Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.7U

Summary of text [comment] pages 49 and 50

[Thinkgroup = think x think x think x think … x think.

It can achieve a power that is categorically different than any individual conscience.

Thinkgroup can rationalize mob action.

Thinkgroup can identify scapegoats.

Thinkgroup can achieve a societal closure that marks the totalitarian state.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.7T

Summary of text [comment] pages 49 and 50

[Solvable? Let me tell you about solvable problems.

Both thinkgroup and thinkdivine occupy the normal context slot of the vertical axis of the intersection modeling “the message underlying the word ‘religion'”.

How did I come up with these terms? At first, I thought of using “group think” and “God think”. But the qualifier was not part of the word.

So I ran them together like groupthink and Godthink.

No, that was not adequate.

Then, I happened to hear a lecture on Aristotle, where the word “powers” was used a lot. I already knew that “powers in math” described “the number of times a number was multiplied by itself”. So I associated the two concepts. Think became exponential.

The mathematical notation of exponentials inspired the words thinkgroup and thinkdivine.

How is that for a solution?]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.7R

Summary of text [comment] pages 49 and 50

[“The transcendent Holy Spirit3” brings “the immanence of the Father and the Son2” into relation with “the Possibility of One Truth-filled God1“.

Where is “the Mystery of God” in this?

The normal context is the Holy Spirit, which is perceived as a person. After all, people are also mediators. So that makes sense. The Holy Spirit is relational. Every relation expresses three elements. God is triune.

Actuality is dyadic. It has two elements. One element “causes” the other, in the broadest sense of the term “cause”. Both Yahweh and Jesus are actual. They do not contradict. Therefore, God is truth-filled.

So there we have three people, but there is one element missing in the nested form.

Missing is “the mystery that God is possible”.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.7Q

Summary of text [comment] pages 49 and 50

[The so-called European Enlightenment elevated Greek thought over so-called Judeo-Christian superstition. These thinkers claimed to be “not religious”. I call them “postreligionist”.

The self-labeled enlightened ones made two columns labeled “transcendence” and “immanence”. They then put Yahweh into the “transcendence” column, thereby unconsciously projecting onto Him all the attributes of Zeus. Zeus is a majestic, transcendent and capricious god. So also, by association, is Yahweh.

Postreligionist (enlightenment) thinkers then put Jesus into the “immanence” column, thereby unconsciously projecting onto Him all the attributes of someone like Socrates. Socrates undermined the Athenian social system with his persistent questions. By association, so did Jesus. Jesus was a political animal.

Postreligionist (enlightenment) thinkers never imagined that there was a third element. The list itself constituted a third.

They also never imagined what made their list possible. Paper, pen and ink turned their list into something that they could see.

Neither the paper nor the pen nor the ink have the character of a Zeus or Socrates.

They reflect a mystery that the postreligionists could not imagine.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.7P

Summary of text [comment] pages 49 and 50

[So we have two columns with the headers of transcendence and immanence.

Both Yahweh and Jesus go into the column of immanence.

So does everything in the Bible.

The Bible is a record, even if that witness is buried in forgetfulness and oral tradition. The Bible witnesses the Real.

So, what goes into the header of transcendence?

Go outside and look at the sky.

It is not in the sky.

Go outside and feel the earth.

It is not in the earth.

Feel the breeze touch your face.

It is in the wind.

The Holy Spirit goes into the column of transcendence.

How different is the Holy Spirit from Zeus?

The idea of the Holy Spirit allows us to divorce Greek philosophy from Greek mythology.

The schoolmen of the Latin Age began this divorce.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.7N

Summary of text [comment] pages 49 and 50

How can sin both hurt God’s feelings and not injure God Himself? Schoonenberg claims this is not a problem to be solved.

[Once again, we meet the mystery. We already know why “transcendence” is on the list. That is the Greek logical view. These characteristics go with a Supreme God.

Why is “immanence” also on the list? Greek logic does not require this. Instead, the Bible witnesses God’s immanence. The Old and New Testaments declare that God created the heavens and the earth; fashioned the first human out of earth; made a covenant with Israel; was born as the Son of Mary; and presently moves us through the Holy Spirit.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.7O

Summary of text [comment] pages 49 and 50

[So, let me transform my list from two items to two columns.

The title of one column is the quality of the One True God of Greek logic: transcendence. Under this title I write the word “majesty”.

I title the other column is “immanence”. In this column I list various scenes from the Bible. Yahweh is portrayed as a God who yearns to create a people, fashions a covenant with them, then prospers or punishes his people. Jesus is portrayed as a scapegoat, humble, submitting to the will of the Father, and powerless.

Given this list, what do we intuitively want to do?

We want to keep Jesus on the immanent list. After all, he is one of us.

We want to shift the Bible’s portrait of Yahweh to the transcendence column.

Once this is done, Yahweh becomes a mimic of Zeus; temperamental, demanding, capricious, majestic and transcendent. But this mimic is not the Biblical Yahweh.

What does this imply?

Greek philosophy is not readily divorced from Greek mythology.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.7M

Summary of text [comment] pages 47, 48 and 49

[Does the juxtaposition of God’s transcendence and God’s immanence make God mysterious?

I take a sheet of paper and make a list. The title of the list is “What makes God mysterious”. I list the two items.

But, then I have this weird thought: How can I possibly check off both items without realizing that the list itself is the principle that brings these two together?

I see two items. Do I even register the third?

Yet this third itself is also conveys the mystery of God. The ink and paper that the mystery is written literally brings the two items together.

Schoonenberg did not quite realize that the mystery of God (the list & the paper) underlies the Immanent (the Semitic view) and the Transcendent (the Greek view).

Oh, but “the mystery of God” also contextualizes. It is the title of the list.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.7L

Summary of text [comment] pages 47, 48 and 49

[So, let me propose the following theatrical production as a mystery play:

Greek linear thought, following the intrinsic logic of the concept of One God, deduced the qualities of majesty and transcendence. These qualities are necessary for logical truth.

The stage is veiled by a curtain painted with an image Zeus or Jupiter, poised to cast bolts of lightning.  The sky flashes. How transcendent. How majestic. All other possibilities have been discarded. We recognize the One Transcendent Majestic God as the One True God.

Then the curtains parts, and what do we see? A poor woman delivering her baby in a shed.

To me, this theatrical moment expresses the Semitic point of view, a juxtaposition of images asking the witness to recognize the possibilities.

Recognize the possibility of Jesus.]