The claim, recently, has often been made that the “classical” view of God is illegitimate because it has origins in Greek thought. Greg Boyd may be the most prominent theologian to promulgate this idea, and it has seemingly taken a hold of a swath of Western Christians, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. This has been referred to as the Hellenization of Christian theology, and it asserts that, because these classical doctrines (such as immutability, impassibility, etc.) are rooted in Greek thought, they are illegitimate. However, I want to demonstrate briefly in three elements how this assertion falls flat and ought not be heeded, in any respect. For our object of thought, we will use the doctrine of impassibility, which says that God is in no way subject to changes in his emotive state.
The first avenue in which the Hellenization claim falls apart is one of external consistency in application. It is inconsistent. Concerning impassibility, those who speak against Hellenization say that the idea of an “impassible God” was espoused by Greek philosophers and has no relation to the biblical texts. Further, impassibility is a doctrine that is thrust upon the text without warrant. However, this claim, which hides its counter-proposal (that God is, in fact, passible) cannot be faithfully held if we take the critique seriously. It is true that Greek philosophers espoused impassibility. Heraclitus was one. It is equally true, though, that Greek philosophers, theologians, and the general culture asserted that the gods were intensely passible. Hesiod, for example, portrays the gods in extreme states of emotion—filled and overflowing with lust, rage, malice, joy, etc. If we are to take this critique seriously, we are left with a God who is neither passible nor impassible, since both are portrayed in Greek thought.
The second element of the Hellenization claim which we will address is a failure of internal consistency. If we take the claim seriously, then we have no legitimate reason to stop with these classical doctrines of God and not throw out the rest of Greek philosophy, including the logic systems developed by Aristotle and the peripatetics. It is sheer obstinance to say that impassibility, which is spoken of in Greek philosophy, is illegitimate in Christian theology but we may continue to use the logical system brought to us by the pagan, possibly atheistic philosophers who preceded Christ. Greek thought is Greek thought, whether its philosophical or theological, and yet why ought we use the system of thinking promoted by the Greeks but not the seed of a result thereof?
The third element that betrays the Hellenization claims is a manifestation of the genetic fallacy. And, ultimately, a “genetic fallacy” is all that the Hellenization claim amounts to. It asserts that, because the classical doctrines of God are found in Greek thought, that they are therefore false. This statement is a distraction. A red herring. It says absolutely nothing about the substance of the claim but attempts to demonstrate illegitimacy of the doctrine by pointing to the source.
However, the finger pointing to the source does not point far enough. Christians ought to hold to the this truth: that all truth is God’s truth, whether it’s a shadow of Christ revealed in the Old Testament Law or a shadow of the nature of God revealed in pagan philosophy. If we left our scientific understanding of the world to Christians, we could very well be left with this. However, we do hold that true truth is from the fount of life, and that a statement left on the tongue of Heraclitus is true if it is true, whether he is Greek or not.
As opposed to liberalism, communitarianism promotes the importance of different societies, cultures, and communities as situated in specific times and spaces. It opposes the liberal universalization that takes place in Western political theory with an emphasis on particularity.
The philosophy tag is useless on Tumblr. Of course, I’m not sure what I was expecting.
So, are there any other philosophical idealists, or am I the only one?
An essay I wrote a few years ago in Existentialism. You may be interested.
If your premise were true, then nobody would go to hell. But, as it stands, God does not forgive everybody. He forgives those only who by faith place their on Jesus, who is the only qualified one upon whom any can place their sins because he lived a perfect life, died thereby satisfying the wrath of God, and was resurrected which declared that his death was sufficient to satisfy the above wrath. We all need a mediator between God and man. We could never atone by our good deeds and our penance for our bad deeds, since our good deeds are done selfishly or for the wrong motives. The only mediator that could withstand the infinite wrath of God is an Infinite One, one who is God. And because Christ is God and man, he could bear our sins and withstand the wrath of the Father.
None deserve heaven. We’ve all turned away from righteousness and run headlong into death. But God has made a way back to himself, and all that one must must do is place her faith in Christ and repent.
Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle means that we can’t simultaneously know the velocity of a particle and its position in space. The very concept of true omniscience is therefore moot. So even if there was an entity approaching what we conceive of as god, it could not be omniscient, as this would invalidate the very universe it created.
I’m sure some philosopher or other has already articulated this better than me though.
But that subjects the Creator to the very laws that he created, which is not a necessary conclusion derived from there being laws of nature.
To appreciate my suspicion [concerning the inherent particularity of the current “dignity” framework], consider a comparison. To deny rights one can claim that the moral status of a given subject is naturally inferior through deficiency of some quality crucial to moral agency. In virtue of this deficiency the subject becomes what Laurence Thomas (1993) calls a “moral simpleton” — a subject who is by definition not entitled to all the privileges of full moral agency. Intellect is the quality Thomas focuses on, hence the moral simpleton is “just too dumb” to be a full moral agent. Moreover, because the deficiency is typically construed to be innate, the simpleton is inherently unable to be “lifted up” to the level of full agency. Call this way of denying rights, repression. Repression is a “holding back” of sorts: it is a denial of potential. It is also arguably the historical attitude of American whites to blacks. Alternatively, one could deny rights by depressing the subject of moral law, by which I mean actively moving the subject from a hitherto higher status to a lower one. In particular, the subject might be pushed down below the bar of full moral status or be claimed in some sense an implicitly corrupt agent. In this case, the subject in question is a full agent in the perfectly strict sense of not lacking basic capacities (like intellect). But her use of those capacities is somehow tainted or corrupted (again, perhaps innately), and for this reason she does not have full moral status. As thomas also argues, this was at least initially the case of Jews in Nazi Germany. Jews were depressed by being made out to be morally evil.
Interestingly, the victims of both repression and depression retain at least nominal status as subjects to the moral law. Even moral simpletons, though they might be incapable of real good or evil, remain somewhere in the circle of agency, albeit at the periphery. By contrast to all this, however, to make distinctions that invalidate dignity is to imply the subject is in some sense inhuman and thus beyond the circle of agency altogether. Indeed, what lacks dignity is not really subject, but merely object. In this way the great boon of introducing human dignity hides a possible baneful shadow — namely, the ability not simply to repress, depress, or otherwise redefine the agency of a subject, but to banish that agency altogether. Distinctions in dignity do not portend limitation or change in moral status. They potentially invite its annihilation.