Resolving Philosophy with Theology

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

  • Romans 12:1-2

“Thomas [Aquinas (1225-1274)] was an Italian nobleman who ran away from his family’s castle to join the Dominican Order (where, by the way, he was so well fed that a niche eventually had to be carved out of the dinner table to accommodate his ample girth.) …
“As Europe emerged from the darkest moments of the Dark Ages, interest in the world of here and now was revived.  Aristotle surfaced as the champion of these new interests.  It fell to Thomas Aquinas to ‘Christianize’ him – no easy task considering that Aristotle held such un-Christian views as:
“    A. The earth is eternal.  (There never was a creation.)
”    B. God is indifferent to human affairs.  (He doesn’t even know we exist.)
“    C. The Soul is not immortal.
“    D. The goal of life is happiness.
“    E. Pride is a virtue and humility a vice.
“No surprise that Aristotle’s works were banned by the University of Paris in 1210.  (Indeed, Thomas’s works themselves were condemned at Paris and at Oxford just after his death.) …
“Concerning the problem of reason vs. faith, Thomas began by distinguishing between philosophy and theology.  The philosopher uses human reason alone.  The theologian accepts revelation as his authority.
“Then Thomas distinguished between Revealed Theology (accepted purely on faith) and Natural Theology (susceptible of the proof of reason).  That is, he showed where philosophy and theology overlap.
“When reason cannot establish the claims of faith, Thomas admitted this and left those claims to the theologians and to personal belief (e.g., the claim that the universe has a beginning in time).”

  • Donald Palmer, Looking at Philosophy, The Unbearable Heaviness of Philosophy Made Lighter

First, his example of the universe having a beginning in time (not shared by Aristotle) may have been thought of as absurd in his Aristotle world, but the Big Bang is widely believed in the modern day – yet, people may diverge on when it happened and how and by what force.  It is odd that the author of a book published in 1988 and a second edition in 1992 would use that as the example of something taken as faith.  There are indeed elements of faith in the theory, even among those that would disagree.  Consider that nothing starts in motion unless acted upon by an exterior force.  If every reaction is caused by an action, then to have a Big Bang there must be a force outside the singularity that causes the bang.  But when it comes to that point, the atheist abandons reason for madness.  Let’s save madness for later.

As for the idea of creating a niche in the table, I think that’s a great idea!!!  I am presently losing my battle with losing weight, but I am holding on.  I have gained a lot of weight in my lifetime.  I have no problem in doing so.  I do have a problem in getting the weight to go the other way.  So, before we get to the serious topics addressed in this quote regarding the Thomas Aquinas philosophy, and I will get serious, maybe, let’s have a double portion of Allan Sherman.  After all, Allan Sherman had no problem with double portions, unless he was cutting back from the triple and quadruple portions…

Warning:  These two Allan Sherman videos feature him discussing how he overeats.  If that is triggering to you, you can skip playing the videos.  For those who have no problems, enjoy Allan Sherman making fun of himself, comfortable in his being overweight.

Red Skelton and Allan Sherman were two of my heroes growing up.  I hope you don’t mind my indulgence.

To tie the Scripture to the quote, Thomas Aquinas took the A through E regarding Aristotle’s philosophy and had a hard time making that fit when trying to not conform to his present world.  The evangelist today walks a terrible tightrope, maybe more appropriate to call it a slack rope.  The slack rope wobbles to and fro much more than a tightrope.  The secular world is so anti-God at the present time, but people still have that God-shaped hole that only God can fill.  They will try anything other than God to fill what they know is missing in their lives.  How do you climb into their world to reach them without becoming a part of that world, without conforming to the fallen world as the Apostle Paul tells us not to do?

Look over the A through E above.  Each of these statements is false in the Christian view.  The earth has a beginning and will have an end.  It is not eternal.  And the beginning is not millions of years ago, seemingly eternal in the human’s limited perspective.  The soul is eternal.  We will live for glory in God’s presence or to eternal damnation.  And pride is a sin, and humility is a virtue.

As for God?  He loves us and is interested in everything thing that we do.  Our tears are written in a scroll, our hairs are numbered, and if you are saved, your name is written in God’s Book of Life.  And with God’s intense attention that He has for us, is it no wonder that the answer to the catechism question is that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  And by the way, I get happy thinking about it.  I hope I got that catechism quote right.  I memorized it over 55 years ago, or as Justin Wilson might have said, “I mesmerized it.”  If I got the quote wrong, I guess I mesmerized it.  Sorry, I said I would be “serious.”

In this present world of anarchy, we have nothing outside of Jesus that is constant.  When you look at the Aristotle beliefs that are opposite of Christian beliefs, it has a parallel with today.  The protestors might, to stretch the point, call the sky purple, the concrete sidewalks to be soft as a pillow, and quicksand to be the best soil in which to build your home.  I know those ideas do not make sense, but neither does a lot of the ranting in the streets.  Other than, people are mad.  I said earlier that we would get to the madness.

The movie, Network, came out in 1976, and the present protest is saying what Peter Finch, playing the part of Howard Beale, said (on his way to the Oscar).  Warning:  Finch says God in a non-reverent manner during his rant, and Faye Dunaway also says a curse word.  (Sorry, I could not find a censored version.)  And the movie glorified the shift, or maybe warned of the shift, from news telling the facts to news telling an emotion, preaching an agenda, and well, to “fake news.”  As one documentary on the movie stated, we have degenerated to the point of everything in the movie coming true except for murdering a newscaster on air, but then the documentary was many years ago, so…

Are not even those who are not protesting saying that they are “mad as hell, and we don’t want to take this anymore?”

But in God, there are answers.  God can fill that God-shaped hole in your life.  The world will still be mad, but we can choose to not be mad, and we can call upon God’s strength to pull it off.

And it was Thomas Aquinas who tried to reconcile the Aristotle philosophy that the world of the Dark Ages had turned to after hundreds of years of simply waiting for the world to end.  No wonder they called it “Dark.”  Then the light comes on and it is not lit by Jesus, but by an ancient Greek philosopher who refused to die for what he believed in, rather running home to Mommy, at least the estate, to prevent two Athenian philosophers sharing the same fate (referencing the execution of Socrates.  Or as Bill and Ted might say “So-Crates” – Excellent!!).  Sorry, I said I would be “serious!”

Yet, Thomas Aquinas resolves Philosophy with Theology.  He broke Theology into two parts.  The part that shares reason with Philosophy, where they overlap, he called “Natural Theology.”  And the part outside reason, requiring faith, he called “Revealed Theology.”  The apologists are among us that can break down the walls of issues raised by the “darkness” among us, the non-believers.  These apologists can use reason, the natural theology, to show how the secular world has a big problem in addressing those inner problems, the spiritual unrest within people.  That does not save that person, but it gets that person to realize that something outside himself (herself) is needed to set things right.  And when they come to Jesus and accept Him, reaching into the “revealed theology,” then their emptiness is filled, and they become free indeed.  Freed from the madness.

Are you mad as hell?  Are you to the point where you cannot take it anymore?

Jesus is the answer.  He is softly knocking.  You may not hear him due to your own shouting.  He loves you, and He wants a personal relationship with you.  Will you accept Him into your heart?

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. July 21, 2020 — 10:19 am

    Even in our rage, we can be comforted by the fact that God has this. It’ hard for us because we feel we need to be a part of the solution, not just idle observers of what’s going on. God will turn things around. He always has and He always will. We need to pray for our confidence in that fact to be nurtured and revisited.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jesus is our fortress. I enjoyed the references throughout.

    Liked by 1 person

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