Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A grey landscape

Reading the post below one could be forgiven for coming away with the impression that the next thirty days (i.e. from August the 23rd to September the 22nd) would be spent reading veraciously through Romans and sharing my wise insights here. At least, I hope there is forgiveness available - seeing as that was my impression too. Turns out life is not what it seems and while one minute you can be blithely twiddling your thumbs, chances are you're about to get hit with an assessment workload somewhat analogous to a ton of bricks...

Anyway, I've managed to get partway into the epistle (kudos to Mark D. Niehus for reminding me that "If you are serious–you will make time") and something that has struck is just how closely 'the law' in the OT is tied up in God's character. What got me thinking was Romans 4:13-17, specifically verse 15 where it says:
For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
Now I realise that 'if there are no rules you can't break any' sounds obvious, kinda circular and even a bit shallow; but unpack it in light of an understanding of God's nature and suddenly it's got a whole lot more depth to it.

Some years ago I conducted a number of thought experiments that have since merged with past juvenile writings and begun to evolve into what will one day probably be a set of three novels. (Maybe something to write about another day?). In one of these thought experiments I tried to conceive a world (or more strictly, a reality) where there was no right or wrong, where God had not seen fit to define the parameters of good and evil. I failed miserably. The best I could come up with was a sort of 'grey world' where everything -everything, mind you- was ill-defined and not actually, you know, really real (which is, I'm sure you'll agree, rather problematic when you're talking about an entire reality). It was a bleak world that no person of any recognisable humanity could live in, and that no god who in any way resembled the God of this world could create. I mentioned the idea of a 'grey world' to an older friend and he pointed out that seeing as it is part of God's nature is to define reality around Himself,  it would be quite impossible for Him to create such a place - it would be a irreconcilable paradox! (As compared to those reconcilable paradoxes that we mere immortals must contend with this side of eternity).

Reading Romans 4:15 I was reminded about my 'grey world', things suddenly clicked, and I realised that 'the law' is an inescapable necessity! Our very existence is contingent on God having defined the bounds of reality by declaring what is/is not 'good'. In other words, without 'the law' we wouldn't be here. Now, I'm not going to go into all the implications of having an absolute standard of right and wrong based on the immutable character of God here and now in this overgrown post; but I'd just like to wonder aloud:

What does it mean, for anyone of us, that 'the law' is of such vital importance that our very existence depends upon it? If life (the world, the very fabric of reality) is reliant upon the existence of a foundational, incontrovertible, universal moral law, how then (in the words of Francis Schaeffer) should we live?
sdg

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