Beginning from Myself and Yet…

When we talk about the possibility of men beginning from themselves to understand the meaning of life and the universe, we must be careful to define clearly what we mean.  There are two concepts or ideas of knowing which must be kept separate.  The first is the rationalistic or humanistic concept – namely, that man beginning totally independently and autonomously, can build a bridge towards ultimate truth – as if attempting to build a bridge out from himself across an infinite gorge.  This is not possible, because man is finite and, as such, he has nothing toward which he can point with certainty.  He has no way, beginning from himself, to set up sufficient universals.   Jean-Paul Sartre, French Philosopher, saw this very clearly when, as a result of finding no infinite reference point, he came to the conclusion that everything must be absurd.   

The second concept is the Chrisitan one.  That is, as man has been created in God’s image, he can begin with himself – not as infinite but as personal; plus the important fact that God has given to fallen man contentful knowledge which he desperately needs.   

The fact that man has fallen does not mean that the he has ceased to bear God’s image.  He has not ceased to be man because he is fallen.  He can love, though he is fallen.  It would be a mistake to say that only a Christian can love.  Moreover, a non-Christian painter can still paint beauty.  And it is because they can still do these things that they manifest that they are God’s image-bearers or, to put it another way, they assert their unique ‘mannishness’ as men.   

So it is a truly wonderful thing that although man is twisted and corrupted and lost as a result of the Fall, yet he is still man.  He has become neither a machine nor an animal nor a plant.  The marks of ‘mannishness’ are still upon him – love, rationality, longing for significance, fear of nonbeing, and so on.  This is the case even when his non-Christian system leads him to say these things do not exist.  It is these things which distinguish him from the animal and plant world and from the machine.  One the other hand, beginning only from himself autonomously it is quite obvious that being finite, he can never reach any absolute answer.  This would be true if only on the basis of the fact that he is finite, but to this must be added, since the Fall, the fact of each man’s rebellion.  He rebels against, and perverts, the truth, reality, and testimony of what exists – the external universe and its form, and the ‘mannishness’ of man.  

God created us in His image so that we can know Him and have a relationship with Him and live in alignment and connection with life and the world as He designed it to be lived.  I like to say it as ..He designed us to swim with the current and not against it. 😊   

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – Escape From Reason 

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