A God Of Wood Or Stone

Dr. John Owen - 17th Century Puritan TheologianTwo closely linked flaws in Man’s character causes us, time and time again, great harm as we seek to apprehend the nature of the God(s) and Divine Will, these being our Vanity and our Hubris.

In giving in to these two faults so many raise themselves up above their rightful station in the order of all things and claim that they know the nature and will of the God(s).

This, as the 17th Century Puritan theologian, Dr. John Owen pointed out, is merely the making of a God or Gods out of our own limited thoughts as if one was carving one out wood or stone.

For the being of God; we are so far from a knowledge of it, so as to be able to instruct one another therein by words and expressions of it, as that to frame any conceptions in our mind, with such species and impressions of things as we receive the knowledge of all other things by, is to make an idol to ourselves, and so to worship a god of our own making, and not the God that made us. We may as well and as lawfully hew him out of wood or stone as form him a being in our minds, suited to our apprehensions. The utmost of the best of our thoughts of the being of God is, that we can have no thoughts of it. Our knowledge of a being is but low when it mounts no higher but only to know that we know it not.

— Dr. John Owen (1616-1683),
The Mortification of Sin

Better by far, I think, that Man cultivate a certain agnosticism born of proper humility and knowledge of our mean nature. Such a path, if followed with diligence and scrupulousness, seems to me far more likely to bring a man, and perhaps Man et al, to a higher estate both in this life and at the time of its unavoidable ending and judgment, than more certain and Prideful religious enterprises.

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Birds’ Eye View

It is oft-times said that the eyes are window to the soul. It seems to me that, especially in the case of the eyes of animals, that the eyes are the mirror of the onlooker’s soul.

The Eye of the Falcon The falcon’s eye – bright, golden and fierce – shows the falcon’s power and that the falcon lives to fly, stoop, to strike and kill. It possesses a clarity of thought uncluttered by distractions.

Man looks into the falcon’s eye and feels a deep and abiding respect.

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The Eye of the Raven The raven’s eye – dark, brooding and cunning – shows the raven’s wisdom and that the raven lives by its tenacity and cunning, knowing that all that flies, walks or swims, is naught but food.

Man looks into the raven’s eye and feels the cold grip of fear.

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Man respects the falcons ferocity and his simplicity of purpose. Man fears the cunning and the complex wisdom of the raven.

This, I suppose, makes sense; it is Man’s nature to respect power if he can predict how it will be used, but to fear wisdom and cunning whose aims and means he cannot fathom.

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