Choose a topic from Part 2B:

97. Irreligion: Tempting God

1. To tempt a person is to put him to a test. To tempt Godis to try, by word or deed, to test God's knowledge or power.Sometimes, indeed, the effort is not so much to test God, as apresumptuous reliance on God to supply what a man can readily dofor himself. Thus a man who refuses to take medicine when he isseriously sick, and expects God to cure him, is guilty, in somemeasure, of tempting God. To expect miracles when no human meansare at hand to meet an extreme situation, is not to tempt God. Butto expect miracles to supply for one's own lack of effort, orfor the sake of enjoying a kind of spectacular exhibition, istempting God.

2. Therefore, tempting God is a sin. It usually involves adoubt of God's knowledge and power, and seeks to be sure aboutthese-it puts God to the test. It is manifest that there is a wildinordinateness in this spectacle of a creature setting himself upto test and judge the infinite Creator upon whom the creatureessentially depends. But one must not too quickly assume that whatseems at first sight to be the sin of tempting God is actually sucha sin. When, for instance, the apostles asked God to confirm theirwords with signs (that is, with miracles) they were not temptingGod; they had no doubt of his knowledge and power; they sought noproof for themselves; they wished God to make manifest his truth tounbelievers, and to accredit his messengers. The apostles'petition came from full faith, and loving reliance on God; it didnot spring from ignorance, doubt, or arrogance, as the sin oftempting God always does.

3. Tempting God is a sin against the virtue of religionbecause it is a direct act of irreverence towards God.

4. It does not seem that tempting God is so grievous anirreverence as superstition. The person who tempts God manifests adoubt of God's knowledge and power, and this may be a passingand temporary thing. But a person given to superstition is usuallysteeped and confirmed in irreligious error. As lasting irreverenterror is worse than passing irreverent doubt, so superstition isworse than tempting God.

"The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you."
Thomas á Kempis

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"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "
Thomas á Kempis

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