Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: 2 Chronicles 28 and Augustine's Treatise on Profit of Believing 30

2 Chronicles 29 – Hezekiah begins his reign at age 25. His mother was Abijah, daughter of Zechariah. He does what is right in the sight of the Lord. He repairs the Temple doors. He gets the Levites to purify the Temple.

The Lord has turned his back on them because of their unfaithfulness. But Hezekiah tells them “it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger may turn away from us” (29:10). They carry “all the unclean things found in the Temple of the Lord” into the desert (the Wadi Kidron).

When they are done, the king orders sin offerings made for the kingdom, for the sanctuary and for Judah—for the atonement of all Israel. Music is part of the celebration according to the rules made by David. The whole assembly worships, offering sacrifices and thank offerings. There are not enough priests to skin all the animals needed, so kindred Levites pitch in and help. It says, “the Levites were more conscientious than the priests in sanctifying themselves” (29:34). At the end, it is noted that everyone rejoiced “for everything had been accomplished so quickly” (29:36).

Augustine’s Treatise on the Profit of Believing
30 - Wherefore that heretic, inasmuch as our discourse is of those who wish to be called Christians, I ask you, what reason he alleges [gives or claims] to me? What is there whereby for him to call me back from believing, as if from rashness? If he bid me believe nothing; I believe not that this very true religion has any existence in human affairs; and what I believe not to exist, I seek not. But He, as I suppose, will show it to me seeking it: for so it is written, "He that seeks shall find." Therefore I should not come unto him, who forbids me to believe, unless I believed something. Is there any greater madness, than that I should displease him by faith alone, which is founded on no knowledge, which faith alone led me to him?

OK, so this rhetorical way of carrying on an argument can get very hard to follow. I think what he is saying is that those Manichaeans who claim they are Christians are asking him to return to their fold. But he tells them that they cannot exclude “belief” as a foundation of their religion. Belief is critical and anyone who is seeking to find Christ cannot find him based on “knowledge” alone for it is “faith” on which it is rooted. If we are not willing to “believe” the testimonies of those who founded the religion, we will never seek out its Truth.

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