Thursday, October 22, 2009

Who is pursuing whom?

I am not sure that the grammar in the title is correct, but you get the idea. Is the Christian faith a matter of our pursuit of an elusive, mysterious "God beyond God" - the Christian form of the generic human experience of the numinous divine "ground of being", a pursuit of the unknowable God. Or is it the determined pursuit of a lost and wayward humanity by the revealing, seeking God of creation? Which version of "God" matches the parables of Jesus better?
This is one of my basic problems with the Tillichian theology that is influencing the church so much: it is the opposite of the Bible's story. Just set the two catch-phrases side by side and you will see the stark contrast: "the God beyond God" versus "the Word became flesh".
These two theologies lead to different spiritualities, different moralities and different religions.


Andrew said...

I agree with the thrust of what you're saying, but I think that more needs to be said for the 'pursuit of the unknowable God'. The gospel comes as a bright ray of light in between the despairing darkness of 'their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools' (Rom 1:21-22), and the hopeful darkness of 'now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity' (1 Cor 13:12). The Tillichian mistake is thinking that as Christians we're still at the first stage. The mistake I see in evangelical circles is not realising that we're in the second stage and that we only see imperfectly at this point. A purified Christian mysticism could be very helpful to avoid making either mistake.

Ralph Bowles said...

Good point Andrew. I agree that gospel believers can be overly dogmatic about truth. The knowable God is still beyond knowledge - where is the verse on that?