Friday, February 06, 2009

Good Augustinian Coffee

For when the one supreme God of gods is thought of, even by those who believe that there are other gods, and who call them by that name, and worship them as gods, their thought takes the form of an endeavour to reach the conception of a nature, than which nothing more excellent or more exalted exists. And since men are moved by different kinds of pleasures, partly by those which pertain to the bodily senses, partly by those which pertain to the intellect and soul, those of them who are in bondage to sense think that either the heavens, or what appears to be most brilliant in the heavens, or the universe itself, is God of gods: or if they try to get beyond the universe, they picture to themselves something of dazzling brightness, and think of it vaguely as infinite, or of the most beautiful form conceivable; or they represent it in the form of the human body, if they think that superior to all others. Or if they think that there is no one God supreme above the rest, but that there are many or even innumerable gods of equal rank, still these too they conceive as possessed of shape and form, according to what each man thinks the pattern of excellence. Those, on the other hand, who endeavour by an effort of the intelligence to reach a conception of God, place Him above all visible and bodily natures, and even above all intelligent and spiritual natures that are subject to change. All, however, strive emulously to exalt the excellence of God: nor could any one be found to believe that any being to whom there exists a superior is God. And so all concur in believing that God is that which excels in dignity all other objects. -Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Book One, Chapter 7

I like my coffee strong, you might not. Which is to say that we are each motivated by different kinds of pleasures. Everybody makes their coffee up the way that they like it. One lump or two? Without Christ we can do no more than think of God in terms of the pleasures our body desires. “God” to the sinful self is no more than a good (or rather the best possible) cup of coffee. He is no more that what appears to be the best most beautiful thing. In our sinful state will always naturally exchange the glory of the immortal God for physical things resembling perishable created things. Romans 1:23 Without Christ we can only make judgment based on our own fallen pattern of excellence. But those of faith are different. The faithful, however, venture to place Christ above and outside all that is visible and physical, above all intelligent and spiritual thought which are subject to change. The Only Begotten receives authority over all things by His death. Colossians 1:16-17 Through his blood our fallen minds are renewed Colossians 1:19-22a and we begin to see Christ and God and all of life rightly. Life becomes more than just a quest for the best possible cup of coffee, but a journey in and under the One who teaches us to enjoy and savor that cup only as we enjoy and savor Him.

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