Pascal's Pensées: Week 33, Harming the Will


God wishes to move the will rather than the mind. Perfect clarity would help the mind and harm the will.


One of the points I make in Reviving Old Scratch is that a lot of us turn God into a Rubik's Cube we have to solve. Especially when it comes to something like the problem of evil.

As we know, the Bible can be less than helpful in answering some of these perennial mysteries. And so can Christian doctrine. For example, Rowan Williams has argued that the ancient creeds worked to make speaking about God more difficult. In nailing things down the creeds didn't dispel mysteries, they created them. Every heresy those ancient councils faced wanted to make speaking about God easier, more logical, coherent, and rational. But in each case--from the relationship of the Old Testament to the New to Christology to the Trinity--the creeds rejected the easier path and made speaking of God more difficult. 


Well, I think Pascal has put his finger here on a part of the answer. God wishes to move the will rather than the mind, for addressing the mind can poison the will. Christianity isn't a philosophy. It's not a path to enlightenment. It's not an intellectual puzzle to solve. It's not a book full of answers. Christianity is, rather, an arena of meaningful action. An arena that prioritizes the virtues of faith, hope, and love. 

For example, to go back to Reviving Old Scratch, when it comes to the problem of evil, the Bible doesn't give us a logical syllogism but what Greg Boyd calls "a theology of revolt." When it comes to evil the Bible addresses the will rather than the mind. The Bible doesn't give us a theodicy, it provides us with a call to meaningful action. 

This entry was posted by Richard Beck. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply