Sunday Scripture: Purpose

Sunday is a busy day here, as its the only day we all get to spend together as a family. So in this weekly spot I’ll dig out some interesting bits of religious literature and will post them without much comment.

So what is the purpose of life, how should we act and what should we expect?

And we know that all things do work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose;

— Romans 8:28

Hat-tip to Sabio on this. I’d always assumed this was one of those passages that would be nice if it were true. Now I’m not so sure.

God’s purpose in creating the universe was to feel happiness when He saw the purpose of goodness fulfilled in the Heavenly Kingdom, which the whole creation, including man, could have established.

— Unification Church. Divine Principle I.1.3.1

This seems to be a common thread, flowing out of Judaism, as far as I can tell, that everything exists and occurs for the pleasure of God. Most religions would nuance this by saying that actions arising out of human corruption do not give God pleasure. But then what about natural disasters? And so on. It just returns us back to the problem of evil again.

But he who performs his prescribed duty only because it ought to be done, and renounces all attachment to the fruit–his renunciation is of the nature of goodness

— Bhagavad Gita 18:9

This is the anti-Romans. Not that everything will work out well no matter what you do. But regardless of what happens, you are only responsible for your actions. The ‘Gita has much to say on this topic.

And then there’s Qohelet, and one of the most famous poems in world scripture:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

— Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Sunday Scripture: Purpose

  1. That is funny. I debated putting the Ecclesiastes quote in my post but it was growing to long.

    I love the Bhagavad Gita quote. It is like the Taoist notion of the “The Journey is the Goal”. BTW, I will be continuing the Mahabharata posts (eventually) — and for your readers who don’t know, The Bhagavad Gita (Song of God) is a small chapter in the Mahabharata.

    Ian, I have a questions: Do you pass the collection plate among your family members on Sundays like this? (Welcome back from holiday)

  2. Ian

    @Sabio, I love that thread of the Bhagavad Gita – I can’t remember where it is, but the scene when Arjuna worries about making war, and Krishna tells him that he is a warrior, and that’s what he must do. I struggle with the same thing: I want to be everything, and have to remind myself that being one thing well is better.

    I didn’t understand the collection plate – do you mean, do I poll the family on scriptures to include? No, I just let my mind wander. I think I’m the only scripture-geek in the family!

    Although Romans 8:28 was the sermon text at my wife’s church this morning, which was ironic! The preacher noticeably segued over the bit about predestination that immediately follows…

  3. Ah, the collection plate things was meant to imply that:

    I see you guys at home (not at church) with you talking about scripture (like you are a pastor) and thus passing the plate to collect tithe would be in order.
    Don’t you Brits pass a collection plate or the equivalent?
    Anyway, now I realize you went to church. Obviously the Holy Spirit is trying very hard to get through to us both if he is using the same work of God at the same time in our lives. I mean, gee, thing of the probability. 66 some books in the Bible — 1,000 some verses per book — about 66,000 to 1 probability that we would be pondering the same scripture today. Dude, figure it out. You know math, this has to be God.

  4. Hey Boys, didnt the Gita have another great quote.

    “Truth is one, the sages speak of it by many names”

    🙂

  5. Ian

    @sabio There is a collection plate at many churches in the UK, yes.

    Well, blow me down, I hadn’t thought of it in such stark numerical terms. Maybe there is something to it. Another impossible coincidence: thousands of churches in the UK yesterday used 1 Cor 13 as their text. I mean you and I are one thing, but what are the chances of *thousands* of churches randomly selecting the same text?

    (and to be completely geeky, there are about 32,000 verses in the bible, depending on who’s divisions you use 🙂 )

  6. Nice posting. Do you know about this edition of the Gita?

    http://www.YogaVidya.com/gita.html

  7. Ian

    @sf – nice plug – I assume its your book, or you publish it. Looks a good edition. You say it is a critical text, but provide no critical apparatus: was that a typo?

    Care to engage with us on the subject of the Gita while you’re passing through?

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