Sunday, February 3, 2008

Recap of What We've Learned

This week I'll post the last of St. Basil's homilies on the six days of Creation, called the "Hexaemeron". If you have been reading these homilies, you recognize the breadth of St. Basil's learning, his adept handling of the language and his astonishing vocabulary. Further, you can't help but notice his pastoral side, as he speaks to all classes and conditions of men and urges them to stand firm in the Faith of the Apostles. This is the same Father who wrote what is indisputably the greatest tract on the Holy Spirit. It is full of one-liners that seem as relevant today as when he penned this treatise in the fourth century. Here are some of my favorites:

"There is certainly no lack nowadays of people who delight in asking endless questions just to have something to babble about, but it is difficult to find someone who loves truth in his soul, who seeks the truth as medicine for his ignorance."

"The one aim of the whole band of these enemies of sound doctrine is to shake the faith of Christ down to its foundations, by utterly levelling apostolic tradition to the ground."

"If a man calls upon God, but rejects the Son, his faith is empty."

"God our Savior planned to recall man from the fall."

St. Basil died on January 1, 379, at the age of 49.

St. Basil and all the Fathers agree that the Creation came into being from nothing (creatio ex nihilo) by God's generative Word. They agree that the Creation reveals the nature of the Creator as Love, Light and Life. The Fathers are not speaking of an undifferentiated impersonal Force, but rather of a Creator who is both Personality and personal. The orderliness, immensity, harmony, integration, cohesiveness and diversity within Creation, speak to the Fathers of a God who is above and beyond human reasoning but who also delights us with glorious sunsets and animals that frolic. Their teaching is balanced, neither confusing the Creator with the creation nor detaching what is created from the Creator's ownership and rule.

The Creation at each stage was declared by the Creator to be "good". The ancient Stoics interpreted "good" to mean rational. This view leads to the "Gaia theory" of creation as a complex interacting organism that regulates climate and environment and promotes life. In other words, the Creation has a mind or nerve center that governs all life on earth. This idea is popular with environmentalists and with deists, but it doesn't fit the biblical picture of Creation. It makes the rationality of nature the mechanism of life, but the Bible, the Apostles and the Fathers agree that Jesus Christ is the ground and source of all life ("pleroma"). "In HIM we live and move and have our being."

I hope and pray that we've learned at least this.

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