This page outlines Philotheism – the paradigm for the underlying concept of Philotheos.
In principle, philosophy should be capable of taking a philotheistic perspective. Ancient philosophers certainly had some notion of the mystical and spiritual, and indeed were capable of recognising a “First Cause”.
Modern philosophers, however, are extremely sceptical of the spiritual, and in particular the idea of God. While philosophers are quite capable intellectually of understanding the concept, they remain personally sceptical to the point of contempt.
This causes them to take a prejudiced view. That reveals a vital clue about their problem. They fail to recognise their own personal psychology in their process of reflection.
The famous and brilliant 20th century philosopher, Bertrand Russell, provides an example. In his magisterial History of Western Philosophy, published in 1945, Russell allocates less than 3 pages to the ‘Reformation’ and the ‘Counter Reformation’ together. They are conflated as one sub heading in a long list in book 3 titled, “Modern Philosophy”.
Yet in his Introduction to the entire History of Western Philosophy, Russell states this:
From the 16th century onward, the history of European thought is dominated by the Reformation
At the heart of the Reformation, of course, is the belief that the Bible of the Christian faith is the declared, recorded word of God; that the word of God is the final authority in all matters of faith, and therefore of life generally; and that each individual human being has the right to read and interpret the Bible for themselves.
This is the real basis of liberty in the English and western tradition – not today’s erroneous belief in the Rights of Man which dates only from the late 18th century.
Reformation thinking asserted that Final Authority lies with God, not with any human being, nor with any human institution. So, human beings are individually entitled to make enquiry and to assess for themselves what God says in the Bible. The individual decides, not the Church, nor the State, nor any one else for that matter.
The philosophical, psychological and practical ramifications of such a belief are vast. Indeed, Russell evidently recognised this in his comment on the impact of the Reformation on European thought from the 16th century onwards [cited above].
Bertrand Russell chose, however, not to examine this and thereby give it the profile which it manifestly merits. We are talking therefore about the predisposition, indeed prejudice, of the philosopher adversely influencing his analysis, presentation and conclusions. Russell acknowledges the key significance of the Reformation in his initial, broad review, but refuses to elaborate on this in the main text.
The effect is to minimise the significance of the Reformation to the point not just of distortion, but of deletion. That is otherwise known as censorship.
Russell’s treatment of the Reformation provides evidence which corroborates the philotheistic analysis. That analysis says that human beings are shut out from direct relationship with God their Maker, the very source of truth and light; they are locked up in their sin – that is their rebellious attitude to God; and in this state of sin they deceive themselves about their own attitude, and about the very existence of their Creator.
This attitude of philosophers in modern times also reflects the prevalent mentality and philosophy of our times. Indeed Bertrand Russell’s thesis in his History of Western Philosophy makes this very point. That is why the full title of his History is
History of Western Philosophy and its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day
So what are the circumstances of our times, today ? What is the ruling idea or philosophy ? How might we adequately characterise the mindset of the society we live in today ? What marks out the nature and perspective of our contemporary world in relation to previous ages ?
In one word, MATERIALISM.
Anyone reading this must surely recognise that this is true.
What is more, this writer can make this assessment because his conceptual premise, his perspective and his paradigm are all Philotheistic, not philosophical. That is, this writer starts with respect for our Creator, with trust in the Creator’s declarations and with the logic of what God’s existence means. That is Philo-theos, love of God; it is not Philo-sophia, love of wisdom – a love which invariably defaults to man centred, man convinced wisdom, denying God’s wisdom.
The age in which we now live is characterised by the influence and triumph of Enlightenment thinking. That thinking stands in stark contrast to Philotheistic thinking. In fact it is a rival conception of our existence with a competing paradigm by which to reference and understand the world around us.
Enlightenment thinking is fully Materialist. It is characterised by
- a conception of our world as merely physical, not spiritual
- therefore our existence is explained in purely rational physical terms by scientific enquiry, not “superstitious” belief in a superior Spiritual Being
- as the physical world operates according to given laws of science, so human society is also explicable only in rational and discoverable terms
- being physical and material beings whose existence is to be explained as a material phenomenon, the reason for our existence starts and ends with human beings
- being merely an assemblage of atoms and molecules, morality concerns our needs and wants – not the dictates of a God figure conjured up by the imagination of ignorant, primitive humans
- as all human beings are the same, ie a collection of atoms with needs and wants, then all human beings stand in the same relation to each other, that is Equal
- as there is no God out there to order our Universe and to provide Purpose to our existence, we ourselves must collectively as the human race take positive action to order our environment and our future
- we must do this by means of organising everything to a common end and imposing regulations to prevent individual action departing from the common need
- there is therefore a vital collective order which the State as the supreme human institution must provide and guarantee
- and as humans are the centre of their universe and the sole determiners of our common destiny, we are our only “god”
However, Materialism does not remove the religious instinct in human beings – it simply diverts it from God to human beings. History show that Authoritarianism [invariably tyrannical and murderous] characterises States inspired by Materialism. It causes human beings to place fallible men at the centre, instead of recognising the true state of affairs, namely that God is at the centre – the Source, the Sustainer and the Summation of all.
By contrast a God first, God derived paradigm provides a perception of ourselves and our world characterised by
- the objective existence of a superior Being with total knowledge, power and presence
- such a Being inherently possesses proprietary rights over what “it” creates, including the human race; such rights include reward and punishment
- the Creator not only creates but sustains the creation
- the fact of design in the creation implies Purpose for that creation, including human beings
- having proprietary rights and purpose, the Creator has the right and power actively to direct the creation, including the conduct of human beings; conversely the creatures have no rights against their Creator
- as God is the Source, Sustainer and Summation of all things, human beings are totally dependent on God, in every way
- This being the actual state of existence, all analysis and understanding of our existence [the Why and How etc] must primarily reference the Supreme Being we call God – human beings cannot be the measure of all things and they necessarily deceive themselves if they try to do so
The contrast could not be more stark, nor the consequences more divergent for the way in which we live. Indeed the logic of the above analysis leads us clearly to the manifest reality of estrangement between God and human beings created by God.
Human beings manifestly and constantly defy the instinct for moral behaviour placed in them by their Creator. The fact that human beings can deny even the very existence of their Creator is evidence of their estrangement and their “sin”.
God requires moral behaviour from human beings because God values harmony in his creation. The Value of the individual in the philotheistic worldview is derived from God our Creator and from being created in the likeness of that Creator. Value in philotheism does not then derive from other human beings, or from the conception that we are all equally a collection of atoms and molecules. But in their “sin”, human beings reject any derivation from an objective and superior Creator.
The diagnosis of “sin” in the nature of human beings, and the proposed solution involving the worship of God, [as distinct from worship of humankind] is the contention of all 3 monotheistic world religions.
It is clear that in the Materialistic world system by which we think and live, human beings worship themselves, their wants, and the artefacts derived from the physical world about them. In this climate, the very idea of God is not only rejected, but regarded with contempt.
This is the ultimate self deception, and explains why philosophers fail to provide the definitive answers to the great questions of our existence.
Philotheism, however, does provide definitive answers because it analyses the philosophical problems correctly. The philotheistic analysis maintains that human beings deceive themselves in their sin – the state of estrangement from God and the consequent rebellion against God and his commands.
God being the Source, Sustainer and Summation of all, philotheism can be defined by 7 key principles:-
- human beings are creatures within God’s creation
- human beings reflect God’s nature and character [image] because they are created by God
- human beings, however, exist in a state of estrangement from God [sin] in which state they fail to perceive their condition and their existence correctly
- to understand themselves and their existence correctly, i.e. truly, human beings stand in need of God and of his intervention
- God’s intervention to meet the human need to see their situation correctly has been made clear in creation, in the Bible and in the Person and work of Jesus Christ
- the fundamental issue human beings must address is their psychology of rebellion against their Creator; the solution is therefore individual obedience to God’s teaching in the Decalogue as taught and interpreted by Jesus Christ – the answer does not lie in the primacy of Reason and Materialism which is the default position taken by fallen humanity [ie humanity estranged from God] and considered supreme [ie worshipped] in the thinking and attitudes of human philosophers
- God is the constant reference point, not the fallible reasoning of fallen humanity
So, for example, Philotheism can answer The Ultimate Question which Philosophers pose to deny the existence of God – a question which the Philosopher in his man centred philosophy cannot answer, but to which – AGAIN – the philotheist does have an answer. Again the answer entails accepting the concept of Philotheos and accepting its associated paradigm, Philotheism.
The “unanswerable” question Philosophers pose is this:
WHERE DOES GOD COME FROM ?
Like any question, the question reflects the mindset of the questioner. Deploying this question, the questioner has invariably already rejected the concept of God. But the questioner fails to see that their question derives from their Materialistic, human centred paradigm. They therefore fail to grasp the meaning of the concept of God. They do that for the simple reason that they have already rejected the concept of God. That rejection reflects a psychology derived from their sinful state of mind.
The Answer to their false question lies within the meaning of the word, God. As already stated, God is ALL powerful, ALL knowing and ALL present. God is the Source, the Sustainer and the Summation of ALL. It follows logically that the answer to this question is:
God has no origin and does not come from anywhere for the simple reason that God, by definition, IS !
As the Hebrew scriptures testify, God has told us: