Quintessence of Ultimate Essence

From then until now the quest for the philosopher has been to find unity in diversity. Many of us do not realize all the implications of this quest, but in simple ways it has made inroads into our language and culture. For example, the word quintessence literally means “the fifth essence.” What was the fifth essence – the quintessence of ultimate essence – that would unite the other four essences and explain unity in diversity? Every American coin reads E Pluribus Unum – out of the many, one. Out of diversity, unity. And the very word university means to find unity in diversity. At one point in history, theology was considered the queen of the disciplines, bringing a unified world-view to the diversity of mental pursuits. With the expulsion of God, unity has also been jettisoned, and a disjointedness follows. There is no coherence left in education. Modern-day university graduates are really graduating from a pluralversity, where the various disciples (or disciplines) do not connect. In effect, universities are not living up to their mandate. From language to coinage to education, the search for unity in diversity has left its mark. Today this search for unity is even more important because as specializations increase there is a greater fragmentation of knowledge. Without unity of essence, the diversity of substance and knowledge will only continue to alienate us one from the other. Antitheists and theists agree on one thing: In this world of effect, diversity is present but unity is sought. The question is, How did diversity come about, and how do we locate or identify the unity? Atheistic evolutionary theory is hard pressed to explain how the diversity that exists could ever have come about from the unity of primordial slime. Nor can Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism make a sufficient explanation. Apart from all the physical diversities that exist in our world, within human intercourse three vitally important realities pertain – personality, communication, and love. These, too, speak of diversity, particularly in the realm of personality. Only in the Christian faith alone can these diversities be explained, for in the Christian faith alone there is unity and diversity in the first cause of our being. That unity and diversity is found in the community of the Trinity. In the Trinity before the creation of man, personhood, love, and communication existed in the Godhead. An important deduction pertains because in the Trinity there is implicit a hierarchy of roles within the Godhead that does not vitiate an equality of essence. A proper understanding of the Trinity not only gives us a key to understanding the unity in diversity, but also brings us a unique answer to the great struggle we face between races, cultures, and – for that matter – even genders. The Trinity provides us with a model for a community of love and essential dignity without mitigating personality, individuality, and diversity…Obviously, a very legitimate question may be raised as to how there can be a “three-ness” and a “one-ness” without equivocation…C. S. Lewis said of the Trinity that it is either the most farcical doctrine invented by the early disciples or the most profound and thrilling mystery revealed by the Creator Himself, giving us a grand intimation of reality. The Trinity may well be the most important teaching of Christ in this context of unity in diversity.

(Can Man Live Without God?, Ravi Zacharias, Word Publishing, 1994, pp. 147-148.)

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