Our unworthiness

Monday, November 13, 2006

I was meditating today on our unworthiness in the midst of God’s mercy and grace. I happened upon this quotation by Blaise Pascal, which I find quite profound. I have never come across him only to find out that he is the person of which not only the SI unit of pressure bears his name, but also a programming language, the Pascal’s law of hydrostatics, the Pascal’s triangle and the Pascal’s wager.

    God wanted to redeem men and open the way of salvation to those who seek Him. But men make themselves so unworthy of it that it is only just that God should refuse to some because of the hardness of heart what He gives to others from a compassion that they do not deserve. If He had wanted to overcome the obstinacy of the most hardened, He could have done so by revealing Himself to them so obviously that they could not have doubted the truth of His Being—just as He will appear at the last day with such a clap of thunder and such an upheaval of nature that the dead will revive and the blindest will see. It is not in this way, however, that He willed to appear at His gentle coming: because so many men had made themselves unworthy of His mercy, He willed to leave them deprived of the good which they did not desire. And so it would not have been fair for Him to have appeared in an obviously divine manner, absolutely capable of convincing all men. But also it would not have been fair for Him to appear in a manner so hidden that even those who were sincerely seeking Him should not be able to recognize Him... So He has tempered His knowledge, by giving marks of Himself which were visible to those who seek Him, and not to those who seek Him not.
    ~ Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées [1660]
I am still thinking on whether I would agree with him fully, but I like his words – “He willed to leave them deprived of the good which they did not desire … so He has tempered His knowledge … visible to those who seek Him, and not to those who seek Him not.

Picture by Kathie Mullen

Samuel Terrien, The Psalm, (Grand Rapids: Eerdsman, 2003): 41

You Might Also Like

7 comment(s)

  1. It seems that every time I hear Pascal on spiritual matters, I agree with his conclusion, but not his logic. He was a genius, but I think he missed something of what it means to be spiritual.

    Luke 16:31
    And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

    If this rich, successful man were to return from the dead, and teach the awful reality of punishment that awaits his own brothers, they would not receive him and more than they receive Moses in print. This is not because of a lack of drama, but because the natural man does not discern the things of God.

    Only the spiritual man discerns the things of the Spirit, and he discerns the Spirit in everything.

    So, yes, God decided not to trouble everyone with a full revelation of Himself. Yes, He decided to leave them without a good that they did not desire. But no amount of knowledge, revelation, or obviousness could have convinced them. Only the Spirit being born within them could make any difference. That which is born of Spirit is spirit.

  2. I was re-living memories of Pascal's triangle and programming in college and I felt quite like that barn.

  3. CP,
    yeah ... I remember the passage you were refering to. I suppose it is possible that even if some people are being shouted or screamed at - they will still not hear. I think I remember CS Lewis saying something like that too in Mere Christianity, which I am rereading at the moment.

  4. Maeghan,

    Hi, I haven't died! I have just been in mega-busy mode.


    Pascal's wife's name? Ada... or more specifically: Where we got the name for Pascal 'sister' language Ada.

    Ada Augusta Lovelace was The illegitimate child of Lord Byron.

    God Bless

  5. Correction:

    It was charles Babbage that invented the language Pascal, and his wife's name was Ada Augusta Lovelace. My memory is shot (at least I knew there was something not right about it when I wrote it).


  6. Doug,
    Yay ... you are back! I was actually worried abt you :) Good to have you back.

  7. Maeghan,

    No worries. I've just been mega-swamped. I read your posts though. Thanks for keeping up the great stuff.

    God Bless