Logos

A principle originating in classical Greek thought which refers to a universal divine reason, immanent in nature, yet transcending all oppositions and imperfections in the cosmos and humanity. An eternal and unchanging truth present from the time of creation, available to every individual who seeks it. A unifying and liberating revelatory force which reconciles the human with the divine; manifested in the world as an act of God's love in the form of the Christ.

Logos - Longer definition: The Greek word logos (traditionally meaning word, thought, principle, or speech) has been used among both philosophers and theologians. In most of its usages, logos is marked by two main distinctions - the first dealing with human reason (the rationality in the human mind which seeks to attain universal understanding and harmony), the second with universal intelligence (the universal ruling force governing and revealing through the cosmos to humankind, i.e., the Divine).

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus appears to be the first to have used the word logos to refer to a rational divine intelligence, which today is sometimes referred to in scientific discourse as the "mind of God." The early Greek philosophical tradition known as Stoicism, which held that every human participates in a universal and divinely ordained community, then used the Logos doctrine as a principle for human law and morality. The Stoics believed that to achieve freedom, happiness, and meaning one should attune one's life to the wisdom of God's will, manifest in the second distinction (above) of Logos. The Christian church then extended the Stoic idea of the universal community by claiming the universal nature of salvation and the potential for all humans to participate in it.

In the New Testament, the phrase "Word (Logos) of God," found in John 1:1 and elsewhere, shows God's desire and ability to "speak" to the human. The Christian expression of this communication is evidenced in the Christ, who is the "Word become flesh." In these three biblical words, Christianity points to the possibility of union between the human and the divine, or the personal and the absolute. God's logos, which the Christ represents, acts as a bridge between the human's inner spiritual needs and the answer proclaimed by the Christian message.

Because it is highly philosophical, the logos doctrine has caused some of the more orthodox theologians of recent times to claim that it should not be used in theology, while other theologians claim it is absolutely necessary to a doctrine of God. According to the philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich, "He who sacrifices the Logos principle sacrifices the idea of a living God, and he who rejects the application of this principle to Jesus as the Christ rejects his character as Christ." In other words, without an understanding of God's love, will, and power as a living and active force in the world - through the logos in the Christ and through our participation in the logos with our reason - the Christian message becomes a lifeless and inconsequential set of doctrines which can be accepted or rejected without bearing on one's life.

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