Lecture On The Philosophy Of Religion, 1924-1925

excerpts XIV. The structure of the secondary determinations of the divine8. On the spiritual dimension of the Christian Orthodox  But what is exactly the spiritual dimension? For example, if we are aware of the fact that we are Christians, in this daily statement: "I am Christian", Christian Orthodox, does it necessarily mean that I am a Christian? To have a specific religious life means to live this specific religious life, even if unaware of it. That is, one is a Christian who lives-not in the every day life, for I have told you it is of no interest to us-in their religious life, which, as spiritual dimension, overlaps with the ethos of the Christian religion. One is not a Christian if they don't have the overlapping spiritual dimension, if they are not congruent in this spiritual field. Therefore, the historical element exists, but the historical event is not what we believe it to be, but a thing per se, which we can become aware of or not. Let us take another example, not a religious one: if I say that I am a Romanian and one day I come to you with a system of scientific philosophy, you will have the right to doubt it; if you are a little familiar with the spiritual dimension of the Romanian people, you will know that science and the scientific spirit have nothing to do with this spiritual dimension. It is obvious that when somebody who says he is Romanian would like to present a philosophical system, you should stop doubting and think these are foreign influences, which haven't been separated yet, haven't been separated into what is wrong and what is right.It is the same with the historic element in religious life. There is a religiosity characteristic to each religion, that is to say, there is a religiosity characteristic to each history and no one has the right to trespass it. But it does not mean that the religiosity characteristic of each history is the religiosity that that particular history is aware of, but it may be something totally different. That is why, every time religious spiritual monographs are made, you will see that the dogmatic forms don't overlap with the real ones, because the written dogmatic forms are always longer, that is they are more abstract and, therefore, on a higher scale of generalization they are above practical life. We are all Orthodox: the Greeks, the Romanians, the Bulgarians, the Serbs, the Russians; but there is a fundamental difference between our Orthodoxy and the Russian one. He who believes that Romanian religious awareness will be strengthened by the contact with Russia is wrong. In order to convince you of that, I will remind you a historical fact, namely, that around 1050, when the Eastern Church had already schismatic tendencies, the Western one found great reasons of understanding and spiritual resemblances with the Russian Church. And to show you how close to, and yet how far from, our spirit is the Russian soul, I will point out that no intellectual, from Romania, Greece or the Balkan Peninsula, who had truly lived the tradition and the life in this region, converted to Catholicism, whereas many Russian intellectuals did. I remind you the case of Soloviov and Merezhkovski. Why does such a representative person like Soloviov succeed in converting to Catholicism ? Because there are certain similarities of ontological nature between Russian messianism and Catholic universalism. This idea of universalism eludes us. For us, it is not the question of one single faith and the necessity of a single faith; the question is different: the impossibility for each of us to have another faith than the one we do. That is why, as already mentioned in a previous lecture, maybe the only principle of our conscience which truly originates from here, is the one concerning religious life: all religions are free in our country, but none has the right to proselytize. It is in this article from the Constitution that reside all out spiritual tradition, the awareness that there is a historical element in religious life – this historical element relates religious life to certain historic forms – and that originality and the right to entitlement have a variety of historic forms, namely the right to entitlement of the existence of many forms of religious life.  XVI. Historical sketch of the philosophy of religion5. Logical-objective of contemporary religion: Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodoxy Therefore, our whole religious life can be presented according to the different ways of representation in relation with the logical-objective life. This religious life enters the logical-objective classifications. In fact this is nothing but the presentation of Protestantism, of its characteristics; that is to say, we should stress the rational element in its dogma. But if we go back to the sources, namely to Luther, we should then stress the extra-rational element.It was very strange to find out that an acquaintance of mine, raised in the Catholic Jesuit school, in Vienna, doctor of Philosophy of many universities, gave up Catholicism and converted to Protestantism. Upon my asking him the reason of this conversion, he answered: Luther brings Augustine back to life. The poor man knew both Luther and Augustine from books, not from worldly life or the life of the church. The achievement of Augustine is this Catholic Church, based on the concept of tradition, theory, while the other one means Protestantism based on reason, on the creation of all things, the unveiling of all mysteries. But, besides Protestantism, in Europe there are also the Catholic and Orthodox religions. In the Catholic one, here is one example on how the two Kantian moments are dosed: I say, God can be rationally known, His existence can be rationally deduced. All Saint Thomas Aquinas has to do is to go on obeying the church if he wants to be redeemed. Therefore, the church establishes the dogmas, on a rational basis, and the believers obey them, not by dint of reason, but by dint of the concept of theory. So, there where Protestantism claimed: there is life per se, extra-rational life, in which the Catholic religious life organizes the church (since this mysticism is a feature of Catholicism too), here it is claimed that: no, there is a religious life, perfectly rational. As for the second part, where in Protestantism this religious life can be put into terms of representation, here it is claimed that: this religious life is codified in dogmas, which, immutable as they are, escape control. Therefore, they impose themselves.This third point of view belongs to the Orthodox Church, as I say, and in fact as I believe. There is a religious life per se, which has nothing in common with our rational, logical-objective life. The conscience that we fetch from this religious life, by other ways than the rational ones, is not likely to be interpreted according to the representation, but to be reduced by analogy to the representations of the logical-objective domain. That is to say, we know God in the religious life, but we assign to God, which we believe to be divine, the qualities I have mentioned. These qualities are not the representation of the ordinary logical language; it is a language which is not symbolic – that would be a totally different thing – but by analogy. This is a point of view I endorsed in the lecture held a couple of years ago, and the difference between this point of view and the whole history of the philosophy of religion, as I have just presented roughly, in the present lecture. With these final statements, I have reached the end of the lecture I proposed myself to hold for you this year.

by Nae Ionescu (1890-1940)