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The Basis of Early Christian Theism   By: (1869-)

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[Transcriber's Notes: Many printing errors, particularly in the French and Greek, have been corrected. The inconsistent hyphenation of the word stand point has been retained. Greek has been transliterated and placed inside {}.]

THE BASIS OF EARLY CHRISTIAN THEISM

BY

LAWRENCE THOMAS COLE, A. M., S. T. B.,

Post graduate Scholar of the Church University Board of Regents

SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN THE FACULTY OF PHILOSOPHY COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

NEW YORK May, 1898

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I: Introduction 9

CHAPTER II: Greek and Roman Theistic Arguments 14

CHAPTER III: The Patristic Point of View 26

CHAPTER IV: Patristic Use of the Theistic Arguments 38

CHAPTER V: Eclectic Theism 55

"Les preuves de Dieu métaphysiques sont si éloignées du raisonnement des hommes, et si impliquées, qu'elles frappent peu; et quand cela serviroit à quelques uns, ce ne seroit que pendant l'instant qu'ils voient cette démonstration; mais, une heure après, ils craignent de s'être trompés. Quod curiositate cognoverint, superbiâ amiserunt. " Pensées de Pascal , II, xv. 2.

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

A question which every author ought to ask of himself before he sends forth his work, and one which must occur to every thoughtful reader, is the inquiry, Cui bono? what justification has one for treating the subject at all, and why in the particular way which he has chosen? To the pertinency of this question to the present treatise the author has been deeply sensible, and therefore cannot forbear a few prefatory words of explanation of his object and method.

In accounts of the theistic argument, as in the history of philosophy in general, it has been customary to pass over a space of well nigh ten centuries of the Christian era in silence, or with such scanty and unsympathetic notice as to make silence the better alternative. Largely through the influence of such treatment as this, we moderns have almost forgotten at times that during this period there lived men inferior to none in history in endowments of mind and influence on succeeding generations, and that there then took place some of the most significant and far reaching intellectual conflicts in the history of thought. "With Cicero," says Professor Stirling, "we reached in our course a most important and critical halting place.... We have still ... to wait those thousand years yet before Anselm shall arrive with what is to be named the new proof, the proof ontological, and during the entire interval it is the Fathers of the Church and their immediate followers who, in repetition of the old, or suggestion of the new, connect thinker with thinker, philosopher with philosopher, pagan with Christian."[1] To attempt to account for even one of the details of thought during this period cannot be without its advantages.

For Christianity gave a new and unique turn to thought. It brought with it a new set of data, and a new subject matter. The Christian doctrine of God, the distinctions in the Trinity, the great doctrines centering around the person of Jesus Christ, though, perhaps, faintly foreshadowed in some of the earlier speculations, are, in their fulness and completeness, first given to the world by the Founder of Christianity. The claims made for these doctrines, too, gave them a unique character. In contrast with the half hearted, faltering conclusions of the prevalent philosophical schools, Christianity asserted that its teachings were absolute truth; it claimed to be nothing less than a revelation from the Creator of the world... Continue reading book >>




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