Friday, July 6, 2012

Classical Theism: No Laughing Matter

What's a good way to know that you're dealing with the God of classical theism (the God of Aquinas) as opposed to another conception, such as the personalist God of neo-theism, which dominates philosophy of religion circles today?  Well, you could tackle hugely important and complicated theological/philosophical issues like the classical view of divine simplicity. My friend Alfredo has plenty to say on DDS here. The Christian film critic and fantasy writer Jeffrey Overstreet, however, suggests another approach:

When Terry Gilliam's Monty Python cartoons portray a big-bearded, grouchy God in the clouds, we laugh because we have seen such insufficient representations of God before. We're laughing at our own feeble illustrations of someone too mysterious and powerful to be illustrated. In short, we're laughing at ourselves.

But try to make a joke at the expense of God Himself and we'll be hard-pressed to come up with anything funny. It just doesn't work. That's because there's nothing wrong with God. There's nothing out of place. Those who try to make fun of God end up exposing their own limited views of Him. They're usually driven by pride, cruelty, anger, and outrage, which ultimately turn the jokes back against the jokers, revealing them to be arrogant and misguided. Likewise, any attempt to degrade Christ through humor reveal the lack of proper reverence and respect in the joker.         
 -- Through a Screen Darkly, 235

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