Tuesday 24 April 2018

The divine nature is concerned primarily with love and creativity; not with holiness

In the following excerpt edited from an essay in The Great Gift by William Arkle, the author explores the qualities that God most hope for us to display in our mortal lives:

God doesn't want holy and righteous and over-good beings to share his life with him. He wants these qualities in their proper proportion but only as secondary natures to the Divine nature itself, which is loving and caring and ongoing and friendly and creative.

That is the thing which you and I care about in our friends and you and I care about in our children. We don't want them to be over good, over cautious, over holy; over avoiding making mistakes, in a hurry to earn some recognition of being a very good and saintly character.

Such behaviour would go against the sort of quality which we would look for in our children. These may be spin-offs from a proper development of our own children but they wouldn't be the primary objects we would look for in our children. The primary ones would be affectionate, wholehearted friendship.

You see that friendship to us, and I'm sure also to our Creator, is more important than our ability to avoid making mistakes.

As soon as we make a mistake we become, so to speak, unholy, unsaintly, unrighteous and not good. But in correcting those mistakes we gain understanding, and when we have truly gained a lot of understanding we become wise, and when we become wise we realise that wisdom is far greater than holiness or goodness or righteousness as we understand those things.

For wisdom is the highest expression of love in action and from it such qualities as holiness, and righteousness and goodness are spin-offs. They are not the primary objective of wisdom. The primary objective of wisdom is to be itself - wisely to he its loving creative nature. Wisely, that means to the best advantage of all its friends and all the situations that it is aware of.

If we take a narrow view of the Creator's purpose for us, it might be the attainment of the ability to stay in a heavenly world that He created for us somewhere. To do that, the sooner we become holy and good and free of any sort of mistake the better.

But if we do that, then we are surely going to limit our ability to learn; to learn to understand who we are, to learn to understand all the qualities that are available for us to understand, because we will limit the mistakes that we are going to make and, therefore, we will limit the understanding that comes to us through the correcting of those mistakes...

Edited from the essay "The Resolution of Grief" from The Great Gift, by William Arkle


Chiu ChunLing said...

What is holiness other than pure love and divine creation?

Who has ever mistaken the simple absence of voluntary error for holiness and righteousness? Such a person would worship the inanimate and inert over God or anything in Creation.

Jared said...

I am really happy I read this post today. I think the way we correct mistakes is to focus on wisdom, like this post suggests, rather than focusing on never making a mistake, because that is futile and detrimental. And I resonate with what this post says about the kind of people you want to be around is people who are really friendly.

TheDoctorofOdoIsland said...

That just sounds like a meaningless distinction, like not wanting water to have an over proportion of moisture.
- Carter Craft

Bruce Charlton said...

@Carter - As you can see from the comment from J, this has a meaning - whether or not that is agreed-with. It is not either/or but a matter of what comes first, what is the focus - and what secondary to that.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I think it's a meaningful distinction. Perhaps at the level of perfection all virtues are one, so that God is both maximally holy/righteous and maximally loving/friendly, but at the human level different virtues often exist in tension with one another (see the "virtue set" idea at the Junior Ganymede), and we have to choose which to prioritize, which side to err on. Obviously, someone whose main focus is on being a true friend to all he encounters is going to make rather different choices from someone whose motto is "touch not the unclean thing."

Chiu ChunLing said...

I am not going so far as to deny that there is a difference.

I simply require an explanation of the difference that is not an obvious strawman.

No sane and functional person actually believes that it is better to merely be absent moral fault than to be loving and good. Then what is this idea of "holiness" that is something other than godly love and creativity?