Has anyone here read Honest to God by John A. T. Robinson?

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Has anyone here read Honest to God by John A. T. Robinson?

Post by sacrificialgoddess on Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:18 am

I am about 30 pages into this book, and it is driving me crazy! I probably need to read Paul Tillich's Systematic Theology, in all honesty, because at this stage, Robinson is referring to Tillich's book in every other sentence.

I am probably bringing my own Pagan philosophical views into it, but in a nutshell, this is my problem with it:

Robinson is constantly bringing Tillich's Ground Of Being in the book. Now I don't know what Tillich's purpose is in the concept, or even how he uses it. But Robinson is pretty clearly using it to try and pull atheists into the monotheism camp. The idea of polytheism isn't at all addressed; I suspect it wouldn't ever have occurred to him that polytheists exist.

So Robinson is using Tillich's Ground Of Being idea of God as "ultimate reality." "And one cannot argue whether ultimate reality exists," he says (his italics). "One can only ask what ultimate reality is like..." Now, I don't quite get how he is using the words "ultimate reality," because I can safely say that, yes, philosophers have on occasion asked whether reality is in fact real.
My large problem here, though with his ultimate reality claims are that the descriptions he makes are largely impersonal. And yet, Robinson desperately wants a personal god, because while he seems to be trying to redefine Christianity in his book, to bring all of humanity under the Christian umbrella (again, my own personal perspective, based on what I have read), he doesn't want to lose the person god who sent his son to die. He is merely redefining god in such a way to make it difficult for those who have disagreed with the idea of the Christian God to actually escape the Christian God idea.

It's another case of verbal masterbation.

And yes, I realize this book was published in 1962 or something, and I am quite sure that these logic failures have been covered by several people. I just got so disappointed. Several people have said that this was a fabulous book and I just had to read it; it would change my life, being an amazing theological work, and here I am finding logic fails in the first 30 pages. It's just sad, and I wondered what others who have read it thought.

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Re: Has anyone here read Honest to God by John A. T. Robinson?

Post by Davelaw on Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:52 am

Does this help?

about Tillich from Wiki

God Above God
Throughout most of his works Paul Tillich provides an entirely different ontological view of God. While theistic philosophers and theologians such as St. Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham insist on God in the form of traditional theism, Tillich criticizes the theistic view of God and its philosophical tradition.[29] Tillich's criticism against the traditional theistic God is that

He deprives me of my subjectivity because he is all-powerful and all-knowing. I revolt and make him into an object, but the revolt fails and becomes desperate. God appears as the invincible tyrant, the being in contrast with whom all other beings are without freedom and subjectivity. He is equated with recent tyrants with the help of terror try to transform everything into a mere object, a thing among things, a cog in a machine they control. He becomes the model of everything against which Existentialism revolted. This is the God Nietzsche said had to be killed because nobody can tolerate being made into a mere object of absolute knowledge and absolute control. This is the deepest root of atheism. It is an atheism which is justified as the reaction against theological theism and its disturbing implications.[30]
Here Tillich raised serious theological, cultural, and philosophical problems with the traditional theistic notion of God. First, Tillich criticized traditional theism because it places God in the subject-object dichotomy. Epistemologically, God cannot be made into an object, since God is simply beyond the grasp of the human mind. If God were made into the subject (The Ultimate Subject), then it is quite obvious that the rest of the existing entities are now subjected to the absolute knowledge and scrutiny of God. It deprives the person of his subjectivity, his own creativity to create meaning existentially. Second, the kind of traditional theism that posits and presents a biblical God has provoked rebellions such as atheism and Existentialism (although other social factors, such as the industrial revolution, also contribute to this). As Tillich said, the modern man could no longer tolerate the idea of being an "object" completely subjected to the absolute knowledge of God. Third, Paul Tillich has argued that the philosophical argument of theism is simply "bad theology".

The God of the theological theism is being besides others and as such a part of the whole reality. He is certainly considered its most important part, but as a part and therefore as subjected to the structure of the whole. He is supposed to be beyond the ontological elements and categories which constitute reality. But every statement subjects him to them. He is seen as a self which has a world, as an ego which relates to a thought, as a cause which is separated from its effect, as having a definite space and endless time. He is a being, not being-itself"[31]
Alternatively, Tillich presents an ontological view of God as Being-Itself, Ground of Being, Power of Being, and occasionally as an Abyss. What makes Tillich's ontological view of God radically different from traditional theism is that it transcends it by being the foundation or ultimate reality that "precedes" all beings. Just as Being for Heidegger is ontological prior to conception, Tillich believes God to be Being-Itself that is manifested in the structure of beings .[32] God is not a supernatural entity among other entities. Instead, God is the ground upon which of all beings exist. We cannot perceive God as an object which is related to a subject because God precedes the subject-object dichotomy.[33]
Thus Tillich dismisses belief in a personal God as a literalistic Biblicism. Tillich agrees with Einstein's statement that the notion of personal God is "naive". Instead of completely rejecting the notion of personal God, however, Tillich sees it as a symbol that points directly to the Ground of Being.[34] Since the Ground of Being ontologically precedes reason, it cannot be comprehended since comprehension presupposes the subject-object dichotomy. Tillich disagreed with any literal philosophical and religious statements that can be made about God. Such literal statements attempt to define God and lead not only to anthropomorphism but also to a philosophical mistake that Immanuel Kant warned against, that setting limits against the transcendent inevitably leads to contradictions. Any statements about God are simply symbolic, but these symbols are sacred in the sense that they function to participate or point to the Ground of Being. Tillich insists that anyone who participates in these symbols are empowered by the Power of Being, that overcomes and conquers nonbeing and meaninglessness.
Tillich also further elaborated the thesis of the God above the God of theism in his Systematic Theology.

… (the God above the God of theism) This has been misunderstood as a dogmatic statement of a pantheistic or mystical character. First of all, it is not a dogmatic, but an apologetic, statement. It takes seriously the radical doubt experienced by many people. It gives one the courage of self-affirmation even in the extreme state of radical doubt.

– Tillich , Systematic Theology Vol. 2 , p.12

… In such a state the God of both religious and theological language disappears. But something remains, namely, the seriousness of that doubt in which meaning within meaninglessness is affirmed. The source of this affirmation of meaning within meaninglessness, of certitude within doubt, is not the God of traditional theism but the "God above God," the power of being, which works through those who have no name for it, not even the name God.

– Tillich , Systematic Theology Vol. 2 , p.12

…This is the answer to those who ask for a message in the nothingness of their situation and at the end of their courage to be. But such an extreme pont is not a space with which one can live. The dialectics of an extreme situation are a criterion of truth but not the basis on which a whole structure of truth can be built.

– Tillich , Systematic Theology Vol. 2 , p.12
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