Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Greatest Love of All--PART 3--UPDATED

"God is not life, God is Light. He is the Lord of life, but He is as little alive as He is dead; and to state one or the other about Him, as the ancient man states, that "He lives," and as the modern man states, that He "is dead," betrays equal pagan partiality. Only that neither- nor of dead and alive, only that fine point where life and death touch and melt into one does not forbid the typical terminology. God neither lives nor is dead, but He gives life to what is dead, He--loves."
                                          --Franz Rosenzweig, Star of Redemption

Why does one betray pagan partiality by declaring God to be dead or alive, but can comfortably state that He loves? 

Aristotle, in fact, postulated the opposite.

Since that which moves and is moved is intermediate, there is something which moves without being moved, being eternal, substance, and actuality...The final cause, then, produces motion as being loved, but all other things move by being moved.
                                                  --Aristotle, Metaphysics 12:7

This is Aristotle's famous concept of God as the Unmoved Mover. Whereas all other beings must move themselves in order to move another, the ultimate Mover, the Final Cause, moves all things without Him needing to move. The metaphor he gives to explain this, is that God moves the world as the beloved moves the lover. The beloved need not take any notice of the lover, even as the current of the lover's whole being might be mightily, steadily flowing towards the beloved, and the lover's whole life and daily schedule is focused on the beloved. So, says Aristotle, is He the drive and purpose and magnet of all things and realms that strive towards Him in constant, arduous love and attraction- yet He remains unmoved and oblivious to it all; His only occupation is contemplation of Self, the essence of perfection.

The nature of the divine thought involves certain problems... For if it thinks of nothing, what is there here of dignity? It is just like one who sleeps. And if it thinks, but this depends on something else, (He thinks about something else) then (since that which is its substance is not the act of thinking, but a potency) it cannot be the best substance; for it is through thinking that its value belongs to it. Further...what does it think of? Evidently... it thinks of that which is most divine and precious, and it does not change; for change would be change for the worse, and this would be already a movement... Therefore it must be of itself that the divine thought thinks (since it is the most excellent of things). 

He is not even aware of us, in Aristotle's opinion. That would be a stain on His perfection. How can Rosenzweig say that anthropomorphic terms of life and death are demeaning to Him- but love is not?


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