17 November 2005

Patristic Quote for the Day

(A little more Athanasius...)

But for the searching and right understanding of the Scriptures there is need of a good life and a pure soul, and for Christian virtue to guide the mind to grasp, so far as human nature can, the truth concerning God the Word. One cannot possibly understand the teaching of the saints unless one has a pure mind and is trying to imitate their life. Anyone who wants to look at sunlight naturally wipes the eye clear first, in order to make, at any rate, some approximation of the purity of that on which he looks; and a person wishing to see a city or country goes to that place in order to do so. Similarly, anyone who wishes to understand the mind of the sacred writers must first cleanse his own life, and approach the saints by copying their deeds. Thus united to them in the fellowship of life, and he will both understand the things revealed to them by God and, thenceforth, escaping the peril that threatens sinners in the judgment, will receive that which is laid up for the saints in the kingdom of heaven. *On the Incarnation of the Word of God* par. 57

10 comments:

Pablo said...

Do you agree with this quote? Cleanse my own life? Pure mind? Not possible.

William Weedon said...

Well, let's just take "cleanse my own life." Is that language even Scriptural?

"And every man that hath this hope in him *purifieth himself*, even as he is pure." 1 John 3:3

"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, *let us cleanse ourselves* from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 2 Cor. 7:1

St. Athanasius is simply using the language taught by the Holy Spirit himself.

William Weedon said...

Oh, I left off this one:

"Draw night to God and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded." James 4:8

William Weedon said...

Along these lines, anyone want to take a gander at who said this:

Let the passion of Christ be thy merit, but at the same time let His holy life be the model for thine. Thy beloved is ruddy and white (Cant. v.10); and so mayest thou be ruddy by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ and white by the imitation of His life. How dost thou truly love Christ if thou dost not love His holy life? "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John xiv.15,23) Hence he who keepth not his commandments loveth Him not. The holy life of Christ is a perfect rule of conduct for our lives...

Styria said...

In those passages you gave us, the promise is given before there is any "purify yourself."

But the quote from Athanasius predicates escaping the judgement and receiving heaven on having joined with the saints through purifying yourself. He doesn't tell us what has already been accomplished and there isn't the Cross. It looks backwards to me.

William Weedon said...

But what I cited is the LAST paragraph of his outstanding work, where the prior paragraphs had dwelt quite long upon creation, incarnation, cross,and resurrection. Please do not hear his words apart from their context. I'd invite anyone and everyone to read the marvelous little work for themselves. Again I reiterate, he simply speaks the language of the NT which is taught by the Holy Spirit. To speak of "purifying self" is not at all unbiblical!

Styria said...

I kind of thought so, but why then are you giving us the crumbs that fall from the children's table? ;)

William Weedon said...

I didn't find it a crubm, but a much needed word in this day and age - as neglected among Lutherans as the passages that I cited from Scripture. When is the last time you heard a sermon that even mentioned ANY of them?

Anonymous said...

Regardless of whether you want to call these excerpts "crumbs," for me they are nourishing and much appreciated. -- Robert

Eric Phillips said...

Athanasius' _On the Incarnation_ is one of the best things I've read. And the intro C.S. Lewis wrote for it, which appears in the handy little edition published by St. Vladimir's, is quite good also.