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Theology  

If there's one thing I've had too much of, it's
Theology!!
 

    In college, instead of learning something useful, I just took an endless bunch of courses in theology.  Even when I took courses in other subjects, they ended up being more theology than anything else.  Then,  I attended two different seminaries where I studied almost nothing else but theology.  Then, it was on to Boston University School of Theology for graduate level courses in theology.  You're not going to believe it, but after that I went on to Harvard Divinity School for advanced studies in theology.  Several years later I attended the graduate school at Temple University and studied even more theology.  Wow!!  Looking back, I can't believe how hard I tried!!  What I wouldn't give to have all those hours back!!  I could have been learning something useful like carpentry!
 
    After all those years of searching, I finally found something that made some sense.  I found an approach that connected to the real world.  Up till that time theology was like a hot air balloon floating around aimlessly in the air without so much as a tie-down rope to hold it in place long enough to make any sense.  Theology finally came of age in the middle of the nineteenth century in Germany.  At the top of that mountain was the man who turned everything around and grabbed the rope that could hold the balloon long enough for us to get a glimpse.  His name was Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach.  [Usually just refered to as "Feuerbach."]
 

His most important work was
Das Wesen des Christentums (1841)

 It was translated into English by
George Eliot as
The Essence of Christianity.

Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach
July 28, 1804 September 13, 1872

 

The central thesis of this pivotal book is the simple but profound observation that:


 

    This simple but obvious little three-word sentence stopped German theology in its tracks and set the direction for all theology from that point on.  When we seem to be studying some god or gods, what we are learning about is the homo sapiens who created those ideas in the first place.  Of course!!  As we learn what various people have said about God, we are really getting an insight into the people doing the creating.  We are doing anthropology!!  We are learning about man by watching him dream.
 
    The only thing there is to know about theology is that it's a very round about way to study anthropology.  There are many ways to learn about our species.  We can learn about ourselves by listening closely to the music we create.  We can also learn about ourselves by probing the pictures that we paint and the dances that we dance.  However, what could give us more insight into what we're all about than to watch ourselves as we create our gods?
 
 
    It seems that our various gods are not created in some single act of creation.  Instead, the seed is planted and just allowed to evolve from there.  Historians would probably date the creation of the Christian god as June 19, 325 CE.  That was the very day that the Council of Nicea finalized the Nicene Creed which formulated the official god of the emerging Christian religion.  It was on that day that the trinitarian god was established.  However,  the god of Nicea was only the seed that flowered out from that first statement of faith.  The tree is still spreading out in every direction.  I read somewhere that there are over six hundred established versions of Protestantism.  

    When we study the convention that created this god,  we don't learn anything about any gods.  What we learn is that Athanasius of Alexandria wanted Jesus to be made of the same ousia as God.  We also learn that Arius didn't want a god where Jesus was made of the same ousia as God.  We also learn that Arius was struck in the face by Nicholas of Myra, who would later be canonized.    [ In other words, Arius was struck in the face by "Saint Nicholas!" ]  We also learn that the two sides were hopelessly deadlocked.  The only way to break the deadlock between the two hostile factions was to forge a compromise. Finally, on June 19, 325, they found a solution.  The solution was the trinity.  Neither side liked it, but they were satisfied because the other side didn't get what it wanted. What a mess.
 

    Notice that you didn't learn anything about any gods in that little sliver of theology!!  You did learn something about Athanasius, though.  And, you did learn something about his hated enemy, Arius.  You even learned something about old Saint Nicholas!  You see,