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Edwards Vs. Emerson: Theories Of Belief

1529 words - 7 pages

The truth of the world is something that is debatable on how to reach, and what it actually
is. The general belief of the western world for many centuries was that there is only one truth,
and that's the truth expressed in the bible. This is what Edwards believes, and he believes it can
either be reached through logic, or directly from god through the divine and supernatural light.
Emerson challenged the established belief system and said that the truth, which he calls genius,
is inside all of us, and that we need to "trust ourselves" (2), and not follow anyone else, to find it.
The genius is similar to the divine and supernatural light, but it reveals individualized versions of
the truth to everyone, instead of god revealing the truth in the bible.
Edwards says that the divine and supernatural light isn't guilt, it isn't in your own mind, it
won't reveal anything new and not stated in the bible, and it isn't in your emotions. All of these
things are a part of the natural world and cannot be the "supernatural" light, which can't be
absorbed through any of the natural senses. For example, he says, "conscience is a principle
natural to men" (3) and is not the supernatural light, also people can feel guilt and other emotions
regardless of their belief in Christianity. People who don't believe in Jesus can still feel emotions
for Jesus as if he was a fictional character, and guilt is a natural emotion of everyone. "The
spiritual and divine light does not consist in any impression made upon the imagination." (3)
This means that the divine and supernatural light wont come from your own thoughts, which
may come from the devil, but directly from god. It is not "the suggesting of any new truths or
propositions not contained in the word of god." (4) This means that it wont be anything new, and
will be a realization of the truths expressed in the bible.
Edwards believes that the divine and supernatural light is something only obtainable
directly from god. It is the "true sense of excellency of the things revealed in the word of god,
and a conviction of the truth and reality of them thence arising." (4) This means that it's a
realization of gods truth that is expressed in the bible. Another way he describes it is, "he doesn't
merely rationally believe that god is glorious, but he has a sense of the gloriousness of god in his
heart." (4) It removes man's prejudices and lets him experience the undisturbed truth. The truth
can be found rationally but it cannot be fully described unless you actually experience it.
Edwards compares this to the taste of honey. You can logically study honey and determine that it
is sweet, but you wont actually know the real truth of what it tastes like until you actually
experience it.
Emerson believes that the truth is inside everyone and calls it the genius. He believes
everyone has access to the truth, and it is a part of every man's soul. He says works of true genius
are "original and not conventional" (1) and a person that...

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