Serving in the Kingdom: Righteousness and Reason at PPC
PPC actively works to synthesize righteousness and reason. The congregation celebrates people of God to reflect upon God’s character and designs for his world. We understand righteousness as a component of faith, tradition, and authority. Righteousness (rectitude) comes to us from the Hebrew tzdek and the Greek dikaios as ethical conduct. Righteousness is based upon the concept of “straightness”. Jesus reaffirms righteousness through the Law and covenant (Matt 5:20). Paul (the apostle of Jesus) restates righteousness to include faith (Romans 10:3-13). James (the brother of Jesus) speaks of the relationship of faith and works (James 2:14-26). In these are the absolute certainty of the revealed truth—the Word of God.
Reason (enlightenment) comes to us from individuals fifteen centuries later. Reason has the purpose to reform society. Reason has origin in the view of liberation of the human mind from a dogmatic core of faith, tradition, and authority. In the liberated “life of the mind” the search for supreme, continuous, and everlasting happiness can occur. In reason happiness is certain and permanent. In absence is absolute darkness and its presence brings blessedness and salvation. Absolute certainty then comes through one’s own resources. It comes through the experience of the physical world. It is a certain kind of knowledge. It is “knowledge of the union that man has with the whole of nature”. Man is then a god to man (assuming the other man is also in pursuit of wisdom through a life of contemplation).
Jesus calls us to repent (change) and reason calls us to reform (change). PPC hears both calls. Educated sophisticated successful believers seek to love God and love one another and to do so in the light of reason and the scientific revolution as a way to understand reality. PPC accepts science as a manner of knowledge of “the whole of nature”. In study, contemplation, discussion, argument, and criticism we examine the origin of the universe, the origin of life in the universe, and the Language of God reflected in life in the universe. We seek to engage one another in the multiple generations of our community in the current understanding of ourselves and our world as God’s creations. PPC does not support scientific inquiry as a belief system.
In this year of inquiry at PPC I have come to understand a theological concept. Imagio dei is the term to define the meaning of my creation by God. I am in the image (likeness) of God. This is self-awareness. God is aware of himself as God. I am aware of myself as a creation of God. In this awareness I am unlike the other creations of God. In this meaning of creation my increased awareness of my universe becomes celebration and honor of the God who created me.
In this year of inquiry at PPC I have come to understand that increased scientific inquiry and understanding reveal no basis for the absence of God and God’s creation. And as a (medical) scientist I understand that this understanding is the best that scientific inquiry can do. As a Christian my increased understanding (through science) has further diminished my doubt. As a philosopher trained in the manner of reason and enlightenment I find myself back to dependence upon the Word of God as expressed by Jesus, by Paul, and by James. Science does not preclude the possibility of a miracle. Easter is proof of a miracle. It is true. “Just as I have loved you, you should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples” Discipleship is strong and ongoing at PPC. As disciples we seek meaning of the Word of God in the 21stC and 21stC understanding of creation.