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10/16/2010

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Why would you mount a philosophical defence of the existence of God, when discussing the matter with people who already believed in God? The disciples weren't asking him to prove God's existence, they were asking him to literally show them the Father, at which point he pointed to himself as God's self-revelation.

I want respectfully to dissent. In my view, you're equivocating on the term "philosopher." Being rational isn't the same as being a philosopher. Yes, Jesus was rational; no, He wasn't a philosopher. He was an ancient peripatetic rabbi. He thought, taught, spoke, and acted as a Jewish teacher, not as, say, Aristotle, Plato, Epicurus, or Zeno. All intellectual disciplines ought to be rational, but not all intellectual disciplines are philosophy. Rationality is not the private domain of philosophy. Simply by being rational one is not being a philosopher. Being articulate and rational meant you were made in God's image and were acting like it, not that everything was philosophy at the root.

As a Jew, Jesus took resort to the Scriptures reasonably and historically understood and applied. That's his "apologetic" against Satan or the scribes and pharisees. When his disciples asked Him to show them the Father, He pointed to Himself -- "he that has seen Me has seen the Father." He never, not once, takes resort to Aristotle's multiple so-called proofs for God's existence, never alludes to an uncaused cause, an unmoved mover, thought thinking itself, or to Plato's world of higher forms, to essences, substances, or to a whole host of philosophers' inventions. Because He was a man of first-century Palestine, and because such notions had been abroad for centuries, He easily could have employed such concepts, arguments and terms; He never did. He is the consummate model of the Hebrew mind, not the Greek. The Hebrews understood rationality to be rooted in God and His revelation, not in philosophy.

The revelation of God came to them in Divine actions and in inspired words that explained those actions -- in history and in Scripture -- not in metaphysics. The closest disciplines to theology are history and literary criticism, not philosophy.

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