RELIGIOUS LANGUAGE

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2. . . RELIGIOUS LANGUAGE. VIA NEGATIVASYMBOLSMODELS AND QUALIFIERS. 4. VIA NEGATIVA The negative way . Synonymous with EQUIVOCAL and APOPHATIC.Refer to the summary notes I did from Stiver's book entitled Historical Approaches to Religious Language.Look at this in the context of all other approaches to religious language and ask,

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RELIGIOUS LANGUAGE

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3. RELIGIOUS LANGUAGE VIA NEGATIVA SYMBOLS MODELS AND QUALIFIERS

4. 4 VIA NEGATIVA The negative way Synonymous with EQUIVOCAL and APOPHATIC. Refer to the summary notes I did from Stiver’s book entitled Historical Approaches to Religious Language. Look at this in the context of all other approaches to religious language and ask, “Why do some advocate the negative way?”

5. 5 VIA NEGATIVA The negative way Perhaps the most helpful thing to remember about the negative way is that it reminds us that there is a persistent danger of idolatry in religious language about God. All of our attempts to speak of God may confuse the partial modelling of God in particular language with the reality of God that language is trying, inadequately, to depict.

6. 6 VIA NEGATIVA The Great Chain of Being Plotinus & Neo-Platonism SSOT

7. 7 SSOT

8. 8 Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite Probably a 5th / 6th cc Syrian Inspired many from Aquinas to Milton Attempts to synthesise Christian truth and Neoplatonism Advocates a progressive deification of man towards union with God. Method is soul abandoning the perceptions of the senses and reasoning of the mind. Consequent illumination leads to knowledge of the ineffable Being - an ineffable, indescribable but intensely real experience. Plotinus’ “the flight of the alone to the alone”.

9. 9 Symbols Common definition: “A symbol is a pattern or object which point to an invisible metaphysical reality and participates in it” - Erica Dinkler-von Schubert. Symbols identify ie. point to the concept they are conveying & participate ie. share in some way in the meaning of that concept.

10. 10 Symbols (cont) Symbols can be: Pictorial Abstract Verbal Active (a symbolic action) eg. A Christian Cross points to the death of Jesus but in more than just a factual way. It brings to the believer what it signifies such as: Salvation from sin Sacrificial atonement Victory over death Hope of eternal life God’s love for the world Defeat of Satan

11. 11 Symbols (cont) Paul Tillich eg. of a national flag conveying nationalism, patriotism & national identity. Signs are to do with facts. Symbols transcend facts and should not therefore be interpreted literally. Symbols are subtle modes of discourse - high level language needs them.

12. 12 Symbols (cont) Problems with symbols: [1] They can be a focus for veneration themselves - they should point beyond themselves eg. icons [2] They can be trivialised and the original meaning lost thereby. [3] They can become outdated, like myths. [4] “It is necessary to rediscover the questions to which the Christian symbols are the answers in a way which is understandable in our time.” - Tillich Christianity appropriated the metaphors of earlier pagan religions, grafting them into its own account of the creation and beyond....a more ancient symbol indicative of female anatomy and reproductive potency (www.atheists.org/)

13. 13 Models and Qualifiers This is often discussed under the heading of analogy. The idea of Models and Qualifiers is attributed to Ian Ramsey - one time Bishop of Durham - from his famous book Religious Language. We take a human attribute and ascribe it to God, qualifying it to make clear that it is infinitely enhanced when applied to God.

14. 14 Models and Qualifiers In Ramsey’s scheme the human attribute is the model. In ascribing it to God, we qualify it to make it clear that it is infinitely enhanced when applied to God. This leads us to an understanding of the infinite nature of God. This is a positive act of qualification, rather than the negative approach which Flew criticised.

15. 15 Note the other mechanisms of analogy * Remotion and excellence * Analogy of proportion * Analogy of attribution as well as Models and qualifiers

16. Remotion and excellence The principle of remotion and excellence refers to the removal of all creaturely concepts from a term and projecting what is left onto God. Thus we learn that God is without limit.

17. Analogy of proportion All good qualities belong proportionately to God and to humans. Thus we know that proportionately they must exist pre-eminently in God, but in a lesser way in humans. We cannot know God’s nature fully but we can reach some (limited) understanding of it.

18. Analogy of attribution God is the cause of all good things in humans and other beings. He attributes to them what belongs to him first in a greater and higher sense. So our awareness of something like human faithfulness allows us to project it upwards to reflect God’s greater faithfulness. Only possible though, because God’s faithfulness came first. So it can be an upward or downward projection.

19. 19 Remotion and excellence Analogy of proportion Analogy of attribution Models and qualifiers

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