A Christian Apology: “Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes only for despair.” B. Pascal

174. Not only is it impossible to know God without Christ, but it is useless also. They are drawn closer to him, not further away. They are not humbled, but as it is said, ‘The better one is, the worse one becomes, if one ascribes his excellence to one’s self.’ [Bernard of Clairvaux, The Song of Songs, 84].

175. To know God without knowing our own wretchedness only makes for pride. Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes only for despair. Knowing Jesus Christ provides the balance, because he shows us both god and our own wretchedness.

176. The whole universe teaches man that he is either corrupt or redeemed. Everything around him shows him his greatness or his wretchedness. God’s abandonment can be seen in the heathen; God’s protection is evidenced in the Jews.

177. Everything around us shows man’s wretchedness and God’s mercy, as well as man’s helplessness without God, and man’s power with God.

Mind-on-fire-pascalBlaise Pascal (1623-1662) in his Pensees (Christian apology, that is, defense of the Christian faith) as found in the anthology of his writings The Mind on Fire, part of the “Classics of Faith and Devotion” series published by Multnomah Press (1989), edited by James M. Houston, with an introduction by Os Guinness.

This quotation is taken from section XIV titled “The Transition from Human Knowledge to Knowing God” (p.151), picking up where we left off previously. I plan to post such portions of the Pensees throughout this year.