Thursday, April 14, 2011

An existentialist theology

Is it possible that Paul was more fundamentally existentialist - or Jesus even? Macquarrie has pointed out the similarities, they call for an end to tradition, a call to see the full potential of all men rather than the modern scientific view of seeing all human beings as intelligent but beastly. The modern world would be more sympathetic to the viewpoint that we should only aspire to be like animals - that we are 'nothing-more' than monkeys. It is inspiring to me that the existentialist thinkers of the 20th Century shared the viewpoint of Christian theology that we do not have to follow the world, we can have an authentic exististence. To follow the world and to simply accept that we should expect nothing better than what we have is something that the existentialists also dreaded. I find this refreshing because the media and the scientific establishment seem to be so keen to press on us that there is no meaning to life, that our existence is mechanistic and there are so few people willing to speak out against this.

Macquarrie points to the term of Heidegger - Jemeinigkeit - existence is always mine. To quote from p. 33:

"One cricket-ball is pretty much like another. They are all made to a standard pattern, and while there are no doubt minor differences, it is true to say that if we have seen one, we have seen them all. Things can be classified - indeed not only science but everyday life would be impossible were we unable to classify and expect that one object will behave in the same way as others in the same class. But man as existing is an individual and defies classification. This is a point on which existentialism does justice to the biblical understanding of men as individual creatures of the Father and sets itself in opposition to modern scientific humanism to regard the being of man as at bottom no different from the being of things, an therefore amenable to study by scientific methods."


1 comment:

Igneos said...

And we ought not to listen to those who counsel us O man, think as man should and O mortal, remember your mortality. Rather ought we, so far as in us lies, to put on immortality and to leave nothing unattempted in the effort to live in conformity with the highest thng within us.

Aristotle Eth. x. vii. p.305