Unity joined to infinity adds nothing to it, no more than one foot to an infinite measure. The finite is annihilated in the presence of the infinite, and becomes a pure thing. So our spirit before God, so our justice before divine justice. There is not so great a disproportion between our justice and that of God, as between unity and infinity.
The justice of God must be vast like His compassion. Now justice to the outcast is less vast, and ought less to offend our feelings than mercy towards the elect. We know that there is an infinite, and are ignorant of its nature. As we know it to be false that numbers are finite, it is therefore true that there is an infinity in number. But we do not know what it is. It is false that it is even, it is false that it is odd; for the addition of a unit can make no change in its nature. Yet it is a number, and every number is odd or even (this is certainly true of every finite number). So we may well know that there is a God without knowing what He is. Is there not one substantial truth, seeing there are so many things which are not the truth itself?
We know then the existence and nature of the finite, because we also are finite and have extension. We know the existence of the infinite, and are ignorant of its nature, because it has extension like us, but not limits like us. Be we know neither the existence nor the nature of God, because God has neither extension nor limits. But by faith we know His existence; in glory we shall know His nature. In other words, we may know the existence of a thing, without knowing its nature.
~ Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
God made man in His own image. Whatever that means, it means that man is important to God and is responsible to God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God came to earth in the person of a humble carpenter, and thereby sanctified the individual. This means that what the individual believes, is, and does, counts...
We cannot foresee the results of our actions. It is our responsibility, not our helplessness, which appalls me... As each... goes out to industry...or university or family life, (his) influence, for good or bad, will radiate across the centuries. An act of kindness may help to mold a Gandhi, our failures may be creating a new Hitler.
The progress of mankind has always depended upon those who, seemingly isolated and powerless in their own day, have seen their vision and remained true to it. In the darkening corridors of time they preserved integral their vision of the daylight at the end. This is a matter not of calculation but of faith. Our work may be small and its results invisible to us. But we may rest assured it will come to fruition in God's good time.
~ John Ferguson, The Enthronement of Love
Where there is mystery, there must be faith. Faith, you cannot change no matter how you look at it. Either you have it, or you don't. For us, it is very simple because our feet are on the ground. We have more of the living reality. There was a time when the Church had to show majesty and greatness. But today, people have found that it does not pay. They have found the emptiness of all that pomp so they are coming down more to the ground, and in coming down there is the danger that they are not finding their proper place.
God has created all things. All butterflies, the animals—the whole of nature He has created for us. To them God has not given the will power to choose. They have only an instinct. Animals can be very lovable and love very beautifully, but that is our of instinct. But the human being can choose.
That is the one thing that God does not take from us. The will power, the power to will. I want to go to heaven and I will, with the grace of God. If I choose to commit sin, that is my choice. God cannot force me to do otherwise. That's why when we become religious we give up that will power. That is why the sacrifice is so great: the vow of obedience is very difficult. Because in making that vow you surrender the only thing that is your own—your will power. Otherwise my health, my body, my eyes, my everything are all His and He can take them. I can fall, I can break, but my will power doesn't go like this. I must choose to give it and that is beautiful.
~ Mother Teresa, in Desmond Doig's
Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work
He who practices charity is not jealous, nor envious, neither does he speak evil of his neighbor. He does not rejoice at the fall of others; he does not incriminate the fallen, but he sorrows with him, and does what he can to comfort him. He/she does not pass by his brother/sister in hard times; but he/she helps them, and even dies with them.
He who performs charity does the will of God, and learns of Him; for our own good Master Himself said: 'By this shall all people know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another.' He that has charity thinks no one a stranger; but he looks upon all men as his own kindred. He that has charity endures all things, is long-suffering, and kind to all... Truly may we say that 'God is love, and that he that dwells in love dwells in God.'
St. Ephraim Syrus (c. 306-73)
(from A Day Book from the Saints and Father, ed. J. H. Burn)
What I am concerned with at present is not the question whether God is dead or obsolete, but with the question of what resources of language may be dead or obsolete. The metaphorical and metonymic phases of language have been in large measure outgrown because of the obvious limitations that they imposed on the human mind. But it seems clear that the descriptive phase also has limitations, in a world where its distinction of subject and object so often does not work. There is no question of giving up descriptive language, only of relating it to a broader spectrum of verbal expression.
The word "God" is a noun, and so falls into the category of things and objects. For metonymic writing this is not an insurmountable problem: what is beyond all things and objects can still be a noun, or at any rate have a name. For most writers of the second phase, God represents an immutable being, set over against the dissolving flow of the world of becoming in which we are; and practically the only grammatical device for conveying this sense of the undeniable is the abstract noun. For third-phase writing, founded as it is on a sense-apprehended distinction between objects that are there and objects that are not, "God" can go only into the illusory class. But perhaps this kind of noun-thinking is, at least here, a fallacy of the type that Whitehead calls a fallacy of misplaced concreteness.
In Exodus 3:14, though God also gives himself a name, he defines himself as "I am that I am," which scholars say is more accurately rendered "I will be what I will be." That is, we might come closer to what is meant in the Bible by the word "God" if we understood it as a verb, and not a verb of simple asserted existence but a verb implying a process accomplishing itself.
This would involve trying to think our way back to a conception of language in which words were words of power, conveying primarily the sense of forces and energies rather than analogues of physical bodies. To some extent this would be a reversion to the metaphorical language of primitive communities, as our earlier references to a cycle of language and the "primitive" word "manna" suggested. But it would also be oddly contemporary with post-Einsteinium physics, where atoms and electrons are no longer thought of as things but rather as traces of processes. God may have lost his function as the subject or object of a predicate, but may not be so much dead as entombed in a dead language.
~ Northrop Frye, The Great Code
We sometimes ask, 'What of the good men and women who lived before the time of Christ or in pagan lands, and never had the opportunity of being Christians?' Here is the answer of one writer.
We must believe that the possibilities, provided by God of learning through suffering in this world, have always afforded a sufficient means of salvation to every soul that has made the best of the spiritual opportunity offered to it here, however small that opportunity may have been...
A pagan soul, no less than a Christian soul, has ultimate salvation within its reach; but a soul which has been offered, and has opened itself to the illumination and grace that Christianity conveys, will, while still in this world, be more brightly infused with the light of the other world than a pagan soul that has won salvation by making the best of this world, of the narrower opportunity here open to it. The Christian soul can attain, while still on earth, a greater measure of human goodness than can be attained by any pagan soul in this earthly stage of its existence...
It is this individual spiritual progress in this world for which we pray when we say, 'Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven'. It is for the salvation that is open to all people of good will—pagan as well as Christian, primitive as well as civilized—who make the most of their spiritual opportunities on earth, however narrow these opportunities may be, that we pray when we say, 'Thy Kingdom come'.
~ Arnold J. Toynbee, Civilization on Trial
A person who has a knowledge of doctrine and theology only—without religious affection—has never engaged in true religion. Nothing is more apparent than this: our religion takes root within us only as deep as our affections attract it. There are thousands who hear the Word of God, who hear great and exceedingly important truths about themselves and their lives, and yet all they hear has no effect upon them, makes no change in the way they live.
The reason is this: they are not affected with what they hear. There are many who hear about the power, the holiness, and the wisdom of God; about Christ and the great things that he has done for them and his gracious invitation to them; and yet they remain exactly as they are in life and in practice.
I am bold in saying this, but I believe that no one is ever changed, either by doctrine by hearing the Word, or by the preaching or teaching of another, unless the affections are moved by these things. No one ever seeks salvation, no one ever cries for wisdom, no one ever wrestles with God, no one ever kneels in prayer or flees from sin, with a heart that remains unaffected. In a word, there is never any great achievement by the things of religion without a heart filled with deep affection for those things.
~ Jonathan Edwards