Fudging Aristotle: A Digression (Part 6): Fudging God?

“The Roman Communion is a creature of the 14th century and even more profoundly, of the 16th century (Trent). The sacramental system she reveres is a 14th century invention. As late as 9th century no one knew anything about 7 sacraments. Ask Radbertus and Ratramnus, and ask the latter about transubstantiation; he thought it was both novel and fundamentally wrong, and he was correct on both counts…. The Roman communion is not catholic (universal). It’s a relatively modern sect. I understand that’s shocking but it’s true” (R. Scott Clark, from a comment here).

It’s no accident that the study of “theology proper” begins with the study of “the doctrine of God”. If you get God wrong, you get a lot of other things wrong.

Thomas Aquinas is known for his “great synthesis” of philosophy and theology, of reason and faith, of nature and grace. In doing so, his work became foundational for the Roman Catholic religion that emerged from the middle ages. The question that needs to be asked is, “was that a good thing?”

It is true that the God of Aristotle had almost nothing in common with the God of the Sermon on the Mount – though, by one of the strangest and most momentous paradoxes in Western history, the philosophical theology of Christendom identified them, and defined the chief end of man as the imitation of both.

But it is also true that Aristotle’s conception of the being to whom he gave the most honorific name he knew was merely one consequence of a certain more general way of thinking, a species of dialectic (of which I shall later speak) not peculiar to him but highly characteristic of the Greek and almost wholly foreign to the ancient Jewish mind – which has historically manifested its influence in ethics and aesthetics, and sometimes even in astronomy, as well as in theology.

From Arthur O. Lovejoy, “The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea”, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ©1936, 1964, pg 5.

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One Response to Fudging Aristotle: A Digression (Part 6): Fudging God?

  1. Pingback: Fudging Aristotle: A Digression (Part 7): Logic and Categories | Reformation500

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