11 September 2008

On Sifting

I have sifted through wheat and chaff; the origin, consistency, and fruit of ideas philosophies and notions. All that is good come from, or is found in its full form, in the spirituality of Christian Scripture.

It is not carnal, though its implications and applications stretch down into the material world and give rhythm and purpose, flavor and substance, to the stream life is embodied in.

It is not psychic, though its form and its power arrange in harmony with rationality and logic: emotion, fulfillment in and through meaning-purpose, intellectual stimulation. It provides both immovable foundation and dynamic spark; that which cycles life in all living things. Philosophic first cause is revealed. Logic finds its foothold free of shifting and humanistic presupposition so prone to the ebb and flow of its nature.

It is more than transcendent. It binds personal and unknowable, just as quantum theory and classic physics combine chaos and order by unknown means.

07 September 2008

On Giving Up

My father told me, after I told him about my depression in years past, that he’d found in no religion is suicide considered acceptable. Save the Stoics, and then only in the most specific of situations, I have also found this to be true. The consternation comes into being when you don’t believe in a nebulous form of spirituality. How does Christianity, specifically the God of the bible, approach this subject?

Catholic dogma does not dictate what Scriptural teaching means. Nor does any other tradition of man. God speaks for Himself. So there are certain truths that Scripture does hold that may guide an individual into an understanding of God’s perspective on suicide.

Before I get into that, I believe it would behoove the situation to explain some of the things I have been feeling and thinking. The best description of this comes from a movie trailer that has recently been released. Towards the end of the superhero movie trailer The Watchmen the following is said, “The world will look up and shout save us. And I will whisper no.” We beg for man’s salvation and never stopped to ask if he is worthy of it.

While it has been years since I struggled with thoughts of ending my own life. The struggle recently has been all the more sinister though. It has been to give up on humanity. It can be so tiring and frustrating when it seems like you keep proclaiming the truth and so many people just ignore what you are saying. How long can you stand in front of a train barreling on before you get run over? How many times can you all your heart to be treated as a door mat?

This is where the doctrine of man’s depravity can begin to give a glimmer of hope for the heart that has begun to feel hopeless. The fact that man cannot save himself is part of the foundation that can allow a man who has become disaffection with mankind gain a Godly perspective. Only God is able to save and man cannot save himself. Salvation is God reaching into a heart of stone and turning it to a heart of flesh. That is the nature of biblical Christianity. Of course man is wicked. Of course man is deaf. That is his nature. He is unworthy of salvation. So much greater is the salvation God offers.

The biblical teaching on the eternality of that salvation is also clear. He shall never leave nor forsake His elect. Nothing, life nor death nor man nor angel, can separate God’s chosen from His love. God’s character is that of faithfulness to those He has called. That is the breadth of His love. The depth is that He saved those who did not want Him. The saints shall persevere.

If our spirituality is God-centered, then we have no reason to abandon fellowship. If our spirituality is based of God’s good nature and not man’s then we have no reason to forsake those who God has claimed. We love them not for what they can do for us, but for what God has done for them.

We are commanded to continue in fellowship. We are commanded to love God and man. We are commanded to go into all the nations and proclaim the gospel, baptize, and disciple. Giving up is never an option. Seclusion has its place, but Christianity has not place for life long monks. Patience was never meant to exist with apathy, nor with complacency.

One last thought of suicide. God commands us not to commit murder. That is simple. Yet time and time again we are asked to give our lives up in many different fashions. Some in war (David’s best friend Jonathan). Some to proclaim the gospel (all but one of the apostles. So much for prosperity theology.) But never is it in self interest. Perhaps Saul’s suicide was out of self interest, but he had shown himself selfish time and time again. God rained down judgment for that. Murder is wrong. Suicide is wrong. (We will leave whether or not killing another in war is murder or not to another time.) It is admirable in no society. It is deplorable to God and man alike. Though, for a Christian it cannot change his eternal destiny.