The Rational And The Non Rational

It is essential to every theistic conception of God, and most of all to the Christian, that it designates and precisely characterizes Deity by the attributes Spirit, Reason, Purpose, Good Will, Supreme Power, Unity, Selfhood. The nature of God is thus thought of by analogy with our human nature of reason and personality ; only, whereas in ourselves we are aware of this as qualified by restriction and limitation, as applied to God the attributes we use are 'completed', i.e. thought as absolute and unqualified. Now all these attributes constitute clear and definite concepts: they can be grasped by the intellect; they can be analysed by thought; they even admit of definition. An object that can thus be thought conceptually may be termed rational. The nature of deity described in the attributes above mentioned is, then, a rational nature; and a religion which recognizes and maintains such a view of God is in so far a ' rational' religion. Oniy on such terms is Belief possible in contrast to mere feeling. And of Christianity at least it is false that * feeling is all, the name but sound and smoke '1;—where ' name ' stands for conception or thought. Rather we count this the very mark and criterion of a religion's high rank and superior value—that it should have no lack of conceptions about God; that it should admit knowledge — the knowledge that comes by faith — of the transcendent in terms of conceptual thought, whether those already mentioned or others which continue and develop thein. Christianity not only possesses such conceptions but possesses them in unique clarity and abundance and this is, though not the sole or even the chief, yet a very real sign of its superiority over religions of other forms and at other levels. This must bt> asserted at the outset and with the most positive Wnphwsis.

1 Goethe, Faust.

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