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Comfort without Coddling
To Understand Helps Eliminate Contraband -
Words and the Spiritual Meaning
The Human Need and the Spiritual Life
II Corinthians 13:11
"Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete.
Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace;
and the God of love and peace will be with you."
Paul was by no means satisfied with the Church at Corinth. A rather horrendous thing had happened, and they tended to become over-excited, rather as in some Pentecostalism today (II Cor. 12, 14). The apostle had to bring them back to the suffering and patience needed (II Corinthians 4:7-15), the rigours and vigours required, the determination, resolution and reality. At the same time, he had empathy with them, and sought to avoid needless confrontation. Hence we find quite near to our text, this charge.
"I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare - since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you.
"For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God.
"For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.
"Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction."
What a combination is that, confronting evil from a distance, challenging sin in their midst, exalting Christ as present in them, testing them that this is so with all, lest any merely presume, ascribing power to God, and showing his own intention as apostle, not to destroy but to edify. It is not cream-puff religion but reality disclosed! He would like THEM to be strong, but if necessary, he has the power of the risen Christ at work through him. It is his hope that 'sharpness' will not prove necessary when he comes.
In life, how often is there this utter disregard with foolish excuses, pretence and dubious hopes. Yet utter reality has to be faced, and must be, unless one desires confrontation by enormities! and what enormities, despite all equivocation, so often come, their prior peril discounted in vain.
God is no disciplinarian for pleasure (Lamentations 3:33), but seeks purity , godliness and the clean fear of God in warm hearts (cf. Psalm 19), alive to His power and grace (cf. Colossians 4:12).
Then we come to our text. It follows immediately after these words.
I THEIR COMPLETION
In II Corinthians 13:11, the exhortation is not to be 'perfect', but in the Greek term, rather to be complete. It means that you should reach the full stature in Christ, which is the intention and provision and design for godly man and woman. You should not hanker for soft options, ignorant substitutes, easy splendours, or live on the edge of moral enigmas so long as you are satisfied with yourself or your lot, but deal in righteousness with self-discipline and godly intention in all things seeking to please God (Colossians 1:10). You should not be satisfied with yourself - horrid thought - but constantly measure yourself against the example and beauty of Christ, seeking conformity in all things to Him, the heart of love and the essence of creativity, the Redeemer and Friend.
You don't need to be like a dragon-fly with tatty-wings, beautifully made, but spoiled without repair. Repair is available: see to it! Growth is necessary, look for it (II Peter 3:18). To be static is to be erratic; but the aim does not move!
Paul in II Corinthians 4:7ff. gives such an indication of what the 'dignity' of an apostle really meant, that it transforms what some almost seem to regard as a rest-home, in a moment into something not only a pilgrimage, but a race and an endurance feat! Love is like that: it is not seeking for itself but for what it loves. It is rather surprised if you would point out what it is doing, than wishing it didn't need so to act!
II THEIR COMFORT, CONSOLATION, STRENGTHENING
Be complete! then, says Paul, and "be of good comfort".
In this phrase just cited, there is a lot of depth and meaning. The Greek term used in it has such a variety of meanings that merely to list them is enthusing! The base verb here can mean: to admonish, exhort, beg, entreat, beseech, console, encourage, strengthen by consolation, to comfort. It reminds one of the best sort of nurse, or indeed more yet of a mother, to which Paul compared himself - a nursing mother (I Thess. 2:7).
Thus this contains the idea of being comforted in spirit and strengthened in heart, of yielding to exhortation, being tender-hearted towards the Lord, ready to heed, obey, understand, and with this, receiving help of a solicitous and heart-warming kind.
If you are like that with the Lord, then He is freer to be like that with you (cf. Jeremiah 14:19ff.). Not only should we all cast our burdens upon the Lord, knowing that He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22), for "He will never suffer the righteous to be moved," but cast "all your care on Him for He cares for you" (I Peter 5:7), He will not "suffer you to be tested beyond what you are able" (I Corinthians 10:13), but rather provide a way of escape. It is then, as you put your active trust in Him, waiting on Him, abiding in Him, seeking His will, that His entreaties to this or that, urgings, or even pleadings, His comforting strength and strengthening consolation move the more readily.
Then they are the better ready to be "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man" - Ephesians 3:16.
In this way, the bitter, arrogant or overweening harshness of the director of operations, the egotism of self-will and the dictatorial tendencies of the spiritually immature or alien (these are the real aliens, not from outer space, but far from even outer grace - cf. Ephesians 4:17-19), all are avoided. Be not LORDS over the Lord's heritage, Peter declaims, but serve one another (I Peter 5). How on earth a pope, for example, could speak as the popes were inclined to do, in view of that is one of the counter-miracles of all-time. It is one of the greatest obfuscations imaginable for anyone acting as if some sort of relationship to the Bible, other than complete denial, were in mind! Examples of such counter-text atrocities abound, and some appear in SMR pp. 912ff., 950ff., 1033ff..
How, said one of them (Boniface VIII), "shall we presume to judge kings and princes, and not dare to proceed against a worm! Let them perish forever, that it may be known that the name of the Roman pontiff is known in all the earth and that he alone is most high above princes..." (cited by Schaff in History of the Christian Church, Vol. VI, p. 16). This seems rather than a condescension to deal with a human conceived as a worm, a self-exaltation of gross pride, involving not merely the confusion of servant with master (Matthew 23:8), but this at an infinite level!
But it is not the lords of idolatrising churches, putting man where ONLY GOD is, these alone, who so defile mankind with imperious impotence, but yet with murders carried out with legislative appearance. There are endless arrays of political lords, such as Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Hitler, Mao, who have secured notoriety for assuming what amounts to a divine rank in their rank renegacy against all reason, and endless slaughters. And these ? it is for some inkling of power that derives from irrationality itself, often wrought in such cases with brutality and seared in inhumanity*1.
While such atrocities are abominable, and often condemned in the Bible (cf. Isaiah 51:22-23, Jeremiah 51:24,36,49-53, Psalm 50:16-23, Nahum 3:1-7,19), they are one of the pathologies of fallen mankind. Another and rather contrary one is to be so slack and liberal, so daft and unrealistic, so pampering and nauseatingly inept, that life is made into a pleasure pot, a comfort zone for infants, a fanfare for hedonists, or a haven for laziness laced with besottedness.
This is as destructive as the other. It fails to draw on the potentials given to man, allows the dissipation of dynamic and the fall of integrity and virtue.
Both of these extremes know not God.
He is tender-hearted as we see here, but not without discipline (cf. Hebrews 12), solicitous but does not elicit mere cash-register conformity for profit (as shown in Job Ch. 1, and see Trials, Tests and Triumphs in Temptation).
Rather He seeks that love which desires to serve and delights in understanding and presents an example beyond all in serving, in His own self, in sacrifice on the cross, to cancel guilt with goodness (Matthew 20:28, Philippians 2).
Thus in this very book of II Corinthians we see the tenderness of a nursing mother, the solicitude of a concerned father, the kindness of an understanding brother and the rigour of a profound teacher, seeking quality with beauty, diligence with duty. The world oscillates, vacillates, agitates and convulses*2, but never settles to the truth, and hence in heedless, reckless, seedy extremes, demeaning and often revolting, moves on its appointed path, irresolute and then fanatical, lax and then lordly, without either the wisdom or the power of God. That is found in one place only, and its wisdom in one place only, in the God who made us and the Book of the Lord who provided for us, though fallen into sin as all men are, it is no pleasant task to redeem (cf. Hebrews 5:7).
There is no other way: sickness needs health as deprived plants in the shade, the sun. It is the Lord who arises with healing in His wings (Malachi 4), and the endless experiments in folly to which man consigns himself are so many laboratory experiments, wrought in flesh and bought with anguish.
Let us, then, with such things in mind, the better relish what is to follow from that eminently practical and profound word of God.
The root of the word translated in I Cor. 13:11, 'be of good comfort', is the same as that used of the Comforter, as translated in the Authorised Version (John 14), or Helper as in the NKJV. It can even mean an advocate as in law. It rightly refers, in the noun form, to someone called alongside, and thus Christ in that same chapter of John indicated that He would not leave them orphans, but come to them. How does He come ? Before His coming personal advent (Acts 1:7), it is by the Holy Spirit. For Him they had to wait (Luke 24:49), and at Pentecost, He came. Now, those already in Christ (Romans 8:9) await with keen expectation His return (Hebrews 9:28).
How different was His coming from what Pentecostalism wrongly stresses, this 'speaking in tongues', the affair of I Corinthians 12, 14 which needed such discipline by Paul! Instead, He did a work of translation at Pentecost so that many of different languages, not able otherwise to understand the preaching, should know IN THEIR OWN SPEECH, what was being said. It was a functional, not a dysfunctional, a clarifying, not a confusing, an edifying and not a vague thing that the Lord there did, and to use 'Pentecostal' to name the opposite, or something very dissimilar, is mere confusion. It is however the common, confused parlance, and the very name they often take.
The work of the Holy Spirit is varied, but we are here focussing the comforting, consoling, strengthening, beseeching, entreating, encouraging work which moves through the heart to the legs, arms and feet, and in the heart to its increase in vision, depth and wisdom. "Be of good comfort" then, this means much more than the English translation here indicates. What could one say if it were amplifIed ? It is this: Be consolidated, encouraged, be sensitive to the Lord's entreaties and encouragements, do not resist His pleadings for a higher life, a better performance and a more tender heart, nor fail in strength from hopelessness. Instead, be consoled, encouraged and helped by His own power. He IS alive, as Paul had just been stressing to those of Corinth, and so be enlivened by Him, and live by the power of God (II Corinthians 13:4)!
III THEIR PEACE AND BLESSING
While the Holy Spirit acts in this strengthening consolation, it is the Lord Jesus Christ who is the only mediator (I Timothy 2), and the advocate who prevails with the Father for the very simple reason that it is He who has shed His blood, become a sacrifice extraordinary, unique and all-proficient, and by whose death, life is granted, guilt covered, penalty in abeyance, exclusion cancelled, inclusion achieved for those who so put their trust in Him, redeemer risen from the grave: for the God of all grace and of all comfort has acted in Him (II Corinthians 5:17ff., 1:3).
The Father sends, Christ pays, the Holy Spirit applies. So did the Lord act, and so does the Holy Spirit now move.
It is a lovely index to the working of God in mankind, that the apostle Paul had himself, as shown in II Corinthians 1, this very epistle! been anguished in his work, and as he tried to find his associate in a strange land, feeling a blighting burden, had almost felt condemned to death. Yet the Lord comforted, encouraged, relieved and delivered him. Thus was he comforted in his woes, being thus made aware of how to comfort others, such as those at Corinth! (1:6). Never short-circuit the wisdom of God in your own mind: HE is very DEEP!
"Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation ... or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation: and our hope for you is steadfast " - II Corinthians 1:6-7.
Be of one mind, says the apostle: that is, seek to find grounds of common insight and scope for common action. Do not without necessity (as was in view for the apostle himself a little earlier in this Chapter 13), take action that upsets, but rather seek to be peaceable, and LIVE IN PEACE, so that the God of love and peace will be with you.
Remember the prescription for church growth in spirit, as in Ephesians 4:15ff.:
'Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ,
from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love.
So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;
darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart,
they have become callous and have handed themselves over to licentiousness for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess.
That is not how you learned Christ,
assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus,
that you should put away the old self (lit. 'man') of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires,
and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
and put on the new self (lit. 'man'), created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.
Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another." (Parenthesis added - from NASB).
Putting off the old nature is like a snake-skin moulting, as the creature moves sleekly out, to continue life in brighter colours. Putting on the new nature is like dressing in armour, not vulnerable in sensitive instability, but strengthened, aware, committed, commissioned, walking with faith, in the Lord.
Thus we are to seek good understanding of each other and in the Lord, so that in peace we might walk with the God of peace and love. And consider one thing: What is that ? you might ask. It is this. It is the God of LOVE who is then with you, and therefore do not violate WHO He is but what you do. Walk in love, for the days are evil; and redeem the time, be alight with kindliness, warm in charity, effective in clarity as you tell others of Christ and live a life that speaks of Him (cf. II Corinthians 2:14). HE was made a spectacle before man; the least we can do is HEED the encouraging tenderness and RECEIVE the strengthening and consolation of His Spirit, and so walk without hurry, or flurry or scurry, but in wisdom and in hope, in radiance from the light of Christ within, so that you come not as a shadow from a passing cloud, but as the sun peeping up on the horizon in the morning, the NEW sun, adorned in fresh light.
*1 See for example:
Tender Times for Timely Truth
The Grating Grandeur ... Ch. 2; SMR pp. 925ff.;
Beauty for Ashes Ch. 6 (and Hong Kong, and the movement of nations in the last century a concern),
with News 98, News 37.
THE REASON BEHIND EXTREMES
AND EXTREME INSTABILITY IN SUBSTITUTES
There is reason for the seemingly vacuous vacillation and alternation of mood and mode in the affairs of mankind.
WHEN and IF man ignores reality, dispenses with redemption, faces out sin, soaks in unspirituality, often with moral clothes on - self-made morals to seek to settle conscience a little: then there is a kind of instability which resembles that in cars with a high centre of gravity.
It is not that it MUST go erratically from extreme to extreme, just as the car may not very soon turn over when built so badly. It is just that the likelihood is vastly increased. When there arise the cross-winds of motivation (or lack of point for it), evaluation, prioritisation, competing desires and designs for State and society, man and family, then lacking any stable, assured, validated and verified base in such a case (It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls Ch. 9, The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy), man has no adequate ground for persuasion or dissuasion.
It is not that IT lacks, but that MAN lacks the heart, will, willingness, receptivity, anti-rebellion code and susceptibility to RECEIVE it, and hence the Christ, God in Person as this remedy. For those who so act - and this is the plan, program and peculiarity of this world - then as far as remedy is concerned, it is as if it were not there. It is rather like an ambulance which arrives, sirens wailing, lights flashing, traffic yielding, consecration of talented worker on the line, and the accident victim, sprawling on the ground, and trying to get up, waves an angry, or lazy, or listless hand, and waives the opportunity to receive help. I'm all right! he says, as he grimaces with pain, and sips his stubbie.
This then being the picturesque but distorted deportment of man in his major aggregations and power blocs, what happens ? It is this. It is a constant variability, baked in the heat of desire, compounded with the torment of irrationality and asserted with the contorted programs of which anti-Jewish pogroms were merely an illustration, while sought with passion by odd-ball proponents who now seize the reeling soul of man in a vice that is vicious, and now let it go while seeking another substitute for what stares obvious. This ruse, this program, this -ism on the renegade isthmus, this militancy, that enticement: they come like showers of acid rain.
Thus, should some event or trend become distasteful to many, they may assign a new theory, policy or program to the people. This may be an endeavour to 'fix' an obvious evil and error.
However, since the ACTUAL needs and design specifications of man are here being ignored, and spurious substitutes compete somewhat clumsily, all lacking the necessary basis for rational acceptance, then reaction is quite likely, towards the opposite extreme. When these BOTH seem ridiculous (like multiple false-teeth socialism in Britain, or being proud of the expansive fatherland in Germany), then a middle ground may be sought. However, this is the see-saw psychology. There is no middle ground when the see-saw is itself in mid-air, lacking viable, rational base or basis.
Moderation in income tax, for example, with graded income tax, provisions for many 'worker' comforts and leniencies, for their rights and so forth, then become incitations to desire for the concept of employer rights, which are only automatically deemed wrong in advance, so creating a new altercation. It is urged that if employers are mere sows for soaking, then jobs will be lost since it will be unworkable, especially internationally; whereas if every kind of penalty is made available so that employes can challenge on spurious grounds, using pay-by-results lawyers, the callow immorality of greed as the aim begins to mar the entire concept of co-operative labour, enterprise and management, skill and production will move the sick economy to the slick one.
Ruses are sought, counter-action is designed, officious efforts abound, unofficial arrangements merely mock, and the concept of co-operation on a task of value, virtue and service tends to become lost in the monolithic assumption, like some Egyptian tomb, this time to man's dead heart, that profit is the point, or survival, or image in the market or comfort and satisfaction in the worker as the criterion.
This eleventh commandment,
Thou shalt make a profit and it shall be maximised by every function and feature with which thou mayest by any means get away; and this is a moral duty to the owners of the business, to be pursued without regard to the needs of the nation, or the purchasers, provided only that they continue to buy -
it is as inanely short-sighted, even selfishly, as it is morally corrupt. A corroded remnant of realism about what man is, who he is, what he is for, breaking under strain, it is immersing him in boiling aqua regia in the name of some clouded interest, something to do with the 'self', in its own model: a blind atom in a blind world, bound only to fight and survive for no particular reason.
If you are so blind, the employe for his part might feel, then why should I not duplicate your blindness, parallel your passion, mimic your inscrutable religion and match your abused wits! Let us see now who can induce whom to do what. I'll make the twelfth commandment.
Thou shalt by all means get what thou canst, broil the boss, achieve satisfaction in all things, and thou shalt by no means consider the outcome, as a desired entity, for this is delusive intimidation; but always shalt thou ask this one thing: What is in it for me!
Employers might in some circumstances use their withholding of pay as a tool to insist on ludicrous conditions for work.
Both things have happened often enough.
Employes again may withhold their presence in order to ruin contractual obligations of their employers, or to threaten this. Even where laws seek to protect business, or employes, or even to the point of productive and constructive contribution, unions, and to do so without regard to justice so much as sedation of discontent, bypassing healthy aims, due preferences which match not the board-room or the union-shop, but the talk in public, the 'image': then the heart has reasons of its own, and without due regard for what man is, there is a a residue of inchoate dissatisfaction. Indeed, pride, or self-propagation, or envy, or hatred, or self-indulgence, or laziness, or heady confrontationalism, all await their sating; and to each of these, there are variants and chess-type strategic moves.
There IS no answer when the objective is forgotten: and as to that, it is NOT the most production, or the most comfort for employes, or for employers. In such a framework, this is by nature a contest-type issue.
It is in fact the most effective, stable and sound way of producing the envisaged result, while applying the most just, equable and considerate methods of relating different agencies in production that is required, regarding man in oversight or performance levels, as he is as a person, and in terms of what he can do, as a producer.
What however is justice, and how is a person construed ? Is it the product of the loudest voice, most potent party or the most tilted principle ? and is the person a manipulable object for hidden agendas, self-assertive displays or grabbing finesse ?
Not at all; but justice involves the correct analysis of the diverse aspects of a case, and their application to persons as they in fact exist. HOW could you gain this ? Only if you knew the truth about man. Otherwise it is all based on an assumption as to what he essentially is: and if this is guesswork, variable at that, or worse, the philosophic postulation resulting from aggressive secularism, then it CANNOT be correct.
Social 'science' then becomes the application of illusion (cf. SMR Ch. 4 esp. pp. 374ff.).
IF there IS no truth, you cannot have it. If there is, then you need an absolute with all knowledge and no intrusion of selfish desire, to provide it.
To do this, you need both God in existence and His word in print, or its equivalent (cf. Barbs ... 6 -7). This is present; but not used where the non-Christian approach is seeking invalidly (Reason, Revelation and the Redeemer) and in vain, to find something that could possibly stand logically. This is as far from such delusive dynamics as peace from war, love from self-will and concoction from informed prescription.
Without it, the mêlée continues.
As it applies in commerce, so in law, as in national concerns, so in international, as in foreign relationships, so in diplomacy, as in the whole domain of truth, so in all human civilisation, as in academic honour so in every phase and function of man, as an index to the type of thing which truthlessness for such a thinker as man, agnostic activism for such a worker as he, and vague hopes instead of precise understanding, produces, induces or includes.
Hence there CANNOT be stability and satisfaction, and must be an inherent thrust to something not perhaps even realised, merely painfully implemented, although sometimes formulated in the usual thrust of philosophic fiascos (cf. SMR Chs. 3, 10). This cannot be correct, and thus cannot be stable. Therefore let us expand from example to the entire field of the works and acts of man in concert, aggregations and mutual involvement regarding objective and rapport, methodology and procedure.
There will be an inherent liability to the desire for FORCE, in order to release man's architectural thrust, his nobility aspect, his planning prerogatives and his personal imagination.
The power to act becomes the desire to thrust, but in this case, one by spiritual pathology, lacking reliability and viability (cf. Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ); and so war, commercial, political, military, philosophic, ethical, proceeds, making for jealousy, bitterness, injury, reaction.
There is for man a depiction of God and of duty, of the clearest character in the Bible (cf. SMR Ch. 7, Reason, Revelation and the Redeemer), and when this is debased or intransigently assaulted, there is only the vacuous, however complex in utterance, equipped with inane variations lacking absolute ground and absolute truth. Lacking truth, they feel what is lacking in one way or another, react, but do so without realising yet with what they are dealing, and so induce further response.
Moreover, because man is made in the image of God (equals able to have fellowship with God at the level of reason, revelation, understanding and friendship, without in any sense being His equal, but in every sense serving Him as Lord), and despite his fall from this fellowship amid the angry lashings of sin and the aspiring vanities of power, he is apt to seek for justice, truth, peace, wisdom and soundness.
Thus when a vagary of folly seizes man in his cultural bundle, there is not only a reaction, but a response. In the latter,
there may be some degree even of
passion to find the missing link -
but the missing, because missed,
road to the beauty of holiness, soundness and correct understanding. It is the
link road that lacks in the unbelievers. When Christ is rejected,
This more idealistic, yet not valid effort, can thus enter into the equation with variable vigour, confusion, diffusion and desire, depending whether you have this or that movement, as in the case say of Marcus Aurelius, or Plato, or Alexander the Great or Hitler, or on the arrival of deluded 'enlightenments' without the Lord, or pragmatic principles of sure-fire self-assurance.
Men seek blindly, with ludicrous models, inane exemplars, lost leaders, pumping passion into derelict fancies or in the realm of masterful rulers, giving absurd adulation, suppressing reality in terms of a false glory.
It is not that man is mad; it is that his dammed river of worship, essential to his character, the denial of which is mere lie, MUST find outlet. Hence is explained the parade of lost causes and persons whom electing, or following, man fosters ruin, a soiled page of history for his commander and loss for his leadership. This element of error merely exacerbates all the rest; and when you add the jealousy, the injustice which often increases this, the fabrication of fallen philosophers, ideas and rulers which stirs it, the resentment, the revenge and the artful compromises for postponed glory, you gain such a parade of folly that the cyclotron of evil becomes a destructive power which leads to more vain attempts.
As the power grows, so the lowering evils ferment.
Even a quietus in the martial madness tends to brood with the sense of power present (as possibly was a major element, in Britain and Germany prior to World War I), or a dynamic desire for achievement of some kind, advantage or advance in an ill-assessed direction. Greatness becomes glory and glory grows gory, as has long been the case in modern Russia. There, it has become exceedingly inglorious.
While it seemed to go with Yeltsin, it has new teeth to tear.
Thus the powers recently given to Putin (July, 2006), scarcely can be believed. In The Advertiser, Saturday, the Review, May 19, 2007 we read the point concerning these July laws, that
"one of them allows the President
And another expands the definition of "extremism" to include anyone libelously critical of the Russian authorities."
Such is the major article and presentation from Martin Sixsmith, who sought information, and had probing discussions on the aspects of the matter, when he travelled to Moscow and had interviews at a high governmental level, concerning the fate of Alexander Litvinenko. While no admission was made of State action against Litvinenko, the principles and explicit powers at work are of great interest.
Gory glory eats up freedom of thought and speech; extermination, as of flies becomes LEGAL by SECRET services when 'extremists' act. Who are extremists ? By any normal definition, this would include those in radical departure from the forms and norms of the State. It does not in itself mean those taking up arms for the implementation of extremes.
Again, it has been routine for decades in the USSR for what seems to undermine the State's strength and durability to be deemed subversive, and dangerous, and to constitute an anti-Communist, non-cooperation worthy of extreme action. The works of Solzhenitsyn, for example, give no small well-annotated grounds for such an observation. His own case is not unlike the norm.
As to that regime, now fallen, in the USSR, that is the way they have seen themselves: such has been the Communist daydream. Beyond morals, denying morality, and constituting in themselves, in wild and absurd self-contradiction, the very criterion of morals, they sought to shame those who opposed them.
Obviously, returning from fairyland, if there ARE NOT ANY of the thing, morals, then the State cannot have access to them.
This then has become a mere use of force instead of faith, mind, knowledge and wisdom. Instead of Louis XIV, "the State, it is I," in that vain egotism of self-intoxicated vanity, you have "the State, it is right by definition", in an obsession equally absurd, merely moving from the individual to the group who manhandled Russia, without being democratically elected. When the State itself is built on irrationality*1, this makes for an unstable world, and such has been the Cold War experience.
Now that Putin has enormous powers, it is growing perilously close to the Louis XIV situation, and now that designated extremes are forbidden, and may as merely ONE of the criteria of their definition, be what is simply felt to be libellous (no law court prelude), that is unable to be conceived as true by those criticised: then what grows before our astonished and appalled eyes ?
It is this: the right to kill before debate, and to eliminate before defence.
Here has come that gravitation towards false glory and self-defined right, projected in power, dashing its barbs into life, to form death, which is the very signature of aborted worship of the God of the Bible. Perverse in false projections, unstable and inducing instability, it is clouded in the confusions which mix the divine and the human in ill-assorted proportions, instead of simply following the actual incarnate Christ, in His laws, rules, principles, grace and life.
It is there that verification and validity embrace, and history conforms to its claimant with rigour, while reason rejoices to see His day, even that of Jesus Christ, where grace reigns and truth sits equal (Romans 5:18-21, John 14:6, 8:29 cf. SMR Chs. 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, Christ the Wisdom and the Power of God Ch. 8, Repent or Perish Ch 2. Magnificence of the Messiah).
Meanwhile, revolt, irrationality, renegacy and rebellion with rampant self-will assert themselves. How then COULD such a being exist, so tender, so soft-hearted, so ingenuous in flashes of cordiality, so musical, with such aesthetic finesse, who yet is capable of disciplined and carefully applied monstrosities both of reason and of ethics, coarse vulgarities beyond belief, stark inhumanities as exquisite in rottenness as are the devoted sacrifices stoutly made with acute compassion! It is no matter of slowly developing this or that. As with the cells - NO intermediate cells, as Denton points out, in the sense that ALL are MOST sophisticated, as with language, the more 'primitive' likely to have the MOST complex grammar and so on, SO with the nature of man.
It is devastating in horror, magnificent in stature, keen in appreciation of spiritual beauty, evil in displacement of good, magnificently vain, attractively humble, vast in intellectual application, dazed in uncomprehending stupour, flying into the heights of English composition and sagging in incoherent twaddle, achieving the 'impossible', being impossible...
No other solution to such ready-made and fully-developed contradictions is to be found with any verifiable base, but that of the Bible. Man is CREATED, like the cells, with a full-agenda of wonderful equipment. Man is DESECRATED with a sufficient severance procedure, removed from the meaning source, the design director and the dynamic deviser. Hence he has what it takes to do good, but uses it to do evil; boasts of his merits and accumulates his demerits, becomes blind where the offended deity is in question, except as in non-divine religions, where it is essentially a matter of survival or feeling, as in scientology or organic evolutionary mysticism, and the case is diverted into something unchallenging, a cushion for rebellion, and its unknowing patron.
The dynamism, misdirected, brings the aeroplane of humanity to the shattering impact with earth, and the resulting mish-mash from the crash, is void of meaning except in the repair shop, or in archeological investigations as to what might be made of him, before the crash, or fall as it is often called. Without the serene majesty of God, the supreme arrogance of man quickly seeks to fill the gap. Since reason can never consent to such wilfulness, force is the weapon of preference.
In this perspective, the ramifying case of the USSR is worthy of note, as an example of the force of trend, propelling itself like mobile artillery, towards force on man, the program keyed where kindness and truth, righteousness and realism are replaced by aims of survival, self-affirmation and self-esteem. All the little selves, like so many elves dancing in the night, do their own steps, and none have too much concern for the script of the dance. The results are obvious.
Exasperation, necessary at least to the point of disappointed futility, since the only key that answers is thrown away with contempt, of course tends in the end to lead to violence as some imaginary 'answer', being rightly rejected by many, is thrust into their hearts with spears or bullets, instead of the wisdom they detest, though they may mouth its praise. In the long run, force and truth appear as mutual exclusives at the level of faith, which all use, even when it is in their own desperate self's rightness in despondency or militarism.
It is only when the OBJECT OF FAITH is the living God, that it works, since believing does not create cars, or other goods, but puts your trust in them. You must believe in what is there, revealed, confirmed, validated and verified, that is, uniquely, in the God of the Bible (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 19, with 18 incl. *5, Answers to Questions 5, and refs. above).
So does the Biblical depiction of man, through this negative verification of its omission, replete with subsidiary details, confirm its consequence, leaving all explained, and nothing residual. Indeed, the very nature of the failures without it confirms the configuration in truth within it: they correspond intimately.
Apart from all else, as one Moslem terrorist in Britain made clear, the stodgy sort of resultant social framework where there is no passion, no vision, no absolute right and wrong becomes so boring that it is virtually unbearable. Hence, it appears in that case, terrorism seemed at least something better to do! That is one illustration of the power of pathology to destabilise, as in the human body, so in the body politic. It also shows that to dither with dynamic, as in a high-powered car, is perilous: it needs direction in stability, guidance with resolve, and that ? on a prepared path.
Dynamic diverted from deity seeks first to model and then to man many a tower from Babel on (Genesis 11), first a facade, and then a crumbling ruin.
Thus not only is there in history a variation of extremes: these are merely the philosophic, religious, political or commercial nadir and zenith, perigee and apogee. There is also the min-machination, the middle-variation which holding in various degrees, invalid and ineffectual aspects, for rueful addition or ridiculous omission, next leads to exasperation, frustration or a sense of futility, which in turn tends to produce plotting, philosophic insanities or hedonistic substitutes, BECAUSE OF the lack of vision and conviction. Where vision lacks, the Bible wisely asserts, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18).
Force and folly thus tend to alternate, not merely in one way, but in many modes.
There is no rest, the Lord says, for the wicked, for they are like
"the troubled sea, when it cannot rest" (Isaiah 57:20).
There is no comfort in such a scene.
As to the sea, you need to be able to sail on it, with understanding, appreciating its power and depth, and knowing to what area you are proceeding and why. It is, however, not in man who walks, to direct his steps, as Jeremiah 10:23 reminds us.
When you do not understand either yourself or your world, it is time to gain the vision of truth and the understanding of God, who made you, so that you may find the direction which mere walking and registering of impressions, cannot give.
Failure here again merely
exacerbates the frothiness of the failure, and
makes for inane scepticism or futile cynicism (cf. SMR
the acid fruit of witlessness
induced when man, deprived of wisdom,
(cf. Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes and
the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth Ch. 6).
See on history, indexes, and also
News 87; Dastardlyl Dynamics ... Ch. 6,
Secular Myth and Sacred Truth Ch. 1;
Bon Voyage! Chs. 1, 2 - 3.