Philosophy of Religion

The Abrahamic religions

In the study of comparative religion, an Abrahamic religion is any of those religions deriving from a common ancient Semitic tradition and traced by their adherents to Abraham ("Father/Leader of many"), a patriarch whose life is narrated in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, and as a prophet in the Qur'an and also called a prophet in Genesis 20:7: "Now, return the wife of this man, for he is a prophet and he will pray on your behalf so you will live. And if you do not return her, know that you will surely die-you and all who are yours". This forms a large group of largely monotheistic religions, generally held to include Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Bahá'í faith, and comprises about half of the world's religious adherents.

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob feature as ancestors in the historical consciousness of most of the Semitic people. The myths around these ancestral figures indicate an awareness, atleast a conscious claim to the common descendancy. Hammurabi (1795-1750 BCE) and his followers and successors had driven the Semites out of Ur Kaśdim in Chaldea, a region in Mesopotamia, sentenced to wandering in search for shelter, prey to the deserts. This episode could well be the historical substance and clearly is an echo of what Jews, Christians and Muslims call the 'expulsion from paradise'. And this forced journey by Abraham's tribe into the desert is what definitely masks Semitic religious consciousness. Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths are variants of Semitic religious tradition; though the term 'Abrahamic religions' is used nowadays.

The Abrahamic religions originated in the Arabic peninsula and convey a Semitic culture different from the Indo-European culture (e.g. Greek and Roman). The Semitic culture was an ancient Jewish/Arabic culture while the Indo-European culture was a Greek and Roman culture. The Indo-Europeans lived in areas on the coasts of the Black and Caspian Seas. The Semitic culture provided the belief in one god, or monotheism. The Indo-European culture provided the idea of the constant struggle between the forces of good and evil. Time itself is a postulate that is articulated for explaining creation of the world. Time can be considered either as an irreversible linear process of decay, dissolution or death, or a a more cyclic view of growth, decay and renewal. The Semitic view on time is linear, while the Indo-Europeans have a more cyclic view on time. For the Semitic culture the word was important, while visual aspects of reality were more important for the Indo-Europeans. Judaism and Islam would largely remain Semitic, but Christianity would undergo the influence of Indo-European culture, most notably Greek philosophy.

*Ur Kasdim or Ur of the Chaldaeans


Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. It is one of the first recorded monotheistic faiths and one of the oldest religious traditions still practiced today. Judaism designates the religious communion which survived the destruction of the Jewish nation by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. The values and history of the Jewish people are a major part of the foundation of other Abrahamic religions such as Samaritanism, Islam, and Christianity. The largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism. These movements differ in their approach to Jewish law.


That "God is one", both meaning monotheism and unitarianism, is the central affirmation in the Jewish religion. Jews also consider themselves to be the chosen people, chosen to be in a covenant with God. Traditional Judaism maintains that God established a covenant with Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai, and revealed his laws and commandments to them in the form of the Torah. The Judaic Bible, T-N-CH, consists of the Torah (Pentateuch), Nebiim (Profets) and Chetubim (Writings). The Hebrews had three common names of God, El, Elohim, and Eloah; besides, they had the proper name Yahweh. Jews consider the Land of Israel (1 Samuel 13:19) the promised land (Exodus 23:31), promised by God to the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21) through his son Isaac and to the Israelites, descendants of Jacob (Genesis 28:13, (Deuteronomy 1:8), Abraham's grandson.

The Halakha is the collective body of religious laws for Jews, comprising biblical law (the 613 Mitzvot) and later talmudic and rabbinic law. The basic laws to adhere to, are written down in the Ten Commandments which are found in the books of Exodus (Exodus 20:1-17) and Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 5:4-21). In addition there are 613 Mitzvot or precepts and commandments, given by God to the Israelites on Mount Sinai with the Torah (de-'oraita) and the seven Rabbinical mitzvot (de-rabbanan).

The concept of an explicit, paramount definition of faith does not exist in Judaism as it does in other monotheistic religions such as Christianity. Although Jews and religious leaders share a core of monotheistic principles, and there are many fundamental principles quoted in the Talmud to define Judaism (often by what it is not), it has no established formulation of principles of faith that are or must be recognized by all observant Jews. Moses ben-Maimon or Maimonides (1135-1204 CE) (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon or RaMBaM) set down his 13 Principles of Faith in his commentary on the Mishnah, the Mishneh Torah or Sefer Yad HaHazaka (1170-1180 CE), which are now generally accepted as the best formulation available of the core principles of Judaism.

Beit HaMikdash or The Temple of Solomon was built by King Solomon (1 Kings 6:1-38, 1 Kings Chapter 7, and Chapter 8) and became an important center for worship and for uniting the nation. After the First Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, a Second Temple was built by Zerubbabel, but also the Second Temple would be destroyed in 70 CE. Many Jews went into exile from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Judaea in what became known as the Jewish diaspora. Several braches of Judaism would develop during the diaspora. Jews who came to live in the Iberian Peninsula would develop the Sephardic tradition. The jews who came to live along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north, would become known as the Ashkenazim. The jews which settled in Ethiopia would call themselves Beta Israel but their neighbours would call them Falashas. After the rising antisemitism in Europe at the end of the 19th century the Zionist movement would support the establishment of a Jewish nation state in territory defined as the Land of Israel. The political movement was formally established by the Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl (1860-1904 CE) in 1897 following the publication of his book Der Judenstaat. The Holocaust or Shoah eventually led to the establishment of the modern State of Israel on 14 May 1948 after a resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations (Resolution 188 of 29 November 1947). The establishment of the modern State of Israel and the immigration of Jews into Israel lead to conflicts with the Palestinian population and their Arab neighbours. Among Jewish people there is the vision to build the Third Temple of the Biblical Book of Ezekiel. However the Muslim Dome of the Rock is now located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Orthodox Judaism has stressed a number of core principles in its educational programs, most importantly a belief that there is a single, omniscient and transcendent God, who created the universe, and continues to be concerned with its governance (e.g. Theism). In Rabbinic Judaism, the Torah comprises both the written Torah (Pentateuch) and a tradition of oral law, much of it codified in later sacred writings, the Talmud.

-Judaism - Star of David -

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Genesis 1:1

The highest form of wisdom is kindness

You can educate a fool, but you cannot make him think

Do not be wise in words - be wise in deeds.
-Jewish Proverb -


Kabbalah is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. Kabbalistic doctrine asserts that the Godhead manifests, or reveals itself, through the ten Sephirot (singular: sefirah, hryps, "number" or "counting"). Like the Gnostics and Neoplatonists, Kabbalah teaches that the divine descended into manifestation (through the sefiroth). The human soul also descended into physical manifestation and must find its way back to spirit.

There are two main traditions in Kabbalah, the Toledano Tradition and Lurianic Kabbalah. Another distinction can be made between Theoretical Kabbalah, Ecstatic Kabbalah, and Theurgic Kabbalah. Theoretical Kabbalah endeavors to cognitively understand and describe the divine realm. Following Maimonides (1135-1204 CE), the Torah is regarded as written in human language, and anthropomorphic descriptions of God are to be "decoded" by reason. Ecstatic Kabbalah seeks to attain mystical union with God or a state of prophecy through various meditation practices such as employing the Divine names (as mantras), tying tzitzit knots, studying Hebrew letter permutations, and so forth. Perhaps the chief exponent of this approach to Jewish spirituality was Abraham Abulafia (1240-1296 CE) Theurgic Kabbalah attempts to "influence" both God and the world through ritual acts and magic. Another difference exists between Kabbalah, Cabbalah, and Qabalah. Kabbalah refers to the Jewish mystical tradition, while Cabbalah refers to Christian Cabbalah and Qabalah refers to Hermetic Qabalah.

Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE-50 CE) wrote of mystical Judaism in light of Greek and Egyptian philosophy in Alexandria. Philo's concept of the "Word" (Logos) is the "image of Elohim" which served as the pattern for the creation of man in Gen. 1:26-27. Philo's Word (Logos) would parallel the Sephirot of the Kabbalah in Rabbinic Judaism. The Kabbalah was also influenced by the Neoplatonism of Plotinus (204/5-270 CE) and thereby connects the Jewish mystical tradition with Greek philosophy. Kabbalah was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence (Southern France) and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine. The Diaspora would give rise both to apocalyptic sentiments and to a sense of new beginnings. Several scholars would settle in Safed which would become one of Judaism's Four Holy Cities, along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias. Scholars such as Joseph ben Ephraim Karo (1488-1575 CE) and Moses ben Jacob Cordovero (1522-1570 CE) would continue the Kabbalistic tradition. In his work Pardes Rimonim (Orchard of Pomegranates), Cordovero put all that was known of the Kabbalah up to that time onto a systematic basis. PaRDeS refers to the four levels of interpretation of the Torah: P'shat, Remez, Drosh and Sod. In his Tomer Devorah (Palm Tree of Deborah), he wrote a treatise on morality based on Kabbalistic principles. Cordovero was also influenced by the scholasticism of Maimonides (1135-1204 CE) (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon or RaMBaM), who had introduced Aristotelian categories into Jewish theological speculation, most notably in his Guide for the Perplexed. In Spain the Toledano Tradition of Kabbalah developed. The hallmark of the Toledano Tradition is Jacob's Ladder, a metaphysical scheme of four interlocking worlds that originate in the primordial Tree of Life mandala of Kabbalah. This Tree of Life diagram composed of Divine principles, paths and triads was meant to be the key to comprehending the plan of Existence and man's part in it. After the expulsion from Spain, a new centre of Kabbalistic learning was set up in Safed, in the Holy Land. Isaac (ben Solomon) Luria Ashkenazi (1534-1572 CE) is considered the father of this Safed branch of Kabbalah, his teachings being referred to as Lurianic Kabbalah. Whereas Cordovero had taken a rational approach to the Kabbalah, Luria took a more mystical approach. Rabbi Chaim ben Joseph Vital (1543-1620 CE) would be his most important disciple. The Etz Chayyim (Tree of Life), based on his notes, would become the most complete account of Luria's teachings. The teachings of Luria and Vital asserted that study of the Kabbalah was pleasing to God, because that would facilitate the coming of the Jewish messiah. The Safed scholars would be accused of sowing the seeds of the Sabbatean messianic movement of the late 17th century, which would discredit the movement. Scholars such as the Italian Rabbi Moses Chaim Luzzatto (1707-1746 CE), would continue in the Safed footsteps. He wrote the Klalout Hailan (Essentials of the Tree of Life), which provides a concise summary of Luria's teachings. Gershom Scholem (1897-1982 CE) would be the founder of the modern, academic study of Kabbala and Jewish mysticism (see also From the Zohar to Safed: Development of the Theoretical Kabbalah by John F. Nash). Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi (Warren Kenton), b. 1933 CE) stands in the Toledano Tradition of Kabbalah.

The primary texts of Kabbalistic exegesis are the Sefer Yetzirah ("Book of Formation" or "Book of Creation"), Sefer ha-Bahir ("Brilliance") and the Sefer ha-Zohar ("Splendor" or "Radiance"). Gematria or the mathematics of words in Kabbalah reminds of Greek isopsephy and the mathematics of numbers by Pythagoras (ca. 570-ca. 495 BCE) in the Greek mystical tradition. In the gematria system of the Kabbalah, the number 13 gains an extra significance (in contrast to its Christian meaning): it is the numerical value of EHhaD, meaning "one" referring to the central affirmation in the Jewish religion that "God is one".

Kabbalah studies the Sephirot, which are considered to be Divine Emanations. The Kabbalists conceived of the Godhead as "Absolute Being" and the Godhead was deemed to be necessary: its very definition demanded existence. The Godhead is referred to as the "Concealed of the Concealed", entirely unknowable, beyond any power of human understanding. It is concealed behind three Three Veils of Negative Existence: the Ain (Ultimate), the Ain Sof (Limitless), and the Ain Sof Aur (Limitless Light). Kabbalistic doctrine asserts that the Godhead manifests, or reveals itself, through the Sephirot (singular: sefirah, hryps, "number" or "counting"). Classical Kabbalistic teachings identify ten sefiroth: Kether, Chokmah, Binah, Chesed, Geburah, Tifareth, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, and Malkuth. Whereas the Ain Sof is without limitation, the sefiroth are limited by their respective attributes and by being differentiated, one from another (e.g. the 'apeiron' and 'peiron' of Anaximander ca. 610-ca. 546 BC)). Those attributes allow the sefiroth to be apprehended by the human mind. The Sephirot in Kabbalah are the ten emanations and attributes of God with which He continually sustains the universe in existence. The Sephirot correspond to various levels of creation (ten sephirot in each of the Four Worlds, and four worlds within each of the larger four worlds, each containing ten sephirot, which themselves contain ten sephirot, to an infinite number of possibilities), and are emanated from the Creator for the purpose of creating the universe. The ten Sephirot are a step-by-step process illuminating the Divine plan as it unfolds itself in Creation. The ten Sephirot resemble the Tetraktys of the Pythagoreans and their science of geometry and numbers. The Zohar hinted that the sefiroth formed a symbolic structure and referred to three columns or pillars, which became known as the Tree of Life. Chokmah, Chesed and Netzach lie on the Pillar of Mercy; Binah, Geburah and Hod lie on the Pillar of Severity; and Kether, Daath, Tifareth, Yesod and Malkuth lie on the middle Pillar of Equilibrium. The sefiroth on the two outer pillars represent contrasting divine attributes and they can also represent contrasting human impulses or experiences.

The ten sefiroth of the Tree of Life are connected by 22 netivoth or paths, which symbolizes the creation of the Universe through 22 hidden paths (22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet) and 10 Sephirots, resulting in 32 paths. The 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet, which are the twenty-two channels of Divine creative consciousness, divide into three categories: three Mother or Primary letters, seven Double letters, and twelve Simple or Elemental letters. Each letter of these three categories relates (in one-to-one correspondence) to an individual element in each of the three general dimensions of created reality: space, time, and soul. The three 'mother' letters correspond to the seasons of the year. The seven Double letters correspond to the seven days of the week. The twelve remaining letters are categorized as Simple or Elemental and correspond to the twelve Hebrew months of the year. The three 'mother' letters, alef, mem and shin, are assigned to the horizontal paths; the seven 'double' letters, beth, gimel, daleth, kaf, pe, resh and tav, to the vertical paths; and the 12 'single' letters, he, vav, zayin, cheth, teth, yod, lamed, nun, samech, ayin, tzaddi and kof, to the diagonal paths. In the Tree of Life, each sefirah can be considered as a form and also as the light that dwells within it.

In addition to the sefiroth, the Zohar identified four levels of reality that they termed 'worlds', or olamin. The four worlds are: Atziluth, Briyah, Yetzirah, and Assiah. Some Kabbalists correlated the four worlds with the elements of fire, air, water and earth, and therein we also find another parallel with Greek philosophy. The divine light descends through the sefiroth from Kether to Malkuth, cascading like water from one sefirothic vessel to the next. At each stage the light encounters denser levels of reality, until in Malkuth it reaches the physical level. Atziluth is the natural domain of the Divine, and Assiah the natural domain of humanity. The worlds of the Divine and the world of humanity however are not isolated from one another, and movement from one to another is possible. Just as the divine light descends through the sefiroth and through the worlds, the human soul has the opportunity to explore the sefiroth above Malkuth and the worlds above Assiah.

The Zohar also contains an account of creation where universe was produced by a process of emanation, or outpouring, of the divine light. It explains how the infinite and unknowable could become finite and known. The first creation of the noumenal level was done by the Elohim, while the second (phenomenal) level of creation was performed by Yahweh (the distinction bewteen Elohim and Yahweh is lost in most translations of Genesis). Genesis 1 refers to God exclusively by the Hebrew title Elohim, while the second chapter of Genesis, beginning in the second half of Genesis 2:4, speaks exclusively of Yahweh Elohim. In the act of creation, a dot, an infinitely small point of no dimension, steps out of Negative Existence into Positive Existence. Before the beginning, the Ain Sof Aur, the "upper simple light", filled all of existence and there was no empty space. This was a state of perfect symmetry in Negative Existence beyond the level of cosmic manifestation. All opposing forces are balanced and neutralized. The Absolute appears as nothingness from a material perspective, but within this nothingness lies inherent all possible forces and aspects of cosmic existence. The first action of divinity is to be considered as an inward one. Tzimtzum refers to the process by which the Godhead contracts its essence, abandoning a space in order to create an "empty" region. The Will of God penetrated as a beam of light into the void of Unmanifest Existence. This brought into focus three factors that make the void-the three Zahzahot, or Hidden Splendours, the Pillars of the Tree of Life. The Zahzahot are the hidden roots of the laws that come to govern Existence. They generate the processes of expansion and contraction which are overlooked by the Will of God. The universe results from the interaction of these triune forces. Before Tzimtzum the different powers of divinity were harmoniously balanced without any apparent individuation or differentiation. In particular, the opposing forces of Mercy (Hesed) and Stern Judgment (Din) existed in a state of complete unity. A positive residue of divine light, known as reshimu (traces), remained in the empty space. This resulted in a separation between Din and Hesed and the establishment of a measure of independence for the forces of Din. Following this, a third element, a ray from God's hidden essence (Ain Sof) entered the empty space and acted upon the existing mixture of reshimu and Din. This illuminating ray serves as a permanent link between Ein Sof and the empty space.

Adam Kadmon
- Adam Kadmon as יהוה -

The form of the divine produced by this first ray of light is termed Adam Kadmon (Primordial Man), who was created in Gods image (comparable to the Anthropos of Gnosticism and Manichaeism) and the ten sefiroth emerged, aligned with the various parts of his body. The Sephirot manifested in 'Adam Kadmon'. According to Genesis man was created in the "image of Elohim". This "image of Elohim" was a manifestation of the Godhead, which served as a model for Adam. Adam Kadmon generally signifies the manifest attributes of the transcendent Godhead or Ain Sof. Adam Kadmon is also the first finite world and thereby identified with the macrocosmic man. The Adam Kadmon, is in essence the same as the Middle Pillar of the Divine, since he brings both the masculine and feminine aspects of Ain Sof into perfect balance. The image of Adam Kadmon is drawn consisting of the Hebrew letters building the the Divine Name of יהוה (YHWH). This four-lettered name is called the Tetragrammaton and it serves as the archetype for all the other worlds and sefirot. To identify the World of Adam Kadmon with the Tetragrammaton therefore is like saying that it represents or expresses the essence of the Godhead.

The account of the cosmic catastrophe following creation developed in Lurianic Kabbalah after the atrocities associated with the Spanish Expulsion (1492 CE) and the Spanish Inquisition. The divine light poured into the vessels of the sefiroth, which however broke in the 'shevirat ha-kelim' and through this catastrophic event duality came into the world: Chesed-Geburah and Netzach-Hod. In the wake of this event, most of the light that had been contained in the vessels returned to their divine source, while the remainder fell below into the empty space and attached themselves to the now broken shards of vessels. From these shards of broken vessels the powers of the qelipot, that is, 'husks' or 'shells' were produced. These are the evil forces of the 'other side', the 'sitra ahra'. In addition to constituting the source of evil, the broken shards are also the basis for the material world.

The cosmic catastrophe was followed by the 'tikkun olam' (repairing of the world). The 'Arich Anpin' (rebuilt Kether, Crown or topmost of the Sephirot of the Tree of Life in Kabbalah), was identified with the 'Ancient of Days'. The other Sephirot were rebuilt also. When Adam, a microcosm of Adam Kadmon, was created by God, the cosmic process of tikkun had virtually been completed. Adam's sin however interrupted his own communion with the upper spheres and brought about his attachment to the lower worlds. Humanity and all reality in the lower world of Assiah became materialized. And the sin of Adam caused the sparks of all human souls that had been contained within his own to fall and become imprisoned as well within the qelipot. Tikkun, entails two separate but related processes. First, it means the gathering of the divine lights that had fallen into the realm of the qelipot as a result of the 'breaking of the vessels'. Second, it means the gathering of all the holy souls likewise imprisoned in the qelipot.

Tikkun is to be achieved by human beings through their contemplative action and by its adherence to Torah and Mitzvot. Kabbalah deals with the fundamentals of spiritual development and the journeys of the soul, both in the Zohar and in the Shaar HaGilgulim. In the Zohar, in Parashat Mishpatim, under the title 'Saba deMishpatim' (the Old Man or the Grandfather of Parashat Mishpatim), the secrets of reincarnation are discussed at length. The Shaar HaGilgulim deals with the fundamentals of spiritual development and the journeys of the soul. Human life which is a process of reincarnation (gilgul neshamot) and soul migration which is explained in the Shaar HaGilgulim (Gate of Reincarnation), derived from the teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572 CE) and recorded by Rabbi Chaim ben Joseph Vital (1543-1620 CE). Adam had a universal soul (neshamah klalit) from which all human souls are being derived. His soul included all the souls of mankind in a higher unity. This is why even one action on his part could have such a powerful effect. After he ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, his soul fragmented into thousands of thousands of sparks (fragments and fragments of fragments) which subsequently became incarnated in every single human being that was ever born and is alive now. The soul already exists before it enters the body and it lives after the body is laid to rest. Though the soul's place of origin is in the higher worlds, there is something that the soul can achieve in a body that it cannot achieve in the heavenly realms. The soul has a mission to fulfill on earth. According to Kabbalah, the soul is comprised of 613 channels, which parallel the 248 limbs and 365 blood Vessels of the body. These 613 channels attain eternal elevation when all 613 Mitzvot are fulfilled by a soul in its earthly descent. Human life at conception starts with the eternal soul, which is a spark of the Divine and begins at Kether. At birth man materializes in the body as Malkuth. Human life is then the way back of the human soul from Malkuth towards Kether after which the cycle will restart for the soul when it did not achieve its mission in the life (the cycle may be partial for those parts of the soul which did not succeed). In the end, all souls will return to that higher level of Unity from which they all originated (the soul of Adam), but on a higher level (i.e. returning to Unity but retaining the special individuality they worked for and acquired).

In the Talmud the Shekinah denoted the immanence of God, the divine glory. In the Kabbalistic tradition, 'Shekinah' from a feminine noun, evolved into a divine hypostatis or a feminine aspect of God and the "Mother of Israel" and the "Sabbath Queen". The Kabbalistic human soul, like in Plato, has a triune nature, called nefesh, ruach and neshamah. The nefesh pervades and animates the body. Ruach is the middle level of the soul and neshamah is specific to man and elevates him above other forms of life.

Jewish Kabbalah would influence Renaissance philosophy and theology, most notably Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494 CE), Johann Reuchlin (1455-1522 CE) and Aegidius of Viterbo (1469-1532 CE). Christian Cabbalah arose as a result of continuing studies of Greek texts and translations by Christian Hebraists. Renaissance scholars would try use it as an alternative for Greek philosophy, such as Aristotelianism, to prove the Christian doctrines. The jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680 CE) would write on Christian Kabbalah in his work Oedipus Aegyptiacus. The developments in Christian Cabbalah would lead to Hermetic Qabalah, English Qabalah and arithmancy. Arithmancy like gematria, is the study of divination through numbers adapted to the Latin alphabet.

- Sefirot -

*Jewish Mysticism
*Jewish Mysticism
*Hebrew Gematria
*Sepher Yetzirah or The Book of Creation
*Names of God in Judaism

*Judaism 101
*Jewish Virtual Library
*Jewish Encyclopedia
*Flavius Josephus - (ca.37-ca.100 CE)
*The Works of Flavius Josephus - Flavius Josephus
*Varieties of Orthodox Judaism
*Tetragrammaton - YHWH
*The Jewish Life Cycle
*Idolatry - Judaism
*Jewish philosophy

*Mosaic Law
*The Jews and Mosaic Law
*Hebrew Bible
*Tanach - Jewish Bible
*Tanakh - Hebrew Bible
*Mishneh Torah
*Halakha - Jewish Law
*The 613 Mitzvot
*Mechon Mamre
*The Babylonian Talmud
*Aleppo Codex - (10th Century)
*Leningrad Codex - (1010)
*Maimonides - Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon
*The Fountains of Jewish Belief - Maimonides
*Moses Mendelssohn
*Ahasverus - The Wandering Jew

*Orthodox Judaism
*Masorti Judaism - Conservative Judaism
*Masorti Judaism
*Reconstructionist Judaism
*Reconstructionist Judaism
*Reform Judaism
*Reform Judaism

*Karaite Judaism
*Karaite Judaism
*Chabad Lubavitch
*Israel ben Eliezer - Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760 CE)
*Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson - (1902-1994 CE)
*The Kebra Nagast - The Queen of Sheba and Her Only Son Menyelek
*Beta Israel - Chabasim - Falasha
*The History of Ethiopian Jews
*The Falash Mura
*Jewish Languages

*Brit Noah - Noachide Laws
*The Noachide Laws for all Mankind
*High Council of B'nei Noah
*To designate March 26, 1991, as 'Education Day, U.S.A.'. - Seven Noahide Laws (USA)

*Kings of Israel
*Jeroboam - (ca. 928-907 BCE)
*Alexander Jannaeus

*Temple Institute
*The Kotel - Western Wall - Wailing Wall
*The Temple Mount in Jerusalem
*Beit HaMikdash or The Temple of Solomon - (10th century BCE-586 BCE)
*Beit HaMikdash or The Temple of Solomon - (10th century BCE-586 BCE)
*Jachin and Boaz
*Second Temple - (515 BCE and 70 CE)
*Julian the Apostate and the Holy Temple
*The Third Temple - (?)



Christian Churches
Christian Churches, their origins and their schisms

Christianity is considered to be an Abrahamic religion, along with Judaism and Islam. Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the New Testament accounts of the life, teachings, and actions of Jesus of Nazareth (7/2 BCE-30/36 CE), (Jehoshua, Jeschua, meaning Jahweh saves) known by Christians as Jesus Christ (Christos is Greek for Messiah, meaning the "The anointed One."). Few historical facts are known about the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth (see also The Historical Jesus in Context, Amy-Jill Levine (Ed.), Dale C. Allison (Ed.), John Dominic Crossan (Ed.), Princeton University Press, 2006). In 1980 in the East Talpiot neighborhood, five kilometers south of the Old City in East Jerusalem, the Talpiot Tomb was discovered, which might contain the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family (see also The Jesus family tomb, Jacobovici, Simcha and Charles Pellegrino, HarperCollins, 2007). Of course this is only scientific speculation and completely unacceptable from a religious point of view.

The origins of Christianity are intertwined with Judaism, with which it shares much sacred text and early history; specifically, it shares the Hebrew Bible (Torah), known in the Christian context as the Old Testament. Religiously Christianity is rooted in Judaism, but its philosophy is based on ancient Greek philosophy, mostly Stoicism and Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) and his pupil Aristotle (384 BC-322 BCE). Stoicism, Platonism, Neoplatonism and Aristotelianism have provided a philosophical basis to Christianity and the Early Church Fathers used familiar terms from Hellenistic philosophy to describe and support Christian theological concepts. Mithraism probably also influenced early Christianity (see also The Mithras Liturgy, Meyer, Marvin, In A.J. Levine, Dale C. Allison, Jr., 2006 and The Historical Jesus in Context, Amy-Jill Levine (Ed.), Dale C. Allison (Ed.), John Dominic Crossan (Ed.), Princeton University Press, 2006, p. 179).

The Egyptian city of Alexandria was an important intellectual centre of study and research for early Christian Neoplatonism. Early Antiochian theology was more oriented towards Aristotle, in opposition to Neoplatonic Alexandrian theology. The Antiochene school held a 'Word/Man' (Logos/Anthropos) Christology, which emphasised the complete humanity of Christ, including a soul; it tended to see the perfection and obedience of Christ as man as the root of our salvation; the Incarnation was 'the word ' with a human body and soul. The Catechetical School of Alexandria and its Christology represented a 'Word/Flesh ' view (Logos/Sarx). Here there is an emphasis on the divinity of Christ, and upon the union of natures; the basis of salvation is in the physical theory of antonement - the union of the Word and the human body. The Alexandrians also favored an allegorical reading of scripture,while the Antiochenes favored a more literal reading. The Palestinian, Cappadocian and North African, such as with Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE), theological regions were additional centres of early Christian philosophy and theology. Roman Christian theology first developed out of Platonism, but would later reorient towards Aristotelianism.


The Christian Old Testament and Judaic Torah begins with: Genesis 1: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. ...

The Old and new Testament are the holy books of the Christians. Although the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, it was soon translated by Jews into Greek (for many Jews in the early Diaspora Greek was their commoin language, not Hebrew). The Septuagint or simply "LXX", is an Ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Torah. The Torah contains the first five books of the bible - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Therefore it is also known as the Pentateuch. The Septuagint was originally the designation for the Koine Greek translation of the Pentateuch, but came in time to refer to the Greek translation of the Old Testament adopted by Christians, incorporating the translations of all the books of the Hebrew Bible and books later considered apocryphal or deutero-canonical (certain books and passages of the Christian Old Testament that are not part of the Hebrew Bible), some composed in Greek and some translations. The translation process was undertaken in stages. It began by the 3rd century CE and was completed by 132 CE, initially in Alexandria, but in time possibly elsewhere too. Jewish scholars first translated the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) into Koine Greek in the 3rd century CE. The Greek Vulgate (link to polyglot Bible) is a version of the Bible written in Biblical Greek. It consists primarily of the Septuagint for most of the Old Testament with the version of Theodotion used for the book of Daniel. For the New Testament it consists of the Greek text, typically the Majority or Byzantine Text. The Greek Vulgate is not the same version of the Bible which was created by Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1467-1536 CE), the so-called Textus Receptus (1550 CE) and which would form the basis for the original German Luther Bible, the translation of the New Testament into English by William Tyndale, the King James Version, and for most other Reformation-era New Testament translations throughout Western and Central Europe. On-line versions can be compared with the Biblical Manuscript Comparator and the Polyglot Bible.

The Bible was also translated into Latin, but this was not a reliable process. Problems with the reliability of the available version of the Old and New Testament were already recognised in late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. In his Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (246-248 CE) Origen (185-254 CE) already commented on the differences between the copies of the Gospel of Matthew (15.14). The Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus differ from each other in more than 3000 places. Manual copying in monasteries was an unreliable proces, it introduced errors and was even prone to fraud in order to support dogmatic development. Some of the most well known forgeries are the Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7-8), the Pericope Adulterae (Jesus and the woman taken in adultery) (John 7:53-8:11) and the alternate endings to the Gospel of Mark (Mark 16). Vetus Latina is a collective name given to the Biblical texts in Latin that were translated before Saint Jerome's Vulgate Bible (382-405 CE). The Vulgate is the most well-known late 4th century Latin translation of the Bible and it was largely the work of Saint Jerome (347-420 CE), who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I (305-384 CE) in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations. Saint Jerome, in his Epistula ad Lucinium (LXXI.5) complained about the differences between the available texts which troubled his translation.

New Testament

Four Evangelists
- The Four Evangelists: Matthew (angel), Mark (winged lion), John (eagle), and Luke (bull) (clockwise from top left). -

The Gospels

The Gospels, which constitute the New Testament, were written in the first two centuries CE. From about 34 Gospels written, only 4 were retained in the canon (canonical). By the turn of the 5th century, the Roman Catholic Church, under Pope Innocent I, recognized a biblical canon including the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which had been previously established at a number of regional Synods, namely the Council of Rome (382 CE) under Pope Damasus I, the Synod of Hippo (393 CE), and two Synods of Carthage (397 and 419 CE). This canon, which corresponds to the modern Roman Catholic canon, was used in the Vulgate, an early 5th century translation of the Bible made by Jerome under the commission of Pope Damasus I in 382. The three gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels and are different in content from the fourth Gospel of John. The Gospel of John presents a "higher" Christology than the synoptics, meaning that he describes Jesus as the incarnation of the divine Logos through whom all things were made, as the object of veneration, and more explicitly as God incarnate. The Gospel of John made the bridge between Greek philosophy (Platonism) and the Hebrew theological tradition from which the other gospels had originated.

Together the evangelists compose the tetramorph or the creature made up of four creatures. Matthew the Evangelist, the author of the first gospel account is symbolized by a winged man, or angel. Mark the Evangelist, the author of the second gospel account is symbolized by a winged lion - a figure of courage and monarchy. Luke the Evangelist, the author of the third gospel account (and the Acts of the Apostles) is symbolized by a winged ox or bull - a figure of sacrifice, service and strength. John the Evangelist, the author of the fourth gospel account is symbolized by an eagle - a figure of the sky, and believed to be able to look straight into the sun. The four evangelical synmols are derived from the four "living creatures" that draw the throne-chariot of God, the Merkabah, in the vision in the Book of Ezekiel and reflected in the Book of Revelation: "And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle". They also resemble the four Platonic elements, with God as the fifth.

The Epistles

The historical books of the Christian New Testament consist of the Gospels and Acts. In addition there are the twenty-one epistles of the New Testament, twenty-two if one includes Revelation as an epistle (which in reality it is, see Rev. 1:4). Because of its unique apocalyptic nature, however, it is considered The Prophetic Book of the New Testament as was the Book of Daniel for the Old Testament. The Epistles are generally divided into the Pauline Epistles and the Non-Pauline (General) Epistles. Paul's epistles fall into two categories: nine epistles written to churches (Romans to 2 Thessalonians) and four pastoral and personal epistles (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon). This is then followed by eight Hebrew Christian epistles (Hebrews to Jude). Naturally, many questions would arise as to the meaning and application of the gospel for Christians. Thus, the Epistles answer these questions, give the (first) philosophical interpretation of the person and work of Christ according to Paul, who was of jewish descent but was also educated in the Greek philosophical tradition. The epistles of the New Testament are written in strict accordance to formalized, Hellenistic tradition, especially the Pauline epistles. This reflects the amount of Hellenistic influence upon the epistle writers. Paul transformed Christianity from a small Jewish sect into a broader movement which enabled it to expand beyond its original borders within Judaism.

The Concept of Original Sin

The meaning of original sin is both the sin that Adam committed or the consequences of Adam's sin which all mankind has inherited as a consequence of our descent from Adam, or in a broader sense our descent from the first man in whom God placed a soul. The concept was elaborated by Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) as an explanation for the suffering of man before he had been able to commit any sin (e.g. newly born children) in the presence of a benevolent God. The carry over effect between generations of original sin solved this problem for Augustine of Hippo and other theologians.

Paul developed the concept of Original Sin, which would further distinguish Christianity from its Judaic roots (see Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:22). The 2nd-century Bishop of Lyon Irenaeus (ca. 115-ca. 202 CE) would develop the concept further in his work Adversus haereses (On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis) (ca. 180 CE) in his controversy with the dualist Gnostics. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) in his work De Civitate Dei contra Paganos (426 CE) would develop the concept of original sin as we know it today within the Western Churches. The doctrine of original sin, as formulated by Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) was an understanding that man has an innate will to do, in his words, evil. In De Civitate Dei contra Paganos (426 CE), Augustine defines original sin as the open disobedience by Adam of God's will by eating the forbidden fruit. The immediate penalty, as stated in Genesis, was death for Adam and Eve and all their descendants. In Augustine's view this evil act was preceded by an evil will derived from pride, a craving for "undue exultation". In his words "the corruption of the body which weighs down the soul, is not the cause of the first sin but its punishment. And it was not the corruptible flesh that made the soul sinful; it was the sinful soul that made the flesh corruptible". Augustine quotes from Paul (Galatians 5:19-21), "The acts of a sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of heaven".

The concept of Augustine for Original Sin however was based upon a flawed translation of Romans 5:12-21 from the original Greek into Latin. Augustine of Hippo's interpretation of Romans 5:12 concluded that through Adam all men sinned, whereas the original Greek text reads that all men sin after the example of Adam. The Greek original meant that not all that are born are comdemned to go to hell by default just by being born, as opposed to the Augustinian intepretation. Augustine of Hippo thereby introduced a biased intepretation of Romans 5:12 into the Roman Catholic tradition and thereby converting mankind into a "massa damnata". Original sin, according to Augustine of Hippo consists of the guilt of Adam which all humans inherit. As sinners, humans are utterly depraved in nature, lack the freedom to do good, and cannot respond to the will of God without divine grace.

Further development

Due to the inability to print the Bible until Johannes Gutenberg (ca. 1398-1468 CE) invented printing, the books of the Bible were mainly reproduced by hand in monasteries. This lead to a decay in the quality of the reproductions as compared to the early texts. The translation of the Bible from Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek into Latin also lead to misinterpretations due to the inadequacy to represent the meaning of the words which were used in the original texts. Forgeries were also introduced in order to support certain interpretations (e.g. the Comma Johanneum in 1 John 5:7-8) and political purposes. The discovery by Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457 CE), in his Discourse on the Forgery of the Alleged Donation of Constantine, that the Constitutum Constantini (Donatio Constantini) was a forgery and that the Vulgata version of the Roman Catholic Bible contained serious errors (compared with older Greek sources), caused a crisis among Christian Scholars such as Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1467-1536 CE). This made Erasmus compile a new version of the Bible from available Greek sources in order to correct for the errors found, the so-called Textus Receptus (1550 CE). These issues with the Roman Catholic Biblical and philosophical tradition made Martin Luther (1483-1546 CE) go back to the original Greek Bible to translate his Luther Bible into German and to establish a new theological basis of the Protestant Reformation, which became founded upon the doctrines of "sola scriptura" and "sola fide". Luther used Erasmus' second edition (1519 CE) of the Greek New Testament, known as the Textus Receptus. In England The Authorized Version, commonly known as the King James Version, King James Bible or KJV, was created, which is an English translation of the Christian Bible by the Church of England begun in 1604 and completed in 1611. In common with most other (Protestant) translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek and Latin.

Theology and Philosophy

Christian theology started to develop in and around Jerusalem around 33 CE, but soon spread over the entire Roman Empire beyond its Jewish roots. Later on, Western (Latin) and Eastern (Greek) theology would develop into different branches. In addition, Western Christianity would split into a Southern (Roman Catholic) and a Northern (Protestant) branch.

Early Christian theology was rooted in the spiritualism of Plato (429-347 BCE), as found in the Timaeus and the Republic. Most early Church Fathers were well-educated in Greek philosophy and built their Christian theology on Platonism and Aristotelianism, to provide Christianity with the philosophical foundations it lacked from Scripture. The presence of the Decapolis, a group of ten cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire in Judea and Syria during the life of Jesus of Nazareth (7-2 BCE to 30-36 CE), may have influenced early Christian development. The cities were centers of Greek and Roman culture in a region that was otherwise Semitic (Nabatean, Aramean, and Jewish). Jesus of Nazareth (7/2 BCE-30/36 CE) himself went among the Gentiles in Decapolis, Tyre and Sidon, Caesarea and he himself adopted the wandering type of life of a Cynic or Stoic philosopher. Platonism provided the new religion with a conception of the human psyche and immortality of the soul. The Platonic nous or most noble part of the human soul, in Christianity became associated with the human soul. The Greek concept of logos (reason, word) would become associated with Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel according to John. Ecumenical councils would define Christian theology and philosophy. The Jewish-Roman wars also made the Christians distantiate themselves from Judaism in order not to share the fate of the Jews in the Roman Empire.

The oldest known creed, the Symbolum Apostolorum or Symbolum Apostolicum (Apostles' Creed) does not address some Christological issues defined in the later Nicene and other Christian Creeds. It says nothing explicitly about the divinity of either Jesus of Nazareth (7-2 BCE to 30-36 CE) or of the Holy Spirit. The earliest written version of the creed is perhaps the Interrogatory Creed of Hippolytus (ca. 215 CE). The current form is first found in the writings of Caesarius of Arles (died 542 CE). Later creeds would become more specific as Christian doctrine developed and required more precise definition of the true faith. The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day Iznik in Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I (272-337 CE) in 325 CE. This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom. Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the relationship of Jesus to God the Father (Trinitarianism as opposed to, Binitarianism, Unitarianism or Arianism); the construction of the first part of the Nicene Creed settling the calculation of the date of Easter; and promulgation of early canon law. The soteriological axiom of the First Council of Nicaea was "God alone can save us". At Nicaea Athanasius of Alexandria ( 296/298-373 CE) would be the most important defender of Trinitarianism and 'omousios' (consubstantial), while Arius of Alexandria (250/256-336 CE) defended Unitarianism. Athanasius also wrote the first list of the 27 books recognized by Christians as the Bible. Between 318 and 323 he wrote Contra Gentes and Oratio de Incarnatione, also called the Adversum Gentes Duo Libri. In Arianism there were two factions, the 'omeisti' from omoios (similar) and the 'anomei' from anomoios (different). The Council of Sirmium (357, 358 and 359 CE) marked a temporary compromise between Arianism and the Western bishops of the Christian church. Another point of discussion during this time periode was the primacy of the pope over the church. The Emperor Constantius II (317-361 CE) at the Council of Arles (353 CE) and the Council of Milan (355 CE) condemned Athanasius of Alexandria and the Council of Milan ended supporting Arian statements. Emperor Constantius II proclamed that his will was law, thereby putting forward the primacy of the secular government over religious power (Caesaropapism). The controversy would be settled in favor of Trinitarianism and Athanasius at the First Council of Constantinople (381 CE) which also established the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. The soteriological axiom of the First Council of Constantinople was "That which is not assumed is not healed". Gregory of Nazianzus (ca. 329-389 or 390 CE) put forward that the Son of God saved humanity by "taking on" or "assuming" human nature into union with himself. Everything in human nature needs to be saved, so everything must be taken into union with Christ. In this light, if Christ had no human soul, the human soul is left unredeemed. Jesus of Nazareth was therefore officially depicted as fully human and fully God and the council condemned Apollinarism, which stated that Jesus could not have had a human mind; rather, that Jesus had a human body and lower soul (the seat of the emotions) but a divine mind. Now the distinction was clarified between the three hypostases and one ousia (essence) of the Trinity. At the First Council of Constantinople the deity of the Spirit (pneumatology) was also unambiguously asserted, although the deity of the Spirit was confessed in different terms than those of the Father and the Son (homoousios). Nicaea I and Constantinople I established the full divinity and the full humanity of Christ. Their combined soteriological axioms, "God alone can save us, and what is not assumed is not healed", trace the logic of redemption in Christ. Both councils also established the central Christian doctrine which includes, irreducibly, Trinity, incarnation, and atonement. Different interpretations of the Nicene Creed later would lead to the Filioque controversy between the Eastern and Western Church. In the Western Church the religious power of the Bishop of Rome would gradually increase, while in the Eastern Church the secular government would dominate over religious power.

The nature of Jesus of Nazareth (7/2 BCE-30/36 CE) was addressed at every one of the first seven ecumenical councils. The second through fourth of these councils are generally entitled "Christological councils", with the latter three mainly elucidating what was taught in them and condemning interpretations which were deemed heretic. Once the issue of the Divine Nature and the position of Jesus of Nazareth had been settled, the discussion changed towards the field of Christology on the relation between the divine and human nature of Jesus of Nazareth. At the First Council of Ephesus (431 CE) the position of Nestorius (ca. 386-ca. 451 CE), which emphasized the disunity between Christ's human and divine natures, was deemed heretical. The main conflict was between the Alexandrian and Antiochian schools of thought, represented by Cyril and Nestorius. Cyril of Alexandria (ca. 376-444 CE) put forward that the eternal Logos, who existed before all ages and was consubstantial with the Father, is the active subject who takes on a perfect human nature. He, the hypostasis of the Logos, is the one who comes to be born of Mary and to die on the cross, and because he never ceases to be homoousios with the Father (he is God, having divine nature) or homoousios with his mother (he is human, having human nature), anything that can be said of one of his natures can be said about him, the Logos Jesus Christ. The council accepted the status of 'Theotokos' ('Mother of God') for the Virgin Mary instead of the Nestorian 'Christotokos'. The Council of Chalcedon (451 CE) issued a formulation of the being of Christ, that of two natures, one human and one divine (Dyophysite), "united with neither confusion nor division" as opposed to Miaphysitism and Monophysitism. The council condemned Eutychianism. The Council of Chalcedon would lead to the Chalcedonian schism between the Dyophysites and the Monophysites/Miaphysites represented by the Church of Rome and the Churches of Antioch and Alexandria. Having a divinity at their disposal with a dual nature, as opposed to Judaism (which still awaits the Messiah), opened new venues for Christian theology. Jesus of Nazareth is of one essence with the Father by nature, and condescends to become of one essence with humanity by grace. Jesus of Nazareth with his dual nature or hypostatic union, represents a special link between physical reality (immanence) and the immaterial (metaphysical) divine (transcendence), which does not exist in Judaism or Islam.

Basil of Caesarea (329/330-379 CE), Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389/390 CE), and John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407 CE) would play an important role in defining early Christianity for which they became known as the Three Holy Hierarchs. The four Great Doctors of the Eastern Church are John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Athanasius of Alexandria. Aurelius Ambrosius (ca. 330-397), Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE), Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus (ca. 347-420 CE), and Pope Gregorius I (ca. 540-604 CE) are called the Great Doctors of the Western Church.

The most well-known Western theologian from the Platonic period of Christianity was the Neoplatonist Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE), whose most important works were De doctrina Christiana (397-426 CE), the Confessiones (397-398 CE), De Trinitate and the De Civitate Dei contra Paganos. In De doctrina christiana (397-426 CE) he provided the rules for the interpretation of Scripture (hermeneutics), and for preaching. Augustine held that the foremost oratorical responsibility of the preacher was clarity. He said, "The speaker should not primarily consider the beauty of his teaching, but the clarity of it". (De doctrina christiana 4, 12, 27). Resonating the priority of Christian preaching over that of Classical rhetoric, Augustine always recommended that the preacher concentrate on intelligibility more than on his choice of beautiful words. The preacher should illuminate the minds of his parishers, not confuse them with intricate philosophical and theological constructions and Classical rhetoric. Augustine wrote, "The teacher, then, will avoid all words that do not communicate; if, in their place, he can use other words which are intelligible in their correct forms, he will choose to do that, but if he cannot, either because they do not exist or because they do not occur to him at the time, he will use words that are less correct, provided that the subject matter itself is communicated and learned correctly". (De doctrina christiana ("On Christian Instruction"), 4, 10, 24). In De doctrina christiana, Augustine wrote that good teachers have or, at least, should have such a desire to teach that if a particular word in good Latin is unavoidably ambiguous or obscure in relation to the intellectual or cultural capacity of a particular audience or congregation, what he called a "vulgar manner of speech" (i.e., colloquial words, or unsophisticated words used by unlearned people) should instead to be used. (De doctrina christiana, 4, 9, 23) (see also Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, Peter Robert Lamont Brown, University of California Press, 2000).

His Neoplatonic philosophy also lead to an interpretation of the Eucharist. Augustine of Hippo would view the 'Hoc est enim Corpus Meum' (Matthew 26: 26-28, Mark 14: 22-24 and Luke 22: 19-20), upon which the Eucharist is based, as a "signum" which was to be understood symbolically. In De Civitate Dei contra Paganos Augustine defined the sacrifice of the Eucharist as 'the visible sacrament (sacramentum) or sacred sign (signum) of an invisible sacrifice'. Sacramental signs (signa) are a subcategory of Augustine's theory of signs (images) which he develops in De doctrina christiana and De Magistro. His theory of signs is a theory of the acquisition and conveyance of knowledge through language (words as images or signs signifying something). He presents his theory of signs as a theory of language applied to scripture. He distinguishes between literal (level 1) and figurative (level 2) signs. His theory of signs does not require the universals of Thomism (Aristotelian realism) in order to explain the Eucharist. Understanding the Eucharist in a figurative sense was feasible in the theological system of Augustine.

Augustine of Hippo opposed moral rigorism, both in Donatism and in Pelagianism, as Augustine believed the church to consist of both the faithful and unfaithful. The predominant motif of Augustine's anti-Pelagian Christology was the humanity of Christ, 'in the likeness of sinful flesh' (Romans 8:3). This point of view would lead to probabilism as opposed to rigorism. Rigorists like the Pelagians denied that in assessing a moral judgment one should take the particular circumstances into account (situational morality or moral relativism with regard to the particular circumstances). Absolute rigorism or tutiorism and philosophical sin was condemned by Pope Alexander VIII (1610-1691 CE) on 7 December 1690. Augustine of Hippo marks the beginning of a system of thought in the Western tradition that denies free will (with respect to salvation) and affirms that salvation needs an initial input by God in the life of every person. This becomes the principle of Predestination. The position was somewhat related to Manichaeism, which taught that man is by nature flawed and therefore not responsible for evil in himself or in the world, but denies free will. The position of Augustine of Hippo would lead to the condemnation of Pelagius (ca. 354-ca. 420/440 CE) and Pelagianism which denied Augustine's view of "predestination" in order to affirm that salvation is achieved by an act of free will. Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid. Pelagianism therefore views humanity as basically good and morally unaffected by the Fall. It denies the imputation of Adam's sin, original sin, total depravity, and substitutionary atonement. Predestination can be "single" (only with regard to salvation) or "double" meaning that, just as God predestines some, but not all, to eternal salvation (election), he predestines others to eternal punishment (reprobation). Later Martin Luther (1483-1546 CE), John Calvin (1509-1564 CE), and Cornelius Jansen (1585-1638 CE) would respond in different ways against Pelagianism. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists, consider Augustine to be one of the theological fathers of the Protestant Reformation due to his teachings on salvation (predestination) and divine grace (see also The Anti-Pelagian Christology of Augustine of Hippo, 396-430, Dominic Keech, Oxford University Press, 2012 and Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, Allan Fitzgerald, John C. Cavadini, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999, p. 678).

Theologians have attempted to answer complex questions about God. Given that God exists, is it possible to know Him in this life? If so, how? Given that God is knowable, is it possible to name Him in this life? If so, how? The answer to this set of questions is arguably the primary object of any philosophy that admits of the existence of God. One such philosophy is Neoplatonism, which in both its pagan and Christian forms places prime importance on the divine. Two thinkers who are deeply imbued with Neoplatonic ideas and have dealt extensively with the above question are Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE). Pseudo-Dionysius would have a profound influence on the theological development of Christianity. He developed the concept of a celestial and ecclesiastic hierarchy. His work would also influence Cristian aesthetics and architecture, most notably in Gothic architecture such as in the Basilica of St Denis. Pseudo-Dionysius would also have an important influence on the development of Scholastic theology, most notably on Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE). He also influenced the interpretation of the liturgy as a dramatic allegory. His Neoplatonic approach to theology would influence medieval mysticism, such as in the The Cloud of Unknowing. His work would be the start of the development of negative or apophatic theology in Christianity. As a Neoplatonist he always takes great care to quote Biblical sources in order to make his point and probably in order to hide the fact that he is actually quoting Proclus (412-485 CE) (see also Pseudo-Dionysius : A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence: A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence, Paul Rorem, Oxford University Press, USA, 1993, p. 3 and Universe of Stone: Chartres Cathedral and the Triumph of the Medieval Mind, Philip Ball, Random House, 2011, p. 244 and Architecture as Cosmology: Lincoln Cathedral and English Gothic Architecture, John Hendrix, Peter Lang, 2011, p. 4 and The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas: From Finite Being to Uncreated Being, John F. Wippel, CUA Press, 2000, p. 114 and Strange Names of God: The Missionary Translation of the Divine Name and the Chinese Responses to Matteo Ricci's "Shangti" in Late Ming China, 1583-1644, Sangkeun Kim, Peter Lang, 2004, p.64-65 and The Sensual Philosophy: Joyce and the Aesthetics of Mysticism, Colleen Jaurretche, Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1997, p. 14 and The Cloud of Unknowing, Nick Stafford, My Mind Books, 2012, p. 9 and Christian Theology: An Introduction, Alister E. McGrath, John Wiley & Sons, 2011, p. 188 and Neoplatonism and Christian Thought, Dominic J. C'Meara, SUNY Press, 1982).

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, who wrote the Corpus Areopagiticum of which remain the De Divinis Nominibus (E: On the divine names; Greek: περι τηειον ονοματον), De Mystica Theologia (Greek: περι μυστικες τηεολογιας), De Coelesti Hierarchia (Greek: περι τες ουρανιας ηιεραρξηιας), De Hierarchia Ecclesiastica (Greek: περι τες εκκλεστιαστικες ηιεραρξηιας) and ten Letters. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite would play an important role in the theological development of Christianity and the synthesis of the Semitic religion with Indo-European Neoplatonism. Pseudo-Dionysius developed themes already in Plotinus (204/5-270 CE) bearing on the non-sensibility and non-conceptuality of God, or 'The One', but combines these ideas with Christian doctrine. Pseudo-Dionysius held, like Plotinus, to the "mystical ascent" view of salvation, which can be expressed using the term theiosis, or theopoiesis. This process involves becoming free of the world of appearances (become "unknowing"). In the disoriented state that results, man may encounter divine illumination ("ray of divine darkness"). Pseudo-Dionysius discusses two ways towards God, the via positiva and the via negativa. The via positiva is the way of a mystical union ('unio mysica') through identification with the whole, following a progressive identification with more and more of the manifest world. The via positiva concerns a mystical union through dis-identification with the whole, following a progressive dis-identification with more and more of the manifest world. The via positiva is discussed in the Divine Names which deals with affirmative or kataphatic theology, while the via negativa is discusses in De mystica theologia which deals with negative or apophatic theology.

In the De Divinis Nominibus (DDN) Pseudo-Dionysius discusses how man can write about God without knowing him directly. Dionysius argues that God must actually possess the most perfect attributes imaginable, such as ultimate Goodness, Love, Wisdom, Beauty, etc. These highest Attributes are the true Names of God. The first or primary Name of God is Being, though Divine Being is equivalent to Unity, Good and Perfection. The very Highest Attributes, or Names, are those which are not found in creation at all, such as the Absolute, the Ineffible, the Ultimate, the Highest, and the One. Next there are those Attributes which can be found in the world to varying degrees, such as Goodness, Wisdom and Beauty. These Names are distinct in our conceptional thinking but really the same in Essence. Other conceptions or Names are also distinguishable yet equivalent in the Divine Essence, such as Light, Love and Beauty, as well as Power, Wisdom and Justice. All of these Names or Qualities are pre-subsisting in God's super-essential Unity of Being. Among the Divine Names, Beauty is identified with the Good and the highest knowing of God, besides Being Itself, is Good and Beauty. For Pseudo-Dionysius a lack in the goodness and harmonious beauty in things does not suggest an impotence in the divine power and intelligence, but rather reveals a weakness in the receptivity of the imperfect being.

He uses only arguments from Scripture for his propositions and uses reasoning by analogy for his triplex via. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite postulates God as being transcendent and omnipotent. God created the world ex nihilo. As God created everything which happens and the results of His creation are all present in the world, we can learn about Him though the via causalitatis (E: the way of causality). Everything in the world can be traced back to God. For dependent beings must ultimately rest on something non-dependent, relative beings on that which is non-relative, and, even if this non-dependent and non-relative Being cannot be conceived directly in itself, it is necessarily conceived to some extent through the beings which depend on it and are related to it. It is not an Unknown or Unknowable. It can be known in the different ways in which it expresses itself in the world. Man remarks in finite things a manifold dependence. Two finite things which contradict each other are derived from one Divine source and therefore a human discourse is futile as both the affirmation and negation have their roots in divinity (this leads to relativism). When we reason from the effects to the First, or Ultimate, Cause, we eliminate from it all the defects, imperfections, and limitations which are in its effects just because they are effects, as change, limitation, time, and space. This way of reasoning is via negationis (E: the way of negation or remotion). Miracles are therefore witnesses of the Divine which is capable to act above and beyond the limitations of the physical laws. Finally, it is easily understood that the perfections affirmed, in these two ways, of God, as First and Perfect Cause, cannot be attributed to Him in the same sense that they have in finite beings, but only in an absolutely excellent or supereminent way, the via eminentiae (E: the way of eminence) (see also Pseudo-Dionysius : A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence: A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence, Paul Rorem, Oxford University Press, USA, 1993, p. 8).

In the De Divinis Nominibus (DDN) Pseudo-Dionysius deals with the epistemology or method for interpreting the scriptural tradition. The transcendent is expressed in symbols which act as road signs pointing towards the divine. Eventually man enjoys the angelic privilege of a more direct contemplation through conceptions alone, without earthly sense perception, which will lead to a spiritual union with God or 'unio mystica' (Rorem, 592C, 52). Man approaches the divine ray which transcends being (Rorem, 592D, 53). Dionysius distinguishes three kinds of knowledge: that of the senses, of the intellect, and of mystical unknowing - related to the soul's ascension bask to God. Sense knowledge would be the lowest, yet it serves two main functions. One is to reveal the particular manifest ions of Divine Being in their sensuous forms, and the other is to awaken the mind to seek intelligible knowledge. Here Pseudo-Dionysius makes a bipartite statement about knowing and unknowing, based on the division between senses/intellect and unknowing. First there is the anagogical movement upwards by means of symbols to the truth, that is to the meaning behind and above the symbols (eternal Principles, Causes and Paradigm Ideas). Here the soul detaches himself form sensation (senses) and thought (Aphareisis). Since human knowledge is of beings, God who transcends being must also transcend our knowledge (DDN Section IV, 593A, 53). Secondly the further advance beyond conceptions in a cessation of mental activity (intellect) and the final approach to the divine (unknowing). This is the method of unknowing (Agnosis) which results in the elevation to union with God (Henosis). Since union with the transcendent One occurs in the cessation of all intelligent activity those who approach this union praise it through denial of all things (DDN, Rorem, 593C, 54). The two stages signify the two stages of the Dionysian ascent towards God or 'The One' (Aphareisis and Agnosis) with finally the 'unio mystica' (Henosis). In the Neo-Platonic paradigm, the final goal of the spiritual ascent is henosis (from the Greek for "unity". The first stage of the ascent erases the experience to leave only the image (aphaeresis). The second stage leads on the epistemic front, at the final frontier of 'knowing', to a condition of 'agnosia': "an unknowing". The Good is a conceptual light in that it evicts the darkness of ignorance in order to illuminate and to perfect all receptive minds. Enlightenment or illumination is here linked with the return of the soul tot God and with the contrast between unity with God and plurality in the created world in space and time. The soul yearns for reunification with the divine principle and is driven by eros (yearning) and love (agape) towards God (DDN Ch. IV.10.708A - Ch. IV.17.713D and Proverbs 4:6 and 2 Samuel 1:26) (see also Pseudo-Dionysius : A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence: A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence, Paul Rorem, Oxford University Press, USA, 1993, p. 135-136 and Silent Music: The Life, Work, and Thought of St. John of the Cross, Robert A. Herrera, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, p. 72 and Le mystere de Dieu, Jean Vanneste, Desclee de Brouwer, 1959, p. 48 and Eros and Agape in Dionysius the Areopagite, J. S. Kupperman, Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, No. 25, Vol. 3. Autumnal Equinox 2013).

In De mystica theologia (DMT) Pseudo-Dionysius discusses ways of ruling out that which the divine mystery is not as a way of speaking indirectly of what the divine mystery is. Thought of as an aspect of mystical practice, the via negativa begins by negating the least apt characterizations of God and the proceeds to negate even the most honorable and lofty names for God that we can imagine. The final state of this practice is a silence that is potentiated by the memory of the trajectory of negations, which serve as a way of indirectly conceiving of God beyond all names and categories. This way rejects the rational and logical attempts to understand the divine mystery as they are insufficient for this purpose, which of course contradicts the Scholastic rational approach. The "darkness of unknowing" in the De mystica theologia is a darkness in terms of transcendence beyond light as when a light is so bright that is actually prevents or blocks the sense of light itself (Rorem, 1001A, 137). The "darkness of unknowing" is not to be seen in terms of deprivation, but rather in terms of transcendence (Rorem, 1065A, 263). Mystical for Pseudo-Dionysius in his time meant "hidden" and not the modern meaning. In De mystica theologia theology became explicitly "mystical" for the first time in history. At the Lateran Council of 649 CE, the Church would mistakenly confirm Dionysius' authenticity, which would no longer be questioned until the Renaissance. John Scottus Eriugena (ca. 800-ca.877 CE) tried to create a consistent, systematic, Christian Neoplatonism, which he developed in his Periphyseon (On the Division of Nature). He translated the so-called Corpus Dionysii and adopted the Areopagite's main ideas, many of which appear to be drawn from Proclus's (412-485 CE) Commentary on the Parmenides (see also In het hart is Hij te vinden: een geschiedenis van de christelijke mystiek, John van Schaik, Uitgeverij Christofoor, 2005, p. 23 and Pseudo-Dionysius : A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence: A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence, Paul Rorem, Oxford University Press, USA, 1993, p. 8).

In De mystica theologia (DMT) Pseudo-Dionysius dealt with the concept of "Divine Darkness" which he stated as "The simple, absolute and immutable mysteries of divine Truth are hidden in the super-luminous darkness of that silence which revealed in secret. For this darkness, though of deepest obscurity is yet radiantly clear; and, though beyond touch and sight, it more than fills our unseeing minds with splendors of transcendent beauty.";. The divine darkness is the inaccessible light in which God is said to dwell. It cannot be reached by reason as it surpasses the capabilities of dialectic reasoning. However the immanent incarnation of God in Christ enables man to reach the transcendent divine. Saul of Tarsus (ca. 5-ca. 67 CE) in 2 Peter 1:4 referred to Christ as the means through which man becomes partaker in the divine nature. God (the father) was seen as so utterly transcendent that the chasm between Creator and creature was impassable if not for the Incarnation of Christ (see also On the "Divine Darkness", Jean El-Murr, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Montreal).

In De Coelesti Hierarchia (DCH) Pseudo-Dionysius deals with the concept of hierarchy. It provides an overall framework for understanding the angelic beings and for arranging them into three groups of three (triads) based upon Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16. In addition it presents a method for interpreting religious symbols, the biblical symbols and names for the angels and for God, and the symbolic actions of the liturgy. According to Pseudo-Dionysius the Bible was to be read metaphorically and al symbols refer to the way things are in heaven. These symbols provided a "climb" or "ascent" upwards. This anagogical method of scriptural exegesis leads or pointss upwards to the spiritual/heavenly. It is one of the traditional four methods of interpreting the Scriptures: literal/historical, allegorical, tropological (moral), and anagogical. The priciples of De Coelesti Hierarchia would have a profound influence on medieval theology of beauty or aesthetics and Gothic architecture. The principles of De Coelesti Hierarchia refer to the three moments of the Neoplatonic world process, which is a circular process of emanation from and return tot 'The One'. At the start there is the immanence in the cause, which means identity with the divine principle. Secondly there a procession (emanation) from the cause or first principle which creates a difference, separation and multitude. Thirdly there is a reversion to the cause, which overcomes the difference with (renewed) identity. In order to find the way back, man has to decipher the symbols. Sacred veils are adapted to our nature as human beings in the created realm of time and space. The 'divine ray' or 'light' is "upliftingly concealed" in these veils which are "material means capable of guiding us" (Rorem, 121D, 146). Pseudo-Dionysius deals with a variet of sacred veils, both in De Coelesti Hierarchia and De hierarchia ecclesiastica. The triad also refers to the triad of divine actions which comprise the steps of the return to God or 'The One': purification, illumination and perfection (Rorem, 165BC, 154) (see also Pseudo-Dionysius: A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence: A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence, Paul Rorem, Oxford University Press, USA, 1993, p. 49 and A New History of the Humanities: The Search for Principles and Patterns from Antiquity to the Present, Rens Bod, Oxford University Press, 2014, p. 120 and Studies on the 5th [fifth] and 6th [sixth] Essays of Proclus' Commentary on the Republic, Anne D. R. Sheppard, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1980, p. 63).

In De Hierarchia Ecclesiastica (DHE) Pseudo-Dionysius dealt with the hierarchical structure of the Church, which is built on the same Neoplatonic triadic principle as in De Coelesti Hierarchia. At the highest level of the ecclesiastic hierarchy, the hierarchs (bishops) connect with the lowest level of the celestial hierarchy which are the angels (see also Pseudo-Dionysius: A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence: A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence, Paul Rorem, Oxford University Press, USA, 1993, 9.91 and Dionysius the Areopagite and the Neoplatonist Tradition: Despoiling the Hellenes, Sarah Klitenic Wear, John Dillon, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2013, p. 59).

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century) wrote ten l0 Letters in which he also dealt with themes of the De Divinis Nominibus and De mystica theologia. Although they are called letters, they are essays which deal with topics related to persons increasingly higher in ecclesiastical hierarchy. In the first four letters to Gaius Therapeutes (I-IV) a layperson, Pseudo-Dionysius deals with ontology and epistemology: "But He Himself, highly established above mind, and above essence, by the very fact of His being wholly unknown, and not being, both is super-essentially, and is known above mind". Her he takes up the same theme as in De Divinis Nominibus: "For, if all kinds of knowledge are of things existing, and are limited to things existing, that, beyond all essence, is also elevated above all knowledge" (DDN Section IV, 593A, 53). This statement deals with the interplay between (divine) essence and knowledge and thus between ontology and epistemology. Letter five is addressed to Dorotheus Leitourgos (V), an official servant (minister). Here Pseudo-Dionysius stated that "the divine darkness is that 'unapproachable light' where God is said to live" (Rorem, 1073A, 265). Here he quotes Saul of Tarsus (ca. 5-ca. 67 CE) in his letter 1 Timothy 6:16: "Qui solus habet immortalitatem, et lucem inhabitat inaccessibilem: quem nullus hominum vidit, sed nec videre potest: cui honor, et imperium sempiternum. Amen.".

The sixth letter is to Sopatros a priest (VI). Here Pseudo-Dionysius states that refuting an error does not necessarily lead to embracing the truth: "For neither, if anything is not red, is it therefore white, nor if something is not a horse, is it necessarily a man". In De Coelesti Hierarchia we find the same statement related to God: "negations about God are true, as opposed to affirmations that are always 'unfitting'" (Rorem 141A, 150). The seventh letter is to Polycarp a Hierarch (VII). In this letter the futility of disputations and refutations is repeated with regard to the Truth: "For each affirms himself to have the royal coin, and perchance has some deceptive image of a certain portion of the true. And, if you refute this, first the one, and then the other, will contend concerning the same.". The eight letter is to Demophilus Therapeutes (VIII) a philosopher-monk. This letter is "About minding ones own business, and kindness". After climbing the ecclesiastic hierarchy, Pseudo-Dionysius goes once again downwards. Here he deals with ecclesiastic hierarchy and authority as in De hierarchia ecclesiastica which mirrors the structure of De Coelesti Hierarchia. The letter is about the local arrangements of clerical offices and hierarchy with regard to the transmission of authority, revelation and existence itself. It gives an overall picture of reality as the "order which God himself has established" (Rorem, 1088C, 272). In this letter Pseudo-Dionysius refers to the riddle concerning the first principle in the Second Letter of Plato. The ninth letter is to Titus a Hierarch (IX). In this letter Pseudo-Dionysius deals with symbolic theology. The first section of the letter contains a lengthy enumeration of the Biblical symbols. In the second section of the letter he deals with the "House of Wisdom", where he refers to the order of the visible world and to the kind of theology which views things according tot the 'nomoi' (laws) of phenomenal things. In the third section of the letter a bowl symbolizes providence: "proceeding outward to everything, yet remaining in itself" (Rorem, 1109B, 285-286). Providence "proceeds step by step down to everything without ever ceasing to remain within itself" (Rorem 1109D, 286). he gives an interpretation of the "liquid foods" of Wisdom, which relate to the four Greek pagan libations to the dead. Libations poured onto the earth were meant for the dead and for the chthonic gods. The tenth letter is to John, Theologos (X), Apostle and Evangelist, imprisoned in the Isle of Patmos. Here Pseudo-Dionysius deliberately presents himself as belonging to the same time period as John the evangelist. her he puts forward the Platonic concept that "the visible is truly the plain image of the invisible" and that "some are already here and now with God". this would have a profound influence on Christian mysticism. Light as symbol means illumination or enlightenment, which goes back to the Platonic Analogy of the Sun. In this letter John is also called the "Sun of the Gospel". The invisible is related to the conceptual and the higher realm of concepts (the Platonic Ideas). The ideas however must be negated and abandoned in order to approach the transcendence of God or 'The One' and indeed become united with God in the 'unio mystica' or 'henosis'. This also represents the highest goal and the subject of the De mystica theologia. An eleventh letter is to Apollophanes, Philosopher (XI), but the theme is related to letter VII. In this letter Pseudo-Dionysius presents a prayer for his friend Apollophanes, who was with Dionysius on the Day of the Crucifixion, to convert to Christianity (see also Pseudo-Dionysius : A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence: A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence, Paul Rorem, Oxford University Press, USA, 1993, p. 8-18 and Hierarchy and the Definition of Order in the Letters of Pseudo-Dionysius, Ronald F. Hathaway, Springer Science & Business Media, 1969).

Berengarius of Tours (ca. 999-1088 CE) disputed with the Church leadership over the doctrine of transubstantiation in the Eucharist, based on his position on dialectics (reason). Berengarius of Tours in his De sacra cena adversus Lanfrancum took the concepts of 'figura' and 'veritas' of Ratramnus of Corbie (died c. 870 CE), who in his treatise, De corpore et sanguine Domini had opposed his abbot Paschasius Radbertus's realist Eucharistic theology. For Berengarius man was created as a rational being in the image of God and gifted with reason. Only as symbolic interpretation of the Eucharist was possible, not a realist one, as this would conflict with reason when taking an Augustinian (Neoplatonic) approach. He did not put reason against revelation, but distinguished between rational and irrational ways of understanding revelation (where and how to put the inflection point between reason and revelation). According to Berengarius, reason (dialectics) only allowed for the acceptance of consubstantiation when adherring to a realist and Augustinian position with regard to universals and signs. His traditional Augustinian (Neoplatonic) position was that the elements of the Eucharist were only symbols (figura) and similar (similitudo) to the true body and blood of Christ and that the essence (protai ousiai) of bread and whine remained to exist alongside the body and blood of Christ throughout the Eucharist. He denied that any material change in the substance (essence) of the bread and whine was needed (possible) to explain the Eucharistic Presence. According to Berengarius this was analogous to the symbolic meaning of '"Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."' (Revelation 5:5), 'Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone' (Ephesians 2:20), and 'When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"' (John 1:36). His opponent Lanfranc (ca. 1005-1089 CE) in his work De corpore et sanguine Domini put forward the new moderate realist and more Aristotelian position, which allowed for transubstantiation: "... scilicet panem et vinum, quae in altari ponuntur, post consecrationem non solum sacramentum, sed etiam verum corpus et sanguinem Domini nostri Iesu Christi esse, et sensualiter, non solum sacramento, sed in veritate, manibus sacerdotum tractari et frangi et fidelium dentibus atteri...". This position required the change of the essence of the bread and whine during the Eucharist and its replacement with the essence of the body and blood of Christ. This would become the accepted position of the Roman Catholic Church in accordance with a more Aristotelian position on universals. The more physical approach of Aristotle with regard to essence, compared with the Neoplatonic position of Augustine started to change the theological approach towards the Eucharist. In this view also a more spiritual conception of the Divine presence in the bread was put forward instead of the position that Christ's Eucharistic body was identical with his body in heaven. The problem in this moderate realistic view was the uncoupling of the attributes or Aristotelian categories of the bread from the essence of bread at the moment of transubstantiation of the essence of bread to the essence of Christ. The essence of the problem is how much irrationality you allow for, or in other words at which point does reason has to surrender to faith. For the moment the 'irrationalists' had won, but in the long term the viewpoint of Berengarius and his mystical belief in human reason would prevail. Berengarius of Tours at the Concilium Romanum (1079 CE), in his "Professio fidei in Eucharistiam Berengario praescripta", had to accept this position with regard to the Eucharist (see also Exploring the Evolution of the Lord's Supper in the New Testament, John M. Perry, Rowman & Littlefield, 1994, p. 123 and Life's Three Greatest Questions, Thomas E. Johnson, Cedar Fort, 2003, p. 197 and History of Christian Dogma, Ferdinand Christian Baur, Oxford University Press, 2014, p. 222 and Persuasion and Conversion: Essays on Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere in Early Modern England, W.J.T. Kirby, BRILL, 2013, p. 131 and Europe in the High Middle Ages: 1150-1300, John H. Mundy, Routledge, 2014, p. 300).

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179 CE) was a German mystic. Her most significant works were her three volumes of visionary theology: Scivias (1142-1151 CE), Liber Vitae Meritorum (1158-1163 CE) and the Liber Divinorum Operum (1163/4-1172 or 1174). In these works she first describes each vision and then interprets their theological contents in the words of the divine "voice of the Living Light". In her Liber Divinorum Operum Hildegard provided an extended explication of the Prologue to John's Gospel with regard to 'In the beginning was the Word...' (John 1:1). She perceived that the 'logos' (verbum/ratio) of the Gospel of John was the key to the 'Opus Dei' (Work of God), of which mankind is the crowning figure. The ten visions of the Liber Divinorum Operum's three parts are cosmic in scale, often populated by the grand allegorical female figures representing Divine Love (Caritas) or Wisdom (Sapientia). Christ in the Christian mystical Neoplatonism of Hildegard is the step-stone for the return of man to God in order to achieve the 'unio mystica' (see also Voice of the Living Light: Hildegard of Bingen and Her World, Barbara Newman, University of California Press, 1998, p. 64 and Hildegard of Bingen: Scivias, Saint Hildegard, Columba Hart, Jane Bishop, Paulist Press, 1990, p. 45 and From Athens to Chartres: Neoplatonism and Medieval Thought : Studies in Honour of Edouard Jeauneau, Édouard Jeauneau, Haijo Jan Westra, BRILL, 1992 and Hildegard von Bingen: der Klang des Himmels, Marianne Richert Pfau, Stefan Morent, Böhlau Verlag Köln Weimar, 2005, p. 87 and Evelyn Underhill: Spirituality for Daily Living, Annice Callahan, University Press of America, 1997, p. 42).

The 13th and 14th century were a time of crisis within the Church, with the Avignon Papacy (1309-1377 CE) and society as a whole with the Hundred Years' War (1337 to 1453 CE). There was a strong sense that the end of the world was coming and thus Man's spirituality and salvation became more and more important. Wherever people ceased to find in the Church the spiritual answers they sought, dissident movements such as the Brethren sprang up. The Heresy of the Free Spirit was an example of Free Grace theology. It put forward that everyone receives eternal life the moment they believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and Lord. Its advocates believe that God justifies the sinner on the sole condition of faith in Christ, not righteous living. They believed in autotheism (a belief that the perfected soul and God are indistinguishably one), denial of the necessity of Christ, the church and its sacraments for salvation, use of the language of erotic union with Christ, antinomianism and anticlerical sentiment. Free Grace theology would influence theological development and controversy during the Free Spirit controversy of the 13th century, the Majoristic controversy of the 16th century, and the Antinomian Controversy of the 17th century. Covenant Theology sees three basic, comprehensive covenants, the covenant of works, the covenant of grace, and the covenant of redemption. The Free Spirit controversy centred around theological debate concerning the covenant of grace versus the covenant of works. The covenant of works (Latin: 'foedus operum'), also called the covenant of life, was made in the Garden of Eden between God and Adam who represented all mankind as a federal head. (Romans 5:12-21) It promised life for perfect and perpetual obedience and death for disobedience. The covenant of grace promises eternal life for all people who have faith in Christ. It is the historical expression of the eternal covenant of redemption. Here Christ as the second Adam is considered to be the new federal head or representative of the people he had covenanted to save (Christ died on a Friday, the same day as when the first Adam was created). With the covenant of grace of course, the relation of man with God and the church is somewhat different than several Christian denominations adhere to, causing trouble of course (see also Compilatio de novo spiritu, Albert the Great, 1270s and Heresy in the Later Middle Ages: The Relation of Heterodoxy to Dissent, c. 1250-c. 1450, Gordon Leff, Manchester University Press, 1999 and Religion and Devotion in Europe, C.1215- C.1515, Robert N. Swanson, Cambridge University Press, 1995, p. 111 and Freely by His Grace: Classical Free Grace Theology, J. B. Hixson, Rick Whitmire, Roy B. Zuck, Grace Gospel Press, 2012 and Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America, Volume 1, ABC-CLIO, 2006, p. 407).

Beatrice of Nazareth (1200-1268 CE) was a Flemish Cistercian nun and mystic. She wrote On Seven Ways of Holy Love (Dutch: Seuen Manieren van Heiliger Minnen). Her work was inspired by the Sermones in Cantica Canticorum of Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153 CE) and his mysticism of the heart. In her work she also incorporated Neoplatonist elements in the tradition of the 'via negativa' of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. Her mysticism leads to a 'cognitio Dei experimentalis' or fundamental experience of immediate contact with God or 'The One' in a 'unio mystica'. The beguine Hadewijch (1200-1268 CE) was a 13th-century poet and mystic, probably living in the Duchy of Brabant. Her work is part of the Minnemystiek ("love mysticism"). Love, or 'Minne' as Hadewijch called it, is the central component of her poetry, and indeed of all her collected works, including her religious Visioenen (Visions). She associated 'Minne' with the eternal love of God, literally depicting God experienced directly as Love. 'Minne' here resembles the "the philosophy of love" as it was put forward by Diotima of Mantinea in Plato's Symposion. In the view of Diotima, love was a means of ascent to contemplation of the Divine. The mystic Jan van Ruusbroec (1293-1381 CE) was influenced by Hadewijch although his relation with Hadewijch or pseudo-Hadewijch was somewhat ambiguous (see also The Life of Beatrice of Nazareth, 1200-1268, Roger DeGanck, Cistercian Publications, 1991 and The Preached God: Proclamation in Word and Sacrament, Gerhard O. Forde, Mark C. Mattes, Steven D. Paulson Wm, B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007, p. 59 and "Hadewijch of Brabant and the Beguine Movement". A Companion to Mysticism and Devotion in Northern Germany in the Late Middle Ages, Veerle Fraeters, Brill, 2013 pp. 49-72 and Encountering Transcendence: Contributions to a Theology of Christian Religious Experience, Lieven Boeve, Hans Geybels, Stijn Van den Bossche Peeters Publishers, 2005, p. 425).

The Rhineland mystics were striving after the direct union of the soul with God in the Neoplatonic tradition of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century). As mystics they sought, as did Eckhart, the loss of man's being in the ocean of the Godhead, or with Tauler the undisturbed peace of the soul, or with Ruusbroec the impact of the divine nature upon man's nature at its innermost point, kindling with divine love as fire kindles. Theologians such as Meister Eckhart OP (ca. 1260-ca. 1327) would run into trouble when presenting the triplex via of Pseudo-Dionysius and its philosophical consequences in their sermons (ambiguity and relativism), which of course could cause confusion in the heads of his parishers with regard to Church authority. Meister Eckhart was a Christian Neoplatonist in the tradition of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. In his sermons, Deutsche Predigten und Traktate, he did not follow the rules as they were put forward in De doctrina christiana of Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) to adapt his sermons to the intellectual or cultural capacity of his audience (via tutior) and not to confuse them with complex theological matters. Meister Eckhart explained the metaphorical content of the gospels to laymen and clergy alike. Such was the case in his sermon Quasi stella matutina in medio nebulae on the nature of God in the tradition of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century). Eckhart in his work Von der Abgeschiedenheit preached self-detachment from the world and that which is temporal. Eckhart was also being considered to be one of the spiritual leaders of the lay movements of Beguines and Beghards. The Beguines and Beghards lead a 'vita abstracta' or detached life outside legitimately, hierarchically organise orders. They held that human and divine natures are the same, based on Neoplatonic and Pseudo-Dionysian principles (e.g. 'unitas indistinctionis'). The Beghardian doctrines would be condemned as the Beghardian heresy at the Council of Vienne (1311-1312 CE). These and other lay devotional movements were considered to be a force erosive to church hierarchy and orthodoxy. Their movement was considered to be influenced or even part of the Heresy of the Free Spirit. The beguine Marguerite Porete' (died 1 June 1310 CE) who published The Mirror of Simple Souls was burnt at the stake for heresy in Paris in 1310. The Mirror of Simple Souls explores in poetry and prose the seven stages of 'annihilation' the Soul goes through on its path to Oneness with God through Love. Marguerite Porete describes the Pseudo-Dionysian 'unio mystica' or in Eckhartian terms a 'unitas indistinctionis'. The Theologia Deutsch (Theologia Germanica) is a mystical treatise believed to have been written in the later 14th century by an anonymous author. The author of the treatise proposes that God and man can be wholly united by following a path of perfection, as exemplified by the life of Christ, renouncing sin and selfishness, ultimately allowing God's will to replace human will (see also Meister Eckhart and the Beguine Mystics: Hadewijch of Brabant, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Marguerite Porete, Bernard McGinn, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 1997, p. 12 and Re-thinking Dionysius the Areopagite, Sarah Coakley, Charles M. Stang, John Wiley & Sons, 2011, p. 121 and Nobility and Annihilation in Marguerite Porete's Mirror of Simple Souls, Joanne Maguire Robinson, SUNY Press, 2012 and The Cambridge Handbook of Human Dignity: Interdisciplinary Perspectives,Marcus Düwell, Jens Braarvig, Roger Brownsword, Dietmar Mieth Cambridge University Press, ch. 5, 2014 and The Theologia Germanica of Martin Luther, Martin Luther, Courier Corporation, 2013 and History of Christian Dogma: by Ferdinand Christian Baur, Peter C. Hodgson, Oxford University Press, 2014, p. 235).

The second Pope of the Avignon Papacy, Pope John XXII (1244-1334 CE) condemned 28 teachings of Meister Eckhart with the papal bull In Agro Dominico (27 March 1329) where he stated: "...plura voluit sapere quam oportuit et non ad sobrietatem neque secundum mensuram fidei..." (E: he wanted to know more than he should ...). The 'Heresy of the Free Spirit' would be condemned in the bull Ad nostrum at the Council of Vienne (1311-1312 CE). Johannes Tauler OP (ca. 1300-1361 CE) and Heinrich Suso OP (ca. 1295-1366 CE) would follow in the footsteps of Meister Eckhart. Johannes Tauler speaks of God in terms derived from the apophatic 'theologia negativa' of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, calling him the 'ineffable mystery' and quoting from definition XXI of the Liber XXIV philosophorum: 'Deus est tenebra in anima post omnem lucem relicta' (God is the darkness in the soul which remains after all light). Heinrich Suso adopted Meister Eckhart's idea of the divine man (homo divinus), an originally Hermetic view of man found in the Asclepius (see also The Great German Mystics: Eckhart, Tauler and Suso, James M. Clark, Courier Corporation, 2013 and Dynamics of Difference: Christianity and Alterity, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015, p. 76 and Homo divinus : philosophische Projekte in Deutschland zwischen Meister Eckhart und Heinrich Seuse, Loris Sturlese ed., W. Kohlhammer, 2007, p. 199-230).

Bonaventure (1221-1274 CE), the Seraphic Doctor, was an Italian medieval scholastic theologian and philosopher. In his work Itinerarium Mentis ad Deum (Journey of the Mind Into God) Bonaventure provides a pathway or journey set up by steps towards God (Life, the First Principle), that all baptised believers can follow. The mystical journey into God or the First Principle is both an intentional shift of being into something more, and an essential communion of two beings as one mind or essence that is shared mutually. Man is both in God and becoming one with God. Man is in nature, and of nature. Man is in nature, and becoming one with nature. Man is in the First Principle of Existence and man is becoming the First Principle. On this mystical journey man is being transformed into the likeness of the Creation Process itself - becoming fully alive, which resemble the Neoplatonic process of emanation and theosis (see also Knowing God through and in All Things: A Proposal for Reading Bonaventure's Itinerarium mentis in Deum, Gregory F. LaNave, Franciscan Studies , Volume 67, 2009 , pp. 267-299 and The Philosopher in Early Modern Europe: The Nature of a Contested Identity, Conal Condren, Stephen Gaukroger, Ian Hunter Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 191 and The Westminster Handbook to Medieval Theology, James R. Ginther, Westminster John Knox Press, 2009, p. 29 and Bonaventure, Christopher M. Cullen, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 35).

Nicolaus Cusanus (1401-1464 CE) would follow the same Pseudo-Dionysian Neoplatonic reasoning in his work, such as in his Gespräch über das Seinkönnen where he puts forward: "Ewig und unsichtbar ist die Kraft, durch welche die Welt besteht" (E: Eternal and invisible is the power by which the world exists). In 1440 he would write his De Docta ignorantia (On Learned Ignorance) inspired by his contacts with Byzantine Neoplatonists when he accompanied the Byzantine delegation from Constantinople to the Council of Florence (1439 CE). Cusanus wrote the De Docta ignorantia inspired by a a shipboard experience of divine illumination while on the ship returning from his mission to Constantinople. In his work he reflects definition XXIII of the Liber XXIV philosophorum: Deus est qui sola ignorantia mente cognoscitur (God is that, which the mind only knows in ignorance). During the journey he learned about Byzantine apophatic and and patristic theology and Neoplatonism from Byzantine theologians such as Basilios Bessarion (1403-1472 CE). In De Docta ignorantia Cusanus put forward that the coincidence of everything in de divine simplicity collapses the distinction between creature and creator. Learned ignorance disregards the fact that all human knowledge is tied tot sensible images. Here he follows Plato and rejects Aristotle who said:"There is nothing in the intellect that was not first in the senses". For Aristotelians the coincidence of contradictions in the Absolute violated the principle of non-contradiction. When something would be able to be in a state of 'A' and 'not A' at the same time, this is a violation of the Aristotelian law of non-contradiction (note: in modern quantum physics situations may violate the law of non-contradiction). Johannes Wenck, a neo-Aristotelian Thomist, wrote the De ignota litteratura (On Unknown Learning) as response to the De Docta ignorantia. For Wenck the doctrine of 'learned ignorance' destroyed the Aristotelian philosophy. In Thomism the proper method of the formal theological foundation of the transcendentals is the path of the 'resolutio secundum rem' ("according to fact"), which arrives to the supreme cause. This method should follow the demands of the (Dionysian) 'triplex' via but takes the kataphatic road or 'via positiva' and not the apophatic road or 'via negativa' as Cusanus did. Wenck also referred to the problems which arose with the Waldensians, Eckhartians and Wycliffians and their relation to the 'learned ignorance'. For Wenck the road which Cusanus took also lead to pantheism as it blurred the line between creator and creation. (see also An Anthology of Christian Mysticism, Liturgical Press, 1991, p. 321-325 and A History of Christian Spirituality: An Analytical Introduction, Urban Tigner Holmes, Church Publishing, Inc., 2002, p. 75 and and The Vision of God, Nicholas of Cusa, Cosimo, Inc., 2007 and Platonism at the Origins of Modernity: Studies on Platonism and Early Modern Philosophy, Douglas Hedley, Sarah Hutton Springer Science & Business Media, 2007, p. 27 and Nicolaus Cusanus on Faith and the Intellect: A Case Study in 15th-Century Fides-Ratio Controversy, K. Meredith Ziebart BRILL, 2013, p. 56 and 63 and Metaphysics, Aristotle, Book IV, Part 4).

In Christian theology the terms 'via negativa' and 'via positiva' are ways of worshipping God: either by denying him any attributes, as in the 'Divine Darkness' of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century), or by attributing to him all goodness, which would develop into the conventional theology of the Catholic Church. The apophatic tradition prevalent in Orthodoxy in the Greek East would be balanced with kataphatic theology or positive theology in the Latin West and its belief in the incarnation, through which God has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ. The 'via positiva' leads to mystical union through identification with the whole, following a progressive identification with more and more of the manifest world. The 'via negativa' leads to mystical union through dis-identification with the whole, following a progressive dis-identification with more and more of the manifest world. Medieval theologians in the Latin West would centre their theology increasingly on Christology and Jesus of Nazareth (7-2 BCE to 30-36 CE) for their via positiva in order to avoid the ambiguity of the path of the triplex via of Pseudo-Dionysius. The transcendent and unknowable God of Pseudo-Dionysius also does not fit well into the Aristotelian theology which would develop with Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) into Thomism, with its view on the human being (hylomorphism, union of matter and form) and the hypostatic union of Christ's humanity and divinity in one hypostasis (see also Our Triune God, Peter Toon, Regent College Publishing, 1996 and Christology: A Dogmatic Treatise on the Incarnation, Joseph Pohle, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2007, p. 137-141 and Julian of Norwich's Legacy, Sarah Salih, Denise N. Baker, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, p. 96 and Companion Encyclopedia of Theology, Peter Byrne, Rev Prof Leslie Houlden, Routledge, 2002, p. 529-530 and Sophia: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton, Christopher Pramuk, Liturgical Press, 2009, p. 82).

During the Middle Ages, when knowledge of Greek would decline in Western (Latin) Europe, only the works of Aristotle would be readily available, while Plato was not easily available to Western scholars. Christian theology would therefore turn towards Aristotle. Theologians and philosophers had to decide what to do with this influx of pagan philosophy. Theology could continue to rely only on revealed thruth fom Scripture or could embrace Aristotelian philosophy (physics, science, natural philosophy). Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109 CE) in his Monologion (1075-76 CE), the Proslogion (1077-1078 CE) would apply the newly discovered "Ars Nova" of Aristotle to theology. His philosophy would become known as the "Ars Anselmi" or "Regula Anselmi" and Anselm would become one of the "Auctoritas aprobata" of Medieval Scholasticism. In his Ontological Argument (OA) he would define God in such a way that denying his existence leads to logical contradictions: "Et certe id, quo majus cogitari nequit, non potest esse in intellectu solo. Si enim vel in solo intellectu est, potest cogitari esse et in re, quod majus est. ... Existit ergo procul dubio aliquid, quo majus cogitari non valet, et in intellectu et in re". ("God is something than which nothing greater can be conceived") (see also Proslogion, Ch. 2 and Anselm's Ontological Arguments, Norman Malcolm, The Philosophical Review, Vol. 69, No. 1 (Jan., 1960), pp. 41-62). The OA is designed to show that the real objective existence of God is involved in the very idea of such a Being. Necessity of existence is included, according to this doctrine, in the idea or absolute perfection. The Proslogion consists of two arguments, both a priori, propter quid arguments which start from a first principle or definition arrived at through reason. They are also both Socratic reductio ad absurdum arguments which aim to show that disagreement with the argument is logical absurdity. As such the OA is a logical or conceptual proof of the existence of God, but not a metaphysical proof. Medieval philosophers use "intention" as synonymous with "concept", so that the answer that a philosopher gives to the question of an intention's ontological status follows from his resolution of the nature of a concept. According to medieval philosophy, there are two basic conceptual levels upon which we work. The first is the level of "first intentions". Those are ideas that refer to things. But we can also further abstract from the first to the second intention by taking an attribute of an object and referring to it, resulting in an idea about an idea about an object, which is called a "second intention" (see also The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Disintegration of Scholasticism, 1100-1600, Norman Kretzmann (Editor), Anthony Kenny (Editor), Jan Pinborg (Editor), Eleonore Stump (Editor), Cambridge University Press, 1982, p. 492 and The Terms "Prima Intentio" and "Secunda Intentio" in Arabic Logic, Kwame Gyekye, Speculum Vol. 46, No. 1 (Jan., 1971), pp. 32-38). God as a being is a first intention, while the logical symbol God is a second intention, because it represents only the concept of God, without actually referring to God himself. The OA proves the concept of God as a second intention, given the definition Anselm provides. A proof on the level of a second intention remains a conceptual or logical proof and does not prove it's being or essence. Absotute proofs are only possible at the level of "second intentions", but they cannot leap to the world of physical particulars. Anselm already believed in his God, but with his AO he provides an instrument to apply logic to the existence of God which necessarily approves his faith. Presenting a definition which complies with the implicit premise which one wants to approve, makes sense logically, but not metaphysically. Gaunilo of Marmoutiers (11th century), Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE), Elizabeth Anscombe (1919-2001 CE) and Brian Davies (b. 1951 CE) would develop three different arguments against the OA of the Proslogion. Gaunilo of Marmoutiers refuted the OA in his Pro Insipiente (On Behalf of the Fool). Gaunilo's argument, using a reductio ad absurdum, essentially states that the logic of Anselm's argument can be used mutatis mutandis (by substitution of terms) to prove the existence of a perfect island. Thomas Aquinas was an Aristotelian, whereas Anselm was a Platonist. Aquinas believed that we have to arrive at truth by starting with an observation. Each of Thomas Aquinas' 5 Ways is an 'a posteriori' argument based upon an initial sense experience, such as the Teleological and Cosmological arguments. Anselm, as a Platonist believed that it was acceptable to submit 'a priori' arguments for the existence of God. Elizabeth Anscombe and Brian Davies argued that the Proslogion is not an Ontological Argument, because it does not actually state that existence is a predicate of greatness.

The Dominican Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) moved Christian philosophy towards Aristotle and away from the Neoplatonic view of Aurelius Augustinus or Augustine (354-430 CE), whose philosophy had provided the basis of early medieval Christian philosophy. Thomas Aquinas worked to create a philosophical system which reconciled Christian faith with elements taken from the philosophy of Aristotle (384-322 BCE) and his philosophy would become known as Thomism. This however had a perverse effect,because it led to the codification of Aristotle, not to science as we know it today. Christian dogma now included Scripture and Aristotle. Thomas Aquinas also helped settle the Averroist's "two truths" issue as Christians understood it, and he argued for one truth. He saw no conflict between revelation and (Aristotelian) philosophy as revelation necessarily encompasses empirical (philosophical) knowledge. However, for Thomas Aquinas philosophy could never disagree with theology. Philosophy could not support or confirm theological issues such as the nature of Trinity, which could only be founded through revelation. Metaphysics therefore trumped philosophy for Thomas Aquinas. In De ente et essentia he discussed revealed and empirical knowledge and wrote against the Platonic viewpoints of Augustinus of Hippo (354-430 CE) in De Magistro (389) (a dialogue between Augustine and his son Adeodatus). Thomas Aquinas attempts to bring theological discussions into the philosophical arena, where he can deal with them with the rational instruments of Aristotelian logic. When only revelation (e.g. Platonic "Forms") as a source for theological discussion is postulated, as with Augustinus of Hippo in his De Magistro, a discussion on matters of faith can become troublesome when competing viewpoints need to be dealth with (as both sides can claim divine inspiration). In De ente et essentia, Thomas Aquinas also put foward his layered view on reality, with being at the bottom (ente) and essence (essentia) at the top, which is free from particularism. In between sits the world of images with its logic. Thomas Aquinas found out that the Liber de Causis which had been attributed to Aristotle was derived from the Neoplatonic Elements of Theology of Proclus (412-485 CE).

His most well-known works are the Summa Contra Gentiles (1264 CE) and the Summa Theologiae (1265) (1265-1274 CE). The Summa Theologiae or Summa Theologica was written to explain the Christian faith to students of theology, and the Summa Contra Gentiles to explain it and defend it in hostile situations, with arguments adapted to the intended circumstances of its use, each article refuting a certain belief of a specific heresy. The Summa Theologica is meant to summarize the history of the cosmos in and Aristotelian way and to provide an outline for the meaning of life itself. In the Summa Theologiae (E: summary of Theology), Thomas Aquinas attempted to present all of Christian theology as systematically as possible. In the Summa theologiae all of theology is divided into its major topics: Theology and God (primum movens immobile), Ethics and Christ. The order of the parts of the Summa theologiae is cyclical. The three major parts, in turn, are divided into subtopics described by Thomas Aquinas as 'questions'. The first 'question' in the Summa theologiae deals with the nature of theology itself, the second with God's existence. The 'questions' are in turn divided into what Thomas Aquinas calls "articles", specific queries concerning the topic being explored in that particular 'question'. The "articles" form the basic unit of the Summa theologiae, and they proceed according to an invariable form, based on the Scholastic disputatio. A specific query is made, then a section beginning with the word videtur ("it seems that") offers arguments for what will later turn out to be the wrong answer to that query. Next, a brief section be ginning with the words sed contra ("but on the contrary") introduces a different answer. A section labeled responsio ("response") finally presents arguments for what Thomas considers the correct view. The question then closes with a refutation of the arguments presented in the videtur section.

Central in the Thomistic system of thought is the idea of divine simplicity, which means that the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God and God is regarded as maximally perfect and his essence an "actus purus et perfectus". This is related to the concept of divinity of Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109 CE). Thomas wrote in his Summa Theologica that because God is infinitely simple, God can only appear to the finite mind as infinitely complex. God's potentiality equals his actuality, his matter & form and essence & being are identical and so he is an "actus purus". The concept of divine simplicity can be traced back to Plotinus' (204/5-270 CE) Enneads (fifth Ennead), where he defines The One, the Good, the Principle as Simplex. Thomas Aquinas put togeter "Five Ways" (Quinque Viae) in the Summa Theologiae or five proofs for the existence of God, which are often named as follows: (1) argument from motion, (2) argument from efficient cause, (3) argument from necessary being, (4) argument from gradations of goodness, and (5) argument from design. The argumentation was derived from Aristotle's Doctrine of the Four Causes put forward in his Physics and his Metaphysics, explaining how four fundamental causes result in change: the material factor, efficient factor, formal factor, and the final factor. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica would formulate an Aristotelian view on the ensoulment of man in three stages or "anima successiva"; first the "anima", secondly the "anima sensitiva" and finally the "anima intellectualis". This leads to the concept of "persona non invenitur nisi in rationali natura".

As Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) in his Summa Theologica (1265) wanted to prove the presence and influence of God in the world, i.e. he tried to adhere to a certain worldview in his work. However he ran into trouble philosophically attempting to remain consistent with his concept of God within his philosophical system built upon various sources. An example of this is shown in his dealing with Angels, which are in fact oxymorons composed of the Indo-European Aristotelian concept of (invisible) spiritual substances as the movers of the heavenly bodies and their Semitic Biblical role as messengers of God (showing themselves with a body). In the Summa Theologiae I, Quaestio 52, De loco angeli, Articulus 3. Utrum plures angeli possint simul esse in eodem loco the nature of Angels leads to a conflict. As Angels have no body and are only spiritual beings, in this case more than one Angel can be at the same time at the same place as only physical bodies have spatial extent. As souls are also only spiritual, this would lead to the conclusion that two souls can also be in one and the same place. This similarity between human souls and Angels due to their non-physcial nature leads to a philosophical problem which needs to be solved in order to "keep the system up and running". Thomas Aquinas solves this problem by putting forward that no consequence can have two causes or a body cannot have two souls in one place: "Sed contra, duae animae non sunt in eodem corpore. Ergo, pari ratione, neque duo angeli in eodem loco" and "Ad primum ergo dicendum quod plures angelos esse in uno loco non impeditur propter impletionem loci, sed propter aliam causam, ut dictum est". This kind of "solutions" can be found thoughout his work, where he runs into problems with his conflicting propositions.

Thomism like any other philosophical system consists of a matrix of "first principles" at the "bottom" of the system from which every other proposition is being derived on the vertical axis by means of a certain logical process. Vertical consistency in the system means that no derived proposition contradicts the basic assumptions. Horizontal consistency on the other hand means that no contradictions develop when two strands of reasoning meet at a certain point in the system, which is what happend here with the Aristotelian and Biblical lines of reasoning concerning Angles, both derived from different "first principles". Backpropagation of this kind of conclusions on their premises would lead to an adaptation of "first principles" in science, but this is impossible to do in a system with consequences for faith. When one claims inspiration by God through the Holy Spirit in one's writings these kinds of contradictions can become troublesome. By means of the Holy Spirit God infuses into human souls the gifts of Faith, Hope and Charity also called the "theological virtues", which are nothing less than a sharing in God's own divine knowledge and love. Scripture emphasizes two groups of blessings that the Holy Spirit gives to those who receive him. First, there are the twelve "Fruits of the Holy Spirit" that Paul of Tarsus (ca. 5-ca. 67 CE) names in his letter to the Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity (Galatians 5:22-23). Secondly the Holy Spirit endows man with blessings we traditionally call the seven "Gifts of the Holy Spirit". These particular gifts are lasting (but not indestructible) endowments that perfect the good habits and natural powers of the human soul and have the effect of making man supernaturally sensitive and supernaturally responsive to the guidance and inspirations of God. Thomas Aquinas claimed this kind of inspiration, such as "The Gift of Knowledge", for his writings. In the Roman Catholic Church it is customary to grant a 'Nihil Obstat' and 'Imprimatur' as official declarations that a book is free of doctrinal or moral error.

The discovery of the Categories (350 BCE) of Aristotle (384-322 BCE) would also influence the understanding of the Eucharist. The understanding of the Eucharist would move away from the symbolic interpretation of Aurelius Augustinus or Augustine (354-430 CE), because it did not coincide with reality when taking into account the essence of the bread. This now meant more or less a "double truth", which might confuse those who did not understand the symbolic meaning of the Eucharist. At first it was understood as if the nature (essence) of Jesus of Nazareth was added alongside the "essence" of the bread, which is called consubstantiation. Later however theologians became more aware of the problem of the wording 'Hoc est enim Corpus Meum' (it does not say 'Hic est enim Corpus Meum' or 'Hoc significat Corpus Meum' or the gender-difference between panis and corpus). The solution would be transubstantiation (Latin: transsubstantiatio). This however required an even bigger leap of faith than consubstantiation and would lead to controversy. Some believed because "God created man in his own image" (Genesis 1:27), man should be capable to use reason (always) to understand the world. The point of transition between reason and faith would remain a subject of discussion. Those taking an extreme realist position concerning Aristotelian universals would reject transubstantiation because of its implications and stay with consubstantiation. This extreme realism refers to strict identity, which means that the sign and the signified are strictly identical. In this view the bread of the Eucharist is to be the natural body of Christ or his incarnate flesh. The extreme realist position (Immoderate Realism) concerning universals would be condemned at the Council of Constance (1414-18 CE). A moderate realism would be accepted with regard to the Eucharist, because the extreme viewpoint lead to unwanted consequences. The transistion from the 'essentia' of bread to the 'essentia' of Jesus of Nazareth would only affect the 'essentia' and leave the 'accidentia' untouched and attached to 'quantity' during the moment of transition. Later the emerging corpuscularism and atomism would pose similar problems with regard to the Eucharist. The problem that the phenomena of the Eucharist could not be reconciled with Eucharistic transubstantiation due to atomism, would in the end be resolved by application of a "miracle".

Since Aristotle (384-322 BCE) was considered a pagan, he was not initially embraced the church. As late 1300, one could find strong resistance in the Catholic Church to teachings of Aristotle. However, just as Augustine had incorporated Plato and Cicero into church teachings, thereby overturning Tertullian's injunction against them, so too would later church scholars incorporate Aristotle's works. Boethius (475/7-526 C.E.) translated the Organon while serving Theodoric as Master of Offices, and he began the "scholastic" tradition of relying on reason to support Biblical interpretations. Pope Innocent III ordered Domingo de Guzman, the founder of the Dominican order, to do battle with the Cathars, and he proved their equal by using their Aristotelian dialectic. In 1210 a council of bishops however banned Aristotle's works in Paris on penalty of excommunication. In 1231 Pope Gregory IX restored the right to explore Aristotle's works in Paris under strict supervision. From Paris, Aristotelianism would spread across Europe under the guise of being corrected commentary on the great philosopher. The Dominican Thomas Aquinas, played no small part in this conversion, arguing through Aristotelian demonstrations that reason came from God and could lead us back to God as the ultimate cause of all creation. What Augustine was to Platonic thought, Aquinas would be to Aristotelian thought.

Despite a set back 1270, when once again the Bishop of Paris forbad the teaching of Aristotle, Aquinas' Summa Contra Gentiles set a new standard for the use of Aristotelian demonstration in defense of the faith. He also used his logical machine -Aristotle corrected by scripture-to defend his notion of free will. Again, the church balked issuing the Condemnations of 1277, which listed over 200 Aristotelian statements that were incorrect. Some of these statements came directly from Aristotle's Physics. Despite these injunctions, the Dominicans continued to use Aristotle as the basis of the teaching in their universities. When they secured the canonization of Aquinas in 1323, Aristotelianism was reinforced. In the meantime, the Franciscans, relying in part on Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308) and William of Ockham (1280/5-1347/9 CE), found their own way to Aristotle. While Aquinas sought to define the role of reason in nature, Scotus and Ockham opened the door to empirical science with their focus on knowable facts, though Ockham had to battle charges of heresy along the way. Aristotelianism would become to dominated the philosophy of Europe despite the incessant in-fighting between Dominicans and Franciscans.

Neoplatonism (Augustinianism) would lose its importance in the Roman Catholic Church, after a brief resurgence during the Renaissaince, but would revive in Protestantism. The Roman Catholic Thomistic philosophy of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) drew heavily from Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, which caused some problems with regards to the foundations of Roman Catholic Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy in the 15th century. The writings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century), the Corpus Areopagiticum, were proven to be of amuch later date than was previously supposed and were of Neoplatonic origin as was found out by priest and humanist Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457 CE) in 1457 and William Grocyn (ca. 1446-1519 CE) in 1501. These finding would contribute to the rise of Protestantism and Greek culture as it would lead to a rejection of the Scholastic Aristotelian tradition and Thomism. For the Roman Catholic Church the matter however was ony settled in 1895 by the Roman Catholic scholar Hugo Koch in Proklus als Quelle des Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita in der Lehre von Bösen (Philologus 54 (1895) 438-54) and by the Jesuit Joseph Stiglmayr in Der Neuplatoniker Proklos als Vorlage des sog. Dionysius Areopagita in der Lehre vom Übel (Historisches Jahrbuch 16 (1895) 253-73 and 721-48). With the Concilium Tridentinum (1545-1563 CE) (E: Council of Trent), the Roman Catholic Church would solve the issues with the foundation of its doctrine by posing that besides the Bible also Tradition would serve as a valid foundation for Church Doctrine in order to avoid a revision of its standing on matters of faith which were erroneously founded on Pseudo-Aristotelian philosophy. The Roman Catholic Church defined its 'dogma fidei' as 'Magnopere curandum est ut id teneatur quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est' (We must take extreme care that what is held is that which is believed everywhere, always and by everybody), as in the Commonitorium of Vincent of Lérins (died ca. 445 CE), which seeks to affirm authentic Christian teaching. The Council of Trent gave the definitive answer of the Roman Catholic Church to the Protestant demand for a thorough reformation of the Church. The Protestants had put forth the five great themes of sola scriptura, sola fide, solus Christus, sola gratia, and soli Deo Gloria. The council issued condemnations on what it defined as Protestant heresies and defined Church teachings in the areas of Scripture and Tradition, Original Sin, Justification, Sacraments, the Eucharist in Holy Mass (transubstantiation) and the veneration of saints. the Council of Trent declared that the Vulgate Bible was authentic and authoritative, although several errors in the Latin Vulgate were known at the time. The Council also increased the power of the Papacy over the Church. Power was now officially concentrated in a single person who alone had the authority to determine the answers.

The doctrine of the immortality of the human soul can be traced back to Pythagorean speculation (metempsychosis) and was embraced by every form of Platonism, pagan and Christian, culminating in Marsilio Ficino's pia philosophia (pious philosophy). The belief in the immortality of the soul came to Judaism from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE), its principal exponent, who was led to it through Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries in which Babylonian and Egyptian views were blended. During the Renaissaince Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499 CE) would develop a Platonic view on the immortality of the sould in his Theologia Platonica de immortalitate animae (Platonic theology). Pietro Pomponazzi (1462-1525 CE) would contribute to the development of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul in his controversial Aristotelian work the Tractatus de immortalitate animae (1516 CE). In his treatise On Incantations (1520 CE), Pomponazzi carried out a systematic critique, on naturalistic grounds, of widely held beliefs concerning miracles, charms, oracles, demonic possession, and magical operations. Pomponazzi argued, along Aristototelian lines, that God and the Intelligences are sufficient to explain sublunary processes and heavenly motions. The Fifth Lateran Council (1512-1517 CE) on 19 December 1513 issued the papal bull Apostolici regiminis by Pope Leo X (1475-1521 CE) and made the immortality of the soul a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Leo X commanded all university professors of philosophy, when lecturing on doctrines that deviated from it, to make every effort to teach the truth of the Christian religion and to refute any philosophical arguments that challenged it. Philosophical enquiry was to be subordinated to theological dogma. This dogma was proclaimed because philosophical enquiry such as by Jacques Almain (died 1515) at the University of Paris had not been able to establish the proof for the immortality of the soul with philosophical and theological arguments. The papal bull was also aimed against the Averroist viewpoints of Pietro Pomponazzi (1462-1525 CE) in his work Tractatus de immortalitate animae (1516 CE) where he stated the the soul of man is of its nature mortal (mortalism), and that it is one and the same soul which animates all men.

Thomism (Aristotelianism) would remain the accepted philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church, while Augustinianism (Neoplatonism) would influence Protestantism or Northern Christianity, a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century. Platonism and Neoplatonism would also influence Eastern Christianity such as the Orthodox Churches of Eastern Europe, first of all the State church of the Roman Empire (Byzantium). The Greek works of Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) and Aristotle (384-322 BCE) remained available for Byzantine scholars throughout the Medieval period in the Imperial Library of Constantinople in contrast to the Latin Western part of Europe. Theology would develop differently in Western and Eastern Europe after the East-West Schism (1054 CE) and in Northern Europe after the Protestant reformation (early 16th century).

God as the Creator of the Universe
God as the Creator of the Universe

In principio creavit Deus caelum et terram
Vulgata, Genesis, 1:1

Quoniam spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum:
et hoc, quod continet omnia, scientiam habet vocis.
Vulgata, Liber Sapientiæ 1:7

νυνι δε μενει πιστις, ελπις, αγαπη, τα τρια ταυτα· μειζων δε τουτων η αγαπη.
- Textus Receptus, 1 Corinthians 13:13 -

Nos fecisti ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te
- Augustinus of Hippo, Confessiones -

Sero te amavi, pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova, sero te amavi!
et ecce intus eras et ego foris, et ibi te quaerebam.
- Augustinus of Hippo, Confessiones -

Dubio, ergo sum
- Augustinus of Hippo, De Civitate Dei -

Do not go out, return to yourself, for the truth dwells in the interior of man.
- Augustinus of Hippo, De vera religione 39:72 -

Et sic nihil inconveniens accidit ponentibus Deum non esse: non enim inconveniens est
quolibet dato vel in re vel in intellectu aliquid maius cogitari posse,
nisi ei qui concedit esse aliquid quo maius cogitari non possit in rerum natura.
- Summa Contra Gentiles, I.3.3 Thomas Aquinas -

*The Four Evangelists
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*Synoptic Gospels - Matthew, Mark, and Luke
*The Synoptic Problem
*The Lost Books of the Bible
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*Pseudepigrapha & Apocrypha
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*Physical Descriptions of Jesus of Nazareth

*Early Christian Writings
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*The Alexandrian & Essene influence upon early Christianity - (verify)
*Alexandrian Theology
*Esoteric Christianity
*Rex Deus
*The Nazarene Way

*The History and Territorial Evolution of the Christianity
*The History of the Origins of Christianity - Ernest Renan
*Apostolic Christianity - (1-100 CA)
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*Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity - (311-600 CE)
*Gaius Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus I - (272-337 CE)
*Constantine I and Christianity
*Constantinian shift
*Apostles' Creed
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*Nicene Creed - (325 and 381)

*Mediaeval Christianity - (590-1073 CE)
*The Middle Ages - From Gregory VII., 1049, to Boniface VIII. - (1049-1294 CE)
*The Middle Ages - From Boniface VIII., 1294 to the Protestant Reformation, 1517 - (1294-1517 CE)
*Modern Christianity. The German Reformation.
*Modern Christianity. The Swiss Reformation.

*Natural theology
*English Deism
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*Monergism vs. Synergism

*Biblical Archaeology Society
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*Salminius Hermias Sozomen - (ca. 400-ca. 450 CE)
*Historia Ecclesiastica - Sozomen
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*The Nag Hammadi Library
*List of the treatises in the Nag Hammadi Coptic Library together with the Berlin Papyrus 8502
*The Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls

*Gospel of the Ebionites
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*The World's Great Sermons
*The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth - Thomas Jefferson
*Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, Count of Zinzendorf and Pottendorf - (1700-1760 CE)
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*Patrologia Latina
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*The Aramaic Bible Research Directory
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*International Association for Religious Freedom - IARF
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*Philo of Alexandria or Philo Judeaus - "Logos" (20 BCE-40 CE)
*The Works of Philo Judaeus
*Philo's view of God
*The Creation of the World - Philo Judaeus
*Justin the Martyr a.k.a Justin of Caesarea -- "Son of God as the Logos" (100-165 CE)
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*Tertullianus - (ca. 155-230)
*Works of Tertullian - "tres Personae, una Substantia" (Trinity)
*The Tertullian Project
*Theophilus of Antioch - (180-185 CE) - "God, His Word and His Wisdom." (Trias)
*Theophilus of Antioch - (180-185 CE)
*Apologia ad Autolycum - Theophilus
*Origen - (ca. 182-ca. 251 CE)
*Origen of Alexandria - (ca. 182-ca. 251 CE)
*Arius - (256-336 CE)
*Arius - (256-336 CE)
*Eusebius of Caesarea - (c. 275-339 CE)
*Athanasius of Alexandria - (ca. 298-May 2, 373 CE)

*Basil of Caesarea - (330-379 CE)
*Ambrosius - (339-397 CE)
*Hieronymus - (347-419/20 CE)
*Augustinus of Hippo - (354-430 CE)
*Civitas Dei - City of God - Augustinus
*Pope Gregorius I - the great (540-604 CE)
*Gregorian Chant
*Johannes Damascenus, Chrysorrhoas - (c. 676-749 CE)
*John Scottus Eriugena - (ca. 800-ca. 877 CE)
*Thomas Aquinas - (1224-1274 CE)
*Corpus Thomisticum - Thomas Aquinas
*Summa Theologica - Thomas Aquinas
*The 24 Thomistic Theses - 27 July 1914 CE
*John Duns Scotus - (1265/66-1308 CE)
*Pope Gregory XIII - (1502-1585 CE)
*Gregorian calendar - Pope Gregory XIII
*Richard Hooker - (1554-1600)
*Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity - Richard Hooker (1593 CE)
*François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon - (1651-1715 CE)
*Avis Chretiens - Spiritual Progress - Fénelon
*Jacques Maritain - (1882-1973 CE)
*Etienne Gilson - (1884-1978 CE)
*Karl Barth - (1886-1968 CE)
*D. H. Th. Vollenhoven - (1892-1978 cE)

*Christian Answers.Net
*National Right to Life Committee
*Intelligent Design

*Christianity and anti-Semitism

Conceptions of God

In Christianity there are different conceptions of God, ranging from Unitarianism over Binitarianism to Trinitarianism. God as such is the supernatural being conceived as the perfect and omnipotent and omniscient originator and ruler of the universe; the object of worship in Abrahamic (monotheistic) religions like Christianity. Judaism and Christianity share the belief that there is One, True God, who is the only one worthy to be worshipped. Judaism sees this One, True God as a singular, ineffable, undefinable being. Christianity's when adapting a Trinitarian doctrine conflicts with Jewish and Muslim concepts of monotheism.

Altissimu, onnipotente bon Signore,
Tue so le laude, la gloria e l'honore et onne benedictione. ...
Laudes Creaturarum - Francesco d'Assisi

*Conceptions of God
*The Original Doctrines of the Christian Faith - (CCG)


Unitarianism sees God as one person, namely God the Father, existing separate from Jesus (the Son of God, the Logos) in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being. Unitarianism is closely related to the unitarian concept of God in Judaism and Islam and is also known as Arianism, named after Arius of Alexandria (ca. 250-336 CE).

The Antitrinitarian religious group, the Socinians, which also became known as the Polish Brethren, was founded by the Italian theologian Fausto Paolo Sozzini (Faustus Socinus or Faust Socyn) (1539-1604 CE). The movement was rooted in the Italian Anabaptist movement of the 1540s. Their 'Collegia Vicentina' was held at the City of Vicenza, in Italy, in the year 1546, by Lelio Sozzini (Loclius Socinus) (1525-1562 CE), Ochirius, Gentilis, and other philosophers and theologians, who established the religious group which repudiated the doctrine of the Trinity. It was followed by the 'Concilio di Veneto' or 'Sinodo a Venezia' in 1550, which was a meeting in Venice (Italy) of the anabaptist radicals of Northern Italy. The successors of the early Socinians, with some modification of tenets, still exist under the name of Unitarians, such as the 'Unitarian Church of Transylvania'.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE), the famous scientist, was also a Unitarian. The author of the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687 CE) spent a large part of his life studying the Bible, theology and church history. As Newton's long-concealed private papers on theology become increasingly accessible, his heretic view on Christianity is being revealed, such as in An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture

The "Comma Johanneum" (John 5:7-8) which was inserted in the Latin Vulaga translation of the Greek New Testament, is also being used by Unitarians as an argument against the Trinitarian doctrine.

Dominus possedit me initium viarum suarum antequam quicquam faceret a principio
- Vulgata, Proverbs 8:22 -

audistis quia ego dixi vobis vado et venio ad vos si diligeretis me
gauderetis utique quia vado ad Patrem quia Pater maior me est
- Vulgata, John 14:28 -

nobis tamen unus Deus Pater ex quo omnia et nos in illum
et unus Dominus Iesus Christus per quem omnia et nos per ipsum
- Vulgata, Corinthians 8:6 -

*Socinianism, Arianism and Unitarianism
*Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum
*Unitarian Church of Transylvania
*Isaac Newton's religious views - Isaac Newton
*Isaac Newton's religious views - Isaac Newton
*An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture - Isaac Newton
*Comma Johanneum


Binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God. God is considered to be one "God family" composed of the Father and the Son as two distinct Gods, and the Holy Spirit as not a God, but rather as the living power of God that flows or emanates between both the Father and the Son.

sed semet ipsum exinanivit formam servi accipiens
in similitudinem hominum factus et habitu inventus ut homo
- Vulgata, Philippians 2:7 -

*Pneumatomachi - "fighters against the Spirit"


Symbol for the Christian Trinity
- Symbol for the Christian Trinity -

Trinitarianism states that there is one divinity and three hypostases (subjects, persons, individual substances, etc.). Each hypostasis has the numerically same divinity.

Georges Dumézil (1898-1986 CE) formulated the trifunctional hypothesis for prehistoric Proto-Indo-European society, which reflected the existence of three classes or castes - priests, warriors, and commoners (farmers or tradesmen) - corresponding to the three functions of the sacral, the martial and the economic or productive class in Indo-European religion. The triune Christian God can be seen as an adaptation of Judaic monotheism to the Indo-European religious framework. Yawhe in this scheme is the warrior of the Old Testament, Jesus is the Priest-King of the New Testament and the Holy Ghost is the productive part of the Trinity (see also Flamen-Brahman, G. Dumézil, Geuthner, 1935 and Mitra-Varuna, G. Dumézil, Presses universitaires de France, 1940 and Handbook of Contemporary Paganism, Murphy Pizza, James R. Lewis, BRILL, 2009, p. 483).

We find several examples of Trinities in history and in some religions we find a Trinity of father, mother and son. In ancient Egyptian religion we have Osiris, Isis and Horus. The Sumerians believed in a triad including Anu (the god of heaven), Enlil (god of the air), and Enki (god of water). In Hinduism we have the Trimurti, which is a three-headed deity, representing Brahma (as creator), Vishnu (as preserver), and Shiva (as destroyer). In Mahayana Buddhism the Buddha is said to have three bodies, which in Sanskrit are called Trikaya: Dharmakaya (Truth body), Sambhogakaya (body of mutual enjoyment) and Nirmanakaya (created body). In Buddhism we also have Amitabha (celestial buddha), Avalokitesvara (embodies the compassion of all Buddhas), and Manjushri (transcendent wisdom). In Canaanite religion we find El and Asherah or Athiratu Yammi (She who Treads on the Sea), who evolved into the Shekinah or Divine presence of Yahweh. Ruach (spirit) is considered to be the third person of a Hebrew Trinity. In Jewish Kabbalah there is the triad of Keter (Crown), Binah (Understanding), and Chokhmah (Wisdom). Ahura Mazda is depicted in the Zoroastrian scriptures as a kind of trinity: "Praise to thee, Ahura Mazda, threefold before other creations". The Gathas describe two dimensions, two divine hypostases to be more precise, as having a special place within the same dimension of Ahura Mazda (the True Word). They are Vohu Manah (Good Mind/Spirit) and Asha or Amesha Spenta as parts of the 'hypostases' or 'divine realities'. Ahura Mazda is the Father; Vohu Mana is the Holy Spirit; and Asha Vahishta is the Logos/Son. In Scandinavian mythology there is the trinity of Odin, Freya, and Thor. The Celtic Druids had Taulac, Fan, and Mollac. They invoked their triune God as "Ain treidhe Dia ainm Tau-lac, Fan, Mollac" (Ain, triple God, whose name is Tau-lac, Fan, Mollac) (see also Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions, Thomas William Doane, Hyperion Classics, 2014 and Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, Charles Russell Coulter, Patricia Turner, Routledge, 2013, p. 243 and Christianity: Its Evidences, Its Origin, Its Morality, Its History, Annie Besant, Jazzybee Verlag, 2012 and Bible Myths, T. W. Doane, Kessinger Publishing, LLC; Facsimile of 1882 ed edition, 1996, p. 377 and The Hebrew Goddess, Patai, Raphael. (1990), Wayne State University Press, 1990 and Ecological Hermeneutics: Biblical, Historical and Theological Perspectives, David G. Horrell, Cherryl Hunt, Christopher Southgate and Francesca Stavrakopoulou, editors, T & T Clark International, 2010).

Trinitarianism moved Christianity away from its purely Hebrew roots and aligned it with its Indo-European heritage and philosophical basis. The pure concept of the triune Yawhe or the Holy Trinity, is not present as such in the works of Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) such as the Laws or the Timaeus or the works of Aristotle (384-322 BCE), but they were helpful in developing the dogma. Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (160-240 CE) introduced the Trinity into Christian theology. Athanasius of Alexandria (296/298-373 CE) at the First Council of Nicaea (325 CE) would be one of the proponents of Trinitarianism against the Unitarianism of Arius of Alexandria (ca. 250-336 CE). The First Council of Nicaea dealt with the Christological issue of the divine nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father. Aurelius Augustinus of Hippo (354-430 CE) in his work De Trinitate discusses the Trinity in context of the logos. Trinitarianism, associates the Father with "Mens" or "Nous", the Son with "Intellectus" or "Logos" and the Holy Spirit with "Amor" or "Agape". In the concept of the Trinity, "potentia" is associated with the Father and the category of efficient causality, "sapientia" is associated with the Son and the category of exemplary causality and finally "bonitas" is associated with the Holy Spirit or final causality. The Neoplatonists of the School of Chartres interpreted the three powers at work in the Platonic creation of the Timaeus, the Demiurge, Idea and Good in a Trinitarian context. These causes, efficient, formal and final reflected the potentia, sapientia and bonitas of the Christian Trinity (see also From Athens to Chartres: Neoplatonism and Medieval Thought, É. Jeauneau, H. J. Westra, BRILL, 1992 and The Trinity: The Classic Study of Biblical Trinitarianism, Edward H. Bickersteth, Kregel Publications, 1976).

At several locations of the Vulgate Bible references to the triune nature of God are being used in favor for theological discussions about the concept of the Trinity. There is still only one God despite his triune nature (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5). The Christian Trinity is believed to consist of three Persons (Genesis 1:1, 26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, 48:16, 61:1; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). The members of the Trinity are distinguished one from another in various passages. In the Old Testament, "LORD" is distinguished from "Lord" (Genesis 19:24; Hosea 1:4). The LORD has a Son (Psalm 2:7, 12; Proverbs 30:2-4). The Spirit is distinguished from the "LORD" (Numbers 27:18) and from "God" (Psalm 51:10-12). God the Son is distinguished from God the Father (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9). In the New Testament, Jesus speaks to the Father about sending a Helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17).

Each member of the Trinity is God. The Father is God (John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2). The Son is God (John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20). The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16).

The individual members of the Trinity have different tasks similar to the trifunctional hypothesis of Georges Dumézil (1898-1986 CE). The Father is the ultimate source or cause of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11); divine revelation (Revelation 1:1); salvation (John 3:16-17); and Jesus' human works (John 5:17; 14:10). The Father initiates all of these things. The Father is a warrior (Exodus 15:3, Deut 20:16-18 and Isaiah 45:5). The Son is the agent through whom the Father does the following works: the creation and maintenance of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17); divine revelation (John 1:1, 16:12-15; Matthew 11:27; Revelation 1:1); and salvation (2 Corinthians 5:19; Matthew 1:21; John 4:42). The Father does all these things through the Son, who functions as His agent. The Holy Spirit is the means by whom the Father does the following works: creation and maintenance of the universe (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30); divine revelation (John 16:12-15; Ephesians 3:5; 2 Peter 1:21); salvation (John 3:6; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2); and Jesus' works (Isaiah 61:1; Acts 10:38). Thus, the Father does all these things by the power of the Holy Spirit (see also All the Trinity in the Bible: Scripture References to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, M. E. Rosson, CreateSpace, 2011 and The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity, Gilles Emery, O. P., Matthew Levering, Oxford University Press, 2011).

euntes ergo docete omnes gentes baptizantes eos
in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti
- Vulgata, Matthew 28:19 -

*The Origin of Trinitarianism
*Jesus Christ the Logos
*The Trinitarian Controversy - 1690?1750
*The Unitarian/Trinitarian Wars - (CCG)
*Apostles' Creed
*Nicene Creed - (325 and 381 CE)
*Nicene Creed - (325 and 381 CE)
*First Council of Nicaea - 325 CE
*First Council of Constantinople - 381 CE


Theodicy is a specific branch of theology and philosophy that attempts to reconcile the existence of evil in the world with the assumption of a benevolent God. Theodicy deals with The problem of evil. The term 'theodicy' was coined in 1710 by German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716 CE) in his work, Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l'homme et l'origine du mal (1710.

*The problem of evil
*The Problem of Evil - Leibniz
*Theodicy - Leibniz


Eschatology (Greek 'ta eschata') is a part of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history of the world or the ultimate destiny of human kind, commonly phrased as the end of the world.

A distinction can be made between the eschatology of the individual and that of the race and the universe at large. The former, setting out from the doctrine of personal immortality, or at least of survival in some form after death, seeks to ascertain the fate or condition, temporary or eternal, of individual souls, and how far the issues of the future depend on the present life. The latter deals with events like the resurrection and the general judgment, in which all men will participate, and with the signs and portents in the moral and physical order that are to precede and accompany those events (e.g. Christianity). In Zorastrianism the concept is known as Frashokereti, the final renovation of the universe, when evil will be destroyed, and everything else will be then in perfect unity with Ahura Mazda. Islamic eschatology is concerned with the al-Qiyāmah (Last Judgement, 75th Sura of the Qur'an).

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
- The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Albrecht Dürer -

et ecce equus pallidus et qui sedebat desuper nomen illi Mors et inferus sequebatur eum
et data est illi potestas super quattuor partes terrae
interficere gladio fame et morte et bestiis terrae
- Vulgata, The Apocalypse 6:8 -

*Christian Eschatology - Wikipedia
*Eschatology - Catholic Encyclopedia
*Apocalyptic Literature in Judaism & Early Christianity
*Book of Daniel - Deuterocanonical
*Book of Daniel - Deuterocanonical
*Book of Revelation - The Apocalypse of John
*The Apocalypse of Peter
*Summary of Christian eschatological differences
*Joseph Mede - (1586-1638 CE)
*Clavis Apocalypticae - Joseph Mede (1627 CE)
*The Gift of Prophecy - Isaac Newton
*Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John - Isaac Newton (1733)

Pauline and Thomasine Churches

The origins of Pauline Christianity are rooted in the teachings of Paul of Tarsus (ca. 5-ca. 67 CE), who declared himself the "Apostle to the Gentiles", and its development in his circle and among his followers. Most Christian denominations are rooted in Pauline Christianity and rely heavily on the teachings of Paul of Tarsus and consider them to be amplifications and explanations of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth (7/2 BCE-30/36 CE).

Thomasine Christianity refers to the Christians in India who recognize the Apostle Thomas to be the founder of their churches. The usual term for these groups is Saint Thomas Christians. The Apostle Thomas, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, is believed to have landed in 52 CE in Cranganore near Cochin, which was at that time an important seaport on the Malabar Coast, having trade connections with the Middle East in those days. Their holy book are the Acts of Thomas, the Gospel of Thomas, and the Nasrani Aramaic Peshitta Bible (known today as the Lost Aramaic Bible, based on the Jewish Targum and including the Gospel of the Nazarenes).

Thomasine Christianity also refers to the ancient religious communities that revered the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, the Book of Thomas the Contender and related works which were found in the Nag Hammadi library in 1945.

*Pauline Christianity
*Paul of Tarsus - (ca. 9-ca. 67 CE)
*Paul of Tarsus - (ca. 9-ca. 67 CE)
*Saul of Tarsus - (ca. 9-ca. 67 CE)
*Original sin
*Original sin

*The Apostle Thomas
*St Thomas Christians
*St Thomas Christians - Wikipedia
*St Thomas Christians - Catholic encyclopedia
*Indian Christianity
*Syrian Malabar Nasrani
*Christians of Kerala
*Diocese of the Syro-Malabar Church
*The Mar Thoma Church
*The Gospel of Thomas Collection

The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church - Roman Catholicism

The Roman Catholic Church, or Catholic Church, is the Christian Church led by the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. The Roman Catholic Church has defined itself as "the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter" - i.e. the Pope - "and the bishops in communion with him". It teaches that it is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus of Nazareth (7/2 BCE-30/36 CE) for the salvation of all people.

Historical development

The historical development of the Roman Catholic church is to a large extent reflected in the development of the Papacy. With the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD of Christian bishops who convened in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day Iznik in Turkey) on invitation by the Roman Emperor Constantine I, Christianity gained recognition in the Roman Empire. This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom. Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the relationship of Jesus to God the Father; the construction of the first part of the Nicene Creed; settling the calculation of the date of Easter; and promulgation of early canon law. Most significantly, the First Council of Nicaea resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine, called the Nicene Creed. it also settled the case of the divinity of Christ and the structure of the Trinity (Trinitarianism) as opposed to Unitarianism.

The Roman Catholic Church as such (primacy of the Bishop of Rome over the Church in the Western Roman Empire) was established in 444 CE when the Roman Emperor Valentinian III (425-455 CE), acting in conjunction with the bishop of Rome (Pope) Leo I the Great (440-461 CE), issued the famous Novel 17, which assigned to the bishop of Rome supremacy over the provincial churches in the Western Roman Empire. "Certum est et nobis et imperio nostro unicum esse praesidium in supernae divinitatis (deitatis d) favore, ad quem promerendum praecipue Christiana (Christianorum Deusd.) fides et veneranda nobis religio suffragatur. ..." The theologcial foundation for claims of the papacy comes from three Petrinic sections of the Gopsel, namely et ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam (Matthew 16:18), ego autem rogavi pro te ut non deficiat fides tua et tu aliquando conversus confirma fratres tuos (Lucas 22:32) and cum ergo prandissent dicit Simoni Petro Iesus Simon Iohannis diligis me plus his dicit ei etiam Domine tu scis quia amo te dicit ei pasce agnos meos (John 21:14). Opposed to this are three Petrinic weaknesses or even treason , as in et adsumens eum Petrus coepit increpare illum dicens absit a te Domine non erit tibi hoc (Matthew 16:22), et ille dixit dico tibi Petre non cantabit hodie gallus donec ter abneges nosse me (Lucas 22:32) and John 21:20-23.

The Roman Emperor would dominate the Church for most of the time during the existence of the Roman Empire. Roman Emperor Justinian I (ca. 482-565 CE) would regulate everything in his Empire, both in religion and in law. Justinian made the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan creed the sole symbol of the Church, and accorded legal force to the canons of the four ecumenical councils. At the Second Council of Constantinople (553 CE) the Church postulated that nothing could be done in the Church contrary to the Emperor's will and command. The Roman Emperor would dominate the Pope of Rome until Pope Leo III (died 816 CE) on 25 December 800 crowned Charlemagne (ca. 742-814 CE) Imperator Augustus as a counterforce to the Byzantine Emperor and thereby attempted to improve his inferior position towards Contantinople. Pope Innocentius III (1198-1216 CE) for the first time would call himself "vicarius Christi" and his successor Innocentius IV (ca. 1195-1254 CE) would call himself "vicarius Dei".

East-West Schism

The East-West Schism of 15 July 1054 CE, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively. On 15 July 1054 CE, Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida (1000/1015-1061 CE) and two other legates of Pope Leo IX (1002-1054 CE), the Patriarch of Rome (Pope), placed a Papal Bull of Excommunication upon the altar of the Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) at Constantinople against the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael I Cerularius (ca. 1000-1059 CE) and his followers. Michael I Cerularius in turn excommunicated the cardinal and the Pope and subsequently removed the pope's name from the diptychs starting the East-West Schism.

Theological disputes and the power struggle between Rome and Constantinople were at the basis of the schism. Issues such as the Filioque dispute, the forged Donatio Constantini, the Papal action against the Normans invading Southern Italy (County of Melfi, 1046-1059 CE), and the jurisdiction of the Eastern Roman Emperor over southern Italy and Sicily, were elements which contributed to the schism. The conflict had its roots in the difference between eastern Palamism and western Thomism. Eastern theology was apophatic (negative) in nature, while western theology was more kataphatic (positive). The Byzantines also rejected Latin scholasticism and its dialectical approach to theological concepts and discussion. Besides these major issues there were other differences: the Greeks allowed married clergy, the Latins insisted on priestly celibacy; the two sides had different rules of fasting; the Greeks used leavened bread in the Eucharist, the Latins unleavened bread (see also The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology, Alan Richardson, John Bowden, Westminster John Knox Press, 1983 and A History of Christian Doctrine: In Two Volumes, William G. T. Shedd, Clark, 1978).

An attempt for reconciliation at the Second Council of Lyon (1272-1274 CE) under Pope Gregory X (ca. 1210-1276 CE) did not lead to a lasting result. Another attempt to reconcile both churches from 1438 until 1439 at the Council of Florence would fail but would facilitate the reintroduction of Neoplatonism in Western Europe and the dawn of the Renaissance in Italy. Basilios Bessarion (1403-1472 CE) with his In Calumniatorem Platonis or Adversus calumniatorem Platonis ( Correctio librorum Platonis de legibus Georgio Trapezuntio interprete) against the Comparatio Aristotelis et Platonis of George of Trebizond (1395-1472 or 1473) would reintroduce and defend Platonism against Aristotle in Latin theology. Plato's search for truth was to be combined with the Christian quest for perfection. This Platonic theology developed into the theory of the mystical Purification of the soul through a long process of Illumination of the mind until it reaches the Unifying principle (see also Subverting Aristotle, Craig Martin, JHU Press, 2014, p. 41 and Before Galileo: The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe, John Freely, Penguin, 2013).

Avignon Papacy and the Western Schism

The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven Popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France. This arose from the conflict between Pope Boniface VIII (ca. 1235-1303 CE) and King Philip IV of France (1268-1314 CE). The two ruling factions in Italian politics, represented by the powerful Orsini and Colonna families who vied for control of the Papacy, would also play an important role in the conflict. The sturggle began with a conflict between the Pope and the Colonna family (papal bull In Excelso Throno of 1297 CE). The conflict further grew out of the Papal bull Clericis laicos issued on 5 February 1296 and the Papal bull Unam sanctam issued on 18 November 1302, which is one of the most extreme statements of Papal spiritual supremacy ever made. As a result of the rising conflict, Pope Boniface VIII wanted to excommunicate the King of France on 8 September 1303. Philip IV of France however had the pope captured under the leadership of Sciarra Colonna (1270-1329 CE) and withdraw the bull. Pope Boniface VIII was released from captivity but died soon after his return to Rome. His successors would set up residence in Avignon under the control of the French king. Clement V, Archbishop of Bordeaux and a confidant of the king of France, was crowned in Lyons in November 1305 and finally in 1309 settled in Avignon.

The Western Schism or Papal Schism which succeded the Avignon Papacy was a split within the Catholic Church which lasted from 1378 to 1417. National and factional rivalries throughout Catholic Christianity would contnue the Schism until 1417 and would badly damage the status of the Papacy. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true Pope and at a moment there were even three popes. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance (1414-1418 CE). Pope John XXIII, born Baldassarre Cossa, (ca. 1370-1418 CE) and Benedict XIII, born Pedro Martínez de Luna y Pérez de Gotor, (1328-1423 CE) were deposed by the council, Gregory XII (ca. 1326-1417 CE) voluntarily resigned. Pope Martin V, born Odo (or Oddone) Colonna, (ca. 1368-1431 CE) was elected pope on 11 November 1417 and he was regarded as the legitimate pontiff by the church as a whole. The famous decree Haec Sancta Synodus, which gave primacy to the authority of the Council and thus became a source for ecclesial conciliarism, was promulgated in the fifth session of the Council of Constance on 6 April 1415. Conciliarism held that supreme authority in the Church resided with an Ecumenical council, apart from, or even against, the pope. The Western Schism or Papal Schism had inspired the summoning of the Council of Pisa (1409), which failed to end the schism, and the Council of Constance (1414-1418 CE), which succeeded and proclaimed its own superiority over the Pope. Conciliarism reached its apex with the Council of Basel (1431-1449 CE), which ultimately fell apart. The eventual victor in the conflict was the institution of the Papacy, confirmed by the condemnation of conciliarism at the Fifth Lateran Council (1512-1517 CE). The Fifth Lateran Council was summoned by Pope Julius II, born Giuliano della Rovere, (1443-1513 CE) by the bull Sacrosanctae Romanae Ecclesiae (18 July 1511 CE) and it was convoked for the purpose of reform, but the main causes of the Reformation were left untouched. It was the last Ecumenical council of the Catholic Church before the Reformation took its course. Its most significant decree was a condemnation of Conciliarism. At the council, the Italian cardinal and Master of the Order of Preachers (O.P.), Tommaso de Vio Gaetani Cajetan (1469-1534 CE) vigorously defended Papal authority against the conciliary arguments of Jacques Almain (died 1515), a prominent professor of theology at the University of Paris. The final gesture however in the concilary debate, the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, was not promulgated until Vaticanum I (First Vatican Council) of 1870, which confirmed the 'Plenitudine Potestatis Romani Pontificis' in matters of faith.

Reformation, Counter-Reformation and Modern development

The status of the Pope would suffer greatly during the Renaissance and the Reformation. Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484 CE) established the practice of selling indulgences to be applied to the dead, thereby selling surplus divine grace as the banker of the saints, instead of making people earning it by divine grace. Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503 CE) was notably one of the most exuberant popes in history. Failure to reform the ecclesiastical structure and doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church from within lead to the Protestant Reformation.

Both John Wycliffe (ca. 1328-1384 CE) and Jan Hus (ca. 1369-1415 CE), who had attempted to reform the Roman Catholic Church from within had failed before. They were both condemned at the Council of Constance (1414-18 CE), due to their extreme realist views on universals. Their realism with regard to universals was condemned for its consequences for the Eucharist (rejected transubstantiation) and the emperor had been alarmed by the argument that neither priest nor king living in mortal sin had a right to exercise his office. The Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century within Western Christianity made Rome lose Northern Europe as it lost Eastern Europe already before during the East-West Schism. The Protestant Reformation was initiated by Martin Luther (1483-1546 CE), Jean Calvin (1509-1564 CE) and other early Protestants. Luther would start the protestant movement with his public invitation for a Scholasic 'disputatio': Disputatio pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum on 95 theses (1517 CE) (E: Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences). The refomers doubted the biblical legitimacy of indulgences (selling surplus grace of the Saints), Aristotelian theology (Thomism), transubstantiation, and the plenitudo potestatis of the pope.

The Council of Trent (Latin: Concilium Tridentinum) was the 16th-century (1545-1563 CE) Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church and it was a major reform council and the most impressive embodiment of the ideals of the Counter-Reformation. The First Vatican Council (Vaticanum I), which was convoked by Pope Pius IX, opened on 8 December 1869 and adjourned on 20 October 1870. During the council papal infallibility was declared a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church and confirmed the supremacy of the Pope over the council, cardinals and bishops. According to this dogma , the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when in his official capacity he solemnly declares or promulgates to the universal Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals. On 20 September 1870 the Kingdom of Italy captured Rome and annexed the city and the Papal State, which put an end to the worldly rule of the Pope over the Status Pontificius or Papal States. The Vatican City State would be established by the Lateran Concordat of 11 February 1929, between the Fascist Italian Government of Benito Mussolini (1883-1945 CE) and the Vatican under Pope Pope Pius XII (1876-1958 CE) re-establishing the political power of the Catholic Church.

Theological development

Roman Catholic theology would at first be influenced by Stoicism and Neo-Platonism, most notably by Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE), who was Bishop of Hippo Regius (present-day Annaba, Algeria). Augustine was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province. His writings were very influential in the early development of Western Christian theology. In his early years he was heavily influenced by Manichaeism and afterward by the Neo-Platonism of Plotinus. His most important works were De doctrina Christiana (397-426 CE), the Confessiones (397-398 CE) and De Civitate Dei contra Paganos (426 CE). In the late Middle Ages the Neo-Platonic theology of Augustine would be replaced by the Aristotelian theology of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) an Italian Dominican priest, became an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of Aristotelian scholasticism or what would become Thomism. His most important works are the Summa Theologica (1265-1274 CE) and the Summa Contra Gentiles. His scholastic philosophy drew heavily from Aristotelian logic, especially the theory of the syllogism. Thomas Aquinas was also influenced by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, who was a Neo-Platonic philosopher of the late 5th to early 6th century and the author of the Corpus Areopagiticum. Islamic Aristotelian philosophy and theology would also have a profound influence on Christian theology and Thomism (e.g. the separation of essence and being in Islamic creation 'ex nihilo' in Surat As-Sajdah). The philosopher Avicenna (ca. 980-1037 CE) wrote al-Shifa' (E: The Cure), modelled on Aristotle and which covers the natural sciences, logic, mathematics, metaphysics and theology. In al-Shifa' he put forward his doctrines on the nature of the soul and his famous existence-essence distinction, which would have a profound influence on Scholasticism and Thomism. This principle of the separation of Essence and Being is part of the 24 Thomistic Theses (number 3) (see also Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici, Pope Pius X, 29 June 1914 and Pascendi Dominici Gregis, Pope Pius X, 8 September 1907 and A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, Charles Taliaferro, Paul Draper, Philip L. Quinn, John Wiley & Sons, 2010, p. 189).

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) experienced a personal crisis at the end of his life, when he realized that "All that I have written seems like straw compared to what has now been revealed to me" after a mystical experience while saying mass on 6 December, 1273. In 1273 Thomas Aquinas suddenly gave up writing the Summa Theologiae and immersed himself in absolute silence. When asked by his secretary Reginaldo da Pipperno (ca. 1230-1290 CE) for the reason of his silence he gave the answer "Mihi videtur ut palea". He had realized that his attempt to found faith on a rational discourse (scientia), based on Aristotelian philosophy (via positiva) was futile. His crisis was based on realising that the (scholastic) way that was expected to give firm root into the divine reality revealing itself in the Holy Scripture is the way rather leading to the de-realized sphere of "hohlen Wortanalyse" (flatus vocis). One could say that his scholastic attempt somewhat resembles the principles of Das Glasperlenspiel by Hermann Hesse (1877-1962 CE). Curiously enough, although Thomas Aquinas himself was aware of the futility of his attempt, the Roman Catholic Church would in the end build his theology on the 'straw' of Thomas Aquinas. Monastic theology with its emphasis on mysticism would provide a viable alternative, but mainly remained confined within the walls of monasteries (see also Contemporary Philosophical Discourse in Lithuania, Jurate Baranova, CRVP, 2005, p. 22 and Anselm Revisited: A Study on the Role of the Ontological Argument in the Writings of Karl Barth and Charles Hartshorne, Robert D. Shofner, Brill Archive, 1974, p. 80 and The Principle of Analogy in Protestant and Catholic Theology, Battista Mondin, Springer Science & Business Media, 2012, p. 100 and Introduction to Scholastic Theology, Ulrich G. Leinsle, CUA Press, 2010, p. 112 and Magister Ludi: the Nobel prize novel Das Glasperlenspiel, Hermann Hesse, H. Holt, 1949, p. 141 and Hermann Hesse as Critic of Foreign Literatures, Volume 1, Dorothy Steinmetz, University of California, Berkeley, 1973, p. 297 and The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology, Alan Richardson, John Bowden, Westminster John Knox Press, 1983, p. 379 and Monastic Theology and Scholastic Theology, Pope Benedict XVI, General audience, Saint Peter's Square, Wednesday, 28 October 2009 and Ressourcement Thomism: Sacred Doctrine, the Sacraments, and the Moral Life, Romanus Cessario, Reinhard Hütter, Matthew Levering, CUA Press, 2010, p. 25).

Thomism would remain the most influential philosophical basis for Roman Catholic doctrine until after Vaticanum II. Problems with its philosophical foundations (dating of its Aristotelian and Neo-Platonic sources) would play an important role in the Renaissance, Humanism and the emergence of Protestantism. The Roman Catholic Church however would adhere to its scholastic theology for another 500 years until it embraced the philosophical evolutions of Western philosophy in the sixties of the 20th century (see also Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II, Tracey Rowland, Routledge, 2003 and Being and Some Twentieth-century Thomists, John F. X. Knasas, Fordham Univ Press, 2003, p. xviii and Karol Wojtyla: The Thoughtof the Man Who Became Pope John Paul II, Rocco Buttiglione, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1997, p. 40).

The Roman Catholic Church was badly hurt by the rise of Protestantism in the 16th century and launched a counter-reformation. The Concilium Tridentinum (E: Council of Trent) was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church and it is still considered to be one of the Church's most important councils and settled Roman Catholic doctrine until Vaticanum II. The council issued condemnations on what it defined as Protestant heresies and defined Church teachings in the areas of Scripture and Tradition, Original Sin, Justification, Sacraments, the Eucharist (transubstantiation) in Holy Mass and the veneration of saints. It issued numerous reform decrees. By specifying Catholic doctrine on salvation (free will), the sacraments (grace), and the Biblical canon, the Council was answering Protestant disputes. The Societas Jesu was founded in 1540 to oppose Protestantism and the resurgence of Neo-Platonic Augustinianism within the Roman Catholic Church which was a threat to its Aristotelian Thomism (e.g. Jansenism).

In 1534 Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556 CE) would found the Societas Iesu (E: Jesuits) with the goal to oppose the heretical Neoplatonic ideas of the Protestants and to oppose Augustinianism (crypto-Protestantism) within the Roman Catholic Church. In 1539 Ignatius would compose a First Sketch of the Institute of the Society of Jesus and the order's organization was approved by Pope Paul III (1468-1549 CE) in 1540 by the bull Regimini militantis Ecclesiae containing the Formula of the Institute and Exposcit debitum (1550 CE) of Pope Julius III (1487-1555 CE). With the Societas Iesu, the Roman Catholic Church had its loyal Aristotelian and Thomistic champions, while the Protestants would continue to develop their Platonic and Augustinian theology. The Jesuits would develop casuistry (critique of principle- or rule-based reasoning) for reasoning in applied ethics and jurisprudence, and use it to resolve moral problems by applying theoretical rules to particular instances, and by extracting or extending theoretical rules from (novel) particular instances. Bartholomew Medina (1527-1581 CE) in his Expositio in 1am 2ae S. Thomae developed the doctrine of probabilism in Roman Catholic moral theology, which holds that one may follow a course of action that has some probability, even if the opposite is more probable. Probabilism provides a way of answering the question about what to do when one does not know what to do. Probabilism proposes that one can follow a probable opinion regarding whether an act may be performed morally, even though the opposite opinion is more probable. Æquiprobabilism would be developed as an alternative to probabilism.

Within the Roman Catholic Church, Cornelius Jansen or Jansenius (1585-1638 CE) and his followers would try to revive Augustine Neoplatonism. His major work was The Augustinus seu doctrina Sancti Augustini de humanae naturae sanitate, aegritudine, medicina adversus Pelagianos et Massilianses, known as the Augustinus. Cornelius Jansen emphasized Augustine's idea of efficacious grace, which stressed that only a certain portion of humanity were predestined to be saved and also justification by faith. His opponents, mainly Jesuits, condemned his teachings for their alleged similarities to Calvinism. However, the triumphant Roman Catholic Church of the Counter-Reformation had no need for this pessimistic Neoplatonic theology. Five of the Augustinus's propositions were considered heretical and condemned as such by Pope Innocentius X (1574-1655 CE) in his bull Cum occasione. In reaction to this condemnation and as part of the Formulary Controversy, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662 CE) wrote his 17th and 18th Lettres provinciales in 1657. The Cistercian abbey of Port-Royal-des-Champs, would play an important role in French Jansenism until it was destroyed by Louis XIV (1638-1715 CE) in 1710. In 1679 Pope Innocentius XI would publicly condemn sixty-five propositions, taken chiefly from the writings of Antonio Escobar (1589-1669 CE), Francisco Suárez (1548-1617 CE) and other, mostly Jesuit, casuists who had been heavily attacked by Pascal in his Lettres provinciales as propositiones laxorum moralistarum and forbade anyone to teach them under penalty of excommunication (see also Ecclesiastical chronology, or, Annals of the Christian Church from its foundation to the present time Joseph Esmond Riddle, Longman, Orme, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1840, p. 414). The (Jansenist) Louvain theologians in 1655 condemned probabilism an instead adopted tutiorism (follow the safer course), which is a rigorist moral system for resolving practical doubts which holds that in every difference of opinion one must choose what is certain and thus decide in favor of compliance with the law. Only full certainty of the opposite frees a person from observance of the law. This theory is not acceptable in Catholic morality. The papal bull Unigenitus (8 Sept. 1713) by Pope Clement XI (1649-1721 CE) condemned the Réflexions morales (1692) of the Jansenist Pasquier Quesnel (1634-1719 CE) during the final phase of the Jansenist controversy in France.

The rise of science since Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE) and Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) would require a new syntesis and foundation of theology to replace the Medieval Christian-Aristotelian synthesis. With the downfall of Aristotelian physics, scholasticism and Thomism would lose their connection to their cosmological basis. The philosophy of Isaac Newton gave rise to a synthesis of natural philosophy and natural religion, and this synthesis was in turn the basis of a close and endurant alliance between Newtonianism and Christian theology. In the "General Scholium"" at the end of the second edition of the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Newton invoked the argument from design as evidence of the workings of God. As the man who had solved the 'riddle of the heavens', he was in a position of great authority when it came to interpreting the heavens themselves in the context of natural theology. It was of great concern to him to refute any materialistic or atheistic implications of his new natural philosophy and, like many anti-materialists before him, he did so by associating physical space and all movement therein with the intimate presence of God.

In the 19th the Roman Catholic Church had opposed modernism and retreated into ultramonatism, which made it lose philosophical influence and relevance in relation to the developments of Western society. Although scholasticism would never regain his dominant position in Western philosophy after the Middle Ages, it remained the dominant (obligatory) philosophy for Roman Catholic philosophers and theologians. There remained a living Scotist tradition, and every Catholic university had Thomists and Scotists in its theological faculty. After the 18th century the secularization of the universities resulted in the suppression of the theological faculties, and the old tradition was broken. The Scotists always suffered from the very bad state of the text of Duns Scotus' works, and in the 20th century the Franciscan order undertook a complete and authoritative edition of them. Contemporary interest in scholasticism, particularly among the neoscholastics, began as a concerted effort toward the end of the 19th century at the University of Louvain at the Institut de Philosophie founded in 1889 by Cardinal Désiré Mercier (1851-1926 CE). Impetus was given to the movement by the papal encyclical of Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903 CE), Aeterni Patris (15 October 1879 CE), which called upon Roman Catholics to renew the study of the scholastics, especially Thomas Aquinas. He established the Leonine Commission which prepared the publication of the official Leonine edition of the complete works of Thomas Aquinas, the first volume of which appeared at Rome in 1882. It included the commentaries of Tommaso de Vio Gaetani Cajetan (1469-1534 CE) and Francisci de Sylvestris Ferrariensis. On 8 September 1907, Pope Pius X (1835-1914 CE) would proclaim in his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis that "We admonish professors to bear well in mind that they cannot set aside St. Thomas, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave disadvantage." Pope Pius X on 29 June 1914 issued a statement, Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici, to clarify matters concerning orthodoxy with regard to Thomism. On 27 July 1914, the Sacred Congregation of Studies published a list which contained the principles and major tenets of Thomas Aquinas' philosophy, especially in metaphysics. The list contained the so-called 24 Thomistic Theses. The Corpus Thomisticum is available on-line. Neoscholastics or neo-Thomists are not unanimous in their approach, but do generally agree that their philosophical study must not proceed in a manner that is neglectful of their Christian faith. Among the foremost neoscholastics have been the Frenchmen Jacques Maritain (1882-1973 CE) and Étienne Gilson (1884-1978 CE). Neo-Scholasticism and Neo-Thomism remained the dominant philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church until Vaticanum II when the Nouvelle Théologie or "ressourcement" would become the dominant theology. Roman Catholic theologians like Joseph Maréchal (1878-1944 CE), Bernard Lonergan (1904-1984 CE) and Karl Rahner (1904-1984 CE), would develop transcendental Thomism as a response to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804 CE) in his Kritik der Reinen Vernuft. Transcendental Thomism was an attempt to modernize Thomism by introducing Kantian concepts. They tried to reconcile Thomism with a Cartesian subjectivist approach to knowledge, and with Kantian epistemology. Joseph Maréchal linked the transcendental idealism (a priori categories) of Kant to the Aristotelian epistemology of Aquinas. For Maréchal the mind, like with Kant, structures the known through abstraction, but this abstraction is now an impetus to the Absolute or God. The goal is to arrive at certainty as a response to the skepticism of David Hume (1711–1776 CE). Modernism, which refers to theological opinions expressed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries would lead to the Modernist Crisis in the Roman Catholic Church Alfred Loisy (1857-1940 CE) argued that biblical criticism could be applied to interpreting Sacred Scripture. George Tyrrell (1861-1909 CE) turned to subjective human experience. Both were condemned by the Roman Catholic church for their historicism and subjectivism. Pope Saint Pius X in his decree Lamentabili sane exitu and his encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis (1907) condemned modernism. The years 1930-1950 CE marked a time of crisis and change affecting every aspect of European society. During this tumultuous period of transition, a broad intellectual and spiritual movement arose within the European Catholic community in response to the challenge presented by a newly secularized society, a challenge that the reigning Neo-Scholasticism seemed sorely ill-equipped to meet. (see also Three modernists: Alfred Loisy, George Tyrrell, William L. Sullivan, John Ratté, Sheed and Ward, 1967 and The Presence of God in the World: A Contribution to Postmodern Christology Based on the Theologies of Paul Tillich and Karl Rahner, Steven G. Ogden, Peter Lang, 2007, p. 136 and Jacques Maritain and the Many Ways of Knowing, Douglas A. Ollivant, CUA Press, 2002, p. 66 and Wisdom and the Renewal of Catholic Theology: Essays in Honor of Matthew L. Lamb, Thomas P. Harmon, Roger W. Nutt, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2016, p. 14 and Aquinas's Theory of Perception: An Analytic Reconstruction, Anthony J. Lisska, Oxford University Press, 2016, p. 14 and Transcendental Thomism, J. Donceel, The Monist, Vol. 58, No. 1, Thomas Aquinas 1274-1974 (January, 1974), pp. 67-85 and Nouvelle Théologie and Sacramental Ontology: A Return to Mystery, Hans Boersma, OUP Oxford, 2009, p. 290).

Theologians like the Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955 CE) tried to reconcile Roman Catholic theology with the developments of science and culture since Galileo. His most important book Le Phénomène Humain (1955 CE) describes evolution as a process that leads to increasing complexity, culminating in the unification of consciousness. Instead of the hierarchical Thomistic-Aristotelian theology he proposed a more egalitarian theology of evolution. The Roman Catholic church would find no answer to the modern developments in science, philosophy and civilisation until the sixties of twentieth century. Vaticanum II (E: Second Vatican Council) addressed these relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. Vaticanum II was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. The Council opened under Pope John XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, 1881-1963 CE) on 11 October 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI (Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, 1897-1978 CE) on 8 December 1965. The Ordinary and Universal (Solemn) Magisterium of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church is infallible, which means that the original schemas at Vatican II, to the extent that they describe the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church, are also infallible. As such It does not matter if Vatican II "approved" them or not. Their approval comes from Heaven, the ultimate source being the immutable One and Triune God who inspires the faithful through the Holy Spirit (see also Présence de Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: l'homme, la pensée, George Magloire, Hubert Cuypers, Éditions universitaires, 1961 and Christianity and Evolution, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002 and The Human Phenomenon, Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, Sarah Appleton-Weber, Sussex Academic Press, 2003).

The "Nouvelle Théologie" (E: "New Theology") which arose in the mid-20th century lay at the basis of the movement towards Vaticanum II. It was France that was the undisputed center of theological activity during this period lead by the Jesuits of the Lyons province and the Dominicans of Le Saulchoir, such as with Henri de Lubac (1896-1991 CE), Jean Daniélou (1905-1974) CE), Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988 CE), Yves Congar (1904-1995 CE), Marie-Dominique Chenu (1895-1990 CE), and Louis Bouyer (1913-2004 CE). The so-called 'Nouvelle Théologie' or "ressourcement" introduced history into the theological project, a return to the sources of the faith, and criticized neo-scholasticism. From 1935 to 1950 they sought a return to the teachings and example of Thomas Aquinas and a return to the Bible, to the Fathers, and to monastic theology. Because of their rejection of modern neo-scholasticism, they were condemned by Rome. Pope Pius XII (1876-1958 CE) in his encyclical Humani Generis (12 August 1950) would rightfully, from a neo-scholastic Roman Catholic point of view, condemn certain aspects of the Nouvelle Théologie and Modernism. While 'Nouvelle Théologie' started in France it would spread to Belgium, the Netherlands and German-speaking regions. 'Nouvelle Théologie' or "ressourcement" emerged among certain circles of French and German theologians, most notably Maurice Blondel (1861-1949 CE), the Jesuit Henri de Lubac (1896-1991 CE) and the Swiss theologian and priest Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988 CE). They shared the objective of a fundamental reform of how the Catholic Church was approaching theology - namely, the movement reacted against the dominance of Neo-Scholasticism and the scholastically-influenced manuals of theology, criticism of the Modern Era by the Church, and a defensive stance towards non-Catholic faiths. Although during the preparation of the Second Vatican Council De sacrorum alumnis formandis and De obsequio erga Ecclesiae magisterium in tradendis disciplinis sacris wanted to keep the traditional role of Thomas Aquinas in Catholic education, this would not succeed in the end. His specific scholastic method, meaning strictly argumentative or syllogistic forms would not survive as it was no longer up to the philosophical situation of the twentieth century. The narrow and sectarian Thomism, which had caused havoc in the confrontation of the Church with modernity would be left aside. The result of 'Nouvelle Théologie' or "ressourcement", culminating in Vaticanum II would bring dramatic changes to the Roman Catholic Church, comparable to the Council of Trent (1545 and 1563 CE). In the end the main features of the 'Nouvelle Théologie' and aspects of modernism were expressed in the texts of Vaticanum II (see also Nouvelle Théologie and Sacramental Ontology: A Return to Mystery, Hans Boersma, OUP Oxford, 2009, p. 290 and Thomism and the second vatican council, Joseph A. Komonchak, in Continuity and Plurality in Catholic Theology: Essays in Honor of Gerald A. McCool, S.J., ed. Anthony J. Cernera, Sacred Heart University Press, 1998, pp. 53-73).

Another renewal was Liberation theology, which is a political movement rooted in South-America in Christian theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions. In 1971 the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez (b. 1928 CE), wrote one of the movement's most famous books A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, Salvation (1971 CE). Other noted theologians of Liberation theology are Leonardo Boff (b. 1938 CE) of Brazil, the Jesuits Jon Sobrino (b. 1938 CE) of El Salvador, and Juan Luis Segundo (1925-1996 CE) of Uruguay. Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), issued official condemnations of certain elements of liberation theology in 1984 and 1986. The conservative Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Pii X followers of Cardinal Marcel François Marie Joseph Lefebvre (1905-1991 CE) reject Vaticanum II (see also An Introduction to Liberation Theology, J. David Turner, University Press of America, 1994).

A backlash against Vaticanum II would make the Roman Catholic Church dismantle some of the more progressive stances of Vaticanum II during the reign of Pope John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyła, 1920-2005 CE) and his successor Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, 1927-). The theological consequences of the reforms of Vaticanum II had become clear and also their negative impact on the foundations of Roman Catholic faith. Few people truly understand the impact this council had on the Roman Catholic Church and the way the ambiguous language of the documents opened Pandora's box (see also Broken Promises:: Whatever happened to Vatican Council II?, Finbarr M Corr Ed. D., Trafford Publishing, 2012 and Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief, Joseph Pearce, Ignatius Press, 2006, p. 333).

Symbol of the pope
Sign of the Holy See

Credere est cum assensione cogitare
- Saint Augustine of Hippo -

- Fides Quaerens Intellectum -
While the right order requires that we should believe the deep things of the Christian faith before we undertake to discuss them by reason,
it seems careless for us, once we are established in the faith, not to aim at understanding what we believe.
- Saint Anselm of Canterbury, Cur Deus Homo -

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.
And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him
in prosecuting the end for which he is created. ...
- Saint Ignacius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, First Week, Principle and foundation -

Que tu vida no sea una vida estéril. -Sé útil. -Deja poso. -Ilumina, con la luminaria de tu fe y de tu amor.
Borra, con tu vida de apóstol, la señal viscosa y sucia que dejaron los sembradores impuros del odio.
-Y enciende todos los caminos de la tierra con el fuego de Cristo que llevas en el corazón.
- Saint Josemaría Escrivá - Camino, 1 -

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Protestantism is a branch of Christianity. The term "Protestant" represents a diverse range of theological and social perspectives, denominations, individuals, and related organizations. While no particular belief or practice can be said to define this branch of Christianity, those denominations considered to be well within the realm of Protestantism all have firm roots in the Protestant Reformation in Europe during the sixteenth century. The main branches of traditional Protestantism of today, are based upon Lutheranism which started with Martin Luther (1483-1546 CE) in Germany, the Swiss Reformation by Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531 CE), Calvinism with Jean Calvin (1509-1564 CE) in Geneva and John Knox (1514-1572 CE) in Scotland known as Presbyterianism. Another type of Protestantism emerged with the Church of England, founded by King Henry VIII (1491-1547 CE) a.k.a. the "Middle Way" (via media) of Anglicanism.


The reformation was based upon the assertion of freedom of conscience, the autonomous human conscience against the heteronomy of church and state: "Cum contra conscientiam agere neque tutum neque integrum sit" (Luther at the Diet of Worms (1521), LW 32:112 and also 1 Corinthians 10:29). While Roman Catholicism has its Thomistic philosophical roots in Aristotle (384-322 BCE) and the Peripatetic tradition, classical Protestantism rejected Thomism to a large extent. Protestant thought before Immanuel Kant (1724-1804 CE) found its own uses for the philosophy of Aristotle, but Protestant thinkers remained haunted by the ghost of Martin Luther (1483-1546 CE). Luther had little regard for (Thomistic) philosophy and as worn enemy of Scholasticism, Luther in his open letter of 1520, An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation von des christlichen Standes Besserung (To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate; Proposals for Reform: Part III:25) remarked that "God has sent Aristotle as a plague upon us for our sins". Thomas Aquinas was for protestants either a Pelagianizing theologian who relied too little on Augustine's (354-430 CE) theology of God's sovereign saving grace and left too much to human free will or a philosophical theologian who counted too heavily on human reason and too little on divine revelation. Luther knew Aristotle and could from time to time make use of him, but his (academic) career was characterized by the reforming of theology through the exile of Aristotle from theology and supressing him and the work based upon him into the realm of reason and nature, as studied in the faculty of arts, which was the main area of day to day work for Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560 CE). Protestants (e.g. Lutherans) only accept two sacraments (Baptism and Eucharist), while Roman Catholicism has seven sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, Matrimony), The approach to the Eucharist in Lutheran Protestantism is extreme realist with regard to universals (consubstantiation), while Roman Catholicism is moderately realist with regard to universals (transubstantiation).

By the year 1000, it was regarded that corruption had become a problem for the Roman Catholic Church. Ecclesiastical offices were sold (simony), celibacy as a clerical requirement was often ignored, and the parish priests received hardly any theological training. This gave rise to a broad religious reaction: the lay people in particular sought to return to the origins of Christianity which became known as restorationism. This reaction is known as the Gregorian reform movement, named after Pope Gregory VII (ca. 1015/1028-1085 CE). One of the first movements were the Waldensians, which began with Peter Waldo (ca. 1140-ca. 1218 CE), who began to preach on the streets of Lyon in 1177. The Waldensian movement was characterized by lay preaching (universal priesthood) as an egalitarian style of worship, voluntary poverty and strict adherence to the Bible. They were formally declared schismatics by Pope Lucius III (ca. 1100-1185 CE) in 1184 at the Synod of Verona, and heretics during the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. Waldo and his followers were excommunicated and the Waldensians were prosecuted. In the 16th century the Waldensians would join the Genevan or Calvinistic branch of the Protestant Reformation.

Early medieval movements which broke away from the Roman Catholic Church as a reaction to the issues mentioned before, were in some cases dualistic Manichaean, such as Bogomilism, the Cathar and Albigensian churches. The Bogomils in the Balkans were moderate dualists in that they believed the world was created not by the Abrahamic God, but by an evil demiurge (malus deus, creatormalus), which was the Devil (Tractatus De hereticis (1266) of Anselmus Alessandria and the Cène Secrete (1190)). Manichaean theology taught a dualistic view of good and evil, which refers to its roots in the Persian Gnostic traditions. The Manichaeans taught that there were two principles ab aeterno, the one good, the other bad, which is a form of ontological dualism. The Manichaeans still preached one God, while the radical Cathars preach two gods. The Manichaean bad principle was a pars Dei which mixes itself with the creation, while the substance of God remains unaffected. Dualism in the Cathar form is an Indo-European or Indo-Iranian tradition as opposed to the Semitic (Abrahamic) tradition where evil is of unequal stature (see also Panbabylonism). Similar to Mandaeism, there is Light (φως) and Darkness (σκοτάδι). Manichaeism taught that the good and evil powers are equally present throughout creation. This form of cosmic dualism can be called 'horizontal dualism' while the Cathars taught a 'vertical dualism', what is above is good, what is below is bad. The light has fallen into the darkness (the physical world) and must be liberated from it. (see also Cathars, Albigenians and Bogomils. Possible influence of Manichaeans by John van Schaik). Since the earliest days of Christianity, there has been a dualistic Christian tradition. These dualist groups teach dualism and docetism in some form or other. By denying God's infinite perfection and power, the Iranian Mani (ca. 216-276 CE) created a religion that he believed accurately addressed the problem of evil by simply juxtaposing two coequal and opposite powers (Light and Darkness). Mani laid down two principles, God and Matter. God he called good, and matter he affirmed to be evil. This dualist concept resembles the Pythagorean Table of Opposites, which contains the phrase "If there be light, then there is darkness". The Pythagorean Table of Opposites is mentioned in the Metaphysics (986a22) of Aristotle. The Pythagoreans presented the principles of reality as consisting of ten pairs of opposites. Mani postulated that humans are the battleground in which the soul represents the Light, and the physical body represents the Dark. Humans are defined by their incorruptible soul. When the soul becomes dominated by a foreign matter (the body), the soul becomes lost. Now, it is the individual's responsibility to identify themselves with their soul and learn who they really are. The Manichaean dualistic view on religion leads to resignation and fatalism ('inevitabilis necessitatis' and 'fatalis necessitas'). Catharism was a name given to a Christian religious movement with dualistic and gnostic elements that appeared in the Languedoc region of France and other parts of Europe in the 11th century and flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Cathar Liber de duobus principiis (Book of the Two Principles), which comes from the radical Cathar fraction of Giovanni di Lugio in Northern Italy, addressed the the problem of evil by denying the omnipotence of God and postulating two opposite powers. He taught that Christ actually suffered, died and rose again, not in the physical world, but in a higher world. The neo-Manichaean movements within the Western Church, with their moral, cosmological and ontological dualism, would be suppressed and would play no (significant) role in the later Protestant movements.

Other early attempts for a reform of the Roman Catholic Church would happen in England and Bohemia. Both John Wycliffe (ca. 1328-1384 CE) and Jan Hus (ca. 1369-1415 CE), who had attempted to reform the Roman Catholic Church failed. John Wyclif produced the first complete English language Bible. He argued for the royal divestment of the church, the reduction of papal power, the elimination of the friars, and against the doctrine of transubstantiation. His thought catalyzed the Lollard movement in England, and provided an ideology for the Hussite revolution in Bohemia. Wycliffe and Hus were both condemned, because of their extreme realist views on universals, which did not accept the principles of transubstantiation, but stayed with the principles of consubstantiation. Extreme realism was also connected with criticism of the ecclasiastical hierarchy, because it denied the supremacy of the Church in matters of faith. In his Trialogus, Wycliffe discusses divine power and knowledge, creation, virtues and vices, the Incarnation, redemption, and the sacraments. It consists of a three-way conversation, which Wyclif wrote to familiarize priests and layfolk with the complex issues underlying Christian doctrine, and begins with formal philosophical theology, which moves into moral theology, concluding with a searing critique of the fourteenth-century ecclesiastical status quo. John Wycliffe put forward his ideas on the Eucharist, the doctrine of impanation (Deus panis factus) and consubstantiation in De eucharistia and De apostasia. The words spoken by Jesus of Nazareth (7/2 BCE-30/36 CE) 'Hoc est enim Corpus Meum', upon which the Eucharist is based, can be found in the three synoptic Gospels, and they relate these words largely the same (Matthew 26: 26-28, Mark 14: 22-24 and Luke 22: 19-20). At first the Eucharist had been understood in a consubstantial way, but due to the wording in 'Hoc est enim Corpus Meum', the bread also had to change its nature instead of just adding the 'essentia' of Christ alongside the 'essentia' of the bread (it would have been different if the wording had been 'Hic est enim Corpus Meum'). Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) had used Aristotle's treatise The Categories to explain philosophically the theological reality of Jesus of Nazareth's real presence in the Eucharist. The substances (ουσια, essentia, Form) of bread and wine "transubstantiate" into the substance of Jesus of Nazareth. What remains are the accidents. Here, accident refers to what is incidental and not essential. It became to be understood that Jesus of Nazareth did not say that he was symbolically present in bread and wine, no: the bread and wine is him, or rather, he is the bread and wine. This transformation was feasible with the separation of 'essentia' (the Aristotelian 'Form' 'in res') and 'accidentia' by focussing on the 'quantity' as the master attribute to which the other attributes were attached during the transition from the 'essentia' of the bread to the 'essentia' of Jesus of Nazareth. The principles of consubstantiation could be understood by reason as they rejected a change in the 'essentia' of the bread of the Eucharist, while the principles of the transubstantiation required both a change in the 'essentia' and 'accidentia' of the bread, which could only be grasped by faith. The followers of John Wycliffe became known as Lollards. They believed that Christianity should be closely based on the Bible; that everyone should have access to a vernacular Bible; and that everyone should be allowed to interpret its meaning for themselves. The Lollards put forward their views in the Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards, which they presented to the Parliament of England and nailed to the doors of Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral as a placard (1395 CE).

During the Golden Age of Bohemia under the reign of Charles IV (1316-1378 CE), Prague became the seat of the Holy Roman Empire. His Golden Bull (1356) permanently established the kings of Bohemia as electors. The Czech lands were affected by an economic depression under the reign of his son Wenceslas IV (1361-1419 CE). Highwaymen and plague epidemics racked the country, while private wars raged. John Wycliffe's writings, carried by Czech students from Oxford University to Prague in Bohemia, were eagerly studied by some of the attendants at the University of Prague, such as Jan Hus. Hus translated Wycliffe's Trialogus into Czech and helped to circulate it. In 1393 he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts from the University of Prague and in 1396 the master's degree. He was ordained a priest in 1400 and became rector of the university 1402-1403 CE. The German nominalists who attended the university took offence of his realist positions. Which started as a philosophical dispute became serious when it came to defining the church and of the respective spheres of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. The Bohemian king Wenceslaus IV (1361-1419 CE) had supported Pope Urban VI (ca. 1318-1389) in the Papal Schism and sought to protect the religious reformer Jan Hus and his followers against the demands of the Roman Catholic Church for their suppression as heretics. The German teachers complained to the Pope himself about the alleged Czech heretics. Angry at the damage done to the reputation of the kingdom abroad, Wenceslas IV took retaliatory measures. By way of the Decree of Kutna Hora in 1409, he placed control of the university into the hands of the Hus faction. This in addition caused many Germans to withdraw from the University of Prague, and set up their own University at Leipzig. Jan Hus preached in Bohemian and he attacked the sins and vices of all classes, including the clergy. Criticism of the Church grew stronger due to its deviation from its original principles, not just in Bohemia, but all over Europe. Hus also preached in favor of Bohemian nationalism and the detested power of Germans in Bohemia. Defining the church as the body of the Augustinian predestinate, and starting a campaign against indulgences, Huss soon fell under the ban of his superiors. After burning the bulls of the Pope John XXIII (1370-1418 CE), the archbishop Zbynek (Sbinco) of Prague on 16 July 1410, excommunicated Hus and his adherents. In February 1411, sentence of excommunication was pronounced against him and published on 15 March in all the churches of Prague. The king initially had supported Hus, but Hus's criticism of the selling of indulgences and the worsening reputation of a kingdom where the king apparently stayed his hand over a heretic changed the situation. The pope declared an interdict on Prague for as long as Jan Hus resided there. At the end of 1412 Jan Hus withdrew from Prague and wrote his On Traffic in Holy Things and De ecclesiâ while in exile at at Austi. In On Traffic in Holy Things he denounced the sale of indulgences, and declared that even the Pope himself could be guilty of the sin of simony. In De ecclesiâ, Jan Hus laid out three definitions of what constitutes the church: the definition of the Donatists, the position that Augustine laid out in City of God, and the one according to Ephesians 5:25-27 which he favoured. According to Hus the right definition was the definition used by the Apostle Paul of Tarsus (ca. 5- ca. 67 CE) when he said, "Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her by the washing of water with the word, that the Church might be presented before him without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25-27). Following Wycliffe's lead, he criticised the whole orthodox conception of the day of the "Holy Catholic Church" as a visible body of men on this earth with the Pope at its head and instead favoured predestination. The true Church of Christ consisted of those predestined to eternal bliss, and no one but God Himself knew to which class any man belonged. For Hus the only Head of the Church was and could only be Christ Himself, because even the Pope might belong himself to the number of the damned. Jan Hus with his ardent zeal for ecclesiastical reforms on the basis of Wycliffe's teachings, his patriotic insistence on the purity of Bohemian faith and his assertion of Bohemian nationalism, had become a leader of his nation, then deeply embittered against the Germans dominant in the political and academic life of Bohemia. Hus his teachings had concerned chiefly the nature of the Church (only the predestined), the papal headship, the Rule of Faith (regula fidei or analogia fidei) (Scripture and the law of Christ, Romans 12:6), Communion under both kinds, auricular confession (unnecessary), and civil authority (dependent among Christians on state of grace).

Wenceslaus IV- brother Sigismund of Hungary (1368-1437 CE) in 1411 became king and and later also became Holy Roman Emperor. Sigismund was one of the driving forces behind the Council of Constance that ended the Papal Schism, but which in the end also led to the Hussite Wars. John XXIII and Benedict XIII were deposed by the council, Gregory XII voluntarily resigned. Pope Martin V was elected pope on 11 November 1417 and he was regarded as the legitimate pontiff by the church as a whole. At the Council of Constance both John Wycliffe (ca. 1328-1384 CE) and Jan Hus would be condemned. The forty-five propositions or Errors of John Wycliffe were posthumously condemned at the Council of Constance (Session VIII, 4 May 1415) and in the Papal Bulls Inter Cunctas and In Eminentis (22 February 1418 CE) of Pope Martin V (ca. 1368-1431 CE). Summoned to the Council of Constance, Jan Hus went there, under safe-conduct (salvus conductus) from the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund (1368-1437 CE), but on his arrival was put in prison by Pope John XXIII and the Bishop of Constance for disobeying orders. During his trial his realism was condemned for its consequences for the Eucharist and the emperor was alarmed by his argument that neither priest nor king living in mortal sin had a right to exercise his office. The public trial of Hus took place on 5, 7, and 8 June 1415 CE. Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly (1351-1420 CE) would ask Jan Hus if he was a realist, which Jan Hus confirmed, probably unaware of the consequences which this would lead to concerning the Eucharist (blocking the transition of the 'essence' of the bread into the 'essence' of Jesus of Nazareth). Hus was also condemned because he set the authority of his own conscience and his appeal to Christ above the authority of the Council and the Church (see also History of the Moravian Church by Joseph Edmund Hutton). The Council of Constance (1414-1418 CE) condemned both Wycliffe and Jan Hus. The proceedings of the trial of Jan Hus at the Council of Constance can be found in der Bericht des Peter von Mladoniowitz. The condemnation of realism, also caused problems for the position of Albertus Magnus (1193/1206-1280 CE) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) at the Universities, because they were both regarded as realists. Nominalism would now become the accepted philosophy as realism had shown that it could lead to problematic conclusions when misunderstood and taken to its extreme. The followers of Jan Hus, such as Jerome of Prague (1379-1416 CE) would become known as Hussites. The Hussite Revolutionary Movement was a struggle of the Czech people during the first half of the 15th century against the Roman Catholic Church, feudal exploitation, and German domination. On 30 July 1419, Prague citizens led by the Hussite preacher Jan Želivský (1380-1422 CE) threw councilors out of the New Town Hall windows, killing them. The New Town defenestration began the Hussite revolution. By issuing a Papal Bull proclaiming a crusade against the Hussites, Wycliffites, and other heretics in Bohemia on 1 March 1420, Pope Martin V initiated the Hussite Wars (1419-1437 CE). The Hussites in July 1420 proclaimed The Four Articles of Prague, which put forward: Freedom to preach the Word of God, Celebration of the Lord's Supper in both kinds (bread and wine to priests and laity alike), No secular power for the clergy, and Punishment for the mortal sins. This early British and Bohemian reformation would provide the basis for the rational approach to religion of the 'Bohemian Brethren' and 'Moravian Brethren' known as the 'Unitas Fratrum' founded in Bohemia in 1457. Their rational approach to religion (no faith without and beyond reason) would also influence later protestant denominations. Bohemian Brethren like John Amos Comenius (1592-1670 CE) would play an important role in developing theories for education.

The discovery by Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457 CE) that the Constitutum Constantini or Donatio Constantini was a forgery and that the Biblia Sacra Vulgata version of the Roman Catholic Bible contained serious errors (compared with older Greek sources), caused a crisis among Christian Scholars such as Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1467-1536 CE). The writings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century), the Corpus Areopagiticum, were proven to be of much later data than was previously supposed and were of Neoplatonic origin as was also found out by Lorenzo Valla in 1457 and William Grocyn (ca. 1446-1519 CE) in 1501. For the Roman Catholic Church the matter however was ony settled in 1895 by the Roman Catholic scholars Hugo Koch and by Joseph Stiglmayr. The Roman Catholic Thomistic philosophy of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) drew heavily from the Neoplatonist Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and his Corpus Areopagiticum (written before 532), which caused some problems with regards to the foundations of Roman Catholic Aristotelian-Thomistic theology. With the Concilium Tridentinum (1545-1563 CE) (E: Council of Trent), the Roman Catholic Church would solve the issues with the foundation of its Doctrine by posing that besides the Bible also Sacred Tradition would serve as a valid foundation for Church Doctrine. Within the Roman Catholic scope of Tradition, many doctrines had been "revealed" by Divine inspiration (Holy Spirit) to the Church over the centuries. The trouble with a "Sacred Tradition" is that you need a strong central authority to weed out those teachings which erroneously claim Divine inspiration, but whose authors have understood the Word of God in the wrong way. The Roman Catholic Church therefore stated that "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God ...". This was done in order to avoid a revision of its standing on matters of faith which were erroneously founded on Neoplatonic and Pseudo-Aristotelian philosophy. The Bible as such speaks about tradition, but some verses speak for tradition and others speak against it. Of course, the contexts are different and carry different meanings. The Bible is for tradition where it supports the teachings of the apostles (2 Thess. 2:15) and is consistent with biblical revelation. Yet, it is against tradition when it "transgresses the commands of God" (Matt. 15:3), such as what happened due to relying on the Neoplatonism of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century). The Protestants often quote Matt. 15:3-6 in opposition to Sacred Tradition, while many Catholic apologists cite 2 Thess. 2:15 to validate their position on Sacred Tradition.

These issues with the Roman Catholic philosophical tradition made Martin Luther (1483-1546 CE) reject Thomism with its pagan influences (Aristotelianism) and the Vulgate and go back to the original Greek Bible to translate his Luther Bible into German. Luther used Erasmus' second edition (1519 CE) of the Greek New Testament, known as the Textus Receptus, which Erasmus had compiled from Greek sources in order to correct for the errors of the Vulgata version of the Bible. Martin Luther attempted to establish a new theological basis for the Protestant Reformation, which became founded upon the doctrines of "sola scriptura" and "sola fide" as part of which became the Five Solae of Protestantism. The Five Solae are five Latin phrases that emerged during the Protestant Reformation and summarize the Reformers' basic theological beliefs as opposed to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day:

  1. Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
  2. Sola fide ("by faith alone")
  3. Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
  4. Solus Christus or Solo Christo ("Christ alone" or "through Christ alone")
  5. Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")
Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560 CE), as a Magister at the university, would take a less negative stance against philosophy. Philip Melanchthon had an important hand in the Augsburg Confession or Confessio Augustana which was laid before Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, and would come to be considered perhaps the most significant document of the Lutheran Reformation. The Augsburg Confession was a summary of the Lutheran faith. The Augsburg Confession consists of 28 articles presented by Lutheran princes and representatives of "free cities" at the Diet of Augsburg that set forward what the Lutherans believed, taught and confessed in positive (theses) and negative (antitheses) statements. The theses are 21 Chief Articles of Faith describing the normative principles of Christian faith held by the Lutherans; the antitheses are seven statements describing what they viewed as abuses of the Christian faith present in the Roman church.

Jean Calvin (1509-1564 CE) a reformer from France, was another influential theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation and who lived most of his life in Geneva (Switzerland). His magnum opus is the Institutio Christianae religionis (1536 CE) in which Calvin deals with theological topics from the doctrines of church and sacraments to justification by faith alone and Christian liberty. Calvin vigorously attacked the teachings of those which he considered unorthodox, particularly the Roman Catholicism of the day. In his work Calvin proposed his idea of God's total sovereignty, particularly in salvation and election. Calvin admired Aurelius Augustinus of Hippo (354-430 CE) and his Neoplatonic philosophy would have a profound influence on Protestantism. Calvin would use the concept of predestination (massa damnata theory) which Augustine had put forward in his De Dono Perseverantiae (35), De Civitate Dei (XXI.12, XII.28, XXI.12) and the Treatise On The Predestination of the Saints. The Jesuits would strongly oppose this Augustinian Neoplatonism during the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation for its threat to the Aristotelian Thomistic Traditions and the Doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. The doctrines of Calvinism became known by an acronym, TULIP, meaning:

The Three Forms of Unity of Calvinism bring together the Belgic Confession (Confessio Belgica, 1561) of Guido de Bres (1522-1567 CE), The Ivdgement of the Synode Holden At Dort (summarized in 'TULIP'), and The Heidelberg Catechism. The Belgic Confession (Confession De Foy, Faicte d'vn commun accord par les fidèles qui conuersent és Pays-Bas, lesquels desirent viure selon la pureté de l'Euangile de Seigneur Iesus Christ) was endorsed in slightly varying versions by the Synod of Antwerp (4 October 1566), the Convention of Wesel (1568), the Synod of Emden (1572), and the Synod of Dordrecht (1618-19).

The Church of England was founded by King Henry VIII (1491-1547 CE) in 1534 and became the established church by an Act of Parliament in the Act of Supremacy (1534 CE), beginning a series of events known as the English Reformation. The action of the King was prompted by a dispute with Pope Clement VII (1478-1534 CE) over the annulment of the marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536 CE), sister of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1500-1558 CE). The reign of Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603 CE) would be an important milestone in establishing the Church of England against the Church of Rome. Anglicanism would develop the "Middle Way" (via media) and the Book of Common Prayer would play an important role in shaping Anglican theology. The foundations of Anglican doctrine are the three great creeds of the early ecumenical councils (the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds), the principles enshrined in the so-called Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (1886), and the dispersed authority of the four instruments of Communion of the Anglican Communion. The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral states the fundamentals of the Communion's doctrine:

  1. The Holy Scriptures, as containing all things necessary to salvation
  2. The Creeds (specifically, the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds), as the sufficient statement of Christian faith
  3. The Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion
  4. The historic episcopate, locally adapted
The four instruments of Communion of the Anglican Communion are in order of antiquity:
  1. The Archbishop of Canterbury (ab origine) functions as the spiritual head of the Communion. His "seat" (cathedra) is in Canterbury Cathedral where there is also "Saint Augustine's Chair" that marks the significance of Canterbury to Anglicans.
  2. The Lambeth Conference (first held in 1867) is the oldest international consultation.
  3. The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC, first met in 1971).
  4. The Primates' Meeting (first met in 1979).

While Martin Luther, following William of Ockham (ca. 1287-1347 CE), and Jean Calvin, following French humanists, decried scholastic reliance on reason and wanted instead to limit their theology to humanist linguistic analysis of Scripture, the Protestant scholastics, without breaking from the major Reformers, were more amenable to human reason. Reason became a means to develop coherent theology out of the great variety of biblical texts. Among Lutherans, the essential doctrine of justification by faith was transformed into a complete philosophy of conversion by the Lutheran scholastic, Johann Gerhard (1582-1637 CE). Johann Gerhard used both Aristotelian and scriptural proof in his Loci Theologicae (1610-1625 CE). Among the Reformed, two scholastic traditions were developed. Petrus Ramus (1515-1572 CE) modeled his logic on Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) and Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE) as opposed to Aristotle in an attempt to avoid too great an emphasis on metaphysics. Though his work was banned in various continental Protestant centers, Ramus had a great influence on Puritan thought in England and America. The dominant Reformed scholastics, however, were Theodore Beza (1519-1605 CE), Peter Vermigli (1499-1562 CE), and Francis Turretin (1623-1687 CE). Turretin's Institutio Theologiae Elencticae became the standard work for modern Protestant scholastics. Reformed scholasticism in this tradition led to what is generally labeled Calvinist orthodoxy. The Reformed scholastics concentrated for the most part on questions evolving from predestination, and thus produced a rather rigid Calvinism. At the same time, the movement was amenable to the use of reason, thus allowing the Reformed to adapt to modern rationalist and Enlightenment philosophy quite easily, such as the Scottish Enlightenment. The impact of Protestant scholasticism's methods and outlook was threefold: it created a systematic, well - defined, and aggressive Protestant theology; it led to a reaction by those who emphasized the emotional character of Christian piety; and it encouraged accommodation to early modern philosophy.

Within the Protestant movement there developed also a mystical theology, in the Neoplatonic tradition of Plotinus (204/5-270 CE), the De mystica theologia of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century), Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179 CE) and Meister Eckhart (ca. 1260-ca. 1327 CE). In his work Von unsagbaren Dingen and other writings and sermons, Meister Eckhart identified the being and intellect of a unified deity that could be apprehended only through mystical apprehension of the divine through an inner spark of the soul: Seelenfünklein or 'scintilla animae'. This refers to the Neoplatonic concept of the ascent of the soul to the One, which becomes possible by cultivating the divine potentialities that exist in the deepest center of the human soul. The mystical theologians would be inspired by the words "Noli foras ire, in teipsum redi; in interiore homine habitat veritas" (Do not go out, return to yourself, for the truth dwells in the interior of man) of Aurelius Augustinus (354-430 CE) in his Neoplatonic De vera religione (39:72). The Spiritualists of the 16th century were heirs to a tradition of mystical theology in which the anthropological seat of spiritual enlightenment was located in the 'synteresis voluntatis et rationalis', or the Seelenfünklein or 'scintilla animae' (See also Mysticism and Dissent: Religious Ideology and Social Protest in the Sixteenth Century, Steven E. Ozment, New Haven, 1973, pp. 1-13 and Hermeneutica gloriae vs. hermeneutica crucis, Sebastian Franck and Martin Luther on the Clarity of Scripture, Priscilla Hayden-Roy). The "voice of conscience" was seen as the point of contact between God's revelation and the human being. This gave conscience an essentially positive meaning in line with the scholastic tradition of synteresis, the divine spark in the human being after the fall. The terms "inner Word" (verbum interius) and "outer Word" were used to designate the written and unwritten Word of God. In the place of "inner Word" the terms "illumination" or "inner voice" were often used. The Calvinist Sebastian Franck (1499-ca. 1543 CE) and Lutheran Valentin Weigel (1533-1588 CE) would develop a mystical theology. Sebastian Franck's inner Word theology centered on the proposition that God communicated directly with humanity through his Word, which for Franck signified an image or spark of the divine being residing at the core of the human being. For Franck the outer world was incapable of containing or recognizing the true spiritual inner Word of God (verbum interius), and thus all physical manifestations of religion were illegitimate (The Inner Word and the Outer World: A Biography of Sebastian Franck, Patrick Hayden-Roy, New York, 1994 and Der Deutsche pantheismus im 16. jahrhundert, Siegfried Wollgast, Belin, 1972). His most important works are the Chronica, Zeytbuch und Geschychtbibel (1531) and the Paradoxa ducenta octoginta (1534). In the Paradoxa ducenta octoginta he collected numerous seemingly contradictory statements from the Bible and ancient authorities and then provided the exegesis that shows only a spiritual understanding of the texts can overcome the apparent contradictions. Jakob Böhme (1575-1624 CE), the philosophus teutonicus, was a German Lutheran mystic and theologian. He postulated the absolute unity of God in which all oposites come together and out of whom also evil came into existence. His most important works are Morgenröte im Aufgang, das ist: die Wurzel oder Mutter der Philosophiae, Astrologiae und Theologiae, aus rechtem Grunde, Oder Beschreibung der Natur also known as Aurora (1612), De Tribus Principiis (1619), De Signatura Rerum and Mysterium Magnum I and Mysterium Magnum II (1623).

The Protestant movement would lead to further and more radical developments. The Radical Reformation was a 16th century response to what was believed to be the corruption in both the Roman Catholic Church and the expanding Magisterial Protestant movement led by Martin Luther and many others. The Magisterial Reformation argued for the interdependence of the church and secular authorities, but the Radical Reformation rejected any secular authority over the Church. In the 16th century Anabaptists would be part of the Radical Reformation. Anabaptists required that baptismal candidates be able to make their own confessions of faith and so rejected baptism of infants. The Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites are direct descendants of the Anabaptist movement. The Family of Love, 'Familia Caritatis' or Familists was a mystic religious sect founded by Henry Nicholis (ca. 1501-ca. 1580 CE) and related to the Anabaptists. Arminianism was founded by the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609 CE) and his historic supporters are known as the Remonstrants. Their religious views were summarized in the Five Articles of Remonstrance (1610). At the Synod of Dordrecht (1618-1619 CE) the Arminian position was rejected by the Calvinists in The Ivdgement of the Synode Holden At Dort. Like in the Theologia Germanica (mid 14th century), Hans Denck (ca. 1495-1527 CE) as an Anabaptist theologian developed an inner Word theology. John Milton (1608-1674 CE) in his work De Doctrina Christiana describes the twofold conception of scripture; the written Scripture is external, while the internal scripture is the Holy Spirit, which is written in the hearts of the believers. The first Scripture is revealed, the second one is to be found.

Some Protestants of the Radical Reformation would reject the doctrine of the Trinity. Michael Servetus (1509 or 1511-1553 CE) would be condemned by Roman Catholics and Protestants alike for his anti-Trinitarianism. He was arrested in Geneva and burnt at the stake as a heretic by order of the Protestant Geneva governing council. The anti-Trinitarian Socinian movement in the 16th century originated in Italy. In 1546 in Vicenza there was a meeting of anabaptist radicals at the Collegia Vicentina (Lat. Vicenza colloquia). In 1550 there was a meeting in Venice of the anabaptist radicals of Northern Italy at the Concilio di Veneto or Sinodo a Venezia. Socinianism grew out of this movement and the thought of Laelius Socinus (1525-1562 CE) (Socini) and his nephew Faustus Socinus (153-1604 CE), who moved to Poland and became a member of the Ecclesia Minor. The Socinians referred to themselves as "brethren" and were known by the latter half of the 17th century as "Unitarians" or "Polish Brethren". They accepted Jesus as God's revelation but still a mere man, divine by office rather than by nature; Socinians thus rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. One of the Socinians' doctrines was that the soul dies with the body but the souls of those who have persevered in obeying Jesus' commandments will be resurrected. The Socinians also advocated the separation of church and state, stressed the importance of the moral life, minimized dogma, and held that Christian doctrine must be rational. Since the Bible teaches that man is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27, Genesis 9:6, 1 Corinthians 11:7), Socinians, like other Protestants, conclude that human beings are rational and logical, and that the channel of communication between God and man proceeds in a logical and rational manner. When God speaks to man (revelation) it will follow rational and logical means. In the Racovian Catechism they put forward their nontrinitarian statement of faith. The Counter-Reformation would drive the Socinians out of Poland and chiefly to Transylvania, the Netherlands, Germany, and England. Socinian ideas would influence John Biddle (1615-1662 CE), the father of English Unitarianism. The scientist Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) was also secretly an anti-Trinitarian. (Newton, the Man (1946) by John Maynard Keynes).

In England in the late 1640s, following the First English Civil War (1642-1646 CE), many dissenting Christian groups emerged, including the Seekers and others. George Fox (1624-1691 CE) was dissatisfied by the teachings of the Church of England and non-conformists. He had a revelation that there is one, even, Christ Jesus, who can speak to thy condition, and became convinced that it was possible to have a direct experience of Christ without the aid of an ordained clergy. The Quakers, Friends Church, or the Religious Society of Friends, would develop out of the movement he initiated. Their central doctrine is the priesthood of all believers, a doctrine which is derived from the Biblical passage 1 Peter 2:9. The Quakers preached the presence and inner working of God in the soul (verbum interius) acting as a guiding spirit that is superior even to Scripture and unites man to Christ. In Lucerna super Candelabrum (1663) (The Light upon the Candlestick), Peter Balling put forward the universalist ideas of the Quakers. Balling in the spirit and style of Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677 CE), urges the importance of discovering a central love for "things which are durable and uncorruptible", "knowing thereby better things than those to which the multitude are link't so fast with love". (see also Spiritual Reformers in the 16th and 17th Centuries, Rufus M. Jones, 1914) Another group of English Protestants in the 16th century were the Puritans, which from 1630 to 1660 in the 17th century also included English Calvinists. The Puritans formed religious groups advocating a greater "purity" of worship and doctrine. They also desired greater personal and societal piety. The Puritans largely adopted Sabbatarian views in the 17th century, and were influenced by millennialism. One of the basic goals of the English Puritans was to restore a true apostolic community. As a result of the First English Civil War (1642-1646 CE), the Puritans became the major political force in England. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, English Dissenters separated from the Church of England. They opposed state interference in religious matters, and founded their own churches, educational establishments, and communities; some emigrated to the New World.

Baptists, who go back to 1609 in Amsterdam, subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers and that it must be done by immersion. John Smyth (ca. 1570-1612 CE) and Thomas Helwys (ca. 1575-ca. 1616 CE) were two of the founders of the Baptist movement. Thomas Helwys in his work A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity (1611/1612) was the principal formulator of that distinctively Baptist request: separation of church and state, so that individuals might have a freedom of religious conscience. Baptist views include soul competency (freedom of religious conscience), salvation through faith alone (Sola Fide), scripture alone (Sola Scriptura) as the rule of faith and practice, and the autonomy of the local congregation (see also The Baptist Congregation, Stanley J. Grenz, 1985, Judson Press)

In the 17th century Evangelicalism became an organized movement with the emergence around 1730 of the Methodists in England and the Pietists among Lutherans in Germany and Scandinavia. The movement became even more significant in the United States during the Great Awakenings, such as the First Great Awakening in the American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s and the other Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries. Evangelicalism de-emphasizes ritual and emphasizes the piety of the individual, which can be summarized in the Bebbington quadrilateral of conversionism, biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism (see also Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s by David Bebbington). The Second Great Awakening (1790-1870 CE) of the early 19th century would lead to the American Restoration Movement and several efforts to return to early apostolic Christianity.

The general pattern of founding new Protestant Churches is the problem of unequal distribution of power, the (perceived) corruption in the established Church and the search for a return to the original pure Apostolic Christianity and democratic sharing of power, anti-authoritarianism and a tendency towards egalitarianism. The fundamental issue at stake is the power of man over man (in the name of God), the liberty of conscience and freedom to worship.

Luther 95 theses
- Die 95 Thesen, Martin Luther, 31 Oktober 1517 -

Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders, Gott helfe mir, Amen
- Martin Luther, 17 April 1521, Reichstag zu Worms -

Denn darin wird offenbart die Gerechtigkeit, die vor Gott gilt, welche kommt aus Glauben in Glauben;
wie geschrieben steht (Habakuk 2,4): "Der Gerechte wird aus Glauben leben".
- Römer 1:17 -

Post tenebras spero lucem
- Vulgata, Job 17:12 -

Deus quid sit, nescitur
- Sebastian Franck, Paradoxa -

*What was the Protestant Reformation?
*The Protestant Reformation
*The Protestant Reformation
*The Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation
*The Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation
*The Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation

*Christian Colligation of Apologetics Debate Research and Evangelism - CADRE
*Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics
*The Bereans
*The Reformed Network
*Anglican Communion
*The Protestant Alliance - USA
*The Protestant Reformed Churches in America
*The European Liberal Protestant Network
*Soli Deo Gloria

*John Wycliffe - (ca. 1320-1384 CE)
*Sebastian Franck - (1499-ca. 1543 cE)
*Hans Denck - (ca. 1495-1527 CE)
*John Knox - (1505, 1513 or 1514 - 1572 CE)
*Martin Luther
*Lutheran Electronic Archive
*95 Theses - Martin Luther (1517 CE)
*Philipp Melanchton - (1497-1560 CE)
*The Augsburg Confession - Luther, Melanchton (1530 cE)
*John Calvin - (1509-1564 CE)
*Calvin's commentaries on the Bible
*Emmanuel Swedenborg - (1688-1720 CE)

*Huguenots de France et d'ailleurs
*Édit de Nantes en faveur de ceux de la religion prétendue réformée - 1599
*Édit de Fontainebleau ou révocation de l'Édit de Nantes - 1685
*Camisards - (1702-1715 CE)
*Camisards - (1702-1715 CE)

*Lelio Sozini - (1525-1562 CE)
*Fausto Paolo Sozzini - (1539-1604 CE)

*Old Catholic Church
*Reformed Catholic Church
*Eternal Grace church
*Vineyard International Consortium
*Sovereign Grace Ministries
*The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
*The Book of Mormon
*Jehova's Witnesses
*The Religious Society of Friends - Quakers
*Religious Society of Friends - Quakers
*Seventh-day Adventists

*Giordano Bruno - (1548-1600 CE)
*Writings of Giordano Bruno
*Jan Hus - (1369-1415 CE)
*Final Declaration - Jan Hus (1 July 1415 CE)
*Girolamo Savonarola - (1452-1498 CE)
*The Ascension of Christ - Girolamo Savonarola

Orthodox Christianity

Orthodox Christianity is a generalized reference to the Eastern traditions of Christianity, as opposed to the Western traditions which descend through, or alongside of, the Roman Catholic Church. Orthodox Christianity claims to be the original Christian church founded by Christ and the Apostles, and traces its lineage back to the early church through the process of Apostolic Succession. There are three main branches of Orthodox Christianity: the Church of the East, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Oriental Orthodoxy.

The East-West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively. In 1054, Cardinal Humbert of Moyenmoutier (1000 to 1015-1061 CE) and two other legates of the Pope placed a Bull of Excommunication upon the altar of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople during the Divine Liturgy. Relations between East and West had long been embittered by political and ecclesiastical differences and theological disputes. Prominent among these were the issues of "filioque", the Pope's claim to universal jurisdiction, and the place of Constantinople in relation to the Pentarchy.

Jesus Christ Pantocrator
- Jesus Christ Pantocrator -

Every work which does not have love as its beginning and root, is nothing.
- Saint John Chrysostom -


The Orthodox Church recognizes as ecumenical the seven councils of Nicaea I (325 CE) concerning Arianism, Constantinople I (381 CE) concerning the Nicene Creed and the Arian controversy, Ephesus (431 CE) concerning Nestorianism, Chalcedon (451 CE) concerning Christology, Constantinople II (553 CE) concerning the "Three Chapters", Constantinople III (681 CE) concerning monoenergism and monothelitism, and Nicaea II (787 CE) concerning the use and veneration of icons.

The Greek Fathers of the church always implied that the phrase found in the biblical story of the creation of man (Genesis 1:26), according to "the image and likeness of God", meant that man is not an autonomous being and that his ultimate nature is defined by his relation to God, his "prototype". In paradise Adam and Eve were called to participate in God's life and to find in him the natural growth of their humanity "from glory to glory". To be "in God" is, therefore, the natural state of man.

The Orthodox Church is formally committed to the Christology (doctrine of Christ) that was defined by the councils of the first eight centuries. The formula of Chalcedon, "one person in two natures", is given different emphases in the East and West. The stress on Christ's identity with the preexistent Son of God, the Logos (Word) of the Gospel According to John, characterizes Orthodox Christology. This emphasis on the personal divine identity of Christ, based on the doctrine of Cyril of Alexandria (ca. 376-444 CE), does not imply the denial of his humanity. The Virgin Mary is viewed as Theotokos (the "one who gave birth to God"). The Roman Catholic Church doctrine of the so-called "Immaculate Conception" in 1854, contradicts the traditional doctrine of the Church concerning Mary. The theopaschite formula ("God suffered in the flesh") became, together with the Theotokos formula, a standard of orthodoxy in the Eastern Church. The point of the theopaschite formula is to emphasize that although there are two natures in Christ, there is only one personal subject, the Son of God, which means it is the Son of God, one of the Trinity, who suffers in his own humanity. The anthropology (doctrine of man) of the Eastern Fathers of the Church does not view man as an autonomous being but rather implies that communion with God makes man fully human. Thus the human nature of Jesus Christ, fully assumed by the divine Word, is indeed the "new Adam" in whom the whole of humanity receives again its original glory. The gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost "called all men into unity", according to the Byzantine liturgical hymn of the day; into this new unity, which St. Paul called the "body of Christ", each individual Christian enters through Baptism and "chrismation" (the Eastern form of the Western "confirmation") when the priest anoints him saying "the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit". This gift, however, requires man's free response. In the West God was understood primarily in terms of one essence (the Trinity of Persons being conceived as an irrational truth found in revelation); in the East the tri-personality of God was understood as the primary fact of Christian experience. For most of the Greek Fathers of the church, it was not the Trinity that needed theological proof but rather God's essential unity. Polarization of the Eastern and the Western concepts of the Trinity is at the root of the Filioque dispute. The Latin word Filioque ("and from the Son") was added to the Nicene Creed in Spain in the 6th century. By affirming that the Holy Spirit proceeds not only "from the Father" (as the original creed proclaimed) but also "from the Son", the Spanish councils intended to condemn Arianism by reaffirming the Son's divinity. The Spanish Church interpolated the Filioque most probably for the first time at the third Council of Toledo (589 CE) and it was upheld at the Council of Frankfort (794 CE). Later, however, the addition became an anti-Greek creed, especially after Charlemagne (ca. 742-814 CE) made his claim to rule the revived Western Roman Empire. At his court the Filioque becam an issue of controversy, by accusing the Greeks of heresy because they recited the Creed in its original form. Rome continued to use the Creed without the Filioque until the start of the eleventh century. Pope Leo III (died 816 CE) on 25 December 800 had crowned Charlemagne 'Imperator Augustus' as a counterforce to the Byzantine Emperor and thereby attempted to improve his inferior position towards Contantinople. The addition to the Nicene Creed was finally accepted in Rome under German pressure. It found justification in the framework of Western conceptions of the Trinity; the Father and the Son were viewed as one God in the act of "spiration" of the Spirit. The Byzantine theologians opposed the addition, first on the ground that the Western Church had no right to change the text of an ecumenical creed unilaterally and, second, because the Filioque clause implied the reduction of the divine persons to mere relations ("the Father and the Son are two in relation to each other, but one in relation to the Spirit"). For the Greeks the Father alone is the origin of both the Son and the Spirit. An important element in the Eastern Christian understanding of God is the notion that God, in his essence, is totally transcendent and unknowable and that, strictly speaking, God can only be designated by negative attributes: it is possible to say what God is not, but it is impossible to say what he is. This conception of God is connected with the personalistic understanding of the Trinity. It also led to the official confirmation by the Orthodox Church of the theology of Gregory Palamas (1296-1359 CE), the leader of Byzantine hesychasts (monks devoted to divine quietness through prayer), at the councils of 1341 and 1351 in Constantinople. The councils confirmed a real distinction in God, between the unknowable essence and the acts, or "energies", which make possible a real communion with God. The deification of man, realized in Christ once and for all, is thus accomplished by a communion of divine energy with humanity in Christ"s glorified manhood.

*Orthodox Christian Information Center
*The Orthodox Doctrinal Tradition
*Orthodox Church Beliefs
*Orthodox Christianity
*Armenian Apostolic Church
*Church of the East
*Syriac Orthodox Resources
*Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church
*Indian Orthodox Church
*Eastern Orthodox Church
*Oriental Orthodoxy
*Orthodox Unity
*Two Families of Orthodox
*The Orthodox Page - USA
*Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
*Christian Hellenism

Coptic Christianity

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon (451 CE), when it took a different position over Christological theology from that of the body of churches that would later split into Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.


The Coptic Church regards itself as having never believed in monophysitism the way it was portrayed in the Council of Chalcedon, but rather as having always believed in miaphysitism (a doctrine that Oriental Orthodox Churches regard as correct and orthodox). In that council, monophysitism meant believing in one nature of Jesus Christ. Copts believe that the Lord is perfect in his divinity, and he is perfect in his humanity, but his divinity and His humanity were united in one nature called "the nature of the incarnate Word", which was articulated by Cyril of Alexandria (ca. 376-444 CE). Copts thus believe in two natures "human" and "divine" that are united in one "without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration" (from the declaration of faith at the end of the Coptic divine liturgy). These two natures "did not separate for a moment or the twinkling of an eye".

Coptic Cross
- Coptic Cross -

Learn to love people and use things, not to love things and use people.

*Coptic Web
*Coptic Papacy
*The Christian Coptic Orthodox Church Of Egypt
*The Life of our Holy Mother Mary of Egypt
*Coptic Orphans Support Organization

*The Kebra Nagast - The Queen of Sheba and Her Only Son Menyelek
*Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
*Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
*Saint TekleHaymanot the Ethiopian
*Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church

Sabbath-keeping Churches

The Sabbath-keeping Churches or Sabbatati, kept the Judaic Sabbath from early ante-Nicene Christianity. Before the First Council of Nicaea in Bithynia (325 CE) Christians followed the Jewish Sabbath, but at the council the day of Sol Invictis would become the festive day for most Christians in an attempt to move away from their Jewish heritage.

*Sabbath-keeping Churches
*Sabbath-keeping Churches of God - articles
*Church of God - (COG)
*Living Church of God - (LCG)
*Christian Churches of God - (CCG)
*Herbert W. Armstrong - (1892-1986 CE)
*Worldwide Church of God

Arian Christianity

Arian Catholicism follows the teachings of Arius of Alexandria (ca. 250-336 CE) and Christianity as it existed before the First Council of Nicaea in Bithynia (325 CE). Arian Catholicism, which is the ecumenical ideology and theology of the early Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, upholding the doctrines of Arius of Alexandria which are compatible with early non-Roman Christianity as it existed before the Council of Nicea. At the council of Nicea, Athanasius (ca. 296/298-373 CE), Bishop of Alexandria proposed the deification of Jesus, and the condemnation of Arius of Alexandria. Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) did some interesting research into the history of Christianity and because of his research became a follower Arius of Alexandria.

- Arius of Alexandria -

If the Father begat the Son, he that was begotten had a beginning of existence:
and from this it is evident, that there was a time when the Son was not.
It therefore necessarily follows, that he had his substance from nothing.
- Arius of Alexandria -

*Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church - The Church of Arian Catholicism
*Paul of Samosata - (200-275 CE)
*Lucian of Antioch - (ca. 240-312 CE)
*Arius of Alexandria - (256-336 CE)
*Ulfilas - (c. 310-383 CE)
*The Apostles' Creed - pre-Nicene Creed
*Newton's Arian belief - Isaac Newton
*Isaac Newton's religious views - Isaac Newton
*An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture - Isaac Newton

Gnostic Christianity

The Gnostics, early Christian Coptics, believed in salvation through wisdom and knowledge rather than by faith or good works. Gnosticism typically recommends the pursuit of mysticism or 'special knowledge' (gnosis) as the central goal of life. Gnosticism depicts creation as a mythological struggle between competing forces of light and dark, and posit a marked division between the material realm, typically depicted as under the governance of malign forces (such as the demiurge), and the higher spiritual realm from which it is divided, governed by God (the Monad) and the Aeons. God is the high source of the pleroma, the region of light. The various emanations of God are called æons.

Hermes Trismegistus, Siena Cathedral
- Moses in front of Hermes Trismegistus in Siena Cathedral -

*The Gnostic Society Library
*The Gnosis Archive
* Links
*The Nag Hammadi Library
*The Nag Hammadi Library

*Valentinus - (ca 100-ca 153 CE)
*Valentinus and the Valentinian Tradition
*Basilides - (ca 117-138 CE)
*Fragments from the Writings of Basilides
*Septem Sermones ad Mortuos - Basilides (transcribed by CG Jung)

*The Gospel of Thomas
*The Gospel of Thomas Homepage
*The Gospel of Thomas Collection
*The Book of Thomas the Contender
*The Hymn of the Pearl - Hymn of the Robe of Glory
*The Gospel of Judas
*The Sophia of Jesus Christ
*The Gospel of Truth
*The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene
*Pistis Sophia: The Books of the Savior
*The Apocalypse of Peter
*The Hypostasis of the Archons

*Apostolic Gnostic Church in America
*The French Gnostic Tradition
*l'Eglise du Plérôme
*l'Eglise Gnostique Catholique Apostolique
*Ecclesia Gnostica Hermeneutica
*Church of Gnostic Luminism
*Thomasine Church
*Sophia Fellowship


Islam, "submission (to the will of Allah)", is a monotheistic faith. Islam is an Abrahamic (Ibrahim) religion (Qur'an, Sura 3.33, 3.65, 3.67, 3.68, 3.84, 3.95, 3.97, ...), along with Christianity and Judaism. The followers, known as Muslims, believe that Allah revealed his divine word directly to humanity through many earlier prophets, and that Muhammad (ca. 570-ca. 632 CE) was the final prophet and 'Great Prophet' of Islam. The main branches of Islam are the Sunni, Shi'ah, and Khawärij.

Islam Branches
- Branches of Islam by Angelpeream -

History and theology

Islam begins in Mecca with the life and work of Muhammad in the early seventh century and Islam rapidly became one of the major world religions. The core of this faith is the belief that the businessman Muhammad (ca. 570-ca. 632) of Mecca, received revelations from God that have been preserved in the Qur'an. The heart of the divine message revealed to Muhammad is the affirmation that "there is no god but Allah (The God), and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah" as put forward in the Shahada. The term islam comes from the Arabic word-root s-l-m, which has a general reference to peace and submission. Specifically, Islam means submission to the will of God, and a Muslim is one who makes that submission. This submission or act of Islam means living a life of faith and practice as defined in the Qur'an and participating in the life of the community of believers. The core of this Islamic life is usually said to be the Five Pillars of Islam: publicly bearing witness to the basic affirmation of faith; saying prescribed prayers five times a day (Salat); fasting during the month of Ramadan (Sawm); giving a tithe or alms for support of the poor (Zakāt); and making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during the believer's lifetime, if this is possible (Hajj or al-hajj al-akbar). The Hajji (pilgrim) performs a series of ritual acts symbolic of the lives of Ibrahim and his wife Hajar. The acts also symbolize the solidarity of Muslims worldwide. The pilgrims visit the Kaaba and perform the circumambulationof the Kabaa or Tawaf (walking seven times counter-clockwise around the Kabaa) and several other rituals (Islamic Philosophy and Theology, William Montgomery Watt, Transaction Publishers, 2008 and The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, Tim Winter, Cambridge University Press, 2008).

The basics of Islam include the Five Pillars of Islam and the Six Pillars of Iman. Iman (arkān al-īmān) is an Arabic term which denotes certitude to the unseen (faith). Iman means acknowledging Allah with full sincerity of heart whilst accepting all His attributes and their obvious corollaries. The source can be found in Qur'an 2:285 (Surat Al-Baqarah) and the Hadith of Gabriel. Iman is generally outlined using the six articles of faith or 6 pillars of Iman in the Islamic creed:

  1. Tawhid or Belief in Allah
  2. Belief in the Prophets
  3. Belief in the Day of Judgment
  4. Belief in the Angels
  5. Belief in Divine Books
  6. Al-Qadr (Fate)

Muslims believe that Islam is the basic monotheistic faith proclaimed by prophets throughout history. The Qur'an is not seen as presenting a new revelation but rather as providing a complete, accurate, and therefore final record of the message that had already been given to Abraham (Scrolls of Abraham), Jesus (who is not crucified in Islam), and other earlier prophets. The four books are the Tawrat or Torah given to Musa (Moses), Zabur given to Dawud (David), Injil given to Isa (Jesus), and the Qur'an given to Muhammad.

Muhammad's life as a preacher and leader of a community of believers has two major phases. He first proclaimed his message in Mecca, which was at that time a major polytheistic pilgrimage center and sanctuary. The second phase of Muhammad's preaching and the start of the Muslim community (ummah) began in 622 CE when Muhammad accepted an invitation from the people in Yathrib to serve as their arbiter and judge, who were living in an oasis which became known as al-Medina or the 'City of the Prophet'. The Hijra or the journey from Mecca to Medina marks the beginning of the Islamic or Hijri calendar (Hijri year 0 AH or 'anno hegirae'). The words of Muhammad as a messenger of Allah are considered hadith and provide an additional source of guidance for believers besides the Qur'an: the Sunnah (customary practice) of the Prophet, such as the Sharia which is the moral code and religious law of Islam.

After the death of Muhammad, the Islamic community was ruled by his successors the khalifahs (caliphs) of which the first four had been companions of Muhammad during his lifetime. Their rule is ofthen called the period of the of the Rashidun (Khulfa-e-Rashideen) or the Rightly Guided Caliphs (632-661 CE). During this periode Muslims conquered the Sasanid Empire and took control of the North African and Syrian territories of the Byzantine Empire. Sunni and Shi'a Muslims differ on the legitimacy of the reigns of the Rashidun. The division between Shia and Sunni dates back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad, and the question of who was to take over the leadership of the Muslim nation. Sunni Muslims take the position that the new leader should be elected from among those capable of the job. The Shia Muslims believe that following the Prophet Muhammad's death, leadership should have passed directly to his cousin/son-in-law, Ali bin Abu Talib. The Sunnis follow the Caliphates of all four Caliphs, while the Shi'ites recognize only the Caliphate of Ali ibn Abi Talib and the short Caliphate of his son Hasan ibn Ali. The schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims occurred following the death of Muhammad and was a result of an internal power struggle which resulted in the First Islamic Civil War or First Fitna (656-661 CE). The Muslim community would become divided along political and religious viewpoints first articulated during this First Fitna. The mainstream Sunni tradition would develop a combination of the piety of the community of the Prophet's companions and the pragmatism of the Umayyad imperial administrators. Shi'a Muslims follow the argument that Allah always provides an imam or guide with special characteristics, including being an Ahl al-Bayt or descendant of the Prophet and having special divine guidance. Leadership and authority rest with this imamate and are not subject to human consensus or pragmatic reasons of state. The Kharijites would break away from the Shi'a Muslims and developed an extreme pietism, which although a minority group in Islam, would remain a critical and militant group. The Ulama or people of knowledge would over time define Islamic doctrine. Fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence was defined by independent ulama and not by the state-appointed judges of the Caliphs.

Sunni Islam

Sunni Islam (Ahlu-s-Sunnah, Sunnites) is the largest branch of Islam, making up more than 75% of all Muslims. Ahlu-s-Sunnah meaning people of the tradition of Muhammad and the consensus of the Ummah. The primary hadiths Al-Kutub Al-Sittah, in conjunction with the Qur'an, form the basis of all jurisprudence methodologies within Sunni Islam. The Sunni Muslims over time came to accept four regional schools of legal thought (Madh'hab) as legitimate: the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali. These four legal schools share most of their rulings, but differ on the particular hadiths they accept as authentic and the weight they give to qiyas (analogy or reason) in deciding difficulties (see also The Sunni-Shi'a Divide: Islam's Internal Divisions and Their Global Consequences, Robert Brenton Betts, Potomac Books, Inc., 2013).

Shi'i Islam

In the Shi'i tradition, the imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (702-765 CE) would provide the first fully comprehensive statement of Shi'i beliefs that became the basis for subsequent Shi'i mainstream groups, such as the 'Twelve-Imams' (largest) and 'Ismaili Shi'ism' (second-largest). The belief of the Twelve-Imams (ithna ashari) would emerge as the Twelver branch of Shi'i Islam. The last of the Twelve-Imams would enter a state of occultation and return as a messiah, or mahdi. The Twelvers accept Musa al-Kadhim (745-799 CE) as the true Imam in succession of his father Ja'far al-Sadiq. The five Principles of the Religion or Uşūl al-Dī (fundamentals of faith) of the Twelvers are: Tawhīd (Oneness or The Oneness of Allah), Adalah (Justice or The Justice of Allah), Nubuwwah (Prophethood), Imāmah (Leadership), and Qiyāmah (The Day of Judgment). Ismaili Shi'ism maintained a more radical opposition, calling for messianic revolt, and identified with Isma'il ibn Jafar (ca. 721-755 CE) as the true Imam in succession of his father Ja'far al-Sadiq. They observe the following five Uşūl al-Dī: Tawhīd, Imāmah, Nubuwwah, Qiyāmah, and Salāh (see also The Sunni-Shi'a Divide: Islam's Internal Divisions and Their Global Consequences, Robert Brenton Betts, Potomac Books, Inc., 2013).

During the Islamic Golden Age (ca. 750-ca. 1257 CE) the Islamic culture flourished. Ilm al-Kalam or seeking theological principles through dialectic and Falsafa (philosophy, Islamic Peripatetics) flourished during this period. This period of Early Islamic philosophy started with al-Kindi (ca. 800-870 CE) in the 9th century and ends with Averroes (Ibn Rushd) (1126-1198 CE) at the end of 12th century. The philosopher Avicenna (ca. 980-1037 CE) tried to redefine the course of Islamic philosophy and channel it into new directions, and particularly to reconcile Aristotelianism and Neo-Platonism with Islamic theology. Islamic Aristotelian philosophy and theology would also have a profound influence on Christian theology and Thomism (e.g. in his work al-Shifa' (E: The Cure) on the separation of essence and being in Islamic creation 'ex nihilo' in Surat As-Sajdah). From the tenth century to the beginning of the sixteenth CE, the size of the Muslim world almost doubled and Islamization of the conquered regions involved an increasing familiarity with the basic texts and teachings of Islam. The Mongol invasions from the East, and the loss of population because of the Black Death weakened the Muslim civilization. The Ottoman Empire would become the largest of the Muslim empires and would last from from 1299 to 1922. The Reconquista of Spain and later colonial expansion of the Europeans would diminish the power of the Islamic empires. Wahhabism would become an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam and was founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792 CE). His descendants, the Al ash-Sheikh, lead the ulama in the Saudi state, dominating Saudi Arabia's clerical institutions. Hassan al-Banna (1906-1949 CE) founded the Muslim Brotherhood, an important Muslim revival organization. In India the Jamaat-e-Islami was founded in 1941 by Abul Ala Maududi (1903-1979 CE). The Muslim revival and Islamism was a reaction against the Western domination and alleged superiority over Islamic nations and their culture (Western Europe had come a long way from the dark Middle Ages when Islam and Islamic culture and science once dominated European civilization).


Sufism the mystic tradition of Islam is sometimes described as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but Allah". In Sufism one starts with Islamic law, the exoteric or mundane practice of Islam (Wilayah Eksoteris) and then is initiated onto the mystical path of a tariqah (Wilayah Esoteris). The Four Spiritual Stations of sufism are Sharia, tariqahs, haqiqa. The fourth station, marifa, which is considered 'unseen', is actually the center of the haqiqa region. It's the essence of all four spiritual stations (see also Sufism: A Global History, Nile Green, John Wiley & Sons, 20 feb. 2012).

Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058-1111 CE) promoted acceptance of inner spirituality as an important part of Islamic life. Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-Arabi (1165-1240 CE) extended Sufism with a more pantheistic outlook that became the heart of subsequent presentations of Muslim mysticism. Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (Rumi, 1207-1273 CE), was a Persian poete and Sufi mystic. Rumi believed that the spirit after devolution from the divine Ego undergoes an evolutionary process by which it comes nearer and nearer to the same divine Ego. Everything in the universe obeys this law and this movement is due to an inbuilt urge to evolve and seek enjoinment with the divinity from which it has emerged. Rumi commented on the famous expression of Mansur al-Hallaj (ca. 858-922 CE), for which al-Hallaj was executed as a blasphemer: "This is what is signified by the words Anā l-Ḥaqq, "I am God." People imagine that it is a presumptuous claim, whereas it is really a presumptuous claim to say Ana 'l-'abd, "I am the slave of God"; and Anā l-Ḥaqq, "I am God" is an expression of great humility. The man who says Ana 'l-'abd, "I am the servant of God" affirms two existences, his own and God's, but he that says Anā l-Ḥaqq, "I am God" has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and says "I am God," that is, "I am naught, He is all; there is no being but God's." This is the extreme of humility and self-abasement.". The Mewlewī Sufi order was founded in 1273 by Rumi's followers after his death. The Mewlewī Sufis, also known as Whirling Dervishes, believe in performing their dhikr (devotional act) in the form of Sama. Sama means "listening", while dhikr means "remembrance". Ahmad Ibn Taimiyya (1263-1328 CE) would argue that rulers who did not strictly rule in accord with Islamic law should be considered infidels and opposed by jihad if necessary. He would inspire Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792 CE), the founder of Wahhabism. Sufism would further develop into tariqahs or devotional paths of famous Sufis. One of the earliest of these was the Qadiriyya Tariqah, tracing itself back to Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (1077-1166 CE). Ahmad ibn Idris al-Fasi (1760-1837 CE) emphasized the importance of Sufi spiritual piety and organization. His pupil Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi (1787-1859 CE) founded the Senussi Sufi order or tariqa in 1837. Another pupil Mohammed Uthman al-Mirghani al-Khatim Khatmiyya Sufi order or tariqa. These tariqahs provided social cohesion, resistance to European imperial expansion, and lead to twentieth-century political parties (see also Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, A.J. Arberry, Routledge, 2013 and The Mathnawí of Jalálu'ddín Rúmí, Vol. 4, part 7, Reynold Alleyne Nicholson ed., Brill, 1940, p. 248 and The Metaphysics of the Heart in the Sufi Doctrine of Rumi, Mohammed Rustom, Studies in Religion 37, no. 1, 2008, pp. 3-14 and The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi, William Chittick, SUNY Press 1983).

As a example of Sufi spirituality, a Sufi parable. "A Persian, a Turk, an Arab, and a Greek were traveling to a distant land when they began arguing over how to spend the single coin they possessed among themselves. All four craved food, but the Persian wanted to spend the coin on angur; the Turk, on uzum; the Arab, on inab; and the Greek, on stafil. The argument became heated as each man insisted on having what he desired. A linguist passing by overheard their quarrel. "Give the coin to me," he said. "I undertake to satisfy the desires of all of you." Taking the coin, the linguist went to a nearby shop and bought four small bunches of grapes. He then returned to the men and gave them each a bunch. "This is my angur!" cried the Persian. "But this is what I call uzum," replied the Turk. "You have brought me my inab," the Arab said. "No! This in my language is stafil," said the Greek. All of a sudden, the men realized that what each of them had desired was in fact the same thing, only they did not know how to express themselves to each other. The four travelers represent humanity in its search for an inner spiritual need it cannot define and which it expresses in different ways. The linguist is the Sufi, who enlightens humanity to the fact that what it seeks (its religions), though called by different names, are in reality one identical thing. However-and this is the most important aspect of the parable-the linguist can offer the travelers only the grapes and nothing more. He cannot offer them wine, which is the essence of the fruit. In other words, human beings cannot be given the secret of ultimate reality, for such knowledge cannot be shared, but must be experienced through an arduous inner journey toward self-annihilation. As the transcendent Iranian poet, Saadi of Shiraz, wrote, I am a dreamer who is mute, and the people are deaf. I am unable to say, and they are unable to hear." (see also No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam, Reza Aslan, Random House, 2008, p. 203).

- Muhammad arrives in heaven on Buraq -

The Holy Qur'an of Islam begins with Surah 1. The Opening
1. In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
2. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds;
3. Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
4. Master of the Day of Judgment.
5. Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek.
6. Show us the straight way,
7. The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.

پارسی گو گرچه تازی خوشتر است — عشق را خود صد زبان دیگر است
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

*Muhammad ibnu Abdillah - (ca.570-632 CE)
*Prophet Muhammad
*Prophet Muhammad
*Islam - ed. Robert Wuthnow
*The Islam Page
*Islam guide
*Five Pillars of Islam
*Five Pillars of Islam
*The Holy Ka'bah
* Authentic Islamic Literature
*Discover Islam
*The True Religion - Islam
*Islam: The Perfect Religion and Best Way of Life for All
*Life Cycle Observances in Islam
*Sacred Places of Islam
*People of the Book
*Idolatry - Shirk - Islam
*Tawhid - Monotheism in Islam
*Kafir - Unbeliever in Islam

*Islamic Philosophy
*Islamic philosophy
*Islam, Qur'an & Science
*Illuminationist philosophy
*Abu Hamid al-Ghazali - (505-1111 CE)
*Rabi'ah al-'Adawiyah - (717-801 CE)
*Rabi'ah al-'Adawiyah - (717-801 CE)
*Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi - (1207-1272 CE)
*The Masnavi I Ma'navi - Rumi
*Quranic commentary - Tafsir
*Massud Ahmen Khan

*Wahhabism - Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab
*Sunnism - Islam
*SunniPath - Islam
*Shi'ite Islam
*Shi'a Encyclopedia
*Shi'ite Islam - Islamic Thought Foundation
*Sufism - The Way of The Heart
*Sufism - Sufis - Sufi Orders
*Naqshbandiya Foundation For Islamic Education
*Cheshtiya - Chishti Order
*The Chishti Nizami Habibi Soofie Sufi Order
*Nation of Islam - USA
*Institute of Druze Studies
*Lebaneze Druze Community

*Deviant Sects and Cults
*The Islamic and Christian views of Jesus: a comparison

The Bahá'í Faith

The The Bahá'í Faith is a religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh, a 19th century Persian exile. Bahá'u'lláh claimed to be a new and independent Messenger from God. Bahá'ís view Bahá'u'lláh as the most recent in a succession of divine Messengers.
Bahá'u'lláh taught that there is only one God and one human family, that all religions represent progressive stages in the revelation of God's Will, and that humanity is reaching its long-awaited stage of maturity, when a peaceful and just world order can finally be realized.

- Bahá'u'lláh -

*The Bahá'ís
*The Bahá'í Faith
*The Bahá'í Faith
*The Bahá'í Faith
*The Bahá'í Faith - USA
*Bahá'í Sacred Texts
*Bahá'í Prayers


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