Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tackling A Theological Chunkster: Day Two, Charnock

Stephen Charnock, verbose author of
The Existence and Attributes of God
Yesterday, I began reading The Existence and Attributes of God by Stephen Charnock. You can read my thoughts on Discourse I: On the Existence of God pt. 1 (p. 22-41) here. To catch you up briefly, the main text for his sermon is Psalms 14:1. The verse about how only a fool would say in his heart there is no God. He's been talking about how obvious, how evident, how reasonable it is for us to conclude that God exists. My favorite quote--perhaps because it is both concise and true--is when he says that God's existence is "a notion sealed up in the soul of every man."

Today I was able to continue reading Discourse I. I was able to read pages 42 through 63. While the primary Scripture text remains the same--in theory--I thought I would share some from Romans 1. For that is where Charnock's argument has led us.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools... (Romans 1:18-22, KJV)
There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that though the subject matter is narrower in this section of text, it was trickier to read. If you think Paul in Romans 7 is tricky to comprehend, that's nothing compared to Charnock when he's getting all philosophical. The good news is that I was able to grasp just enough that I am able to summarize it--in very broad, general terms.

So what is this section about?! Well, it moves forward the argument. The existence of God being a given, Charnock then begins to argue that there are certain things about God that natural man is able to conclude for himself. First, Charnock argues that man is able to see through nature that creation was created by a Creator. Nature 'proves' that there is a creator. That there was a God who not only created the universe, but a God who did it in an orderly way. (Intelligent design may be the right phrase for where he's going. Though I've never really studied how that term is used.) He argues that nature--man, animal, vegetation--could not be the result of chance; they could not have created themselves; they could not be eternal--always existing. There was a definite point in time where they were created by God who set all things in place, in motion. Charnock also mentions how God is the Sustainer of all things too. That once created, the world needed to be sustained as well.

So essentially Charnock is saying look at the world around you. Take the time to look, to observe, to study nature. The sun, the moon, the stars, the planets. The times and seasons. God's work is evident when you open your eyes. From great to small--creation points to a creator.

"The invisible things of God...are like crystal glasses, which give a clear representation of the existence of a Deity, like that mirror." (42)
"That which makes is always before that which is made." (47)
"If the soul made itself, how comes it to be so muddy, so wanting in its knowledge of itself, and of other things?" (47)
"As the cause is known by the effects, so the wisdom of the cause is known by the elegancy of the work, the proportion of the parts to one another." (52)

Reading this section made me want to listen to Carman. So I'm sharing Carman's "There Is a God."

And in my searching, I found a country song...

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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