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(360 words)

Author(s): Stolz, Fritz
Transcendence is originally a philosophical concept that distinguishes the immediately accessible, differentiated world of reality from a foundational space that lies behind it. The theological theme of God's quality as a reality ‘beyond’ was open to a corresponding development, which has indeed been realized. Since antiquity, transcendence is essentially a space reached neither by sensory perception nor by speech. Thus, God remains in the realm of the ineffable. Approaches to the transcendent G…

God/Gods/The Sacred

(3,221 words)

Author(s): Stolz, Fritz
1. Should one seek to apply the expression ‘God,’ ‘the Sacred,’ or ‘the Holy,’ academically, one would first have to become clear on the presuppositions involved. The Christian tradition has long opposed the one true God to the many false gods, first those of antiquity. God is essentially a ‘person,’ that is, a ‘vis-à-vis.’ The concept of God implies evaluations (true/false, good/bad) and a distinction between monotheism and polytheism. The one excludes alternatives, and the other presupposes them. This classification underwent a relativization in the Renaissance. Antiquity then became regarded as a positive exemplar of a world of gods. The Enlightenment introduced the principle of reason as a norm into the concept of God: God was determined essentially by (the one) reason. Thus the conception of a person vanished: it was no longer the powerful vis-à-vis, but a calculable structure, that shaped the deity. In a counterstroke, Romanticism found the experience of the divinity in aesthetics and emotions; God became ‘unnamable’; the divine was now but within, accessible only to individual experience, and no longer in a world beyond. In this case as well, a depersonalization manifests itself. ‘The Holy’ Corresponding to this modern tendency is the replacement of God as the fundamental religious object, in religious studies around 1900, with an impers00onal concept: namely, the idea of the ‘Sacred’ or ‘Holy’. Now, this Sacred can be conceived basi…