Religion Column — Our Immortality
By Fr. Jonathan Filkins
It would be of particular foolery to believe that all English words, both spoken and written, were antithetical to the purpose of God; should we Christians contend they were somehow less than the initial languages of the Holy Bible. If this were so, only a few learned scholars would be conveying the Message, in ancient Hebrew and ancient Greek, with we scratching our heads in misunderstanding and befuddlement.
Indeed, we know that the conveyance of Holy Scripture is not left to the original language. We do know, from the Old Testament, of the confusion when individual languages were created. So, we may justifiably interpret, it is OK to read Scripture in a language we may understand. However, just because it is written in the common tongue, does not make the proposition valid.
Today’s bookshelves are rife with thousands of tomes pretending to explain, to we mere mortals, the exquisitely profound concepts of the supernatural and the divine. These authors, as we, are continually in the search for the meaning of life. “Why am I here?” has been the subject of human study, conversation, and conflict since our creation; and there have been times the question has not been asked enough.
C.S. Lewis, the noted English author and Christian theologian, began his spiritual journey as a rabid atheist. A thoroughly academic, early to mid-twentieth century Oxford Don, he was surrounded by several great thinkers of his day; with regular stimulating conversations over a pint at the local pub. Of particular note was his friend and colleague, J.R.R. Tolkien, who was devoutly religious.
Rather than pressure each other to take their views, each coherently presented their positions. Slowly, Lewis began to understand the logic behind Christianity; and moved to becoming an agnostic, to skeptical believer, to being as rabid a Christian as he was an atheist. There have been frequent comparisons to the similarities between the conversions of Saint Paul and Lewis.
A central part of their discussions, as their group “The Inkings” were known, was the same nagging question, “Why are we here?” Of course, the scientific exploration of the rationale for our presence was bandied about. Certainly, procreation and humankind’s perpetual pursuit of knowledge were frequently discussed.
However, their discussions, as must our own, fall well short of the exactitude to fully answer the question. Even in asking the “to what purpose,” question itself, we are left with far less than we seek. And, as we seek greater truths, we are disposed to ask more questions; eventually suborned to the weight of the quantity of our inquiries.
Once again, we turn to the writings of the Bible for our answers. Yet, even here there has been much controversy and debate.
In the early centuries of the Church, the Apocrypha was a collection of sacred books; which were generally considered as mostly antecedent to the New Testament. The Roman Church accepted them as being Canonical; meaning as genuine to the other books. Others held they were subordinate and called, “deuterocanonical;” or secondary to the primary Canon. At the very least, they were to be read for guidance in Godly living.
Of particular note, is the Book of Solomon. The book itself was written by an unknown author, who collected the wise sayings of the famous King Solomon in the last century BC, and first century AD periods. It provides for us a Hebraic insight into the working of minds during Jesus’ ministry, and is presented to us for our learning. In the second chapter, we read, “For God created man to be immortal and made him to be an image of his own eternity.”
Consider these words carefully, for this then is the very reason for our existence. We have been created to live forever; after our brief time away from God’s presence here on earth. It is our task, so seemingly difficult, to turn away from our mundane earthly desires and base priorities, to pursue the everlasting.
Our image, of eternity, is predicated upon the constant desire and pursuit of our daily being with God and following what he teaches and thus inspires us; while praising him in our thoughts, words, and deeds. It is, as C.S. Lewis discerned, the logical path for those who believe in the always.
“Follow me,” Jesus says, “and I shall bring you to everlasting life.” A small expectation to live forever, in the presence of God.