Sunday 21 August 2022

Explicit and chosen belief in Jesus is vital now, in a way that was not the case in ancient times

By my understanding, God has not withdrawn his presence from Modern Man - but Modern Man's minds is now closed from spontaneous and unconscious knowledge of God - in a way that was not the case in ancient times - nor in our own early childhood. 

In other words - as a typical Modern Man reaches adolescence. he enters a state where his consciousness is cut-off from that spontaneous and unconscious knowledge of God (the state of Original Participation, as Owen Barfield termed it); which is what gave ancient people (and still gives children) underlying confidence in the reality and goodness of creation, and hope for their own future beyond death. 

This confidence and hope transcended the official contents of their religions - even when (for example) those religions branded mortal life as suffering merely, and denied life beyond mortal life. 

Yet Modern Man is bereft of those natural supports of the past; and therefore is prone to regard life as futile and despair as realistic. 

The only alternative to such nihilism is that Modern Man makes a conscious choice from his situation of cut-off-ness: the choice to regard Jesus Christ as truly divine, his promise of resurrected Heavenly life eternal as desired, and to 'believe-on' and 'follow' Jesus to this goal. 

Modern Man is on-his-own as never before, because of the nature of his walled-off consciousness; but God is still there - just a choice away; within the soul and all around; ready to commence contact instantly, as soon as our free consciousness wipes the window, opens the door. 

But even a wholly-Good God, and the knowledge that we are members of God's family, does not suffice to justify this mortal life unless it is also understood as a preparation for Heaven. 

Because in this mortal world; entropy rules, all that is Good changes and corrupts with time, and death is the inevitable terminus. 

If the mortal life were everything - in a context of eternity even the 'best' mortal life would be a futile waste of time...

Confidence in a benign creator God is vitally necessary but not enough for Modern Man, in his alienation and isolation. Therefore, unless we are to be drawn to the embrace death, nothingness and hope-less-ness - we must also choose Jesus.  


Avro G said...

I read a history once describing how men in the middle ages for much less inhibition about crying in public. It’s as if, by our own standards, we really are more adult than they were, less prone to emotion, more disillusioned. And we would like to think that this makes us somehow more fit that they were. But it turns out that that’s not true. Can you imagine a Wat Tyler, or a Joan of arc, or a Cromwell, or a Washington today? From this generation of meek, mature, rational sheep ?

Bruce Charlton said...

@AG - I regard typical Modern Man as a permanent adolescent, not a spiritually-mature adult. I think negativistic, oppositional adolescence is about as far as we have got - apart from a few individuals.

ben said...

It's an interesting thing to learn your way back into Christianity, having incarnated into a situation where it wasn't given to you. There'll be souls who haven't existed without it from the time when God found them pre-mortally. An unbroken chain from pre-mortal life, to this world, to Heaven.

Avro G said...

I should have said "adult."

jasper said...

"If the mortal life were everything - in a context of eternity even the 'best' mortal life would be a futile waste of time..."

Why? I've read your blog for years but this remains very unclear to me. Suppose I have a mortal life of 70 years, including deep personal relationships and personal development. I create some beautiful works of art and think deep thoughts. I love the natural world. Then I die and that's the end of me. While I can understand that, arguably, this life could have been better had it continued for longer, I don't know why it would be "futile" or a "waste of time".

It wasn't futile insofar as I achieved various goals which mattered to me, and which seem to be objectively worthwhile. (For example, loving my family and friends, sharing life with them.) By contrast, an activity is futile only if it can't or doesn't bring about some intended goal. And it wasn't a waste of time since I used my time doing things that had value for me and others. By contrast, I *waste* my time only if I fail to use that time doing something of value. Can you explain what you mean?

Bruce Charlton said...

@j - No, I can't *explain" it; this is the insight of mankind through the ages. It is an 'existential experience.

Men in the past believed in life beyond death (of some sort); and I understand that unconsciously he knew of the ultimate hope which Jesus eventually offered.

Modern Man is the first to have been conscious of his condition and to have deliberately rejected the possibility of life beyond death; and he often asserts exactly as you do - it's easy to say.

...And yet revealed preferences (how Men actually behave) shows quite a different picture.

Bruce Charlton said...

@jasper - If you are still here - I had forgotten that Did *try* to explain why this mortal life is unsatisfactory, in this post...