November 14, 2021

Authority of the ancients vs authority of progress

by Interfaith

In antiquity, religious cults had to be able to refer to ancient origins in order to be taken seriously. Plato summed it up in one of his texts, letting an Egyptian priest speak of the Greeks as “children”, whose traditions were only a couple of hundred years old. The ancient Greeks were very impressed by the ostensibly more ancient traditions of the Egyptians, Jews, and Persians – “Chaldeans” -, all the while maintaining a sense of superiority over these “barbarian” peoples.

Sometime, around the Enlightenment era maybe, this changed. New discoveries, progress, innovations were increasingly valued over the wisdom of the ages. Ancient texts were subjected to studies to determine their editorial history and age. New religions could arise with only a slight nod at tradition.

Now the tension between reformers and conservatives is not what I’m referring to. After all, even reformed Christians like to read the Books of Moses, Baha’i study the Quran and Gospels, and so on.

Do you feel your religious tradition would lack something if it did not have a sense of deep time, of the authority of the ages? Or do you feel that new insights or revelations give it the significance and relevance it has for you?


(Discussion in ‘Belief and Spirituality‘ started by CinoJul 29, 2021)

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