Syncretism: Merging Philosophy and Religion

Many early Christians like Paul believed that God had chosen man as the vessel of his image, in which his divine essence could be most fully incarnate. This resonate with Jung’s inner principle Deus et homo.

God needs man in order to become conscious, just as he needs limitation in time and space. Let us therefore be for him limitation in time and space, an earthly tabernacle.”

In this perspective, man was a noble participant in God’s creative unfolding. In his alienation from God the least happy of creatures, man could yet play the central role in repairing the riven state of creation and restoring its divine image (129).

On the other hand, the dogmatic church believed that human beings were intrinsically prone to sin and lived in the world of constant temptation, they require stern Church-defined sanctions against uninhibited actions, thoughts, lest their external souls fall to the same debased fate as their temporal bodies (151).

It looks like the later Christians and old Judaic concept of God’s law were very similar. They both impose the accounting system of good works and merits, categories of sin—which reminds me of Dante’s Inferno. In the poem, Hell is depicted as nine concentric circles of torment located within the Earth; it is the “realm … of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen”.

The dogmatic church stripped-down divinity from man. Joseph Campbell stated that the sacred ceremony was replaced by dull literal biblicism. The separation of matter and spirit, of natural grace and super natural grace has castrated nature. Christ had freely given himself to man and fully experienced the humiliation and weakness of human condition, he had given to man the capacity to share in God’s own power and glory (129).

I think philosophy should be taught first before religion.

Christian theologians in the classical era were often imbued with Greek philosophy before converting to Christianity, and subsequently continued to find value in the Hellenic tradition. A syncretic mysticism informed many early Christian thinkers as they eagerly recognize identical patterns of meaning in other philosophies and religions, often applying allegorical analysis to compare biblical and pagan literature. The truth was one, wherever it was found, for the Logos was all-comprehensive and boundlessly creative.

As early as the second century, Justin Martyr first advanced a theology that saw both Christianity and Platonic Philosophy as aspiring toward the same transcendent God, with the Logos signifying at once the divine mind, human reason, and the redemptive Christ who fulfills both the Judaic and Hellenic historical traditions (152).

 

Tarnas, Richard, The Passion of the Western Mind, Ballantine Books, New York, 1991.

Illustration: Group of World Religions, Hall, Manly P: The Secret Teachings of All Ages

 

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