Marcion and Arius: American Political Theology’s Roots


Jon Rowe

Jon Rowe is a full Professor of Business at Mercer County Community College, where he teaches business, law, and legal issues relating to politics. Of course, his views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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7 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I recently developed an interest in Panentheism, as it most closely mirrors my own beliefs. There is some evidence to support this was the more specific brand of religion practiced by some of the Founding Fathers.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Intellectually, I’m more of a Deist, ever since I wrote a paper on it in college(*). But when I watch something like Cosmos, I do feel the tug of pantheism. Panentheism seems like a High Church kind of compromise – with a place for both the logical and the ecstatic.

      (*) I saved the reading until too late and ended up getting my thesis exactly wrong. This spurred me to go back and do the reading with even more care than would have been necessary to do the paper right in the first place.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to El Muneco says:

        Intellectually I am more of a pantheist but after being raised in the Church my heart feels better as a panentheist. It’s definitely a compromise and I fully acknowledge it may be a placebo effect, or as you say, a sort of compromise between rationale thought and my Catholic guilt.

        It’s interesting how much societal pressure makes Panentheism difficult to admit. It’s almost as though many people in the U.S. are more accepting of atheism than a non-denominational belief in God without Jesus.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    It’s odd that my strongest reaction is to want to rebut Ben Franklin condemning Jael so forcefully. After all, what she did really can only rationally be characterized as “murder,” and perhaps worse, murder in the cause of mere tribalism. But she was a patriot if nothing else, and was celebrated by the Hebrews as such. Wouldn’t we Americans similarly celebrate a Federal-era Jael who had done the equivalent to Lord Cornwallis? Why, then, would Franklin condemn her so?Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Separate comment for a separate subject.

    I’ve seen the term “demiurge” elsewhere but never come across so cogent a definition as here. What it suggests to me is that if the concept was valid at the time, the line between polytheism and monotheism was more than a little blurry in the Bronze Age. The demiurge was not God, exactly, but at the same time kind of was God, just in a lesser form. Not an angel or The Son in a pre-incarnation manifestation, because this is a Unitarian concept, but an individual facet if the somehow more perfect and greater divine entity. Which makes sense and may even be necessary if you’re trying to reverse-theologize your way into justifying something that looks like Unitarian Christianity as it existed in the late Enlightenment.

    …or have I missed something?Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Burt Likko says:

      There is no question that the line between monotheism, polytheism and henotheism can be blurry.

      In scripture, it’s not presented as “God” on the one hand humans on the other. There is a court in Heaven and God is surrounded by other divine entities.

      “Demiurge” is one of those big words that most people don’t know. In fact I think I may have just learned it this year. (From my research on the Yazidis.)

      I admit I may be playing with the definition. I understand it as some kind of divine intermediary who interacts with man, but is lesser than the Infinite God.

      Arian Jesus could qualify. In researching James Burgh’s Arianism, he argues that Jesus in fact was the Creator of man, but still not fully God. He argued something like God created the matter like clay and Jesus then took the clay and turned it into pieces.Report

  4. Avatar El Muneco says:

    On another note, I’ll reconfirm my nod towards Chaosium’s ancient game “Credo”. Frankly, it’s not that great of a game as such, kind of a primitive version of Steve Jackson’s “Nuclear War”. It’s just such a brilliant idea – the players compete as the various factions trying to influence the Council of Nicaea, and the end result of the game is the creed that defines Christianity moving forward. Modified from the one in our reality by how successful the Arians or Gnostics or a few sects even more obscure might have been. Some of the smaller cults live or die on a single sentence. It’s brilliant. But I’d rather play Cosmic Encounter.Report