Tuesday, December 29, 2015

When Terror Inhabits Our Souls

As a civilization, we have allowed the scientific revolution to make us invincible: science has offered solutions to every problem in physics, technology, medicine, global communications, even the psychology of self-understanding.


Until recently.

When logic seems to be failing us. And in its place? A void.

Although there are many gains from science, we are seeing its limits: science is not answering questions about why we are here, the purpose of our life, or what happens to us when we die.

Indeed, regardless of measured attempts to control wealth and regulate financial security, the global economy is  precarious. Drug addiction is increasing, despite new psycho-social treatments. We are experiencing the impact of climate travail on a planet abused too long and too expansively. We read of horrific killings and torture by Muslim extremists such as ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda around the world and in the USA, bewildered by their illogical barbarity. We are living on a planet without solutions to terrorist threats and attacks reported daily as the new reality. 


As a consequence, I believe one overarching phenomenon dominates our experience every day.


Terror is more than a feeling. It is a cognition, a sensation, and a perception. That's why it can get under our skin and negatively impact our pulse rate, our sleep, our breathing—and our view of the world.

When terror inhabits our souls, it brings its cousins: fear, apprehension, dread, anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, and even loss of faith and hope and love. The mind and heart, body and spirit: our human nature itself, terrorized.

Where do we seek a solution?

Compass Psychotheology suggests that the Bible offers a larger truth. The Bible views all human beings as sharing a common human nature: our mind and heart; body and spirit, made in God's image. As such, we are universally called to know God and walk in his light. Or, if we refuse God's call and persist in choosing evil, we will walk in darkness.


As the Son of God, Light of the World, and Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ offers the antidote to our experience of terror in two ways.


1) The Peace of Christ.

Jesus Christ, the God-man, knew the terror of death on the cross for crimes he did not commit, so that he could rise again to offer interpersonal fellowship with you and me. Jesus offered his blood to build a living connection between each of us and God, a rock of salvation who overcomes earthly terrors through the inner presence of the Holy Spirit, Christ's most precious gift to every believer at the moment of their conversion.

Jesus' peace that passes logical understanding provides the antidote gifted to John the Baptist, Mary, Peter, James, and John, each tested almost beyond endurance. It's the same antidote that early Christians experienced, even though hunted down by Roman legions in the catacombs or fed to hungry lions in the Colosseum. Even a Caesar could not stop them from singing hymns.

"I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart," Jesus said. "And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid" (John 14:27).  
2) Christ's Return.

Many of us in the 21st Century perceive a great darkness enveloping humankind, a darkness so great that Billy Graham, among others, sees us truly qualifying as the generation alive at Christ's Second Coming, an event that Jesus himself foretold:

Jesus said:
"People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near" (Luke 21:26-28).

Christ returns to judge the living and the dead. The Son of God will transfigure the Earth into a new creation: A pristine and sinless Heaven-Earth in which the redeemed in Christ will flourish and thrive. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared" (Revelation 21:1).

Now is the hour to read the Bible as never before, not to join the skeptics who mock the promise of Christ's glorious return. 

Now is the hour to dig into the living Word of God, personally guided in your reading by the Holy Spirit, taking hold of the inner resources of faith, hope, and love—as a daily, sometimes hourly, antidote to terror.

"But what about the newscasts? What about the disaster movies? What about the worry that consumes the people around me?" Joshua chose to challenge fear-based thoughts, even when enemies surrounded him, by declaring, "As for me and my household, we will follow the Lord!"

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows," Jesus said. "But take heart, because I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Liberal Christianity: Its Psychological and Theological Limitations

In Theological Crossfire: An Evangelical and Liberal Dialogue, Clark Pinnock writes:
All theologians find themselves constantly struggling with two poles or horizons that define their work. They strive to correlate the Christian message with human existence. Theology needs to wrestle with both to be worth much. Evangelicals are relatively more preoccupied with the message pole and liberals relatively more with the pole of human existence.
From the perspective of compass theory, progressive Christians rightly affirm that God is immanently present in creation, and that God enables people to actualize their human potential. However, the here and now quest for relevancy to contemporary culture can disconnect persons from essential orthodox doctrines derived from the authority of Scripture, definitive creeds, and valuable church traditions. This is one of the consequences of holding an "Aristotelian mind-set," noted in my book, Compass Psychotheology: Where Psychology & Theology Really Meet.

Loath to being judged as naive in the modern world where faith without reason is perceived as foolish, liberals are discomfited by fundamentalist/evangelical fervor that regards the Bible as God’s Word and Christ as humanity’s Savior from sin. The progressive wants to make Christianity respectable by bringing it under the auspices of reason. To be seen as intelligent and perhaps even avant-garde, one rejects doctrines or scriptural assertions that seem irrational or implausible.   

Christian Doctrine

Up-to-date knowledge from the sciences, the humanities, and cultural analysis can give liberals the sense of being Christianity’s intelligentsia who move beyond simple biblical faith. This philosophical sophistication and outward focus on improving society makes it difficult for the progressive Christian to admit personal foibles like rigid personality patterns or blind spots in one’s human nature.       

Even though one perceives one’s self as open-minded, a reaction formation often develops against historically orthodox tenets of faith. A certain skittishness prevails regarding supernatural intervention and particular answers to prayer, coupled with an aversion to seeking personal redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit is marginalized as a vague and irrational aspect of Trinitarian theology who is functionally irrelevant to the improvement of society. The idea of a deepening personal encounter with the Holy Spirit is judged as lacking empirical evidence and too mystical for modern life. One bypasses pressing into spiritual transformation in favor of pressing for social action through the church and one’s own resolve. 

Social Action

There is an unconscious fear of surrendering to an emotional encounter with God, or being guided in directions that smack of loss of control. God’s guidance is sought in terms of what seems the most rational way to proceed, whether in daily life or in choosing one’s calling.

The call from liberal and progressive pulpits is not for evangelization but for active involvement in solving society’s problems. The progressive Christian is often left with two options in response: one can mobilize one’s will to unselfishly serve others or one can quietly withdraw into apathy, feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of transforming the world through heroic human willpower. A person who becomes inwardly apathetic is outwardly present in church attendance, but before long may even withdraw from that.

Moreover, there is a price to pay for dissociation from orthodox Christian roots and estrangement from the biblical worldview: the loss of absolute points of reference. An indiscriminate pluralism results. By losing sight of doctrinal clarity, apostolic teaching, and the inspired continuity of Scripture, an individual can, in effect, lose one’s Christian identity. A person’s life can drift in a sea of relativity.

The overall result is identity diffusion: a lack of commitment to absolutes that would firm up a self-identity in intimacy with God and others. 

As a consequence, the very community and communion so ardently sought in this world can elude the liberal Christian, since the Aristotelian mind-set unconsciously excludes the transcendent Trinity who makes such community possible.

Transcendent Trinity

For more, read:


Friday, May 24, 2013

Psychology and Theology: The New Integration

To some, it is a scandalous position; for others, even worse…it is unreasonable. To propose, as compass psychotheology does, that psychology finds its purpose when grounded in the Trinitarian God. And that theology is distorted unless examined under the lens of psychology.

Further, compass psychotheology proposes that it is possible to summarize the God-human relationship with a two-word equation. An equation developed from the Biblical salvation narrative, asserting that human beings derive their essence as persons within the loving interpersonal field of the triune God. An equation which assumes that human beings, distinct from all other creatures, are created in the image of God and called to become persons in communication and communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Existential Intimacy Equation

Compass psychotheology proposes that the following paradigm illustrates both the meaning of existence of persons and the existential intimacy possible between God and every human being.

Existential Intimacy

What does it mean, that God desires existential intimacy with each person? We would suggest that God’s most identifying trait is his existence as infinite Subject (represented by the upper case “I AM”)—a divine center of uncreated personal awareness designated by the ontological title, “I AM” (Ex 3:14, Jn 8:58). 

And that it is through God’s eagerness to share his essential Being that he urges each person (represented by the lower case “i am”) into a relationship of love and reciprocity. Such loving participation in God is not pantheism, for God is the ever-transcendent Creator, while humans are finite, non-divine creatures and never cease being so. People depend upon God’s Being as the ontological foundation of life and truth, while God depends upon no one. “God lives in creation in a God-like way, and the world lives in God in a world-like way,” as Jurgen Moltman says.

God desires people to participate in communion with the Trinity and others. People are fulfilled to the extent that they do. This notion of God’s one-on-one participation in intimate dialogue with individuals presupposes that God is not only an immutable essence, but also a living person whose nature defines the meaning of personhood (cf. Nah 1:4-5 NICOT).

God initiates relationships with individuals that grow over time, modulated to the person’s level of maturity and God’s own desire for affiliation. One can see this in Yahweh and his bond with Abraham. Hagar. Hannah. Samuel. David. Solomon. With the prophets. Each relationship is different; each has its own rhythm of communication and communion.
But above all, God demonstrates his personal fidelity to individuals. When Jeremiah receives his call from the Lord, he is told: “Before I formed you from the womb, I knew you intimately” (Jer 1:5). The Hebrew word yada, “know,” expresses God’s longing for relational closeness, for it means to know intimately, as a man and woman know each other in marriage (Gen 4:1).

Fellowship of Mutual Indwelling

On the right side of the equation, the “I AM” nestled within the “i am” represents God’s infinite love that dwells in the core of each person as potentiality, but requires voluntary cooperation for actualizing. This means that individuals are infinitely significant to the triune God, who has extended a personal invitation to share the eternal blessedness of his inner life. God is in persons in a divine way and they are called to live in God in a human way, a way of intimate fellowship and indwelling.

Jesus expresses this reality in his prayer for existential intimacy between the Father and those who will believe in him:
“As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (Jn 17: 21-23).
On the left side of the equation, “i am” is invited to abide in loving reciprocity with “I AM,” a communion that echoes the intimacy of the divine triune community, for “your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3). This relationship encompasses the whole of one’s personality and human nature.

"i am" in Relationship with "I AM" 

Because God is their common Origin, all people possess the potential for responding to God and for carrying the fruit of that relationship into their daily lives (cf. Acts 10:34). But accepting God’s invitation to intimacy requires action. It means embracing responsibility for one’s part in a growing and dynamic bond in which one initiates and pursues, expressing authentic feelings and heart’s desires. In this endeavor it is “i am” who risks emotional vulnerability when building a relationship with “I AM.” 


Habakkuk was such a person. Confused and troubled over what he viewed as oppression of the Israelites, he risked expressing these concerns to Yahweh. Readying himself for rebuke, Habakkuk found instead that his “dialogue of protest” resulted in God’s gentle disclosure of a larger picture (Hab 1:12-2:1; 2:20). Habakkuk’s risk of emotional honesty yielded greater existential intimacy with his Creator, forming in turn a deeper bond of trust from the human side.

For more, read: 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How Compass Psychotheology Bridges the Diviseness within Christianity

Have you ever wondered about the many paradoxes embedded within Christianity? The greatest paradox is this: God's absolute, eternal, and transcendent Being stands apart from this present world, while at the same time God's historical, temporal, and immanent Becoming infuses the world and calls all human beings to know and love him.

Compass psychotheology offers a bridge-building theory that brings together therapeutic psychology with Trinitarian biblical theology. Seeing Christianity through the Compass lens provides insight into contemporary trends within the Christian faith. This insight may facilitate healing where there is presently disturbance and divisiveness.

God's Being & Becoming

On the one hand, there is the paradoxical tension we can characterize as the Fundamentalist/Progressive polarity. 

In the Fundamentalist view, the absolute truths of the Bible reveal God's Being as holy, humanity as fallen, and conversion to Christ as the purpose of the Church. The application of Scriptural propositions forms the basis for personal living that resists the eroding forces within culture. 

In the Progressive view, God's Becoming is manifest in the unfolding process of history, the gradual enlightenment of humankind from superstition, and the accomplishments of science, education, and God's urgent call to social justice in every generation. One follows Christ by accepting the universal love of God for people, and seeking to live a compassionate life of service.

On the other hand, there is the paradoxical tension we can characterize as the Evangelical/Pentecostal polarity. 

From the Evangelical perspective, God's Being stands over against a sinful world and requires the evangelization of the nations, and the application of well-formed theologies that articulate doctrine and guide ethical choices. 

In the Pentecostal view, God's Becoming takes center stage, with a prime emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit as the action component of God. The Holy Spirit is experienced in the joy of conversion and baptism, the glory of worship, and the awe of healing, prophecy, and personal guidance in daily life.

Compass psychotheology places these polarized traditions within the compass paradigm and offers the following interpretation.

Christianity Being & Becoming

Placing these two sets of polarities within the Compass Model allows each to form a rhythmic continuity with the other, yielding a dynamic synthesis that encompasses a continuum of truth, integrating Being with Becoming. These are complementary polarities in holistic integration, a process that Donald Bloesch says, "is not to be confused with taking the middle road for it embraces the truth in both camps and negates the untruth in these positions as well."

Thus, there lies within this compass paradigm a challenge for each of the four traditions: a challenge that each tradition both value its foremost contributions, while at the same time valuing the key contributions of the others.  

The Fundamentalist and Progressive traditions, for example, are challenged to value both the need for conversion to Christ and living by biblical truths, as well as fostering an openness to science, culture, and dialogue with non-Christians in respectful ways. 

The Evangelical and Pentecostal traditions are challenged to value both sound theological doctrine, and the Holy Spirit's power to impart gifts of service and joyful worship in the Lord.

In such a way, the paradox of God's Being and Becoming is honored within the Body of Christ, a goal affirmed by Gordon Fee when he writes in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23: "Our slogans take the form of 'I am of the Pentecostals'...'I am of the liberals,' or 'of the evangelicals,' or  'of the fundamentalists,’ but to be 'of Christ' is also to be free from the tyrannies of one's own narrowness, free to learn even from those with whom one may disagree."

For more, read: 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

How The Aristotelian Mind-set Impacts Christian Liberal Theology

During the Renaissance and Enlightenment, theologians, scientists, and philosophers rebel against classical theology by championing an Aristotelian this-worldly mind-set. They openly challenge the Platonist perception of God as a spiritually perfect being who reigns over-and-above an inferior material world.

Renaissance thinkers like Francis Bacon, John Locke, and Isaac Newton undertake to shift theology from God’s immutable being per se to the exploration and development of God’s creation. Immanuel Kant summarizes the principle of Aristotelian worldliness and its role in the Enlightenment when he asserts:  “Have courage to use your reason.” 

Have courage to use your reason

In the nineteenth century, Sören Kierkegaard (1813-1855) emphasizes the God/human relationship with his perspective that the Christian God desires people to subjectively apprehend and experience him. Kierkegaard faults the Church’s otherworldliness for constraining believers with bonds of passivity and joylessness.

Other theologians of the nineteenth century deepen the Aristotelian “hands on” ethos by rallying people toward social action for the improvement of humanity. They encourage people to face, feel, and solve the practical problems of this world.  

Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), Albrecht Ritschl (1822-1889), and Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) lay the foundations for liberal theology, so-called for its human-centered concerns and doctrinal pragmatism. In their view, Jesus came not to challenge the world, to pronounce judgment upon sin, or even to be a savior, but to embrace culture and improve the human condition. For these theologians, the kingdom of God concerns the realization that God calls each person to accept and love one another in the here and now of this earthly life.

As classical theism is rejected, so, too, is the authority of Scripture. Liberal theologians lay aside orthodox doctrines considered unreasonable, such as the virgin birth, the miracles Jesus performed, or the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments. Christ is more morally inspiring than divine. He becomes the ultimate model of love and justice.

In the next generation, theologians like Paul Tillich (1886-1965) continue to find value in the Aristotelian mind-set. Tillich seeks to correlate the Biblical message with the needs of contemporary society by redefining God as the ground of Being. He argues that God is found in the form of ultimate concern embedded in the depth of people’s personalities and life-situations.

God as Ground of Being

In addition to the liberal protest, there are other challenges to the Platonist mind-set of classical theism. Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), Henri Bergson (1859-1941), and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) develop a characteristically Aristotelian fascination with God’s this-worldly immanence as the actualizing force, or entelechy, that pushes all creation toward the fulfillment of its purposes. 

In their view, God is not static and fixed, but always in flux, moving forward, co-creating history with humanity. Christ is not so much a historical person as an evolutionary cosmic process. This intuitive and pragmatic approach to Christian thought is known as process theology.  

The inherent difficulty, of course, is that God is so completely identified with the immanent Becoming of this world that the transcendent Being of the Trinity dissolves into the fabric of creation.
Late twentieth-century formulations with an Aristotelian thrust are found in the black theology of African-American James Cone, the liberation theology of Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutierrez, and the feminist theology of Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza.

Each of these individuals share frustration, even resentment, toward what they consider the rigid mind-set of a traditional theology that is caught up in abstractions to the point that it is oblivious to racial, social, and gender injustices. Theology is not simply the rational study of the Being of God, Cone asserts, but the study of God’s liberating transformation of the world. In the view of Cone and other liberation theologians, the oppressed will “risk all for earthly freedom, a freedom made possible in the resurrection of Christ.”

Liberal progressive theologians have vigorously critiqued what they consider the centuries old white male patristic dominance of Christianity. They consider it an influence that too often sides with the status quo of the ruling class and thereby crucifies Christ anew by persecuting minorities, the poor, and women. 

Christ is seen as struggling for justice alongside the victimized and marginalized against all forms of social oppression, which can even include the Church herself. In a decisive break with a centuries-old conservative praxis, the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) opened the doors to the influence of the Aristotelian mind-set, including the involvement by Catholic laity and clergy in radical social politics.

From more, read: 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How Plato Influences Christianity

One can recognize the influence of Plato’s absolute idealism in the fourth and fifth centuries of the early church, when Greek metaphysical concepts are employed to shore up and defend orthodoxy against heretical trends, particularly Arianism, which denies the co-equal identity of Christ with the Father.

Indeed, Augustine of Hippo (354-430), a prime contributor to early church doctrine, had been well schooled in Neo-Platonism before his conversion. While Augustine quotes the Bible extensively, he tends to interpret it within the neo-Platonic framework. In Teaching Christianity, for example, Augustine writes, “If those philosophers happen to have said anything that is true and agreeable to our faith, the Platonists above all…we should even claim back for our own use what they have said.” 

Augustine of Hippo

The influence of such a perspective is revealed in the same work when Augustine writes, “God does not enjoy us, but makes use of us…For he is the one who supremely and primordially is, being absolutely unchanging.” And in discussing Jesus’ commandment to love God and others as one’s self, Augustine writes, “There is no need of a commandment that we should love ourselves…The end of the commandment is love of God and neighbor.” 

Here is depersonalization, both of God's nature and his relationship to human beings. This philosophy reflects more mechanistic than personalistic and covenantal categories. And this trend continues today when the Christian view of God takes on a distinctly Platonist tone by insisting that God is impassible, indifferent to feeling, invulnerable to suffering, and apart from humanity.

Much of the metaphysical speculation concerning God throughout the Middle Ages, including the writings of Anselm (1033-1109) and Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274), demonstrates a similar preoccupation with the study of God’s Being per se, rather than reflecting the biblical narrative in which humanity is redeemed for communion with the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Thomas Aquinas

Christ’s divinity is clearly affirmed, but his humanity is neglected. His existence as the representative human being who by his death and resurrection transposes ordinary people into sons and daughters of the living God is passed over. 

The Platonist mind-set gives rise to a theology from above, absolutely concerned with God but revealing little interest in persons, apart from pointing out how far short they fall from God’s ideal Being. This, then, is classical theology: a perspective that values God’s eternal intradivine life (termed the “immanent Trinity”), yet is permeated by a remoteness that separates God from his creation. This perspective shares the dualism inherent in Plato’s philosophy and is found in both Western and Eastern Orthodox traditions.

Compass theory suggests that whenever the Platonist mind-set consciously or unconsciously dominates Christian precepts, God is viewed as mechanistic, impersonal, and fatalistic. As a consequence, permanence of belief and thought overshadows the process of growth and change

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Plato, Aristotle, and Compass Psychotheology

It is commonly accepted that the Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, made essential contributions to the foundations of Western civilization. Less recognized is how the diametrically opposed ideologies of Platonism and Aristotelianism influenced the formative centuries of Christian thought, creating theological fault-lines whose tensions reverberate to the present day.

For the purposes of compass theory, the original philosophical positions held by Plato and Aristotle assume importance for psychotheological reasons. Their philosophies, we propose, are foundational to the development of two opposing mind-sets that profoundly impact Christianity and the Western world. Here is a summary of each position.

Plato’s Transcendent Realm of “Eternal Being” 


Both a brilliant philosopher and mathematician, Plato (428-348 BC) favors the use of abstract reason in theorizing about the nature of God and humanity. It is interesting to note that Plato draws many of his examples to support such propositions from the field of mathematics, an area of study that reflects upon perfect but lifeless entities.

Beyond this spatiotemporal world, Plato hypothesizes, there exists a noncorporeal and perfect world, one of eternal being, that is nonphysical, nonspatial, and nontemporal. This is Plato’s world of Ideal Forms. A world that is in stark contrast to the imperfect shadow of this physical world in which human beings live.

Here is Plato on the subject:
This, then, which gives to the objects of knowledge their truth and to him who knows them his power of knowing, is the Form or essential nature of Goodness...And so with the objects of knowledge: these derive from the Good not only their power of being known, but their very being and reality.
At a practical level, Plato implies that the world ordinary people experience as being real—the world of changing, growing, living things—is not real at all. It is but an illusory and inferior representation of the eternal and changeless realm of Ideal Forms.

The highest and most noble aspect of the self is the mind, with its ability to contemplate abstract ideals and apply them to the disciplined life of human reason. The lowest and most ignoble aspects of the self are the emotions and bodily senses, because of their inherent “irrational” qualities.           

Since reason possesses greater stability and most accurately corresponds to the noncorporeal world of ideal being, it therefore follows that abstract thinking is superior to emotion, sensation, and intuition.

Such reliance upon reason is applied to natural theology as well. Plato attributes intelligence to God and a reasoned order to the universe. Like the Christian God, Plato’s deity is good. Indeed, God is termed the Form of the Good, positioned at the summit of the pyramid of knowledge, the perfect expression of eternal being.

But the Form of the Good is an impersonal creator, and while the created universe is ordered and ordained for a purposive human destiny, this is a mechanistic rather than personalistic universe.
“The emphasis (is) most decidedly placed by Plato on the sphere of perfect Being, of true Reality,” notes philosopher of history Frederick Copleston: “On Being, rather than on Becoming.”
Such mental preoccupation with absolute ideals, based on the otherworldly perfection of God’s eternal being, defines the essence of Plato’s mind-set.

The sense world of human experience is entirely separate from the world of Ideal Forms. This separation results in dualism: an unbridgeable chasm between eternal Being and spatiotemporal Becoming—in theological terms, between the transcendence and immanence of God.

Aristotle’s Immanent World of Change and “Becoming”


Aristotle (384-322 BC) investigates this present world for the purpose of organizing data and discovering the principles of change that govern the world of sense perception. In his fascination for earthly creation, Aristotle shows considerable gifts for practical, empirical, and intuitive investigation. He favors biology as the model science, developing a curriculum for the study of imperfect but living organisms.

For Aristotle there is no dualistic separation of eternal Being from spatiotemporal Becoming, as Plato would have it. There is only one world, the world of actual things that are moving dynamically toward fulfillment. Although he accepts the concept of Plato’s eternal forms, Aristotle sees such forms as embedded in the concrete particulars of this world, as inner forces of growth and change. These forms are self-actualizing trends of the spatiotemporal world, a concept that he terms “entelechy.” 

God is seen as pure and complete actuality. There is no sense of god as a person who cares about or provides for humanity. Instead, God is a metaphysical necessity, the force behind entelechy that drives all things toward fulfillment in the here and now world of becoming.

In clear contrast to his mentor, Plato, “Aristotle was possessed by the concept of Becoming,” Copleston notes. Aristotle’s interest in this-worldly concreteness characterizes the subsequent mind-set of Aristotelianism, derived from Aristotle’s search to describe and understand the sensible world, a passion absent in the philosophy of Plato.

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