Insights gained from Spiritual Emotions: a psychology of Christian virtues, by Robert C. Roberts, Distinguished Professor of Ethics at Baylor University, Waco, Texas.
Imagination is the medium for the process of infinitizing. (Kierkegaard)
“An essential and important dimension of the human self….is that he can soar in thought beyond the immediate circumstances of his life…Humans are, as far as we know, the only animals that can be transported by a novel or a movie into another world, with its loves and hates, enchantments and terrors, cozy comforts and unnerving suspense. We alone can know, ten years in advance, that the moon will be full on a given day, or sixty years in advance, that we will one day molder in the ground. Only human life can be shaped by an ideal, such as the life of Christ, or an ideology, such as Marxism, or an obsession, like making money.” (51)
“Because of our imagination – ability and compulsion to survey our lives, to see them for what they’re worth – meaninglessness is the destiny of human consciousness, except in the context of eternity.” (55)
The Importance of Living in the Perspective of Eternity.
“The anxiety we feel in the face of death is the consequence of investing this life (from which we must die) with ultimate significance. The despair we feel when forced to reckon with the vanity of all our activities and pleasures is the result of our according ultimate significance to those activities and pleasures – to their being for us the whole story, or the center of the story. If we could manage to see this life as a stage in an eternal life, then it could be accepted honestly and gladly for what it is. If we could see the significance of our present activities and pleasures as deriving from a context beyond this present one of flowering and fading, they could honestly be enjoyed for what they are, no less and no more.”
“Christianity is, among other things, the wonderfully good news that this mortal life is not our whole story. We have been redeemed for an eternal kingdom by a Lord who is the first fruits of the resurrection from the dead. The few years we live in this present body …are a kind of pilgrimage, a sojourn, a preparatory trip on the way to something much greater. They should be understood as the school years. When we are in school we are quite clear (if we are serious students) that our central activities are directed to something beyond school…. The quality of our school life will determine, to some extent, the quality of life after school…. For the Christian, this present existence is provisional. We are aware that every activity we undertake is schooling directed toward a higher end.” (60)
Humanistic Resignation v. Gospel Hope.
“Bertrand Russell’s most famous essay, and one of the most widely read manifestoes of naturalistic humanism of the twentieth century, concludes with these words,
Brief and powerless is Man’s life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for Man, condemned to-day to lose his dearest, to-morrow himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day; disdaining the coward terrors of the slave of Fate, to worship at the shrine that his own hands have built; undismayed by the empire of chance, to preserve a mind free from the wanton tyranny that rules his outward life; proudly defiant of the irresistible that tolerate, for a moment, his knowledge and his condemnation, to sustain alone, a weary but unyielding Atlas, the world that his own ideals have fashioned despite the trampling march of unconscious power. (A Free Man’s Worship, 59)
“Naturalism is the view that nature with all its processes is all there is, that there is nothing beyond it, nothing eternal, and that moral and spiritual values are inventions of the human mind doomed to perish like everything else. Russell proposes that in this meaningless, crushing physical universe where our bodies are trapped and doomed, we can satisfy our yearning for something eternal by worshipping the product of our own minds – our art, science, and philosophy, and above all, the art of tragedy… The ‘happiness’ he envisions really is resignation.”
“The apostle says, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). If Paul had been a naturalist he might have said, ‘May the god of resignation fill you with tolerance for your destiny,’ or ‘May the benign Void enable you to quell your yearnings for eternity,’ or ‘May the god of cosmic process make you magnanimous enough to accept your absorption into his consequential nature.’ But he would not have talked about joy and peace and hope.” (149,150)