Tuesday, November 17, 2020

An interesting nineteenth century prayer

The biographies/histories on Alexander Campbell, Peter Cartwright, Charles Finney, and Charles Hodge—four important figures of 19th century American Christianity—provided by Lynne Wilson in his 2010 dissertation [link], prompted me to look into other folk of 19th century American Christianity. One gent who caught my eye was Henry Grew [Wikipedia link]. 

At the beginning of his book, An Examination of the Divine Testimony Concerning the Character of the Son of God (1824), he provided the following prayer:

O LIGHT DIVINE ! O SPIRIT OF TRUTH ! beam on my dark mind, irradiate my benighted soul, to know him who is the joy of earth, and the glory of heaven. Open upon me the vision of truth, and shine into my heart, to give me the light of the knowledge of thy glory as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ. Rectify the errors of my understanding, and remove the coldness of my heart, by the overflowing of thy holy love. Oh, elevate my soul to the contemplation of the things which “the angels desire to look into;" the divinity, the humanity, the wisdom, power and love of that blest name which "is as ointment poured forth.” And while I am “looking unto Jesus,” encircle me with that holy radiance of truth which shall dispel all my darkness. O my God, what thou hast been pleased, in thine infinite love, to reveal concerning thy “beloved Son,” that mortals may have a glimpse of thy glory, grant me to know. I desire not to look into those “secret things” which belong to thee alone. It is my highest felicity to acknowledge, to love, and to adore thee as the incomprehensible source of all perfection, and to feel, that in thy sight I am less than nothing and vanity. But, O my Father , is it not my eternal life to know thee, “the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent?" Thou seest me encompassed with mine own infirmity, and with the diverse systems and traditions of erring men . Oh, call me away from these polluted streams to thine own pure fountain. Pity a poor worm of the dust that looks towards thee to direct his path, and in thine infinite condescension and mercy, grant me an understanding of that “wisdom of God” which the redeemed multitude shall celebrate to eternity, for thy dear Son's sake . Amen

Back to my studies…

Grace and peace,



Rory said...

Nice words. Mr. Grew proposed that the human soul perishes? He rejected natural light. Should we think that the supernatural light comes to him that rejects the natural?

God records our words and we will account for each one.

Dave, it sounded all humble, while resulting in novelty and with apparently little concern for the faith of the Fathers. Is he persuasive in refuting the Councils? I doubt he is even familiar.

I am not saying he is beyond hope. But he is a product of a world gone mad against the reign of Jesus Christ and the Church He established on the Rock.

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

Nice to see you back. You wrote:

==Mr. Grew proposed that the human soul perishes? He rejected natural light. Should we think that the supernatural light comes to him that rejects the natural?==

By “natural light", I suspect you mean that which one can clearly discern concerning our known universe apart from supernatural revelation. If that is so, then I must say that I personally do not think one can demonstrate via natural means that at death a rational part of our being continues apart from the human body/brain—i.e. a cognizant spirit/soul.

== Dave, it sounded all humble, while resulting in novelty and with apparently little concern for the faith of the Fathers.==

If memory serves me correctly, the earliest Church Fathers were divided on the issue of annihilationism.

== Is he persuasive in refuting the Councils? I doubt he is even familiar.==

Don’t know. I have only read one of his books—the one linked to in the opening post.

He did write a book titled, The Intermediate State, which probably delves into the topic:

Google Books link

I have not read the book, but many do so later today, since you have piqued my interest.

Grace and peace,


P.S. What happened to “leeseykay”? [grin]

Dennis said...

Hi David,

I wonder how Grew can pray this if He doesnt believe the Spirit is God by nature ?

Two problems I see. One is that he is praying outside Apostolic Christianity https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2019/01/23/reading-our-way-out-of-the-trinity/

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of "truth". I did read his tract on the Church Fathers. I wonder how accurate his conclusions were...

And this, "to reveal concerning thy “beloved Son,” that mortals may have a glimpse of thy glory"

is reversed as looking to Jesus we have seen God Himself.


leeseykay said...

Hi Dave. Leesey Kay comes back when being posted on our personal computer. I seldom post from my phone.

Annihilationism is not a rejection of the natural immortality of the human soul. Catholics should believe in the immortality of the human soul by light of natural reason. One may believe in Annihilationism from what I would propose is a faulty view of supernatural revelation. God who created all things out of nothing can certainly annihilate a human soul. But without divine intervention the human soul naturally lives forever. I suspect that the Fathers of the Church who believed in Annihilationism would believe that the human soul is naturally immortal. Annihilationism is not an objection to natural immortality.

It appeared to me that Mr. Grew was another brilliant guy with a Bible. The Wikipedia article gave the impression that he did not believe that any soul, vegetative, animal, or human, outlived the death of the body:

Among other things, he rejected the Trinity, immortality of the soul, and a hell of literal eternal torment.

Both nature and faith reveal that "the principle of life in a material being" (the soul) ordinarily ceases to exist with material death. There is one exception. The reason for this is that the principle of life in material man is also demonstrably a spiritual substance. I think you will not find St. Thomas quoting St. Augustine in the Summa Theologica objectionable on this point, where the question being discussed is the natural mortality or immortality of the human soul:

Augustine says (De Trin. x, 7): "Who understands that the nature of the soul is that of a substance and not that of a body, will see that those who maintain the corporeal nature of the soul, are led astray through associating with the soul those things without which they are unable to think of any nature—i.e. imaginary pictures of corporeal things." Therefore the nature of the human intellect is not only incorporeal, but it is also a substance, that is, something subsistent.

---Summa Theo. Part 1, Q. 75, a. 2

Question 75 continues with seven articles that show what follows if what Augustine said is true.

How does the soul naturally dissolve itself? How would a human soul go about committing suicide? How would an enemy go about destroying a human soul? It would be like trying to destroy any other kind of immaterial substance. If you look further in to the question, I would be surprised if you do not find your view in this matter to be softened.

By "your view" I am speaking of your skepticism that the human soul can be demonstrated to be immortal by the light of reason. I know that you believe in its immortality by the light of faith.

Catch you later Dave and God bless,


leeseykay said...

"Catholics should believe in the immortality of the human soul by light of natural reason."

Re-reading that, I didn't like it. I should have written, "Everybody who has the light of reason should believe in the immortality of the human soul."

leeseykay said...

David. Hi. I think you will agree with what I have to present, or at least find it worthy of consideration. I will consider any rebuttals you might like to make. Am I naively ignorant to the response to primitive and outdated ways of thinking? I wish the Potato Philosopher would share some thoughts? Maybe as former Jehovah's Witnesses there is a body of work on this subject that has been largely ignored by the rest of Christianity?

By the way, the subject, just alluded to above, of these posts of mine is precisely bolded below. I found another online resource arguing for why we should know of the natural immortality of the human soul, by the light of reason:


This is an article in The Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) which gives a synopsis of the history of the doctrine, and provides some further philosophical arguments. It does not take up the subject of supernatural revelation.

One of the arguments presupposes a beneficent Creator, (which is also a teaching of the Catholic Church upon which it is insisted that it should be known by the light of reason):

there is the craving of the human will, the insatiate desire of happiness, universal throughout the race. This cannot be appeased by any temporal joy.

The lower animals, lacking a rational nature, have not the ability for abstract thought. They live by instincts which cause them to take pains to preserve their lives. But there is no evidence that a dolphin, elephant, or raven has ever worried itself about life after death. The desires of all of the animals can be satisfied in this life, with the exception of man.

---to be continued

leeseykay said...

Would a good God make a rational creature that naturally wishes for something that is absolutely beyond its reach? Assuredly, to make a creature that can only be satisfied by eternity, but must rationally accept a dread and fear of its own ultimate dissolution into nothingness is, I suggest, to have created a disordered monstrosity. The highest material creature in creation would be doomed to be the most miserable. It would be like instead of growing blossoms, the head and desires of a dog grow upon a rose bush. The rose bush/dog would want to chase things but it is stuck living in the ground. Of course, a physical monster like that seems more vivid an example of a monster. I do not say which would be MORE deplorable. I am just saying both would be deplorable.

The article also takes the same approach by light of natural reason as I suggested yesterday with regards to annihilation. Think about this. We know from physical science that even matter cannot be annihilated by any natural means. Wood becomes smoke, corpses become dust. If it is impossible for matter to be annihilated, how could we think that a spiritual soul is naturally annihilated?

Anyway Dave, I was admittedly taken aback by your thoughts about this. It seems very important to the question of the judgment of men by God, that He should have revealed certain aspects of their own nature to them. To create a rational being in a universe which gives the impression to this rational being that there is no reason at all to believe in its own immortality, is to leave the entire race unprepared for supernatural revelation. Why would God make a rational creature that is immortal without giving the rational creature any natural evidence of its own immortality? I would be uncomfortable with saying God would do that. Before even hearing about religion, every man is obliged by nature to know that he will give account to a Creator someday. For some "reason" (wrong reason), men today are more than ever deceiving themselves about natural theology and human psychology.

I am sure that there are more exhaustive treatments of this subject. But with the rest of the Encyclopedia article as well as Q. 75 from Part One of the Summa, I hope you Dave, and any of your readers who deny the Catholic teaching on this, might be prompted to review their position. Anyway, it has been a pleasure to review my position on this, and I await to hear any misgivings you might have about how I understand the subject.


David Waltz said...

Hi Dennis,

So good to see you back; your reflections are always informative, and a joy to read…

I remember reading Fr. Kimmel’s, Can we read our way into the Trinity, back in June, 2014. His, Reading our way out of the Trinity, is a revision/update of the older post. Both posts are essentially responses to the recent resurrection of Socinianism by folk like Dale Tuggy and Ben Nasmith.

I have never found the strict Unitarianism of Socinus, Tuggy, Nasmith, et al. to be persuasive. With that said, though Fr. Kimmel’s arguments work quite well against that form of Unitarianism, the same cannot be said when dealing with Origenistic, Arian, Eusebian, Homoian and Homoiousian ‘Unitarianism’; and this because they embraced the same liturgies as the full-blown Nicene folk.

For a very interesting debate, see Augustine’s encounter with Maximinus Arianism and Other Heresies (pp. 175 ff.).

[PDF available HERE]

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

Hello again Rory,

Thanks much for your interest, and posts, concerning what happens to humans at death, as well as their fate after the future general resurrection. So much to cover, so if my upcoming responses are lacking, please let me know where/what I may have missed.

I would like to begin with working definition of ‘annihilationism’ (also known as ‘conditionalism’[1]).The following is the concise definition found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “the theological doctrine that the wicked will cease to exist after this life” (link).

But, a more in depth definition is needed given the fact that annihilationism has been delineated in more than one form. Note the following:

>>All conditionalists agree that there will at least be mental anguish experienced by the unsaved, in terms of abject shame, dread, anger and bitter regret.

Those who describe final punishment as basically finite in duration do so by locating punishment in the experience of conscious suffering (whether mental or physical), which culminates in death. Since suffering is seen as the thing which exhausts God’s punishment, those who hold to this view tend to see this as relatively protracted, and varying by degrees among individuals. As a further difference, some might see here a more passive death, as God ceases to sustain life.

Those who instead locate final punishment primarily in death’s significance as the means of exclusion from eternal life, tend to emphasize that any suffering is part of the process of a person being destroyed. If they do hold to suffering (whether mental or physical) in addition to the generally accepted anguish prior to punishment, as many do, they tend to see it as relatively brief in duration, comparable to the experience of Christ on the cross. This may include varying degrees, with the caveat that these exhaust an aspect of God’s justice, while preserving death as the ultimate, universal penalty.>> [LINK]

I have encountered three distinct forms of annihilationism: first, humans are basically composted of a single nature, that is bodily, with a “soul” being a human person who is alive, animated by the “spirit” which is essentially a life-force shared by all living creatures (Eccl. 3:19; Ps. 146:4). In this form, when a human person dies, he/she ceases to exist; and the only hope for life after death is the resurrection of the body. Second, “soul-sleep”. This view maintains that when a human person dies, the soul continues to exist without consciousness, awaiting the future resurrection of the body. Third, at death, the human soul/spirit continues to exist with consciousness. At the last judgment, the wicked souls/spirits will be annihilated.

Note: [1] “Although the biblical label for that event is “the second death,” it can also be called annihilation (conditionalism and annihilationism may be used interchangeably).” [LINK]

More later, the Lord willing…

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

Earlier today, you asked:

==Maybe as former Jehovah's Witnesses there is a body of work on this subject that has been largely ignored by the rest of Christianity?==

There is a massive amount of literature concerning the fate of mankind after death from a Christian perspective. The annihilationist/conditionalist position—the minority view—is defended via thousands of printed pages. And now that we have the internet and YouTube, one can view dozens of videos which also defend the position.

For now, I would like to mention two notable scholars who have written on the subject: Le Roy Edwin Froom and Emmanuel Petavel-Olliff. Froom produced a two volume work of over 2,000 pages, under the title, The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers:

Volume 1

Volume 2

The second author, Emmanuel Petavel-Olliff, wrote the following volumes (nearly 1,000 pages):

The Extinction of Evil

The Struggle for Eternal Life

The Problem of Immortality

I suspect most folk will not have the time (or interest) to read the over 3,000 pages of material produced by the above authors. As such, I would like to recommend the following website:

RETHINKING HELL – Exploring Evangelical Conditionalism

Grace and peace,


leeseykay said...

Hi Dave. Thank you for your patience. I fear I was misinformed in my belief that the Catholic Church had affirmed that the immortality of the soul is certainly known by the light of reason. The most I could find was that it is the position of Catholic philosophers and theologians, with the exception of those who follow Duns Scotus thinking on the question. As I am sure you know, Scotus taught the immortality of the soul, and even held that reason can bring one to probability. Scotus was never prevented from teaching his opinion that supernatural revelation was necessary to confirm what reason makes probable. I see no reason now why the Church would find it necessary to draw a conclusion.

In light of this, I retract my criticism above of Mr. Grew for failing to heed the light of natural revelation.

I found the following quotation from one of your links above to be ultimately compelling, as a Catholic, for changing my mind as to the defined certainty of reason regarding this question:

Averroism” as related to immortalism was thus a new “heresy” to be refuted in Christian circles. Against it Thomas Aquinas, the “Angelic Doctor,” wrote one of his books. But scholastic philosophy was for centuries divided on this very question— the “'Thomists,’ or followers of Aquinas, affirming the soundness of the philosophic form of faith, and the ‘Scotists,’ ”the followers of Duns Scotus, the “Subtle Doctor,” deny­ing it. Scotus maintained that immortality is not provable by the light of nature and philosophy alone, but must rest on divine revelation for conclusive evidence. Scotus went so far as to aver that those who reposed the burden for their faith elsewhere were unworthy of the name Christian. Nature and reason offered probabilities but not proofs. On such a basis they might believe but they could not know.

---The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 2, p. 20, Le Roy Edwin Froom, (link provided above)

David, I hope you and yours here in America have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

To Dennis, as always, Cheers. Good to see you. If you don't know, Americans have a national holiday with roots back to the days of English Pilgrims, on which we feast ourselves on turkey. We like it. Many do not know of this, But Pope Pius XII, recognizing the American custom, gave a dispensation for abstinence on Fridays, so that Catholics could have Friday "leftovers".


David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

Thanks much for yesterday’s post. First, had a quiet, but very tasty Thanksgiving—it was just V and I (plus eight deer, they ate apples not turkey...hehehe).

Second, I appreciate the quote from Froom. One thing I like about the gent is that he quite thorough in presenting all sides issue. His 2,300 plus pages on conditionalism is without equal.

Third, when you get a chance, check out the following post:

Hell In The Times

Grace and peace,