God the being

In light of the current theistic-personalism/classical theism debate, Rabbi Heschel has some words worth repeating.

Theologians, Inc.


‘The notion of God as a perfect being is not of biblical extraction. It is the product not of prophetic religion but Greek philosophy; a postulate of reason rather than a direct compelling initial answer of man to His reality. In the Decalogue, God does not speak of His perfect being but of His having made free men out of slaves. Signifying a state of being without defect or lack, perfection is a term of praise which may utter in pouring forth our emotion; yet for man to utter it as a name for His presence would mean to evaluate and endorse Him. The Biblical language is free of such insolence, it only dared to call “His work” (Deut. 32:4), “His way” (2 Samuel 22:31), or the “Torah” (Psalm 19:7) tamim, perfect. We were never told: “Hear, O Israel, God is perfect!” It is an attribution which is…

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