Happy Thanksgiving, and welcome to the end of the Christian Year! Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent and the first day of the Christian Liturgical Year. May our Creator God bless you this Advent season with the presence of His Son by the power of His Spirit.
As we get toward the end of book 7, Augustine is moving from his critique of Roman worship to a description of the One True God. He has explained how worship of many gods may have developed from both admiration toward great men and the schemes of demons. In chapters 23-24, he looks at the gods and claims that the many gods are unnecessary – why not just one? From the end of 24 through chapter 28, he points out the evil worship that the gods have demanded, he argues that this evil worship should be enough to prove that the gods are demons, and he shows that false worship of false gods is a whole bunch of false. Beginning in 29, he explores the true God and His worship. Two quotes:
“We worship not heaven and earth, of which two things this world consists, nor a soul or souls thought to be diffused throughout all living things, but the God Who made heaven and earth and all the things in them, and Who made every soul, no matter what the manner of its life….”
“All these things, however, are made and performed by the one true God, but as God: that is, He is wholly everywhere; not enclosed in any place or confined by any bond; not divisible into parts; not changeable in any part; filling heaven and earth with present power; and with a nature that lacks nothing. And so He directs all the things which He has created in such a way that they may exercise and perform their own proper movements. For although they can be nothing without Him, they are not what He is.”
I’ve said it before, but here is another example of Augustine’s Christian Platonism: God creates beings that are distinct from His being but dependent on Him. We creatures have our “own proper movements” but we are under his direction; we “are not what He is” but we “can be nothing without Him”. I am not God, but I would cease to exist if God ceased to exist; our existence relies on God’s existence, our being depends on His being. He creates us and maintains us by His being and power.
As we enter Advent, we also remember that the One who spoke creation into existence is creation’s only hope for salvation, for eternal existence in His presence. Our existence depends on Him, on His spoken promises to us and His faithful to His promises. We depend on His Word and His hesed, his dikaiosune – his covenant faithful love – or righteousness. What a gift we receive on Christmas morning, when His Word and His Righteousness become united to His creation in the person Jesus Christ! God’s promise and its fulfillment are enfleshed on behalf of creation. From now until His return, we wait again with the knowledge that His Word and Righteousness are certain and ruling. We exist because His Word and Righteousness sustain us; the existence of God’s people depends on His Word and Righteousness; creation depends on His Word and Righteousness.
May our God bless you this Advent season with His Word and Righteousness incarnate; may you worship in truth and holiness; may your worship the One True God.