The Rule of St. Benedict
Arrange all things so that the strong have something to yearn after and the weak nothing to run from. (RB 64:19)
At the bottom of every contract, you can find of what is generally called the Terms and Conditions. Here resides the details. Well, you have just arrived at that section of Literary Life. The language is a bit technical, but the following describes the worldview behind everything you will see on this site. This is our bond.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of reality. In God’s act of creation, Genesis describes the Holy Spirit as “breath”, moving across the waters, and thereafter our understanding of life is eternally connected to breath. It is no surprise to later read the Apostle John write that Christ existed in eternity before God’s breath moved in the body of a humble girl and mighty God was fully breathed as one of us – The Word (Gen 1, John 1, Luke 1). Metaphysics looks beyond our perception of creation to its essence and substance which is ultimately expressed in Christ. Therefore God is over all and through all and in all (Eph 4:6). It is the quest to understand creation’s meaning and purpose as it is informed by its triune Creator. Metaphysics includes divisions such as cosmology, theology, anthropology and ontology, but its depth can only be plumbed, beyond our perception by God’s revelation (Romans 1).
Metaphysics is the bedrock of ministry and education. Beyond perception is the truth, and absent the non-extractable pinnings of the Word of God, every methodology, agenda and curriculum is subject to the shifting winds of popularity, fashion and imagination. Though philosophical and theological speculations might be sophisticated and complex, they are worthless unless based on God’s revelation of truth through the Bible. All of our efforts therefore are dependent on the mandate of God’s Word for sustainability (Matt 24:24-27). Humanistic metaphysics which remove God from its principles are pervasive in secular thought, and our gravest danger is in approximating its tenets as an appeal for broad acceptance. Metaphysically we must occupy the prophet’s office of “thus saith the Lord”.
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy which studies the nature, sources, and validity of knowledge. Since the golden age of Greece and philosophically since Rene Descartes, the human pinnacle of epistemology is reason. This is critically flawed by sin. Man’s reasoning, however noble is short of God’s (Is 55:8) and no heroic logic or altruistic intent can overcome man’s sin (Is 64:6). The Bible calls us the trust in the Lord with all of our heart and to lean not to our own understanding (Prov 3:5,6) and says further that in Christ is hidden all wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3). We therefor understand Christ to be our source.
Like metaphysics, epistemology is foundational. Our belief system guides first our reasoning and then our actions. The intertwined circularity of metaphysics and epistemology often leads to paralysis in the name of scholarly consideration. Theology is not immune. The Bible presents an active God who is purposeful and decisive. All ministry should step beyond facts to application lest time be squandered for consideration’s sake. The proper context of knowledge is not why but who. When the disciples questioned Jesus about why a man was born blind, Jesus deftly turned the conversation to God saying “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:3-4). Our proper context of epistemology is that knowledge is itself informed by action which brings glory to God.
Axiology is the branch of philosophy that answers the question “what is value?” Value is understood to be worth and it centers on both ethics and aesthetics. Biblically we look to God for an understanding of value. In Matthew 10, Christ’s taught us that we are of great value to God and His detailed attention goes to the number of hairs on our head. He likewise said we should not worry over food and clothing because God will provide all of these in accordance with our great value to Him. John 3:16 says He loves us so much He sacrificed His own son for us. This is worth of a soul to God. In contrast, much of what the world holds in value is discounted by Scripture. The Bible counsels us not to store up treasure where moth and rust will destroy.
If morals are relative and ethics are situational, then value is empty and life is meaningless. Literary Life recognizes the profound privilege of engaging God’s beloved world and joining with Christ as His ambassador. The world’s values are so misaligned with God’s, they often are not recognized as empty idols, but every misapplied attribute of worth is a form of idolatry. Only God is worthy of our adoration. As we place Him on the throne of our hearts, our perceptions begin to become aligned with reality.
Grace and peace