A Lenten Season Like No Other
Remembering the Logos of God in the era of COVID.
As Christians the world over prepare during this Lenten season to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, the Victory of Eternal Life over Death, they will be reflecting on how this miraculous event, more than any other, is the foundation upon which their faith -- their very worldview -- is grounded.
Christians have, of course, celebrated Easter in many times of crisis in the past. They have been doing as much from the very inception of Christianity. The difference today, though, is that in the past, the disciples of Jesus had just cause to fear for their lives. Their fears, that is, were legitimate and reasonable.
Matters are dramatically otherwise for the overwhelming majority of human beings in the era of COVID.
In other words, it is one thing to worship with fellow believers in the catacombs from fear that doing so publicly will get you murdered by the enemies of your faith. It’s another thing entirely for Christianity's leaders to close the doors to their Church because they fear contracting what is claimed to be a cold virus from which, even according to the official narrative, 99.5-99.9% of those diagnosed recover.
Of course, it isn’t just COVID, but an endless plethora of all kinds of irrationalities and lies that the world promulgates and against which Christians must always remain vigilant. These days leading to Easter can be an occasion for Christians to remind themselves of something:
As the evangelist memorably informs us in the prologue to the fourth gospel, Jesus is the Logos of God.
In the English-speaking world, readers of the Bible are accustomed to reading in place of “Logos” the term “Word.” “Logos,” it’s important to note, is a Greek term that was employed by pre-Christian Hellenic philosophers, and it was used to refer to what they took to be the rational, orderly structure of the cosmos.
Christians meant to say essentially the same thing, only for Christians, it is not some abstract, impersonal principle or force that gives shape, purpose, and meaning to the world, but a person. More specifically, it is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ, who holds this distinction.
The cosmos is rational, possessing an infinitely complex order, because it was issued by and continues to issue forth courtesy of the Logos of God, the Word of God Himself: Christ. This has implications that are all too frequently lost upon Christians no less than upon anyone else. These implications are at once ontological or metaphysical (they express the nature of ultimate reality, of what is) and ethical (they are normative, prescribing for humans how they ought to live).
To embrace Christ is to embrace Reason. It is to embrace Truth.
We need to reflect upon this for a moment. If atheists are correct and there is no God, then the world—being, at bottom, a contingent complex of matter in motion—is value-neutral. Values, such as truth, justice, goodness, beauty, and all of their variants, are the function of consciousness, of mind, of spirit, of…persons.
Now, no one denies that human beings are persons, embodiments of consciousness (despite the fact that atheistic philosophers continue to agonize over how to account for the phenomenon of consciousness in a materialistic universe). Yet in the atheist’s scheme, what this must mean is that values are inventions that humans project onto their surroundings. Sure, we talk as if truth, courage, compassion and all of that nice-sounding stuff were part of the furniture of the world. The reality, though, is that they are no more features of the cosmos than are deliciousness, say, or any fictional character.
Yet every time anyone, including the atheist who insists that his position is the correct one, references truth (to say nothing of other values), that person rejects atheism and the purely materialistic, naturalistic conception of the world that atheism entails.
Every time a person references truth, he affirms Truth. To put it another way, if there are truths—finite, qualified, imperfect instances of truth—there ultimately must be infinite, absolute, perfect Truth upon which they depend and against the standard of which they are judged as true.
To say that a statement or theory or state of affairs is true is not to say, as some atheist-leaning theorists of knowledge (epistemologists) have insisted, that it is practical, utilitarian, coherent, or efficient. Lies can be practical, utilitarian, coherent, and efficient.
To say that something is true is to say that it is what it is, irrespectively of whether it is popular, practical, utilitarian, coherent, or efficient. Now, it may be all of these things, but, if so, these are not essential to its being true.
If there are truths, even if there is but a single finite truth in the whole world, it must ultimately be contingent upon infinite Truth, because whatever is contingent points, in the last analysis, beyond itself to that which is not contingent, to that which is necessary, infinite, absolute.
And since truth is a value, and values are recognized, expressed, embodied, and assigned by persons, Truth is personal. Truth, that is, is a Person.
Truth is real and it is not, then, the abstract, impersonal “Substance” or “Being” of monistic and pantheistic philosophers. Truth is intensely, thoroughly personal. It is a Person.It must be.
No infinite, absolute, necessarily existing being? Then no finite, qualified, contingent beings. No infinite, absolute, necessary Truth? Then no finite, qualified, contingent truths.
God is Truth. God is a Person. For the Christian, God, Truth, is Christ.
From the Christian’s perspective, then, chaos is the only other alternative to Christ.
Chaos, i.e. irrationality, lies, disorder—this is the choice, the only choice, for those who at least implicitly reject the Logos (Explicit disavowals of Christ, and even of God, as we see with atheist philosophers, scientists, and others, don’t necessarily mean that, at a subconscious level, Christ has been altogether denied; Truth, in the long run, can’t be rejected—even if it is ignored).
Thus, as disciples of the Logos, we strive to know Truth in every fiber of our being, to embody it in heart, mind, body, and soul.
And this in turn requires us to not only exercise critical intelligence and grow wise, but to be strong and brave, and in all dimensions of our lives: mentally, morally, and, yes, physically.
This Lenten Season, perhaps more so than any in recent memory, let us, for God’s sake, for Truth’s sake, for our sake, recall that Christ is the Logos of God.