God of Faith and Philosophy
The separation of Truth and Piety
Ratz’s book continues to have my attention:
Early Christianity boldly and resolutely made its choice and carried out its purification by deciding for the God of the philosophers and against the gods of the various religions. Whenever the question arose as to which god the Christian God corresponded, Zeus perhaps or Hermes or some other god, the answer ran: To none of them. To none of the gods to whom you pray but solely and alone to him to whom you do not pray, to that highest being of whom your philosophers speak. The early church resolutely put aside the the whole cosmos of the ancient religions, regarding the whole of it as deceit and illusion, and explained its faith by saying: When we say God, we do not mean or worship any of this; we mean only Being itself, what the philosophers have expounded as the ground of all being, as the God of all powers – that alone is our God… The choice thus made meant opting for the logos as against any kind of myth; it meant the definitive demythologization of the world and of religion.
There are quite amazing paralells in chronology and content between the philosophers’ criticism of the myths in Greece and the prophets’ criticism of the gods in Israel. It is true that the two movements start from completely different assumptions and have completely different aims; but the movement of the logos against the myth, as it evolved in the Greek mind and in the philosophical enlightenment, so that in the end it necessarily lead to the fall of the gods, has an inner parallelism with the enlightenment that the prophetic and Wisdom literature cultivated… in favour of the One and only God. For all the differences between them, both movements coincide in their striving towards the logos… The ancient religion did eventually break up because of the gulf between the God of faith and the God of the philosophers, because of the total dichotomy between reason and piety… The Christian religion would have to expect just the same fate if it were to accept a similar amputation of reason and were to embark on a corresponding withdrawal into the purely religious…
Christianity put itself resolutely on the side of truth and turned its back on a concept of religion satisfied to be mere outward ceremonial that, in the end, can be interpreted to mean anything one fancies.