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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptySun Jul 13, 2014 3:21 pm

Exactly Erik. Given the propensity of a majority of the human population to believe in just about any kind of bullshit I believe that very Roman thesis is very probable.
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyMon Sep 29, 2014 10:36 am

I'm not sure that Christianity began as nihilism. However, it clearly transformed into nihilist ideology after Christ was killed. What if Christ had not been crucified? Would Christianity be a religion that despises life itself, as does Judaism, or would it more humanistic?

Or, perhaps, if you hold any weight to the figure of Jesus Christ, the world would have been perfected. Do any of you hold any weight to the figure of Jesus Christ, other than being the harbinger of meekness?
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyTue Nov 04, 2014 4:27 pm

Camus' book 'Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism' is a welcome relief for the clarity with which it lays out the trend and evolution of Christianity and the Christian character that is typical of it that separates it from Hellenism.


Camus wrote:
"If it is true, then, that Greece euhemerised the gods, if it is true that the problem of the destiny of the soul had disappeared beneath Epicurean and Stoic ideas, it nonetheless remains true that the Greco-Roman world was returning to a real tradition. But something new is nevertheless making itself felt.

In this world, in which the desire for God is getting stronger, the problem of the Good loses ground. For the pride of life that animated the ancient world, this new world substituted the humility of spirits in pursuit of inspiration. The æsthetic plane of contemplation is concealed by the tragic plane where hopes are limited to the imitation of a God.

They act out the sorrowful drama of Isis in search of Osiris; they die with Dionysius, and they are reborn with him. Attis is subjected to the worst mutilations. In Eleusis, Zeus is united with Demeter in the person of the great priest and hierophant.

And in the same period, there infiltrates Lucretius’s idea that the world is not oriented toward the “all things are the same forever,” but that it serves as the scene for the tragedy of man without God. The problems themselves are incarnated, and the philosophy of history is born. One will be less reluctant consequently to accept this change of the world that constitutes Redemption. It is not a matter of knowing or of understanding, but of loving. And Christianity can do nothing but embody this idea, so little Greek in nature, that the problem for man is not to perfect his nature, but to escape it. The desire for God, humility, imitation, and aspirations toward a rebirth, all these themes are intertwined in the Oriental mysteries and religions of Mediterranean paganism. Above all, since the second century before Christ (the cult of Cybele was introduced in Rome in 205 BCE), the principle religions have not ceased, in their influence and in their expansion, to prepare the way for Christianity. In the period that concerns us, new problems are posed in all their acuteness.

Greece is continued in Christianity. And Christianity is prefigured in Hellenic thought.

But can we distinguish, nevertheless, even in this confusion, what constitutes Christianity’s originality?

From a historical point of view, Christian doctrine is a religious movement, born in Palestine, and inscribed in Jewish thought. In a period that is difficult to determine, but certainly contemporary with the moment when Paul authorized in principle the admission of gentiles and exempted them from circumcision, Christianity was separated from Judaism. At the end of the first century, John proclaimed the identity of the Lord and the Spirit. The Epistle of Barnabas, written between 117 and 130 CE, is already resolutely anti-Jewish. This is the fundamental point. Christian thought is then separated from its origins and is dispersed throughout the entire Greco-Roman world. The Greco-Roman world, prepared by its anxieties and by mystery religions, ended by accepting Christianity.

What constitutes the irreducible originality of Christianity is the theme of Incarnation. The problems are made flesh and immediately assume the tragic and necessary character that is so often absent from certain games of the Greek spirit.

Christianity blossoms in the second revelation that was Augustinian thought. But there are three stages or moments in the evolution of Christianity:

Evangelical Christianity, in which it finds its source;
dogmatic Augustinianism, in which it achieved the reconciliation of the Word and the flesh;
and the intervals in which it allowed itself to be led to attempt to identify knowledge and salvation, that is to say, the heresies of which Gnosticism offers a complete example.

Gospel, Gnosis, Neoplatonism, and Augustinianism: these four stages of one common Greco-Christian evolution.

Evangelical Christianity spurned all speculation but asserted, since the beginning, the themes of Incarnation;
Gnosis sought a special solution in which Redemption and knowledge are joined; and,
Neoplatonism endeavored to achieve its purposes by attempting to reconcile rationalism and mysticism and, with the assistance of its formulas, permitted dogmatic Christianity to form itself, through Saint Augustine, into a metaphysics of Incarnation. At the same time, Neoplatonism served here as a control-doctrine. The movement that animates it is the same one that drives Christian thought, but the notion of Incarnation remained foreign to it."


As above, Camus presents the evolution of Xt. in four critical stages.

1. Gospeline Evangelical Xt. and its break from Judaism owing to Paul. [Path of (Christ's) Incarnation]
2. Gnosticism [Path of Initiation by gnosis - Sophia perennis]
3. Neoplatonism [Path of (platonic) Redemption from gross matter]
4. Augustinian Revelation. [Path of Grace by Faith]


Since Camus doesn't cover the reason behind the Judeo-Xt. internal split, I excerpt that part from Gager and the rest, the gist from Camus:


I - Splinter of Pauline Xt. from Judaism:

Quote :
"The substance of Paul's point concerns Abraham's two sons, their different mothers, and an "allegory" based on them.

Hagar = Slave; Son [Ishmael] born of flesh; Cast out
Sara = free woman; Son [Issac] born of promise; Inherit

From the final warning in 4:30 (quoting Gen. 21:10-12) the lesson is drawn: do not associate yourself with the line of descent through Hagar and Ishmael, for they are cast out as slaves and will not inherit the promises. Only the children of the free woman count as heirs. If we ask why it occurred to Paul to apply this reading of Abraham's offspring to the Judaizers in Galatia, the answer must lie in its associations with slavery and bondage (douleia in 4:24 and 5:1; paidiske in 4: 22,23,30,31). The Judaizers, by placing themselves under the Torah, were reverting to a condition of bondage. As a result they, like Ishmael, will be ineligible for the inheritance.

As is frequently the case with Paul, the key to understanding the passage lies in the immediately following verse, 5:1: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery!" Consequently we can only conclude that the Jews are absent from the entire passage. The contrast is not between Christianity (Sarah) and Judaism (Hagar) but between Israel (Isaac) and the nations (Ishmael).19 The moral which Paul draws from the contrast is that what is right, namely, circumcision, for the one is wrong for the other.

With this as background, we are now in a better position to understand how it is that Christ and Torah are mutually exclusive categories for Paul. In fact, he addresses the issue directly in the following passage, Gal. 5:2-12. The hallmark of Gentiles in Christ is freedom, that is, free- dom from the Torah and its curse. Thus any return to the command- ments of that covenant, in this case circumcision, can only be likened to slavery (5:1). To spell this out, Paul dwells on the antithesis of Christ and Torah, for they are indeed antithetical in terms of their effects on Gentiles. The Torah brings condemnation and slavery; Christ brings freedom (from both) and the Spirit. Thus, Paul asserts, "Christ will be of no advantage to you if you receive circumcision." The only possible result would be condemnation and slavery again. As if to underscore his point, he concludes on a note of bitter resentment. Indulging briefly in a medical fantasy, he expresses the wish that those who are circumcising the Galatian Christians might slip while using the knife and mutilate themselves!

In 2 Corinthians as in Galatians and Romans the proper reading of Scripture is that Moses is no longer of any value for Gentiles. In Paul's reading of the scriptures, Abraham (and Christ) are the figures through whom the Gentiles are released from the curse and the condemnation and are brought to new life.

For Paul Torah and Christ are mutually exclusive cate- gories. But the relationship between the two is such that neither invalidates the other. Torah remains the path of righteousness for Israel; Christ has become the promised way of righteousness for Gentiles.

Paul neither expects Israel to convert to Christ nor does he tolerate observance of the Mosaic rituals among Gentiles. His reasoning is not just that Christ is the expression of God's righteousness for Gentiles but that the meaning of the Torah for Gentiles has always been and remains curse and condemnation. Because Christ has redeemed Gentiles from this curse, any observance of the Torah by Gentiles must now be tantamount to un-doing Christ's work. Paul comments that the Jews are "ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God and seek to establish their own."

This perspective also makes it possible to understand why Paul singles out boasting for special attention in his quarrel with Israel. For if his gospel is as we have presented it, that is, if Christ was not the climax of the history of God's dealings with Israel, but the fulfillment of God's promises concerning the Gentiles, the one major point of controversy would be Israel's claim to enjoy an exclusive relation to God. This boast would collide directly with Paul's gospel that the Gentiles as Gentiles have received sonship not through Israel but through Christ. Thus for Paul, Israel's boasting becomes the principal target of his concern because his own legitimacy and that of his gospel were at stake.

The chain of thinking, then, in Paul's quarrel with Israel went something like this: Why has Israel stumbled? Because the Jews have not accepted the legitimacy of Paul's gospel to and about the Gentiles. Why have they not accepted? Because they have insisted on righteousness through the Mosaic covenant. Why have they made this error? Because they fail to see that righteousness rests on faith, whether for the circumcised or the uncircumcised.
As for later Gentile Christianity, its triumphant stance vis-a-vis Israel left the Jews little choice but to regard Christians as at best deluded sectarians and at worst apostates destined for perdition.

For Paul, the privileges attendant on Israel's status as God's chosen people had been momentarily suspended. Israel had failed in its pursuit of righteousness based on the Torah (9:31, 10:3); their zeal for God was unenlightened (10:2);Israel had been disobedient (11:30-32); and finally, "a hardening has come upon a part of Israel" (11:25). Furthermore a fundamental component of Israel's self-understanding, the privileged rela- tion to God provided by the Mosaic covenant, has been permanently revoked.

Here Paul makes use of the idea, found in various forms of Judaism, that a faithful remnant rather than all of Israel will be redeemed by God at the end. What he has in mind at this point is certainly the fact that some Jews, including himself, had recognized what God had accomplished in Christ.
Paul turns the disobedience of the Jews into the divinely preordained occasion, foretold in scripture, for God to offer salvation to the Gentiles. "Through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles".
Hence, Israel's disobedience is not only not accidental to God's plan of salvation, it has become an essential part of its fulfillment!

Making use of the verb "to make jealous" (parazelosai) in the verse from Deut. 3 2 : 2 1 cited in Rom. 10:19, Pa comes full circle in affirming that Israel will in turn be made jealous and return to its senses when it sees the riches of God poured out on the Gentiles. Indeed, he makes every effort to highlight his ministry to Gentiles, so as "to make my fellow Jews (ten sarka mou) jealous and thus save some of them" (11: 13f.).

In an effort to extract still more evidence of divine providence from Israel's opposition to the gospel, Paul contrasts Jews and Gentiles one final time in 11:30—32. Echoing the important Pauline theme that God offers salvation to sinners and shows mercy to the disobedient, he applies it now to the current situation of the Jews as enemies of the gospel:
Just as you [Gentiles!] were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience,so they (the Jews) have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy. For God has consigned all men to disobedience that he may have mercy on all.

If we use 1 Cor.15:28 as a guide, we should probably conclude that Paul looked forward to universal redemption without exception. In any case, for Israel there is no doubt: "All Israel will be saved."
Finally, we must dwell for a moment on an irony embedded in the argument of Rom. 9—11.On the one hand, it would be possible to claim that Paul's basic quarrel was with Israel's failure to fulfill its mission to the Gentiles (Rom. 2:17-29). The irony is that Israel has in fact now fulfilled that mission, but through disobedience rather than obedience to the Torah. For, it must be remembered, salvation has come to the Gentiles through their trespass! (Rom. 11:11). The irony is then compounded by the fact that the obedience of the formerly disobedient Gentiles will soon provoke jealousy among Jews and lead to their full restoration. Now the Gentiles have become a light unto Israel!
These are bold thoughts, unique in the literature of early—or indeed later—Christianity. For him, Christianity is neither superior to Judaism nor its fulfillment. Nor are the two one except insofar as God's promises are one. He never proclaimed his gospel at the expense of Jews or the Torah as such." [Gager, The Origins of Anti-semitism]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyTue Nov 04, 2014 4:31 pm

Camus wrote:


II - Evangelical Christianity.

1. The Tragic plane.

"Ignorance and disdain of all systematic speculation, these are what characterize the state of mind of the first Christians. The facts blind them and press them, especially the fact of death. This idea of an imminent death, closely bound moreover to the second coming of Christ, obsessed the entire first Christian generation. Herein lies the unique example of a collective experience of death. In the world of our experience, to realize this idea of death amounts to endowing our life with a new meaning. Actually, what is revealed here is the triumph of the flesh, of the physical terror before this appalling outcome. And it is no surprise that Christians have had such a bitter sense of the humiliation and anguish of the flesh and that these notions have been able to play a fundamental role in the development of Christian metaphysics. “My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt; my skin hardens, then breaks out afresh. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and come to their end without hope.” As we see it, the Old Testament, with Job and Ecclesiastes, had already set the tone for this development.

But the Gospels have placed this sense of death at the center of their worship.
Jesus being fully human, the emphasis had been concentrated on his death, and one scarcely knows of a more physically horrible death. It is on certain Catalonian sculptures, on the broken hands and the cracked joints, that one must reflect in order to imagine the terrifying image of torture that Christianity has erected as a symbol, but it suffices just as well to consult the well-known texts of the Gospel.

Another proof, if one is necessary, of the importance of this theme in Evangelical Christianity, is the indignation of the pagans. “Let her have her way with her empty illusions, and sing her sad, fond songs over her dead god who was condemned by the upright judges and, in his lonely years, met the ugliest death, linked with iron.”
And again: “Why did he allow Himself to be mocked and crucified not saying anything worthy for the benefit of His judges or His hearers, but tolerating insults like the meanest of men.”
But this is sufficient to prove the importance of the sense of death and its flesh-and-blood contents in the thought that concerns us.

“We are laughable,” says Pascal, “to remain in the company of our fellow men: miserable like us, powerless like us, they will not help us: one dies alone.” The experience of death carries with it a certain position that is tricky to define. There are actually numerous Gospel texts in which Jesus recommends indifference or even hatred toward one’s loved ones as a way of reaching the Kingdom of God. Is this the basis of an immoralism? No, but of a superior moral: “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Through these texts we understand the extent to which the “Render unto Caesar” marks a contemptuous concession rather than a declaration of conformism. That which belongs to Caesar is the denarius on which is imprinted his effigy. That which belongs to God alone is man’s heart, having severed all ties with the world. This is the mark of pessimism and not of acceptance. But as it is natural, these rather vague themes and these spiritual attitudes are made concrete and summed up in the specifically religious notion of sin.

In sin, man becomes aware of his misery and his pride. “No one is good;” “All have sinned.” Sin is universal. But among all the significant texts of the New Testament, few are as rich in meaning and insight as this passage from the Epistle to the Romans: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good . . . So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.”

Here Saint Augustine’s “incapacity not to sin” becomes apparent. At the same time, the pessimistic soul of the Christians toward the world is explained. It is to this view and to these aspirations that the constructive element of Evangelical Christianity provides an answer. But it was useful to note beforehand this state of mind. “Let us imagine a number of men in chains and all condemned to death, of which some each day have their throats cut in the sight of the others, and those who remain see their true condition in that of their fellows, and, looking at each other with sorrow and hopelessness, await their turn. This is an image of man’s condition.”

But in the same way that this Pascalian thought, situated at the beginning of the Apology, serves to emphasize the ultimate support for God, these men under the sentence of death are left with the hope that should have transported them.


2. Hope in God

“Augustine: I desire to know God and the soul. Ratio: Nothing more? Augustine: Nothing whatever.”

It is much the same in the Gospel, in which only the Kingdom of God counts, for the conquest of which one must renounce so much here below. The idea of the Kingdom of God is not absolutely new in the New Testament. The Jews already knew the word and the thing. But in the Gospels, the Kingdom has nothing ter- restrial about it. It is spiritual. It is the contemplation of God himself. Apart from this conquest, no speculation is desirable.
One must endeavor to attain the humility and simplicity of little children. It is therefore to the children that the Kingdom of God is promised, but also to the learned who have known to divest themselves of their knowledge in order to understand the truth of the heart and who have added in this manner to this very virtue of simplicity the invaluable merit of their own effort. In Octavius, Minucius Felix has Caecilius, defender of paganism, speak in these terms: “And thus all men must be indignant, all men must feel pain, that certain persons—and these unskilled in learning, strangers to literature, without knowledge even of sordid arts—should dare to determine on any certainty concerning the nature at large, and the (divine) majesty, of which so many of the multitude of sects in all ages (still doubt), and philosophy itself deliberates still.”

By placing man’s striving toward God on the highest level, these Christians subordinate everything to this movement. The world itself is ordered according to the direction of this movement. The meaning of history is what God was willing to give it. The philosophy of history, a notion foreign to the Greek spirit, is a Jewish invention. Metaphysical problems are incarnated in time, and the world becomes only a fleshly symbol of man’s striving toward God. And here again, fundamental importance is given to faith. It suffices that a paralytic or a blind man believes—this is what cures him. This is because the essence of faith is to consent and to relinquish. Moreover, faith is always more important than works.

The reward in the next world retains a gratuitous character. It is of so high a price that it surpasses the requirement of merit. And here again, it is only a matter of an apology for humility. It is necessary to prefer the repentant sinner to the virtuous man, who is completely fulfilled in himself and in his good works. For the repentant sinner, there is eternal life.
If it is true that man is nothing and that his destiny is entirely in the hands of God, that works are not sufficient to assure him of his reward, if the “No one is good” is well founded, who then will reach the Kingdom of God? The distance between God and man is so great that no one can hope to fill it. No man can reach God, and only despair is open to him. But then the Incarnation offers its solution. Man being unable to rejoin God, God descends to him. Thus is born the universal hope in Christ. Man was right to put himself in God’s hands, seeing that God offers him a most boundless grace.

It is in Paul that this doctrine is, for the first time, expressed in a coherent way. For him, God’s will has only one goal: to save man. Creation and redemption are only two manifestations of his will, the first and the second of his revelations. The sin of Adam corrupted man and led to death. He is left with no personal resources. The moral law of the Old Testament is content, in effect, to give man the image of the work he must achieve. But it does not give him the strength to achieve it. It thereby renders him twice guilty. The only way for us to be saved had been for there to come to us, to release us from our sins by a miracle of grace, this Jesus, of our race, of our blood, who represents us and is substituted for us. Dying with him and in him, man has paid for his sins: the Incarnation is at the same time redemption. But for all that, the omnipotence of God is not reached, because the death and Incarnation of his son are graces and not sanctions owing to human merit.

This de facto solution resolved all the difficulties of a doctrine establishing such a great distance between man and God. Plato, who had wanted to unite the Good to man, had been constrained to construct an entire scale of ideas between these two terms. For that he created knowledge. In Christianity, it is not reasoning that bridges this gap, but a fact: Jesus is come. To Greek wisdom, which is only a science, Christianity opposes itself as a state of affairs.

The Incarnation likewise seems unacceptable to Porphyry: “If the Greeks do think that the gods dwell in statues, at least it shows a purer mind than the belief that the deity went into the virgin’s womb.”

Nothing, therefore, is as specifically Christian as the notion of Incarnation.

Distaste for speculation, practical and religious concerns, the primacy of faith, pessimism regarding man and the immense hope which is born of the Incarnation—so many of these themes come alive again in the first centuries of our era. Actually, one must be Greek in order to believe that wisdom is learned.

From this combination of evangelical faith with Greek metaphysics arose the Christian dogmas. Moreover, steeped in the atmosphere of religious tension, Greek philosophy gave rise to Neoplatonism.

Gnosticism made use of Neoplatonism and its convenient structures in order to accommodate religious thought. Permanently detached from Judaism, Christianity filtered into Hellenism through the door that Oriental religions were holding open. And upon that altar of the unknown God, which Paul had encountered in Athens, several centuries of Christian speculation would be devoted to erecting the
image of the Savior on the cross.

We must consider the Gnostic heresy as one of the first attempts at Greco-Christian collaboration. Gnosticism is actually a Greek reflection upon Christian themes. That is why it was repudiated both by the Greeks and by the Christians.
Gnosticism is a philosophical and religious instruction, given to the initiated, based upon Christian dogmas mingled with pagan philosophy, which assimilated all that was splendid and brilliant in the most diverse religions.

Gnosticism poses problems in a Christian manner. It solves them in Greek formulas.

Basilides and Marcion are actually persuaded of the wretchedness of the world. But insofar as one accuses the carnal side of reality, one expands the catalogue of sins and wretchedness and increasingly widens the gulf between man and God. There will come a time when no repenting nor any sacrifice will suffice to fill in such a chasm. It suffices to know God to be saved. Otherwise, any works or any other source would be able to draw man out of his nothingness. This is the Christian solution of salvation through Incarnation. It is also, in one sense, the solution of the Gnostics. But Christian grace retains a character of divine arbitrariness. The Gnostics, unaware of the profound meaning of the Incarnation, restricting it in its significance, have transformed the notion of salvation into that of initiation. Valentinus actually separated humanity into three orders or types: materialists, who are tied to the goods of this world; psychics, balanced between God and matter; and the spiritual, who alone live in God and know him. The latter are saved as later will be the Chosen ones of Mani. Here is introduced the Greek notion. The spiritual are saved only by gnosis or knowledge of God. But this gnosis they learn from Valentinus and from men. Salvation is learned. It is therefore an initiation.

For though these notions of salvation and initiation appear, at first sight, related, analysis can no doubt discern subtle but fundamental differences between them. Initiation gives man influence over the divine kingdom. Salvation admits him to this kingdom, without his having any part in achieving it. One can believe in God without being saved. On the other hand, baptism does not imply salvation. Hellenism cannot be separated from this hope, about which it is so tenacious, that man holds his destiny in his own hands. And at the very heart of Christianity there was, as it happens, a tendency slowly to draw the notion of salvation back into that of initiation. In the same way that the Egyptian fellah slowly won, through the Pharaoh, the right to immortality, the Christian, through the Church, finally had in his hands the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Gnosis is an attempt to reconcile knowledge and salvation." [Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism]


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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyTue Nov 04, 2014 4:32 pm

Camus wrote:
III - Gnosticism

1. Gnostics.

"Four fundamental themes are found at the heart of the entire Gnostic system: the problem of evil, redemption, the theory of intermediaries, and a conception of God as an ineffable and incommunicable being.

“The origin of this evil doctrine is in the inquiry about where evil is from.” This is, in fact, what stands out from the little we know of Basilidean thought.  

“Basilides seems incapable of conceiving an abstraction. It is necessary for him to give it an appearance of substance.”

It is from this point of view that Basilides develops his thought and is bound to establish a theory of original sin. To tell the truth, the word does not exist in his thought, but only the idea of a certain natural pre-disposition to sin. Finally, he adds two complementary assertions: sin always carries with it a punishment, and there is always an enrichment and an atonement to draw out of suffering. These three themes are attributed indiscriminately to Basilides and to his son, Isidore.

Be that as it may, Basilides is deeply struck by the fate of martyrs. According to him, martyrdom is not useless suffering. Each suffering requires a previous sin that justifies it. Basilides must therefore conclude that martyrs have sinned. Moreover, this state is perfectly reconciled with their holiness. It is precisely their privilege to be able to atone so completely for their past. But who is the greatest of the martyrs, if not Jesus himself? Christ does not escape the universal law of sin. But at least he shows us the path of deliverance, which is the cross. This is why Basilides and his son, Isidore, inaugurated, to a certain extent, an ascetic life. Moreover, it was necessary for Isidore, because it is to him that we owe the theory of the appendage passions. The passions do not belong to us but cling to the soul and exploit us. Isidore saw clearly that a similar theory could lead the wicked to present themselves as victims and not as guilty. Hence, the ascetic rule of life.

Marcion is the one among the Gnostics who was most keenly aware of the originality of Christianity. He was aware to such a point that he turned contempt for the Jewish law into a moral.
There are two divinities for Marcion: the one is superior and rules in the invisible world, the other is subordinate and is the God of this world. “Well, but our god . . . although he did not manifest himself from the beginnings and by means of the creation, has yet revealed himself in Christ Jesus.”
The God of creation is the second God, the cruel and warlike judge, the God of the Old Testament, the one who persecuted Job to prove his power to Satan, who demanded blood and battles and whose law oppressed the Jewish people. There is no Avestic influence here. It is not a matter of two opposing principles of equal force whose struggle sustains the world, but of a God and a demiurge between whom the fight is unequal. And in the continual contrast that Paul makes between the Law and the Gospel, Judaism and Christianity, Marcion believed he saw proof that the two Testaments were inspired by different authors.

We see already the importance that Christ will take on for Marcion. He is nothing less than the envoy of the supreme God, sent to combat the wicked God, the creator of the world, and to deliver man from his domination. Jesus accomplished here below a revolutionary mission. If he atoned for our sins, it is through them that he combats the work of the cruel God. Emancipator as much as Redeemer, he is the instrument of a kind of metaphysical coup d’etat. “Marcion has laid down the position, that Christ who in the days of Tiberius was, by a previously unknown god, revealed for the salvation of all nations, is a different being from Him who was ordained by God for the restoration of the Jewish state, and who is yet to come. Between these he interposes the separation of a great and absolute difference—as great as lies between what is just and what is good; as great as between the law and the gospel; as great, (in short) as is the difference between Judaism and Christianity.”
In support of this remarkable theory, Marcion cites a number of texts, which he interprets in his own way and which he draws mostly from Luke’s Gospel. “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent? . . . If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” This strange interpretation finds its crowning achievement in morality. The rule of life that Marcion proposes is ascetic. But it is a proud or arrogant asceticism. One must scorn the goods of this world out of hatred for the Creator. One must give as little influence as possible to his domination. This is Marcion’s ideal. It is a most extreme asceticism. And if Marcion preaches sexual abstinence, it is because the God of the Old Testament says: “Increase and multiply.” In this pessimistic view of the world and this proud refusal to accept can be found the resonance of a completely modern sensibility. This pessimistic view also has its source in the problem of evil. Marcion considers the world to be wicked but refuses to believe that God can be its author. If his solution revolves around Redemption, it is because he views the role of Christ in a more ambitious manner than the Christians themselves. It is a matter of nothing less than the complete destruction of creation.

The first Gnostic generation was content to consider God as ineffable and inexpressible. But at least they believed in him firmly. Their successors went even further...   “(Time) was, says (Basilides), when there was nothing.  
“He who speaks the word was non-existent; nor was that existent which was being produced. The seed of the cosmical system was generated . . . from nonentities; (and I mean by the seed,) the word which was spoken, ‘Let there be light.’ And this . . . is that which has been stated in the Gospels: ‘He was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.’” Hippolytus summarizes these remarks as follows: “In this way, ‘nonexistent’ God made the world out of nonentities, casting and depositing some one Seed that contained in itself a conglomeration of the germs of the world.”

The pleroma that Valentinus places between God and the earth is a Christian Olympus. At least it is Christian in intention, but in form and imagination it is Greek.

Valentinus’s Godis uncreated and timeless. But solitary and perfect, he superabounds as a result of his perfection. By thus super-abounding he created a Dyad, one of Spirit and Truth. This pair in its turn generates Word and Life, which produce Anthropos and Ecclesia. From these six principles now arise the pleroma intact, which is composed of two groups of angels, or æons, the one containing a dozen, the other containing ten, that is to say, in Gnostic terms, the decade and the dodecade. Spirit and Truth, wanting to glorify the divinity, create a chorus of ten æons whose mission is to render homage to God. They are created in the following order: the Abyss, the Mixed, the One who is ageless, Unity, the One who is of his own nature, Pleasure, the One who is motionless, the Mixture, the only Son, and Happiness. Word and Life in their turn—but this time with the goal of glorifying the active Spirit— create the dodecade. The dodecade is composed of the dozen eons prepared in syzygies, that is to say, in pairs of male and female. They are: the Paraclete and Faith, the Father and Hope, the Mother and Love, Prudence and Intelligence, the Ecclesiastic and the Very Happy, the Volunteer and Wisdom. Together these æons form the pleroma, midway between God and the world.

It is remarkable that thus far God alone has created without the help of a female principle. He alone is perfect. He alone superabounds. It is through their union that Spirit and Truth or Word and Life succeeded in generating, respectively, the decade and the dodecade. Now the last born of the eons, Sophia, or Wisdom, from the bottom of the ladder of principles, turned around and wanted to see God. In this manner, she knew that God alone had created. Through pride and envy, she attempted to create on her own. But she succeeds in creating only one formless being, of which it is said in Genesis: “The earth was without form and void.” Sophia then recognized with great sorrow her ignorance and, full of fear, was moved to despair. These four passions constitute the four elements of the world. And Sophia lives forever joined to this formless fetus she had created. But God took pity on her and again created a special principle, the principle of Horos, or Limit. Limit, coming to the aid of Sophia, will restore her to her original nature and cast the world out of the pleroma, thus reestablishing the original harmony. At this moment a demiurge intervenes, and arranging matter, makes from it the cosmos. Utilizing Sophia’s passion, he created men. These men are divided into three categories according to the level of consciousness of their origin: the spiritual, who aspire to God; the materialists, who have no memory and therefore no concern for their origins; and between the two, the psychics, the indecisive, who run from the vulgar life of the senses to the most elevated anxieties without knowing which to hold on to. But they all bear the mark of their birth: they have been born of fear, ignorance, and sorrow. Hence the need for Redemption. But it is the Spirit this time who, transforming himself into Christ, came to deliver man from his ill-fated seed. Things are further complicated when we learn that the Redeemer was not Jesus. Jesus is born of the acknowledgment of the eons regarding the God who had reestablished order. They therefore gather their virtues and offer to God in thanksgiving the being thus formed. Redemption, on the contrary, is a work of the Holy Spirit who has revealed to men their divine part and who has brought about in them the death of their sinful part. This is without doubt the meaning of that enigmatic text of the Stromateis: “‘Ye are originally mortal, and children of eternal life, and ye would have death distributed to you, that ye may spend and lavish it, and that death may die in you and by you; for when we dissolve the world, and are not yourselves dissolved, ye have dominion over all creation and all corruption.’ ”

Valentinus’s ethic is closely tied to his cosmology. For all that, his cosmology is only a solution adapted to a problem that obsessed him, the problem of evil.  "I do not regard as an unbelievable thing that two brothers may have been able to fight one another. And I could not find the strength within me to say that God was the author and creator of all this evil." It is therefore the problem of evil that directed Valentinus toward these speculations. And the conclusion he draws from his cosmology is very simple: there is no freedom in the human soul as a result of Sophia’s error. Only those who regain an awareness of their origins will be saved, that is to say, the Gnostics and the spiritual. Salvation is contemporaneous with knowledge. As for the psychics, they can be saved, but it is necessary that they put themselves in the hands of the divine arbitrariness.

It is here that Valentinus’s thought rejoins the common foundation of all Gnostics.


2. Other gnostic schools:

The Followers of the Mother are thus named because nearly all of them accept a female principle as the origin of the world.

Justinus, the Gnostic of whom Hippolytus speaks, is rather a leader of a religious brotherhood. The sexually symbolic plays a great part in his speculations. It is thus that the world has three parts: the Good God, Elohim the Father Creator, and Edem his wife who represents the world. Tragedy is born when Elohim, drawn to the Good God, abandons Edem. Edem, in order to avenge herself, creates wicked man. Hence the need for Redemption.  

If we add to this list a certain Monoïmus the Arab, Neopythagorean and juggler of numbers, we will have a rather good idea of the variety of Gnostic sects and ideas.

It seems that in Gnosticism, Christianity, and Hellenism encounter one another without being able to assimilate one another and have therefore placed side by side the most heterogeneous themes.

A great number of Gnostic themes appear to come from Plato, or at least from the tradition he represents. The emanation of intelligences from the bosom of the Divinity, the madness and suffering of spirits remote from God and committed to matter, the anxiety of the pure soul tied to the irrational soul in the psychics, regeneration through a return to the original sources, all this is purely Greek. Horos, a significant name, making Sophia return within the limits of her nature is typical in this regard.
Greece introduced the notions of order and harmony into morality as into æsthetics. If Prometheus has suffered, it is because he has cast off his human nature. Sophia acted likewise, and it is by returning to the place which she was assigned that she once again finds peace.

Gnosticism has taken from Christianity the essence of its dogmas. The concern is the problem of evil... Hence their attempt also to explain Redemption.

Another influence, less marked but just as true, is the meaning of history, that is to say, the idea that the world marches toward a goal as if it were the conclusion of a tragedy. In this view of history, the world is a point of departure. It was a beginning. Truths are not to be contemplated. Rather, we use them and with them achieve our salvation. Here the Christian influence resides less in a group of doctrines than in a state of mind and an orientation.

We have already defined initiation as the union of knowledge and salvation. A “spiritual” being would make his own these orphic lines, found on the gold tablets at Croton: “I have escaped from the circle of trouble and sadness and I am now advancing toward the queen of sovereign places, Saint Persephone, and the other divinities of Hades. I glory in belonging to their blessed race. I ask them to send me into the dwelling places of the innocent in order to receive there the saving word: You will be a goddess and no longer mortal.”

Consequently, we should not be surprised to find with the Gnostics a rather large number of themes dear to Philo: the supreme Being, source of light that shines forth through the universe, the battle between light and darkness for control of the world, the creation of the world by intermediaries, the visible world as an image of the invisible world, the theme (essential for Philo) of the image of God as the unadulterated essence of the human soul, and deliverance finally, allotted as the goal of human existence.

Finally, it is possible to recognize within Gnostic doctrines the influence of a certain number of Oriental speculations, especially of Avesta. Zoroastrianism, moreover, as a result of the exile of the Jews, of the protection that Cyrus accorded them and the benevolence that he had shown Avesta, played a considerable role in the evolution of ideas in the first centuries of our era.

The Ameshas Spentas and the Yazatas, who maintain the fight against wicked demons, themselves also constitute a pleroma, intermediate between God and the earth. And Ahura Mazda has all the characteristics of the infinite Gnostic God.
These indications suffice to bring to light the complexity of Gnosticism. We see the medley of colors from which this Christian heresy shone forth.

3. Gnosticism in the Evolution of Christianity:

“Instead of eternal acts of the divine will, dramatic climaxes or passionate initiatives; failures replacing causes; in place of the unity of two natures in the person of Christ incarnated, the dispersion of divine particles in matter; instead of the distinction between eternity and time, a time saturated with eternal influences and an eternity shot through with, and emphasized by, tragedy.”

It would be best to sum up the spirit of Gnosticism thus: extending over more than two centuries, it gathers up all the ideas that lingered about the period in order to form an outrageous Christianity, woven from Oriental religions and Greek mythology. But that this heresy was Christian we cannot doubt by a certain raucous resonance that runs through it. It is evil that obsessed the Gnostics. They are all pessimists regarding the world. It is with great ardor that they address a God whom they nevertheless make inaccessible. But Christianity draws from this emotion, incalculable in the face of the divinity, the idea of His omnipotence and of man’s nothingness. Gnosticism sees in knowledge a means of salvation. In that it is Greek, because it wants that which illuminates to restore at the same time. What it develops is a Greek theory of grace.

Historically, Gnosticism reveals to Christianity the path not to follow. It is because of its excesses that Tertullian and Tatian check Christianity in its march toward the Mediterranean. It is, to a certain extent, because of Gnosticism that Christian thought will take from the Greeks only their formulas and their structures of thought—not their sentimental postulates, which are neither reducible to Evangelical thought nor capable of being juxtaposed to it—but without the slightest coherence.

The excesses themselves make us better aware of the risk of being lost in details and nuances. Nevertheless, Christianity fought this undergrowth mercilessly. But it is harder to rid oneself of one’s false children than of one’s enemies. Parallel to these developments in Christian thought, Alexandrian metaphysics was crystalizing in this period in Neoplatonism, and the material that dogmatic Christianity will use is in the process of being developed. Thus is developing, in different directions, that second revelation, which was Augustinian doctrine." [Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyTue Nov 04, 2014 4:34 pm

Camus wrote:
IV - Neo-Platonism

"The Plotinian synthesis supplies Christian thought, not with a doctrine (as certain authors argue), but with a method and a way of seeing things. The desire for God is what animates Plotinus. But he is also a Greek, and very determined to remain so to the extent that he is content to be nothing more than Plato’s commentator. In vain, however. His World Soul is Stoic. His Intelligible world comes from Aristotle. And his synthesis retains a completely personal tone. He is concerned about the destiny of the soul;4 but following his master, he also wants destiny to be included in the intellectual forms. The whole fragrance of the Plotinian landscape is this: a certain tragedy in this attempt to cast emotion in the logical forms of Greek idealism. For, to see clearly, Plotinus himself proposed to create, without the assistance of Faith and with the resources of Greek philosophy alone, what ten centuries of Christianity have succeeded in creating with great difficulty.

This solution is the joining of the destiny of the soul and the rational knowledge of things. Here the solution is like it is in psycho-analysis: the diagnosis coincides with the treatment. To reveal is to know and to cure oneself, it is to restore one’s homeland. “The demonstrations [of the Good] themselves were a kind of leading up on our way.” To know is to worship in accordance with Reason. Science is a form of contemplation and inner meditation, not a construction. Plotinus’s rationalism is based on the intelligibility of the world— but with what endless flexibility. The principles or hypostases that underlie this intelligibility are valid only in a perpetual motion that leads them from cosmological explanation to the particular state of grace that each of them represents. In one sense they mark the order of a procession, in another sense they reveal the path of conversion. Plotinus’s philosophy is an artist’s point of view. If things are explained, it is because the things are beautiful. But Plotinus carries over into the intelligible world this extreme emo- tion that seizes the artist confronted with the beauty of the world. He admires the universe to the detriment of nature. “All that is here below comes from there [the intelligible world], and exists in greater beauty there.” It is not the appearance that Plotinus seeks but rather the inside of things, which is his lost paradise. Each thing here below is made a living reminder of this solitary homeland of the wise. This is why Plotinus describes intelligence in a sensual way.

But for a Christian, art does not suffice. The world unfolds according to a divine production; and to be restored is to be incorporated into the movement of this tragedy. The climax of the Incarnation has no meaning for Plotinus. This is an opposition that goes still further. For the Christian who separates Reason and Beauty, the Truth of Beauty, Reason is reduced to its role of logical legislator. And thus conflicts between Faith and Reason become possible. For a Greek, these conflicts are less acute, because Beauty, which is both order and sensitivity, economy and the object of passion, remains a ground of agreement. It is directed against the Gnostic Christians.

If the world is beautiful, it is because something lives in it. But it is also because something orders it. This spirit that animates the world is the World Soul. The superior principle that limits this life within determined structures is called Intelligence. But the unity of an order is always superior to that order. Thus there exists a third principle superior to Intelligence, which is the One. Let us argue this in an inverse direction. There is no being that is not one. That is to say, once more, that there is no being without soul, since logos is the necessary action of the soul. In the first meaning we have discovered three levels in the explanation of the world; in the second, three stages of deepening the Self. These two processes coincide. Metaphysical reality is spiritual life considered in itself. The first is the object of knowledge; the second, of inner asceticism. And where objects coincide, so too do methods. To know is to return somewhat to the “more inward than my most inward part.” Knowledge is not an experience, but an effort and a desire, in a word, a creative evolution.
One, Intelligence, and the World Soul express the same divinity, the first in its fullness, the other two as a reflection. The procession of the three hypostases shows how this unity and this multiplicity are reconciled. This hypostatic progression, which underlies the rational explanation of the world, naturally finds its equal in conversion, which is the very movement of the soul in search of its origins.

God himself, insofar as he is perfect substance and timeless, super-abounds. He creates Intelligence, and from Intelligence will arise the World Soul.

It is in this way that Intelligence and Soul both are and are not the One. They are the One in their origin and not in their outcome, in which they are divided, the one into duality, the other into multiplicity. “The One is all things and not a single one of them: it is the principle of all things, not all things, [but all things have that other kind of transcendent existence; for in a way they do occur in the One;] or rather they are not there yet, but they will be.”

We see here how the notion of procession is opposed to that of creation: the latter separating the heavens and the creator, the former unifying them in the same gentle movement of superabundance. But this divine emanation does not take form until Intelligence, descended from God, turns back toward him and receives his reflection, and until the Soul, in its turn, contemplates the intelligible sun and is illuminated by it. It is therefore through contemplation of the superior hypostasis that each principle is fully realized.

The One is simultaneously a rational principle of explanation and a desire of the soul. Plato says that the Good is the greatest of the sciences: by science he means, not the vision of the Good, but the reasoned knowledge that we had of it before this vision.

What educates us about the Good are analogies, negations, and knowledge of beings descended from it and their graduated ascent. But what leads us to it are our purifications, our virtues, and our inner order.

Thus one becomes a contemplator of oneself and other things, and at the same time, the object of one’s contemplation; and having become essence, intelligence, and animal together, one no longer sees the good from outside. At the very moment when we look at a star, it defines us and limits us to a certain extent. And to say that the One is the principle of all things is to say that contemplation is the sole reality.

The real question is this: Why has the One, which contains all reality contracted within itself, created, and above all how is this unity made a multiplicity?

“The One, perfect because it seeks nothing, has nothing, and needs nothing, overflows, as it were, and its superabundance makes something other than itself. This, when it has come into being, turns back upon the One and is filled, and becomes Intellect by looking toward it. Its halt and turning toward the One constitutes being, its gaze upon the One, Intellect. Since it halts and turns toward the One that it may see, it becomes at once Intellect and being.” The One, therefore, produces Intellect and being as fire gives off heat or a flower its fragrance. And it is as an object of contemplation that the One gives Intelligence the forms in which it is clothed. But how can we accept that this One is scattered throughout a multiplicity of intelligibles? Herein lies the true difficulty and the center of the Plotinian system.

How can the One both be and not be dispersed in multiplicity? As a tree is spread out among its branches without being found in them entirely, as light is dispersed in the rays it emits without, however, being gathered together in them, as fire gives off heat and communicates it by affinity, and finally, as a source is able to give birth to rivers that will run to a sea of different yet similar waters, this is how the One both is and is not dispersed in multiplicity.

Are the intelligibles different from Intelligence, or are they inwardly of a form that is common to both?

Plotinus’s solution is the notion of transparency. The intelligibles are within Intelligence, but their relations are not those that ordinary logic would accept. Like those diamonds that the same water covers, of which each flash is nourished by fires that also reflect on other surfaces, such that this infinitely repeated light is defined only by these fires but at the same time without being able to embody them, in this way Intelligence scatters its brilliance in the intelligibles that are in it, as it is in them, without one being able to say what it is of Intelligence that belongs to them and what of them belongs to it.

“All things there are transparent, and there is nothing dark or opaque; everything and all things are clear to the inmost part to everything; for light itself is transparent to light. Each there has everything in itself and sees all things in every other, so that all are everywhere and each and every one is all and the glory is unbounded . . . the sun there is all the stars, and each star is the sun and all others. A different kind of being stands out in each, but in each all are manifest . . . Here, however, one part would not come from another, and each would be only a part; but there each comes only from the whole and is part and whole at once.”

What stands out in these remarks is that Intelligence bears within it all the wealth of the intelligible world. To know, for Intelligence, is entirely in knowing itself—and through that, knowing the One.
In the ideal, Intelligence indicates a state in which the object is identified with the subject, in which pure thought is only thought of itself. It is by a progressive concentration, by diving into itself, that Intelligence takes hold of its inner wealth. And scattered in its intel- ligibles though being known as Intelligence, it is the ideal intermediary between the indefinable Good that we hope for and the Soul that breathes behind sensible appearances.

The Third Hypostasis. “It occupies a middle rank among realities, belonging to that divine part but being on the lowest edge of the intelligible, and, having a common boundary with the perceptible nature, gives something to it of what it has in itself and receives something from it in return, if it does not use only its safe part in governing the universe, but with greater eagerness plunges into the interior and does not stay whole with whole.”

This text explains clearly the first aspect of the soul, heir of the intelligible world in its superior part, and dipping its lower extremity into the sensible world. But at the same time the religious content of this conception appears, and we see how the soul, a metaphysical principle, could be equally able to serve as a basis for a theory of the fall or of original sin.

This World Soul defines all that lives, in the style of the Animal of the Stoic world. But at the same time, it is also the intelligible world and more and more divided and fragmented (as the latter marks already the dispersion of the One). It is therefore the intermediary between the sensible world and the intelligible world.

How, then, does Plotinus explain the differences between individual souls? “It is that they do not have the same relation to the intelligible. They are more or less opaque. And this lesser transparency, which renders them different on the path of the procession, organizes them into a hierarchy on the path of conversion. In this connection the explana- tion by contemplation forcefully intervenes."
“[It was said that all souls are all things, but each is differentiated according to that which is active in it: that is, by] one being united in actuality, one being in a state of knowledge, one in a state of desire, and in that different souls look at different things and are and become what they look at.”

Plunging into darkness little by little, these souls sink into matter. Here, finally, Plotinian thought is not definitive. For Plotinus, the cause of this fall of the soul is both audacity and blindness. The latter interpretation would seem more orthodox. The soul is reflected in matter, and taking this reflecting for itself, it descends to become united with it, when it should, on the contrary, elevate itself in order to return to its origins.The principle that regulates it is this: it is only by its inferior part that the human soul participates in the body. But there is always in it an intelligence directed toward the intelligible world. But constrained to pilot the weak body through the traps of sensible nature, it fails and forgets little by little its princely origin. From this principle follows the whole of Plotinus’s psychology. First, if the diversity of souls imitates that of the intelligible world, their function is purely cosmic, and psychology is still physics. Another immediate consequence is that all knowledge that is not intuitive and contemplative participates in the conditions of corporeal life; reasoned thought is only a weakening of intuitive thought. Conscience is an accident and an obsession. Nothing that constitutes it can belong to the superior part of the soul. Memory itself indicates an attachment to sensible forms. The soul, having arrived at the contemplation of intelligibles, will have no memory of its past lives. In this way, there appears a conception of the self, at first sight paradoxical, but very fertile: “There is no point by which it might be able to determine its limits, so as to say: up to that point it is me.” We see here the connection between this understanding of the soul and the doctrine of conversion. It is through meditation that the soul forgets practical necessities. By closing its eyes, the sight of Intelligence will be born in it. The desire for God will animate it. It will remount the scale of things and beings. And it will recover the procession through a movement of love—which is conversion.

It is in the Soul that is found the principle of conversion. The soul is the desire for God and a nostalgia for a lost homeland. Life without God is only a shadow of life. All beings are striving toward God on the ladder of Ideas and attempt to return to the course of the procession. Matter alone, that great indigent, that positive nothing, does not aspire to God, and in it resides the principle of evil: “It is only left for it to be potentially a sort of weak and dim phantasm: so it is actually a falsity: this is the same as that which is truly a falsity’; this is ‘what is really unreal.’” But, creator of mirages, it really exists only in the blindness of souls. The principle of conversion finds its source in the Soul and not in matter. But what is this principle? It is the desire for God.

Desire is in this way frustrated by the world. “So we must ‘fly from here’ and ‘separate’ ourselves from what has been added to us.” To desire is to love what is absent from us. It is to want to be and to want to be one, because to search for an identity is in a sense to be unified. Beauty itself does not suffice. Thus, virtue is no more than a state that one must pass through in order to reach God. And nothing is desirable except through the One that colors it. The Soul in its wild desire is not content even with Intelligence. “But when a kind of warmth from thence comes upon it, it gains its strength and wakes and is truly winged; and though it is moved with passion for that which lies close by it, yet all the same it rises higher, to something greater which it seems to remember. And as long as there is anything higher than that which is present to it, it naturally goes on upwards, lifted by the giver of its love. It rises above Intellect, but cannot run on above the Good, for there is nothing above. But if it remains in Intellect it sees fair and noble things, but has not yet quite grasped what it is seeking. It is as if it was in the presence of a face which is certainly beautiful, but cannot catch the eye because it has no grace playing upon its beauty.”

This desire of the Soul contaminates Intelligence. To know is still to desire. Intelligence lacks something, and this is its unity. There is in Intelligence an indigence in relation to itself and from which it suffers and stirs. Plotinian Intelligence is not mathematical Reason. It is through a return to and contemplation of the One that Intelligence receives its form. This march toward God is for it, therefore, fundamental. And the intelligible world as a whole moves toward the One.

But the great problem that conversion evokes is analogous to the one we have found in the notion of Procession. It is laid out entirely in one text of the Enneads: “That which is altogether without a share in the good would not ever seek the good.” That is to say: you would not look for me if you had not already found me. Or, in Plotinian terms: desire requires a certain immanence of that which is desired in that which desires. Will the One, then, be transcendent or immanent? This question is much debated, on the one hand by those partisans of Plotinus’s pantheism (Zeller), on the other hand, by those who see in the One a doctrine of transcendence (Caird). Without pretending to resolve the question, we can nonetheless attempt to pose it differently.

In our view, God is therefore immanent. Desire demands it. And furthermore, we carry within ourselves the three hypostases, since it is through inner meditation that we attain ecstasy and Union with the One. On the other hand, we cannot deny Plotinus’s God an unquestionable transcendence in relation to other beings. When he creates he is not completed but superabounds without being depleted. The whole error of all overly rigid interpretations of Plotinus is to place the One in space. Plotinus’s doctrine is an attempt at nonspatial thought. The One does not exist locally and that in a certain sense it is both transcendent and immanent to all things. All things considered, it is everywhere on the condition that it is nowhere, because what is bound nowhere has no place where it cannot be.

Ecstasy or Union with the One. In order to ascend to God, one must return to oneself. Carrying within itself the reflection of its origins, the soul must be immersed in God. From God to God, such is its journey; but it must be purified, that is to say, it must be cleansed of what is bound to the soul during generation. It must not cling to what is not the soul, but must return to that homeland, the memory of which occasionally colors our souls’ restlessness. The soul, to that end, is destroyed and allows itself to be absorbed into intelligence, which dominates it, and intelligence in its turn endeavors to disappear in order to leave only the One that illuminates it. This union, so complete and so rare, is ecstasy. But here it is up to inner meditation to take over, and Plotinus stops at this point in his journey. The analysis can go no further nor any deeper. This sentiment, so nuanced and so “full” of divinity, this exqui- site melancholy of certain Plotinian texts, leads us to the heart of the thought of its author. “Often I have woken up out of the body to my self and have entered into myself.”

The fervor with which Plotinus ascends toward God could delude us and tempt us to believe him more Christian than he was capable of being. His attitude toward the Gnostics, that is to say, regarding a certain form of Christian thought, and the more categorical position of his disciple Porphyry, will permit us, on the contrary, to judge prudently. It is in the ninth treatise of Ennead II that Plotinus writes against a Gnostic sect that has yet to be defined precisely. There he contrasts eloquently his own coherent and harmonious universe with the romantic universe of the Gnostics. He reproaches the Gnostics for despising the created world and for believing that a new world awaits them, for believing themselves to be children of God and for substituting for universal harmony a providence that will satisfy their egoism, for calling the most vile men brothers, even though they do not accord this name to the gods, and for having substituted for the virtue of wisdom the idea of an arbitrary salvation in which man has no part.

This treatise is actually entitled “Against those who say that the demiurge of the world is wicked and that the world is evil.”

It is therefore through his sense of the order and economy of the world that Plotinus feels himself wounded. “Then besides this, God in his providence cares for you; why does he neglect the whole universe in which you yourselves are? . . . But they have no need of him. But the universe does need him, and knows its station.” Dramatic climaxes, creation, this human and sensible god, all this is repugnant to Plotinus. But perhaps even more repugnant to him—to his aristocracy—is the unrealistic Christian humanitarianism: “Do the Gnostics think it right to call the lowest of men brothers, but refuse, in their ‘raving talk,’ to call the sun and the gods in the sky brothers and the soul of the universe sister?” It is, therefore, also ancient Greek naturalism that protests in Plotinus.

But it is very certain that all these objections are summed up in Greek wisdom’s revulsion regarding Christian “anarchy.” The theory of unmerited and irrational Salvation is at bottom the object of all the attacks of this treatise. This doctrine of salvation implies a certain disinterest regarding virtue in the Hellenic sense. To appeal to God, to believe in him and to love him, atones thoroughly for one’s errors. Plotinus has well understood to criticize precisely this point, and he did so with uncommon violence: “This, too, is evidence of their indifference to virtue, that they have never made any treatise about virtue . . . For it does no good at all to say ‘Look to God,’ unless one also teaches how one is to look. In reality it is virtue which goes before us to the good and, when it comes to exist in the soul along with wisdom, shows God; but God, if you talk about him without true virtue, is only a name.”

It must be well understood that it is a matter of Gnosticism and that these reproaches are addressed to a certain caricature of Christianity. But in the end, Plotinus is fighting far more an attitude toward the world than the details of doctrine.

What place must we attribute, therefore, to Neoplatonism between Hellenism and Christianity? Regarding the former, we have sufficiently demonstrated that the Enneads contain what is purely Hellenic. But something nevertheless made Plotinus a completely original figure. In Plato’s writings, myths of the destiny of the soul seem added and juxtaposed to properly rational explanations. In Plotinus, the two processes form one body, and neither can be excluded, since they conceal the same reality. This is the difference essential to understand and which distinguishes Plotinus in his epoch. It is a difference equally valuable with regard to Christianity, since, all the more, it is the rational aspect that is missing from Christian thought. Midway between two doctrines, Plotinus is clearly appointed to serve as intercessor. To tell the truth, what Neoplatonism has furnished Christianity with for its subsequent development is a method and a direction of thought.

It is actually according to the principle of participation that Christianity will resolve its great problems, that is to say, the problems of the Incarnation and the Trinity.

Consider Athanasius’s Defense of the Nicene Council, in which he cites Theognoste, head of the Catechetical School of Alexandria between 270 and 280 CE.98 “The essence of the Son is not procured from without, nor accruing out of nothing, but it sprang from the Father’s essence, as the radiance of light, as the vapour of water; for neither the radiance, nor the vapour, is the water itself or the sun itself, nor is it alien; but it is an effluence of the Father’s essence, which, however, suffers no partition. For as the sun remains the same, and is not impaired by the rays poured forth by it, so neither does the Father’s essence suffer any change, though it has the Son as an Image of Itself.”

These texts are significant and show us the nature of Neoplatonism’s influence concerning methods of resolution. It is therefore with good reason that we have taken Plotinus’s thought as the symbol of this influence. It has prepared and made more flexible formulas which, in the required time, were ready to be used by Christianity. Apart from that which is moving and original in itself, its role stops there. Too many things separate Saint Augustine and Plotinus." [Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyTue Nov 04, 2014 4:35 pm

Camus wrote:

V - The Second Revelation

The Neoplatonism of Saint Augustine:

"The celebrated passage of the Confessions on the “books of the Platonists” gives us a very clear account of the question. “I read . . . that at the Beginning of time the Word already was; and God had the Word abiding with him, and the Word was God . . . [and that] the Word, who is himself God, is the true Light, which enlightens every soul born into the world . . .
“But I did not read in them that the Word was made flesh and came to dwell among us . . . [and] they do not say that he dispossessed himself, and took on the nature of a slave, fashioned in the likeness of men, and presenting himself to us in human form; and then he lowered his own dignity, accepted an obedience that brought him to death.” Opposing Incarnation to Contemplation, Saint Augustine had clarified for the first time the oppositions and similarities between these two forms of thought.

On many points, Manichaeanism merely continued Gnosticism, but it promised demonstrations. This is what attracted Saint Augustine.

But the problem of evil obsessed him as well: “I was still trying to discover the origin of evil, and I could find no solution.” And he is haunted by the idea of death.

“[These were the thoughts which I turned over and over in my unhappy mind,] and my anxiety was all the more galling for the fear that death might come before I had found the truth.” Greek in his need for coherence, Christian in the anxieties of his sensitivity, for a long time he remained on the periphery of Christianity. It was both the allegorical method of Saint Ambrose and Neoplatonic thought that convinced Saint Augustine. But at the same time they did not persuade him. The conversion was delayed. From this it appeared to him that above all the solution was not in knowledge, that the way out of his doubts and his disgust for the flesh was not through intellectual escapism, but through a full awareness of his depravity and his misery. To love these possessions that carried him so low: grace would raise him high above them.

What Saint Augustine demanded beside faith was truth, and beside dogmas, metaphysics. And through Augustine, Christianity itself demanded it.  

Plotinus provides Saint Augustine with a doctrine of the intermediate word and, what is more, a solution to the problem of evil.

The hypostasized intelligence actually clarifies the destiny of Christ as the word of God. “We have learned from a divine source that the Son of God is none other than the Wisdom of God—and most certainly the Son of God is God...but what do you think the wisdom of God is if not truth. And indeed, it has been said: I am the truth” (De Beata Vita, ch. IV, no. 34, P.L.I. 32, col. 975). As for evil, Plotinianism teaches Augustine that it is tied to matter and that its reality is entirely negative (Conf. VII, 12, VIII, 13). And by this all Saint Augustine’s doubts seem to have vanished. But for all that, conversion did not come. There is this curiosity about the author of the Confessions, namely, that his experience remains the perpetual reference for his intellectual pursuits. Satisfied but unconvinced, he himself remarks that it is the Incarnation and its humility that Neoplatonism has been unable to offer to him. Only after having understood this did an outburst of tears and joy come to deliver him in the garden of his home. It was virtually a physical conversion, so total that Saint Augustine moves progressively toward renouncing all that was his life and to consecrating himself to God.

It is therefore this place, given to Christ and the Incarnation in Christianity’s originality, that one must note in Augustine. The figure of Jesus and the problem of Redemption will transfigure everything.

Neoplatonism maintains that evil is a privation and not a true reality. Saint Augustine agrees with this view. But still it is necessary to distinguish two types of evil: natural evil (the misery of our condition, the tragedy of human destinies) and moral evil, that is to say, Sin. God has given us the free will of Adam, but our will has acquired the desire to serve evil. And we are so profoundly corrupted that it is from God alone that comes all good use of free will. Left to himself, man would possess in himself only wickedness, falsehood, and sin: “No one has anything of his own except falsehood and sin.” It is God who restores him when he deigns to do so. This is why the virtues that reside in us only have meaning and value through God’s assistance, special and suited to our weakness; namely, through his grace. Saint Augustine lays great stress upon the vanity of virtue itself. First grace, then virtue; here we recognize an Evangelical theme.

Thus it is that pagan virtues are ineffectual. God has given them virtues in order to urge us to acquire them if we lack them, and to humble our pride if we possess them. Moreover, these natural virtues instead become vices when man glorifies himself through them. Pride is the sin of Satan. On the contrary, our only legitimate end is God. And the gift God makes of his grace is always the result of his generosity. This grace is free. Those who believe they can acquire it through good works take things the wrong way. Grace would not be free if it were possible to merit it. It is necessary to go even further. To believe in God is already to experience his grace. Faith begins with Grace. Of course, there is still no problem where there is only submission. Nevertheless, as is the rule in what concerns evil, this absolute dependence gives rise to great difficulties. Here divine grace is absolutely arbitrary: man must only have faith in God. How then can we speak of human freedom? But the difficulty is that our only freedom is precisely the freedom to do evil. Saint Augustine’s final word on this question, vital for a Christian, is an admission of ignorance. Divine arbitrariness remains intact.

The fierceness that Saint Augustine puts into his fight against Pelagianism will be explained if we summarize the latter’s thought. It is from his profound experience, from his acute awareness of the wickedness in man, that Saint Augustine was suffering.

A Breton monk, Pelagius feared at bottom a certain complacency in sin that can be drawn from the doctrine of predestination. A man of conscience rather than of ideas, these especially are his disciples: Celestius and Julian, who propagate his doctrines.

According to Pelagius, man had been created free. He can do good or evil as he pleases. This freedom is an emancipation from God. “Freedom of will, whereby a man was emancipated from God, consists of the ability to commit sin or refrain from sin.”

The loss of this freedom was for Saint Augustine a consequence of original sin. On the contrary, the Pelagians thought that Freedom, being governed entirely by the will, implies that man could, if he desired it, avoid sin. “I say that it is possible for a man to be without sin.”

But then the doctrine of original sin loses all significance. And the Pelagians reject this doctrine absolutely as leading to Manichean conclusions. If Adam has injured us, it is only through his poor example. We must not even accept the secondary consequences of the fall, like the loss of the soul’s immortality. According to Pelagius, Adam was born a mortal. Nothing of his error has been passed on to us. “New-born infants are in the same condition as Adam was before the fall.”

If we sin easily, it is because sin has become in us a second nature. As the Pelagians see it, and strictly speaking, grace is useless. But as always according to Pelagius, creation is already a form of grace. For all that, grace retains its usefulness not “in order to accomplish” but “in order to accomplish more easily [the works of God].” It is an aid, a recommendation with which God provides us. In a general way, it demonstrates confidence in man and rejects explanations by divine arbitrariness. It is also an act of faith in man’s nature and independence. But graver consequences followed from this. The fall denied, Redemption lost its meaning. Grace was a pardon and not a type of protection. Above all, this was to declare the independence of man in relation to God and to deny that constant need of the creator that is at the heart of the Christian religion.
Against this doctrine, Saint Augustine concluded his theories with a certain number of affirmations. Adam possessed immortality. He was free in that he had the “ability not to sin” and enjoyed already a certain divine grace. Original sin came to destroy that happy state.

Our nature is tainted, and without baptism, man is destined for damnation (according to John II, 54). Saint Augustine sees proof of this in the universal desolation of the world and in the misery of our condition, of which he paints a powerful picture.

But these are the secondary effects of original sin. Others more intimate and more irremediable will indicate the extent of our misfortune. First, we have lost the freedom of the “ability not to sin.”

We depend on divine grace. On the other hand, damnation is, in principle, universal. Humankind as a whole is doomed to the flames. Its only hope is divine mercy. From this, there follows another consequence: the damnation of unbaptized children.

Grace is then made more urgent. And we are dependent on this grace from three points of view: in order for us to preserve our tainted nature, in order to believe the truths of the supernatural order, and in order to make us act according to those truths. But this highest grace which is faith we do not merit by our works. However, we can merit, to a certain extent, that of beneficence. In all cases, what determines our entire fate is Predestination. And Saint Augustine constantly returns to the gratuity of this doctrine. The number of the chosen, just as that of the outcasts, is set once and for all and invariably. Only then does God consider our merits and demerits in order to determine the degree of our punishment.

We have grasped in reality what in Saint Augustine is specifically Christian. What he has drawn from the Platonic authors is a certain conception of the Word. But his role was to include Christ in this conception and from there to develop it into the Word made flesh of the fourth Gospel.

Plotinus actually arranges his hypostases in a hierarchy and affirms the distance that separates the One from Intelligence. Saint Augustine, in his account, started from God, not as the source of the other two essences, but as the only nature of the Trinity. “The one God is, of course, the Trinity, and as there is one God, so there is one creator.”

The three persons of the Trinity are therefore identical. From this there follow three fundamental consequences: the three persons have only one will and one operation. “They are supremely one without any difference of natures or of wills.” “It is therefore not the Word alone that has appeared on earth but the entire Trinity.” “In the Incarnation of the Son it is the whole Trinity that is united to the human body.”

It is thus that the Word is separated from Neoplatonic Intelligence.

The Flesh: The Word has already been made flesh, its body is real, earthly and born of a woman. This union of body and word is indestructible. Man and Christ are one, and this is the whole Christian mystery: “The fact that the Word became flesh does not imply that the Word withdrew and was destroyed on being clothed with flesh, but rather that flesh, to avoid destruction, drew near to the Word . . . The same One who is Man is God, and the same one who is God is Man, not by a confusion of nature but by unity of person.” What one must note here is that the Word in Saint Augustine is increasingly Plotinian, and it is increasingly separated from Neoplatonism to the extent that the union of this Word and this flesh becomes more miraculous. But everything is justified by one fact: Jesus’ incarnation. Augustinianism declares at each step the inadequacy of philosophy. The only intelligent reason is the one that is enlightened by faith. “True philosophy begins by an act of adherence to the supernatural order which will liberate the will from the flesh through grace, and thought from scepticism through revelation.” One could not emphasize this point too much.

The dialogue between Faith and Reason is placed, for the first time, in full view by Saint Augustine: this was the whole history of Christian evolution. There are two things in Augustinian faith: the adherence of the spirit to supernatural truths and the humble abandonment of man to the grace of Christ. One must believe, not that God exists, but in God.
“But you will probably ask to be given a plausible reason why, in being taught, you must begin with faith and not rather with reason.” Reason must be humbled: “The beatitudes begin with humility. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ that is to say, those not puffed-up, while the soul submits itself to divine authority.”

Thus we can grasp that the Alexandrian Word had served Christian thought without harming it. By understanding Saint Augustine, we can understand the entire course of Christianity’s evolution: to soften progressively Greek reason and to incorporate it into its own edifice, but in a sphere in which it is inoffensive.

In this sense, it is possible to consider Augustinianism as a second revelation, the revelation of a Christian metaphysic that follows the initial revelation of Evangelical faith. The miracle is that the two may not be contradictory.

Augustinianism marks both an end and a beginning. Here ends the evolution of primitive Christianity and begins the history of Christian doctrine.
The principle fact in its evolution is its break with Judaism and its entrance into the Greco-Roman world. From that moment on, the fusion begins. Prepared by Oriental religions, Mediterranean thought is inclined to be impregnated by this new civilization. Though Neoplatonism can be considered as the artisan of this fertilization, it is true that it too is born of this Greco-Oriental syncretism. The dogmatic formulas of Christianity are products of a combination of this syncretism and Evangelical faith’s own givens. Announced by Paul and John, elaborated by the Greeks, converted to Christianity, these formulas find their fullest expression in Augustinianism.

Christian thought had conquered through its universality." [Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyTue Dec 02, 2014 10:11 am

Quote :
"For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God [Exod XXXIV: 14].

For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God [Deut IV:24].

14. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you.

15. (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth [Deut VI].

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen [Ezek XXXVI:5].

God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies [Nah 1:2].


To refuse to share, to coexist, to tolerate equivalence; these things are ruthlessly divine. In comparison to Jahweh, the God of the Christians is a wheedler; a door to door salesman. It is true, nevertheless, that the genocidal frenzy with which Jahweh asserts his monopoly can disconcert. Squeamishness is not a charge one can fairly bring against him:

1. When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;

2. And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:

3. Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son’ [Deut VII].

16. But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:

17. But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee [Deut XX].

Jealousy is inextricable from paroxystic violence, historically rooted in national chauvinism, before being sublimed into the cosmological intolerance of a divinity. What does it matter who is instrument here? Whether God serves the annihilating designs of a tribe, or the tribe serves to purify the earth of alien gods? There is no antagonism at the origin, but rather a perfect pact between the election of the chosen people and the brutal solitude of the unnameable One.

What the Jews never understood about this God (the Christians understood it even less of course) was the sovereignty of this jealous wrath. How could these feverish rages be subordinated to an end beyond themselves, to a mere persistence, as if God—too—was subject to inhibition? A God that held himself in check, submitting the splenetic extravagance of his moods to the exigency of being, would be something far less glorious than the sun (he would be humbled by a mediocre star). Each creature uselessly dispensing with its existence would outstrip his prodigality, deepening by a ratchet-notch his hatred for himself.

Could such a God glimpsing the impossible sovereignty of his fury—time opening as a dark shaft of impersonal loss—and, howling in utter loathing at the servility of self, restrain from scurrying to a squalid death on the cross?" [Landa, The Thirst for Annihilation]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptySat Dec 06, 2014 12:18 pm

'Drago Lord' (comment at alt-right-blogspot) wrote:
Well the Christian Right had a lot of power during the bush administration

All we got was a push for amnesty and two wars for Israel

And it is Israel that is important, because ultimately what Christians want is the world to end and Jesus to come. They are radically incompatible with our ideology, which actually cares about earthly concerns and the future

Beyond that, I fail to see how Leftism is not the natural evolution of Christianity

Aren't leftists but Christian True Believers, reading the Gospel Morality in the most literal interpretation? Loving their enemies, hating their family, glorifying the poor, damning the rich?

Leftism developed when literacy rates grew and people actually could read the Gospel. The real nature of Christianity has been out of the bag ever since, and unless you ban people from reading the Gospel it won't change

The Pope wants Europe to abolish its border because it is what Jesus would want, Lutheran Churches import somalians because that is what Jesus would want: for the meek and degenerate to take the land away from the strong, healthy and superior

Do we want to create a christian society, with the same values, just to repeat the same process?

Emphasized part marked by me.
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptySun Dec 07, 2014 5:44 pm

Following from Camus' description above of Plotinus,, these images should make it even more clear.

The Plotinian "Overflow" of the "Prime-Mover":


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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyThu Dec 11, 2014 5:40 am

McEvilley's comparative reading of Plotinus, from 'Shape of Ancient Thought':


Quote :
"According to Bhaskara's successor, Yadava Prakasa, the relationship between the One and the Many is bhedabheda "difference/nondifference". The absolute by exercizing its own potential energy (sakti), transforms itself into the world, while yet remaining itself. Plotinus had it figured out similarly: By its dynamis - a term as close as Greek gets to sakti - the One spontaneously radiates the Many. Ramanuja, around 1100 A.D., synthesized the tradition: The power of the One proceeds from it without truly becoming separate from it, as moonbeams proceed from the moon, and constitutes the manifest universe, which is both different from the One and not different from it. Plotinus' own doctrine was more like those of Ramanuja or Bhaskara than like that of Sankara. "Nothing is separate", he said, "which originates from the One - but nothing is identical with it either." (Ennead, 6.3.12)"

Quote :
"Ramanuja, Madhva, and other Vedantins taught that the One transforms only a part of itself into the phenomenal world, another part remaining transcendent . Plotinus duplicates this structure of Vedantic thought, in the concept of the World Soul, which has a lower immanent aspect and a higher transcendent aspect.
In other passages both Plotinus and the Upanisadic-Vedantic authors shift from the imagery of pantheism to that of omnipresence. As the Svetasvatara Upanishad called brahman "the one embracer of everything" (4.14), so Plotinus says "everything is fully held by the divine" (Enn., 5.5.9)

"We cannot think of something of god here and something else there, nor of all god gathered at some one spot: there is an instantaneous presence everywhere. (Enn., 5.5.9)

"The divine nature is infinite. Therefore it is not limited. That means that it is never absent; it is present in all things... Conceive it as a power of an everfresh infinity, a principle unfailing, inexhaustible, at no point giving out, brimming over with its own vitality... You cannot pass onto where it is not yet; you will never halt at a dwindling point where it fails at last and can no longer give; you will always be able to move with it - better, to be in its entirety - and so seek no further. (ib., 6.6.12)"

The Upanisadic authors and Plotinus were both at pains to unite these two approaches to the One, and both did so by expressions of bipolar contradictions. "It is far and it is near; it is within all this and it is also outside all this:, says the Isa Upanishad (5). The Brahma Sutra declares "that the individual self is different... from Brahman but at the same time not different" (2.3.43), that the world of the Many is a part of brahman (2.3.43), yet the brahman has no parts (2.1.26). And Plotinus: "The One is all things and none of them" (Enn., 6.2.1). "It can be none of existing things - yet it is all" (6.7.32). "It is both present and absent" (5.5.9)."

Quote :
"The Katha Upanishad presents it as the absolute contradiction of all that is ordinarily regarded as knowledge. "When the five (sense) knowledges together with the mind cease (from their normal activities) and the intellect itself does not stir, that, they say, is the highest state (II.3.10)."
...Again, both agree that this condition cannot be willed to happen. "We must not run after it", says Plotinus, "but fit ourselves for the vision and then wait tranquilly for its appearance" (V.5.8 ). And the Katha Upanishad: "This self cannot be attained by instruction, nor by intellectual power, nor even through much hearing. He is to be attained only by the one whom the (self) chooses" (I.2.23). In a locution that shows how close are the Orphic and the Upanishadic discourses, Plotinus defines "acquiring identity with the Divine" as "awakening into myself" (IV.8.6)."

Quote :
"The type of knowledge in which subject and object are one is the "thought that thinks itself" that Aristotle attributed to the Prime Mover, and Plotinus calls such knowing "primal intellection". When the mind cognizes something external to it the act "cannot be the primally intellective since it does not possess the object as integrally its own or as itself - the condition of true intellection (VI.6.1)." He calls primal knowing "a unity in duality... being dual by the fact of intellection and single by the fact that its intellectual object is itself (VI.6.1.). This primal act of knowing, in other words, is simply an ultimate self-awareness.
...This nondual knowledge is so primal that every sentient being is regarded as already permeated with it at a level so basic and personal that one cannot even see it. "It does not have to come and so be present to you", says Plotinus, "it is you that have turned from it (VI.6.12). And Sankara: "It only removes the false notion, it does not create anything" (Commentary on the Brihad Up. I.4.10)."


Quote :
"In that you have entered into the All, no longer content with the part, you cease to think of yourself as under limit but, laying all such determination aside, you become an All. No doubt you were always that, but there has been an addition, and by the addition you are diminished; for the addition was not from the realm of Being - you can add nothing to Being - but from non-Being. It is not by some admixture of non-Being that one becomes an entire, but by putting non-Being away By the lessening of the alien in you, you increase. Cast it aside and there os the All within you; engaged in the alien, you will not find the All. Not that it has to come and so be present to you; it is you that have turned from it. And turn though you may, you have not severed yourself; it is there; you are not in some far region; still there before it, you have looked the other way." [Ennead, VI.6.12]


Quote :
"Plotinus does not call the subjective awareness of the One a noesis, or act of knowing with subject and object, but an epibole, literally a kind of hurling oneself upon the object, an immediate intuition without self-discrimination (V1.7.38-39). Sometimes he calls it a "pre-knowing" (pronoousa) (VI.3.10). He notes that he is speaking loosely when he says, "The One, as it were, made itself by an act of looking at itself. This act of looking at itself is, in effect, its being" (VI.8.16). A little later in the same passage he calls the One "a wakefulness and an eternal superknowledge. The universe is consciousness, or mental activity, at different levels of intensity, from the extremely vague and inert consciousness of stones and vegetables up to the highest contemplation, that of oneness with the One. Consciousness is being. The act of contemplation makes what it contemplates."


Quote :
"Plotinus repeatedly speaks in terms that suggest Indian and Tibetan meditation practices. The most striking passage is this:
'Let us, then, make a mental picture of our universe; each member shall remain wat is, distinctly apart; yet all is to form, as far as possible, a complete unity so that whatever comesinto view, say the outer orb of the heavens, shall bring immediately with it the vision, on the one plane, of the sun and of all the stars, with earth and sea and all living things as if exhibited upon a transparent globe.
Bring this vision actually before your sight, so that there shall be in your mind the gleaming representation of a sphere, a picture holding all the things of the universe moving or in repose or (as in reality) some at rest, some in motion. Keep this sphere before you, and from it imagine another, a sphere stripped of magnitude and of spatial differences; cast out your inborn sense of Matter, taking care not merely to attentuate it: call on God, maker of the sphere whose image you now hold, and pray Him to enter. And may He come bringing His own Universe with all the gods that dwell with in it - He who is the one God and all the gods, where each is all, blending into a unity, distinct in powers but all one god in virtue of that one divine power of many facets. (Enn. V.8.9)'
Plotinus's instruction to his students has almost exact parallels in tantric practices, where "the characteristic... method of meditation is visualization". The tantric aspirant is instructed to work on the detailed and clear visualization of a mandala, a "magic circle" which is "above all, a map of the cosmos". ...Despite the denials by some, there is evidence suggesting formal meditational practice in Plotinus's school, directed by Plotinus himself, perhaps as part of his instructions in theoria, literally "seeing"."

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyThu Dec 11, 2014 5:47 am

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptySun Jan 18, 2015 7:01 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptySun Jan 18, 2015 7:05 pm

Drury wrote:
"In an age that is disenchanted with science and technology but is hungry for authority, we long for the towering moral authority of the Church. Without realizing it, we long for a romanticized version of the Middle Ages. We long for a world in which the Church represented a transcendent moral order to which the state was subject. We long for a day when the Church provided a moral compass that sets limits on the power and iniquity of the state. We long for a time when submitting to the authority of the Church was proof that the state is legitimate—that it is more than the incarnation of force and fraud. We dream of a Church that can curb the immorality of society. We imagine a Church that can play the role of an international umpire, upholding justice and settling disputes between secular powers.


The Christian conception of virtue as an inner disposition of soul cannot infiltrate politics without making the latter totalitarian in the literal sense of the word. Christianity is not satisfied with outward conformity; it demands heartfelt convictions; it is not limited to the public realm but pervades every aspect of life—worship, belief, educa- tion, entertainment, business, family, and intimate relations. But law and politics can only require outward conformity. They cannot demand particular sentiments. They cannot command the heart. And when they try to, they become monstrous. Unfortunately, the conception of virtue as an inner disposition of the heart is irresistible to society. Society is rarely satisfied with people who behave decently as upright and honor- able citizens. Society insists on changing attitudes—it insists on partic- ular beliefs, sentiments, and dispositions. In that sense, society is by nature totalitarian.

The Christian idea that you must believe in order to be saved is one of the problems: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
This conflict between human nature and morality is at the root of the Western assumption that terror––spiritual, political, and psychological––is at the heart of the civilizing process. The assumption is that to be civilized, man must be spiritually terrified, politically oppressed, or psychologically brutalized.

Wittingly or unwittingly, the ethic of love has contributed to the development of an inner state of siege—a psychology of terror—that accounts for the psychic neurosis of the West.

Christianity has bequeathed to Western civilization a conception of morality as a repressive internal policeman. Not only is this policeman concerned with monitoring our actions, but also our thoughts. The result is a pathological augmentation of guilt that Freud associates with neurosis. In other words, the Christian sensibility has created a psychic state of siege that is best described as the neurosis of the West. Far from undermining Christian morality with his signature brand of rational secularism, Freud lends it scientific authority and makes it as influential in the modern secular world as it was in the Dark Ages. Nor does he deny his intellectual debt to Christianity. On the contrary, he declares Christianity to be true—historically and psychologically speaking. Far from rejecting original sin as preposterous, chimerical, and unfounded, Freud provides it with a historical and psychological justification. Freud replaces the war between the flesh and the Spirit with the struggle between the id and the superego. Just as the Spirit is the alien voice of God, the superego is the alien voice of society. But the assumption is still the same—namely, that there is a conflict between human nature on one hand and the moral law on the other. No one articulated this thesis more clearly or more systematically than Freud.

What passes for late modernity or postmodernity is not so much a departure from fundamental Christian assumptions, but their continuation in a new guise." [Terror and Civilization]
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptySun Jan 18, 2015 7:14 pm

Drury wrote:
"At the heart of the matter is the assumption that there is a conflict between human instincts and morality—human nature and civilization. By nature man is a wild and dangerous animal. Terror and brutality are necessary to civilize him and make him fit for society. The assumption is that the civilizing process is a process by which man is tamed, despoiled, and domesticated. In other words, terror and civilization are intimately linked because terror is the key to the civilizing process. This is the view that I intend to challenge.

The view that I am challenging is the view that conscience is an alien, hostile, and repressive force—the internalization of terror—the terror of civilization. I believe that this thesis leads to erroneous (but enduring) assumptions about the relation between human nature and civilization. Moreover, it seriously misconstrues the connection between terror and civilization.

Freud explains that the task of civilization is to render the aggressive instincts of the individual innocuous; otherwise, social life and the life of the individual are threatened. The strategy is as follows:

His aggressiveness is interjected, internalized; it is, in point of fact, sent back to where it came from—that is, it is directed towards his own ego. There it is taken over by a portion of the ego, which sets itself over against the rest of the ego as the super-ego, and which now, in the form of “conscience,” is ready to put into action against the ego the same harsh aggressiveness that the ego would have liked to satisfy upon other, extra- neous individuals. The tension between the harsh super-ego and the ego that is subjected to it is called by us the sense of guilt; it expresses itself as a need for punishment. Civilization, therefore, obtains mastery over the individual’s dangerous desire for aggression by weakening and disarming it and by setting an agency within him to watch over it, like a garrison in a conquered city.

Conscience is a garrison within—the military metaphor underscores the violence involved. For Freud, civilization is an all-out war against the instincts. This psychological form of terror is far greater and considerably more effective than any threat of physical torment. Indeed, it is so successful that it punishes the individual not only for her misdeeds but also for her thoughts and wishes:

"the distinction, . . . between doing something bad and wishing to do it disappears entirely, since nothing can be hidden from the super-ego, not even thoughts."

Conscience succeeds where punishment fails. However, the success of civilization is purchased at a price—a staggering price for the human psyche and its instincts. For conscience is not satisfied merely with the renunciation of the illicit desires, it demands that they no longer be desired. The forbidden thoughts, feelings, and desires must be banished. Con- science demands thought-control and censorship. Freud’s conception of conscience has for its model the morality of Jesus. Like Jesus, Freud does not confine sin to actions. Conscience finds us culpable not only for our wrongdoing, but also for our thoughts, impulses, dreams, and fantasies.

From Christianity to Freud, this view of civilization invites the same questions. What evidence is there that human nature and the moral law are antithetical? What evidence is there that civilization and the instincts are indeed deadly enemies?

It is my contention that the war of civilization against the instincts is the invention of Freud. But he did not invent it single-handedly; he inherited it from the Christian civilization that shaped him. In what follows, I will make arguments against the view that civilization is built on the backs of the instincts, that human nature and civilization are profoundly antithetical, and that only spiritual, political, or psychological terror can civilize humanity.

Why not abandon the negative view of civilization altogether? Why not see civilization as presenting us with something appealing that we love, and are willing to serve with devotion and even self-sacrifice. Why not affirm a genuine positivity or a true good? Conscience may not be a garrison within; it may be a self-imposed restraint that admonishes and even torments, because men and women cannot stand to live haplessly without purpose, without ideals, and without discipline. Civilization offers us a way of life that is as arduous as it is enchanting.

Far from subverting human inclinations, civilization succeeds so well because it goes with the grain—not against the grain. And that is why there is no reason to marvel at its astounding success. Civilization cannot succeed against all odds. It succeeds because it answers a deep need for discipline, a need to give life structure and meaning, a need to be admired, and to admire oneself. Civilization succeeds not because it is contrary to nature, but precisely because it appeals to certain funda- mental aspects of our nature. In particular, it allows us to indulge our penchant for grand ideals, and to pursue these ideals without mercy and without restraint. Civilization provides us with the opportunity to live large; it provides us with grand visions or grand narratives that give significance to our lives.

Civilization makes it possible to conquer and colonize in the name of our ideals. But in so doing, it makes human beings more dangerous animals than need be. When we find a grand ideal to give significance to our lives, we are eager to share it with the world; and if the world is unwilling to receive it, we are ready to impose it on a recalcitrant and ignorant multitude. And if threatened by a competing ideal, we are ready to defend our ideals to the death.

I have no intention of substituting the belief in the depravity of human nature with faith in its inherent goodness. I have no intention of denying that terror and civilization are intimately linked. My claim is that the connection between them has been seriously misconstrued. In my view, human beings are not attracted to evil; they aspire to be part of something resplendent; they need to order their lives according to some grand ideals, some difficult principles, or some arduous rules; and this is why civilization must be understood as a search for ideals. It is not for love of evil or even love of self that human beings do wrong. The worst atrocities have their source in the zealous pursuit of a sublime ideal that is believed to be so majestic, so magnificent, and so grand, that it is worthy of every sacrifice, every hardship, and every abomination.

Civilization makes it possible to do things collectively; it makes it possible to act together in concert and with conviction. Such collective action may contribute to our well-being and our development but it also allows us to indulge in abominations that transcend the abilities or incli- nations of primitive man. In particular, civilization provides the tools to fight, not just for survival, but also for the triumph of our ideals. In short, what makes us civilized is also what makes us terrible.

The problem is that Freud has misunderstood the nature of the danger involved. It is not a question of the revolt of the instincts; it is not the animal that we should fear; it is not the beast within that poses the danger; it is the civilized man. Civilization co-opts us into its schemes by allowing us to indulge our penchant for grand ideals. It allows us to colonize and conquer in the name of these ideals. Civilization arms us with weapons and with a clear conscience. Only civilized men have the technological as well as the psychological equipment to launch deadly and destructive wars of unimaginable cruelty and terror. Only the conviction that we are conquering in the name of something sublime and splendid allows us to ignore the barbarous ferocity of our conduct.

Freud naïvely allies civilization with pacifism and the savage instincts with war. In his exchange with Einstein on war, Freud interprets war as the revolt of the instincts against the repressions of civilization. But this dualism between civilization and the savage instincts is fallacious. There is nothing pacifistic about civilization.

In conclusion, the assumption that human nature and civilization are at odds, and that human beings must therefore be terrorized spiritually, politically, or psychologically in order to be civilized, has very dire consequences. It leads to a fallacious understanding of the relation of terror and civilization. It assumes that terror and civilization are opposites. It assumes that civilization represents the right, the just, and the good. It assumes that the function of civilization is to subdue nature in general and the diabolical nature of man in particular. By exaggerating the evil of human nature, it justifies the endless terrors of civilization. But worst of all, it has the effect of mistaking all self-restraint and self-government for repression. This attitude incites a Promethean revolt—not only against God but also against morality itself.

The assumption is that transgression liberates whatever it is that has been mercilessly repressed by the prohibitions of civilization.

In conclusion, biblical morality unwittingly leads to a Promethean revolt and its attendant valorization of evil. When the moral life is reduced to submissive, blind, uncomprehending obedience, evil becomes a heroic defiance. And for all its talk about liberating humanity from the yoke of the Mosaic Law, Christianity has imposed an even harsher law that is not satisfied with restraining the hand, but insists on commanding the mind. The result is that the moral life came to be understood as an inner state of siege, the war of the Spirit against the flesh, the aggressive instincts turned inward, and a garrison in a conquered city. This understanding of morality invites a Promethean revolt against God, morality, and conscience—a revolt against the forces of oppression. This triumph over conscience is naturally understood as a heroic revolt in the name of the natural, wild, original self, which has been domesticated and despoiled by civilization. This is not a romanticization of nature; this is not a rejection of the assumption that human nature is depraved. On the contrary, it is a valorization of nature in all its depravity. Human nature is not as depraved as Christianity would have it, and civilization is not as oppressive as Freud and his cohorts believe. Far from thwarting our nature, civilization offers us just what we long for—but that is precisely the trouble." [Terror and Civilization]
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed May 20, 2015 6:42 pm

A very "interesting" blog:

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed May 20, 2015 6:53 pm

perpetualburn wrote:
A very "interesting" blog:

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If I recall accurately, he runs the Rudolf Steiner Archive:
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He's a bit chaotic and prattled, which is usually the decree among Anthroposophists.
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed Oct 14, 2015 6:45 am

Grace in J.-Xt.

Quote :
"Christianity cannot sever its relationship to Judaism for the simple reason that Judaism is an integral element in the language games that comprise Christianity. If one understands that essences don’t stand beyond language, then to read Paul’s assertion that ‘Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ cruciWed, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God’ (1 Cor. 1: 20–4) is to realize that he is doing more than comparing and contrasting a distinct, monad-like essence with two others. On the contrary, through the use of contrast, he is literally creating the very essence of Christianity. As Jaroslav Pelikan put it, ‘The very boldness of Paul in attacking the authority of the Old Testament law was predicated on a continuity with the Old Testament and on the identity between the God of the law and the God preached in Christ’ (1971: 110).

Thus to examine the Hebrew roots of grace is not to ignore the novelty of the Christian concept or to denigrate its predecessor and companion in religion, but rather to give the Christian concept its full, which is to say its relational, signiWcance. For as Otto Pesch notes, ‘Even the New Testament, when it proclaims the grace of God in Jesus Christ, speaks of the grace of God to Israel’ (1983: 77).

The Hebraic roots of grace seem both straightforwardly concrete and personalist, not surprising when one remembers that Judaism begins as an indigenous religion and as such Wrst viewed the divine as that which bestows blessings in this life and not in some future, occult afterlife. In the earliest strata of the Hebrew scriptures, grace is primarily the Creator’s bestowal of life itself. It includes ‘length of days’ (Pss. 21 and 119) and ‘good days’ (Ps. 34: 13). A graced life is bound up with peace and joy, good fortune, health, descendants, the fruitfulness of the land, and especially the gift of the promised land (Auer and Ratzinger 1970: 162).

‘One Hebrew word which will clearly inXuence the Christian Scriptures is hanan. The (hnn) of hanan means to be gracious, to have mercy on someone. This good will is embodied in action. Grace (hanan) is a kindness expressed in a gift.’ Of the sixty-eight times it is used in the Hebrew scriptures, it is combined forty-one times with the expression ‘to Wnd favor in the eyes of . . .’ (Pesch 1983: 77). (Cf. Gen. 6: 8; Exod. 33: 12, 16.)

Cornelius Ernst suggests that this good will is embodied in a certain commonality of feeling between God and the human person. ‘We may take as an example here the wonderful passage, Ex. 33: 12–23, with its association of the themes of favor and mercy, God’s sovereign elective purpose, the mutual knowledge by personal name of God and his people, God’s face and presence and the hidden transcendence of his glory’ (1974: 16). The pericope so viviWes the Hebrew conception of grace that it bears quoting in its entirety;

Moses said to the Lord, ‘See, you have said to me, ‘‘Bring up this people;’’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and Wnd favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.’ He said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ And he said to him, ‘If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.’ Moses said, ‘Show me your glory, I pray.’ And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘‘The Lord’’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.’ And the Lord continued, ‘See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.’

Note the lack of divine antinomy. ‘There is for the Hebrew no dualism between an interior disposition of benevolence and the outward gifts of grace’ (DuVy 1993: 18). We know who God is by what God does in history, within our world, which is why the evidence from the most primitive strata of Israel’s faith shows attention concentrated upon the blessings that Israel’s God oVered a nomadic people. Only much later, after sustained contact with other peoples, does Israel develop a proper theology of creation (Flick and Alszeghy 1982: 23) ‘Moreover, it is clear that creation is not the theme the Bible most frequently addresses. In the Old Testament the determinative religious experience is the cov- enant of God with his people, his special relationship with Israel’ (Ladaria 1983: 1).

Note also that grace, seen from the viewpoint of the person bestowing, is not so much an object as an act. What God gives is more than any singular object; God gives the self in the form of personal benevolence, which is itself revealed in the giving. The same is conversely true for the receiver: grace is not an entity received but rather an act of perception, the comprehension that God is present and acting benevolently.

The second Hebrew word closely associated with hanan is hesed, which the Septuagint will translate as eleos, mercy. It occurs some 250 times. ‘The experts diVer about the origin of the root, some referring it to the ‘‘kindly’’ temper of those of the same kin, and some to the Semitic root meaning ‘‘desire’’ ’ (Smith 1956: 10). Its Hebrew origins suggest ‘a love transcending duty, a love unmerited and overXowing in abundance’ (DuVy 1993: 23). When used of God, hesed typically, though not exclusively, is linked to the concept of covenant.

In his treatment of the Hebraic roots of grace, Johann Auer situates both hanan and hesed in the broader constellation of election. The Hebrew perceived God to be gracious, because God had manifested a predilection, Wrst in the call of Abraham and subsequently in the Mosaic Covenant (1970: 162). Hanan and hesed are thus intrinsically relational concepts. One only knows the self or, in this case, the people to be chosen for the graciousness and mercy of God when one juxtaposes this favor to what has not been extended beyond the object of election. Likewise, God also appears gracious when his Wdelity is juxtaposed to the sinfulness of his people (Pss. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143).

Religions of revelation—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—view themselves as the result of a divine intrusion into human history. This means that the very concept of revelation is fundamentally linked to that of grace, of elective favor. It is a predilection or favoring on the part of God that distinguishes the recipients of revelation from those who have not received it. Granted that religions of revelation view them- selves as vehicles that ultimately serve the universal benevolence of God (and this is what gives impetus to the spread of the religions), they nonetheless begin with the claim, or the recognition, that God has acted preferentially in one place, and at one time, for a single, recipient group. ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.’’ For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, ‘‘Peace be within you.’’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good’ (Ps. 122: 8–9). All revealed religions view their adherents as graced, or favored by God, even if the purpose of this favoring ultimately is a more universal election of humanity at large. ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples’ (Isa. 56: 7). (Cf. Gen. 12: 3; Isa. 42: 4, 43: 9–12, 45: 14 V., 51: 4 V., 55: 5, and 66: 18 V.)

For Judaism, the Exodus event manifests the concept of election and stands as its ultimate foundation: God has acted on behalf of the people. Indeed God’s gratuitous action literally forms them as a people. Within the Hebrew scriptures, predilection remains consti- tutive of its worldview. Moses, not Aaron, is chosen to lead his people from slavery; David, not his brothers and not Saul, is God’s choice for king. Esther alone can save her people.

In like manner, prophecy in ancient Israel Wnds its origins in an existentially experienced call, a manifestation of predilection. The election is a unique and unrepeatable experience for the individual prophet. Sometimes this is explicit in the message, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations’ (Jer. 1: 5). At all times, the prophet must acknowledge that he has been the recipient of a revelatory word, and hence a favoring, from God (Ezek. 1: 1; Isa. 1: 1).

Remember that in the Hebrew scriptures, as Gerhard von Rad insisted, the word of God, dabar, is never representational. ‘This noetic function of the word, the conception of it as bearing and conveying an intellectual idea, is . . . far from covering the meaning which language had for ancient peoples’ (1965: 80). It stands for nothing beyond itself, because it is always active, accomplishing whatever it expresses (1965: 80–98). ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth. He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood Wrm’ (Ps. 33: 6–9). Thus simply to have received the word of God is to be recipient of God’s active favoring. The indigenous person ‘makes no distinction between spiritual and material—the two are intertwined in the closest possible way; and in consequence he is also unable properly to diVerentiate between the word and object, idea and actuality. Such thought is thus character- ized by an inherent absence of diVerentiation between the ideal and the real, or between word and object; these coalesce as if both stood on one plane of being’ (von Rad 1965: 80–1). To have received God’s word is not simply to be the bearer of a message. Far from it! Rather, one becomes a recipient of the very life and favor of God. ‘So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it’ (Isa. 55: 11).

Islam likewise understands itself as the recipient of Allah’s Wnal, and Wnally direct, revelation to the Prophet Muhammad. Granted that this revelation comes, because of the transcendence of God, through the mediation of the Angel Gabriel, by ‘direct’ I mean that, for the believer, the revelation that is the Qur’a ̄n is the immediate word of God and not a message that must be discerned through contemplation upon the events that produced the revelation, nor is it one that must be distilled from its human elements. ‘They say: Accept the Jewish or Christian faith and you shall be rightly guided . . . Reply: We believe in God and that which was revealed to us; in what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes; to Moses and Jesus and the other prophets by their Lord. We make no distinc- tion among any of them and to God we have surrendered ourselves’ (Qur’a ̄n 2: 135). A Muslim is one who submits to God, whose will has been made manifest in the Qur’a ̄n.

The Western religions of revelation share another foundational concept that must not be overlooked in any consideration of grace: creation. In these religions, the world is not co-eternal with God. It is not a primeval chaos out of which God fashions a cosmos. On the contrary, the doctrine of the creation alters the prerevelatory understanding of the world’s relationship to God. The world of the revealed religions is a free act on the part of a gracious God.1 It cannot properly be called nature, which suggests an essentially static and ordered skein that requires no explanation beyond itself.

The created world of the revealed religions reveals itself as the Weld and foundation of what would come to be known as history, the place where the divine and the human would engage in the dramas of election, call, and response. David Burrell is helpful here in contrasting the revealed revelations’ desire to question the meaning of existence with worldviews that simply presume upon it: ‘To refer to existence as an act bespeaks its intelligibility. And only a Creator can assure that what presents itself to us as mere fact enjoys a meaning, an intelligible structure’ (1973: 201). Genesis thus acts as a heuristic agent in the question for existential intelligibility.

The drama of history reveals yet another foundational feature of Western, revelatory thought. At the very least, God and humanity share fellowship, one which will play out in the course of history, because, however diVerently and distinctly, both God and the human being are persons, and to be a person is to be fundamentally ordered toward fellowship (Smith 1956: 189). We employ the very word ‘person’ to indicate those elements within the world that can dia- logue with each other, can enter into fellowship.

In his classic Freedom, Grace, and Destiny Romano Guardini identiWed the fulcrum upon which the religions of revelation move the world itself from the realm of nature, an eternal, timeless, and static cosmos, to a Weld of historical decision, the theater of truly cosmic drama.

Revelation teaches that God created the world out of nothing by His sovereign will. This implies that the world did not have to exist. That is conWrmed by the sense of obligation which a man has—as one of his basic, existential experiences—of giving thanks for what he has and what happens to him, even for his existence and life or of protesting against what man is and even against his very existence. This gratitude and protest are not directed against this or the other happy or unhappy detail but against existence in itself. Such reactions could not arise if the world were necessary. No amount of lyrical or pseudo-religious talk can obscure this. We can never give thanks for what has to happen and we can just as little protest against it, quite apart from the fact that we would be equally bound by the necessity. The whole of a man’s perception and reaction would be part of the universal necessity: an attitude of gratitude or protest would be as unthinkable on his part as on that of an animal. (1961: 119)

The world itself as grace, as an act of grace and as a place of encounter with grace, remains a crucial consideration later in this essay, when the metaphysical implications of grace are considered. For now, allow it to stand as a foundational perspective of the revealed religions. The world for these religions need not exist. That it does, reveals a fundamental attitude toward us, namely the benevolence of a creator. As we saw in Wittgenstein’s Tractarian work, contingency itself is revelatory.

Christianity understands itself as both the proclamation and the prolongation of God’s radical entrance into history in the Incarnation of the Son of God. ‘With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth’ (Eph. 1: 8–10). The Christian proclamation of the Kingdom of God’s outbreak begins in the consciousness of the historical Jesus himself, who viewed his own person and activity as God’s uniquely unrepeatable oVer of self.

Cornelius Ernst is surely correct in arguing that other New Testa- ment notions are integrally aligned with that of grace. ‘One very obvious candidate, it seems to me, is the notion of the ‘‘kingdom of God’’. Apart from a few not very signiWcant uses in Luke, the word charis does not occur in the Synoptic gospels; on the other hand, the ‘‘kingdom’’ or, better, ‘‘reign’’ (basileia) of God is central to the preaching of Jesus’ (1974: 27). Here the oft noted paradoxical char- acter of the kingdom in the preaching of the historical Jesus is surely signiWcant. The earliest strata of preaching the kingdom speak of it as already accomplished, but not yet realized. Why is it that Jesus himself seems to have deWed the Wrst law of logic, that of non- contradiction, in preaching a kingdom that is already/but-not-yet? Here let us simply raise a question that is of foundational importance for this essay: is it possible that insight changes the world itself? As Ernst trenchantly noted,

For our purposes here it will be suYcient to try to show that our experience of ourselves and the world is not in fact adequately analyzed in terms of a distinction between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ understanding; and conse- quently that our experience and understanding of Jesus Christ in faith is still less adequately analyzed in such terms. And if this is accepted, then grace too is not either ‘subjective’ or ‘objective’: grace is not either ‘subjective experi- ence’ or ‘objective fact’. (1950: 66–7)

On one point, however, the New Testament is unambiguous. Grace unperceived is not yet grace eVective (Smith 1956: 56; see also 157–86). Suggesting otherwise renders the very proclamation of the gospel superfluous. This simple datum of New Testament evidence will be crucial in the construction of a contemporary metaphysics of grace, one which recognizes the world to be more than the sum total of objects within it.

Note that the Kingdom of God derives its meaning only in contrast to that which is not of God. Like other religions of revelation, Christianity cannot coherently surrender its claim to be a unique recipient of God’s favor, and this means that the existential situation of those whom God has favored must be radically distinctive from those who have not received the same. This is why Christianity presents itself as a tightening of the torque between God’s action and that which stands outside of that action.

‘[W]hile the Old Testament simply divides men into good and bad, the New Testament makes a crucial change. Normally it speaks, not of good men, but of believers in Christ’ (Smith 1956: 56). One could say that the salient factor in the relationship of God and humans shifts from ethics to epistemology.5 The question is not primarily the human person’s ability to do the good so much as the human ability to recognize the good that God has done. Christ is the great event of grace, of God’s favor, and everything turns upon the ability to recognize this manifestation. Indeed, Christianity’s foundational apperception is that humans are called to election by God precisely because of their ability to perceive that Christ is himself the elected one of God. ‘Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight’ (Matt. 12: 18).

Consider the use of the concept ‘world’ in the Johannine writings. In the pre-Christian worldview, because the graciousness of the divine is expected to manifest itself within the world, no Jew, or any member of an indigenous religion, would ever have set up the Johannine polarity between Jesus and the world. The world is supposed to be good. In Judaism, it comes forth from a benign creator. So why does John, who wants to proclaim the incarnation of God into the world, employ a negative concept of the word? The concept of the ‘world’ in John can only be understood when one reads the word as the converse of Jesus and his activity. It is that which resists the new initiative of God. With his pneuma/sarx (spirit/Xesh) dichotomy, Paul fashions a similar duality between that which acts under the impetus of the Christ event and that which oVers resist- ance. ‘[T]he resurrection has a cosmic, universal signiWcance. It is not simply one more event to be viewed in the march of history; on the contrary, it reveals the very meaning of it’ (Ladaria 1983: 25). (See Rom. 8: 29 and 1 Cor. 15: 20, 49.)

What would have once been a foundational blessing is now cursed because of its relationship to, here its failure to acknowledge and accept, the second great initiative of God. (Cf. John 1: 10, 12: 31, 14: 19, 14: 22, 16: 18 V., 17: 9; 1 John 2: 16, 5: 16, 19.) Indeed, as Luis Ladaria notes, sin for the Christian can henceforth never be reckoned merely as moral failure, as a potency in nature culpably negated. It is always a rejection of God’s initiative in Christ and is therefore intrinsically Christological. ‘One cannot speak...of sin as though the redemption of Christ did not exist, since this is determinative of the human person in all aspects of life’ (1983: 217). Thus to sin is to do more than negate nature; it is also to shut the ear to the summons of history that is the Christ.

Likewise, the devil, who in the Hebrew and Islamic scriptures acts as a subservient and somewhat impish functionary of God, takes on the character of the Satanic adversary in Christianity. The New Testament calls Jesus the way, the truth, and the life (John 14: 6); Satan in contrast becomes ‘the Father of lies’ (John 8: 44). Goethe perfectly captured the Christian understanding of Satan when his Mephistopheles is asked his identity and answers, ‘I am the spirit that always negates.’ He continues, ‘and rightly so, since everything that comes into existence is only Wt to go out of existence and it would be better if nothing ever got started. Accordingly, what you call sin, destruction, evil in short, is my proper element’ (1971: 780). Goethe’s Satan is the implacable denial of the grace that is creation. To understand the depth of Goethe’s deeply Christian insight into evil, one need only compare the evil one’s identity, ‘the one who says no’, to the last verse of the Wrst chapter of Genesis in which God evaluates this world. ‘God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.’ Satan becomes the necessary shadow surrounding the light, which is Jesus Christ within the world. In Christ, God aYrms the goodness of creation and his acceptance of it (cf. Mark 13: 19; Matt. 11: 25, 19: 4; Acts 4: 24, 7: 49 V., 17: 24–8; Rom. 4: 17; Eph. 1: 4, 3: 9; 1 Tim. 4: 4, 6: 13; Heb. 11: 3; 1 Pet. 3: 5; Rev. 4: 11). Whatever else Satan represents to Christianity, he embodies the existential denial of that singular divine aYrmation.

Christianity understands itself as eliciting an all-encompassing re- sponse from a humanity summoned to recognize what God has done in Jesus Christ. Freedom, around which grace pivots in the constella- tion of Christian anthropology, requires the possibility of the human rejection of God’s oVer of self. Hence the darkening of the shadows at the penumbra of the gospel. As Thomas J. J. Altizer insists,

nothing is more historically distinctive of the New Testament than its continual naming of demonic power, a power that is manifest and real only in the context of an apocalyptic ending and therefore only in the context of the actual advent of the Kingdom of God. Jesus was the Wrst prophet who is recorded as having seen the fall of Satan (cf. Luke 10: 18), a Wnal fall of Satan that is an apocalyptic epiphany—an apocalyptic epiphany that is a decisive sign of the Wnal advent of the Kingdom of God. (1998: 207)

After Wittgenstein, it is hardly denigrative to view Christianity as a matrix of language games, which are always built upon dichotomies that become fecund through juxtaposition. So, for example, ‘Chris- tianity maintains two pretensions, which are not always easily rec- onciled at Wrst glance: its universality and its exclusiveness’ (Ladaria 1983: 31). The Church sees herself as constituted by election. She is favored, and therefore is herself an act of grace. Members of the ek- klesia of God are those who have been ‘called out’. Note the obvious: a call, to be eVective, which is to say, to be a call, must be heard.

The ‘New’ Testament presents itself as an axial delineation, which to ignore would be to eviscerate. ‘To quote one text among many, the perspective of the New Testament appears in the great summary, ‘‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life’’ (John 3:16)’ (Smith 1956: 56). Indeed the New Testament ‘uses the same expressions to designate the call of the elect to salvation (Rom. 8: 30) and the call of the world into existence. The identity of terms demonstrates that St Paul doesn’t see a structural diVerence between the divine creative will and that which confers free gifts’ (Flick and Alszeghy 1982: 44–5). Creation itself is being reread in the light of the Christ event.

In the Septuagint, the Hebrew hen is translated as charis, a Greek word meaning favor. Charis is a derivative of chairein, ‘to rejoice’, and ‘it always expresses delight, whether in secular, Septuagintal, or Christian literature’ (Ernst 1974: 13; Smith: 1956: 57). Paul Wnds it an indispensable word. ‘It occurs one hundred times in the Pauline corpus of letters, twice as frequently as in all the rest of the Christian scriptures’ (DuVy 1993: 30). Remember that Paul’s letters pre-date the gospel portraits of Jesus. Like the early preachers of the primitive kerygma, he must Wnd a way to proclaim the revolutionary turn that history has made in Jesus Christ. For Paul, that turn is a radical graciousness, an unmerited kindness on the part of God.

The most systematic treatment of his proclamation is found in his reXective letter to the Romans. There grace often appears more as adverb than as substantive, which is to say, as the manner in which God acts rather than as something God bestows. For example in Romans 3: 24 Paul writes, ‘They are now justiWed by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . .’ ‘As a gift’ is a translation of an adverbial phrase, amplifying the gratuitousness of God.

In view of Christ, grace seems intrinsic to human nature itself, and therefore universally ordered, but Pauline thought also lays the foundation for the clearly Christian contention that grace accom- plishes the triptych of justiWcation, sanctiWcation, and salvation through acceptance. ‘A gift is not a gift until it has been accepted.’

Paul wants to insist that something both highly selective and ultimately universal has occurred in the Christ event. The stone rejected-but-becoming the cornerstone is thus the perfect image for the Pauline economy of grace. Charis and its cognates ‘are not set in contrast to nature or creation (as the natural and the supernatural would be contrasted in later theology) but to sin and helplessness (cf. Rom. and Gal.)’ (DuVy 1993: 38). In fact, Paul shows no interest in the notion of a human nature considered apart from Christ. One might say that, given what Paul considers to have occurred in the Christ event, such a consideration would seem superXuous at best. ‘New Testament anthropology, and Pauline in particular, always contemplates the being of the human person in the light of God; it is not interested in the concept of the human person ‘‘in se,’’ perhaps because of the silent persuasion that this human being doesn’t exist’ (Ladaria 1983: 97).

A fundamental tension between Christianity and its interlocutors is thus evident in the earliest Christian use of the word ‘grace’, a fruitful tension in the search for the meaning of the word. Henri de Lubac beautifully captures early Christianity’s self-comprehension of being graced, vis-a`-vis the pagan world, when he suggests that the latter lacked the theological virtue of hope because nothing radically new was to be expected from the divine (cf. Pelikan 1971: 281). The pagan cosmos was a realm of static, timeless order not a place of encounter, and, without the concept of history, hope has no mean- ing. One can have no hope of nature. Nature will always do what nature has always done.

That the latter lacked hope was primarily because the very idea of a sursum and a superabundance, the idea of an order incommensurate with nature, the idea of something radically new, something we might call an ‘invention in being,’ the idea of a gift coming gratuitously from above to raise up that needy nature, at once satisfying its longings and transforming it—such an idea remains wholly foreign to all whose minds have not been touched by the light of revelation. (de Lubac 1967: 130)

Ladaria aptly summarizes the foundational Christian understanding of grace in writing, ‘[I]t’s clear that for the New Testament grace is not primarily something that the human person possesses, but rather the benevolent activity of God, realized and manifested in Christ, who is the font of salvation for humanity’ (1983: 276). Another way of saying the same is to insist that the Wrst thing grace must create or accomplish is a world that is fundamentally one of history rather than nature. History suggests contingency, freedom, decision, and denouement. Nature implies order, stasis, and causal determination. Christianity cannot be preached to nature; it addresses history. If grace were an object, one would naturally want to locate it either within nature, or vis-a`-vis nature. But grace is an event, and history is its milieu. The fundamental metaphorical nexus is of time, not space.

Only if one correctly understands the novum of the Christian message, the perception that humanity has been made the recipient of the most fundamental favor that God could conceivably bestow, namely God’s self, can one accurately perceive the threat to Chris- tianity’s charis that the gnosis of Gnosticism posed through the variegated, occult religious movements that surrounded the early Christian Church. Just as the concept of grace would perfectly en- capsulate Christianity’s perception of divine favor, the usage of the word gnosis (knowledge) incarnates its fundamental antithesis. The concept of grace that emerges from the New Testament is the human apperception of God’s favor. The initiative is God’s. God acts; hu- manity reacts. Gnosis, on the other hand, presents the human subject as fundamentally in control of the noetic process: God becomes the object of the human person’s search. Direction of the noetic drive passes from the divine to the human, and God becomes reduced to a pursued object of human cognition. The same dichotomy that an- thropologists note between authentic religion and magic, that of surrender to the mystery versus manipulation of it, is played out in the noetic arena between charis and gnosis.

This is quite evident from the role that ritual plays in each move- ment. Christianity viewed its adherents as a plebs sancta and threw open the previously sacrosanct (meaning ‘to cut oV the holy’) temple precincts. Basilicas, which had served as assembly halls, became architectural statements of the new faith’s essential inclusiveness. This was a gratuitous revelation, one intrinsically ordered toward proclamation (Bouyer 1967).

In contrast, the Gnostic cults met in secrecy. There the divine was an object to be hunted down, mastered. An open, public proclamation of the knowledge received through the cult would have enervated its power, which necessarily demanded secrecy. The early Christian liturgy did practice a disciplina arcana, a keeping hidden of its deepest secrets to adherents, but this was essentially a proleptic secrecy, one designed to draw others in. The fundamental movement of the early liturgy was evangelical, missionary. In contrast, Gnosti- cism obviously wanted to admit new adherents, but it never saw itself as the possessor or herald of a message addressed to the world. Gnosticism was an attempt to control the world by accessing occult, divine power. Letting the entire world in on the secret would have rendered it flaccid.

There is, however, an aYnity shared by the Platonic worldview and the Christian concept of grace in the concept of revelation. Both suggest that something not ordinarily found within the world has been made manifest, or can be made manifest, to the world. Both direct the attention of the one seeking enlightenment beyond the Xux of the surrounding world. Yet beneath these similarities lies a more fundamental division. In Plato the divine reawakens from the slum- ber of the world; it steps out from behind the world. It does not engage or love the world. The world is its occluding dross, so the divine is to be encountered by shunning the world. This world must dissolve into the reality that is the divine. In contrast, Christianity’s grace is not the sloughing of of an illusory dream; it is an awakening to the caress of a lover, one seeking engagement.
Still, Plato’s view of the sacred lying hidden, beyond the world, was similar to Christianity’s view of a sacred that was latent, and has now been made manifest, within the world. Yet conflating the two would have led to a fundamental abandonment of Christianity’s essential proclamation of God’s favor. That Christian discourse on grace could be Platonized without losing its distinctive, elective character is due to the biography and writing of a single, graced soul, Augustine of Hippo, the doctor gratiae." [Terrance Klein, Wittgenstein and the Metaphysics of Grace]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed Oct 14, 2015 7:53 am

When the Jews discovered the "magic" of words, and how they could be used to invert reality, they discovered their own road to salvation.
Since then they've been selling symbols, words, with no reference to reality.
The Banking system disconnected from the gold standard, from real elemental wealth, and is now cutting abstractions into small pieces and selling them in the market - pure noetic artifices.

Jews inherit this innate quality from their mother's side, so it is intimately tied into sex and reproduction, as Freud reminds us.
They make talented snake-oil salesmen and priests, which amounts to the same thing.
r-selection at its root.
They sell what they, themselves, do not buy.
Classic omega-male tactics of feminine deception and word-games, to compensate for a genetic inferiority.
From them the christian the Muslims and then the New Agers, the Marxists, the liberals, the secular forms of this same dis-ease.
Priests wearing suits and ties, or hippie funky cool, chilled out drug dealers - their words being another mind-numbing drug, for those wanting to desperately escape and forget.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed Oct 14, 2015 8:00 am

All this is not unprecedented in nature...


In this species, as the anonymous author of r/K theory mentions, the omega-males avoid the alpha/beta battle for reproductive rights by mimicking a female.
Deception instead of noble combat.
The ability to meld into their environment, to take on any color, hue and disappear.
Big-Brained, sophisticated neurological system, but spineless.
They mesmerize their preys, with "dazzling displays".
Converting this to human contexts, we find the word as the "dazzler" and "mesmerizing" light show.
The word which can help the human variant of this invertebrate to disappear into the environment.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed Oct 14, 2015 8:19 am

Quote :
Revelation teaches that God created the world out of nothing by His sovereign will. This implies that the world did not have to exist. That is confirmed by the sense of obligation which a man has—as one of his basic, existential experiences—of giving thanks for what he has and what happens to him, even for his existence and life or of protesting against what man is and even against his very existence." [Klein, Metaphysics of Grace]

The idea of grace in Jewish thought originates from the view of life as an accident… "it did not have to exist"…

but, as to this signifycant point,

Nietzsche wrote:
"Let us beware! —Let us beware of thinking that the world is a living being. Where should it expand? On what should it feed? How could it grow and multiply? We have some notion of the nature of the organic; and we should not reinterpret the exceedingly derivative, late, rare, accidental, that we perceive only on the crust of the earth and make of it something essential, universal, and eternal, which is what those people do who call the universe an organism. This nauseates me.
Let us even beware of believing that the universe is a machine: it is certainly not constructed for one purpose, and calling it a "machine" does it far too much honor.
Let us beware of positing generally and everywhere anything as elegant as the cyclical movements of our neighboring stars; even a glance into the Milky Way raises doubts whether there are not far coarser and more contradictory movements there, as well as stars with eternally linear paths, etc. The astral order in which we live is an exception; this order and the relative duration that depends on it have again made possible an exception of exceptions: the formation of the organic. The total character of the world, however, is in all eternity chaos—in the sense not of a lack of necessity but a lack of order, arrangement, form, beauty, wisdom, and whatever other names there are for our aesthetic anthropomorphisms.
Judged from the point of view of our reason, unsuccessful attempts are by all odds the rule, the exceptions are not the secret aim, and the whole musical box repeats eternally its tune which may never be called a melody—and ultimately even the phrase "unsuccessful attempt" is too anthropomorphic and reproachful.
But how could we reproach or praise the universe? Let us beware of attributing to it heartlessness and unreason or their opposites: it is neither perfect nor beautiful, nor noble, nor does it wish to become any of these things; it does not by any means strive to imitate man. None of our aesthetic and moral judgments apply to it. Nor does it have any instinct for self-preservation or any other instinct; and it does not observe any laws either.
Let us beware of saying there are laws in nature. There are only necessities: there is nobody who commands, nobody who obeys, nobody who trespasses. Once you know that there are no purposes, you also know that there is no accident; for it is only beside a world of purposes that the word "accident" has meaning. Let us beware of saying death is opposed to life. The living is merely a type of what is dead, and a very rare type.—Let us beware of thinking that the world eternally creates new things. There are no eternally enduring substances: matter is as much of an error as the God of the Eleatics. But when shall we ever be done with our caution and care? When will all these shadows of God cease to darken our minds? When will we complete our de-deification of nature? When may we begin to naturalize humanity in terms of a pure, newly discovered, newly redeemed nature?" [Joyful Wisdom, 109]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed Oct 14, 2015 8:23 am

The answer presupposes the question, and it offers a solution.

{Why?} is the most mystical question man can ask.
It asks for what he must create.

Some create it by studying nature, the cosmos, and finding patterns within it.
Others create it by disregarding nature, overturning the cosmos, negating it with words.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed Oct 14, 2015 9:32 am

Satyr wrote:
The answer presupposes the question, and it offers a solution.

{Why?} is the most mystical question man can ask.
It asks for what he must create.

Some create it by studying nature, the cosmos, and finding patterns within it.
Others create it by disregarding nature, overturning the cosmos, negating it with words.


What makes a possibility [life] turn into a probability?

The J.-Xts. answered it as Grace. (We know it as 'just because'.)

The Hellenes continued to wonder… and plato called Thaumazein the source of all philosophy…

Quote :
"There is, however, an aYnity shared by the Platonic worldview and the Christian concept of grace in the concept of revelation. Both suggest that something not ordinarily found within the world has been made manifest, or can be made manifest, to the world. Both direct the attention of the one seeking enlightenment beyond the Xux of the surrounding world. Yet beneath these similarities lies a more fundamental division. In Plato the divine reawakens from the slum- ber of the world; it steps out from behind the world. It does not engage or love the world. The world is its occluding dross, so the divine is to be encountered by shunning the world. This world must dissolve into the reality that is the divine. In contrast, Christianity’s grace is not the sloughing of of an illusory dream; it is an awakening to the caress of a lover, one seeking engagement." [Klein, Metaphysics of Grace]

As regs. the above - the thymos of plato and the eros of Xt., Norman Brown agreed and only reworded it his way:

Norman Brown wrote:
"The Platonic Eros is the child of defect or want. Its direction is away from the insufficient self; its aim is to possess the object which completes it (there is a Platonic residue in Freud's inadequate notion of object-choice). The Christian Agape, with its self-sacrificial structure, has the same basis in the insufficiency of the self, but in it the self can be completed by no object and therefore must be extinguished. In the words of Luther, "To love is the same as to hate one-self"; in the words of St. Augustine, "Love slays what we have been that we may be what we were not."
From the psychoanalytical point of view, Platonic Eros is inseparable from an aggressive component, Christian Agape inseparable from a masochistic component." [Life Against Death]

N. gave the pagan concept of grace as the light-feet of a god that can dance: power-become-conscious, its not worn on the sleeve and looks effortless.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed Oct 14, 2015 10:03 am

Lyssa wrote:
Satyr wrote:
The answer presupposes the question, and it offers a solution.

{Why?} is the most mystical question man can ask.
It asks for what he must create.

Some create it by studying nature, the cosmos, and finding patterns within it.
Others create it by disregarding nature, overturning the cosmos, negating it with words.


What makes a possibility [life] turn into a probability?

The J.-Xts. answered it as Grace. (We know it as 'just because'.)

The Hellenes continued to wonder… and plato called Thaumazein the source of all philosophy…

This is the question I've tried to answer without resorting to mysticism, or by trying to explain mysticism as chaos (that which alludes understanding because it has no pattern, and understanding is the (re)cognition of patterns).
We are mesmerized by a pattern so complex we cannot dissect it further; we cannot discern a more subtle pattern within it.
We feel like we've reached the end, the fabric, the immanent unfolding before us, from that point in space/time.

There is no {why?} in nature, there is only continuity born of (inter)acting patterns - the causal chain that can be followed back infinitely, and projected forward infinitely, because patterns are not eternal but a continuous process which is fragmenting due to its own (inter)activity.
Patterns (inter)acting with patterns produces chaos - the cosmic joke, the tragic irony man had to overcome (resentiment).
we are the "victims" of the very processes that make us possible.

If by space we mean possibility, and by order (energy/matter) we mean probability within this expanding/increasing possibility, then life emerged as the possible, once (inter)activity made it probable.
Life could not have emerged close to the Big Bang, because there possibilities decreased (singularity - collapse of space/time), and it could not have merged after a point where chaos (randomness) had increased to a level where patterns (energy/matter) was the exception, and not the rule, therefore life, as we know it, could only have emerged at the distance, from the BigBang (near-absolute order) where patterns were still present and chaos had not increased to the point where multiple pattern could not emerge and sustain themselves for the time period required for them to coalesce (stabilize, harmonize, balance) into an emergent unity.
Grace is a reference to this harmony/balance coalesce of aggregate patterns into a self-perpetuating, relating, in relation to what is outside of this relating.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed Oct 14, 2015 11:47 am

Satyr wrote:
Lyssa wrote:
Satyr wrote:
The answer presupposes the question, and it offers a solution.

{Why?} is the most mystical question man can ask.
It asks for what he must create.

Some create it by studying nature, the cosmos, and finding patterns within it.
Others create it by disregarding nature, overturning the cosmos, negating it with words.


What makes a possibility [life] turn into a probability?

The J.-Xts. answered it as Grace. (We know it as 'just because'.)

The Hellenes continued to wonder… and plato called Thaumazein the source of all philosophy…

This is the question I've tried to answer without resorting to mysticism, or by trying to explain mysticism as chaos (that which alludes understanding because it has no pattern, and understanding is the (re)cognition of patterns).
We are mesmerized by a pattern so complex we cannot dissect it further; we cannot discern a more subtle pattern within it.
We feel like we've reached the end, the fabric, the immanent unfolding before us, from that point in space/time.

But the other way is also symptomatic.

If closing off possibility with Grace was then, keeping the possibility going and open forever [what if a god exists and keeping an open mind towards revelation, etc.] is what Kierkegaard and Leo Strauss championed.

The need for an Athens-contra-Jerusalem to be forever tied in a symbiotic+agonistic eternal dialogue was the other Straussian symptom.

The first spark of which life "stirred", neither purposeful nor accident is a 'something' lets say.

To speak nothing of it and not complicate it with conceptual abstractions is the school of zen and anarcho-primitivists - "living in the moment".

To impose human vanity, human measures, human abstractions on it and then experience the gulf between world-reality and self-reality is the tragic consciousness that 'intimates' through this agon and human pride, violence, satyric desire. You sense all that it takes to 'close the gap', giving way to tragic insights…

And then there are other methods too. Discovering, inventing means and methods has been the history of life… until now. Now, there's the other "spark" that is under threat, and with it, the end of all wonder…

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed Oct 14, 2015 11:59 am

The nil is bipolar...absolute order/chaos....absolute truth/error...absolute positive/negative.

The accusation of antisemitism is itself semitic; an absurdity, because one cannot blame a dis-ease, a virus for being what it is, nor wish it were not there, dreaming of a pristine paradise.
The victim rejoices when it is hated/loved, because it validates its identity.
A pagan rejoices at the quality/quantity of his enemies, because against them he discovered, sharpens, his sense of self, his own identity.

"I am, what I am not!!"
Eternal agon, conflict, war.

The mystical is what forever alludes our intuitions - it is, by its nature, counter-intuitive, like chaos is in relation to order.
The only way to become aware, by looking from the side of your eyes, is through the effects of (inter)activity.
How the ordering patterns (re)act to the chaos, exposes the chaos/randomness/mystical for what it is.



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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyFri Oct 16, 2015 7:28 am

Thomistic precursor to Whitehead's idea of grace as a process relation.

Quote :
"In suggesting that human beings require only the knowledge, which revelation oVers, but not an active interpenetration of the divine and the human, a divine coming to the aid of the human, Pelagianism, Augustine’s end-life foe, likewise threatened the core of the Christian economy of salvation by undermining its anthropology and cosmology. For Augustine, human love stands in need of a redeemer, and the world itself is a dramatic locus of encounter. In reducing the Christ event to a manifestation of knowledge, here transposed from the Gnostic realm of esoteric mystery into the Stoic sphere of moral teaching, Pelagianism remained within the pre-Christian worldview of a cosmos complete within itself.

For Pelagius, the task of human transformation, for the well- intentioned non-believer as well as for the Christian, is essentially the Platonic trek toward enlightenment. In the Neoplatonic thought of the late fourth century, what has emanated from the divine should with moral eVort make its way back to the divine. But an emanation is not an encounter; it is only a moment in what we would today call an evolution. Once again, the prerevelatory concept of nature tries to evict history. Evolution is nature unfolding. History is self- determination, and Augustine came to its defense. ‘More than any- thing else, it was the controversy with Pelagius, Julian of Eclanum, and others, in which his teaching on grace was challenged, that compelled him to diVerentiate between ‘‘the gift that is nature itself ’’ (gratia naturae) and ‘‘the grace by which we are made believers’’ (gratiae Wdelium)’ (Studer 1997: 5).

But what exactly is the gratiae Wdelium? How does it diVer from the gratiae naturae, which is another way of asking what self-understand- ing separates the Christian appropriation of the world from that of others? If the world itself is graced, if it is itself an act of grace, what is the role of grace within the world? What does it mean for Augustine to experience grace? Why is this signal experience so threatened by Pelagianism, which sees everything as having been given in a single gift, at the dawn of creation?

Augustine will reinforce the biblical apperception of divine favor, but for him, in the light of the Christ event, this favoring is nothing less than a divine–human nuptial. ‘The words of Paul about ‘‘the love of God poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit’’ (Rom. 5: 5) may well have been Augustine’s favorite passage from scripture, quoted over and over, also in the treatises against Pelagianism’ (Pelikan 1984: 252). In Augustine grace becomes personal, which is to say that it addresses the human being and awaits a response. The Church for Augustine is that response. It is constituted by lovers:

[H]e that loves the sons of God, loves the Son of God, and he that loves the Son of God, loves the Father, nor can any love the Father except he love the Son, and he that loves the sons, loves also the Son of God. What sons of God? The members of the Son of God. And by loving he becomes himself a member, and comes through love to be in the frame of the body of Christ, so there shall be one Christ, loving Himself. (Epis. Ioan. X. 3)

Love is a noetic reality, a way of being in the world. The human person does not survey the world with Cartesian objectivity. He or she is always drawn toward the world, toward some distinctive element within the world. This drawing conforms and patterns the world to itself as focal point. Anyone who has ever been in love knows that the entire world has been remade with the advent of the beloved.

For Augustine, we were made to love, to yearn. We cannot not love. The question is whether we dissipate love in the lesser, or yearn for the sursum. At every moment, desire remains a fundamental noetic reality, what Heidegger would later call an existential, a foundational way of being human within the world. Even in base loves, something of love’s truth prevails. ‘An impure, evil-loving man loves a beautiful woman. The body’s beauty moves him, but within it is the exchange of love (amoris vicissitudo) that is wanted’ (Serm. 34). If he is spurned, he loses his love. ‘But if he sees his love returned (vicissim amatur), how much more intensely will he burn? She sees him and he her; no one sees the love. Yet that very thing (love) which is not seen is loved.’ Augustine is proleptically preaching Aquinas. All human activity is dependent upon that which is pure act, love itself. Even disordered base loves (and it is precisely their dis-ordering that makes them base) still partake of the divine act of being.

Reflecting on his arrival in Carthage as a youth, Augustine wrote, ‘So I arrived in Carthage, where the din of scandalous love-aVairs raged cauldron-like around me. I was not yet in love, but I was enamored with the idea of love, and so deep within me was my need that I hated myself for the sluggishness of my desires. In love with loving, I was casting about for something to love’ (Conf. III. 1. 1). All this concerns sinful love, but in the sermon cited above he also says: ‘There is no one who does not love; the question is what are we to love. We are not urged not to love, but to choose what to love’ (Serm. 34). Love is an enrichment of being; it completes the self. It must be rediscovered, illumined, intensiWed in love of God. ‘One loves Thee less who loves something else together with Thee, which is not loved because of Thee. O Love, always burning and never quenched, set me on Wre’ (Serm. 34)! Love is the soul’s secret life begotten in the exchange of love. Love bestows being itself. It is both noetic and ontological, given the post-linguistic understanding that the two can never be adequately distilled.

In his theological masterpiece The Trinity, Augustine’s own odys- sey of love, his historical journey, and not the Greek metaphysics of nature, is used to deWne the very experience and nature of God.

Let no one say, ‘I do not know what to love.’ Let him love his brother, and love that love; after all, he knows the love he loves better than the brother he loves. There now, he can already have God better known to him than his brother, certainly better known because more present, better known because more inward to him, better known because more sure. Embrace love which is God, and embrace God with love. This is the love which unites all the good angels and all servants of God in a bond of holiness, conjoins us and them together, and subjoins us to itself. And the more we are cured of the tumor of pride, the fuller we are of love. And if a man is full of love, what is he full of but God? (De Trin. VIII. 12)15

Note that love has both a personal and a noetic character. It is an event, an encounter with a person. It is also a way of seeing, a reordering of noetic elements. This is why Augustine will speak of love as light, and why he so often uses both light and love as metaphors for God. If one understands Augustine, love is light, because love is God and participation in God is that which allows for participation in the world. In Book VII of The Trinity, Augustine will use light as the fundamental metaphor of our Christic participation in God. We are illumined in Christ, and Christ is the self-illumination of the Godhead. ‘For we too are the image of God, though not the equal one like him; we are made by the Father through the Son, not born of the Father like that image; we are image because we are illuminated with light; that one is so because it is the light that illuminates, and therefore it provides a model for us without having a model itself.’16

For Augustine, Christians were participants in an axial action of God, one so decisive as to drive theologians to bestow metaphysical status upon grace. The problem arises with the choice of meta- physical elements that the Greek tradition could oVer. In the Aris- totelian frame of reference, ‘relation’ is the weakest of the categories of being, a debellissimum ens. This remains true even if the relation in question is that uniquely human apex of relationship, love. Relationship tends to cloud the purity of the self-subsisting sub- stance in Greek thought. As David Burrell notes, ‘relation remains the most elusive of Aristotle’s categories, not properly an accident for its being is not in but ad; which is to say that it does not exist in another so much as ‘‘between’’ the relata’ (1986: 23).17 Furthermore, in the ordered and essentially static world of nature, relationship is understood as a conceptual quality which the human mind infers upon reality.

So the axial decisiveness of the Christian message suffered some when translated into Greek categories. Grace, which began its Judeo- Christian life as an apperception of a relation, that of being favored by God, necessarily began to assume the character and status of a substance for the simple reason that in Greek thought substance is a greater expression of being than relationship. However, this metaphysical ‘translation’ was not neutral and carried strong theological repercussions.

Thomas’s personalism is so predominant that it would not be incorrect to say that he sees the entire cosmos not as a continuum of substances but rather as a communion of subjects, which is to say dialogical partners.

Remember that for Thomas agere sequitur esse (to act follows upon to be). Activity is not an addendum to the act of being; it is its essential self-expression, its eVulgence. To be is to act. Clarke asserts of Thomas’s teaching: ‘Every being . . . insofar as it is in act, tends naturally to overflow into action, and this action is a self- communication, a self-giving in some way’ (1994: 47).

Thomas will maintain the Aristotelian primacy of substances over relations, because only substances can be subjects capable of entering into relationships with each other. Stress too strongly the independence of the substance, and one arrives at a monadism that cannot explicate the dynamism that we experience in the world. Stress relationship too strongly, and one cannot account for that which endures. And if nothing endures, nothing can enter into relationship. One cannot give the self over into a relationship if there is no self. As Wittgenstein put it, ‘What brings the self into philosophy is the fact that ‘‘the world is my world’’ ’(1961: 58; §5.641).

Clarke defends the Thomistic reliance upon Aristotelian substance by showing the alternative. In personalist language, the eclipse of the substance means the banishment of the subject.

The primary instance of real being is the individual existent as a ‘nature,’ i.e., as an abiding center (no matter for how long) of its own characteristic actions and the ultimate subject of which attributes are predicated, but which itself is predicated of no other subject as an attribute or part. This ability to exist in itself as an ultimate subject of action and attribution and not as part of any other being is what it means to be called a substance (from the Latin sub-stans: that which ‘stands under’ all its attributes as their ultimate subject). To stand thus ‘in itself’ does not mean that the entity thus characterized is not related to others. As we shall see, the intrinsic orientation toward self-expressive action that is also characteristic of all natures—hence of all substances—implies that all substances will be related at least to some others. But it does mean that no substance, no real being in an unqualiWed sense, can be nothing but a pure relation. A relation in the real order must relate something, making it a related, or the relation itself self-destructs. As the Buddhists have long insightfully argued, if all beings are nothing but relations, such that A is nothing but a relation to B, and B is nothing but a relation to A, then neither one has ‘own being’ and both disappear into ‘emptiness’ (sunyatta)—a point often naively overlooked, it seems to me, by many modern Western philosophers who cavalierly dismiss substance for relation as the primary mode of being. (1994: 104–5)

Despite Clarke’s brilliant retrieval of the concept of substance for a personalist philosophy of being, a contemporary Christian might still be disappointed to hear that St Thomas considers grace to be an accidental modiWcation of the substance that is the human person. ‘Accidental’ can seem to suggest both lack of necessity and ephem- erality. It’s important to note, however, that in Aristotelian categories a modiWcation stronger than accidental would mark a change of substance. In this system, if God and the human person are not to be collapsed into each other, they must remain distinct substances. God’s action cannot subsume the human subject or so fundamentally alter it as to obliterate it, in the sense that it would no longer be the same substance, the same subject as an enduring unity of action. The challenge Thomas faced was to use Aristotle in a way that indicated the profound relationship that grace establishes without obliterating one or the other related subjects.

Again, one must caution about the picture being employed. For Thomas the substance which is the human person cannot be conceived apart from its accidents. It simply is its own accidents, as their temporal and spatial source of unity. Only God can be conceived of as a substance that never undergoes modiWcation. Fully cognizant of temporality, Thomas views created substances as being always subject to modiWcation. Without it, they cannot actualize their own potency, which for Thomas means to become what they were meant to be.

Thomas will speak of grace as a form that modiWes accidents by gathering them into itself. In Thomistic thought a form is the unitive principle allowing the many of sensory experience to be considered under a single intellectual aspect, as a one. Every time the human person, through the use of the intellect, perceives a unity amidst a plurality of instances, a form has been recognized. Both accidents and substances are ultimately characterized by forms. A given Xower, or the sun, or a piece of cloth may all be instances of yellow; yellow then becomes the form that transcends these individual instances. That which can hold together a host of such accidental forms and endures is a substance.

Thomas will thus call the soul the form of the body because we perceive the body, the self which acts within the world, to be a self, a cohesive, abiding center of activity. How diVerent this is from the contemporary picture of the soul as that which steps away from the body, say at death, to reveal its own existence. For Thomas, nothing reveals the soul so much as the activity of the corporeal self that acts within the world.

In the Thomistic cosmos every substance is drawn into a dialogical union with every other substance. In this sense, one should say that, for Thomas, all of creation is transferred from the status of substance to subject. Grace is the place of union, not a dialogical partner of union. It is the unique relationship between God and humanity. To speak of grace as a substance wreaks havoc with the subtle language game being employed by Aquinas. Substances always stand in relationship; they cannot be relations. Again, the similarity to Wittgenstein’s struggle to free philosophy from an inad- equate picture of logic is helpful. If logic stood within the world, as one more object, it could not be that which uniWes the world, which makes distinct objects into a world. If grace were one more object within the world, it could not be that which draws the world together and into union with the divine." [Klein, The Metaphysics of Grace]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyThu Oct 22, 2015 5:24 am

Klein's book elaborated on the pagan<>Xt. inversion via the concept of grace.

To the J.-Xts., it is the pagan world that was "static", "mechanical", and it is with the Xt. world, bringing the concept of a creator, of a lover<>beloved relation of "interacting" with the world that made it "dynamic"… and lent it its superiority…

The meaning of Dynamism was totally inverted (why N. had to become Dynamite):

Quote :
"Only a world ordered toward a fulfillment can define the lack of this fulfillment as harmartia (a missing of the mark), as sin.

The novelty that Judaism represents is the insistence that the world didn’t have to be. The act of creation is itself a grace, a foundational favoring on the part of God. The novelty of Christianity is the revelation of the Beloved, the one who reveals the world as essentially purposeless, rendered futile now that the Beloved has appeared, that is, if the Beloved is not attained. In other words, the world’s purpose, its Wnality, becomes a grace. Love is revealed as the world’s efficient and final cause. It was created by love, and it is created for love. In either case, we are far removed from the prerevelatory understanding of the world as simply a given." [Klein, Metaphysics of Grace]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed Dec 02, 2015 11:18 am


Philosopher Stelios Ramfos presents Jesus as a diagnostician of his time, preceding Nietzsche as the diagnostician of Modern times.
Miracles as healing of the mind.

A new reading of the Biblical tales.

Legion, (I am Legion), the expression of schizophrenia.
Healing the deaf man, as a healing of vulnerability to popular opinion - closing your ears to criticism and gossip.

Saul takes the figure of Jesus, and converts him to Christ - mystifying him, translating him in a way that contradicts his teachings, just as Moderns, modern day Saul-well-ioses, self described "Nieatzscheans", transform Nietzsche into an antithesis of his diagnosis - and return Christianity back into his analysis by changing the words.

Ramfos describes the Apostles as uncertain with the nature of Jesus, who is exotic, supernatural in the sense the he diagnosis man using methods beyond the immediate, beyond their own capacities, also true of these Nieatzscheans in relation to their idolized transmutation of the corporeal figure, the man.
Incomprehensibility forces the student into a lifetime of study of what is beyond his own ability to relate to - the other, the teacher, becomes a mythological figure, after death, and exotic, while alive.  
With no internal sources to connect, to relate, they convert the man into god, or idol.

Ramfos claims that all antiphasis, out of phase, contradictory presentations of the historical figure Jesus, is an avenue for relating the believer with the story.
Jesus becomes a figure helpful in bridging the antiphasis between real/ideal, man with eternity, ordering within disordering.
He is metaphor, artistic device, insinuating the incomprehensible; translating the counter-intuitive into intuitive forms.
Spinoza's insights into biblical language teaches us that much of the wording is hyperbole, founded on the expressions of that time, later taken literally for Saul to construct the dis-ease we know as Christianity.
Linguistic hyperbole is also the method Nieatzscheans use to convert Nietzsche's words to something their Nihilism, their perspective, can use - perspectivism transformed to subjectivity through the elimination of the subject matter, the objective - converting all to a Church of believers in what is not present: faith in what is absent; in this case the objective, the world itself, the man Jesus, the man Nietzsche, the man Socrates, to use another abused iconic figure, within their particular social environments.

Parables, according to Ramfos, expose real psychological conditions of that time, which we, if we do not take them literally, but read them by relating them to our own condition, can decipher.
Dialogue is how we internalize ideas, which cannot be achieve with a monologue.

Parable of the "good" Samaritan.  
We associate with the victim, not the one coming to his aid.
Ramfos says the other is how we justify our own existence. Jesus picks the most hated, in that time among the Jews, Samaritan to construct his point, to elucidate his insight.
The story does not only teach the value of giving without expecting a return but, according the Ramfos, the even greater fact is that the saved never recovers, so that there isn't even the return of gratitude - narcissism escaped.
Complete ingratitude for a deed done.
One does it for self, not for other, not for fame, not for fortune, not to enjoy future rewards, but simply because he is what he is and can be no other.      

Parable of Lazarus, who eats of the breadcrumbs beneath his master's dinner table, comes to the Jews from Egypt, like all of their monistic, death cult, reversals of the Egyptian hierarchy pyramid, do.
Selfishness based on the absence of an "afterlife" which is no more than an internal rebirth.
Afterlife, meaning to live after the corporeal, to live as mind - after genes/memes, after real/ideal, after phenomenon/noumenon.
To suffer for your worldly deeds in the afterlife means this conscience, in relation to our noumena, our human capacity to live beyond the present, beyond immediate gratification, above pleasure motives - to hold yourself accountable before your own ideal, your own "god"; yourself idealized - the noble spirit.

Virgin birth...if taken literally it is absurd, but, as Ramfos indicates, even Plato was described as the result of a virgin birth, where Apollo fertilized his mother - Buddha, as well.
It was a metaphor the ancients used to express an exceptional individual.

John the Baptists' baptism of Jesus.
Not a Jewish tradition, but related to Pagan, Hellenic, rituals of cleansing, adopted by a Jewish sect.
John as prophet, serves as a harbinger of a shift from the exoteric to the esoteric, a coming age of subjectivity.

Jesus goes into the desert, alone, because only in loneliness can he be honest with himself.
The temptations are his internal struggles with self-doubt - demonic.
Preparation for the loneliness of the cross - isolation of self before world; a man pulls from inside himself the strength, the ideals, when there is no other to come to his aid.
Corporeality dissolved in spirit.
The body needs an external validation, the spirit comes from within, as a manifestation of our entire past/nature.  
Division between public and private man - personae and character.
Openness as the implosion of noumenon/phenomenon as self.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Christianity - Page 2 EmptyWed Dec 02, 2015 11:26 am

Is that your writing?

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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