Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Quote of the Day: Heschel on God as "the Most Moved Mover"

"...if we put aside the categories and logic of Greek philosophy and try to understand biblical religion in its own terms, we will soon discover that the God of the bible is not Aristotle's impassive, unmoved mover at all; he can only be described as "the Most Moved Mover." Between "unmoved" and "most moved" lies the vast gulf that separates Aristotelian/philosophical and biblical/religious conceptions of God. According to the Bible, the single most important thing about God is not his perfection but his concern for the world. God created the world and from that moment on exhibits concern for his creation. The God of the Bible is not aloof but involved, not distant but near, not immune from, but vulnerable to what happens in his world and what his creatures to do. In a word, God seeks intimacy. He is especially 'in search of man,' desiring relationship and cherishing the hope that, out of this relationship (the biblical term for the fullness of this relationship is covenant) will come proper human actions and just societies. God has a stake in our behavior. Thus, he cries when we fail and rejoices when we succeed. He weeps when we ignore widows, exploit orphans, and abuse strangers; and when we violate the norms he has taken pains to communicate to us, he angrily sends prophets to chastise and warn us. What all this means is that God is filled with feeling, with pathos. Strange as this might be to Aristotle, it is the very essence of biblical religion and of the Judaism that arose from it. "

Alan T. Levenson, Introduction to Modern Jewish Thinkers,
"Chapter Thirteen: Abraham Joshua Heschel," p. 215

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