Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662

Back in 2002 this guy picked me up while I was hitchhiking through Humboldt, Iowa.  A few months later he saw me walking through Estherville, Iowa and showed me Ezekiel 21: 27 (which is very significant to me).  He later sent me a letter and told me about Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) and a book written about him by Karen Armstrong.  I have read maybe one page of Pascal’s Pensees.

Armstrong writes:  “On the night of November 23, 1654, Blaise himself had an experience which lasted ‘from about half-past ten in the evening till about half an hour after midnight’ (November 24) and which showed him that his faith had been too remote and academic.  After his death, his ‘Memorial’ of this revelation was found stitched into his doublet:

          FIRE

          ‘God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob’
          Not of philosophers and scholars.
          Certainty, certainty, heartfelt, joy, peace.
          God of Jesus Christ.
          God of Jesus Christ.
          My God and your God.
          ‘Thy God shall be my God.’
          The world forgotten and everything except God.
          He can only be found by the ways taught in the Gospels.

“This was not the God of the philosophers, but the God of revelation.”

Armstrong later writes:  “Faith, he insisted was not a rational assent based on common sense.  It was a gamble.  It was impossible to prove God exists, but equally impossible for reason to disprove His existence . . . This gamble is not entirely irrational, however.  To opt for God is a win-win solution.  In choosing to believe in God, Pascal continued, the risk is finite, but the gain is infinite.  As the Christian progresses in the faith, he or she will become aware of a continuous enlightenment, an awareness of God’s presence that is a sure sign of salvation.  It is no good relying on external authority; each Christian is on his own . . . Faith is not intellectual certainty, but a leap into the dark and an experience that brings a moral enlightenment.”

Ezekiel 21: 27:  "I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him."

Genesis 49: 10:  "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be."

Blaise Pascal
Great Creation Scientists: Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
The Computer, Iowa State University and Jane Smiley
Book Review:  High Plains Drifter 
Revelation

A.W. Tozer on Blaise Pascal's "Fire" from Tozer's book Whatever Happened To Worship?:

Page 91:  "Were these the expressions of a fanatic, an extremist?

"No.  Pascal's mind was one of the greatest.  But the living God had broken through and beyond all that was human and intellectual and philosophical.  The astonished Pascal could only describe in one word the visitation in his spirit:  'Fire!'

"Understand that this was not a statement in sentences for others to read.  It was the ecstatic utterance of a yielded man during two awesome hours in the presence of his God.

"There was no human engineering or manipulation there.  There was only wonder and awe and adoration wrought by the presence of the Holy Spirit of God as Pascal worshiped.

"What we need among us is a genuine visitation of the Spirit.  We need a sudden bestowment of the spirit of worship among God's people."

9 comments:

  1. It is no good relying on external authority; each Christian is on his own. This speaks volumes. Thank you Tim. A great find.

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  2. I think it was beautiful how the Lord put me in that guy's path in Humboldt, Iowa and then in Estherville, Iowa three months later.

    I remember it well: I had slept outside somewhere in western Nebraska and the next day I got rides all the way to Estherville. I got dropped off in downtown Estherville around 10 PM. I walked past this parking lot and I noticed this car drive into the parking lot and park right next to me. This guy stuck his head out the window of his car and asked, "Are you Tim?" We started talking and he told me he gave me a ride out of Humboldt a few months earlier.

    He took me to his apartment and showed me Ezekiel 21: 27. He then gave me a ride to a town about an hour south of Estherville. He later sent me a letter telling me about Blaise Pascal.

    I like where Pascal said that his faith was too remote and academic--like many Christians that I have met. Jesus Christ is REVEALED to us through the Holy Ghost to our spirit; it isn't something we figure out in our heads.

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  3. Wow Tim! As always your experiences are pure manifestations of how God works in the lives of his servants. You know I read Ez. 21:27 several times and just yesterday I personally witnessed a true set up for the manifestation of Ez. 21: 27 to follow and of James 5. I will send you and Sarah an email. God bless brother. Yes, Pascal went through what all the saints go through and that is going from a distant, sterile understanding of Faith in our Lord Jesus to a true relationship. Narrow is the gate and so many take their hand off the plow and turn back. God please give us your saints the power to keep following you no matter where that leads.. Amen.

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  4. yup, have to admit that our reasoning sometimes gets in the way of our faith. and when that happens we realize our own arrogance.

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  5. Griper: Absolutely. If we seek the Kingdom of Heaven first in our lives (living by faith in God), then everything else falls into place.

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  6. Thanks for stopping by Tim. I wanted you to know that your visit provoked me to conceive of a comparison that I'd not thought of before.

    First, here is my response:

    Tim: Pascal's wager is quite relevant in understanding the man and what drove him. However, I advise you to look at what I consider his most trenchant work -- The Provincial Letters. He was quite unnerving to the Jesuits of the counter-reformation for their vanity and harshness towards traditional Catholics. Traditional Catholics disapproved of the moral laxity the Sorbonne was peddling in hope of restoring influence and power to the RCC.

    He was a genius in so many ways that those who mock the wager (that you reported on) only demean themselves by asserting they are smarter than he.

    Since you hold the wager in such high regard, it would serve you well to know something of his many other creations that have gone on to affect our world so heavily. The Genius of Blaise Pascal.

    In very many ways, the SKUNCs of the GOP (what most people foolishly label as RINOs) are a duplicate of what the Jesuits of the Sorbonne were.

    It seems to me that those Jesuits that were persecuting Pascal's friend were towards orthodox Catholics as SKUNCs are towards constitutional Americans.


    I emailed the last two paragraphs to a very scholarly Catholic friend of mine. He thought is was worth reviewing the history to see how true the analogy might be.

    However, at this point I'm not so sure it matters. Humanity survived and went on to thrive the vain evils dabbled in by those very bright by scheming counter-reformationists. Those Jesuits were capable of being shamed through the exposure of their contradictions. The brainiacs of our age have jesters in media and in lower governmental positions whose job it is to make a joke of any contradictions and so they are protected from that shame.

    Where the devil has convinced men that all evidence of truth is irrelevant, he gains their allegiance. Thus Pascal's wager, though quite compelling, is dismissed by quite a lot of allegedly bright people. Good luck.

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  7. Pascal's Fervor: Thank you for your excellent comment. I really can't add anything to what you said because I have read very little on Pascal.

    For some reason, this post has gotten more pageviews than any other post on my blog.

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  8. "In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't. " – Blaise Pascal

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  9. “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”

    –Werner Heisenberg (Father of Quantum Physics)

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