George Parkin Grant (1918-1988): political and religious philosopher, public intellectual,
and one of the most influential Canadian thinkers of his age, Grant was a Christian and a Platonist who always thought
of philosophy in terms of its Greek root words that mean "love of wisdom." (William Christian)
In this work of essays, Brad Jersak continues the explorations on Grant and Weil begun in two other works, GPG: Canada's Lone Wolf (2011, with Ron Dart) and GPG: Minerva's Snowy Owl (2012). These three works form a trilogy of research that interdepends as primary and supplementary research alongside his PhD thesis (Bangor University, Wales), "We are not our own: the Platonic Christianity of George Grant -- from the Cave to the Cross and back again with Simone Weil."
Table of Contents
Part 1 – SIMONE WEIL: RED VIRGIN
1. Simone Weil: George Grant’s Diotima / 5
2. Stages of Weil’s Mystical Ascent / 19
3. Competing Conceptions of God in Biblical Religion / 49
Part 2 – GEORGE GRANT: RED TORY
4. Grant and the Matrix: Complex of Ideologies / 71
“God does no violence to secondary causes in the accomplishment of his ends.”
In this article, I will attempt to creatively apply George Grant’s theology of the Cross or ‘divine consent’ towards a metaphorical reading of wrath back into those Scriptures that so repulsed him and Simone Weil. If God operates in the world by consent, they might have seen wrath, not as the retribution of a wilful God, but as a metaphor (as they saw power) for the consequences of God’s consent to our non-consent. That is, I will appropriate Grantean consent to ‘demetaphorise’ wrath. Said another way, I intend to apply Simone Weil’s ‘cosmology of consent’ to the problem of how we read ‘wrath’ in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. The texts where God intervenes with smoldering vengeance were an offense to Grant and Weil as they portray a God of personal wrath through violent force—the willful uber-Gott (my term) they rejected. Grant and Weil warn us not to literalize metaphors or personalize anthropomorphisms, only to dismiss many of those passages for speaking metaphorically. Why not apply their theology of the Cross and cosmology of consent as a hermeneutical lens for demetaphorising the Bible’s judgment narratives, and so retrieving them?
And so, in the Bible, where we see or hear of God’s wrath, we are usually, actually seeing God’s nonviolent consent to the natural and supernatural forces of the world and of human freedom. God’s wrath is consent to allowing, and not sparing, the powerful consequences of these forces to take their course. We say natural and supernatural, because (a) God’s order of secondary causes extends beyond our empirical or rational categories, and (b) the natural and supernatural interrelate beyond observation or comprehension. And they mysteriously inter-relate with our own power of consent to ‘bind and loose’ (Matt. 16:19) through love and prayer, to intercede in ways that might spare someone the consequences of these ‘laws.’
The following is a Grantean attempt to do so, specifically as I would address it sermonically to Evangelicals, who tend to be most entangled in literalism, though it might also be beneficial to skeptics who, like Grant and Weil, find the Bible repulsive because they too read it overly literally. I will also apply Grantean consent to model how one might preach a love above and beyond wrath, where “mercy triumphs over judgement” (James 2:13).
In response to my review of Nicholas
Wolterstorff’s book, Justice: Rights and
WrongsJustice: Rights and Wrongs Ron Dart asked how this book compares to,
or differs from, George Grant’s book, entitled EnglishSpeaking Justice, 1974. That will
take some effort at recall, as it has been a while since I read Grant’s book. I
thank Ron for asking that question in that it is making me realize the amount
of work I still need to do to grasp the justice and human rights issues,
especially Grant’s critique of contractual justice (contractarian, the “social
contract” concept) of liberal democracy. Wolterstorff does not address the
topic of the social contract.