Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The hiddenness of God and our encounter with death

True philosophy is but a preparation for death; that is, an entrance into Life now

In the Phaedo, Plato says that "those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death." In light of that claim, Paul Moser asks the obvious question: If that is true philosophy, then how many contemporary philosophers are doing true philosophy? Probably not many.

Moser follows this thought up with a fine essay demonstrating a link between Divine hiddenness and human preparation for death. It is fascinating, that as we follow true philosophy and prepare for death, we really enter Life. Thus did Jesus talk about eternal life in terms of it entering the now -- eternal life as a quality of life in present, leading to endless life in the future.

God alone knows what life is enough for us to live

Likewise, George MacDonald, writing over a hundred years ago, offered this truth in several forms: the search for God, and the life-center of obedience, is but a preparation for death -- death that is as phenomenal and life-filled as our existence is to an unborn child.

If the world had been so made that men could easily believe in the maker of it, it would not have been a world worth any man's living in, neither would the God that made such a world, and so revealed himself to such people, be worth believing in.

God alone knows what life is enough for us to live -- what life is worth his and our while; we may be sure he is laboring to make it ours. He would have it as full, as lovely, as grand, as the sparing of nothing, not even his own son, can render it. If we would only let him have his own way with us! If we do not trust him, will not work with him, are always thwarting his endeavors to make us alive, then we must be miserable; there is no help for it.

As to death, we know next to nothing about it. "Do we not!" say the faithless. "Do we not know the darkness, the emptiness, the tears, the sinking of heart, the desolation!" Yes, you know those; but those are your things, not death's. About death you know nothing. God has told us only that the dead are alive to him, and that one day they will be alive again to us. The world beyond the gates of death is, I suspect, a far more homelike place to those that enter it, than this world is to us.


MacDonald, “A Lesson about Death,” Donal Grant, 332-3.
Paul K. Moser, "Divine Hiddenness, Death, and Meaning," Chapter 15 in Philosophy of Religion: Classic and Contemporary Issues, eds. P. Copan and C. Meister (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007).

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