What you know will keep you from what you need to know

I really like this teaching from Bill Johnson. It’s not that it reveals a great truth, but it reveals how great truth is acquired and implemented in our life. It’s a sort of primer on how God reveals Himself in “layers” and how a new depth of truth will often appear to challenge an existing truth. It’s this challenge…this paradox…that requires that we keep our focus on the God who is THE TRUTH and not on our intellectual grasp of some concept. We have to seek the God who gives the revelation to experience a new level of anointing and experience in Him to allow us to live in the new truth. That’s not the way we think in the West, unfortunately. We are (I know I am) enamored and satisfied with new concepts…to the point where we don’t actually live it out. This satisfaction actually causes you to resist what God would reveal to you.

So, open your heart to what God would reveal to you in this teaching!

Experiencing the Great Things (mp3 25.5Mb)

Catching up with the Elijah Generation

Just yesterday, here in France, we were praying for the various youth worship teams that are springing up at the same time that there seems to be a generation of youth that are rising up with such a profound anger in their hearts. These, “angry” youth (also in our Christian school!) unconsciously have a certain “vengeance” in their heart because they grew up without parental love. This is taken out on the teachers in our Christian school. Our teachers have the opportunity to be the vehicles of healing and reconciliation with respect to the generational divide sown so deeply in so many of today’s youth. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to love those who provoke you constantly…we all know that. What we’re seeing, however, is that a new anointing for worship is rising in younger and younger age groups. One of the things that comes with worship is the spirit of revelation…a revelation of who God is and who He has made us to be and a revelation of how we express Him in the times in which we live.

This worshiping generation is preparing the way of the Lord. I believe they come, as it is spoken of in Malachi 4:5-6, in the spirit of Elijah…the result being generational and family reconciliation. I believe this spirit of Elijah will, among other things, touch our teachers so that they realize that they can be the “fathers” whose hearts are restored to their children (their students) so that the reciprocal heart change can also take place and touch broken families and restore the destiny of a chosen generation.

This morning I re-listened to a teaching given by Steve Freeman this summer at Bread of Life church in Indianapolis about the Forerunner Generation that is arising now. It’s a wonderful teaching that begins with an overview of Church History that will stir your spirit. Steve then lays out the Forerunner Movement and the acceleration of God’s activity in the earth right now. It came together in my spirit that we’re seeing that right here…right now with this generation of young worshipers. Exciting times!

A Generation Calling – August 2009 – mp3 22Mb

Got Bethel?

I’m about to start posting several audio teachings from Bethel Church in Redding, California, but I’m putting this post up first. Why? Well, it says on their site that the sermons downloaded from their Sermon of the Week site are free to copy provided you give the proper attribution. I’ve written once asked them about posting a message on my site, but never got a response. So, based on the “right to copy” statement on their site, I’m going to start posting several of their messages, BUT, should they come and ask me to remove them, I will. If so, I want to make sure that this post remains to let as many people as possible know about this incredible well of rich Kingdom resources that is bubbling over in Redding, CA and how you can taste a whole lot of it directly yourselves.

I’ve been impacted by various teachers during my life but there are certainly places and ministries where God has made extraordinary deposits of His Blessing and Spirit (though I happen to believe that God is waiting with joyful anticipation for every spot on the earth to cry out for and search for and experience the same “open heaven” blessing that, up till now, seems the exception more than the rule). Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer in Kansas City was probably the first to have made a significant impact on me with his 3 20-part series of audio teachings on The Life of David, the Song of Solomon and the Bride of Christ. Rick Joyner and Morningstar Ministries in Fort Mill, South Carolina has marked me with various books and their worship anointing. The Vineyard and Hillsong movements have obviously been hugely impacting in the realm of worship. Arthur Burk and Plumbline Ministries with their Motivational Gifts teachings and other great insights have fed me as well. In the last 2 years or so, however, the bulk of my “deep drinking” has clearly come from Bethel Church in Redding.

On their site, they have 2 methods of obtaining regular free content:

I strongly encourage you to sign up for both of these (free) and let down your bucket into the well!

That God may dwell among us…building for the Kingdom

This is a brief outline for a Bible Study/devotion that I gave to one of our EuroTeam construction teams (check out their great team blog here). It’s purpose was to put their practical work into the context of God’s purposes for His Creation. I believe its application, however, is broad and needs to touch every domain where we exercise an activity that God has called us to.

In the Old Testament, much significance is given to the Temple (and the Tabernacles, but I’ll refer just to “The Temple” for simplicity when I mean both). The fact that it’s significant is plain to see in cursory readings of the OT. The theology of that significance is perhaps less plain to our modern, Western thought patterns. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of this so I only offer some main points about that significance. (Here are 2 podcasts on Eschatology by Martin Scott where the symbolism of the Temple is more fully discussed: https://3generations.eu/blog/?p=928 and https://3generations.eu/blog/?p=941)

What I’d like to posit is this short study can be summarized in the following statements (most of which are a synthesis of observations presented first by others which have particularly resonated with me):

  • The desire of God with respect to The Creation/The Cosmos/”The Heavens and the Earth” is to fill it with His Glorious Presence and to rule it in intimate relationship with His People
  • The Old Testament Temple is an intentional picture of God’s Creation
  • God’s manifest and abiding presence in the Old Testament Temple is an intentional picture of how God wants to fill all of Creation with His Glory
  • The planning, preparing, building and consecrating of the Temple are an intentional picture of how God desires to work with man and has chosen to do so in order to prepare a resting place for His presence
  • The coming of Jesus launched God’s “New Creation Project”
  • Our renewed Creation Mandate is to facilitate (in any way that God calls us to) the indwelling presence of God throughout all of His Creation
  • To this end, we can glean significance and understanding in our mandate based on what we see revealed in the Bible accounts of the Temple

Significance of the Temple:

  • This was a physical location where the presence of God was continually manifested – In my understanding we’re talking about the “spirit realm” or “heavenly realm” or “God’s space” intersecting with the “natural realm” in tangible ways. For those of us who don’t easily sense things “in the Spirit”, I think we’d probably actually sense this! 😉
  • This was a physical location where one could “meet God” – One went to the Temple to connect with God, to meet with God, to relate to God, to talk with God, etc. It was a place where relationship with the Creator of the Universe was fostered and facilitated.
    Moses – spoke face-to-face with God “as a man speaks with his friend” – Exodus 33:11
    Joshua – stayed in God’s presence even after his master, Moses, had left! – Exodus 33:11
    David – he simply wanted to stay there all the time! – Psalm 27:4
    God’s intention was to meet with His people there and to dwell with them – Exodus 29:43-46
  • The physical Temple was a micro-representation of God’s Creation – In ancient temples in the Middle East, there is more than one example of the physical temple (of the god that they believed created everything) architecturally representing the cosmos created by their god.
    Some of the connections between the Creation and the Temple in the Old Testament are as follows:
    Job 38:4-6 – the Creation is seen in architectural terms. One could envision a Cosmic Temple with the words that God chose when responding to Job
    Exodus 39-40 – In these chapters there are parallels with Moses setting up the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and God’s Creation in Genesis 1-2. Here are a few verses where the activity of the building of the Tabernacle alludes to the Creation:
    Genesis 1:31 Exodus 39:43
    Genesis 2:1 Exodus 39:32
    Genesis 2:2 Exodus 40:33
    Genesis 2:3 Exodus 39:43
    Genesis 2:3 Exodus 40:9

    Exodus 31:1-6
    – Even in the building of the Tabernacle, God demonstrates an earthly example of how He created with Wisdom (Proverbs 8 ) when He calls out Bezalel and Oholiab, skilled craftsmen anointed with wisdom, to create various items in the Tabernacle.
    Psalm 78:69 – The psalmist Asaph indicates that the design that God gave for His Temple makes one think of the majesty of Creation
    Genesis 2:1-3 – Palace building is a common recurring theme in ancient Creation narratives. So :

    gods build their palaces
    their palaces are their temples
    Israel’s temple is called The House of the Lord (over 200 times in the Old Testament)
    The Cosmos is God’s House (Isaiah 66:1), where He finds rest
    The 7th day of Creation, God finds His rest

    1 Chronicles 28:2, Psalm 99:5, Psalm 132:7
    – David and the people of Israel understood this idea of their Temple, on earth, being the footstool of the Lord. The footstool is a symbol of someone being in in their own home. They have authority there and they are at rest there. God’s just kickin’ back and enjoyin’ His handiwork!
    Genesis 1:26-27 – The final activity in the construction of a temple was to install the statue or image of the god. This is exactly what happened in God’s Creation Temple on the 6th day.
    Exodus 40:34-35, 2 Chronicles 5:13-14, 2 Chronicles 7:1-2 – God’s desire to fill His Creation with His Glory, (which is His manifest Presence (which means where He dwells (which is His House))) is demonstrated in the consecration of both Moses’ Tabernacle in the Wilderness and Solomon’s Temple when the cloud of God’s Glory completely filled the house of worship and everyone was overwhelmed.

  • The spread of the presence of God – God’s intention was that Israel take this “tabernacling presence” (John 1:14) of the one true God into all of Creation, that He would find rest or a dwelling place everywhere in Creation.
  • Psalm 8:3-6, Hebrews 4:9-11 – God has chosen the pinnacle of His Creation, mankind, to be the “hinge” between Heaven and Earth so that we would find our rest or our dwelling place in Him and then bring His Presence to where we are.
  • Romans 8:20-21 – Even the Creation itself was subject to this design of God that humans be the agency of connecting the Creation with Heaven so that God would have a “footstool” all over His Creation. The Creation groans and anxiously waits for God’s people to connect with this reality and get on with the task.
  • God’s Glory – Again, this can be another way to speak of His presence, which is, in turn, a way to speak of where He dwells or abides.
    Numbers 14:21 – God desires that the whole Earth be filled with His Glory
    Isaiah 6:3 – Isaiah says that the whole Earth is filled with His Glory
    Habakkuk 2:14 – Habakkuk shows us, however, that God is interested in people having an experiential knowledge of the fullness of His Glory in every place on earth
  • Genesis 1:26-28 – If we truly are the image of God in His Creation Temple – His “temple statue” if you will – then our mandate is to facilitate places where the presence of God can rest or abide – where He finds rest – in His Creation and to disciple people to find their rest in Him.
  • John 1:1-5 – Another way to look at this is that with Jesus, God launched a new Creation project to which He invites the participation of His “image bearers”. Accepting this invitation is to begin to walk with Jesus and to begin to create in the same way that God created in Genesis 1:
    Bring light into dark places
    Bring order into chaos
    Bring life where there is no life

  • Haggai, Ezra and the people of God – In the book of Haggai, we are taken to the time where Ezra led a group of Jews back from Babylon to rebuild God’s Temple. The work begins, but then it stops and 14 years pass with no progress. God sends Haggai with a prophetic message to the people of Israel that they need to get on with the project!
  • Facilitating God’s Kingdom – What I like about the message of the book of Haggai in this context of rebuilding the Temple is that God’s people are admonished to apply themselves to physical, concrete labor to facilitate the intersection of Heaven and Earth; the abiding presence of God in a specific geographical context. What kind of practical activities would this temple re-building entail (not an exhaustive list)?
    Demolition of the burned out remains of the old temple
    Separation of reusable and non-reusable materials
    Trash removal
    Establishing foundations and structure
    Lumber work and carpentry
    Stone masonry
    All types of finish work
    All types of decoration work

  • 1 Corinthians 3:9-10,16-17, 1 Corinthians 6:19, Hebrews 3:6 – These sorts of tasks are what is required to prepare a place for God’s presence, both in terms of the individual spirit as God’s temple and in terms of a piece of physical geography; very practical; hard work required.
  • God’s view of practical work – In Haggai 1:13, God says that He is with them in this important task. He even fills them with His Holy Spirit (Haggai 1:14) for construction work…Spirit-filled trash removal, Spirit-filled carpentry, Spirit-filled painting, Spirit-filled ditch digging, Spirit-filled architecture, Spirit-filled artistic design, Spirit-filled sewing, Spirit-filled metal-casting, etc.!
  • God’s promises for our work – God promised to fill that house they were building with His Glory (Haggai 2:7) and His Peace (Haggai 2:9). He promised physical provision as a recompense for the work (Haggai 2:19). The final word in Haggai 2:20-22 is a prophetic word about God moving in judgment and the establishing of His Kingdom. There is, in my opinion, a direct correlation between the people getting on with the practical work of preparing a place for His Presence and God acting to establish His Kingdom…even elsewhere in the earth.

The book of Haggai shows us where God is saying to the people of Israel, “Have you forgotten what you are to be about? Come on! Let’s build together and I promise to be with you!” To then take this study further, there is the book Ezra, the contextual situation in which the book of Haggai actually resides. There is much to be discovered here as we take God’s admonition into all domains of society, family, work, education, arts, etc. throughout all of His creation. We are, after all, sub-contracting with the Master Architect of the Universe to create space for His abiding, glorious presence among us!

Groping in the culture

Recently I posted an article for the Daywatch blog. I’m posting it here and adding the French translation which was done for me by Samuel Rhein for inclusion in his regular French-language prophetic bulletin.

This month’s post is bit of a departure perhaps to what you’ve become accustomed to in Nightwatch/Daywatch materiel. First off, to set the stage, I’m an American living in Europe, which has afforded me some rich fodder for cultural perspective. As an adopted son of Europe, my “identity” as a European is not a “given” that runs as an undercurrent, woven into all thought and practice. No, for me, it has been a subject of ardent seeking, joy, consternation, purposeful reflection, frustration, etc. Add to that a call to intercession and I’m reminded of Paul’s discourse to the Athenians (Europeans), that God has carefully placed us at a specific time/space intersection in order that we might “grope” to find Him (Acts 17:26-27). The realities and implications of my adoptive cultural identity have often left me groping for God to assure myself that He’s still with me and to actively bring Him into my circumstances. Additionally, a bit of distance from the States also gives me new perspectives on the land where I spent the first 38 years of my life.

Consequently, I’ve come to think that there is perhaps a pseudo-command in the Athenian discourse with respect to our cultures…be they adoptive or native.

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us

The culture and society in which we find ourselves is not simply to be a “given” in our lives to which we give little to no reflection, as if we were on a raft drifting inexorably with the current of a slow-moving but powerful river. According to this passage, its particularities should provoke us in some way so that we engage more deeply in our seeking (and finding) of God…who apparently is just waiting for us to start asking important, critical questions about our historical and geographical context.

Speaking of Jesus, Paul says in Col 1:18-20:

He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Speaking of us, Paul says in 2 Cor 5:18-19:

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

I like to re-phrase “gave us the ministry of reconciliation” as “appointed us to administer His reconciliation.” I think that shakes some of the religious baggage off the verse and gives us a scope that, in my opinion, is more in line with Paul’s intention and Jesus’ call.

When you put these passages together, you see that God has established our lives in an historical and geographical context (which equates, in fact, to a culture) so that we would find Him in it, and once having found Him would administer the reconciliation of all things to Himself in that context.

As intercessors working to pull the Church in Europe through to her destiny, I believe that we need to call out to the Church, in the Spirit, to:

  • Actively grope” for God in this particular historical/geographical context. This is in sharp contrast to living in our native cultures, simply assuming that all our societal interactions are “normal.” Rather to actively bring things to God’s Throne and seek His perspective.
  • Meditate on the intersection of our earthly and heavenly citizenships; again asking God what His perspective is and “actively groping” to understand the goal of this intersection in the administration of reconciliation. We see that Paul is neither ignorant nor indifferent to both his citizenships.

To bring this home, and spill the beans a bit more on my particular situation, I want to give an example. In French language school, our professor (a Christian) told us that whenever there is a problem in a French person’s life, one of the first reactions is to look to a government-supplied solution. According to him, this was the general reaction amongst Christians as well. Certainly this would be a broad generalization, but there is certainly some truth to it. This is an example of the French Church drifting on the cultural stream instead of hoisting the sail to see what the Wind of the Spirit might be saying. Certainly there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the government providing solutions to problems and certainly God can and does provide using many different agencies. There is something wrong, however, with the Body of Christ (individually or corporately) assuming that the government is their first-stop solution for challenges they face. A similar trap for the Body of Christ exists in the States with respect to tax-exempt status for charitable organizations. And in Canada for example, Christian Schools enjoyed government subsidies for a period. When the subsidies ended, a large percentage of those schools failed.

Our collusion with culture is extremely subtle but also extremely powerful. Now is the time for the Church to begin to earnestly ask the Lord for light to reveal where we are colluding and grace to walk a different path.

Tout d’abord, pour poser le décor, je suis un Américain vivant en Europe, ce qui a alimenté richement ma perspective de la culture. En tant que fils adopté de l’Europe, mon «identité» européenne n’est pas un “don” qui fonctionne comme une évidence, tissé dans la pensée et la pratique. Non, pour moi, cela a été un sujet de recherche ardent, de joies, de consternation, de réflexion utile, de frustrations, etc. Ajoutez à cela un appel à l’intercession et je me rappelle le discours de Paul aux Athéniens (les Européens), montrant que Dieu a pris soin de nous placer à une intersection de l’espace-temps, afin que nous puissions Le trouver en “tâtonnant” (Actes 17:26-27). Les réalités et les implications de mon identité culturelle d’adoption m’ont souvent laissé tâtonner en cherchant Dieu afin de m’assurer qu’il st toujours avec moi et de Lui faire une place active dans mes circonstances. En outre, un peu de distance avec les États-Unis, me donne également de nouvelles perspectives sur la terre où j’ai passé les premiers 38 ans de ma vie.

Par conséquent, je suis arrivé à penser qu’il y a peut-être une instruction cachée dans le discours d’Athènes à l’égard de nos cultures … qu’elles soient natives ou adoptives.

« Il a fait d’un seul sang toutes les races des hommes pour habiter sur toute la face de la terre, ayant déterminé les temps ordonnés et les bornes de leur habitation, pour qu’ils cherchent Dieu, s’ils pourraient en quelque sorte le toucher en tâtonnant et le trouver, quoiqu’il ne soit pas loin de chacun de nous. »

La culture et la société dans laquelle nous nous trouvons n’est pas simplement “don” dans notre vie auquel nous accordons peu ou pas d’intérêt, comme si nous étions sur un radeau dérivant inexorablement sur le cours lent mais puissant d’une rivière. Selon ce passage, ses particularités doivent provoquer en nous d’une façon ou d’une autre un engagement plus profond de notre recherche de Dieu (Le chercher et Le trouver) … qui est apparemment en attente en nous et qui commence par se poser des questions importantes et critiques sur notre contexte historique et géographique.

Parlant de Jésus, Paul dit en Col 1:18-20 :

« Il est la tête du corps de l’Eglise ; il est le commencement, le premier-né d’entre les morts, afin d’être en tout le premier. Car Dieu a voulu que toute plénitude habitât en lui ; il a voulu par lui réconcilier tout avec lui-même, tant ce qui est sur la terre que ce qui est dans les cieux, en faisant la paix par lui, par le sang de sa croix. »

En parlant de nous, Paul dit dans 2 Cor 5:18-19 :

« Et tout cela vient de Dieu, qui nous a réconciliés avec lui par Christ, et qui nous a donné le ministère de la réconciliation. Car Dieu était en Christ, réconciliant le monde avec lui-même, en n’imputant point aux hommes leurs offenses, et il a mis en nous la parole de la réconciliation. Nous faisons donc les fonctions d’ambassadeurs pour Christ, comme si Dieu exhortait par nous ; nous vous en supplions au nom de Christ : Soyez réconciliés avec Dieu ! »

J’aime réécrire la phrase « nous a donné le ministère de la réconciliation » comme ceci : « nous a désigné pour administrer Sa réconciliation ». Je pense que cela débarrasse le verset de son bagage religieux et nous donne un champ d’application qui, à mon avis, est plus conforme à l’intention de Paul et de l’appel de Jésus.

Lorsque vous mettez ensemble ces passages, vous voyez que Dieu a créé nos vies dans un contexte historique et géographique (ce qui équivaut, en fait, à une culture), afin que nous Le rencontrions, et que L’ayant trouvé nous administrions la réconciliation de toutes choses à lui-même dans ce contexte.

Comme intercesseurs qui travaillent pour tirer l’Église en Europe vers sa destinée, je crois que nous avons besoin d’appeler l’Eglise, dans l’Esprit, à :

  • « tâtonner activement » pour chercher Dieu, dans une tel contexte d’histoire / de géographie. Ceci est en frappant contraste avec le fait de se laisser vivre dans la culture où nous sommes nés, en supposant simplement que l’ensemble de nos interactions sociales sont «normales». Travaillons plutôt activement à amener les choses au Trône de Dieu et à chercher son point de vue.
  • Méditer sur l’intersection de la citoyenneté de la terre et du ciel ; demandant à Dieu ce qu’est Sa perspective et « tâtonnant activement » pour comprendre l’objectif de cette intersection dans l’administration de la réconciliation. Nous voyons que Paul n’est ni ignorant ni indifférent à ces deux citoyennetés.

Pour s’approprier cette réalité, et ‘secouer le cocotier’ un peu plus dans ma situation, je veux donner un exemple personnel. En école de langue française, notre professeur (un chrétien) nous a dit que chaque fois qu’il y a un problème dans la vie d’un français, l’une des premières réactions est de se tourner vers une solution fournie par le gouvernement. Selon lui, cela a été la réaction générale parmi les chrétiens aussi. Certes, ce serait une généralisation trop hâtive, mais il y a certainement une part de vérité à cela. Ceci est un exemple de l’Eglise de France se laissant aller à la dérive sur le courant culturel au lieu de hisser la voile pour voir ce que le vent de l’Esprit peut dire. Certes, il n’y a rien d’intrinsèquement mauvais avec un gouvernement qui fournit des solutions à des problèmes et certainement Dieu peut utiliser et apporter l’aide au travers de nombreux organismes. Il y a cependant quelque chose de mal si le Corps du Christ (individuellement ou collectivement) présuppose que le gouvernement est le premier guichet, l’unique solution pour les défis auxquels il est confronté. Un piège équivalent pour le Corps de Christ existe aux USA en matière d’exonération fiscale pour des organisations caritatives. Au Canada par exemple, les écoles chrétiennes bénéficient de subventions publiques pour une période. Lorsque les subventions s’arrêtent, la plupart de ces écoles ferment.

Notre collusion avec la culture est extrêmement subtile, mais aussi très puissante. Il est maintenant temps pour l’Eglise de commencer sérieusement à demander au Seigneur de la lumière pour révéler l’endroit où nous sommes en collusion et la grâce de marcher sur une voie différente.

Flourishing as Genuine Humans in 2009

I’m desperate to somehow dump all my pithy and profound thoughts about 2009 out in some elegant manner…but I’m more desperate to link to these teachings…where NT Wright does a much better job than I ever could in being pithy and profound.

This 3-part lecture series was part of InterVarsity’s Following Christ 2008 conference held at the end of December. I believe it dovetails well with some of the things I mentioned in our last Prayer Bulletin regarding prophetic words for 2009 and generally “what God is up to and wants us to be up to” right about now! 😉

For those who are used to listening to NT Wright, you’ll know that he speaks in a lot of “shorthand”, whereby a certain term or phrase has (literally) volumes of teaching behind it. This series is, in my opinion, particularly “dense” and bids you listen to it more than once…it will be worth it! Additionally, Wright uses as his text the book of Colossians. He refers to it almost as a “study” of the book. So, if you listen with a copy of Colossians in front of you, you’ll probably gain even more insight.




The Wisdom We ALL Need

I just received Jeff Fountain’s Weekly Word by e-mail today. I confess that often I don’t have time to read them. Today, I’m a bit under the weather so a more measured pace has me perusing some e-mails that otherwise would suffer neglect due to my haste.

This one was a gem! I quote it in its entirety:

The wisdom Europe needs

• European leaders came to an historic agreement in Brussels last week to limit co2 emission levels to help save the environment.
• Just a few days earlier, Christian scientists and philosophers met to discuss the relationship between faith and science at the University of Leiden in Holland.
• Also near Leiden, in 1642, two philosophers met in a castle to discuss this same topic-the interface of science and faith. Europe’s future, including that of her environment, would depend on which of these men’s views prevailed.
• It still does.

French philosopher René Descartes, sometimes called the Father of Modern Philosophy, spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He had been lodging in Endegeest Castle for several months before his visitor arrived for their four-hour discussion. Descartes’ famous statement, Cogito ergo sum, was to mark a fresh beginning in Western thought based on rationalism. His dualism separated the physical from the spiritual, science from religion.

Jan Amos Comenius, although exiled from his homeland at the time, also brought with him a reputation as one of Europe’s leading thinkers. He would earn himself the title Father of Modern Education and is today one of the Czech Republic’s national heroes. Comenius had developed a holistic or integrated philosophy called ‘pansophy‘, meaning ‘all wisdom’, taken from Colossians 1:28: We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

Wisdom for Comenius was more than simply knowledge of things. It involved knowing the relationships between all things. It meant knowing the right decisions to improve conditions and circumstances. It was the ‘fullness of the right knowledge’.

Respect & Reservation
Both men had prepared for their meeting by reading at least some of each other’s works. They approached each other with respect and reservation.

Comenius proposed a philosophy of unity with distinct but not separated fields of science, while Descartes objected to the integration of non-rational knowledge with science.

The two men cordially exchanged arguments without convincing the other. They continued to hold different views on man and his world. The Frenchman, a practising Catholic, saw man as an observer of the world from the outside. The Czech, one of the last bishops in the Ancient Moravian Church, understood man as an inseparable part of something that had been a harmonious whole until disrupted by the Fall.

Comenius continued to criticise a science free of moral values which would result in the fragmentation of the essence and existence of man. He foresaw accurately that separation of faith and natural science would lead men to ask what could be done rather than what ought be done. The Cartesian reductionist approach merely asked for causes, not meaning or destination, he objected.

Ring of gold
He who improves in scientific knowledge and thereby declines in moral knowledge, will end up in decline rather than progress,’ he wrote. Quoting from Proverbs 11:22, he said learnedness without virtue was ‘like a ring of gold in a pig’s nose‘.

How different Western history could have been had Comenius’ pansophy prevailed! Today we find ourselves facing drastic measures to correct problems arising from Cartesian dualism.

The scientists and philosophers who met recently in Leiden believe the answer lies in Comenius-style wisdom, integrating faith and science. Twenty-two Christian scholars complied the book, ‘Geleerd en gelovig‘ (something like, ‘Scholars and believers‘), presented to the Dutch Prime Minister on the occasion of the Veritas Forum.

Jan Peter Balkenende suggested that faith and science today were actually closer than often presumed. Both involved a search for truth that existed but could never be fully known. Faith didn’t make you better a scientist or politician, said the prime minister, but raised different questions. Take the environment debate, for example. We seek all sorts of technical solutions. But the question how to steward God’s creation and pass it on to the next generation, for him personally, had a spiritual dimension.

That doesn’t make me a better politician morally,’ he admitted, ‘but it does shape my way of thinking.’

I, for one, think Europe would be a better place with more of this pansophy.

And I, for one think that the United States would be a better place with more of this pansophy.