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.

An active priesthood…

This entry is for more than one audio teaching, but as I heard this first one listed, it struck me that the others were hugely complementary. All the teachings together, I believe, create a powerful package that we need to get a hold of.

The first teaching is by Gary Wiens. Gary is currently on staff at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City where, I gather, most of his involvement is in teaching. He is an excellent teacher…which is really a hidden way of say that I like him a lot! As with any of these teaching, your mileage may vary!

This teaching is entitled, “The Priests of the Kingdom.” (mp3 – 24.7Mb) This teaching lays down very clearly the duty of the Christian on earth using the paradigm of a “priesthood.” I’ve always found this paradigm to be rich with meaning and this teaching is the best I’ve ever heard to sum it all up….worth listening to several times.

The second teaching is by Dr. David Van Koevering. Dr. Koevering may be best known in the world as one of the early driving forces (invention/innovation/promotion) behind the Moog Synthesizer. He is a quantum physicist and inventor with a big focus in the area of the physics of sound. As a worship musician, this interests me very much. As you’ll discover, his teaching style is a bit eccentric but bear with it…the material is powerful and he can be fun to listen to.

This teaching is entitled, “Your Words Can (And Do) Change Other People’s Environment!.” (mp3 – 16.9Mb) This teaching begins to build on the previous one by giving one practical domain in which we can exercise the authority of our priesthood…our words.

The last teaching is in two parts and was given by Sam Matthews on two successive evenings recently at our church here in France. So, the teaching is in English with French translation. The beginning of the first teaching contains about 8 minutes of introduction given by our pastor. This is all in French. Do not fret…the English does come!

This teaching is entitled, “The blessing is in the name.” Part 1 – mp3 – 43Mb, Part2 – mp3 – 33.6Mb This teaching, again, builds on the one by Dr. Van Koevering and by Gary Wiens. It gets specific about what words to use to change things. In this teaching, Sam talks about using the names of God and how the specific blessing that comes from a specific character trait of God is contained in the name of God that expresses that character trait. Furthermore, we can, and should, use the names of the Lord to bless people and situations in very specific ways so that the manifestation of God’s attributes for any given situation come into action.

All three speakers are very different in their style and these teachings are not at all connected one with another. They simply struck me as being a very complementary set that I believe will change a lot of things in our lives if we can really get a hold of the truths and apply them (still working on it for myself!).

Technorati : , , , , , , , , , , , ,