Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 17, 2008
Falling in love with God creates faith
Our Creator longs to commune with us so we can identify the divine in our everyday lives
By GLEN ARGAN
“The common and fatal error of the world” is to judge religion without a proper preparation of the heart.”
Newman wrote that by leading us to the unseen world, "prayer has a natural effect in spiritualizing and elevating the soul," he said.
"Prayer is the instrument of divine fellowship and divine training."
But we can also gain a deeper awareness of how God leads us into deeper communion with him by examining our own tastes, likes and desires.
Modern philosophers identified knowledge with the certainty found through scientific knowledge. For them, knowledge that came from tradition or authority was invalid.
"To Newman, this was a kind of madness."
Indubitable certainty is important for science, McIntosh said. "The difficulty is when we apply that to the whole of life."
It is because we fall in love with God that we accept that which we cannot yet fully understand, he said. The more we try to listen to the voice of goodness in ourselves, the more we will gain clarity about where God is calling us.
McIntosh, who says he knows little about art, told of going to an art gallery with an artist friend who explained things to him that he would not have otherwise understood.
"That friendship allows me to see that which I couldn't see on my own."
Likewise, there is a type of knowing created not so much by facts as by probabilities, he said. "The probability that someone is calling you to work at the night shelter is not amenable to scientific knowledge."
Moreover, Newman wrote "A good man and a bad man will think very different things probable."
Scientific knowledge can give no sense of the promises of God, he said. God draws the believer through faith into recognizing some aspect of his divine presence.
"The common and fatal error of the world" is to judge religion without a proper preparation of the heart, McIntosh said.
The scholar was critical of the new atheists, such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, for feeling they have the right to discuss religious truths without proper formation. Quoting Newman, he said, it is no surprise that their inquiries "always end in darkness."
In contrast, Newman said, "Believers go out of themselves to meet him who is unseen."
In his sermons, Newman always tries to make people aware God is drawing them forth in a direction one might not expect, McIntosh said.
In Christ we find a God who reveals a humility that would be unimaginable to one whose religion is based on reason alone. The event of Christ in history is crucial, in Newman's view, for us to be set free from the limits of our own ideas.
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