Presentation on theme: "Philosophers + Theosis. John R. Lenz Glossary (ancient sense) Apotheosis – An elevation to Divine Status. An exceptional grant by a god to a favored."— Presentation transcript:
Philosophers + Theosis
John R. Lenz
Glossary (ancient sense) Apotheosis – An elevation to Divine Status. An exceptional grant by a god to a favored individual. Conscience – Knowledge of good and evil. Daimon – A deity or divinity. It has fallen and been incarnated, seeks to escape the physical world to return to the gods. Hero – In Greek religion, a mortal that becomes a minor deity after death. Was worshipped and could exert power in the world (comparable to a Christian Saint). Nature – A Greek term that refers to mortal processes: birth, nurture, growth, decay. In Greek mythology, even gods are born and can ‘die’ or be disabled. Second meaning, as “essence”. Along the lines of Plato’s “forms”. Nous – Mind, reason. The highest part of us, that which is most godlike within us. Philosopher – One who aspires to ultimate wisdom, possessed only by the gods. Humans don’t have wisdom, bur rather: love, desire, and eros. Thumos – The immortal soul, that biologically and psychologically desires immortality. Virtue – Knowledge.
Periods Hellenistic Period (323-30 BC) This is the period of neoplatonism (followers of Plato or offshoots thereof). Much of patristic and contemporary commentary makes use of these authors. Hellenic Period (550-323 BC) The period of some of the greats like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Lenz insists that we ought to look to this period for the roots of Theosis in Christian thought.
Introduction Greek philosophy has a central place in religious history in general and Christian tradition in particular (47) -a union of mysticism and rationality in Greek thought -> the human capacity for reason provides the potential for divinity (through the nous, our highest and most god-like part) -but, deification, for the ancient Greek, is only possible for true philosophers like Socrates -> Greek philosophy is about a way of life: a spiritual life, the best kind, comparable to the gods
Boundaries Classical Greek throught stresses boundary between mortals and immortals (48) Deification involves making a mortal into an immortal Heros are mortals that have become minor deities Apotheosis is exceptionally granted to favored individuals to make them immortal (49) In early Greek literature, the world has declined and fallen. The hope of becoming a god has passed: godliness is no longer accessible to mortals. Golden age of heros has ended. -> contrast to the Christian fall of humanity
Desire We have an inner desire for immortality (biological, psychological, from our thumos) Some Greek writers consider this very worthy because we are like gods biologically and psychologically (gods are born and die) Other writes find the passions unworthy of divinity Therefore, our desire to become a god is itself unworthy and disqualifies us from becoming one (50)
New Possibilities Other writers say...maybe we can’t reach the life of the gods, but rather, the unchanging essence of divinity itself 2 nd use of word “nature” as “essence” Plato and the “real”, “form” This forms our essential basis for deification
Empedocles Philosophy: The Philosopher as Daimon (50- 51) Calls himself an undying god: mortal no more Freeing “daimon” from incarnated life to return to the world of the gods
Plato Cultivating the Immortal Soul There is reward/punishment after death Divinity is the ultimate goodness We can all use the nous to seek immortality, pursuit of wisdom, knowledge, and the Good ALL can reach this: not privileged for certain individuals For Socrates, the job of philosophy is to care for the soul for all time, it needs education and training The soul pre-exists, and will live on
Plato Again Since for Plato, divinity is achievable by all, Lenz says that Plato’s position should appropriately be called Theosis (52) Only the perfect sage escapes endless reincarnations Socrates religiously pursues wisdom Conscience = knowledge of good and evil Virtue = knowledge Not just a matter of secular logic, but religion
Plato Yet Again The nous ought to be in charge of things (the spirit: courage, and bodily desires/appetites) (53) Reason is akin to the gods Seeking to be morally good, pure, just, pursuing pure knowledge (separation from perception and opinion) These grounds set up Christianity to be a very rational religion
Still More Plato By ‘reason’, Plato means ‘logic’ But he also means noetic vision, contemplation (theoria) of godly realms Ultimate reward of disembodied reason Platonic forms should perhaps better be called “Platonic visions” In Greek theology, the soul is akin to the divine by nature In Western theology, immortality is a gift from God
Plato Plato Plato In Plato’s thought, a Demiurge is the ultimate creator, who desires that all things come as near as possible to being like himself (54) Therefore, humans rival the other gods, since both of these are creations But none can take part in the creator’s creatingness This is akin to Christianity’s take on Theosis, that we cannot partake in God’s essence
Aristotle Aristotle’s word for ‘happiness’ is ‘eudaimonia’ (55) Means having or being favored by a good daimon Attributes of such a one: aims at no end beyond itself, has proper pleasure, has self-sufficiency and leisure, is unwearied, and has the other attributes of a blessed (makarios) man
Aristotle Numero Two For Aristotle, god’s activity is contemplation Contemplation is the human activity that is most like god But reason enters the body from the outside: therefore, reason has no connection with bodily activity Aristotle’s happiest man strives after wisdom and eventually attains god-like wisdom in his life (56)
Random Author’s Comment Lenz notes that Christianity has often tended to ‘label’ Greek philosophy and the Church in unhealthy ways Calling Greek philosophy the “spirit” of Christianity, and the Church the “body” Or vice-versa Both of these present a poor representation of the continuity of thought in Christianity from Greek thought
Epicureans Epicureans says that the gods have wisdom, and humans don’t (57) Being a philosopher is aspiring to think like a god Epicureans strive for peace of mind (tranquility) Understanding nature and physics is critical for doing ethics (knowledge is emphasized as with others in the Hellenic period) Perfection = ultimate of reason and virtue (58)
Stoics Stoics prize our autonomy of choice, autonomy, judgment (59) We are off-shoots of God: we carry Him inside us The soul is mind only Spirit = reason = God
Christian Re-Focusing In Peter 1:4 (about partaking of the divine nature), Peter changes the focus from reason (Greek thought) to FAITH (60) There is a move in Christian imagery from the mind to the heart (61), a very bodily image John 1:1 – the Logos (reason) became FLESH
Interesting Point The word ‘Theosis’ is only used once in pagan Greek, by Damascius The Church Fathers developed the word ‘Theosis’ to avoid the connotations related to ‘apotheosis’ Thus, Damascius appears to be using a Christian term
QQuestion 1: Greek Philosophy depends highly on reason for its philosophy, yet Christianity often bashes reason over the head with a shovel with a preference for “faith”. What is a healthy balance of “faith” and “reason?” QQuestion 2: Different Hellenic writers spoke of the “philosopher” as daimon or as one deified. This is a “doing” word. What “doing” word should we Christians use to describe ourselves in these terms (e.g. NOT the word “Saint”)?