Can we use Apophatic Theology to prevent Religious Extremism?

I don’t think I would take it that far, although there is in the nature of people to destroy. Schaeffer proposes the use of Apophatic Theology, which too me, while useful, may see to restrict orthodox and of course, the exclusivity of Christ.

Is there another way to look at “truth” issues that might not lead to hate? Yes. It’s called apophatic theology and can be applied to both secular and religious ideas.

Evagrius Ponticus (a fourth century monk) summed up this view, saying “Do not define the Deity: for it is only of things which are made or are composite that there can be definitions.” In fact, a whole anti-theology came to be called apophatic theology, or the theology of not knowing, or negative theology. It speaks only about what may not be said about God. And this way of perceiving God is found not just in Christianity but in other religions too.

This theology takes a mystical approach related to individual ex­periences of the Divine beyond ordinary perception. It teaches that the Divine is ineffable, something that can be recognized only when it is felt, then remembered. And therefore all descriptions of this sense will be false, because by definition the experience of God eludes description.

Apophatic descriptions of God acknowledge (1) that neither the existence of God nor nonexistence, as we understand these words in the material world, applies to God, (2) that God is divinely simple and that one should never claim God is “one” or “three” or any “type” of being, (3) that we can’t say that God is “wise,” because that implies knowledge of what wisdom is on a divine scale, and (4) that to say that God is “good” also limits God to what that word means in the context of human behavior.

If we want to change the religion debate the same could and should be applied to all philosophy and even to science. There is a difference between opinion and changing/evolving information and absolute and changeless fact. If we’d divide the practical everyday “facts” from making huge and out-sized cosmological “conclusions” we’d all be better off.

We’d also be closer to the truth that we can’t know anything conclusively because we are evolving and not “there” yet (wherever there is!) and also we are part of the paradox we’re seeking to unravel. In other words rather than strapping bombs on ourselves to eliminate the other, we might instead “strap” on a bit of humility be that atheist humility in the face of tenacious spirituality or religious humility in the face of the very apparent contradiction of some of religion’s fondest beliefs by science.

Read the rest:

Frank Schaeffer: Changing the Conversation on Religion (Before it Kills Us All).

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