Reason and the Development of the Will

In the very beginnings of sacred scripture we read of the Lord creating.  Each step of creation ended a similar way with the words by describing their goodness.  In Genesis 1:31 God had just finished creating man and commanded them to procreate and exercise dominion over the Earth.  Genesis 1:31 states, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (NRSV).

Humanity was created uniquely different than the rest of creation.  God created humans with the ability to reason, with five senses to help us learn, and free will.  The combination of these work together to help us live in harmony with each other, in harmony with our creator, and assist us finding true happiness.  The intellect we were blessed with helps us rationalize.  Our intellectual knowledge originates in the five senses and internal sensory powers of common sense, estimation, memory, and imagination.

This intellectual knowledge that develops helps us form our will.  The purpose of the will is to direct action and direct the concupiscible and irascible appetites.  The concupiscible appetites are things like love, joy, desire, and sadness.  They work together to help us seek what is good and reject evil.  The irascible are attributes such as hope, courage, despair, and fear.  These attributes assist us in avoiding evils in which we may find compelling.  Together the concupiscible and irascible appetites are known as the sense appetites, and work to help us understand what is good and what is evil.  They help us establish the parameters in which we exercise the freedom which God has given us.  Regarding this freedom Servais Pinckaers writes, “It is the power to engage in excellent actions, actions that are true and good, even though the agent may in fact fail and do evil” (Pinckaers 68).

Looking back on my life I can see how these senses led me in the right direction.  How they allowed me to see what was right, what was the right path, and how I ignored it.  I think of an incident from my childhood in which I wanted a piece of candy at a store and was told no.  I wanted the candy and ate it in the middle of the store without paying.  I knew it was wrong and the senses mentioned above were telling me it was wrong.  However, I ignored them and partook in larceny to have that which I longed for.

This ignoring of what was supposed to be done made matters worse.  This is the effect of sin on the individual.  Every sin wounds the communion that we have with our creator.  Mortal sin goes a step further in that it ruptures the relationship completely.  For something to be a mortal sin it must meet the following three criteria:  It must involve grave matter, the individual must have full knowledge that it is sin, and there must be a deliberate consent to the act.  This is obviously not God’s will, and it is by doing God’s will that we find the happiness that we long for.  This is what James Keenan means when he writes, “Not only does love look for union, it also moves us toward freedom and truth.  Love then makes possible our search for a freedom for greater love and a truth to love rightly” (Ostrowski 27).

 

Works Cited

Ostrowski, Thaddeus ed.  Primary Source Readings in Christian Morality.  Saint Mary’s Press.  Winona, MN:  2008.  Print

Pinckaers, Servais.  Morality:  The Catholic View.  St. Augustine’s Press.  South Bend, IN:  201.  Print.

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New Book Release!

Yesterday was the release of my new book Faith and Reason:  How the Two Work to Build a Dynamic Faith.  It was a whirlwind day, but it was an exciting day.  I am proud to say that the book did fairly well.  In fact, it was on Amazon’s best seller list for a few hours.  What an honor!  That is all because of your support and encouragement.  As is the case for most authors, writing is a passion.  Though I also have a full time job, I can’t imaging doing anything else with what spare time I have.  I thank you again for your support and encouragement.  If you wish to check out the book the links for the ebook and paperback are below.  My apologies for the plug of my book, but it is something that I am excited about and wanted to share. God bless you all!

Faith and Reason ebook

Faith and Reason Paperback

Why Apologetics?

Apologetics is one of those subjects that seems to have a bad name.  The reason is perhaps that the term has morphed in meaning over the past several centuries.  It is not that we are apologizing for something we believe in, but that we are defending it.  The term apologetics stems from the Greek term apologia which is to make a defense.  Therefore a definition for apologetics is “an attempt to defend a particular belief or system of beliefs against objection [1].”  We engage in apologetics to defend what it is that we believe.  If Christianity is true then why is true?  We have an obligation to defend the truth and that is why we engage. Scripture tells us in many places such as 1 Peter 3:15, Philippians 1:16, and 1 Corinthians 9:3 that we are to have a defense for what we believe.  Jesus himself was no stranger to the subject of apologetics.  He often quoted scripture to argue the point for what he was doing and for his claim as Messiah.  In fact scripture uses the term apologia in the New Testament nineteen times just to make the point [2].  The scriptures show that apologetics is one way by which some may be reached.  There are some in the body of Christ that dismiss apologetics and tell others that they do what they do because Christ says so.  This is great and more power to them, but what if they are talking to a non-believer?  That argument would not stand because they do not see Christ as the savior of the world.

The audience for apologetics is everyone, but first I will explain.  Apologetics is for believers because it allows them to see the arguments for there faith from the side of reason.  It allows us to see the Biblical arguments, extra biblical evidence, and nature explain out faith.  It can help give us a new perspective and aid in our evangelistic efforts.  In addition to that they study of apologetics aid us in deepening our faith.  Apologetics is also for the unbeliever because it helps to answer objections that unbelievers have such as why there is evil in the world.  In short the audience is for whomever you are speaking to.

Though this was touched on in an earlier paragraph, internal apologetics is for the sake of the believer, and external is for the sake of the of the unbeliever.  The goal of internal apologetics is to strengthen the convictions of the believer.  This is done by answers questions that may be stumbling blocks.  The goal of external apologetics is ultimately evangelism. Groothuis states, apologetics labors to communicate the truth in love and with wisdom (Ephesians 4:15) [3].” The Christian would be wise to study this discipline because we have an obligation to defend the truth.  We will also be studying to show ourselves approved as 2 Timothy 2:15 states.

 

Notes

1.  James K. Beilby.  Thinking About Christian Apologetics. (Downers Grove, IL., IVP Academic, 2011), 11.

2.  Ibid, 12.

3.  Douglas Groothuis.  Christian Apologetics:  A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith.  (Downers Grove, IL., IVP Academic, 2011), 29.

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