Albert Camus en het christendom

‘From this combination of evangelical faith with Greek metaphysics 
arose the Christian dogmas. Moreover, steeped in the atmosphere of 
religious tension, Greek philosophy gave rise to Neoplatonism. But the thing was not made in a day. If it is true that the oppositions 
between Christian and Greek ideas were softened by the cosmopoli
tanism that we have noted, nevertheless some antinomies indeed 
remained; it was necessary to reconcile creation “ex nihilo,” which excluded the hypothesis of matter, with the perfection of the Greek god, 
which implied the existence of this matter. The Greek spirit saw the difficulty of a perfect and immutable God creating the temporal and 
imperfect. As Saint Augustine wrote about this problem much later: “So 
then it is difficult to contemplate and have full knowledge of God’s sub
stance, which without any change in itself makes things that change, 
and without any passage of time itself creates things that exist in 
time.”

In other words, history made it necessary that Christianity 
deepen itself if it wanted to be universalized. This was to create a meta
physics. Now there is no metaphysics without a minimum of rationial
ism. Intelligence is powerless to renew its themes when sentiment 
endlessly varies its nuances. The effort of te conciliation inherent in 
Christianity will be to humanize and intectualize its sentimental themes and to restore thought from these confines wherein it was strug
gling. This is because to explain is to a certain extent to have influence. 
This effort of reconciliation will therefore diminish slightly the dispro
portion between God and man that Christianity had established. It 
seems, on the contrary, that, in its beginnings, Christian thought, under 
the influence of the values of death and passion and the dread of sin and punishment, had arrived at the point where, as Hamlet says, time 
is out of joint. Intelligence must now give Christian thought its passage.

This was the task, in rather weak measure, of the first theological sys
tems, those of Clement of Alexandria and Origen, as well as of the coun
cils, in reaction against heresies, and above all of Saint Augustine. But, 
at precisely this point, Christian thought shifts. Christianity entered into 
a new phase in which it was a question of knowing whether it was los
ing its profound originality in order better to popularize itself, whether 
on the contrary it would sacrifice its power of expansion to its need for purity, or whether it would finally achieve a reconciliation of these 
equally natural concerns. But its evolution was not harmonious. It fol
lowed dangerous paths that taught it prudence. These were the paths of Gnosticism. Gnosticism made use of Neoplatonism and its conven
ient structures in order to accommodate religious thought. Permanently 
detached from Judaism. Christianity filtered into Hellenism through the 
door that Oriental religions were holding open. And up on that altar of 
the unknown God, which Paul had encountered in Athens, several 
centuries of Christian speculation would be devoted to erecting the 
image of the Savior on the cross.’

Uit: Albert Camus, Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism (1935).

Zie ook: Tegen beter weten in

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