Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Thorny Issue 4

'The first step in gaining a clear understanding of Edwards' "spiritual sense" must be the realization that in this instance the term "sense" is something of a misnomer. Edwards meant by spiritual sense not only a new capacity for being affected by the things of God, but also a new inclination or a new will directed toward those things. The new sense of the heart brought about by the workings of grace is also a new disposition or an infused habit that is identical to holy love or holiness.' Norman S Fiering, Jonathan Edwards's Moral Thought and Its British Context, 126.

The point of this quotation is to highlight something that I haven't proved yet in this argument. That is, the new principle of grace that Edwards describes in the long quotation in A Divine and Supernatural Light. Edwards includes this line: 'but he acts in the mind of a saint as an indwelling vital principle.' I'll come back to this at a later point, but for now want to underline Fiering's interpretation - the indwelling vital principle is an infused habit of grace.


Anonymous Oshea Davis said...

Corinthians 4:6 “It is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

This is where the biblical worldview trumps and becomes the only intelligent and rational epistemology. The biblical worldview’s epistemology is that God reveals, or that infallible truth can only be known if God reveals it!

As far as I have read Edwards he believed in, monergism, or that a person has to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit first, before they are even to have faith (John chapter 3:3).

Therefore, our epistemology is not ultimately based upon the senses or observation, because neither is able to Born us again in spiritual life, so that we can “see the kingdom of God” in our souls. Accordingly, this is not by faith, as if faith has power in and of itself, but by the Holy Spirit. This is why I pointed out 2 Corinthians 4:6 were it states God creates the knowledge of His Glory in the Face of Jesus, by this Power to create something our of nothing, or Holy Spirit, not by faith.

This is also were Edwards correct biblical understanding of God’s Sovereignty and occasionalism comes into play. Hebrews 1:3, “[Christ] being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power.”

Accordingly, when Edwards explains this doctrine as God having to create all existence by re-creating it every moment, it is nothing more than explaining the doctrine of this verse in a more intellectual way. In other words for God to keep all existence into reality God must every moment exert His own –Spiritual energy- (if you would) in everything other than Himself to keep it and all its parts in form and in motion. In this light reality relies so thoroughly for God to keep it in existence that is it in most respect - God re-creating all things every moment. All existence will cease to exist every moment unless God every moment re-exerts His spiritual energy to keep on the plan of existence.

In Genesis God said let there be light and out of nothing, by God’s own Spiritual energy “cause” light to be. The writer in 2 Corinthians 4:6 says that in our “hearts” just like God caused light to appear in physical existence God in the same manner creates out of nothing this “light of the knowledge” of Himself and His Son. God by the Holy Spirit causes the “light” of His “knowledge” to appear in our hearts.

What this means is both the initial and continual light of God’s knowledge and sustaining grace (or spiritual senses) in the heart is done by God who chooses to reveal or communicate Himself. We know this verse also implies sustaining grace because the first verse of chapter 4 says “therefore” referring to the previous verses including the last (3:18) “transformed from glory to glory…by the Spirit.”

It means that both knowledge and spiritual senses are not depended upon the senses or observation but on God who reveals; Yet although God, in His wisdom, does incorporate the use of our senses and observations as part of the process (this process appears seamless to us), yet ultimately are not are needed nor have any power in themselves to “cause” anything to happen.

3:20 am  

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