|The Fruit of All Sciences (4)|
|by T. M. Moore|
|August 09, 2012|
It will seem strange to think of learning and labor in this way.
And this is the fruit of all sciences, that in all, faith may be strengthened, God may be honored, character may be formed, and consolation may be derived from union of the Spouse with the beloved, a union which takes place through charity…
- St. Bonaventure, On the Reduction of the Arts to Theology
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
- 1 John 4:16
Bonaventure reflected the thinking of the high middle ages when he outlined the four fruit which are the evidence of true learning. In all our work and studies, in “all sciences”, those who laid the foundations for the modern world believed that we must study and labor to increase our confidence in God, glorify Him by worship and witness, see His righteousness formed in us, and do those works of love which are expressive of His character.
As the early rules of Harvard College put it: “The main end of a student’s life is to know God and Jesus Christ.”
It will seem strange to think of learning and labor in this way. Who goes to business school, or starts a business with such objectives in mind? Is not the end of business to make money for owners, laborers, and investors by producing a needed and valued good or service? Who becomes a physician with any thought besides healing the physical or psychological maladies of those in need? And who enters the work of science focused on anything other than the particular arena of the material world to which he intends to devote his skills?
Such thinking reflects the compartmental and materialist aptitude of our secular age. Where no transcendent reality and overarching narrative defines human life and purpose, schooling and work serve the interests of individuals who must find their place in a world of self-actualization and the struggle to survive.
Our forebears would have recoiled in horror from such thinking. They believed Jesus when He claimed to be the truth, and they understood this to mean that all truth finds its orientation, completion, and purpose in Him. Truth put to its proper use, therefore, must express the will and pleasure of God and Christ, and these are summarized in the word, “charity.”
God loves the creation, and everything in it. He loves it so much that He sent His own Son to liberate the creation from the grip of sin into the freedom of redemption enjoyed by the sons and daughters of God (Jn. 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:19; Rom. 8:19-21). Education must be designed to fit students to live as Christ in the world, and to form Christ in them, the hope of glory, in all their relationships, roles, and responsibilities. Thus every arena of life and every field of labor will be engaged to bring charity to light and to benefit, through good works, all mankind and the creation.
Science, therefore, and every field of endeavor, must maintain a focus on love if they are to accomplish the purpose for which God intends them. Those who work in the sciences must learn the rules of love in relating to colleagues and the public, in conducting and publishing research, in proposing and developing products, and in every other aspect of scientific life. These “rules of love” are outlined in the Ten Commandments and the Law of God, as understood in the larger light of the rest of Scripture.
It may seem incongruous and unlikely that any discipline of learning or labor could be in this way harnessed to the purposes of love, but this merely reflects the extent to which secular and materialistic thinking has captured the imaginations even of the redeemed of the Lord. The calling of all who know Jesus Christ is to make all our thoughts obedient to Him and to overcome every obstacle that keeps us from thinking with His mind according to the purposes and good pleasure of God (2 Cor. 10:3-5; 1 Cor. 2:16; Phil. 2:12, 13).
Our forebears in the faith found thinking this way to be altogether reasonable, logical, practical, and wise. The strangeness with which such thinking strikes us is simply a measure of the extent to which we have departed from the foundations of science and learning.