Spinoza, secularism and the challenge of evangelization

During this Christmas holiday, I’ve been reading Anthony Gottlieb’s breezy and enjoyable history of modern philosophy, entitled The Dream of Enlightenment. Throughout his treatment of such figures as Descartes, Hobbes, Locke and Voltaire, Gottlieb reveals his own rather strong bias in favor of the rationalism and anti-supernaturalism advocated by these avatars of modern thought. Toward the end of his chapter on Spinoza, Gottlieb avers that what he calls “the religion of Spinozism” is more or less identical to the secularist worldview espoused by so many in the West today, including himself.

God works discreetly

God, it seems, favors the powerless, the unnoticed, children, babies, outsiders, and refugees with no resources or place to go.

‘Nada hay más poderoso que la humildad de Dios’

Tal vez suene extraño decir que Dios es humilde, para sugerir que el Dios que creó el cielo y la tierra, que ES eternamente y que sostiene todo en la palma de su mano, está ansioso de que lo conozcamos y seamos íntimos amigos suyos. Ese es un llamado muy alto y una gran expectativa, en especial cuando algunas religiones consideran a Dios ser eternamente inalcanzable y distante. Nosotros, los cristianos, sabemos que las cosas son muy distintas: Dios es humilde, Dios es amoroso, Dios es misericordioso y Dios quiere nuestra amistad. De hecho, nos ha creado para tener plenitud y estar en paz en una relación verdadera con Él.

‘There is nothing more powerful than the humility of God’

Perhaps it sounds strange to say that God is humble, to suggest that the God who created heaven and earth, who eternally IS and who holds everything in the palm of his hand, is anxious for us to make his acquaintance and become his intimate friends. That is a tall order and quite an expectation, especially when some religions consider God to be eternally unreachable and distant. We Christians know that things are quite different: God is humble, God is loving, God is merciful, and God desires our friendship. In fact, he has created us to be fulfilled and at peace in a real relationship with him.

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