R.C. Sproul

The Many Names of God

Written by R.C. Sproul |
Sunday, May 19, 2024
The old name, which means “deceiver,” suited him because of the crooked, hypocritical, devious tricks he pulled on his own family. Jacob is over. From now on, his name will be Israel, the one who wrestles with God. What a beautiful name. The rest of the Old Testament is the history of a nation that never stopped wrestling with God, that never stopped contending with the Lord—and not always in the positive sense that Jacob does here. So the angel of God pronounces the blessing of God on His servant. With that blessing, the angel gives Jacob a new name.

The Bible ascribes many names and titles to God. In Scripture, the name or title of a person often says something important about the person’s character. In our culture today, we don’t name people on the basis of outstanding characteristics or attributes. But in the ancient world, naming a person after a desired attribute was commonplace. In Israel particularly, a name often had tremendous significance and gave deep insight into one’s character.
Sometimes when a person underwent a life-changing trauma, his name would be changed. We remember, for example, how Jesus assigned a new name to Simon at Caesarea Philippi after the great confession when Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that [I am]?” They responded, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon gave this magnificent confession of faith: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then said to Simon, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah!” He called him by name. “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter [Petros], and on this rock I will build my church.” The rock on which Christ would build His church was the rock of Peter’s confession. The church would be built on the foundation of Christ’s entire life, His whole ministry. Thereafter Simon was called Peter (Matt. 16:13–18).
Perhaps the most dramatic name change in the Old Testament took place when Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. Today there’s a nation called Israel; it isn’t called Jacob. It is called Israel because it traces its roots to the twelve tribes that came from Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. What Are the Names of God? Let’s look briefly at that moment in history when Jacob’s name was changed.
He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” (Gen. 32:23–30)
This event at Peniel records a struggle, a conflict, between a human being, Jacob, and a representative from God Himself. The angel of the Lord came down from heaven and met Jacob where he was, and the two engaged in conflict. This was not the best out of fifteen rounds, three minutes a round with a rest of one minute in between. This wrestling match went on all day and all night. In the course of this combat between Jacob and the angel, Jacob pleaded with this representative of God to bless him. The angel permanently injured Jacob’s hip, leaving him with a limp for the rest of his life so that he would never forget this moment. Jacob said, “Bless me.” The angel asked, “What is your name?” Why did the angel ask him his name? Do we think that the angel of God didn’t know the identity of the one with whom he had been locked in mortal combat for the whole night? He knew his name. But he was asking for Jacob to surrender.
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What Was the Burning Bush?

Written by R.C. Sproul |
Saturday, May 18, 2024
It’s not so much what was in that bush, but who was in that bush—who it was who was speaking to Moses centuries before Moses would speak with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration, which was clearly the most magnificent display of the shekinah glory anywhere in the New Testament (Matt. 17:1–8). Just as that bush was burning from the inside and the bush itself was not burning, so in the transfigured Jesus, the glory that was displayed on the mountain was not a reflection but a glory that burst from His concealed deity—because where the shekinah is, God is.

According to Jewish tradition, the most common bushes in the area of the desert around Mount Horeb were bramble bushes. The assumption of Jewish historians was that the particular bush that Moses saw burning was a simple, ordinary bramble bush of no great significance in itself. So, the first thing we must understand is that before the burning bush event, there was nothing at all supernatural about the bush itself; it was a natural, common bramble bush doing what bramble bushes naturally do in the desert.
In describing the experience of the burning bush in Exodus 3, Moses uses phenomenological language; that is, he says what it looked like. He was walking with his sheep in the desert, he saw the strange phenomenon of a bush burning, and he turned aside to see what this was all about. He was astonished to see that, although the bush was burning, it was not consumed. What Moses saw was a fire in the bush; it wasn’t beside the bush or on top of the bush like the flames and tongues of fire that came down on the day of Pentecost. From Moses’ viewpoint, the fire was coming from within the bush. The significance of his comment that the bush was not being consumed indicates that the bush itself was not burning—the fire was in the bush, but not of the bush.
What is the significance of the fire’s being in the bush but not of the bush? It indicates that the fire Moses saw was independent of the bush—it was not using the bush for its fuel. That’s why the bush wasn’t consumed. It was burning from its own power. It was self-generated. This is a biblical example of what we call theophany, meaning “God made manifest.” The God whom we worship is a spirit. He is invisible, and His invisible substance cannot be seen by the human eye. But there are occasions in redemptive history where the invisible God makes Himself visible by some kind of manifestation. That is called a theophany, and it’s what we see with the burning bush.
In theology, such an activity as this—a bush with fire burning within it, but not being consumed—is said to be contra naturam, meaning “against nature.” It was not a natural phenomenon but a supernatural one. What Moses saw in this fire was a supernatural, visible manifestation of the glory of God.
The Bible sometimes speaks about the outward appearance of God’s glory—what we call the “shekinah glory.” It is a refulgent glory radiating from the very being of God that is so powerful and majestic that it overwhelms anyone who comes into contact with it. Throughout redemptive history, at critical junctures, God manifested Himself to people through the shekinah glory, which was represented chiefly through some kind of fire. Here I will consider some of those episodes, particularly in the Old Testament.
In Genesis 15, we find the record of God speaking to Abraham and promising that he would be the father of a great nation. Abraham had been called by God, and God told him, “I am your shield; your reward shall be very great” (Gen. 15:1). Abraham asked, “What will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” (Gen. 15:2). Abraham was already one of the wealthiest men in the world, and all that he lacked was what seemed impossible for him to have: an heir from his own bloodline.
God said, “‘This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.’ And he brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Gen. 15:4–5). We’re told that Abraham believed God, and that his belief was accounted to him for righteousness.
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The Battle for Grace Alone

Written by R.C. Sproul |
Thursday, April 25, 2024
The operative word in Augustine’s view is that regenerating grace is monergistic. It is the work of God alone. Pelagius rejected the doctrine of monergistic grace and replaces it with a view of synergism, which involves a work of cooperation between God and man.

The early part of the fifth century witnessed a serious controversy in the church that is known as the Pelagian controversy. This debate took place principally between the British monk Pelagius and the great theologian of the first millennium, Augustine of Hippo. In the controversy, Pelagius objected strenuously to Augustine’s understanding of the fall, of grace, and of predestination. Pelagius maintained that the fall affected Adam alone and that there was no imputation of guilt or “original sin” to Adam’s progeny. Pelagius insisted that people born after the fall of Adam and Eve retained the capacity to live lives of perfect righteousness unaided by the grace of God. He argued that grace “facilitates” righteousness but is not necessary for it. He categorically rejected Augustine’s understanding that the fall was so severe that it left the descendents of Adam in such a state of moral corruption that they were morally unable to incline themselves to God. The doctrines of Pelagius were condemned by the church in 418 at a synod in Carthage.
Though Pelagianism was rejected by the church, efforts soon emerged to soften the doctrines of Augustine. In the fifth century the leading exponent of such a softening was John Cassian. Cassian, who was the abbot of a monastery in Gaul, together with his fellow monks, completely agreed with the condemnation of Pelagius by the synod in 418, but they objected equally to the strong view of predestination set forth by Augustine. Cassian believed that Augustine had gone too far in his reaction against the heresy of Pelagius and had departed from the teachings of some of the church fathers, especially Tertullian, Ambrose, and Jerome. Cassian said that Augustine’s teaching on predestination “cripples the force of preaching, reproof, and moral energy…plunges men into despair and introduces a certain fatal necessity.” This reaction against the implied fatalism of predestination led Cassian to articulate a position that has since become known popularly as “semi-Pelagianism.” Semi-Pelagianism, as the name implies, suggests a middle ground between Pelagius and Augustine. Though grace facilitates a life of righteousness, Pelagius thought it was not necessary. Cassian argues that grace not only facilitates righteousness, but it is an essential necessity for one to achieve righteousness. The grace that God makes available to people, however, can and is often rejected by them.
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Jesus Became a Curse for Us

Written by R.C. Sproul |
Friday, April 5, 2024
When on the cross, not only was the Father’s justice satisfied by the atoning work of the Son, but in bearing our sins the Lamb of God removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. He did it by being cursed. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Gal. 3:13).

One image, one aspect, of the atonement has receded in our day almost into obscurity. We have been made aware of present-day attempts to preach a more gentle and kind gospel. In our effort to communicate the work of Christ more kindly we flee from any mention of a curse inflicted by God upon His Son. We shrink in horror from the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 53) that describe the ministry of the Suffering Servant of Israel and tells us that it pleased the Lord to bruise Him. Can you take that in? Somehow the Father took pleasure in bruising the Son when He set before Him that awful cup of divine wrath. How could the Father be pleased by bruising His Son were it not for His eternal purpose through that bruising to restore us as His children?
But there is the curse motif that seems utterly foreign to us, particularly in this time in history. When we speak today of the idea of curse, what do we think of? We think perhaps of a voodoo witch doctor that places pins in a doll made to replicate his enemy. We think of an occultist who is involved in witchcraft, putting spells and hexes upon people. The very word curse in our culture suggests some kind of superstition, but in biblical categories there is nothing superstitious about it.
The Hebrew Benediction
If you really want to understand what it meant to a Jew to be cursed, I think the simplest way is to look at the famous Hebrew benediction in the Old Testament, one which clergy often use as the concluding benediction in a church service:
The Lord bless you and keep you;the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Num. 6:24–26)
The structure of that famous benediction follows a common Hebrew poetic form known as parallelism. There are various types of parallelism in Hebrew literature.
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A Sure Salvation

Written by R.C. Sproul |
Wednesday, March 20, 2024
Christ accomplished what He set out to accomplish, the job the Father had designed for Him to do. God’s sovereign will is not at the whim and mercy of our personal and individual responses to it. If it were, there is a theoretical possibility that God’s plan could be thwarted and, in the end, no one might be saved. 

To begin to unravel the misconceptions about the doctrine of limited atonement, let’s look first at the question of the value of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Classical Augustinianism teaches that the atonement of Jesus Christ is sufficient for all men. That is, the sacrifice Christ offered to the Father is of infinite value. There is enough merit in the work of Jesus to cover the sins of every human being who has ever lived and ever will live. So there is no limit to the value of the sacrifice He made. There is no debate about this.
Calvinists make a distinction between the sufficiency and the efficiency of the atonement. That distinction leads to this question: was Jesus’ death efficient for everybody? In other words, did the atonement result in everyone being saved automatically? Jesus’ work on the cross was valuable enough to save all men, but did His death actually have the effect of saving the whole world? This question has been debated for centuries, as noted above. However, if the controversy over limited atonement was only about the value of the atonement, it would be a tempest in a teapot because the distinction between the sufficiency and efficiency of the atonement does not define the difference between historic Reformed theology and non-Reformed views such as Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism. Rather, it merely differentiates between universalism and particularism. Universalists believe that Jesus’ death on the cross did have the effect of saving the whole world. Calvinism disagrees strongly with this view, but historic Arminianism and dispensationalism also repudiate universalism. Each of these schools of thought agrees that Christ’s atonement is particular and not universal in the sense that it works or effects salvation only for those who believe in Christ, so that the atonement does not automatically save everybody. Therefore, the distinction between the sufficiency and efficiency of Jesus’ work defines particularism, but not necessarily the concept of limited atonement.
As an aside, let me say that while not everyone is saved by the cross, the work of Christ yields universal or near-universal concrete benefits. Through the death of Christ, the church was born, which led to the preaching of the gospel, and wherever the gospel is preached there is an increase in virtue and righteousness in society. There is a spillage from the influence of the church, which brings benefits to all men. Also, people around the world have benefited from the church’s commitment to hospitals, orphanages, schools, and so on.
The real heart of the controversy over limited atonement is this question: what was God’s intent or His design in sending Christ to the cross? Was it the purpose of the Father and the Son to make an atonement that would be made available to all who would put their trust in it, with the possibility that none might avail themselves of its benefits? In other words, was God’s purpose in sending Christ to the cross simply to make salvation possible? Or did God from all eternity plan to send Christ to die a substitutionary death in order to effect an actual atonement that would be applied to certain elect individuals?
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Does the Doctrine of Limited Atonement Undermine Evangelism?

Written by R.C. Sproul |
Wednesday, March 13, 2024
If we can get past the perceived problems with the doctrine of limited atonement, we can begin to see the glory of it—that the atonement Christ made on the cross was real and effectual. It wasn’t just a hypothetical atonement. It was an actual atonement.

A frequently cited objection against the doctrine of limited atonement is that it undermines evangelism. All orthodox Christians, Calvinists included, believe and teach that the atonement of Jesus Christ is to be proclaimed to all men. We are to say that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. The misconception exists that because Calvinists believe in the doctrine of limited atonement, they have no passion to go out and preach the cross to everyone. Calvinists have been careful since Augustine to insist that the gospel is to be offered to all men—even though we know that not everyone will respond to it. Many Calvinists have been zealous evangelists.
The doctrine of limited atonement, in reality, is helpful in evangelism. The Calvinist knows that not everyone will respond to the gospel message, but he also knows with certainty that some will respond to it. By contrast, the Arminian doesn’t know that not everyone will respond. In the Arminian’s mind, it’s a theoretical possibility that everybody will repent and believe. However, the Arminian also must deal with the possibility that no one will respond. He can only hope that his gospel presentation will be so persuasive that the unbeliever, lost and dead in his trespasses and sins, will choose to cooperate with divine grace so as to take advantage of the benefits offered in the atonement.
If we can get past such perceived problems with the doctrine of limited atonement, we can begin to see the glory of it—that the atonement Christ made on the cross was real and effectual. It wasn’t just a hypothetical atonement. It was an actual atonement. He didn’t offer a hypothetical expiation for the sins of His people; their sins were expiated. He didn’t give a hypothetical propitiation for our sins; He actually placated God’s wrath toward us. By contrast, according to the other view, the atonement is only a potentiality. Jesus went to the cross, paid the penalty for sin, and made the atonement, but now He sits in heaven wringing His hands and hoping that someone will take advantage of the work He performed. This is foreign to the biblical understanding of the triumph and the victory Christ achieved in His atoning death.
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Why the God-Man?

Written by R.C. Sproul |
Thursday, March 7, 2024
God’s grace is illustrated by the satisfaction of His justice in that it is done for us by the One whom He has appointed. It is God’s nature as the Judge of all the world to do what is right. And the Judge who does what is right never, ever violates the canons of His own righteousness.

In the eleventh century, one of the church’s most brilliant thinkers, Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, wrote three important works that have influenced the church ever since. In the field of Christian philosophy, he gave us his Monologium and his Proslogium; in the field of systematic theology, he penned the great Christian classic Cur Deus Homo, which being translated means “Why the God-Man?”
In this work, Anselm set forth the philosophical and theological foundations for an important aspect of the church’s understanding of the atonement of Christ, specifically the satisfaction view of the atonement. In it, Anselm argued that it was necessary for the atonement to take place in order to satisfy the justice of God. That viewpoint became the centerpiece of classical Christian orthodoxy in the Middle Ages, in terms of the church’s understanding of the work of Christ in His atonement. Since then, however, the satisfaction view of the atonement has not been without its critics.
In the Middle Ages, questions were raised about the propriety of thinking that the atonement of Jesus was made necessary by some abstract law of the universe that required God’s justice to be satisfied. This gave rise to the so-called Ex Lex debate. In the Ex Lex debate, the question was raised as to whether God’s will functioned apart from any law or outside of any law (ex lex), or whether the will of God was itself subjected to some norm of righteousness or cosmic law that God was required to follow and, therefore, His will was exercised under law (sub lego). The question was: Is God apart from law or is He under law?
The church’s response to this dilemma was to say basically “a pox on both houses,” and to declare that God is neither apart from law nor under law in these respective senses. Rather, the church responded by affirming that God is both apart from law and under law, in so far as He is free from any restraints imposed upon Him by some law that exists outside of Himself. In that sense, He is apart from law and not under law. Yet at the same time, God is not arbitrary or capricious and works according to the law of His own nature. The church declared that God is a law unto Himself. This reflects not a spirit of lawlessness within God, but that the norm for God’s behavior and God’s will is based on what the seventeenth-century orthodox theologians called “the natural law of God.”
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The Commission of Christian Leaders

Written by R.C. Sproul |
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
To be a Christian means that we follow Christ, and to be a Christian leader means that we lead in the name of Christ. We are not free as Christian leaders to teach our own gospel. We are not free to throw away the teachings of Jesus and replace them with our wisdom. The world has plenty of human wisdom—too much of it—and it doesn’t need ours. The world is dying of confusion from human opinion. We must not add to the chaos of our society. The world desperately needs the message of Christ.

As Christians, we have access to the very wisdom of God. We have the mind of Christ. Christians must be on guard to have their thinking and decision-making shaped not by the secular world but by the mind of Christ. This is often a weak point even for godly, devout, zealous, and committed Christians, earnest in their desire to be authentic servants of Christ. Every one of us, no matter how thoroughly trained we are in biblical Christianity or theology, is infected by thought patterns that come to us from the secular world. We are born and raised in a secular culture. We are exposed to secular values day in and day out. It’s difficult for us to grow in maturity to have the wisdom of God. But that’s precisely what’s at our disposal as Christians—to be able to make value judgments and decisions not in light of secular values but in light of the gospel of Christ.
This means that if we’re going to be responsible Christian leaders, we must be conversant with the Scriptures because the Scriptures are radically different in their perspective concerning the meaning and significance of mankind. The directives, admonitions, and teachings of the New Testament are practical. Not only do we gain knowledge about God, which is suitable for our devotion and our salvation, but the Bible gives us the finest, most accurate, most incredible insight into human behavior that we can find anywhere.
No psychologist, sociologist, or anthropologist will ever improve on the Bible because there we find the wisdom of God Himself—the One who has made us and who understands our frame inside and out. He knows what is good for us; He knows what is bad for us. When God tells us to do something, He doesn’t do it just for abstract theological reasons. He’s practical. He loves us. As Christian leaders, we are called to communicate that wisdom of God.
The most solemn responsibility for those in a position of Christian leadership is to accurately speak the truth of God. That means leaders must know the Scriptures. They must read so that their minds are transformed. As we begin to embrace the value structures that come to us through Christ, our lives will change, albeit gradually.
I can remember working at College Hill Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati and experiencing the frustrations of evangelism. And my frustration in evangelism was this: How could I get these people to understand the radical difference between Jesus’ value system and approach to mankind and his environment and that which they receive in the secular community? How could I do that in one sermon? How could I make them understand who Christ is? I was thinking primarily of evangelism inside the church, not outside the church—speaking to those who joined the congregation but had no real inner commitment to Christ. They’d never really understood the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but they were there out of habit or convention.
So, I started a Bible study for women. About eighty women met every Monday. I was absolutely amazed at what happened to those women after a year in this study. At the end of the year, somebody asked me, “Is there any way to heaven besides through Jesus?” In other words, is Jesus the only way to heaven? Does a person have to believe in Jesus to get to heaven? My answer to that question is the New Testament answer.
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Leadership in the Church

Written by R.C. Sproul |
Monday, February 5, 2024
If God has placed you in a position of leadership, He has certainly placed you there to continue growing, but He also called you to that position in terms of who you are right now. If God in His providence is behind that call in any sense, He’s calling you because of the gifts, talents, and abilities that you have right now. In that sense, you don’t have to pretend that you’re something you’re not. He’s calling you as you are. He doesn’t want you to stay there; He wants you to grow, He wants you to move, He wants you to progress—but to progress without anxiety, without being uptight about your inadequacies.

It’s true that Paul was an Apostle and we are not. Nevertheless, Paul was a minister, and those who serve in the church are also ministers. There is a point of contact between all the men and women who labor in Christian leadership and the Apostle Paul, and we can learn something about techniques, methodology, and priorities from him.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:1–5:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Paul said he did not approach the Corinthians “with lofty speech or wisdom”; in other words, Paul was saying: “When I came to you, I didn’t try to impress you. I didn’t come to you in an attitude of superiority. I didn’t exercise my position of leadership in the context of arrogance or self-exultation.” This must be the first principle of godly ministry and leadership—that we do not assume a posture of superiority, whether in our speech, in our demeanor, or in our attitude. There’s no question that Paul was superior in terms of his knowledge, his gifts, and the strength of his person, but he didn’t appear as one who was superior. He ministered in the context of weakness, as he went on to explain.
“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). There’s a sense that Paul was speaking hyperbolically, for he spoke about many other things besides the crucifixion. He spoke about the whole scope of theology, the whole counsel of God. But in terms of his priorities and central focus, that which conditioned everything else that he said was Christ and Him crucified. He was determined to know nothing else, and the Greek word translated “to know” suggests not simply intellectual understanding but an intimate, profound grasp. He wanted to know Christ, and that knowledge of Christ drove him into his position of leadership.
Verse 3 is a key to Paul’s success as a minister, pastor, and Christian leader: “And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.” Whatever else Paul was in terms of his ministry, he was constantly identifying with the weaknesses, fears, and trembling of his people.
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Dignity, Faith, & Work

Written by R.C. Sproul |
Wednesday, January 3, 2024
The humanist exalts the virtues of honesty, justice, and compassion, but he must crucify his mind to do it. For the humanist is caught in the vicious contradiction of ascribing dignity to creatures who live their lives between the poles of meaninglessness. He lives on borrowed capital, deriving his values from the Judeo-Christian faith, while at the same time repudiating the very foundation upon which these values rest.

Charles Dickens began A Tale of Two Cities with the immortal lines: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” These words sound like a contradiction, dissonant to the ear, harsh to the brain. How could the times be both best and worst?
Before Charles Dickens ever picked up a pen, the French mathematician, philosopher, and writer Blaise Pascal had made use of the paradox. For Pascal, man himself is the crowning paradox of all creation. He said that we are at the same time the creatures of highest grandeur and lowest misery. The paradox is that we can think, an ability which is a two-edged sword. That we can contemplate ourselves is our grandeur. The misery comes when we contemplate a better life than we now enjoy and realize we are unable to make it happen. We have just enough knowledge to escape the bliss of ignorance. Translated into daily realities, this means that a person with enormous wealth can conceive of yet more wealth, power, prestige, health, fame—all things can be increased or improved. But consider that person who commands such a vast amount of money, yet who suffers from ill health or grieves over the death of a loved one. Ultimately, human dignity is built on the conviction that someone is up there who made us. Behind human dignity is theology.
I was addressing the top executives of a Fortune 500 corporation. It was a small group composed of regional vice presidents and the president and chairman of the board. The surroundings exuded an ambiance of power and prestige. The patrician audience was a bit nervous about my mixing “religion” and business as I spoke. When the seminar was near completion, the chairman of the board became excited as his eyes lit up in understanding. “Let me see if I can connect what you’re saying. What I hear is that our business life is affected by how we treat people. How we treat people is a matter of ethics. Ethics are determined by our philosophy. Our philosophy reflects our theology—so respecting people is really a theological matter.” In simple terms, the chairman was expressing what Dostoevsky meant when he said, “If there is no God, all things are permissible,” or Sartre was driving at when he said, “Man is a useless passion.”
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