Wednesday, April 22, 2020

p17 The Law of Love in Leviticus demands rebukes

 "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him." (suffer sin?) (Lev 19:17, KJV)

The King James Bible is full of errors and passages like the above, that are simply incomprehensible. This morning I tried to find out what "suffer sin" could possibly mean. This took me down the rabbit hole that is BibleHub. Here is what I found:

If you Google any bible passage, you get Bible Hub, and it gives you all the translations and cross references. Routine, I know, you do it all the time, but I just looked up "lev 19:17," and it came as a revelation to me.

"You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him." (ESV)

or, in the NIV version,

"Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt."

We are not told just to love our neighbour by the law of love, we are specially instructed by that law to rebuke them privately. In the cross references, it points to this addition in the Christian law of love,

"If your brother sins against you, go and confront him privately. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over." (Matt 18:15)

Love is not love if it does not set a process of admonition, correction, forgiveness and reconciliation going. If you don't do that, hatred will start to fester and may turn into murder; it would not be the first time.

"And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad, because he hated Amnon for disgracing his sister Tamar." (2 Samuel 13:22)

Amazing! Silence is like darkness, where mold like a contagion grows. Love demands the reverse, a direct, frank, ongoing dialog about how to tread the path of right and wrong. Neglect that and love's seedling grows into a weed. "Open rebuke is better than secret love…" (Proverbs 27:5,6) Another proverb supplements this, saying that if your friend, brother or neighbour is wise, they will not take it amiss, they will love you for it all the more.

"Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee." (9:8)

Love has to come out of this wisdom, not out of facile admiration. Constructive feedback is what makes love into light, rather than a poison.

"If anyone claims to be in the light but hates his brother, he is still in the darkness." (1 John 2:9)

Hatred is darkness, love is light, and we use light to see reality while the heat from light keeps us alive. Love's vision comes only out of this close dialectic. If it does not, love grows amiss, like a cancer.

"But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness. He does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." (1 John 2:11)

Hatred and ill will build up like a poison, and from that, any friendly behavior becomes hypocritical. Like a heartworm, lies enter into the heart and kill everything,

"He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him." (Proverbs 26:24-26)

If an acquaintance does not make you better, they don't love you and they will never be worthy of being called a friend, much less a beloved. I am reminded of the song, "I don't know what love is. I want you to show me." No, the blind cannot lead the blind. It is quite the reverse, neither of us knows how to love, but we will find out only by working it out in the mutual correction society that is friendship. There are many kinds of friendship, but all must be part of a mutual search for betterment or perfection.

This critical process applies for God, the God of love, more than anything. That is why I feel uncomfortable when people talk about unconditional love. Unconditional love is great for babies, but not for responsible adults. And especially not for the highest love, the love of God. God loves us infinitely, but it would be a very paltry love if that were as far as it went.

"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent." (Rev 3:19, NIV)

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

p23 Shoghi Effendi, The Faith of Baha'u'llah, read by John Taylor

The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh:
A World Religion

by Shoghi Effendi
Read by John Taylor

The Faith established by Bahá'u'lláh was born in Persia about the middle of the nineteenth century and has, as a result of the successive banishments of its Founder, 

culminating in His exile to the Turkish penal colony of 'Akká, and His subsequent death and burial in its vicinity, fixed its permanent spiritual center in the Holy Land,

and is now in the process of laying the foundations of its world administrative center in the city of Haifa.

Alike in the claims unequivocally asserted by its Author and the general character of the growth of the Bahá'í community in every continent of the globe, it can be regarded in no other light than a world religion, 

destined to evolve in the course of time into a world-embracing commonwealth, whose advent must signalize the Golden Age of mankind, the age in which the unity of the human race will have been unassailably established, 
its maturity attained, and its glorious destiny unfolded through the birth and efflorescence of a world-encompassing civilization.

Though sprung from Shi'íh Islám, and regarded, in the early stages of its development, by the followers of both the Muslim and Christian Faiths, as an obscure sect, an Asiatic cult or an offshoot of the Muhammadan religion, this Faith is now increasingly demonstrating its right to be recognized, 

not as one more religious system superimposed on the conflicting creeds which for so many generations have divided mankind and darkened its fortunes, but rather as a restatement of the eternal verities underlying all the religions of the past, as a unifying force instilling into the adherents of these religions a new spiritual vigor, infusing them with a new hope and love for mankind, 

firing them with a new vision of the fundamental unity of their religious doctrines, and unfolding to their eyes the glorious destiny that awaits the human race.

The fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, the followers of His Faith firmly believe, is that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary, that they differ only in the non-essential aspects of their doctrines, and that their missions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

p01 Bacon Against the Mere Search for Truth

John Amos Comenius based his entire philosophy, which he called "Pansophy,"and indeed his entire proposed world government, on the three necessary stages of intentional action, that is, knowledge, volition and action. Comenius, and indeed all subsequent science, rest upon this foundation, first laid out by Frances Bacon. It was Bacon's conviction that mere search for truth is not enough. Knowledge has to be connected to human decisions, and decisions connected to work and action. If an individual's search is left on its own, how do you know when to stop? It has to be when you are satisfied. But satisfaction is not enough. Knowledge is power, and power can only be released by constant application; that is, by establishing a dialectic among all three, knowledge, willing and acting, and repeat. First comes seeking to know, then, forming a resolution based on what you learned from that search, and finally applying that to your life's calling. Because this dialectic is so important to understanding Comenius, I am including here the entire section from the article on Bacon in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Frances Bacon; Against the Mere Search for Truth

from the article "Frances Bacon," in the Encyclopedia Britannica

Frances Bacon, article in Encyclopedia Britannica, p. 995-996
Under: Bacon as philosopher and stylist; Philosophical Works; Bacon's Purpose.

Bacon's grand motive in his attempt to found the sciences anew was the intense conviction that the knowledge man possessed was of little service to him.

"The knowledge whereof the world is now possessed, especially that of nature, extendeth not to magnitude and certainty of works."

Man's sovereignty over nature, which can be founded on knowledge alone had been lost, and instead of the free relation n between things an the human mind there was nothing but vain notions and blind experiments. To restore the original commerce between man and nature and to re-establish the dominion of man (imperium hominis) is the grand object of all science. The want of success which had hitherto attended efforts in the same direction had been due to many causes but chiefly to the want of appreciation of the nature of philosophy and its real aim. The true philosophy is not the science of things divine and human; it is not the search after truth.

"I find that even those that have sought knowledge for itself, and not for benefit or ostentation, or any practical enablement in the course of their life, have nevertheless propounded to themselves a wrong mark, namely satisfaction (which men call Truth) and not operation."

"Is there any such happiness as for a man's mind to be raised above the confusion of things, where he may have the prospect of the order of nature and error of man? But is this a view of delight only and not of discovery? of contentment and not of benefit? Shall he not as well discern the riches of nature's warehouse as the beauty of her shop? Is truth ever barren? Shall he not be able thereby to produce worthy effects, and to endow the life of man with infinite commodities?"

Philosophy is altogether practical; it is of little matter to the fortunes of humanity what abstract notions one may entertain concerning the ultimate nature and the principles of things. This truth, however, has never yet been recognized; it has not yet been seen that the true aim of all science is "to endow the condition and life of man with new powers or works," or "to extend more widely the the limits of the power and greatness of man."

Nevertheless, it is not to be imagined that by this being proposed as the great object of search there has thereby been excluded all that has hitherto been looked upon as the higher aims of human life, such as the contemplation of truth. Not so, but by following the new aim we shall also arrive at a true knowledge of the universe in which we are, for without knowledge there is no power; truth and utility are in ultimate aspect the same;

"works themselves are of greater value as pledges of truth than as contributing to the comforts of life."

Such was the conception of philosophy with which Bacon started and in which he felt himself to be entirely original. as his object was new and hitherto unproposed, so the method he intended to employ was different, he felt, from all modes of investigation hitherto attempted.

“It would be," as he says, "an unsound fancy and self-contradictory to expect that things which have never yet been done can be done except by means which have never yet been tried."

There were many obstacles in his way, and he seems always to have felt that the first part of the new scheme must be a pars destruens, a destructive criticism of all other methods. Opposition was to be expected, not only from previous philosophies but especially from the human mind itself. In the first place, natural antagonism must be looked for from the two opposed sects, the one of whom, in despair of knowledge, maintained that all science was impossible; while the other, resting on authority and on the learning that had been handed down from the Greeks, declared that science was already completely known and consequently devoted their energies to methodizing and elaborating it. Secondly, within the domain of science itself, properly so-called, there were two "kind of rovers" who must be dismissed. The first where the speculative or logical philosophers, who construe the universe ex anologia hominis and not ex analogia mundi -- or, in terms of their knowledge of man rather than of nature -- who fashion nature according to preconceived ideas and who employ in their investigations syllogism and abstract reasoning. The second class, equally offensive, consisted of those who practised blind experience, which is mere groping in the dark (vaga experientia mera palpatio est), who occasionally hit upon good works or inventions, which like Atalanta's apples, distracted them from further steady and gradual progress toward universal truth. In place of these struggling efforts of the unassisted human mind, a graduated system of helps was to be supplied by the use of which the mind, when placed on the right road, would proceed with unerring and mechanical certainty to the invention of new arts and sciences. Such were the peculiar functions of the new method, though it had not yet definitely appeared what that method was, or to what objects it could be applied.