Monotheism’s Invocation of Imitatio Dei and Pagan Humanism
The core lesson of the Judeo-Christian tradition is to love, follow, and worship the One God. Through his teachings, his Torah, we are supposed to come to know His essence and His desired relationship with humans, and his desired relationship between humans. It states that there is a single Being who is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent — he wants to lead humans to achieve their telos, the purpose for which he created them and which isolation and separation from such a telos definitionally causes suffering. It is a multilevel perspective — God knows us better than we know ourselves, and so he can conceive humanity’s ultimate desires both vertically (relationship to God) and horizontally (relationship to man). But there is still something missing in this tradition, something that cannot be fulfilled even with lessons from the source of all existence. This missing ingredient is the concept of humanism. We are made in the Image of God, and as such, have the ability to decide the course of our own lives, as we conceive it. God has his wisdom; we have our own.
It was the Greeks who first developed this tradition, and perhaps even perfected it. Philosophy and poetry, human endeavours to search and express themselves, heroism and glory-seeking, all speak to the unique position man finds himself as the ultimate arbiter of his own life, and his relationship to other humans. Man must decide for himself whether he even wants to follow the advice of his Heavenly Father, just as a son reserves the right to heed the wisdom of his earthly father. Can I judge my brother for following his heart’s desires and his own mind, he is divine and insofar as he is of sound mind and body, capable of choosing. The answer must be no. And perhaps this is even the source of all evil in the world, that people choose incorrectly according to the dictates of God, but from an authentic free-will. Yet it is the ultimate price of free-will and of God’s innovation of creating beings as free as can be in a material world.