A Westernized Christianity


Christianity’s theory of God has been idling around in limbo for a long time now. Initially, the Christians believed that it was indeed Jesus himself who was crucified, they also believed that it was a process of ‘incarnation’. “Jesus has become one with God and Holy Spirit,” is what they hold on.

Wartapilihan.com, Depok– But, later some of them also revoked such statement. Saying that it is a misinterpretation, since the existence of God cannot be known. The clash between two theories has created a massive complication in Christianity. But, what is the main problem? What was the background of each theories? What were the arguments that were delivered from each theories? On his one of his greatest works, Islam and Secularism, Prof. Syed Naquib al-Attas discussed the topic profoundly, in which I will try to paraphrase in this article.

It all started when the Christians was having a hard time to understand the Bible, which has been altered. Then, came two Christian philosopher who gives ‘a solution’ to the complicated theology.  These philosophers are St. Augustine (354 – 430 AD) and Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274). Their solution is to integrate the Christian teaching with Greek Philosophy. They used Aristotle’s theory of Being and Parmenidean theory of truth. In which, they believed that God’s Essence is His Existence. So, it would not matter if He cannot be known.

However, it would be appear strange. As stated by William Ockham (1287 – 1374), if every essence or quiddity can be accepted and understood without anything being known of its existing, then there was no way we could actually verify it. Ockham later on questioned the existence of object, as we draw knowledge from existence of objects. If an object’s external is problematic, for example physically broken, their true nature is already engraved in our mind. But, the true nature of object may be influenced by an efficient cause outside of the objects, such as God or by the nature of mind itself. Therefore, our view would not be ‘objective’. This trend of philosophy led to the consequences of doubting the existence and essence

After Ockham, Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650) came with his famous quote of “Cogito ergo sum”, in which he tried to establish his a priori certainty existence of God through his argument of the existence of self. This, however, resulted in failure, as Cartesian theory of existence is based on empirical intuition. In the case of the existence of God, since He, unlike man, is not a subject to empirical intuition. Thus, the problem of God has become more complicated than it was. Since His Essence cannot be known, and followed by His Being which cannot be known as well since it is identical with His Existence. The only way of solving this problem, which is to demonstrate rationally, is also a case closed, due to its impossibility. Ultimately, they concluded that God’s existence, at that time, can only be demonstrated rationally through faith.

As we may see above, Christianity has no fixed concept of God. Their theory is constantly change from time to time. Later theories may reject the former. What I have mentioned above is only a little example from many complications that happened around the discussion of the concept of God. And because of the interchanges of concept, when Secularization came, they are powerless to prevent it—or even wholeheartedly accept it, saying it as ‘inevitable’, since this interchangeability is in accordance with Secularization.

M. Faris Ranadi

Mahasantri At-Taqwa College, Pondok Pesantren At-Taqwa-Depok

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