Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/625

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559

ANTICHRIST


559


ANTICHRIST


activities of the external world as the counterpart of his own. A pliilosophic system which borrows its method from this tendency is termed Philosopliic An- thropomorphism. The word, liowever, lias been more generally employed to desif^nate the play of that impulse in religious thought. In this sense, Anthro- pomorphism is the ascription to the Supreme Being of the form, organs, operations, and general char- acteristics of human nature. This tendency is strongly manifested in primitive heathen religions, in all forms of polytheism, especially in the classic paganism of Greece and Rome. The charge of Anthropomorphism was urged again.sl the Greeks by their own philosopher, Xeno))lianes of Colophon. The first Christian apologists unbraldcd the pagans for having represented God, who is spiritual, as a mere magnified man, subject to hiunan vices and passions. The Bible, esjiecially the Old Testament, abounds in anthropomorphic expressions. Almost all the activities of organic life are ascribed to the Almighty. He .'^peaks, breathes, sees, hears; He walks in the garden; He sits in the heavens, and the earth is His footstool. It mu.st, however, be noticed that in the Bible locutions of this kind ascribe human characteristics to God only in a vague, indefinite way. He is never positively dedareil to have a body or a nature the same as man's; and human defects and vices are never even figuratively attributed to Ilim. The metaphorical, symbolical character of this lan- guage is usually obvious. The all-seeing lOye signifies God's omniscience; the everlasting Arms His omnipo- tence; His Sword the chastisement of sinners; when He is said to have repented of having maile man, we have an extremely forcible expression conveying His abhorrence of sin. The justification of this language is found in the fact that truth can be conveyed to men only through the medium of luiman ideas and thoughts, antl is to be expre.s.sed only in language suited to their comprehension. The limitations of our conceptual capacity obUge us to reproseiil (Unl to ourselves in ideas that liave been originally tlrawn from our knowledge of .self ami the objective world. The Scriptures themselves amply warn us against the mistake of interpreting their figurative language in too literal a sense. They teach that God is spiritual, omniscient, invisible, omnipresent, ineffable. Insist- ence upon the literal interpretation of the metaphori- cal led to the error of the .Vnthropomorphites.

Throughout the writings of the I'athers the spiritu- ality of the Divine Nature, as well as the inadequacy of liuman thought to comprehend the greatness, goodness, and infinite perfection of Ciod, is continually emphasized. At the same time. Catholic philosophy and theology set forth the idea of God by means of concepts derived chiefiy from the knowledge of our own faculties, and our mental and moral characteris- tics. We reach our philo.sophic knowledge of God by inference from the nature of various forms of existence, our own included, that we perceive in the Universe. All created excellence, however, falls in- finitely short of the divine perfections, consetiuently our idea of God can never truly represent Him as He is, and, becau.se He is infinite while our minds are finite, the resemblance between our thought and its infinite object must always be faint. Clearly, how- ever, if we would do all that is in our power to make our idea, not perfect, but as worthy as it may be, we must form it by means of our conceptions of what is highest and best in the scale of existence that we know. Hence, as mind and personality are the noblest forms of reality, we think most worthily of Goil when we conceive Him uniler the attributes of mind, will, intelligence, personality. At the same time, when the theologian or philosopher employs these and similar terms with reference to God, he understands them to be predicated not in exactly the same sense that they bear when applied to man,


but in a sen.se controlled and qualified by the princi- ples laid down in the doctrine of analogy.

A few deeailes ago thinkers and writers of the Spencerian and other kindred schools seldom touched upon the doctrine of a |)ersonal God without designat- ing it Anthropomorphism, and thereby, in their judg- ment, exehKling it definitively from the world of philosophic thought. Tliough on the wane, the fashion has not yei entirely disappeared. The charge of Anthropomorphism can be urged against our way of thinking and .speaking of God by those only who, despite the protestation of theologians and philoso- phers, persist in a.ssuming that terms are used univo- cally of God and of creatures. When arguiuents are offered to sustain the imputation, they usually exhibit an incorrect view regarding the es.sential element of personality. The gist of the proof is that the Infinite IS unlimited, while personality es.sentially involves limitation; therefore, to speak of an Infinite Person is to fall into an absurdity. What is truly essential in the concept of personality is, first, individual existence as opposed to indefiniteness and to identity with other beings; and next, pos.session, or intelligent control of self. To say that God is personal is to say that He is distinct from the Universe, and that He possesses Himself and His infinite activity, unde- termined by any necessity from within or from with- out. This conception is jierfectly compatible with that of infinity. Wlien the agnostic would forbid us to think of Gotl as personal, and would have us speak of Him as energy, force, etc., he merely substitutes lower and more imperfect conceptions for a higlier one, without escaping from what tie terms Anthropo- morphism, since these concepts too are derived from experience. Besides, he ofters violence to human nature when, as sometimes happens, he asks us to entertain for an impersonal Being, conceived under the mechanical types of force or energy, sentiments of reverence, obedience, and trust. These sentiments come into play only in the world of persons, and can- not be exercised towards a Being to whom we deny the attributes of personality.

ANTHUoro.Moui'HiTKS (At'DiANs), a scct of Chris- tians that arose in the fourth century in Syria and extended into Scythia, sometimes called Audians, from their founder, .\udius. Taking the text of Genesis, i, 27, literally, Audius held that God has a human form. The error was so gross, and, to use St. Jerome's expression (Epist. vi, Ad Pammachium), so absolutely senseless, that it showed no \'itality. Towards the end of the century it appeared among some bodies of African Christians. Tiie Fathers who wrote against it dismi.ss it almost contemptuou.sly. In the time of Cyril of Alexandria, there were some anthropomorphites among the I'^gyptian monks. He compo.sed a short refutation of their error, which he attributed to extreme ignorance. (Adv. Anthrop. in P. G., LXXVI.) Concerning the charges of anthropomorphism preferred against Melito, Ter- tullian, Origen, and Lactantius, see the respective articles. The error was revived in northern Italy during the tenth century, but was efTectually su[>- pressed by the bishops, notably by the learned katherius, Bishop of Verona.

St. Thomas. C, Gent., I, x; III, xxxviii, xxxix; Sumnui Thcol., QQ. ii. iv, xiii; Wii.iielm and Scannell, Manual of CaOuHic Thrnlonu (London. 1890). I. l»k. II, I't. 1; Shanaiian, John fitkr't /lira of God in Calli. Univ. UiUl.. Ill; Maktinf.au. .1 Sludi/ of Relioion (New York. 18S8). I, lik, II. i; Flint. Thritm (New York. 1903). Lec't. Ill; Theoi.oret. Hitt, Eccl., IV, ix; ViaoUROux in Diet, de la Bible, s. v.; St. Augustine, De divers. quast,» Ad JSimpticianum, Q. vii; De civ. Dei, I, Q. ii.

J.\MES J. Fox.

Antichrist {ivrlxpivTos). In composition ivrl has various meanings: dvrijSafffXeus denotes a king who fills an interregnum; dyrurrpdrriyos, a pro- pra'tor; iydinraro!, a proconsul; in Homer diT/Ofos denotes one resembling a god in power and beauty,