BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Characters of Theophrastus

Theophrastus


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman


The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite


Outlines of theology, ed. by W.H. Goold

by Archibald Alexander Hodge

Excerpt:

A nominal definition simply explains the meaning of the term used, while a real definition explains the nature of the thing signified by the term.

The English word God is by some derived from "good." Since, however, its various forms in cognate languages could not have had that origin, others derive it from the Persic Qhoda dominus, "possessor." The Latin Deus, and the Greek Qeos have been commonly derived from the Sanscrit div to give "light." But Curtius, Cremer, and others derive it from fletf in Qe66a6Qat "to implore." 0s6s is "He to whom one prays."

The word God is often used in a pantheistic sense, for the impersonal, unconscious ground of all being, and by many for the unknowable first cause of the existent world. It is for this reason that so many speculators, who actually or virtually deny the existence of the God of Christendom, yet indignantly repudiate the charge of atheism, because they admit the existence of a self-existent substance or first cause to which they give the name God, while they deny to it the possession of the properties generally designated by the term.

But, as a matter of fact, in consequence of the predominance of Christian ideas in the literature of civilized nations for the last eighteen centuries, the term " God" has attained the definite and permanent sense of a self-existent, eternal, and absolutely perfect free personal Spirit, distinct from and sovereign over the world he has created.

The man who denies the existence of such a being denies God.

2. How can a "real" definition of God be constructed?

Evidently God can be defined only in so far as he is known to us, and the condition of the possibility of our knowing him is the fact that we were created in his image. Every definition of God must assume this fact, that in an essential sense he and his intelligent creatures are beings of the same genus. He is therefore defined by giving his genus and specific difference. Thus he is as to genus, an intelligent personal Spirit. He is, as to his specific difference, as to that which constitutes him God, infinite, eternal, unchangeable in his being, in his wisdom, in his power, in his holiness, and in all perfections consistent with his being.

3. To what extent is the idea of God due to Tradition?

It is evident that the complete idea of God presented in the foregoing definition has been attained only by means of the supernatural revelation recorded in the Christian Scriptures. It is a fact also that the only three Theistic religions which have ever prevailed among men (the Jewish, Mohammedan and Christian) are historically connected with the same revelation. It is also, of course, in vain to speculate as to what would be the action of the human mind independent of all inherited habits, and of all traditional opinions. We are entirely without experience or testimony as to any kind of knowledge attained or judgments formed under such conditions. It is moreover certain that the form in which the theistic conception is realized, and the associations with which it is accompanied, are determined in the case of each community by the theological traditions they have inherited from their fathers.

It is, on the other hand, indubitably certain that all men under all known, and therefore under all truly natural conditions, do spontaneously recognize the divine existence as more or less clearly revealed to them in the constitution and conscious experience of their own souls, and in external nature. The theistic conception hence is no more due to authority, as often absurdly charged, than the belief in the subjective reality of spirit or in the objective reality of matter formed under the same educational conditions. The recognition of the self-manifest God is spontaneous, and universal, which proves the evidence to be clear and everywhere present, and convincing to all normally developed men.


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