C.S. Lewis dietrich von hildebrand

It's Alive!

6:00:00 AMUnknown

I have to admit, sometimes I get lost in the abstract.

Sometimes, in the daily routine of prayer, or in the usual habit of attending Mass, I begin to think about all of my philosophical studies. I view God as the Absolute, the First Principle, the Source of all virtue, or any other name that philosophy assigns to Him. I pray to this immaterial and spiritual God; I imagine the utter force of His Essence as He holds the entire world in existence.
Now all of these names are proper to God. I believe that he is all of those things and more.  

I am a philosopher at heart and I love deepening my knowledge of His attributes.

But something is a little amiss in me when I treat God as only this.

C. S. Lewis, in Christianity and Religion, talks about belief systems that hold the supernatural as a type of common bond, or indwelling principle, which animates life in general. There is little left in the end but pure abstraction. On the contrary, God is not a formless generality, and my mind need not think of Him as such. A mere ideal or principle stands in stark contrast to God as an actually existing person. Lewis says: "If anything is to exist at all, then the Original Thing must be, not a principle nor a generality, much less an 'ideal' or 'value,' but an utterly concrete fact." (1)

God is another person, and He is the thrill of life. As living human person, man needs another living person for a God. It can be shocking to remember this. As Lewis says, it is always shocking and terrifying to meet life when we thought we were alone.

"Look out," we cry, "It's alive!"

As Lewis so brilliantly observes: 

"An 'impersonal God' - well and good.  A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads - better still.  A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power we can tap - best of all.  But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the chord, perhaps approaching at infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband - that is quite another matter.  There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall?  There comes a moment when those who have been dabbling in religion suddenly draw back.  Supposing we really found him!" 

Dietrich von Hildebrand, although a deep thinker and a brilliant philosopher, never lost sight of God as a person, God as alive, God as terrifyingly real.  He understood that God is active and alive, bursting out of the philosophical attributes which philosophy gives Him.  

Yes, He is omnipresent, omnipotent, and all sorts of other wonderful metaphysical realities.  But, the fact of the matter is that He came down to us.  Spoke with us.  Laughed with us.  And He did not wish to remain a mere metaphysical name.  He wants adventures with us.  

Hildebrand, in Transformation in Christ, encourages us: "Incomprehensible as it may seem to us that God should bestow His love upon us ... we must believe in this infinite love directed to each of us, and fall to our knees before this mystery."  He goes on "Prayer is not a means to secure an object; it is a word addressed to the absolute Person."  

In the end, philosophy is awesome.  But God as a living person is even more awesome, and I never want to forget that.  

1) Lewis, Clive Staples. Miracles: A Preliminary Study. MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York: 1947. Page 87.
2) Ibid, page 94.
3) Transformation in Christ, page 191.
4) Ibid, page 200.

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