Theology and Philosophy – Approaches to Nature and Existence of God

This paper presents a reflection of the nature of God from a philosophical perspective. It will discuss the difference between theology and philosophy, and describe at least two philosophical approaches to the nature and existence of God. It is significant to note that the philosophical concepts of God are entangled with the religious concepts of God. This was especially clarified by scholars like Aquinas and Augustine who tried to introduce more consistency and rigor to the concepts embraced in religion (Wommack, 2012). Different philosophers held and continue having varying views about God. For instance, to Plato regarded God as transcendent, meaning the most perfect and highest existence or being. The only one who uses archetypes to introduce fashion to the universe that is uncreated and external. For thousands of years, descriptions were made of God in terminologies that were embraced in ancient Greek philosophy. Even today, God is still described in the same terms. These philosophical descriptions are that God is: eternal, unmoved mover, transcendent and all-knowing. That God is beyond space and time, and independent of the universe.

It is significant to note that there is a great difference between theology and philosophy even though they seem to deal with similar issues. Theology is a field of study that enables man to know God and the manner in which the same God relates with man. The term theology has its basis in two Greek words: Theos meaning God, and Logos meaning Word (Wommack, 2012). The two words combined together mean the word concerning God. On the other hand, philosophy entails learning to comprehend the basic nature of knowledge, existence and reality. Philosophy enables a person to develop the ability to reason in a logical manner and be able to criticize issues. It permits application of knowledge to various historical and modern individual thinkers and schools of thought. It also permits application of knowledge to various questions regarding the manner in which people acquire knowledge in order to develop moral judgments. Philosophy, also, provides thoughts about the nature of God and His existence as well as the significance of human beings in life. Theology differs from philosophy in the sense that it establishes a clear understanding regarding intellectual underpinnings about religious traditions (Davison & Milbank, 2012). It also provides an understanding of cultural and social religious practices and believes. Therefore, theology combines a broad range of disciplines and skills, textual, historical, sociological, linguistic, philosophical, and literary-critical.

Theology establishes studies that describe two main aspects of God: God’s being and God’s acting.  In terms of God’s being, the objective of theology is to enable mankind to understand the living God in terms of who He is (Davison & Milbank, 2012). It also establishes an understanding of God’s nature, which elaborates God in terms of His attributes. In the context of God’s acting, the objective of theology is to understand the living God in terms of what He does. Philosophy, on the other hand establishes an understanding of the universe in terms of a single reality. That existence of the universe is a consequence of a series of degenerations or emanation from absolute unity.

There are various philosophical approaches to the nature and existence of God; however, this paper will discuss only of them, and give their differences and similarities. The first philosophical approach is that God is, in Plato’s view, transcendent meaning that He is the most perfect and the highest existence or being (Davison & Milbank, 2012). The imperfections that are inherent in the material are the limiting factors of the order that God offers the universe. In this case God is not the source of all things because some things have evil orientations. In other words, flaws are present in the universe; but have a higher divine function that surpasses the understanding of mankind. This approach infers God as the source of punishments that the wicked deserve because such punishments befit them. The second philosophical approach to the nature of God is that God is the one responsible for all the changes that occur in the entire world or the universe because everything seeks divine faultlessness. All things are imbued with purpose and order and can only be discovered at the point of divine existence (Caputo, 2006). This is to imply that God knows divine existence of things ahead of their physical existence in various things.

The similarities between these two philosophical approaches to the nature of God are that they both acknowledge the omnipotence nature of God in creation (Caputo, 2006). This means that everything that happens is part of the plan of God, and that He makes creations from nothing. They both acknowledge that God makes perfect creations, because He is perfect. They also acknowledge that God exists in pure mind meaning that He cannot be tempted by anything. My personal beliefs about God are similar to the approaches described above. God is self-created and the origin of all things in pre-existence and existence. Natural theology is significant because it gives mankind the means to establish purpose and the manner in which to lead life. This is because it enables mankind to know who God is, what He can do, His relation with humans and what He expects of them.

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