October 9, 2013

The "God" of Western Theology

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos 
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

An internationally known Greek composer,1 when asked by a journalist "have you ever called upon God?", responded very bluntly: "No. I came from nothing and I am going to nothing. When I complete my cycle I will become dust. If this becomes an astral substance, it has no meaning, because I will not know about it. I would have already merged with universal harmony."

This answer raises many questions not only from an Orthodox perspective, but also a philosophical and social one. It speaks of a zero preceding the creation of man and a zero following his death. There is no personal God who created the world and man, and there is even no personal life of man after his death. The only thing that exists is an existence between two zeros. How can this be understood? One observes the complete absence of personhood, not only of God but also of man. Also the zero, the nothing, cannot be understood outside of existence. What does "I came from nothing and I am going to nothing" mean? This means that "nothing" is compared to something. And how can there be a personal life between two non-existent zeros, two "nothings".

Unfortunately all this confusion was created by the "God" of Western theology, who in reality is non-existent, without existence. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, in order to fight against the gods of mythology, which were in fact the gods of the democratic society of Athens, built the god of metaphysics and ideology, which became associated with the theories of philosophers and the rulers of the oligarchy. Thus, the god of metaphysics is completely blissful (eudaemonistic), impersonal, a being who has within him complex abstract ideas. The whole world is the result of the fall from this world of ideas, and materiality was made as a punishment for the soul of man, which moved away from this god. Therefore, the god of bliss attracts to himself all fallen ideas, all minds. Within this perspective, God is not a person, He does not have personal relationships with beings, material is waste, and the salvation of man is abstract and an impersonal infiltration into the world of abstract ideas, of impersonal being.

These theories were conveyed to the West by the divine Augustine and a god of metaphysics was created by the influence of Frankish feudal rulers in the West, who perfectly served the racist plans of the feudal Franks to terrify and bully people. The entire western Middle Ages, as well as the so-called Renaissance, from another perspective, undertook to support this non-existent god in order to tame the people. It was a religious tool for the feudal subjugation of the people.

Many in the West rebelled against this western god with absolute denial of his existence. But the absolute denial of God leads to the absolute denial of man as a person. Eventually Marxism fought against the god of western metaphysics, without coming to know the God of Revelation in the Orthodox East. We Orthodox do not believe in the god of metaphysics, who gave rise to all dictatorial and freedomless religious and political regimes, but in the personal God of Revelation, Who gives meaning and beauty to human life.

We encourage our composers, who compose with notes the sufferings and visions of Romiosini, to teach about the God of Romiosini, and not be contradictory in life, since on the one side they are against social injustice and on the other they recognize the unjust god of all capitalists throughout the centuries, ignoring the God of Romiosini, who "justly allows the sun to rise".

1. It is assumed His Eminence is speaking about Mikis Theodorakis, who publically came out as an atheist, but made popular through song some of the ideals of Romiosoni.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Ο 'Θεός' της δυτικής θεολογίας", June 1998. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.