustine argued that the human will works in the accordance to the will of God that is as eternal as His prescience, He having already done in heaven and on earth all the things that He has willed--not only things past and present, but even things still in the future. [ 161 ]
In distinguishing between predestination and grace, Augustine saw predestination as the preparation for grace, while grace was the bestowal of the gift itself. "As the one who is supremely good, he made good use of evil deeds, for the damnation of those whom he had justly predestined to punishment and for the salvation of those whom he had kindly predestined to grace." To the question of why God created those whose fall He fore knew, Augustine answer was that human history was the arena for demonstrating God's wrath and His power; some individuals being predestinated to eternal life, others to eternal death. Included among those predestinated to eternal death were infants who die without baptism. In discussing this last point, Augustine says that it was ultimately an unfathomable mystery why one should receive grace and another should not receive it, when neither of them deserved to received it. He cited Romans 11:33 as his proof text. [ 162 ]
Underlying Augustine's theory of predestination and his definition of grace was a doctrine of God as the omnipotent and sovereign Creator whose will was always accomplished, and a doctrine of man as the fallen and sinful creature whose will had been turned against God. Adam lost his grace of innocence when his soul refused to obey God. As a result of the disobedience in his soul, his body also disobeyed. "The body was the instrument of the disobedience, but not its source. Yet once the disobedience had taken place, the body also became its bearer--and its transmitter. For in the sin of Adam, the entire human race sinned.." [ 163 ]
Having examined closely some works written secular historians, by the early Church fathers, by philosophers, and by both early and modern theologians, let us now examine Scripture. For it is Scripture, and Scripture alone, upon which we must base our beliefs and thus base our actions. The first principle of hermeneutics is to let the Bible interpret itself. Therefore, let us examine man as he was first created, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" "And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it as very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day."(Genesis 1:27-28, 31).
As we noted earlier in this thesis, Aristotelian logic has been of basic significance in the development of Western thought. That logic attempted to put all reasoning in syllogistic form and then evaluate its validity. A syllogism consists of three statements; the third is the conclusion, the logical consequence of the two preceding premises. For the logical consequence of the two preceding premises to be true, both of the preceding premises must themselves be true. Augustine apparently thought that God's commandment not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil meant that man and woman were not to have sexual knowledge of one another. Let us see what would be the outcome if we were to put Augustine's doctrine of original sin into syllogistic form:
Major premise: Man and woman were commanded, under penalty of death,
not to have sexual intercourse with one another.
Minor premise: Man and woman had sexual intercourse.
Conclusion: Man and woman committed sin and brought death unto
Thus, logically, the Augustinian doctrine cannot be true, for its basic premise is scripturally false. Adam and Eve, while yet in the garden, were told by God to be fruitful and multiply. How does Augustine imagine they could do that without intercourse?
Second, let us examine what God, in His Word, commanded of man, "And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17). Just what did occur when they partook of the forbidden fruit? Let the Scriptures speak, "And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken" (Genesis 3:22-23).
Now let us put this into syllogistic form:
Major premise: Man was forbidden to eat of the fruit of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil under penalty of death.
Minor premise: Man did eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Conclusion: Man, being cut off from the tree of life, became subject to
This is a valid syllogism, for both premises upon which the consequence naturally rests are true. However, it does NOT subsequently follow that man was cut off from communion with God or that he was subsequently unable to hear, obey, and serve Him faithfully.
Abel, who, according to Augustine, would have inherited a sinful nature from his father Adam, offered unto God an offering that was acceptable to Him: "And the man knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man with the help of) Jehovah. And again she bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto Jehovah. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And Jehovah said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? And if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door: and unto thee shall be its desire, but do thou rule over it" [emphases mine] (Genesis 4:1-7). Notice, first, that the Scriptures plainly say that Adam knew his wife Eve and that Eve said with the help of Jehovah she had gotten a man. Note next that Abel, who supposedly bore the taint of Adam's sin, offered an offering unto which Jehovah had respect. Would not the his own taint of sin tainted also that which Abel offered? Note also that Cain, also of the seed of Adam and thus supposedly already bearing the taint of Adam's sin, was commanded to rule over the sin that desired him. How could Cain rule over his own nature which was, according to Augustine, already inclined only to evil?
One has only to read the eleventh chapter of Hebrews to recognize that even though cut off from the tree of life, the seed of Adam had within themselves the ability to choose to serve God faithfully, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts: and through it he being dead yet speaketh" [emphases mine]. "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:4, 13).
The fact the people die is one of the primary proofs used for affirmation of Augustine's doctrine of original sin. "Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned: for until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is a figure of him that was to come" [emphasis mine] (Romans 5:12-14). Note carefully that it was death that was passed on to all men, not the taint of sin, nor the so called "sinful nature". Men could, did, and can live well-pleasing unto God, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God translated him: for he hath had witness borne to him that before his translation he had been well-pleasing unto God" [emphases mine] (Hebrews 11:5). This in no way denies the prevalence of sin. But remember, Adam, who inherited no sinful nature did sin. Even the angels of heaven, who had no human nature did themselves sin.
Perhaps at this point we should emphasize that the fact that one can and do live well-pleasing to God in no detracts from the efficacy of the cross of Christ. Christ came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). We should also note another often overlooked passage: Genesis 17. Circumcision was the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham. Any seed of Abraham was to be cut off from that covenant if he were not circumcised on the eighth day. If his seed could be cut off from the covenant, then his seed must have been born into a covenant relationship with God. It is not possible to be cut off from that to which one has not been attached. Read the passage carefully. Since baptism is the sign of the New Covenant, this is one of the reasons why Jewish Christians desired their infants to be baptized. Since Scriptures teach the light and darkness cannot have fellowship, nor righteousness with unrighteousness (2 Corinthians 6:14), how could man born either totally depraved or born with the taint of sin in his nature have been born into a covenant relationship with a holy and righteous God?
The writer of Ecclesiastes says, "This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). And consider God's description of Job, "And Jehovah said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? For there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and turneth away from evil" [emphases mine] (Job 1:8). This certainly does not sound like a description of one who had inherited a sinful nature. Remember, Job was a descendant of Adam.
As they were preparing to enter into the land promised to Abraham and his seed after him, Moses addressed the people: "If thou shalt obey the voice of Jehovah thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law; if thou turn unto Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul. For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not too hard for thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love Jehovah thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, that thou mayest live and multiply, and that Jehovah thy God may bless thee in the land whither thou goest in to possess it. But if thy heart turn away, and thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish; ye shall not prolong your days in the land, whither thou passest over the Jordan to go in to possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; to love Jehovah thy God, to obey his voice, and to cleave unto him; for he is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which Jehovah sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them" [emphases mine] (Deuteronomy 30:10-20). Clearly these descendants of Adam had both the freedom and the ability to choose between good and evil. And, they had the capability to perform that which they so chose, whether it be good or evil.
However, as said earlier, it is not this writer's purpose in this thesis to either affirm or refute any doctrine presented. This writer does not deny the prevalence of sin in the world. We do ask, "Since Adam was made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore would have been only inclined to good, what in his nature caused HIM to sin?" Scriptures teach, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is full-grown, bringeth forth death" [emphases mine] (James 1:12-15).
As the first Adam, our Lord, the second Adam, had a human nature that could be tempted by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (Luke 4). Remember, to fulfill the promise made to Abraham, the One in Whom all nations would be blessed had to be the physical seed of Abraham, "And, behold, the word of Jehovah came unto him, saying, This man shall not be thine heir. But he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir" (Genesis 15:4). To be the physical seed of Abraham meant that our Lord was also of the physical seed of Adam. Why, then did he not inherit Adam's supposedly "sinful nature" supposedly "bequeathed to all Adam's descendants"? Though I am being a bit facetious here, if one follows the analogy of Adam according to the doctrine of original sin, why then are not all men made alive in the second Adam, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)? Since the writers after Christ were all made alive through His resurrection, why were they still speaking as though they were still dead in sin? No reasonable person can honestly question that Augustine was, indeed, a great theologian. But, as Horace puts it, "Sometimes even good old Homer nods." [ 164 ] No matter how great a scholar one may be, the Word of God is to be our guide, NOT the scholarship of man. For many years, my husband and I accepted this doctrine without question. But someone raised a question, and we searched the Scriptures for an answer. Brethren, let us search the Scriptures for ourselves.
Counseling implications, however, are our primary concern. And the doctrine of original sin has consequences that may extend much further than any one of us may imagine. The implied doctrine of double predestination--some predestined to heaven; others to hell--has had a fatalistic effect on mankind. Why try? After one becomes a Christian, the doctrine has less impact on a person. But explanation of the doctrine to uphold church teachings when unbelievers or those just seeking to know the truth are present may have devastating effects. In 1947 in Roseburg, Oregon, this writer personally heard a Presbyterian preacher proclaim from the pulpit that the road to hell was paved with the skulls of unbaptized infants. Can you imagine the impact on a young teenager? It was many years before this writer entered another church.
Later, again living in south-central Los Angeles, this writer seriously wrestled with the question of becoming a criminal. Why not? Why not get all I could in this world? I had experienced the hopeless of the ghetto. Even when not living in the ghetto, I had seen a side of mankind seldom, if ever, seen by those living normal lives. If there were a god, he was not a just god. And, if there were a god, I was probably already doomed to hell, if there were a hell or a heaven. Why not enter into a life of crime? It would have been easy to have become a drug dealer or take up some other type of Federal crime. (On the streets, federal prisons were considered better than state prisons.) Opportunities for crime and its advantages abounded. Opportunities for a decent life were almost non-existent. Those few who did try, usually failed.
Even if the school counselor (to whom I was sent because of failing grades) had been a Christian, unless he had listened with his heart, he would have seen only a hardened teenager self-bound for destruction. Yet, if he had listened with his heart, he could easily have picked up from my speech that I had a fatalistic approach to life and that I had serious misconceptions about God. And had he done so and if he had shown enough patience and concern to break though my outer shell of self-protection, he could have helped me change my life around before I became completely embittered.
Though Augustine's teachings were generally upheld by the Catholic Church, the idea that some are predestined to condemnation was explicitly rejected at the Council of Orange in AD 529. However, in the late medieval period, the doctrine of predestination again became important and passed into the theology of the Protestant reformers. Calvin's doctrine of double predestination was affirmed by the Synod of Dort in AD 1619 in Holland. In England it was affirmed in the Westminister Confession in AD 1647. [ 165 ] Formulated by Dutch Reformed theologians in response to the teachings of Arminianism, the Five Points of Calvinism teach:
(1) Humankind is spiritually incapacitated by sin.
(2) God chooses (elects) unconditionally those who will be saved.
(3) The saving work of Christ is limited to those elected ones.
(4) God's grace cannot be turned aside.
(5) Those whom God elects in Christ are saved forever. [ 166 ]
The logical conclusion to this doctrine was expressed by a Reformed preacher whom this writer heard speak in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the early 60s, "God will take one of His children home before he sins too much." This writer, then, as now, mentally raises the question, "Since it would be far better to be with our Lord than on this sin-filled earth, why not sin to one's limits and be taken home?" Would not even the lowest abode with Christ be better than the highest estate of man on this earth?
Existentialism and humanism are generally thought to have their roots in atheism. However, it is this writer's thought that they may well have developed, perhaps unconsciously, out of opposition to the doctrine of original sin and its subsequent deprecatory view of mankind. Rene Descartes (AD 1596 - AD 1650), next to Thomas the Twin (John 11:16), is most famous for his doubting and is probably history's greatest skeptic. In his inference, "I think, therefore, I am," and its implications one can see not only a subjective tendency that focuses on the essence of the self, but the very seeds of twentieth-century existentialism. Following the rationalism of Aristotle and Aquinas, Descartes made man, rather than God, the starting point of education. In dealing with the existence of God, Descartes resurrected the arguments that man has an idea of perfection, which idea would not be perfect unless perfection existed. Man is finite and therefore cannot be the author of an infinite idea. While Descartes was not a rationalist in the technical sense, his commitment to the use of reason in the educational process paved the way for the scientific rationalism of Baruch Spinoza. Being a graduate of one of the most celebrated Jesuit colleges in Europe, Descartes was ever the product of Catholic scholasticism. Descartes certainly would have been well indoctrinated with the doctrine of original sin. But it was authors like Descartes that led eighteenth-century society to the view that "the intellectual capacities of man were so well understood that he ultimately would discover within himself the inner order of the cosmic system. Since man was obviously a rational being, the universe too was a rational operation and therefore human society could be reformed and made to function in harmony with the rational laws of the cosmic system." [ 167 ]
Soren Kierkegaard (AD 1813 - AD 1855), the chief exponent of religious existentialism, emphasized faith and commitment, and minimized theology and the place of reason in religion. Attacking the theologians of his day for attempting to show that Christianity was a thoroughly rational religion, Kierkegaard claimed that faith is important precisely because it is irrational and even absurd. "The important thing, he argued, is not the objective question of whether God in fact exists, but the subjective truth of one's own commitment in the face of objective uncertainty." [ 168 ] Kierkegaard's statement, "truth is subjectivity," though often understood in the sense of shallow individualism, links truth with the subject instead of with its object. From this perspective, full communication of truth to other subjects is impossible, thus making it impossible to establish an objective system of doctrinal truths. His unifying theme was that there are three spheres of existence in constant tension. The first sphere is that of the aesthetic, a fickle search for pleasure that is essentially egoistic. The second sphere is that of the ethical, an impersonal ideal based on reason rather than on personal preference and convenience. In this stage life is seen as a long-range project to be organized according to rational principles that includes both the rule of ultimate self-interest and the rule of abstract principles of morality that describe what an individual ought to do. The third sphere is that of true religious choice. From Kierkegaard's perspective, this stage is not reached through an automatic rational decision procedure, but rather through a "leap of faith." He used Abraham's dilemma to distinguish between the two alternatives of an abstract ethical universal and a concrete religious commitment. An abstract ethical universal is that one should not kill one's child. But a concrete religious commitment is obedience to God's unjustifiable but undeniable command to Abraham that he should slay Isaac. [ 169 ]
Kierkegaard had an austere Lutheran upbringing. From this upbringing and after having studied both philosophy and theology at the University of Copenhagen, Kierkegaard would have been well-acquainted with the Augustinian doctrine of original sin. Although not all existentialists are directly influenced by him, Kierkegaard is regarded by philosophers today as a precursor of existentialism. [ 170 ] Clearly, Kierkegaard believed that man had the freedom to choose of his own free will whether or not to obey God. This is in direct contrast to the doctrine that man, being dead in sin, cannot choose to obey God unless God gives him the grace to make that choice.
Considered one of the most creative and influential philosopher-theologians of the twentieth century, Paul Tillich (AD 1886 - AD 1965) was raised in a learned, sedate, patriarchal Lutheran pastor's home. Tillich saw religion as the "substance" of culture. In his Systematic Theology, Tillich argues:
. . . that the holy, sacred, and ultimate ground or source of all life is the direct
concern of religious faith; in the language of religion, the ultimate is God.
Indirectly, then, God is the object of the quest of philosophy--that unity of
subject and object, of thought and being, which philosophical inquiry both
presupposes and seeks (that is, 'Being-Itself') but cannot, without the help of
religion, find. Again, indirectly, it is the 'substance' of culture--it is the
unconditional meaning and deep concern that makes the human quest for and
creation of truth, beauty, and the good possible.
Although cultural life and history itself evidenced a distorted, self-destructive character, the living God, the creative power of being and meaning "has manifested itself in the new Being, centered in Jesus as the Christ, accepting the unacceptable, overcoming separation and thereby destruction and despair, and providing the conditions with which the anxieties and the terrors of the human state are conquered and the creative possibilities of the human being are opened." Through expression of his ideas on all areas of human endeavor, Tillich provided a profound, unifying, and original interpretation of the entire scope of human existence, presenting a religious interpretation of all culture that remains unsurpassed. [ 171 ] Tillich's religious interpretation focuses on the creative possibilities of the human being, whereas Augustinian religious interpretation focuses on man's depravity and subsequent evil possibilities.
Even such a cursory survey of the ideas of religious existentialists Rene Descartes, Kierkegaard, and Tillich should help the Christian counselor to become aware that what may appear as open rebellion against "Christianity" may in fact be only rebellion against man-determined doctrines. The Christian counselor may need to examine his own beliefs to determine whether they are truly scriptural or whether he has merely accepted that which he has been taught. Then he should listen carefully to determine whether the counselee is rebelling against God or against man-made doctrines. True rebellion should be dealt with in an appropriate manner suitable to the type of rebellion and to the specific individual. However, if the counselor determines that the counselee is rebelling against man-imposed "Christianity," the counselor needs to teach the counselee to distinguish between that which is scriptural and that which is man-made. The counselee may also desperately need to be taught to distinguish between the way Christians do act and the way the Scriptures teach them to act.
Chapter Five: "God has a purpose for this."
"God has a purpose for this" has become a popular saying today, even among those who actually have no religious persuasions of their own. In a current positive thinking publication Suzan Robison writes, "In His infinite wisdom, God was saying, 'Wait awhile, Suzan. You're just not ready yet.' But when the time was right--His time--I was ready. He had let me know by sending me the books that taught me about the tremendous power of faith in Him and in Positive Thinking." At nineteen, the young lady had entered nursing school and failed. She entered again the next year and again failed. Five years later she entered again, this time graduating with honors. She writes, "You see, nursing is a tremendous responsibility; at 19, I was not yet ready for that. I was still too immature and naive. In the five years it took me to find the courage to go back to school again, I wasn't wasting time--I was growing up." Let us analyze this a little closer. Was God, through her failures, telling her that she was not yet ready? That is placing her failures on God. She speaks the truth when she says that she was still too immature and naive in her first attempts. She did need to grow up. But her failures were hers and hers alone. In placing her failures on God, she is still immature in that she has not accepted responsibility for her own actions. [ 172 ]
This is an area in which this writer has had a tremendous amount of experience. As a victim of severe psychological child abuse, I could say that God placed me in such a home for some particular purpose. Abuse from my mother included her complete rejection of me. Abuse from my step-father included vulgar cursing daily, being urinated on a number of times, and being purposely shot at with a high-powered deer rifle with the bullet coming so close to my head that I could hear its whine and the sickening thud as it lodged in the tree behind me. In truth, the responsibility for that abuse rests solely on the abusers. Abuse did not make me turn to God. Instead, it made me think God was like the abusers. Was not man supposed to be created in the image and likeness of God? If so, I could not serve such a god who would so let a young child be abused. Neither of the abusers ever repented. What vague view of God they did have was a combination of Christian Scientist, Unity, spiritualism on the part of one and Universalist on the part of the other. Neither believed that Jesus was more than a mere mortal, if he had even existed historically. I became bitter towards life and essentially "dropped-out" of life; without goals, without hope. Though I was quite young, these were my own conscious decisions. I had access to the Los Angeles Public Library. Much of my reading was in the area of philosophy. Though some of it was beyond my comprehension, had I actually been seeking the truth instead of seeking to back up what I already thought about life, God would have led me toward His truth.
Following an accident in which a drunken driver hit my motor scooter from behind, leaving me paralyzed from my chest down, many persons have told me that "God had a purpose in this." Did God make the driver drink so much that he was so drunk that he did not know what he was doing? Several who knew the person and the situation think, he was both drunk and so angry at the girl who had just gotten out of his car that he hit me on purpose. Did God make him that angry and did God make him purposely run into me? If so, I cannot serve that kind of god. The man who hit me made the choice to drink, NOT God. That man faces the sole responsibility for his action. Did the accident bring him to his senses? No. He injured yet another person while drinking and driving. Did he ever repent and turn to God? No. As far as is known, he died in a drunken state.
Numerous ones have told me God caused the accident to make me change the direction I was going. One went so far as to say that I had been wasting my God-given talent for writing by attempting to obtain an education. He failed to realize that it was through education that my talent for writing was discovered and was being developed. Prior to entering college, I detested writing of any kind. After I did begin writing, without an education I could only write from my limited personal experiences. Now I can reinforce that writing from the vast resources that have been opened to me through education. Has the accident brought about a change in the direction I was going? No. Before the accident my ultimate goal was to glorify God in whatsoever circumstances I might find myself. That goal remains unchanged.
The expression "God has a purpose for this" does have a scriptural basis, but it is generally taken out of context. Translating from the Greek, Romans 8:28 reads, " And we know that to the ones loving God, He works all things together into good, to the ones being called according to purpose." Note that God works all things together into good to those already loving Him. Note that being called according to purpose is also involved. There is no indication whatsoever that all things that happen are in accordance with God's will: that He has a purpose for all things. But whatever does happen, including those things wrought by the devil through man, can and will be worked together into good for those who love God and who are called according to purpose.
When Paul had appealed unto Caesar and was on his way to Italy, the ship was delayed at a place called The Fair Havens. Sailing had become dangerous. "And when much time was spent, and the voyage was now dangerous, because the Fast was now already gone by, Paul admonished them, and said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the lading and the ship, but also of our lives." The centurion in charge of the prisoners believed the master and the owner of the ship more than the admonishment of Paul. Running into a severe storm, they were forced to lighten the ship's cargo and even cast out the tackling of the ship. All hope of being saved was taken away, "And when neither sun nor stars shone upon us for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was now taken away. And when they had been long without food, then Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have set sail from Crete, and have gotten this injury and loss" [emphases mine]. If one reads the passage carefully, one will see that God's purpose for Paul was that he must be brought before Caesar. Becoming shipwrecked on the island of Melita was due to failure to heed Paul's admonition not to sail. Though man disobeyed God's word given through Paul, God did work all things together for the good of Paul and to His glory, "For there stood by me this night an angel of the God whose I am, whom also I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must stand before Caesar: and lo, God hath granted thee all them that sail with thee" [emphases mine] (Acts 27:9-10; 20-21; 23-24). Generally when this event is discussed in a Bible class, it is emphasized by someone that God had a purpose in having Paul shipwrecked on that particular island. This writer does not recall having heard it discussed in any other context. This is not a scriptural view. God, through Paul, not only admonished them not to sail, He further admonished them for sailing. Read the passage carefully.
Suzan Robison says that the books given her about positive thinking taught her about the tremendous power of faith in Him and in Positive Thinking. She says, "You see, God's ability to work in our lives is directly proportional to the amount of faith we have in Him; He is limited only by our lack of that faith." While Ms. Robison is partially correct, her statement limits God's ability to man's inability. Think about it. Ephesians 3:14-21 is lengthy, but worthy of our consideration:
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in
heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the
riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his
Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to
apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and
depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may
be filled unto all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do
exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the
power that worketh in us, unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ
Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen" [emphases mine].
An infinite God is not limited by the faith of finite man. Be aware also that the power that worketh in us is the Holy Spirit, "the fullness of God," not our own faith.
As we have noted, "God has a purpose in this" does have some scriptural basis even though it is generally taken out of context. Those with hyper-Calvinistic beliefs needed some explanation of why bad things do happen to faithful Christians. Funerals usually contain some statement similar to this, "God, we know that in Your infinite wisdom You had a purpose for taking this person home." But it is the thought of this writer that those like Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller who promoted positive thinking and possibility thinking have popularized this saying among Christians. Writers and motivators like Zig Ziglar and others have popularized the positive thinking concept in the secular sector. In saying this, this writer is in no way condemning the writings of Peale, Schuller, or Ziglar. But these writings, like the writings of others, are often taken out of context. Sometimes the expression is used in almost a frivolous manner with no conception of what one is really saying and certainly with no conception of what is really involved in "positive thinking". In time, the expression becomes part of the fabric of one's life. Then, when disaster strikes, devastating effects may result.
In the beginning of my husband's ministry, we met a lady who had lost five children in parochial school fire. She asked why God had taken her children. We had no answer except that "It was God's will." Today, I would counsel her to consider whether God had really taken her children or whether the sinfulness of mankind had been the culprit. It happened in inner-city Chicago. Probably it was an old building and perhaps not up to fire codes. Knowing something of workings of the inner-city, I also realize that the contractor may have used inferior materials and bribed inspectors in order to cut costs. It may well have been the sinfulness of man that caused her children to perish, rather that it being God's will. Her question started us searching the Scriptures.
Matthew 7:24-27 sheds some light on our subject: "Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and if fell not: for it was founded upon the rock. And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof." Matthew 5:43-48 enhances our thoughts: "Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the Gentiles the same? Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
These passages clearly teach that the storms of life fall upon all men. Man has the ability to prepare for these storms. He has the ability to make either foolish or wise decisions. God also sends His good things, the sun and the rain that makes man's crops to grow, upon all men. What man does with what comes his way is within his own province. Man makes his own decisions. If a man chooses to build his house on the sand, all within his house may perish even though they had no part in the decision. A bomber planted a bomb in the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Innocent children as well as some who were faithful Christians were killed. God did not purpose that a bomb kill innocent persons. Man made the decision to make a bomb, and man made the decision to plant it at that particular spot. It is God's purpose that man be perfect even as his Father which is in heaven is perfect. But it man's decision as to whether he will seek after that perfection.
The Christian counselor needs to be alert to expressions regarding God's purposes. Indiscriminate use of the expression, "God has a purpose in such and such" may indicate that the counselee has little understanding of Scriptures in general. Discriminate, but inappropriate use, if not used to evade one's own responsibility, may indicate erroneous beliefs concerning God's purposes. Evasion of one's responsibilities needs to be dealt with firmly. Erroneous beliefs need to be gently, but firmly, corrected. Sometimes this may have to be done indirectly so as to not lower the counselee's self-esteem. When correct beliefs are firmly established, the counselee can then disregard his old beliefs without damage to his own sense of self-worth.
The Christian counselor also needs to be particularly alert to what the counselee says about his own faith or lack thereof. Quite possibly most remarks regarding one's own faith will indicate an unwillingness to take responsibility for one's own actions. However, many persons today do have erroneous beliefs about faith. If a counselee speaks of his strong faith, the counselor may need to question, gently, whether his faith is in God or in the strength of his own faith. This is a point that is seldom discussed. Likewise, if one continually speaks of his lack of faith, the counselor may need to point out that faith needs to be in God's strength to do what He has promised, not in the strength of one's own faith. When the disciples asked Jesus why they had not been able to cast the demon out of a lunatic child, Jesus answered, "And he saith unto them, Because of your little faith: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Matthew 17:20). An infinite God is not limited by the weak faith of finite man. He is able to exceedingly above what we are even able to think or ask (Ephesians 3:20).
Chapter Six: "A person can do anything if he really wants to."
When one has accomplished difficult tasks, it is not uncommon to hear the expression, "A person can do anything if he really wants to." A brief look at a list of a few of the publications available is revealing: How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds of Less, How to Argue and Win Every Time, Unleashing Your Productivity, Success Mastery with N.L.P., Mega Memory, Live Your Dreams, Super Learning, and the ever popular The Power of Positive Thinking and Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do. The Power of 5, by Harold H. Bloomfield and Robert K. Cooper is advertised, "Change your life in no time at all. These 5-second to five-minute choices and techniques will ignite your energy, burn fat, stop aging, and revitalize your live life." Transformation, by Dr. Wayne Dyer is advertised, "Become your own power source. Tap the connection between thoughts and reality to break from the roles that control your life and become what you are truly meant to be. It's a clear path from negative to positive thinking." [ 173 ] Close examination reveals that, at least in advertisements, following the guidelines in these books will bring almost immediate results. And there are literally hundreds more readily available in our public libraries, through bookstores, and though mail, and I expect they, along with a host of "underground" publications, are available on the computer inter-net.
Zig Ziglar is author of See You At The Top, a textbook for the "I Can" course which has been taught in schools all over America. He speaks of it as a course in positive life attitudes. [ 174 ] As a starting list of desirable goals, Ziglar suggests more and better friends, more personal growth, better health, more money, more happiness, more security, more leisure time, opportunity for advancement, more peace of mind, more true love, and the ability to be more competent and to contribute more to your fellowman. Six steps given for obtaining these goals are: self-image, your relationship with others, goals, attitude, work, and desire. [ 175 ]
The desire for success certainly did not originate with today's motivators. Throughout the history of most societies, persons have courted the favor of those above them to gain more advantageous positions. The Jewish people saw success as a sign of God's favor. And, though the Catholics teach that one should be content in whatsoever state he finds himself, it is a fairly well-known fact that those in the ecclesiastical realm often seek to advance within that realm. However, it is this writer's oppinion that much of our drive for success originated from the hyper-Calvinistic belief that success was a sign that a person was one of God's elect. For the most part, that origin has long since been forgotten. Yet it remains a usually undetected undercurrent in the mainstream society that has its roots in Protestantism.
Ziglar says that regardless of one's occupation and income, there are those with the same opportunity who either earn considerably more or less money. "In the final analysis, " says Ziglar, " opportunity for growth and service lies with the individual. Almost without exception you can measure a person's contribution to society in terms of dollars. The more he conributes the more he earns" [emphases is Ziglar's]. While he exempts dedicated teachers and ministers choosing to remain and serve in rural or tenement areas, he says generally speaking the well-paid minister, teacher, doctor, truck driver, salesman, etc., is rendering more service to more people. [ 176 ] In the front of his book, Ziglar states that he believes "Man was designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness." [ 177 ]
Norman Vincent Peale, in The Power of Positive Thinking, has a chapter titled "I Don't Believe in Defeat." [ 178 ] In the full-length version of Peale's book which this writer read several years ago, Peale gave an illustration of two baseball teams that played in a World Series. According to him, the winning team said they won because they believed they could win. In this writer's estimation, any team that even made it to the playoffs was already a winner. Only winning teams make it to the World Series. In any contest where only two teams are involved, one is going to lose, but losing does not constitute defeat.
Though it is true that many people probably do live far below their limitations, it is important to recognize that each person does have his own personal limitations. It is also true that many limitations are of one's own making. However, even if one's limitations are of his own making, no man has the right to label anyone as a loser. Peale, in saying he does not believe in defeat, is very subtlely labeling one a loser one who does not succeed. Peale's labeling is subtle. He himself may not realize the consequences of his statement. However, Ziglar's openly speaks of people having "garbage-dump thinking," having "the loser's limp," being "prisoners of hope," and being "half-a-minders and gonna-doers." [ 179 ]
It should be noted that detailed reading of these self-help books does reveal that "the road to success" will be difficult. But that is not how they are advertised. Though they generally do admit that there may be some personal limitations that one cannot exceed, they generally emphasize that almost all of one's limitations are of one's own making. And eventually many persons who read and try to follow these self-help books are going to find themselves in the office of a Christian counselor.
Dr. Gary R. Collins, Professor of Psychology and author of thirty-five books, including Christian Counseling and Your Magnificent Mind, examines the ideas of positive mental attitudes in considerable detail. According to Collins, Schuller proclaimed that his theology could usher in a reformation as significant as the Protestant Reformation of Luther and Calvin. [ 180 ] But, according to Collins and others, Schuller's theology redefines the basics of Christian theology. Original sin, rather than having anything to do with wickedness, is really the same as a negative self-image. Being born again means changing from inferiority to self-esteem and to move from a negative to a positive self-image. One who has lost his self-esteem is a person in hell. Salvation means to be permanently lifted from psychological self-abuse and moved to a state of self esteem. The question is raised whether Schuller may have invented a new gospel that is "quasi-Christian, proud humanism without transactional redemption." [ 181 ]
Collins then examines both the positive and negative aspects of positive thinking. On the positive side, he says that the positive mind produces hope; reduces pessimism and helps us cope with the pressures of life; and can stir us to action. On the negative side, Collins says that the positive mind can lead us to ignore problems and to deny reality and it can undermine basic Christianity. In concluding his discussion, Collins says it would be foolish to ignore either the benefits and powers of the positive mind and equally foolish to ignore the realities of life. We need a perspective that recognizes that most of us need to think more positively, balanced with a perspective that we must not lose sight of realism and the will of God in human affairs. [ 182 ]
When a counselee presents his problem as failure or low self-esteem, it may be prudent for the Christian counselor to ask either directly or indirectly if the counselee has read any of the many self-help materials available. His answer may be quite revealing. In other cases, the counselor may need to listen for indications that such influence has occurred. Whether or not he is aware of it, the counselee's self-esteem probably will have been shattered because of what he has perceived as failure after failure. It is also possible that hide his low self-esteem he will present a "bravado" front. Since the counselee's self-esteem is already so low, care must be taken to not lower it further.
At some future point the counselor may want to point out that the Bible demonstrates that some of history's greatest saints, including John the Baptist, Paul, and even Jesus, though they served God diligently and had a positive mental attitude, did not achieve success in terms of the values of their society. However, this should NOT be pointed out early in counseling. First the counselee's self-esteem must be gently strengthened. Reliance on God should be emphasized at an appropriate time. There is a reason I suggest an appropriate time. Much positive mental attitude material does include spiritual growth. The counselee may already think he has also failed in this area. At an appropriate time, the counselor should point out the realities of life. There are limitations to all things except God's love. A duck cannot become a swan no matter how hard he tries. What society may term mediocrity or even failure may not be so seen in the eyes of God. A family may live as sharecroppers, never own a home, never own a car, and may even die in debt. Yet out of that family may arise a minister who will serve thousands all over the world through his own preaching, teaching, and writings and through the preaching, teaching, and writings of the many he has taught.
Though we should all strive to be all that we can be, growth takes time. It is not a sin to be a servant. It is a sin to be a discontent servant. "If any man teacheth a different doctrine, and consenteth not to sound words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting about questionings and disputes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, wranglings of men corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth, supposing that godliness is a way of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain: for we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out; but having food and covering we shall be therewith content" (1 Timothy 6:3-8). Jesus Himself gave the answer to success, "and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:27-28). "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted" (Matthew 23:11-12).
Chapter Seven: How we acquire our beliefs
Protagoras' subjectivity; Aristotle's "is" of identity and his "either/or" logic; Augustine's doctrine of original sin that carries with it the idea of inherited guilt and either single or double pre-destination; the subsequent idea that "God has a purpose in this" popularized by "positive thinkers;" and the idea that a person can do anything if he really wants to have become so much a part of the fabric of our lives that we seldom, if ever, recognize their existence. Yet they do exercise a profound influence on how we think, believe, and act. Intellectually we believe that God's Word is absolute and that He has certain absolute standards. Yet we interpret His Word and apply His standards subjectively. Intellectually we may be at least somewhat aware that there may be more than one alternative in any given situation. Yet we think and act as if we must make a choice between one of two alternatives. Intellectually we are generally aware that nothing can be fully identified in only a few words. Yet we hang labels on people, and usually those labels emphasizes the person's worst fault. Few of us believe that God predestines anyone, especially a newborn infant, to Hell. Yet we accept without question the doctrine of original sin, that is found in all Catholic creeds and in some form within almost all Protestant creeds. If the truth were known, most of us "join" a church and ascribe to and recite its creed regularly without having any idea of its contents or the implications thereof. All about us we do see sinfulness, even in generally faithful Christians. Yet we accept without question that "God has a purpose in this." Does God have a purpose in a Christian committing sin? We see all about us persons, who through no fault of their own, are living at physical, mental, and spiritual standards far below their expectations, desires, and abilities. Yet we ascribe to the idea that a person can do anything if he really wants to. As Christian counselors we must become more aware of these underlying beliefs. For it is our basic beliefs that determine our actions.
Having discussed these belief systems that have often have become so a part of the fabric of our lives that we may even be unaware that they are a part of our lives, let us now discuss how we acquire our belief systems. As we have discussed earlier, Augustine believed that man was born with a sinful nature that made him incapable of seeking after God until moved by God's grace. John Locke (AD 1632 - AD 1704) believed the mind was a blank tablet and that the central aim of education was to promote a sound mind and a sound body through self-control, reason, careful analysis of nature and a loving teacher who helps his students. [ 183 ] Paul D. Meir, a modern Christian physician and psychiatrist, says pent-up emotional feeling in a pregnant woman will bring about physiological changes in her body chemistry that could potentially influence the physical development and eventual emotional condition of the developing baby. [ 184 ] On a recently aired ABC Prime Time television program, it was suggested that recent studies indicate that brain connections in infants are formed before and immediately following birth as the infant interacts with his environment. These earliest brain connections form the basis from which will come all future development. Loving interaction between the infant and its environmental persons changes the infant's brain connections. Stress may bring about the wrong type of brain connections. Music strengthens brain connections necessary to other learning. Repetition strengthens memory through brain connections. One's intelligent quotient as well as all other potentials are formed during the first three years. [ 185 ]
Dr. Theodore Lidz, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, states about infancy that "no part of his life experience will be as solidly incorporated in the individual, become so irrevocably a part of him, as his infancy." Meir adds, "Lack of physical care can result in ill health, wasting away, and death. Lack of social nurturing will result in distortions of emotional development and stunting of intellectual growth." Since all of the nerve and brain cells a person will ever have are produced by six months of age, even an improper diet by the expectant mother or by the mother while she is nursing, or an improper diet given the infant can influence the infant's ultimate intellectual capacity. [ 186 ] Another recently aired television program illustrated how excessive alcohol consumed by the mother during pregnancy can result in a condition known as "fetal alcohol syndrome." Even though the child was immediately removed from its mother at birth and placed in a non-alcoholic stable home condition, the child, as he grew towards adulthood, developed certain behavior patterns found in other children of similar birth conditions. It is a generally accepted fact that the mother's health directly affects her unborn infant. Recent public service health announcements urge women who even desire to become pregnant to begin living a healthy lifestyle at least six months before becoming pregnant. However, some recent but inconclusive studies mentioned in a recent television newscast suggest that males on drugs may produce sperm that may be affected in some way that will affect infants begotten by them. Studies in this area have begun only recently. The study was made on long-term marijuana users, but if the conclusions drawn prove to be accurate, it seems probable that the male's overall health may affect the quality of his sperm and thus affect a child he begets.
As indicated on Prime Time, it is thought that the infant's brain connections are developed immediately following birth. Meir points out that during the first fifteen months of infancy, the child's ultimate potential for developing basic trust is established. This basic trust depends primarily on how his basic needs are met. If the infant receives too little support, he must struggle alone for emotional survival, whereas too much support can lead to over-dependence. Even if physical needs are met, lack of stimulation through handling and other contact with people may result in a failure to thrive known as marasmus.
The amount and type of stimulation received during one's infancy strongly influences his adult emotional condition and personality. [ 187 ] Dr. Eugene McDanald says that a mother's unconditional acceptance of her infant is the precursor to healthy self-acceptance. Healthy self-acceptance enables one to make the most of oneself within the framework of one's personal strengths and limitations, both physical and mental. A child who has been loved unconditionally has a good conscience. He generally experiences only normal anxiety, and he is relatively free in his choice of action. McDanald further states that the infant who had been loved only conditionally, develops "A restrictive or a 'bad' conscience." The infant loved only conditionally also experiences undue quantities of anxiety, hostility, and guilt. These then engender various forms of compulsive behavior of a social or antisocial character. By the time he is old enough to go to school, most of a child's character structure has already been established. New contact with peers, teachers and information will greatly enrich an emotionally healthy, reflective child. However new interpersonal and environmental relationships will threaten the anxiety-laden the child who fears the unknown. Dr. McDanald says that "The person who reaches adulthood with the feeling that life has been kind to him wants to give something of himself back to life." [ 188 ]
And what relationship does the above discussion have to do with the development of one's religious belief systems? Simply this: we grow from the known to the unknown. What is experienced as an infant influences how we will view the world that opens up about us. This includes our view of God. A five-year old was taken to Sunday School for the first time. Speaking on "God is Love," the teacher told the children, "God loves you like your mother and father love you". The child's father had died. Though the mother occasionally, but only in the presence of others who expected it of her, verbally told the child that she loved her, there was no affection shown the child. Nothing the child could do ever pleased her mother. And the mother even seemed to take pleasure in destroying anything that the child valued. That very week her mother had taken the child's favorite colored pencils, broken them in pieces, and thrown them out into the mud. The child had not been misbehaving, though she had probably been asking too many questions. On the way home from church, the child's legs began to cramp severely with what was then known as "growing pains." She begged her mother to rest a few minutes on one of the many bus benches along the way. The mother refused. The pains became so severe that the child finally just sat down on the curb. Her mother jerked her up and made her go on though the child's pain was excruciating. The teacher had said that God loved children even as their fathers and mothers loved them. Forty years later, even after having been a minister's wife for twenty of those years, that person asked her counselor why God made her suffer so much. She still subconsciously equated God's love for her with a mother's love that seemed to take delight in making her child suffer. [ 189 ]
The purpose of this thesis is to help the counselor to become aware of underlying belief systems that may be influencing the counselee's life. Many counselors would have rebuked the person for lack of faith or for questioning God. Instead, the person's counselor immediately picked up on the fact that the counselee had an erroneous concept of God and His love. Instead of rebuke, the counselor held her as she cried. In doing so, he properly demonstrated God's love. At an appropriate moment, he then explained properly God's love. In that particular situation, he pointed out that it was man, not God, who had brought about the suffering, both in childhood and in adulthood. As an adult, the person had been faithfully using her talents to glorify God and had taken joy in doing so. A drunken driver had run into her motor scooter from behind, severing her spinal cord and also causing a head injury that impaired her memory. A talented Christian writer before the accident, following the accident the person had difficulty constructing even a simple sentence. At that point, it seemed probable that her talents might never be restored. And the physical pain was excruciating. Seeing tears in her counselor's eyes reinforced the words he was telling her.
This person had faith in God, was serving Him faithfully, and did not question God's judgments, whatever they might be. But she had endured endless advice as to why the accident had occurred. If she was doing something contrary to God's Will, she sincerely wanted to know what it was and what she could do to change. Her underlying belief was that being recipient of another person's love involved enduring undeserved suffering and destruction of anything that brought her joy. When she used the term make, a listening and compassionate counselor quickly grasped that her underlying problem was a misconception of what love really involved. No lengthy analysis was needed. Counseling originally had begun as grief counseling shortly after the person's husband had died. The counselor actually knew little of the person's background except that she had been severely psychologically abused as a child. In the process of grief counseling, he had recognized a potential that had remained untapped and had encouraged her to obtain an education.
Scriptures teach that everything begets after its own kind, "And the earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after their kind: and God saw that it was good." "And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that moveth, wherewith the waters swarmed, after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind: and God saw that it was good." "And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:12, 21, 25). Modern science supports this. Dr. Gerritt Miller, who served on the staff the Smithsonian Institution, writes, "The complete absence of any intermediate forms between the major groups of animals, which is one of the most striking and most significant phenomena brought out by zoology, has hitherto been overlooked, and at least ignored." Dr. G. Ledyard Steggins writes, ". . . no transitional forms are known between any of the major phyla of animals or plants" [ 190 ] Man, likewise begets after his own kind. So, let us look at how man was created, "And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." "And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." "And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:27; 2:7; 1:28).
When man disobeyed God,, "And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken" (Genesis 3:22-23). Concerning the state of mankind, Solomon wrote, "I said in my heart, It is because of the sons of men, that God may prove them, and that they may see that they themselves are but as beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; and man hath no preeminence above the beasts: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man, whether it goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast, whether it goeth downward to the earth? . In conclusion concerning the state of man, he writes, "And the dust returneth to the earth as it was, and the spirit returneth unto God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 3:18-21; 12:7).
When man first disobeyed God, he acquired the knowledge to know the difference between good and evil which he had not previously had. Created in the image and likeness of God, previously he had known only good. Had he partaken of the tree of life while in disobedience, he would have lived forever in his sins. Note that the spirit of God was NOT taken from man (Ecclesiastics 12:7), he was only made subject to physical death. Each begets after its own kind Man became a living soul when he received the breath of God. That breath was never taken from him.
Scriptures do teach us that our human natures may be formed, at least to some degree, while still in the womb. Esau and Jacob struggled while still in Rebekah's womb, "And Jehovah said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, And two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels. And the one people shall be stronger than the other people. And the elder shall serve the younger" (Genesis 25:23). When Tamar became pregnant by Judah, "And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter-in-law hath played the harlot; and moreover, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. When she was brought forth, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and the cords, and the staff. And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She is more righteous than I; forasmuch as I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more. And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb. And it came to pass, when she travailed, that one put out a hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first. And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, Wherefore hast thou made a breach for thyself? Therefore his name was called Perez. And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zerah" (Genesis 38:24-30). When Mary, already pregnant with our Lord, visited her cousin, Elisabeth, already pregnant with the one who was to be the forerunner of Christ, "And Mary arose in these days and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; and entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit" "And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come unto me? For behold, when the voice of thy salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy" (Luke 3:39-41; 43-44).
The individual is not a static being. He is a living, moving, active being within whom is a force that produces change and motion. Each experience in a person's life may be viewed as a link in a chain that is being forged continually from the day of birth, or before, until the day of death. Even the earliest experiences of an infant leave impressions upon which future experiences will be evaluated and acted upon. To be alive necessitates sustaining life through the meeting of specific needs. Whenever need is felt, there is a drive to satisfy that need, though the need and what it takes to meet that need may be unknown to the individual. The process of satisfying one's need brings him into relationship with portions of his total environment. Interaction between him and his environment result in experience. From the activity set in motion by need for adjusting to the environment emerges purposes. Thus, internally there is realization of need, an urge or drive to satisfy the need, and an emerging purpose. External to the individual are the objects, events, and persons in his environment. Interplay of the internal and the external constitute experience. Through guidance and successful experience, the individual gradually learns ways of satisfying his needs, and thus acquiring skill and ultimate independence. [ 191 ]
The above describes the learning principles in general as seen from the perspective of an educator. Now let us very briefly look at language acquisition. Language seems to have all the characteristics of biologically programmed behavior, emerging before it is necessary, with its emergence not being accounted for either by an external event or by a sudden decision taken by the child. Its acquisition follows a regular sequence of milestones loosely correlated with other aspects of the child's development. Though there seems to be an internal mechanism both to trigger it off and to regulate it, these mechanisms require external stimulation in order to work properly. Nature triggers off the behavior, and lays down the framework, but careful nurture is needed for it to reach its full potential. [ 192 ]
It is thought that we learn from the general to the specific. Linguists think that children learn to talk partly by imitating the language of those about them and partly by hypothesis-testing. [ 193 ] As to an adult a foreign language may "sound like gibberish: mysterious strings of sound, rising and falling in unpredictable patterns" so does that noise which will become the child's native language sound to him as an infant. Like an adult confronted with learning a foreign language a child is confronted with sorting out all the sounds he hears. As he breaks down the "gibberish" he hears into specific sounds, he begins to put those sounds together into simple words which he may apply to a variety of similar appearing (to him) objects. All men may be "da da." Through imitation and hypothesis-testing, usually by the time a child is five years of age he will have dissected the language into its minimal separable units of sound and meaning; discovered the rules for recompounding sounds into words, the meanings of individual words and the rules for recombining words into meaningful sentences, and will have internalized the intricate patterns of taking turns in dialogue. [ 194 ]
Acquisition of our belief systems develop in similar fashion as our general learning experiences and our language acquisition. Every civilization that has ever existed has had some form of worship. And almost everything in existence has, at some point in time, been the recipient of worship. As an infant has a need unrecognized even by himself and tries to fulfill that need, so also does mankind have a need for communion with God, though that need goes unrecognized by ourselves. And we tries to satisfy that need in some form.
Although there are no definite proofs, many scientists believe that an infant's pre-natal environment can influence the developing baby in some ways. Suggestions include enjoying the pregnancy, listening to soothing music, and taking good care of one's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. These measures may or may not actually influence an unborn infant, but they do influence the overall home atmosphere into which the infant will be born. Though the infant does not understand religious beliefs and concepts as such, parental religious beliefs and concepts strongly influence the parental attitudes toward the infant. The foundations for spiritual development are laid during infancy as the infant senses the overall home atmosphere, and begins to respond to parental behaviors and attitudes. If parental behaviors and attitudes provide a loving, secure, and accepting environment, the child will develop a basic trust that will enable him later to have a more meaningful faith in God. If, on the other hand, the child's environment is harsh, critical, and unaccepting, he will envision God to be harsh, critical, and unaccepting. [ 195 ]
As a child during his first five years, through imitation and hypothesis-testing, will have dissected what will become his native language into its minimal separable units of sound and meaning; discovered the rules for recompounding sounds into words, the meanings of individual words and the rules for recombining words into meaningful sentences, and will have internalized the intricate patterns of taking turns in dialogue, it is this writer's thought that a child will have done likewise with whatsoever spiritual mores that occur within his realm. If the Word of God is held as authoritative, but interpreted subjectively to fit the desires of those using it, the child will, although usually not consciously at this stage, either interpret it to suit his own desires or discard it altogether. If strong emphasis is placed on attending worship, but "roast preacher" is a regular item on the Sunday dinner menu, the child will have little faith in what is taught. And, unfortunately, this lack of faith may extend to all with whom the child comes into contact and eventually to God. If verbal emphasis is placed on scriptural living, but life at home is lived in unscriptural ways, the child will find no sound basis on which to base his life. Children, even very young children, have a way of seeing through phoniness. And, in an effort to fulfill their spiritual needs, these children may turn to all sorts of unscriptural means.
If, on the other hand, the Word of God is truly the authority upon which home life is founded, the child will develop respect for its authority and for the proper authority of others. If worship is regularly attended and that which is taught is practiced in the home, the child will develop faith in that which is taught. A scripturally lived home life that fulfills the child's spiritual needs will provide a sound basis from which the child can develop his life.
Dr. Meir says that young children reason dichotomously, that is, they reason concretely and everything is either black or white. According to him, without a stimulating environment and some formal education, many people never outgrow this type of thinking. Jean Piaget's studies show that three-to-six-year old children reason quite concretely and that they believe almost everything told to them. He says the average child in a relatively good school system does not begin to reason abstractly until he is about eleven years old. [ 196 ] This writer tends to disagree with the above findings. First, even very young children do see through phoniness, though for self-preservation they may deny what they know to be true. Even though told he is loved, very young child may sense its mother's rejection, but deny even to himself. Also, since a vast part of early learning is imitation of parental thinking, it is this writer's view that young children reason dichotomously because their parents reason from Aristotle's "either/or" perspective. Even very young children are able to grasp the moral concepts found in Aesop's Fables, Grimm's Fairy Tales, and in the tales of Hans Christian Anderson. When "The Little Train That Could" is read to them, modern children easily grasp the concept that if they are determined and keep trying, they, too, can "climb their mountain," whatever it may be at that time or in the future. And consider how imaginative children are and the multitude of questions they ask. Children sincerely want to understand "why," and usually the answers they receive, if any, are simplistic and do not cover the area into which they are inquiring. This is due in part, of course, to the child's inability to communicate his questions so that an adult will understand them. Among themselves, even very young children reason about many things. But to the adult questioned, the questions are all too often viewed as merely foolish. The child then retreats from asking adults those questions he would like to ask. It may be difficult to distinguish between imagination, fantasy, and abstract reasoning, but could not abstract reasoning be, at least in part, the result of imagination, fantasy, and inquiry?
And this brings us back to the question of how we acquire our belief systems. As Aristotle and others have said, there is something within us that makes us want to know. Though our need is to find God, we usually are unaware of what we need. Our initial impressions are based on our immediate infancy environment. From our immediate environment, we move on to new surrounding environments. Long before we are able to form thoughts and long before we are consciously aware of what we are doing, we begin evaluating our new environment on the basis of what is known from our initial environment and hypothesize about that which is unknown. An infant cries. An adult examines the situation and determines he needs food. He cries again. This time the adult determines he needs changing. Another cry is determined to be a need for coddling. Gradually the infant learns to try out different cries and that those different cries will bring different responses.
Then, as we grow and come into contact with new environment, we hypothesize about it, try out our hypothesis, and whether it proves successful or unsuccessful, we acquire some knowledge of our new environment. If our initial hypothesis proves unsuccessful, we try another and another until we learn about that new environment with which we have come in contact. But if our early hypothesis, even though it may be correct, is stifled by any of the various fibers of beliefs woven into the pattern of our society, we generally succumb to that believed by those in whom we accept, or have accepted, as authoritative in our lives. Gradually we acquire those belief systems as our own. As our environment continues to expand, we initially evaluate it on the basis of those beliefs systems we have already acquired. Though this may be acceptable in young children under the authority of their parents, these are not acceptable standards for a reasonable adult. Truth will stand examination. An adult who does not attempt to examine fully what new environments he may encounter is not seeking after truth. And he will find his need for God only partially fulfilled.
Because our society accepts a two-valued system of evaluation, we gradually lose our desire to make inquiry into alternative evaluations. Please note that I am in no wise referring to so called "alternative life-styles." However, there are valid alternative life-styles in many areas of life. Evaluating a modest life-style as desirable is a valid alternative to evaluating poverty as harmful or evaluating "the good life" as "the American Way". Because our society accepts "labeling," we gradually begin labeling people, sometimes in insidious ways. As just mentioned, though we might deny it even to ourselves, we tend to frown upon those living in poverty. And we court the favor of those appearing to be living "the good life." Because most of our Catholic and Protestant society accepts the idea that man is born with a sinful nature, we accept that view of ourselves and of others. And because we accept that view, we no longer hold ourselves or others accountable for sinful actions. Because we believe "God has a purpose in this," we go on our way either thinking we are doing God's will or thinking that God is trying to show us that we are not doing His Will. And because we believe that a person can do anything he really wants to do, we set for ourselves ideals that to us may be unattainable.
Because it is out of the abundance of the heart that our deeds proceed, it is out of those beliefs that we have accepted within our heart that our actions will proceed. Hypnotists tell us that they cannot make anyone do anything that is contrary to one's most deeply held beliefs. What we may not realize is that hypnosis, whether individually induced, mass induced, or self-induced, can make us do things strictly contrary to scripture by playing on our most deeply held belief: the belief that we are to act in such a way as to glorify God. This writer has personally seen some formerly well-known evangelists rob poor people of their very living by working them into a state of mass hysteria and then taking up a contribution "to glorify God." Only recently, a preacher killed a doctor who had performed abortions. He believed he was "doing God's will." Apparently the preacher had a strong desire to please God and a strong belief that "thou shalt not kill." In his desire to please God, he took it upon himself to eliminate one whom he perceived to be killing a multitude of unborn infants.
Chapter Eight: Counseling Considerations
Probably there are as many methods of counseling as there are counselors. Personally, this writer does not like the idea of an initial questionnaire nor an initial examination wherein the counselee's responses are evaluated. Counselees too often give what they think is the "correct" answer in questionnaires. Some questionnaires may put the counselee in a "catch 22" position. One of the questions this writer had to answer when entering rehabilitation training was: "Has the use of alcohol or drugs ever interfered with your work?" Answering either "yes" or "no" implied that the one answering the question either was using or had used alcohol or drugs. Others had warned me that the initial examination included putting the counselee under pressure in order to evaluate his responses. One of the questions had shown me a need for counseling in a certain area, so I was open to counseling. However, when the counselor attempted to put me under pressure by twisting my words on another matter, all defenses went into action and I closed the door on all further counseling from that individual. Though I had at that time no training in counseling I was fully aware that he was evaluating my reaction to pressure. Yet, still, all my defense systems built up over the years automatically took over.
Whatever method the Christian counselor may prefer, establishing a good rapport with the counselee is essential. Although the presenting problem is seldom the basis of the counselee's problems, acceptance of the counselee and caringly listening to what he perceives to be his problem can help establish a good rapport. As he listens, the counselor who is aware of the patterns of belief woven into the fabric of our society may very early detect a belief pattern underlying his counselee's problems. Then, while helping the counselee deal with his presenting problem, the counselor can be gently correcting his underlying problem. Analysis is sometimes the only answer to serious problems. However, there is a drawback that this writer has not seen dealt with in current texts. The human mind is very susceptible to suggestion--good or bad. Analysis sometimes involves suggestions that may or may not be correct. Some counselees may accept suggestions that actually are incorrect in order to avoid facing the real truth. Attributing one's problems to some traumatic experience may seem easier than accepting that it is one's own reaction to that experience that is causing one's problem, not the experience itself. Also, since the counselor in some instances may be the only person who accepts the counselee unconditionally, subconsciously the counselee may not to want to complete counseling. Suggestions may then give him subconscious reasons to continue counseling that may be very hard for the counselor to detect.
Chapter Nine: The Influence of Eastern Religions
According to Grolier's, the term New Age is used to describe a nebulous, quasi-religious set of beliefs that are an outgrowth of the 1960s counterculture and the 1970s "human potential movement." "New age encompasses a wide array of notions--spiritualism, astrology, out-of-body experiences, reincarnation, and the occult disciplines, as well as unorthodox psychotherapeutic techniques and pseudoscientific applications of the 'healing powers' of crystals and pyramids." [ 197 ] In this thesis we are primarily interested in the quasi-religious set of beliefs involved in the human potential movement. If he has not already encountered results of the New Age movement, the Christian counselor will do so in the near future. And if he knows nothing of it, it is extremely difficult to detect.
This writer first became aware of the problem through a letter written to the editor of the Tullahoma News some years back. A woman's normally active and seemingly well adjusted young son had gradually become despondent. Upon questioning, the child revealed that he could not always shake off his "mud-mind" and put on his "shining mind." Without her full knowledge or consent, her son had been enrolled in a program designed to build self-esteem. The mother suspected that the program appeared to have religious overtones, though she was not well enough informed in that area to give a definitive reason for her thinking. The Coffee County School System and the Tullahoma City School System had initiated the Pumsy Programs which are advertised as a "Cognitive Mental Health Curriculum for Children of Many Ages." [ 198 ] Though participation was voluntary, participation was strongly encouraged. Apparently the mother had signed a consent form without being fully informed about the content of the program And, on the surface, it does appear to be an excellent program to build children's self-esteem and teach them problem-solving skills.
This writer had just completed a course on cults that included an examination of Eastern Religions. Since the program seemed to call for the child to focus upon the Good that was within him and within others, it appeared to this writer to be either pantheistic (all existence is divine) or panenthesitic (God is in creation as a soul is in a body). At that time I had not seen any of the material taught. A faithful member of our church, who was also the wife of a former minister, counsels in a Tullahoma school. She assured me the program was showing wonderful results. Still having reservations, I sent my marked text [ 199 ] to one of my former secular professors who also holds a degree in theology. Since his wife was teaching in the county school system, he had full access to all the material being used. Upon examination, He agreed with my analysis that the program was New Age material. The program was discontinued. But quite possibly another under a different name has taken its place.
The Timberline Press, which publishes the "Pumsy" series, offers three programs to teach children the critical skills for building and maintaining a positive self-image. The focus of these programs is on teaching children the skills and knowledge necessary to gain better control of their inner emotional environments. "Children must decide for themselves to take control of their feelings, and they must decide when to start. They will benefit continually if they learn the basics of positive thinking skills at an early age. Our goal is to help children identify negative thinking habits and show children positive thinking skills that will let them take control of their inner environments and feel good about themselves and others." The earliest program "introduces young children to important concepts of anger control, feelings of capability, feelings of significance, coping with loss and major change, and overcoming unnecessary fears. The second "models positive thought and action in taking responsibility, making choices and understanding consequences, overcoming negative 'self-talk,' accepting individual rights of personal choice, and using refusal skills to preserve safety and integrity." The third "helps older children identify eleven unrealistic or negative beliefs that may prevent them from enjoying themselves and others more fully." [ 200 ] At this point, it is very important to note that the character "Pumsy" and her friends are dragons. Also note that the Timberline Press is located in Eugene, Oregon. This would be in the area of the Oregon Vortex mentioned later in this thesis. The importance of these facts will be made clear in further discussion. Also note the any reference to New Age has been skillfully avoided.
Let us look at Llewellyn Publications of St. Paul, Minnesota, description of itself, "For more than 90 years Llewellyn has brought its readers knowledge in the fields of metaphysics and human potential. Learn about the newest books in spiritual guidance, natural healing, astrology, occult philosophy and more. Enjoy book reviews, New Age articles, a calendar of events, plus current advertised products and services" [emphases mine]. [ 201 ]
Among Llewellyn's publications is Dancing With Dragons written by D. J. Conway. Born in Hood River, Oregon, which also would be in the area of the Oregon Vortex, Conway began her quest for knowledge of the occult more than 25 years ago. She has been involved in many aspects of New Age religion from the teachings of Yogananda to study of the Qabala, healing herbs, and Wicca [Wicca refers to witchcraft]. She says that although she is an ordained minister in two New Age churches and holder of a Doctor of Divinity degree, her heart lies within the Pagan cultures. [ 202 ]
In giving descriptions of dragon lore, Conway says that H. P. Blavatsky states in her books that "the dragon is a very old sign for Astral Light or Primordial Principle." Primordial Principle refers to the "primordial soup" or "mud" from which the world was created and, at various times recreated. Conway goes on to say that this means that there is always wisdom in chaos, even if humans cannot see it. Remember, the child mentioned earlier had spoken of his "mud" mind and his "shining" mind. The Astral Light would have reference to his "shining" mind. The dragon stood for psychical regeneration and immortality. Conway suggests that the stories which insist that dragons were partial to virgins simply meant the seeking of wisdom and true innocence of the spirit were traits that attracted draconic beings [ 203 ].
Since Conway mentioned Blavatsky, we will digress here for a moment and examine the doctrines of Blavatsky, one of the founders of the Theosophical Society. According to her, "The doctrines of theosophy rest on three fundamental propositions. The first postulates an omnipresent, boundless, and immutable principle that transcends human understanding. It is the one unchanging reality, or infinite potentiality, inherent in all life and covers all that humans have tried to say about God. The second deals with the universality of the law of periodicity recorded by science as found in all nature. As morning, noon, and night are succeeded by morning again, so birth, youth, adulthood, and death are succeeded by rebirth. Reincarnation is the process of human development, in which all growth is governed by the law of justice or karma. The third proposition declares the fundamental identity of all souls with the universal Over-Soul, suggesting that brotherhood is a fact in nature, and the obligatory pilgrimage for every soul through numerous cycles of incarnation. Theosophy admits of no privileges or special gifts in humans except those won by their own effort and merit. Perfected individuals and great teachers, such as Buddha, Jesus, and the mahatmas, were universal beings, the flower of evolution." [ 204 ]
Conway says that dragons are Astral beings that have form and existence and inhabit the astral plane that co-exists with and interpenetrates this physical plane. According to her, "Every elemental action and reaction has the possibility of being an extension of a dragon and its power." [ 205 ] Conway suspects that there are underground Earth energy streams crisscrossing the planet. Along these lines are certain power spots. The Oregon Vortex and Mount Shasta and Mount Tamalpais in California are such spots. Since dragons use the projected power of these energy lines and spots, one can use these spots to tap into dragon energy. There are also lesser energy lines into which one can tap for dragon energy. Dragon energy can also be attracted by power generated through ritual, especially those involving energy such as music and dancing. [ 206 ] Note that the first two Pumsy programs involve music and probably some form of dancing or other expression of bodily energy.
According to Conway, "Negative energies have nothing to do with evil, unless you have evil thoughts and intentions within yourself." "Both positive and negative aspects of many things besides energy are needed to create, indeed for the universe to stay in existence." [ 207 ] Now, let us return to the Pumsy brochure. The Land of No is a storybook written for any child who shrivels and moans at the thought of being told "No." The character, Tiffany, takes a dream journey to "The Land of No" where the word "Yes" does not even exist. Another child explains that The Land of No is a wonderful place if you understand. With the help of her brain and with a little practice, Tiffany does understand as she imagines making her dreams come true in a place where the answer is always "No." When she awakes, she tests her infallible technique on her unsuspecting mother. This closely corresponds with Conway's use of negative energies.
Dragon power helps one make personal, inner changes that may be necessary, including helping to remove past negative programming or self-destructive habits when humans really desire these changes. Dragons can create opportunities, provide encouragement and guidance, and even back one into a figurative corner so that he must face problems and make decision. But they will not do for one what one can and should do for oneself. [ 208 ] Based on Rational-Emotive Therapy, the "Thinking, Changing, Rearranging" Pumsy program is designed to give a child the skills and knowledge necessary to take control of his inner emotional environment. Sparking children's awareness of irrational beliefs and the language that goes along with them is the goal of this program. It shows children how it is not "other people," but rather their own beliefs that are the culprits in a "rotten day." Children are guided into taking more responsibility in creating positive emotional environments for themselves. See how closely this corresponds to Conway's dragon help? Remember, Pumsy is a dragon.
One may begin using dragon power to meet physical needs and desires. This builds greater trust in oneself. Seeking spiritual enlightenment is the next logical step for the balanced person:
After all, when the very foundation of magick [sic] and ritual is finally
uncovered, the magician finds that all ritual and spellworking is meant to be a
means for spiritual growth and development. Whether or not we choose to
follow that upward path is an individual responsibility. We are each
responsible for our choices in life, how we react to the choices of others
around us, even to our being here in the first place. We have no right to place
any blame on others for what is going wrong in our lives. If you make a
wrong decision, change it and learn from the experience. Dancing with
dragons can make this life-path a little easier and a lot more interesting." [ 209 ]
Before ending this area of our discussion, the quotation of two more paragraphs seems in order:
A lifelong dance with dragons is never boring. Dancing with dragons is a
constant exploration of various types of energies and the uses to which they
can be applied. They will start you off in "kindergarten," where you learn to
manifest physical needs. Then you graduate into more complex and
demanding forms of magick [sic]: healing, emotional balance, mental
disciplines, spiritual seeding. And just when you think you have learned every
thing there is to know about a subject, the dragons will surprise you by
unveiling a new view, some hidden knowledge, a different method of magick
You may well find yourself facing an inner door, unnoticed before. The
opening of this door will require you to readjust your thinking about yourself
and everything and everyone around you. Sometimes this can be bitterly
painful. We all like he comfortable status quo; changes bring the unknown
and therefore the frightening. And none of us likes to be faced with the fact
that there are still habits and traits within ourselves that need cleaning out,
even though deep inside we know this to be true. It is personally painful on
all levels to haul out this garbage, see it for what it is, and discard it. The
wonderful thing is, although dragons will force an evolving magician to
undergo this experience, they will be by your side through the whole ordeal. [ 210 ]
The earliest Pumsy program deals with cognitive skill areas involving feelings of capability and importance, anger control, dealing with change and loss, and overcoming unnecessary fears. The second deals with developing long-term approaches to problem solving, internal controls, and refusal skills; making responsible choices; improving social skills; understanding limitations; and overcoming negative thought patterns. The third explores topics concerning thoughts, language and emotions, and their inter-relationship; devaluing inner language; basic skills in banishing the "Whispering Phantom" through techniques for routing out a rotten day; distinguishing beliefs from facts; belief systems that separate children from positive self-esteem; discovering our "Junk-Thought;" and basic components of modeling responsible language in children. Close examination will prove how closely this program follows Conway's summary of working with dragons. Note also that Conway is openly New Age and openly pagan, ". . . her heart lies within the Pagan cultures." [ 211 ]
This writer now begins to have reservations about the popular television program, Barney, the purple dragon, "The Purple Dragon became the emblem of the Byzantine emperors." [ 212 ] Sesame Street and its big bird may even be suspect. Birds, especially the Phoenix of Egyptian mythology, are known to play an important part in ancient (pagan) mythology. Though they have now become less popular, the Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtles had very strong overtones of being of New Age origin. They came up out of the mud (mud represents chaotic thinking), assumed the names of famous artists (changing of their self-image), and accomplished good (development of problem-solving skills). Perhaps many seemingly only innocent entertainment programs should be examined more carefully by Christian counselors. This writer grew up with Superman and other comic books and also with Westerns. The only moral, if any, was that the good guys always won in the end. It was easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys because the good guys always wore white hats while the bad wore black hats. But this material was only looked upon as entertainment. New Age material may be entertaining, but skillfully hidden within the entertainment are religious values, sometimes even pagan religious values, that are unacceptable to Christians.
Much of the material discussed does contain valid principles. But, without doubt, it IS New Age material. Of course, this fact is very skillfully hidden. Those principles that are valid in building self-esteem can be presented in a secular setting without use of New Age pantheism or panentheism. And why not use human characters instead of symbolic dragons or birds? Ideally, however, these principles should be taught in a Christian setting as Christian principles.
Since such material presented in a secular setting forces the child to depend solely upon his own inner resources, many children may eventually have to undergo counseling. Children are faced with many problems and fears that they may not want to discuss with others. Children simply do not tell what goes on within their homes. They are not going to tell that their parents fought all night. They are not going to tell that they overheard a parent making a secretive date with a person of the opposite sex. Many of these problems are beyond solving, even for adults. A victim of almost any type of abuse usually sees himself as the cause of the abuse, not the victim. There are times when a child simply cannot be his "shining" self. And if being one' "shining" self is presented as the desired goal, the child may eventually see himself as a failure. Instead of his self-esteem being built, it may be destroyed. This may be especially so if "progress" charts are used, as they are in the Pumsy programs. A Christian counselor should listen carefully and observe the child's demeanor and actions for indications of a sense of failure. The problem may be as simple as not living up to some program's expectation. The counselor should, however, also be attentive to indications of some underlying problem that may be causing that failure.
If possible, a Christian counselor should learn what self-esteem programs are being used in his area. Sometimes this may be difficult to do. The woman mentioned earlier who was a counselor in one of the Tullahoma schools was also my Bible class teacher. I asked her if she could get me some out of use material for a research project or if she could give me the publisher's name and address. She was either unable or unwilling to do either. Either reason made the program more suspect to me. The woman who taught in the county school system obtained the brochure for me after the program was discontinued, but it is my understanding that it was not supposed to be given to anyone. She was unable to obtain an instructor's manual for me. If the Christian counselor can obtain any literature, he should be particularly wary of anything that is published in northern California, Oregon, or Minnesota since much New Age material originates from these areas. And if a recognized Christian counselor is not permitted access to the materials used in any program used in the area in which he counsels, he should seriously question that program. Any material used in public schools should be available to any concerned citizen, but especially so to parents, ministers, counselors, and any others who may have direct contact with children.
The goal of any counseling is to change lives. In order to guide a person in changing his life the counselor must determine where the person is at the present moment, and what goals needs to be set to bring about changes in that person's life. The goal of Christian counseling is guide persons toward glorifying God.
Determining where the person is at the present moment involves listening. Listening not only means hearing the counselee's words, it also means apprehending his body language and comprehending even that which is left unsaid. Listening means listening with one's ears, eyes, and above all, with one's heart.
As counselors already know the problem first presented to him is seldom the real problem. But helping the person solve his immediate problem opens up dialogue that may lead toward more discovering more fundamental problems. In the process of dialogue, the counselee will often reveal thought patterns that even he does not realize exist. Though the time may not be appropriate to make these thought patterns known to the counselee, the counselor may often very quickly ascertain the counselee's underlying problem. If this can be done, then while working directly with the immediate problem, the counselor can be indirectly working with the underlying problem.
As with other fabric, the fabric of life is made up of warp and woof. Warp is the lengthwise threads on a loom. It is particularly interesting to note that the term "warp" means "to turn or twist out of shape." Woof refers to the crosswise threads of a fabric that give it its texture.
There are many warp threads that have run throughout the entire fabric of civilization, and which will continue until its end. Every society that has ever existed has had some story of the creation of man, of his being placed in garden or some other desirable place. Each has had some story of man's disobedience and expulsion from that place. Each has had some story of subsequent punishment. Every society known to man has recorded a great flood. And almost every society has some concept of death, burial, and resurrection that leads to a better future life. Every society has sought something to worship. And almost every object has at some point in time been considered as an object of worship. These warp threads have taken many curious twists and turns along the way--but they remain the mainstay of civilization.
Each society has added its own woof threads to the fabric of life. These endure for a time. Then other societies arise and add their own woof threads. Some, from our vantage point, seem quite unattractive. Certainly no war appears attractive at the time of its occurrence. Yet the Greek conquests under Alexander the Great gave civilization a unified language of commerce known to almost all. The Roman conquest of Greece and subsequent peace brought about building of roads. And though Rome conquered Greece physically, Rome absorbed both the Greek language and the Greek culture. And this prepared the way for spread of the Gospel to every nation.
Many of the woof threads are quite extensive, reaching from ancient generations even unto today's generation. Though their origin has long since been forgotten, their influences remain often paramount in our society.
Any Christian counselor is far too busy to do extensive studies in the various disciplines of world history, world religions, philosophy, and the development of Western thought. Nor does he have time to study sociology, linguistics, and other disciplines that influence our society. However, the more knowledgeable he becomes in these areas as he goes along, the more effective he can become as a Christian counselor.
As Christian counselors, we already do extensive reading to keep abreast of current trends. I suggest that perhaps some of our reading should include cursory readings in other disciplines. For even a cursory survey of belief systems may enhance the Christian counselor's effectiveness by enabling him to ascertain underlying beliefs that are influencing the counselee.
Sandra F. Cobble
The American Standard Version of the Bible will be used unless otherwise noted.
Note: Versions used by other writers will not be indicated unless of importance to that writer or to this writer.
Kenneth O. Gangel, and Warren S. Benson, Christian Education: Its History & Philosophy (Chicago: Moody, 1983) 31-32.
Donald Gotterbarn, "Epistemology," computer software. The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia, 1991. Grolier Electronic. CD-ROM disk.
Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, 2nd. ed., (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993) 7.
Gotterbarn, "Epistemology," Groiler.
Will Durant, and Ariel Durant, The Life of Greece, (New York: Simon, 1966), vol. 4 of The Story of Civilization 359. [Hereafter referred to as Greece]
Durant, Greece 359.
Robert S. Brumbaugh, "Protagoras," Groiler.
Durant, Greece 359.
Frederick Copleston, S.J., Greece and Rome, (New York: Image-Doubleday, 1985), vol. 1 in bk. 1 of A History of Philosophy 87-88. [Hereafter referred to as Greece and Rome.]
Copleston, Greece and Rome 88.
Durant, Greece 359.
Durant, Greece 359.
Durant, Greece 360.
Gotterbarn, "Epistemology," Grolier.
L. A. Kosan, "Plato," Grolier.
Gotterbarn, "Epistemology," Grolier.
Gotterbarn, "Epistemology," Grolier.
Gotterbarn, "Epistemology," Grolier.
Gotterbarn, "Epistemology," Grolier.
Gottenbarn, "Epistemology," Grolier.
Copleston, Greece and Rome 40.
Copleston, Greece and Rome 49.
Copleston, Greece and Rome 50.
Copleston, Greece and Rome 49.
Copleston, Greece and Rome 53.
Michael Frede, "Aristotle," Grolier.
Frede, "Aristotle," Groiler.
Durant, Greece 524-25.
Durant, Greece 525.
Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity, 3rd ed. (New York: Country Life, 1948) 404. [Bears the seal of the International Non-Aristotelian Library Pub. Co.; distributed by The Institute of General Semantics: Lakeville, CT.]
Korzybski xviii -xxi.
Aristotle, Physics, trans. R. P. Hardie and R. K., Gaye Bk. I, chap. 2. computer software, Library of the Future Series, 1st. ed., World Library, 1990. C-D ROM disk [hereafter ref. as LFS ]
Aristotle, Physics Bk. 1, ch. 2, LFS.
Aristotle, Categories, ch. 5, computer software, Library of the Future Series, 1st. ed., World Library, 1990. C-D ROM disk.
Aristotle, Categories, ch. 4, LFS.
Aristotle, Categories, ch. 5, LFS.
Aristotle, Categories, ch. 6, LFS.
Aristotle, Categories, ch. 7, LFS.
Aristotle, Categories, ch. 8, LFS.
Aristotle, Categories, ch. 9, LFS.
Elizabeth Peale Allen, ed., "Consider This . . ., Positive Living, May/June 1995 36.
T. Pierce Brown, personal conversations over a period of years.
T. Pierce Brown, Poems (Cookeville, TN: priv. pub., n.d. ) 100-04.
I learned of this in 1984 through personal discussions with the person, whose name I will withhold to protect her privacy.
James V. McConnell, Understanding Human Behavior, 4th ed. (New York: Holt, 1974, rpt. by CBS COLLEGE PUB., 1983) 609-611.
Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling, rev. ed. (Dallas: Word, 1988) 487.
Gangel and Benson, Christian Education 229.
Durant, Greece 527.
Aristotle, Metaphysics, trans. W. D. Ross, bk. 4, ch. 3. computer software, Library of the Future Series, 1st. ed., World Library, 1990. C-D ROM disk.
Durant, Greece 527.
Aristotle, Metaphysics, bk.1, ch. 1, LFS.
Korbyski, "Introduction to the Second Edition" xxv.
Korbyski, "Introduction to the Second Edition" xxiv.
Durant, Greece 527.
Durant, Greece 527.
Durant, Greece 527.
Weldon Payne, "Through the Pane," The Manchester Times 26 April 1995: A4.
T. Pierce Brown, personal conversations on evangelism.
Ross Mackenzie, "PatristicLiterature," Grolier.
Mackenzie, "Patristic Literature," Grolier.
Mackenzie, "Patristic Literature," Grolier.
"Apostolic Fathers," Grolier.
Agnes Cunningham,"Clement 1, Saint," Grolier.
Apostolic Fathers, "Clement of Rome," The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol.1, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977) Trans. of The Writings of the Fathers down to A. D. 325, American rpt. of the Edinburgh ed. 6. [Hereafter ref. as Fathers]
NOTE: Each vol. may contain one or more writers. Pagination is continuous, but each writer is indexed separately at the end of the vol., as is his list of Scriptures.
NOTE: Translators, more than one often given with each writer, are too numerous to document for this thesis. Most manuscripts were probably originally written in either Greek or Latin, and may have then been trans. into other languages before being translated into English.
Justin Martyr, "Dialogue with Trypho," Fathers, vol. 1 269.
Justin Martry, "Dialogue with Trypho," Fathers, vol. 1 270.
Irenaeus, "Irenaeus Against Heresies," Fathers, vol. 1 454.
Irenaeus, "Irenaeus Against Heresies," Fathers, vol. 1 454.
Irenaeus, "Irenaeus Against Heresies," Fathers, vol. 1 455.
Irenaeus, "Irenaeus Against Heresies," Fathers, vol. 1 455.
Irenaeus, "Irenaeus Against Heresies," Fathers, vol.1 456.
Irenaeus, "Irenaeus Against Heresies," Fathers, vol. 1 457.
Irenaeus, "Irenaeus Against Heresies," Fathers, vol. 1 457.
Irenaeus, "Irenaeus Against Heresies," Fathers, vol. 1 518.
Irenaeus, "Irenaeus Against Heresies," Fathers, vol. 1 519.
Irenaeus, "Irenaeus Against Heresies," Fathers, vol. 1 519.
Irenaeus, "Irenaeus Against Heresies," Fathers, vol. 1 519.
Irenaeus, "Irenaeus Against Heresies," Fathers, vol. 1 520.
Clement of Alexandria, "Introductory Note," Fathers, vol. 2 166.
Clement, "The Stromata, or Miscellanies," Fathers, vol. 2 319.
Clement, "The Stromata, or Miscellanies," Fathers, vol. 2 319.
Clement, "The Stromata, or Miscellanies," Fathers, vol.2 362.
Clement, "The Stromata, or Miscellanies," Fathers, vol.2 440-41.
Clement, "The Stromata, or Miscellanies," Fathers, vol. 2 483.
Clement, "The Stromata, or Miscellanies," Fathers, vol. 2 524.
Clement, "The Stromata, or Miscellanies," Fathers, vol. 2 525.
Clement, "The Stromata, or Miscellanies," Fathers, vol. 2 526.
Clement, "The Stromata, or Miscellanies," Fathers, vol. 2 526.
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Tertullian, "Tertullian Against Marcion," Fathers, vol. 3 301-02.
Tertullian, "Tertullian Against Marcion," Fathers, vol. 3 304.
Tertullian, "On Exhortation to Chastity, Fathers, vol. 4 50-51.
Origen, "Origen de Principlis," Fathers, vol. 4 239.
Origen, "Origen de Principlis," Fathers, vol. 4 240.
Origen, "Origen de Principlis," Fathers, vol. 4 253.
Origen, "Origen de Principlis," Fathers, vol. 4 254.
Origen, "Origen de Principlis," Fathers, vol. 4 255.
Origen, "Origen de Principlis," Fathers, vol. 4 265.
Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Fathers, vol. 5 348.
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Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Fathers vol. 5 354.
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Athanasius, "Prolegomena," Fathers -2nd Ser. vol. 4 lxix.
Athanasius, "Against the Heathen," Fathers -2nd Ser., vol. 4 5.
Athanasius, "Against the Heathen," Fathers -2nd Ser., vol. 4 5.
Athanasius, "Against the Heathen," Fathers -2nd Ser., vol. 4 20.
Athanasius, "Life of Antony," Fathers -2nd Ser., vol. 4 201
Athanasius, "Four Discousres Against the Arians," Fathers -2nd Ser., vol. 4 410-412.
Hilary of Poitiers, "Introduction," Fathers -2nd Ser., vol. 9 vii.
Hilary of Poitiers, "On the Trinity, bk. 8," Fathers -2nd Ser., vol. 9 141.
Basil the Great, "The Hexaemeron," Fathers -2nd Ser., vol . 8 103-04.
Basil the Great, "Letters," Fathers -2nd Ser., vol. 8 273.
Gregory of Nyssa, "On the Soul and the Resurrection," Fathers -2nd Ser., vol. 5 456-57.
John of Damascus, "Exposition of the Orthodox Faith," Fathers -2nd Ser., vol. 9 41.
NOTE: In vol. 9, the book of Hilary of Poitiers and John of Damascus are self-contained.
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Durant, Age of Faith, 68-69.
Durant, Age of Faith, 71 [De bono conjugali, x; Figgis, J. N. Political Aspects of St. Autustine's City of God, 76; Lea, H. C., Sacerdotal Celibacy, 47.]
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Durant, Age of Faith 70. [Documentation is from Cambridge Medieval History, I, 581; De Trinitate, i, 1; and De vera religione, xxiv, 45.]
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Gangel and Benson, Christian Education 163-64.
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Langdon Gilkey, "Tillich, Paul," Grolier.
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Audio Editions, Catalog #126A, (Auburn, CA: Audio Partners) Fall 1995.
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"God is Love; A Child's Concept," Christian Bible Teacher, Sept. 1990 382 [This was a personal experience.]
Batsell Barrett Baxter, I Believe Because . . . (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990) 134.
C. B. Eavey, The Art of Effective Teaching (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1956) 62-65.
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l Clark, et. el., Language 45-47.
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Aristotle. Physics, trans. R. P. Hardie and R. K. Gaye. computer software. Library of the Future Series, 1st. ed., 1990. World Library. CD-ROM disk.
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Cobble, Sandra F. "God Is Love: A Child's Concept." Christian Bible Teacher. Sept. 1990
Collins, Gary R. Christian Counseling. Dallas: Word, 1988.
Collins, Gary R. Your Magnificent Mind. Grand Rapids: Baker. rpt. of The Magnificent Mind. n.p. [Dallas?]: Word, 1985.
Conway, D. J. Dancing With Dragons. St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1994.
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Copleston, Federick S. J. Augustine to Scotus, vol. 2 in bk. 1 of A History of Philosophy. New York: Image-Doubleday, 1985. 9 vols. in 3 bks.
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Durant, Will, and Ariel Durant. The Age of Faith. New York: Simon, 1950. Vol. 4 of The Story of Civilization. 11 vols. 1933-1975.
Eavey, C. B. The Art of Effective Teaching. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1956.
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Frede, Michael. "Aristotle." computer software. The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia, 1991. Grolier Electronic. CD-ROM disk.
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Meier, Paul D. Christian Child-Rearing and Personality Development. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989.
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"Pumsy." Eugene, OR: Timberline, 1990. [This is an advertisement brochure]
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Robison, Suzan. "You're Not Ready Yet." Positive Living. Sept./Oct. 1995.
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Solomon, Robert C. "Existentialism." computer software. The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia, 1991. Grolier Electronic. CD-ROM disk.
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Wren, Thomas E. "Kierkegaard, Soren." computer software. The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia, 1991. Grolier Electronic. CD-ROM disk.
Ziglar, Zig. See You at the Top. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 1977. rpt. of Biscuits, Fleas and Pump Handles.
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