Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Additional Thoughts about God

Thanks for the comments Jeff and S. P. Some time the first year of my doctorate program at the U. of VA, have forgotten whether fall of 74 or spring of 75. we would arrive to class to find some one had written on the blackboard "Josh is coming". This occurred throughout campus. Eventually we learned it was Josh McDowell. When the time arrived he spoke to a very large crowd at the school's largest venue. Remember him pointing out his wife and saying "Eat your heart out guys." That was pretty cool for those days. To affirm the goodness of love and desire. One of the other prominent memories of his talk had to do with the inerrancy of scripture. He set the stage by describing a man he knew and respected who was a wonderful scholar of Greek and a Godly man as well. This student of the word dedicated twenty five years to the study of the alledged descrepiencies of the accounts in the Gospels and after that long dedicated period, he was finally able to harmonize all of them to show there were no contradictions. I thought to myself that if that is what it takes, then surely he's working off the wrong model. Square peg round hole. Inerrancy is the wrong model for understanding scripture and frankly differences are what they are.

I finished "The Case for God" by Armstrong on a plane a few months ago. And in concert with S. P. she describes the career and thoughts of Tillich on God. I once had a friend who was a fan of Tillich and he gave me some feel for his thought. Have thought all these years that I needed read up on him more. S. P., what do you suggest I read? You mentioned Dynamics of Faith, is that a good place to start? Anyway, she lifts this from his Systematic Theology:

"God does not exist. He is being itself beyond essence and existence. Therefore to argue that God exists is to deny him." That sounds like Peter Rollins to me.

and she cites this from D. M. Brown's Ultimate Concern: Tillich in Dialogue

"We can no longer speak of God easily to anybody, because he will immediately question: "Does God exist?" Now the very asking of that question signifies that the symbols of God have become meaningless. For God, in the question, has become one of the innumerable objects in time and space which may or may not exist. And this is not the meaning of God at all."

But Tillich was not a complete innovator here. Armstrong in her book A History of God discusses the Cappadocians (two Gregories and a Cyril) saying:

"As Gregory of Nyssa said, every concept of God is a mere simulacrum, a false likeness, an idol: it could not reveal God himself. Christians must be like Abraham, who, in Gregory's version of his life, laid aside all ideas about God and took hold of a faith which was 'unmixed and pure of any concept.' In his Life of Moses, Gregory insisted that 'the true vision and the knowledge of what we seek consists precisely in not seeing, in an awareness that our goal transcends all knowledge and is everywhere cut off from us by the darkness of incomprehensibility."

I will continue to ponder the idea of Tillich's that there can be no such thing as an atheist. One of my Twitter and Facebook friends is a minister in Jonesboro, AR who mentioned that Helen Keller said that she always knew God was there but she didn't know the name for what she felt until later.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Indirect Approach to Happiness, Truth, God and All

Am reading a wonderful book, Parker Palmer's The Promise of Paradox. Written thirty years ago but is quite up to date in assessing our culture.

But personal well-being is one of those strange things that eludes those who aim directly at it and comes to those who aim elsewhere. It was best said in the words of Jesus: "He who seeks his life will lose it, and he who loses his life . . . will find it" (Matthew 10:39).

from Parker J. Palmer The Promise of Paradox: A Celebration of Contradictions in the Christian Life - 3rd edition, Ch4 A Place Called Community page 72, published by Jossey-Bass.

It just so happens that I recall several other posts I've made along these lines.

from June 4, 2008

Genuine Truth in Temporal Existence - K. Jaspers

from a Karl Jasper's lecture in 1935, in the middle of his discussion of Nietsche and Kierkegaard:

Masks: With this basic idea is connected the fact that both, the most open and candid of thinkers, had a misleading aptitude for concealment and masks. For them masks neccessarily belong to the truth. Indirect communication becomes for them the sole way of communicating genuine truth, indirect communication, as expression, is appropriate to the ambiguity of genuine truth in temporal existence, in which process it must be grasped through sources in every Existenz.

From "Reality, Man and Existence: Essential Works of Existentialism" ed by H. J. Blackham. Bantam Books. (I bought this book in 1974 and forgot about it until recently uncovering it while going through my things).

Monday, February 27, 2006

Kierkegaard Quote

from Soren Kierkegaard*

"First and foremost, no impatience . . . A direct attack only strengthens a person in his illusion, and at the same time embitters him. There is nothing that requires such gentle handling as an illusion, if one wishes to dispel it. If anything prompts the prospective captive to set his will in opposition, all is lost. . . [The indirect method. . . . loving and serving the truth, arranges everything. . . . and then shyly withdraws (for love is always shy), so as not to witness the admission which he makes to himself alone before God - that he has lived hitherto in an illusion."

I have been all these people: attacker, attacked, and the one under an illusion. Wish that years ago I had read this and taken to heart.

*from p. 93 of Mapping Postmodernism by Robert C. Greer, 2003 Intervarsity Press. His footnote is the following: Soren Kierkegaard, The Point of View of My Work as an Author, in The Modern Tradition: Backgrounds of Modern Literature, ed. Richard Ellmann and Charles Feidelson Jr. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965), p. 751; cited in Taylor, Myth of Certainty, pp. 25-26

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