Friday, January 9, 2009

Plantinga Book – Chapter 1 (Longing and Hope)

In this chapter, Plantinga discusses the longing and hope that is in all of us. He writes about how many know what it feels like to yearn, whether that is a feeling of sadness on the last day of summer or listening to a particular piece of music that makes a person ache. Lewis observes that when we have Sehnsucht (the German word for human longing or yearning), we are seeking union with something from which we are separated. These longings are unfulfillable because in our life we always want more. It is our human nature to want more and more earthly items that are not necessary to live.

Not only do we yearn for those things we do not have, but Plantinga also writes about Nostaglia, which is a yearning for what is over now. We look back and wish we could be in the easy, carefree days of childhood, or we wish we would have done something different in the past. It is important that we do not focus on the past. If a farmer with a plow looks back on his field instead of looking forward, his line will be crooked. So we must also focus on the present situation in our lives so that we are able to whole-heartedly focus on serving God today.

Plantinga also writes about Augustine, who searched for the final target of human longing. I disagree with Plantinga when he says, “What Augustine knew is that human beings want God. In fact, humans want union with God.” I believe that the unbelieving men long for something because God has revealed himself in creation, but I do not think that they want to have union with God. Romans 8:7 teaches us, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” The hearts of the wicked are hardened so they are not able to bear the image of God and desire a union with Him.

Another point that I found important was when Plantinga discussed Shalom, which is a certain peace, universal flourishing, and it is the way things are supposed to be. The only way one may experience shalom is to have hope in Christ. Without the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts and giving us assurance of our salvation, we can not have this blessed hope. Lord’s Day 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks, “What is thy only comfort in life and death?” It answers this question by saying, “ That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ…” This beautiful answer of the Catechism gives us an eternal hope, and we have nothing to fear when we belong unto our Savior.

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