Thursday, March 30, 2006

No semi-divine beings in Christianity, Judaism or Islam

Today I found an began reading a little gem by Fr Aidan Nichols (see previous blog) called “Catholicism and Other Religions”. It is an excerpt from his book “Epiphany : a theological introduction to Catholicism”. Most of the book appears to be published on the “Fr Aidan Nichols Homepage” at the “Epiphany home page”.

Here are some meaty bits:

“The principal Jewish objection to the Church [one could say the same about Islam—David] where doctrine is concerned is her affirmation of the divinity of Christ. However, it can be noted that in the first centuries of the Christian era, the same theological principle guided a process of internal clarification among both Jews and Christians: the infinite qualitative distinction between the uncreated and the created, ruling out as this does any suggestion of intermediate beings or conditions [again, this is an issue for Muslims—David]. Just as Judaism pruned away its more extravagant apocalyptic imagery, and a tendency to angelolatry, so the Church shunned the homoiousion ("like in being [to the Father]") of the semi-Arians and clove to the view that either Christ is consubstantial with God or he is of no transcendent significance whatever. It is possible that it was an initial encounter with an implicitly heretical Christianity rather than direct confrontation with the orthodox tradition of the Nicene faith that accounts for the vehemence of rabbinic Judaism's rejection of patristic Christianity [once again, the same could be said of Early Islam, where the heretical form of Christianity was Nestorianism—David].”

Later he adds, with regard to Islam specifically:

“Catholicism, however, welcomes Islam's grasp of the divine aseity — the terrible distinctness of God from the world — not least in a postChristian epoch in the West where to a vague "new age" religious sensibility the distinction between what is divine and what is not divine is altogether elided.”

All this is, in a sense, what I was trying to get at in my discussion with Charlene Spretnak. Mary is not a semi-divine being, and neither is Christ. Christ is wholly human and wholly divine—two distinct natures united one person—he does not straddle the divide as a “bit-of-both” or “part-man-part-God”.

There’s lots of other really interesting points of view on this, but you can read it yourself.

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