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God and the Tao

  • George D. Chryssides (a1)


In his highly important work I and ThouMartin Buber speaks of God as the ‘Eternal Thou’, ‘who can only be addressed, not asserted’. Buber might therefore aptly be described as an ‘anti-theologian’: one may legitimately enter into a relationship with God, which is the appropriate response, but any attempt to theorize about God is not simply irreverent or excessively academic, but a genuine impossibility. At best, statements about God can only be understood ‘allegorically’.



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page 1 note 1 Buber, Martin, I and Thou, transl. Kaufmann, W. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1970), p. 129.

page 1 note 2 Ibid., p. 147.

page 1 note 3 Tzu, Lao, Tao Te Ching, transl. Lau, D. C. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963), v. I.

page 1 note 4 Buber, , op. cit., p. 123.

page 2 note 1 Ibid., p. 124.

page 3 note 1 The Writings of Chuang Tzu, Book xxv, Part III, Sect. III, para. II; in The Texts of Taoism, Vols. I & II, transl. Legge, James (New York: Dover, 1962).

page 3 note 2 Loc. cit.

page 3 note 3 Kaltenmark, Max, Lao Tzu and Taoism(Stanford University Press, 1965), p. 35.

page 3 note 4 Tzu, Lao, op. cit., ch. xxv, v. 56.

page 3 note 5 The Writings of Chuang Tzu, Book XXII, Part II, Sect. XV, para. 6.

page 3 note 6 Op. cit., Book XXII, Part II, Sect. xv, para. 5.

page 3 note 7 Tzu, Chuang, op. cit., Book XXII, Part II, Sect. xv, para. 10; Book XIV, Part II, Sect. VII, para. 8.

page 3 note 8 Articles of Religion: Article I; in The Book of Common Prayer(London: Collins, 1968), p. 388.

page 4 note 1 Kaltenmark, , op. cit., pp. 2829.

page 4 note 2 Exodus 3.13 f New International Version (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1979), p. 69.

page 4 note 3 Genesis 32. 2231.

page 5 note 1 Watts, Alan, Tao: The Watercourse Way(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979), p. 40.

page 6 note 1 Tzu, Chuang, op. cit., Book II, Part I, Sect. II, para. 7.

page 6 note 2 Blofeld, John, Taoism: The Quest for Immortality(London: Unwin, 1979), p. 44.

page 6 note 3 The Koran, suras 2:116 & 17: 111.

page 7 note 1 Tzu, Lao, op. cit., vv. 56 & 117.

page 7 note 2 Tzu, Chuang, op. cit., Book VI, Part I, Sect. VI.

page 7 note 3 Hick, John, Death and Eternal Life (London: Fount, 1979), p. 453

page 9 note 1 Tzu, Chuang, op. cit., Book xxv, Part III, Sect. III, para. 11.

page 9 note 2 Tillich, Paul, Systematic Theology, Vol. I (Welwyn: Nisbet, 1953), p. 227.

page 10 note 1 In this discussion I have made the unargued assumption that proper names have a meaning as well as a reference. I am aware that this is controversial. The thrust of my argument, however, has focused on the issue of identity of reference, and barely touched the question of meaning. Thus, even if it were convincingly demonstrated that proper names have strictly no meaning whatsoever, I believe I have provided a sufficiently plausible set of arguments to demonstrate identity of reference between ‘God’ and ‘the Tao’.

God and the Tao

  • George D. Chryssides (a1)


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