Last night, a friend was giving a wee talk/sermon/whatever at church about Q1 of the bigger Westminster Cathechism:
Q. 1. What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.
He spoke a bit about the Trinity and the divine attributes, and why it is that God is always ‘happy’/’blessed’/’joyful’, and what it must mean for us to enjoy Him. It was quite good, full of references to Jonathan Edwards and John Calvin. Surprisingly, no Bavinck, though.
My mind being what it is, I also drew in the following:
- In response to how we are created in God’s image, I said we are created for communion, since God is a communion of persons (thanks, Zizioulas)
- God and creation are utterly different and separate, yet we are able to encounter God in specific ways on earth through his activity — couldn’t help but think of Gregory Palamas and the essence and energies of God, especially since there was a Venn diagram involved, with two unconnected circles but arrows going from ‘God’ to ‘creation’.
- How do we most enjoy life? By finding the summum bonum, for this is where happiness lies. So far, Aristotle. God is the summum bonum — Aquinas. Christ is God, and He says that we will find Him by serving the poor.
- Christ saves us and makes us able to know God as He knows Himself. Couldn’t help but think of Leo and two natures.
- The goal of Christianity? To see God. I thought immediately of the beatific vision of St Bernard, Moses. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,’ I thought. This leads straight into John Cassian, Conference 1, where we learn that the goal of monastic (Christian) life is purity of heart as a way of achieving the end of the beatific vision.
- Finally, he spoke about how living in knowledge and love of God, and actually enjoying Him and Christian life will transform all our relationships, and we will love others differently. I think, ‘Keep your heart at peace and a multitude around you will be saved,’ St Seraphim of Sarov.
Pretty sure the Free Church of Scotland (‘Wee Frees’) rarely has so many Eastern Orthodox, mediaeval, and patristic references running through parishioners’ minds. Except, of course, mine.