Gods of the Philosophers and Theologians

Gods of the Philosophers and Theologians

 In philosophical discussions, “God” is a common term among philosophers.  With this lack of differentiation, one can easily get the impression that each philosopher is talking about the same being.  From Plato’s Ideas to God being based upon man’s conception in Kant to Barth’s revelation in the existential moment, these “gods” are infinitely distant from each other.  But worst of all, they are infinitely distant from the God of His own Special Revelation, the 66 books of the Protestant Bible.  The control of the idea of God without this process being under the ultimate authority of Scripture is known as onto-theology.  Heidegger coined the term to point to the reification of God as “a Being,” rather than “being” itself, but the former meaning here is the concern of Biblical philosophy.

Originally, I entitled this essay, “Gods of the Philosophers.”  However, not all theologians discuss the particular God of the Bible either.  In a real sense, every person is both a philosopher and a theologian.  But a theologian is even more so a philosopher because they both work to understand at the extremes of language and reason.  Their tools of definition, language, hermeneutics, and system are the same.  Indeed, if one understands that philosophy is simply another type of search for religion, that is, meaning in a huge and cold universe.

Herein is a brief description of each philosophers “god.”  But by contrast we will begin with the true God of Biblical revelation. 

God of Biblical Revelation. 

1. There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal, most just, and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

2. God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever himself pleaseth. In his sight all things are open and manifest, his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands. To him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require of them.

3. In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son. (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter II, Sections 1-3)

 

Romans 1:21ff.  Philosophers’ ideas of God reflect the diversity of what the “knowledge of God” means here.  There is not a definable list of attributes that every person has.  While there is a core of propositions about God and Christ, there is no specific list to be found in every believer’s thought.  All cultures have some sense of an “ultimate” power or transcendental something, but this sense has an extreme variety from the nebulous pantheism of Hinduism to the quarreling and finite gods of the Greeks, to the omnipotent, omniscient, revealing God of the Bible.  Many, if not most, of the great philosophers posited some sort of unifying force in the universe.  Plato had his Ideas, the “system unifier” of Descartes (see below), and the “principle of order” of the universe (see below).

“Only the Bible teaches that the universe is created and controlled by a personal God who is a se, not dependent on the world in an way.  Polytheistic religions teach the existence of personal god, but those Gods are not a se.  Monistic worldviews, such as Hinduism, Taoism, and the philosophies of Parmenides, Plotinus, Spinoza, and Hegel, teach the existence of absolute being, and indeed most polytheisms place a principle of absolute fate beyond the realm of the gods.  But these “absolute” beings and fates are impersonal, and so they do not have personal control over the world.  Indeed … these absolutes are correlative to the nonabsolute sectors of the world.   They cannot be defined or described except as aspects of the universe.  They serve as the unchanging aspect of the world, correlative to the changes of the world of our experience.  So these supposed absolutes depend on the world as much as the world depends upon them.  They are truly not a se.”  (John Frame, “Divine Aseity and Apologetics,” in Oliphint and Tipton, Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics,  page 120.)

Historical sweep: selective emphasis of God’s attributes.  “In harmony with this biblical representation early Christian theologians never discussed God’s being in the abstract, but conceived of it as inclusive of all his perfections and attributes.  Soon, however, a distinction was made between God’s being in the abstract and his attributes.  One of God’s attributes was usually viewed as basic to all the others:

  1. Some described God as absolute essence: Plato, Philo, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Roman Catholic theologians, Reformers, etc.
  2. Some emphasized God’s will: Socinians, Remonstrants, rationalists, etc.
  3. Some stressed God’s personality: Jacobi, Ulrici, etc.
  4. Some defined God as absolute reason, pantheistically conceived: Hegel, etc.
  5. Some looked upon God’s moral attributes as fundamental: Ritschl, etc.
  6. Some gave undue prominence to the attribute of veracity: Jansenists, etc.

Thus, by emphasizing one attribute the harmony existing between all was destroyed. (Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, 114.  His explanation of this summary follows on the pages subsequent to this reference.

Omnipotence is strictly a Christian notion. “The fact that no philosopher has ever demonstrated (the absolute power—omnipotence—of God) is sufficient evidence that it is indemonstrable and is strictly a Christian notion.”  (Clark, Thales to Dewey, 286)

Plato (428 B.C. – 348 B.C. circa).  “Plato’s God is the Idea of the Good…. God is confronted with two equally eternal independent principles.  He uses the Ideas as blueprints to impose order on chaotic space.  In this arrangement, God is neither immanent nor transcendent.  On the one hand, while the Demiurge enjoys a rank higher than space, he is not the cause of everything in the physical world…. God can be the cause of only a few things because evil is more extensive than good.  On the other hand, since the Demiurge occupies a rank lower than the Ideas, he cannot be transcendent, for he is not the highest principle…. If the term God is to be restricted to the supreme principle of any philosophy, the Demiurge is not Plato’s God, and attempts to classify Plato on this basis are beside the point.  The Ideas are Plato’s true reality and the physical world is only half real.  In the world of Ideas, the Good is supreme.  Lower Ideas are known only through the Good and only through the Good do they exist.  This seems to make God transcendent, and no none can deny that it is the supreme Idea.  But supremacy is not precisely transcendency.  The Good is not the creator or even the maker of the Ideas, but rather a supreme genus of which the inferior Ideas are species…. The Demiurge makes the world but is not supreme, the Good is supreme but does not make the world.”  (Gordon Clark, Thales to Dewey, 184-185)

Aristotle: (384 B.C. – 322 B.C.). “Aristotle … denied the infinity, personality, and worshipability of God, the temporality of the world, and the immortality of the soul.”  (Beware of Philosophy)

“Aristotle’s God is the pantheistic and least obviously immanent of all the Greek first principles…. Aristotle refused to admit the existence of prime matter, except as an unreal limit of abstraction (and) on the other end of reality he … admitted the real and separate existence of a Form apart from matter.  The unmoved mover ought to have been the Form of the World, and thus an immanent principle.  But historically Aristotle denied separate existence to matter, he broke the symmetry of his system and asserted it of God.  In this sense, therefore, Aristotle’s God is not altogether an immanent principle.  But this unmoved mover is not transcendent either…. (a) quasi-transcendence of a God who is ignorant of past evils and of all future events.”  (Gordon Clark, Thales to Dewey, 185)

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).   “Aquinas was influenced greatly by the thinking of Aristotle, and he sought to adjust Aristotle and Christian theology to each other without destroying the fundamental doctrines of the Church…. God, said Aquinas, is pure form.  We infer His existence from the facts of His creation.  For example, (1) everything that moves has a mover.  We find movement in the universe.  Therefore the ultimate source of this movement must be an unmoved principle, the Unmoved Mover, or God.  Further, (2) the universe reveals that things are related in a graduated scale of existence from the lowest forms of existence upward toward more or less perfect objects.  This leads one to infer that there must be some thing that is perfect at the very summit, God.

God, for Aquinas, is the first and final cause of the universe pure form or energy.  He is absolutely perfect.  He is the source, the Creator of everything out of nothing.  In this creation, he has revealed himself.  Further, God rules the universe through His perfect will.

Aquinas, in developing this theory of the nature of God, set the pattern for Catholic belief about God for all times. Even to the present the Catholic Church follows this position practically as outlined by Aquinas.” (S. E Frost, Jr., Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers, pages 112-113)

Aquinas’ first principles conflict.  Aquinas’ axioms were that truth could be obtained (1) from empirical observation (naturalism or in modern terms, “secular humanism”) and (2) from Scripture.  Thus, he created what Francis Schaeffer called the “upper and lower” categories of truth.  And, since then, with few exceptions, philosophers and others (Christian, as well as non-Christian) have falsely believed that (1) empiricism could discover truth, (2) that “religion” and the real (empirical) world were separate affairs, (3) “all truth is God’s truth” (the equating of empiricism with Scripture), and (4) that Scripture was not the only source of truth.  From Aquinas’ belief in conflicting axioms, major confusion on these issues have plagued the history of philosophy and Christianity into present times.

Descartes (1596-1650): “A less-perfect nature (that of man) cannot produce the idea of a perfect nature, then the idea of a perfect nature must originate from a being that is more perfect, that is, from God…. God is reduced to a functional role…. God was made to serve the purposes of the (rationalist) system itself.  He became a major cog, but still a cog in the overall program of answering skepticism, incorporating the scientific spirit, and building a rational explanation of the real…. God … (is) the bridge between the cogito and knowledge of the real world…. (All this rationale was a) subordination of God … (a) marginalization of religion…. Descartes’ philosophical treatment of God illustrates the modernist shift from seeing God as a transcendent, personal sovereign… to seeing him as a ‘deity’ who serves the philosopher’s ends by tying his system as a whole.”  (W. Andrew Hoffecker, Revolutions in Worldview, 255)

Descartes’ God is all-powerful (omnipotent); the creator of Descartes’ and all things out of nothing; not a deceiver (he is not the powerful demon that Descartes feared in the beginning of his meditations); extremely good; one who implants ideas into minds (that is, intuited or innate); eternal, infinite, and omniscient; independent and supremely intelligent; unity and simplicity; the ground of all existence; perfection with no defects whatever; immense light; creator of man in his own image with faculties of mind that provide the ability to know with certainty; and finally, the only being whose essence cannot be separated from his existence.  (Ed: “An Irony of History”)

“The Cartesian emphasis upon the perfection of God is subverted by the existence of evil, which clearly may be viewed as a defect.  The issue of suffering thus constitutes the grounds for disconfirmation of the Cartesian God, whereas in the Middle Ages … the same problem was … most emphatically not the grounds for abandoning faith.”  (Alister McGrath, The Science of God, 225)

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677):  “Albert Einstein wrote, ‘I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.’  … (Spinoza’s) philosophy had the axiomatic, deductive structure of Euclidean geometry.  For Spinoza, God was not a Being distinct from the universe, a personal Creator who brought the world into existence.  Instead, ‘God’ was merely a name for the principle of order within the universe.”  (Thaxton and Pearce, The Soul of Science:  Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy., 184)

John Locke (1632-1704) on Reason over Revelation.  “A man can never have so certain a knowledge, that a proposition which contradicts the clear principles and evidence of his own knowledge was divinely revealed, or that he understands the words rightly wherein it is delivered, as he has that the contrary is true, and so is bound to consider and judge of it as a matter of reason, and not swallow it ….” (Essay, IV, xviii, 8, p. 424)  “What ever God hath revealed is certainly true: no doubt can be made of it.  This is the proper object of faith; but whether it be a divine revelation or no, reason must judge. (IV, xviii, 10, 425)  I do not mean that we must consult reason, and examine whether a proposition revealed from God can be made out by natural principles, and if it cannot, that then we may reject it; but consult it we must, and by it examine whether it be a revelation from God or no: and if reason finds it to be revealed from God, reason then declares for it as much as for any other truth, and makes it one of her dictates.” (IV, xix, 14, p. 439—all quoted in Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, 80-81)

Locke on the Idea of God. “We may know about God is we use our natural abilities correctly.  We can build the idea of God … out of other ideas which we have.  If we take, for example, our ideas of existence, duration, power, pleasure, happiness, and the like, and think of these as extending to infinity and being gathered together, we will have an idea of God.  God is, then, certain ideas which we have gathered from experience and extended to infinity.”  (S. E. Frost, Jr., Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers, 117)

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716).  “The Correspondence of Leibniz’ The Monadology with a Biblical Cosmology.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  After Pascal’s dramatic conversion, he stated, “”Fire. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and the scholars… I will not forget thy word” (Psalm 119:16).  Pascal had gotten it right after a true conversion.  He identified himself with the Jansenists, a group declared heretical by the Roman Catholic Church, whose theology approximated that of the Reformers.

The god of the rationalists.  “The god of the rationalists was a hypothetical abstraction, a deus ex machina, invoked to make the system work, but not one who was encountered personally in history and present experience.  His existence was, moreover, based upon arguments which … (were) dubious.  It is not surprising, therefore, that, when later thinkers rejected the rationalist approach, and undermined the old proofs of the existence of God, they felt that God and religion had been disposed of altogether, and that there was no alternative agnosticism or downright atheism.”  (Colin Brown, Philosophy and the Christian Faith, 57-58)

The “God” of the rationalists rejected.  “The God in whom the 19th and 20th centuries came to disbelieve had been invented only in the 17th century.”  (Alasdair Macintyre quoted in Alister E. McGrath, The Science of God, 225.  The original appeared in MacIntyre and Paul Ricoeur, The Religious Significance of Atheism, New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), 14.

Kant (1724-1804):  “a kind of theism… far from orthodox Christianity… the human mind can never and must never subject itself to any authority beyond itself… subject to its own law… radically rejected the idea of authoritative revelation from God (either in nature or in Scripture)… the human mind is … its own criterion of truth and right… the human mind … replaces God as the intelligent planner and creator of the experienced universe…. The human mind is also the author of its own moral standards…. Kant’s philosophy … presupposes human autonomy…. That is what makes Kant unique and vastly important; he taught secular man where his epistemology must begin….  So Kant is widely regarded as the most important philosopher of the modern period.”  (Frame, Van Til: An Analysis, page 45).

“While Kant, like Hume, retains the term revelation in its traditional understanding, he does so only to reject it, and allows it no more formative cognitive significance than did Hume…. The historic Christian emphasis that man’s created finitude requires his dependence on transcendent revelation, and that the consequences of the fall for man’s way of thinking make this dependence all the more imperative, are swept aside…. By the very limits of human reason as Kant stipulates these, man is cut off from any possession of transcendent truth.  God is indeed an indispensable postulate, a regulative ideal demanded by the moral nature, contends Kant, but not an objective of cognitive knowledge.  (Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, Volume I, page 88.)

“Kant did not try to integrate holiness into his moral theory.  Kant not only thought that duty was a rationally self-justifying end in itself, but even considered holiness, or inherently good will, irrelevant to ethics except as a goal that is humanly unattainable but that we are nevertheless obliged to strive toward.  To do the good because, out of love, one enjoys doing good rather than because it is one’s duty would not be an ethical act, for Kant even if it leads one to do the ethically right thing.  Kant’s ethical ideal of rational autonomy is that one should be governed by reason along, not by any appetite—even if that appetite might be love for the true good or a longing for true being.”  (Eugene Webb, Worldview and Mind [Columbia, MO: University of Columbia Press, 2009], 105-106)

“Although Kant professed a kind of theism and an admiration for Jesus, he was clearly far from orthodox Christianity. Indeed, his major book on religion (Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone) has as its chief theme that the human mind must never subject itself to any authority beyond itself. Kant radically rejected the idea of authoritative revelation from God and asserted the autonomy of the human mind perhaps more clearly than had ever been done before (though secular philosophers had always maintained this notion). The human mind is to be its own supreme authority, its own criterion of truth an right.”  (John Frame, here.

Frederick Schleiermacher (1768-1834).  “(He) sought to safeguard the scientific character of theology by the introduction of a new method.  The religious consciousness of man was substituted for the Word of God as the source of theology…. (That is) human insight based on man’s own emotional or rational apprehension…. Religion took the place of God as the object of theology…. (Man) prided himself on being a seeker after God.  In course of time, it became rather common to speak of man’s discovering God…. Every discovery was dignified with the name of ‘revelation.’  God came in at the end of a syllogism, or as the last link in a chain of reasoning, or as the cap-stone of a structure of human thought…. His starting point is anthropological, rather than theological.”  (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pages 19-20)

God of the Modernists, 1871.  “Their God is an abstraction and has no actual existence.  I say this with all seriousness.  I know that Modernists are not conscious of it for they venerate, worship, love, and adore something they not infrequently call “God.”  By the process of personification they confer both reality and personhood on that something.  To the object of their adoration they attribute power to affect moral life.  Summed up in their idea of God is the noblest and purest essence they can imagine.  They lose themselves totally in that self-generated God and devote to him the sighings of their heart.  Indeed, in their inner contemplation that God-idea is so much their all that from him as the sum of all good they sooner or later expect the triumph of all good.  But does it follow that there is a living God corresponding to the God-idea they have created for themselves?  Abraham Kuyper, “Modernism: A Fata Morgana in the Christian Domain,” in James D. Bratt, Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, page 105)

Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976).  “To believe in God is not at all to believe that there exists a being of a certain sort.  Instead, it is to adopt a certain attitude or policy, or to make a kind of resolve: the resolve, perhaps, to accept and embrace one’s finitude, giving up the futile attempt to build hedges and walls against guilt, failure and death.”  (Alvin Plantinga, Faith and Rationality, page 19)

“Modern Christianity must ‘demythologize’—that is, rid itself of it non-historical, mythical concepts…. Most unbelieving readers agreed with the traditionalist critics, that by his demythologizing and existentializing Bultmann had reduced a doctrine about God and man to a doctrine of man alone.”  (Antony Flew, A Dictionary of Philosophy, pages 50-51)

“(He) categorically denied that there could be any miracles, including the resurrection of Jesus.  Instead, he placed the basis of Christianity in the existential choice for the Christ of faith…. (He) defended a ‘demythologisation’ of the Bible that reinterpreted the gospel in modern existential terms shorn of supernatural dressing.”  (Hill and Rauser, Christian Philosophy A-Z, page 27) 

“In Bultmann’s words, he believed it would be both senseless and impossible not to recognize the Gospels as myth. ‘It would be senseless, because there is nothing specifically Christian in the mythical view of the world as such. It is simply the cosmology of a pre-scientific age.’ Further, ‘it would be impossible, because no man can adopt a view of the world by his own volition – it is already determined for him by his place in history.’ The reason for this, says Bultmann, is that ‘all our thinking to-day is shaped for good or ill by modern science.’ So “a blind acceptance of the New Testament mythology would be irrational. . .. . It would involve a sacrifice of the intellect. . . . It would mean accepting a view of the world in our faith and religion which we should deny in our everyday life.'”  (Norman Geisler, “Beware of Philosophy, here.

Karl Barth (1886-1968).  ”Barth … is particularly interested in the subject of revelation… (wanting) to lead the Church back from the subjective to the objective, from religion to revelation…. Barth does not recognize any revelation in nature…. Revelation is always God in action, God speaking, bringing something entirely new to man, something of which he could have no previous knowledge…. Since God is always sovereign and free in His revelation, it can never assume a factually present, objective form with definite limitations, to which man can turn at any time for instruction.  Hence it is a mistake to regard the Bible as God’s revelation in any other than a secondary sense.  It is a witness and a token of, God’s revelation…. But through whatever mediation the word of God may come to man in the existential moment of his life, it is always recognized by man as a word directly spoken to him, and coming perpendicularly from above…. The revelation of God was given once for all in Jesus Christ: not in his historical appearance, but in the superhistorical in which the powers of the eternal world become evident, such as His incarnation and His death and his resurrection…. His revelation is … continuous…. God speaks to sinners in the existential moment of their lives, through the revelation in Christ, mediated by the Bible and preaching.  Thus we are left with mere flashes of revelation coming to individuals, of which only those individuals have absolute assurance… a rather precarious foundation for theology…. Mankind is not in possession of any infallible revelation of God.  (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, page 39)

“The prophets and apostles, as such, even in their office … (were) actually guilty of error in their spoken and written word.”  (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, I, 2, 528-529, quoted in Gordon Clark, What Do Presbyterians Believe?, 14)  More on Barth here.

“Barth’s dialectical method permitted him to use old words and phrases—Biblical words and phrases—while giving them new, and quite un-Biblical meanings.  ‘God,’ he wrote, ‘may speak to us through Russian Communism, through a flute concerto, through a blossoming shrub or through a dead dog.  We shall do well to listen to him if he really does do so.'”  (Back cover of Karl Barth’s Theological Method by Gordon Clark)

Paul Tillich (1886-1965).  “’The question of the existence of God can be neither asked nor answered.  If asked, it is a question about that which by its very nature is above existence, and therefore the answer—whether negative or affirmative—implicitly denies the existence of God as it is to deny it.  God is being-itself, not a being….’ God is the name for the ‘infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of all being…. (Thus) you cannot call yourself an atheist or unbeliever.’  Through a series of linguistic contortions, Tillich manages to erase the distinction between theism and atheism in one fell swoop….  Tillich denies that he is a supernaturalist or a naturalist, both which he considers “insufficient and religiously dangerous solutions…. Tillich’s god is ‘self-transcendent’ …. ‘He stands against the world, is so far as the world stands against him, and he stand for the world, thereby causing it to stand for him’….  At best, Tillich’s God is esoteric; at worst, it is incoherent” …. Tillich’s god, whatever it is, cannot be said to exist.”  (George H. Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, [Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1989, 33-34) Ed’s comment: This quote contains within it quotes of Tillich and Smith.  I have chosen this quote because it is from an atheist who rightly understands Tillich.  Smith is able to understand that Tillich’s god is contradictory and incoherent.  Does more need to be said? 

Paul Tillich’s absolutes.  (1) “The structure of the mind that makes sense impressions possible, and the logical and semantic structure of the mind.”  (2) “The universals that make language possible.”  (3) “The categories and polarities that make understanding of reality possible.”  (4) “The most basic absolute of all … the Absolute itself … being itself.”  (Paul Tillich, My Search for Absolutes, 124-125)

Ian Wilks (current): “God is taken in a standard way, as referring to an all-knowing, all powerful, and all loving being.”  (Faith and Philosophy, January 2009, page 64)

Alvin Plantinga (1932-).  “(The god who) unites Calvin and Aquinas, Luther and Augustine, Menno Simons and Karl Barth, Mother Teresa and St. Maximus the Confessor, Billy Graham and St. Gregory Palamas…. God is a person: that is, a being with intellect and will. A person has (or can have) knowledge and belief, but also affections, loves, and hates; a person, furthermore, also has or can have intentions, and can act so as to fulfill them. God has all of these qualities and has some (knowledge, power, and love, for example) to the maximal degree. God is thus all-knowing and all-powerful; he is also perfectly good and wholly loving. Still further, he has created the universe and constantly upholds and providentially guides it.  (Warranted Christian Belief, page vii)

Plantinga includes the God of the Christian, as well as that of the Muslim and Jew, under the term,  “classical theistic belief.”  Then, he says that God is a person—”conscious,” “some kind of awareness”; He “loves and hates, wishes and desires; she (sic) approves of some things and disproves of others”; has “affections,” “beliefs,” “knowledge,” and “aims and intentions.”  (Knowledge of God with Michael Tooley, pages 1-2.)

God of the modern American populace.  “What routinely passes for popular faith in one supreme God today often reflects—as in Gallup Poll reports that 99 percent of the American people ‘believe in God’—some modern version of the phantom monotheism of pagan philosophy and religion.  We deceive ourselves if we think that the pagan monotheisms of the past were all alike and that no divergence of monotheisms exists today.  The doubts concerning God among young  intellectuals today often rest on their secular misunderstandings of monotheism whose survival value is more emotional than intellectual.  Hamilton is right when he observes that ‘The recent explosion of odd and often archaic religions beliefs, especially among the young, points to a break-up—or at the very least a severe questioning—of abstract monotheism.'” (Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, Vol. 5, 171.  Henry’s quote of Hamilton is from To Turn from Idols, 171.)

*****

This work is ongoing.  References of particular interest include (1) Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology in his early chapters on conceptions of God, and (2) S. E. Frost’s Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers in his chapter entitled, “The Nature of God.”

Article from biblicalphilosophy.org

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