Pull Question: The Origin of the Species

Why is the existence of God beyond the scope of science for Darwin?

Darwin’s Origin of the Species ends with the following sentence:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.

I was rather surprised—and pleased—to find that Darwin does not immediately couple his theory of evolution with atheism. In this last sentence, he even alludes to life as being initiated by the Creator. There are several conclusions I can reach from a cursory glance at this ending:

First, Darwin is writing to lay people. Before this time, he had produced other scientific works, but none were directed to the common people. The Origin of the Species was meant to be read by the unscientific masses, and when Darwin published the book in 1859, most of the West was still Christian. To publish such a theory and not still attribute existence to God would have severely damaged the reception of the work.

Second, Darwin never claims to know the source of all life. He writes in his conclusion, “It may be asked how far I extend the doctrine of the modification of species. The question is difficult to answer…it does not seem incredible that…all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth may be descended from some one primordial form.”

Notice here that while Darwin postulates that all life may have descended from one original species, he makes no move to claim that this species sprang into existence of its own volition. He does not cite the big bang theory. In fact, he states, “I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of any one.” Darwin simply steers clear of the original source.

The existence of God is outside the scope of Darwin’s work. Darwin understands that speculating on the original source is a question of Why and not of What. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis states:

But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes – something of a different kind – this is not a scientific question…The statement that there is any such thing, and the statement that there is no such thing, are neither of them statements that science can make. (Book 1, Chapter 4)

Science is an observational practice. This means that it is relegated to answering the question What? It cannot move to answer the question Why?—that is the job of religion. Darwin very wisely sticks to answering What? He observes that species gradually change over time, and conjectures that perhaps they modify from one species to another over longer periods of time. But he stays away from guessing at the original source of all life, because that would be answering Why life exists.

Atheists have since encompassed the source of all life in the theory of evolution, which  moves the theory from the realm of science to that of religion. Darwin never made that claim. At one point, he comments, “My conclusions have lately been much misrepresented, and it has been stated that I attribute the modification of species exclusively to natural selection…I am convinced that natural selection has been the main but not the exclusive means of modification.”

However Christians may disagree with Darwin, we cannot rebuke him for denying the existence of God. He never did it.

Pull Question: Esther

How do the book, characters and circumstances of Esther point us to Christ?

It seems that a major qualification for a book in the Bible should be some mention of God, Christ, the Scriptures, or even prayer. The book of Esther has none of these. Yet the story clearly records God’s extraordinary deliverance of his chosen people from annihilation, and foreshadows our ultimate delivery from death through Christ’s victory on the cross.

The character of Esther mirrors the character of Christ. Esther is willing to sacrifice herself—risking a potential death sentence by going before the king’s throne unsummoned—in order to save her people. She is more concerned with the overall good than with her own life: “I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (4:16) Likewise, Christ is willing to perform a miserable task—die a gruesome death on a cross—in order to save his people.

Granted, Esther is not without faults. She goes to the king only after Mordecai rather brutally points out that, even as the queen, she would not escape the upcoming slaughter of the Jews. He tells her, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.” (3:13-14) While she is frightened, Esther does obey Mordecai, relying on his wisdom to set her path in the right direction. By looking to his guidance, Esther shows wisdom herself.

Similarly, Christ is also obedient to his Father. He does not anticipate the cross with joy, but is more concerned with obeying God than with maintaining his own comfort. Though he asks the Lord to come up with another way to deliver humanity, he willingly goes: “Not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt 26:39) Esther mirrors Christ’s obedience and consequent wisdom.

Not only does Esther act as a Christ figure, but the entire book mirrors—or perhaps more adequately, foreshadows—the salvation story. Paul writes in Romans that “we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good for those who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) The truth of this statement is demonstrated throughout the Bible, and Esther’s story is no exception. Hamon means to slaughter all the Jews in Persia; instead, the Jews are able to take “an eye for an eye” from their enemies, and Hamon is hanged on his own gallows.

In Sunday school, I used to sing a kids’ song with these lyrics: “From bad to good, in all things. God works for good, in all things. What’s meant for evil God turns it around from bad to good, yeah.” (Dean-O and the Dynamos) Christ’s death is the ultimate example of God working from bad to good. For the disciples, Jesus’ death must have been the worst event of their lives. They had given up everything—family, livelihood, the respect of the righteous religious leaders—to follow the man they thought was the Messiah. His death represented utter failure—the new world they had hoped for would not come into fruition.

Yet in reality, it was the best event that has ever taken place in the history of the world. It saved mankind from itself. Even though the book of Esther makes no mention of God, his presence and the faith of his people are visibly present, from the moment of Vashti’s demotion to Hamon’s execution.

Pull Question: Paradise Regained

How does Milton redefine the concept of a Homeric hero?

A Homeric hero: courageous, daring, angry, charming, strong, manly, passionate, commanding, skilled in oration, alluring.

This is Satan in Milton’s masterful prequel, Paradise Lost. Although we watch the Devil’s extraordinary fall from heaven into the pit of hell, Milton’s brilliant writing draws readers in, tempting them to cheer for Satan. The poet gives the villain all the charming characteristics of a typical Homeric hero. Satan is a passionate and fiery leader, quick to speak, he takes action and grows angry, and is audacious in courage—a powerful lord in his own right. Yet he is also determined to “have equalled the most high,” and it is this hallmark of pride which leads to his downfall (line 40). Milton paints a powerfully favorable picture of the Devil: “In shape and gesture proudly eminent stood like a tower; his form had yet not lost all her original brightness” (590-592). As the poem progresses, Milton calls into question our preconceived notion of a “hero” by drawing his readers in with Satan’s winning courage, audacity, and leadership skills. As the reader, I had to continually remind myself that this was the bad guy, not the character I was supposed to root for.

Now skip forward to Paradise Regained, which takes place during Jesus’ temptation. At first glance, this seems like an odd choice—wasn’t paradise regained on the cross? At this point, Christ has not even started his ministry; in fact, Milton gives Christ some “musings” before he goes into the desert, in which he contemplates “how best the mighty work he might begin of savior to mankind, and which way first publish his godlike office now mature” (186-88). Christ has not yet started the business of saving souls. But Milton is suggesting here that the real battle is fought—and won—when Satan comes to tempt Christ during his forty days of fasting in the desert.

Think of it in terms of Star Wars. Luke Skywalker must defeat Darth Vader in battle before he can address his true enemy, Emperor Palpatine. Yet while he is dueling physically with Vader, he is also fighting mentally with Palpatine. As a result, when Luke defeats Vader—physically, mentally, and emotionally—the emperor is no longer a threat. Excuse my poor metaphor—I realize that there are many problems with this analogy. Yet I find it a striking image. Satan is the one who tempted mankind in the first place, and it was he who caused their downfall. If the same tactics were to cause Christ’s downfall, God’s plan of salvation would be futile. Instead, when Satan makes his attempt against Jesus, the Christ conquers, reciting Scripture as argument, and standing firm in God.

This makes Christ’s forty days in the desert significant because they become the reversal of Paradise Lost. In the garden of Eden, Satan battles man and triumphs. In the desert, Satan battles Christ (both God and man), and loses. Thus, when Christ begins his ministry, he has already conquered the Devil himself.

In Paradise Regained, Christ’s character stands in stark contrast to all of Satan’s “Homeric hero” traits, and in one fell swoop, trumps them all. Christ’s quiet character stamps upon the proud tilt of Satan’s head. His rash passion is beaten down by Christ’s steady faith, slow to anger and abiding in steadfast love. Proud ignorance is overcome by wisdom, more ancient than the stars, which beholds all things and makes plans before the foundations of the earth were laid. Satan’s disobedience, hot and fierce, proud in nature and refusing to bow to the Creator, looks weak and powerless in the shadow of Christ’s obedience, that clear spring of joy which Christ yields like a sword upon his foe. This unbreakable wall sends Satan reeling back to hell: “So struck with dread and anguish fell the fiend, and to his crew, that sat consulting, brought joyless triumphals of his hoped success, ruin, and desperation, and dismay, who durst so proudly tempt the Son of God” (576-580). In this “epic battle,” Milton shows the uselessness of the qualities which Homer and Virgil valued so highly. True victory is not won with fire, anger, and disobedience, but with faith, Scripture, and obedience.

To answer the question, Milton re-defines the concept of a Homeric hero by setting up Christ’s character as the ultimate hero, which opposes Satan, Achilleus, Odysseus, Aeneas, etc.

A new definition of a hero: brave, meek, obedient, loyal, patient, wise, slow to speak, slow to anger, abiding in steadfast love.

Pull Question: The Aeneid

Does Aeneas grow to fill the shoes of an epic hero, or does he succumb to an animalistic rage, unworthy of a Roman?

The establishment of Aeneas’ true character boils down to the last two and a half pages of the epic. By this time, he has completed his mission to conquer part of Italy, and by doing so, fulfills the destiny set before him. As a sign of Aeneas’ victory, Juno terminates the dark anger that has characterized her throughout the tale. Instead of trying to thwart Aeneas, she “changed her mind. Then she withdrew from sky and cloud” (lines 1142-43). As a result, the only section of the entire poem that is not weighed down by Juno’s anger and the delays that result from it are the last lines, 1145-1295.

Up until this point, Aeneas’ decisions have not been his own; he has been driven by Fate to fulfill his destiny in Italy, and by Juno’s destructive interference. The only decision he made apart from this drive was to spend several years living in Carthage with Dido—a decision which ended in disaster when he left Carthage and Dido committed suicide out of despair. However, because he has now entered into his destiny, Aeneas has the ability to act on his own resolve for the first time.

Released from everything he was driven to do, Aeneas forgoes the opportunity to show mercy toward his enemy Turnus; instead he kills Turnus, “terrible in his anger” (1290). Even though Virgil seems to praise Aeneas throughout his poem, in this last act of victory the hero refrains from the deed that would prove him to be the good man Virgil commends.

Aeneas succumbs to an animalistic rage that is unworthy of a Roman, but in doing so, grows to fill the shoes of an epic hero. During his trip to the underworld, Aeneas’ father describes to his son the duty of a Roman: to “pacify, to impose the rule of law, to spare the conquered, battle down the proud” (1153-54). After battling down the proud—that is, Turnus—Aeneas fails to spare the conquered.

Without damaging his own victory nor diminishing Turnus’ humiliation, Aeneas could easily have let Turnus live, especially after Turnus begs for his life to “bespeak your mercy for old age in Daunus,” his father (1279-71). Instead, Aeneas asks, “Shall I be robbed of you?” before butchering his fallen foe (1292). The following—and final—lines hint at Virgil’s opinion of this act: “With a groan for that indignity [Turnus’] spirit fled into the gloom below” (1297-98). Though it is Aeneas’ right to kill his enemy, by not showing mercy to a fallen man, he fails to live up to his father’s expectations of a Roman.

On the other hand, mercy for the conquered is not a necessary qualification for an epic hero.

In fact, the phrase “epic hero” really only refers to a few characters at this point in literary history, the most notable being Homer’s Achilleus and Odysseus. Neither of these two heroes spared his conquered: Achilleus, obsessed with a god-like rage because of Patroklos’ death, does not stop at Hektor’s death, but drags his body behind his horse, mutilating and fully dishonoring it. Similarly, Odysseus spares none of his wife’s suitors, but kills them all as vengeance for their dishonor and rudeness in his household for the last decade. In the case of Achilleus, it is this very quality of god-like rage that makes him such an exciting hero to follow. He will stop at nothing to achieve his goals, and would rather die gloriously in defiance of Agamemnon than go home in safety and live a long, peaceful life.

By killing Turnus, Aeneas acts very much like Achilleus: his rage over Pallas’ death leads him to show no mercy, but instead exclaim that “this wound will come from Pallas: Pallas makes this offering and from your criminal blood extracts his due” (1292-94). Thus, Aeneas steps into the shoes of an epic hero, while failing miserably to meet the high Roman standard.

Pull Question: Wuthering Heights

Spoiler alert: This post is full of plot and character details from Wuthering Heights.

For Heathcliff and Catherine, is it better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all?

Here’s another way to phrase this question: Is it better to live passionately or safely? Better to spend a single day in the sun or to live one hundred years in the depths of a cave, never to experience the bright world?

Heathcliff and Catherine loved and lost—they loved passionately, and both lost their lives as a result. Without their disastrous love for each other, Catherine might have enjoyed a relatively long and content life with her husband, Linton. Heathcliff would have been free to move away and create his own life, instead of remaining at Wuthering Heights to ruin both Catherine and her family.

But comfortable safety and happiness would not have been better for these two than the brief moments of ecstasy they experience in each other’s arms before their deaths. Both Heathcliff and Catherine are innately passionate. They approach both love and hatred with intensity—the word “passivity” is not part of their vocabulary. Because of this quality, they are both capable of a love “deep as…the sea,” and it is much better for them to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

Heathcliff paints a very clear picture for the reader of love and loss. He cannot bear to move away from Catherine, even when she marries his rival Linton and makes both men’s lives miserable by insisting that she can have them both. When she does die, he pleads with her spirit to “Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!” (169) He is so desperate for her presence that he would rather be haunted by her ghost than live alone, cut off from every connection with her. Heathcliff gets his wish: haunted by Catherine’s ghost for almost twenty years, he finally dies from lack of sleep and food because her spirit becomes more visible to him. Although the dead Catherine kills him, Heathcliff dies in joy and ecstasy, with a “frightful, life-like gaze of exultation.” (335) Even in death, Heathcliff is a creature of great passion, rapturous to finally join Catherine.

The picture of Catherine’s love for Heathcliff is a little different, because she is the one who dies first. Her love for Heathcliff is a fact of life—part of her mind is always fixed on him, whether or not he is physically with her. She regards her love for her husband Linton as “the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees—my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath—a source of little visible delight, but necessary.” (82) She views Heathcliff as inseparable from herself, and even calls him part of “my own being.” (82)

Even though their all-consuming love leads to misery in life and finally death, it is this very ability to love that defines these two characters.

Anyone who has read Wuthering Heights will agree (I hope) that both Catherine and Heathcliff are nasty characters who would not make good role-models. However, they do have something to teach us about living with abandon, instead of protecting our hearts so we won’t get hurt. While Heathcliff and Catherine make many mistakes, the passion with which they love each other is exemplary. Christ loved us with abandon: he overturned tables in the synagogue, ensuring the enmity of the Jewish leaders; he risked being ceremonially unclean in order to reach out to the diseased and mangled; he died a gruesome death out of his passionate love to save humanity. As Christians, we are also called to lives of passionate love for Christ, no matter the cost. The Apostle John says it all when he condemns spiritual safety: “Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

Pull Question: Dante’s Purgatory

Can the Terrestrial Paradise become Limbo for someone like Virgil?

In canto 28 of Purgatory, Virgil is inside of the Terrestrial Paradise along with Dante and Statius.  This seems like an odd thing to happen, since Virgil normally dwells in Limbo, which is in hell.  Limbo is a place in hell that is specifically for what Dante calls the “virtuous pagans.”  Virgil, along with the likes of Homer, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are all within this circle of hell.  They are not being tortured but they are not enjoying themselves either.  They are merely in an eternal state of never leaving where they are and having no hope of leaving where they are.  The Terrestrial Paradise, for someone who cannot enter the true Paradise, would seem to be a very similar situation.  It would be a place where you would have no hope of leaving, you would not be tortured.  You would however enjoy yourself.  Limbo and the Terrestrial Paradise of quite similar, in those senses at least.

Does anyone ever stay in the Terrestrial Paradise?  From reading Purgatory, it seems as though no one stays there permanently.  It could be argued that Matelda stays there forever, but there is definitely not a focus in Dante on the “people who stay in the Terrestrial Paradise” as there is for people in any circle of hell, purgatory or paradise.  If no one stays in the Terrestrial Paradise, which I would say seems quite likely, then the purpose of the Terrestrial Paradise is to make a person forget all of their sin in the river of Lethe while reminding them of their good deeds in the waters of the Eunoe which prepares them for the Celestial Paradise.  If this is the only point of the Terrestrial Paradise, then it would not make any sense to have it become Limbo for any virtuous Pagan.

It also would be odd if a virtuous pagan dwelt in the Terrestrial Paradise as if it were a Limbo because the Terrestrial Paradise is located at the top of the mountain of Purgatory.  For a person to enter the Terrestrial Paradise, they must purge themselves of their sins (in other words, they must conform their wills to what is good).  This seems to be something that a virtuous pagan would at least be capable of doing.  The problem here is that to enter the mountain of Purgatory, one must have been saved by Jesus Christ.

But somehow, Virgil entered Purgatory, and he entered the Terrestrial paradise.  This is because he believed in Jesus, after his death.  Virgil could not be saved from eternal damnation because he did not believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord during his life, but he is not disqualified from entering Purgatory or the Terrestrial Paradise in this case because he is no longer with any fault.  His fault of not having faith in Jesus Christ is condemning but not restricting when he is called upon by God (or Beatrice in this case) to act.

Pull Question: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

How do real religion and God play into slavery?

In the preface, WM. Lloyd Garrison says that any “country in the hands of a righteous God, who is ever on the side of the oppressed, and whose arm is not shortened that it cannot save” is a country that must abhor slavery.  Any heart that disagrees with this must be a “flinty heart, and be qualified to act the part of a trafficker ‘in slaves and souls of men.’”  God is clearly involved in the affairs of nations.  But when God is involved, slavery should cease, by this line of thinking.  What did this actually mean in times of slavery?  Is God not involved?

Frederick Douglass offers some unique views on the effects of religion on something as oppressive and evil as slavery.  Douglass points out (painfully to those of us that are religious) that religious slaveholders are far, far worse than non-religious ones.  Religious slaveholders routinely use the Bible as a means of justifying their evils.  What seems most interesting to me is that Frederick Douglass does not seem to dislike Christianity.  The primary reason for this is his peculiar understanding that there is a difference between what Christ taught and how Christianity was applied in southern American at the time.  Douglass arrived at these conclusions without having access to a copy of the Bible, in part or in whole.

The difference between what Frederick Douglas saw and what he knew is the primary difference between False Religion and Real Religion.  Frederick Douglass gives us a clear and brutal picture of what false religion and a misunderstanding of God does to something as evil as slavery:  it escalates the evil of slavery to heights nearly unfathomable.  How then can we discern how real religion and God play into slavery?

For starters, it seems that God had a significant impact on Frederick Douglass himself.  In his own words, “To be the friend of one [of the two forms of Christianity], is of necessity to be the enemy of the other.  I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ:  I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.”  Throughout this passage, Douglass explains that the “Christianity of Christ” is the Real Religion, and is a good thing by its very nature.  This “Christianity of Christ” does not seem to play into the slavery of the south, except insofar as it plays into the emancipation of the slaves.  Every person we see who adheres to the Christianity of Christ is at the very least suspected of being involved with encouraging slaveholders to emancipate.

In short:  how do real religion and God play into slavery?  In emancipation.

Pull Question: Dante’s Inferno

Why does Dante’s journey end with an immobilized sin (i.e., Satan held in place, powerless)?

Dante’s journey through hell begins with three animals attacking him at the base of the hill of Calvary. The leopard, lion, and she-wolf represent sin collectively (corresponding to different specific sins or categories of sin which are not in the scope of this question). After being attacked by sin, and consequently rescued by Virgil, Dante spends the rest of his journey directly witnessing the full effects of sin: namely eternal punishment in the Inferno.  So what does it mean that Dante begins by facing mobile and active sin, but ends with a completely immobile and powerless sin, manifested in Lucifer’s position in hell?

 If Inferno is treated as a completely separate book from the Divine Comedy, then it seems as though the change would be easy enough to explain away. If Dante travels through hell after being attacked by sin, he would recognize the path that sin would lead him to, and it would no longer have power over him.  If Inferno is viewed in light of Purgatory and Paradise, the answer need not change significantly.  Dante’s travels through hell bring him to the point where everyone he sees from now on will no longer be under the power of sin.  Everyone in Purgatory is saved and everyone in Paradise is saved and done dealing with the effects of their personal sins.

The problem with both of these answers is that sin was still active on earth, and Lucifer is clearly portrayed as defeated and without power over even hell.  If Jesus was right in saying that a kingdom divided will fall, then surely a kingdom without a leader will fall even faster.  So the question really boils down to something like “Why does sin still have power at all, if Satan is immobilized?”  The answer lies here: the Divine Comedy is a progression, detailing Dante’s experience as he moved through the earth, the bowels of hell, and on into the mountain of purgatory and into the heavens of paradise. It makes sense that by the time we reach the end of hell (and the beginning of purgatory) we could see Lucifer’s feet sticking up helplessly into the air.

So why does Dante end with immobilized sin?  Dante does so because he realizes that for the true Christian, sin does not have a hold of us.  Sin acts, but is a defeated kingdom.  Lucifer may think he has power (and thus continues to flap his wings even in hell), but he truly is defeated.

Pull Question: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

What would you add to or subtract from Franklin’s understanding of virtue?

Benjamin Franklin decides that it was “time [he] conceiv’d the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection.”[1]  After this decision, he outlines for the reader his plan for attaining moral perfection. He begins by outlining what he views to be the tenets of perfection:  temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity and humility.  Immediately after listing this, Franklin outlines his method:  “My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judg’d it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that, then proceed to another.”[2]  His method, then, was to begin with temperance, and mark down every time he failed at being temperate.  This he would do for a whole week, and then he would add silence, and then the next virtue, working on each for at least a week. These are cumulative, so by the end of his list of virtues, he would in theory be morally perfect.

In analysis of this understanding of virtue, it seems that Benjamin Franklin leaves out a key factor of making sense of virtue:  vice.  While there is an implicit sense in which Franklin covers vice, he never explicitly talks about what vice is.  It seems as though Franklin does not understand what the opposite of virtue is:  “I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short if it, yet I was, by the endeavor, a better and happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”[3]  It seems as though Franklin is indeed satisfied with his outcome of improving, and does not care much about continuing to seek perfection with much zeal. While he fell short, his explanation is lacking.

To Franklin’s ideas of virtue I would add first and foremost a healthy understanding of vice.  While I am in agreement with the idea that emphasizing the steps to get somewhere is more helpful than always pointing out the negative, it does seem like talking about the negative effects of vice (either on the soul or on the life) is useful and right. But Franklin’s understanding of virtue proper is not where my problem lies, but rather in the method by which Franklin arrived at his virtues.  Franklin says that “It will be remark’d that, tho’ my scheme was not wholly without religion, there was in it no mark of any of the distinguishing tenets of any particular sect.  I had purposely avoided them.”[4]  While this is a noble goal for the sake of marketing his particular set of virtues across religious lines (he goes on to say this in the next sentence), it seems to me that a proper understanding of virtue can come only from a proper understanding of the source of virtue: namely, God.

That is, if we believe the truth of Scripture, that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that God is wholly good and morally perfect, then it seems impossible that we could arrive at moral perfection without referencing or patterning our lives on God. Perhaps we can make some progress–after all, we do bear the image of God–but to achieve moral perfection outside of a reliance on God seems foolish and impossible (though Franklin at least admits he failed).

Furthermore, the reliance on God is not simply a sort of fount that we refer all moral progress to, but an actual and daily reliance on the Spirit of God to guide us and correct us when we do fail. Moral perfection only comes about when we live by the Spirit, provided to use through the sacrifice of the Son.

[1]    The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin p. 63.

[2]    Ibid., 65.

[3]    Ibid., 70.

[4]    Ibid.

Pull Question: Proverbs

As a part of my Torrey Honors Institute education, I was assigned a short writing assignment for every text we read, called a “Pull Question.” The idea was simple: pull together various concepts from a class session, and spend some more time writing or thinking about them. The professor would give a question or two at the end of each class, and you’ve have the semester to write about it (usually). Since old texts are important, and my study of them should not cease, we are starting a new series here at Evangelical Outpost. From time to time, we’ll post some of the Pull Questions we answered in our undergrad years. They’ll be edited, some context will be added, and they may be otherwise tweaked. The idea here is simple: our educations have changed us, and we believe they can change others as well. So without further non-pull-question writing, here is the first entry in the series: Continue reading Pull Question: Proverbs