Sunday, July 19, 2009

quote of the week: N.T. Wright- an aside related to the "dark night of the soul"

...all the loose talk in some Christian circles about "my relationship with God" as the center of everything, which then of course becomes problematic when one encounters depression, or enters a "dark night of the soul"...
N.T. Wright, Justification: God's Plan & Paul's Vision, 149


Lanny said...

Not sure I understand the quote.

Maalie said...

I think more and more people these days have their own "personalised" religion. I think they do not want to reject the notion of a God because it gives the illusion of control, but on he other hand they cannot accept the errancy of the bible. So they design their own personal religion that suits them. I would say I am in that bracket as I am a Unitarian where there are really no "rules".

It is claimed that dependence on spirituality is growing fast as the world we know is changing faster than we can adapt to and clinging on to some notion of God give a semblance of stability. There seem to be as many "religions" these days as there are believers.

Ted M. Gossard said...


N.T. Wright is not denying that a personal relationship with God is not a central aspect of life. He's just making the aside point in the book that when we fail to see the whole we can then misjudge a part, in this case an important part of our lives in God. Both our relationship with God, as well as our times in "the desert", in "the wilderness" or our "dark night of the soul" (I read recently it has been called all three).

Ted M. Gossard said...


Nothing new as that has happened time immemorial from what I've read.

As to the inerrancy (I take it you meant) of the Bible, it is true from cover to cover, I take it. But if one wants to read it as something other than rooted in the Ancient Near East then they stumble over the creation accounts in Genesis, the fall in Genesis, the account of the flood, etc. They all tell us of events that are grounded in history. But not in the way such would be written today. Yet not unlike the gospels themselves (Matthew through John) are written, telling of what happened during Jesus' life, with the same goal Jesus' life had when being lived out here, along with his death and resurrection.

It only stands to reason people would resort to some religion, because what Augustine said I believe is true: We all have a God-shaped vaccum, and for good reason.

Maalie said...

>It only stands to reason people would resort to some religion

I believe you are right Ted. As soon as Homo's brain evolved to the state of sentience (i.e. aware of "self" and in particular sentient of his mortality) then it was inevitable to turn to the supernatural to explain the inexplicable. "How did we get here?"; "What is the meaning of life?"; "When we die, is that the end of everything?"; Why did our village get struck by lightning and not theirs?"; and so on. It must have been so easy to ascribe it all to the will of some supernatural deity, rather to the randomness of nature.

But that doesn't make it true. All cultures since the dawn of civilisation have had their deities and their creation myths.

We are so used to ascribing a "purpose" to everything we do and make, it seems only natural to invoke a creator who had a "purpose".

Ted M. Gossard said...

But couldn't there have been a reason that Homo's brain evolved to that state?

And on top of that, if we simply ascribe everything to our evolved state and what that involves, don't we take the guts out of "truth". All truth, love and justice would be mere fictions, correct? Just societal norms that in the course of our biological lives seems best.

A love that doesn't hesitate to lay down one's life for one's beloved surely involves more than just biological factors, I would think.

And I proceed and find good in looking to something beyond my own thoughts, instincts, desires, etc.

Maalie said...

>But couldn't there have been a reason that Homo's brain evolved to that state?

Only if you ascribe a reason. There is no biological whatsoever to suggest that there is a reason. In fact there is a wealth of contrary evidence.

It is when different cultures ascribe different reasons that the strife begins, I think.

Maalie said...

>don't we take the guts out of "truth"

That is very simple. Truth is what you perceive it to be. Once I thought the tooth fairy and Santa were true. Some people evidently still think it is true that the world is flat. One can believe anything at all, however passionately (passionately enough to kill for) but it doesn't make it true.

Ted M. Gossard said...


Isn't it interesting that there is no biological reason whatsoever for reason? Couldn't that mean that "reason" is ascribed from or finds its source in something other than that which is biological?

Maalie said...

"Reason" is an artefact of the sentient mind, I think.

When one properly understands Darwinian natural selection it is all so obvious. I admit that a full understanding does not come easily, I am still learning.

I have to go now Ted, I will look in later.

A happy day to you and your family.

Ted M. Gossard said...


Then reason does have some roots in biology, you're saying.

But I would have no problem with that, either. Because I believe it's both. We're being inherently made for relationship. And if made in God's image, then surely that both mirrors and involves the God who made us.

Thanks. And you and yours as well.