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Classical theology a definition

Many disturbing questions of this kind in turn seemed to be generated by a tension implicit in the Qur'an itself. Some verses spoke of a God who seemed utterly transcendent, so that ''nothing is like him'' (Qur'an 42 11). Such a deity ''is not asked about what he does'' (21 23), and appears to expect only the unquestioning submission (islam) which seemed implicit in the very name of the new religion. But there were many other passages which implied a God who is indeed, in some sense that urgently needed definition, analogous to ourselves a God who is ethically coherent, and whose qualities are immanent in his creation, so that ''Where-sover you turn, there is God's face'' (2 115). This fundamental tension between transcendence and immanence, or, as Muslims put it, between ''affirming difference'' (tanzih) and ''affirming resemblance'' (tashbih), became intrinsic to the structuring of knowledge in the new civilisation. As one aspect of this it could be said, at the risk of very crude...

Reason And Revelation

But the 'aql naql tension in Islam went far beyond this. To some extent it defined the discipline of kalaam against the disciplines of law and Sufism, even though, as we have seen, these three were regularly reintegrated and seldom became dangerously divorced. As Ash'arism and Maaturaidism evolved, beyond the critical twelfth century they became systematic theologies in the truest sense in the works of Taftazani, Iji and JurjanI, scriptural references are common, but the crucial opening treatment of metaphysics (ilahiyyat) is clearly figured as a reason-based vindication of doctrines which can also be known separately through scripture. The initiative championed by Ghazaalai, which sought to show the symbiosis of law, Sufism, scripture and kalaam, was not incorporated at all into kalam in its final stage of development, but flourished, as has been seen, in the tradition of Ibn 'Araba. Kalam remained always a discourse of divine transcendence, of aporia and of logic, which vindicated...

Philosophical Theology

Hegel's theology was formulated in conscious opposition to the deism of earlier Enlightenment thinkers, to Kant's reduction of religion to an aid to moral performance, and to Schleiermacher's (perceived) grounding of religion in subjective feeling. Moreover, it eschewed a return to the rationalist tradition which stressed the transcendence of the impassible God over against the finite, contingent creation. The key concept in Hegel's theology is that of spirit (Geist). It has several connotations that render it appropriate for his purpose. Lacking the more static sense of substance or being, spirit denotes movement, energy, and dynamism. Its religious use, particularly in Hebrew and Greek, suggests that it is expressed in living forms. For Hegel, spirit is essentially self-communicating. It must reveal and reconcile itself to what it is not. Only by so doing does it become fully expressed and achieve its identity as spirit. Thus, although including mental activity, spirit is not...

Church and Biblical Christianity

Symbols Victory Christianity

As well as directing attention upwards, churches direct it towards a n focal point at the east end of the building, where an altar is located y (most churches are rectangular, with the longest sides of the rectangle running east to west). A font, designed to contain water for baptism, may also be prominent somewhere in the building. Taken in combination with the 'vertical' focus on transcendence, the effect is to suggest that even though God may dwell high above in the heavens, He is available here on earth by way of the church's sacraments - the bread and wine of the Eucharist, the water of baptism. This sacramental focus is a key characteristic of Church Christianity. Though it reveres the Bible, its architecture tells us that it gives a still more important place to the sacraments, for the pulpit is rarely in as prominent a place as the altar.

The falasifa on origination

These tensions were soon to emerge with respect to specific questions, such as the relation of this timeless emanation to time has the universe always been or is there an initial moment of time which marks its beginning Must the dictum 'from one only one can come'', which determined a step-wise emanation following the actual cosmological pattern of the nine planets, dictate a mediated origination of all things from the One Can such a One ever be without the universe emanating from it Merely posing questions like these allows any serious inquirer to query the effort of these thinkers to assimilate the qur'anic creator to this One. So it was only a matter of time before a Ghazali arose to question the orthodoxy of the Avicenna who had elaborated Farabi's scheme into a full-blown system for explaining the cosmos. Yet the infelicities of the scheme itself should not obscure its intent to render an account of the origin of the very being of things. If kalam thinkers had been wary of...

Scriptures inspiration

Vanhoozer, Scripture and Tradition,'' in Kevin J. Vanhoozer (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology (Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 168. Henri Blocher suggests a few factors that lead evangelical Protestants to this position ''assessment of the effects of human sinfulness'' ''emphasis on divine transcendence'' a ''view of time'' emphasizing particular events more than ''continuous flow'' and, ultimately, ''the very understanding of salvation'' as focused on the problem of guilt rather than the change of human nature (''Scripture and Tradition An Evangelical Response,'' Evangelical Review of Theology 21. 2 April 1997 121-27, pp. 125-26). See also the theme issue ''Scripture and Tradition,'' Evangelical Review of Theology 19. 2 (April 1995).

Porphyry and Learned Ignorance in AP

We have now seen the philosophical motivation for the doctrine of learned ignorance in AP. It falls into a general pattern of thought on the Adaptor's part in which he uses terms implying deprivation in order to express transcendence. Let us, then, turn to the question of the sources of the doctrine of ignorance as used by the Adaptor. I argued above that a major source for his defense of the doctrine was Aristotelian, but that Aristotle was not the entire inspiration for the passage in the second mimar. As previously mentioned, many commentators have seen in this passage a reflection of Porphyrian influence. In particular, an article by Pierre Thillet which appeared in 1971, and which remains among the most forceful presentations of the thesis that Porphyry was the author of AP, takes as a major point of interpretation the use of the doctrine of docta ignorantia by the Adaptor (Thillet 1971, 297-301). He cites Th.A 11.46-52, ru'Os 16, and DS 123ff (all cited above) as the appearances...

The Ontological Imperative

Human beings, then, are essentially servants of God. Accidentally, however, they may be the servants of any of the individual divine names, or of any cosmic or human reality that can be an ''object of worship'' (ma'bud), including the ideas and notions that establish goals and aspirations. This unlimited human capacity to serve anything at all helps explain the tremendous emphasis that the texts place upon ''sincerity'' purifying one's worship of everything but God. The magnitude of the task does not become obvious until one grasps the transcendence of God, the omnipresence of His signs and marks, the diversity and even contradictory nature of His names and attributes (the Exalter and the Abaser, the Forgiver and the Avenger), and the ease of falling into the worship and service of what is less than God.

Against Constantinianism

What seems contradictory need not be so. The church can become invisible and weightless in many different ways, and Hauerwas' apparent contradictions are simply manifestations of his due diligence. On the one hand, Hauerwas attacks the patrons of relevance and responsibility. When prince and bishop blur together, it becomes hard to see the power of God at work in the world. When bourgeois virtues blend with Christian character, it is difficult to identify the specific gravity that the Gospel should take in our lives. In both cases, Christian faith lacks an identifiable form, and the church fails to mark out a distinctive culture and politics of her own. However, the cry for relevance and responsibility is not the only danger. Patrons of radical transcendence and prophets of the vertical also contribute to the invisibility of faith. As Hauerwas recognized in his first book, Character and the Christian Life, the dominant theological moves that Protestant neo-orthodoxy used to reassert...

Der du die Zeit in Hnden hast223God and Time

Is God beyond time and not influenced by it If so, then is God's time-lessness a flaw Can God be God without time Or conversely, can a God having time be God at all Does God's divinity not presuppose a transcendence of temporality Is God's eternity an endless temporality or a timeless-ness Hardly any passages can be found in which God's relationship to time and eternity is actually a topic. As already previously observed, the hymns do not deal with a carefully considered dogmatic statement, but rather with the formulation and processing of faith and life experiences. There is basically no doubt that the eternal God is related to earthly reality. As the eternal Father, God is also the Lord and Ruler of creation224 and the one who structures time.225 The acting presence of an eternal God in the temporal world per se is not seen as a logical problem.

Benjamins Perpetuation of Biblical Myth

At the moment we think we might have pinned him down, he slips away again. But the problem for Marxism is that, while appropriating the central terms of historical materialism, Benjamin continually uses a panoply of theological terms God, redemption, revelation, transcendence, immanence, angels, judgement, free will, evil, Satan, messiah, allegory and repeatedly the word theology itself. Indeed, it is hardly necessary to rehearse the arguments for the theological dimensions of Benjamin's writings. It is a commonplace of Benjamin criticism that his great creative tension lies in the intersections between metaphysics and materialism, theology and Marxism. It is also a commonplace to position oneself by delineating the strands of that criticism.2 But it seems to me that the comments of Theodor Adorno and Gershom Scholem have rarely been surpassed except in detail. Adorno suggests that Benjamin should take the dialectical logic of his theological method to its extreme, for only in this...

Presence and absence in Thomass Eucharistic theology

Hence, if the 1535 condition of the cathedral signifies by means of its absence of sign, if, to repeat, it is absence which is the sign, that absence can possess no less the materiality of a sign than does the fullness of sign in 1500. It may be a mistake to eat the meal-ticket thinking it is the meal but if that is the case it is exactly the same mistake to identify the physical, material absences of Zwingli's cathedral with the absence of Christ which they signify. For if our analogy between the two conditions of the cathedral and the relations between affirmative and negative theology holds in general, it holds very particularly here. Just as affirmative and negative metaphors are equally metaphors just as affirmation and negation are equally linguistic acts just as the 'mystical' is therefore characterised by its transcendence of both affirmation and negation, so too are the signs of presence and the signs of absence equally signs, are equally material conditions which signify....

The Challenge Of Esoterism

It must be noted that Hallaj himself rejected the concept of hulul. But a unio mystica, in some sense, clearly lies at the heart of his teachings. Hallaaj thus describes the realised saint as a manifestation (zuhur) of God, but ''not an infusion hulul in a material receptacle haykal juthmani ''.37 The distinction is important and clearly eluded Hallaj's persecutors. The point is surely that through the saint's self-annihilation there is a thinning of the existential veils which hide God from the world, so that God in His infinity and transcendence may be contemplated through the saint, as the sky may be glimpsed through a window. There is no suggestion here of God incarnating, through a kenotic ''descent'' into an earthbound individual. Indeed, a recurring note of Hallaj's Tawhsin is that God and the creature never combine. Be that as it may, the very notion of God-realisation, whatever its interpretation, appalled the Hanbalites, and obliged Sufis who used such language to qualify...

An ecological pneumatology

The first point is to note that fellowship is not to be restricted only to human agents 'To experience the fellowship of the Spirit inevitably carries Christianity beyond itself into the greater fellowship of all God's creatures. For the community of creation, in which all created things exist with one another, for one another, and in one another, is also the fellowship of the Spirit.'2 Against a tendency to associate the actions of the Spirit with the benefits of Christ and thereby to restrict arbitrarily the sphere of the efficacy of the Spirit to the Church,3 the third person of God's Trinity4 is here understood as Creator Spiritus. The theological warrant for such an affirmation is easily discerned 'God's spiritual transcendence of matter, and of all other spirits than himself, writes Geoffrey Wainwright, 'is the unique transcendence of their Creator'. Out of this logic, Wainwright concludes 'In Christian tradition, therefore, the Holy Spirit may be invoked as Creator Spiritus.'5...

The creation motif the day of Am I not your Lord

Eschatology, while specifically addressing the end of things, is implicit during our passage as individuals through the life of this world. In answering the why question of creation with varying emphases, it structures a range of responses to the human condition. For example, if asked about the purpose of life, a Muslim scholar might reply with the qur'anic verse, ''Indeed I have only created jinn and human beings in order to worship Me'' (51 56). This supplies a deonto-logical ethic in which obedience to the revealed law results in reward in the afterlife and fulfils the purpose of life. This, however, has not been the only Muslim response to this question. In a well-known passage, Ibn 'Arabi responded to the same issue by citing a tradition that God had said, ''I was a hidden treasure and I wanted to be known, and therefore I created the universes.''3 In this case the ultimate human purpose is gnosis ('irfan) or realisation (tahqiq) of the divine element immanent in all creation....

The bakriyya salimiyya and karramiyya

When one recites the Qur'an, God Himself recites it by one's tongue, and when one listens to another reciting the Qur'an, one actually hears it from God.23 Again, Tustari vehemently upholds the reality of the attributes of God, or rather, in his curiously nuanced way of putting it, he upholds the reality of the attributes of the attributes. These ''attributes of the attributes'' are strongly affirmed by Tustarai and yet are declared by him to transcend human comprehension ''behind the names and attributes are attributes which the minds afham do not pierce because God is a fire ablaze. There is no way to Him and no escape from plunging into Him.''24 The amodal affirmation of the divine names attributes is a basic Hanbali and Ash'ari response to Mu'tazilism. The latter sought to preserve divine transcendence by the negation (and metaphorical interpretation) of the attributes of God cited in the Qur'an. On the other hand, the ''orthodox'' correctives to Mu'tazilism (be they Hanbalai or...

Contemporary dilemmas personalism and naturalism

What is excluded from this critique is the concept of God which in turn means that the basic dualistic patterns cannot be addressed fully. As I have argued, the modern separation of humanity and nature is coterminous with the domestication of transcendence and the displacement of God from the world. Yet Christian theology too often remains caught in precisely the same dualism being outlined here. For Christianity - as we saw in the previous chapter - has tended to stress the otherness of God to humanity or has presented revelation as the contrast of creation, thereby turning human-nature relations into a matter of indifference. Although such views are correct in their maintenance ofthe transcendence, mystery and otherness of God, these are easily deconstructed into a stress on the continuity of humanity and nature, the value and subjectivity of nature, the personification of nature as Mother and the 'natural' identity of humanity in nature. However, the result is unfortunate the...

Romanticism Spinozism and Pantheism

Therefore, although the Romantics wanted to defend the idea of pantheism, as well as those assumed to be pantheists, against crude accusations, they themselves were not pantheists. Rather than maintain the identity of God and world, they maintained a dynamic coincidence of opposites they did not so much deny a personal God as challenge fixed and limited ideas of God and they affirmed the divine transcendence, albeit in terms of divine immanence. In the third edition of his Speeches, written long after the Romantic circle had broken up, Novalis had died, and the friendship between Schlegel and Schleiermacher had suffered severe blows, Schleiermacher explained, Novalis was cried down as an enthusiastic mystic by the prosaic, and Spinoza as godless by the literalists. It was incumbent upon me to protest against this view of Spinoza. 65 Schleiermacher himself remained true to his own method of oscillation, moving necessarily between the two poles of pantheism and personalism. Piety...

Early Christian and Jesuit Narratives of the Rise of Christianity

The rise of Christianity during the late Roman Empire is presented in early Christian literature as a story of martyrs, ascetics, monks, and clerics - all battling seen (e.g., Roman magistrates, Greek philosophers, pagan magi or shamans) and unseen enemies, notably Satan, aided as it were by the Holy Spirit. The hand of God turned hostile pagan mobs into doting listeners on other occasions it caused a falling tree to suddenly alter its course, sparing the life of a missionary saint. Early Christian authors lived in awe of God's mysterious ways rarely did it enter their minds to forget about God and focus systematically on material causality or what we today might term real-world events. In his Ecclesiastical History, for instance, Eusebius mentioned epidemics,64 but he invariably rendered them meaningful in terms of biblical precedents or as signs of God's power and transcendence.65 Similarly, Eusebius's most prolific heir, Gregory of Tours, mentioned disease, but usually in a...

Annotated Bibliography of Books on Theology and Popular Culture

Religion in Popular Culture (New York Routledge, 2001). The contributors to this collection have agreed, according to the editors, on a Geertzian conception of religion, meaning that when certain markers are present, a terrain worthy of religious analysis has been entered. These markers include the formation of communities of shared meanings and values, the presence of ritualized behaviors, the use of language of ultimacy and transcendence, the marking of special, set-aside 'sacred' times and spaces, and the manipulation of traditional religious symbols and narratives. A persistent idea throughout these essays is that myths, rituals, moralities, and our sense of sacred time and place - all things that were hatched and incubated in traditional religions - have been dislocated and are reasserting themselves in popular music, sports, festivals, television shows, movies, cyberspace and amusement parks. We can't seem to shake them, given their proven record at lending our lives meaning -...

The emergence of Neo Spinozism

Philosophy and theology therefore followed a paradigm shift in science. Previously, astronomy and mathematics had provided the scientific model of the universe and, as a result, if we take Jacobi as an example, the transcendence of the living God stood over against the inert matter and mechanistic causality of nature. When chemistry and biology suggested a new model of the universe, livingness became the essential principle of all reality, and, as a result, the transcendence of the living God no longer needed to be explained spatially - as outside, above, or beyond. Substance thus became substantial force the divine attributes became organic forces. Having thus rejected Jacobi's premise that Spinoza's philosophy of immanence was inescapably a form of materialism, Herder could then proceed to disarm Jacobi's accusation of fatalism and atheism. We swim, Herder wrote, in an ocean of omnipotence. 16 More than simply defend Spinoza against Jacobi's charges of atheism, he attacked Jacobi's...

Bonhoeffers Recovery of the Political Significance of the Visible Church

Belief in the Resurrection is not the solution to the problem of death. God's beyond is not the beyond of our cognitive faculties. The transcendence of epis-temological theory has nothing to do with the transcendence of God. God is beyond in the midst of life. The church stands, not at the boundaries where human powers give out, but in the middle of the village. (Bonhoeffer 1971 282)

The Five Points of Biblical Covenantalism

Sutton's appendix on Kline explains why Kline's model is so vague. First, he misses transcendence, calling it simply the preamble section ofthe covenant. Second, he ignores the authority aspect of point two, calling it instead historical prologue. Third, he does not discuss adoption in the third section ( sanctions ). In point five, he does not develop historical continuity and inheritance because his amillennial theology does not lend itself well to such concepts. Most important, he does not discuss this covenant structure in terms of historic Protestant theology. For him, developing the model is primarily a historical exercise. Sutton, That You May Prosper, Appendix 7. 1. The transcendence and immanence of God

The Trinity In Worship And Sacraments

The relationship to the Father that is expressed in worship safeguards a fundamental Christian reality, which is typical of Orthodox spirituality a sense of divine transcendence, of the mystery of the One who 'dwells in an unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see' (i Tim 6 i6). This tension or antinomy between filial intimacy and the unbridgeable abyss of the person of the Father is beneficial for the Church and for its worship. Creation and its crowning aspect, the human being, are, in this manner, marked irreducibly by a fundamental imbalance. Grace is present at the very core of the created being's nature, as its ultimate meaning (the Logos), and as its principle of life (the Spirit) also present is the abyss of non-being above which are held the divine, creative and loving Hands of the Father.

Preface and Acknowledgements

Fifth, whether a theology addresses the questions of transcendence and mystery people are asking. The emphasis of Asian theologies on either liberation from socio-political and economic injustice on the one hand or inculturation of Christian faith and practice on the other needs to be balanced by addressing Asian people's desire for the transcendental aspects of life. Questions of truth, spirit-worlds, sin, death and evil do not evaporate in modernity or post-modernity but revisit people either in their desperation or in their affluence. Asian theology, with its rich religious and cultural resources, can draw out a new appreciation of transcendence and mystery.

The Search for an Invulnerable Area for Faith

By common consent, Karl Barth (1886-1968) rang the death knell on Liberal Protestantism. It gave no message for a war-torn Europe the message of optimistic moralism was no gospel. In contrast, Paul's letter to the Romans spoke a gospel of divine sovereignty and transcendence, of human finitude and sinfulness, and of God's initiative in revelation and grace. The good news is conveyed through the kerygma about Christ, the proclamation that God has drawn near in Jesus, not in a Jesus discovered by historical analysis. In his epoch-making Epistle to the Romans Barth strongly reaffirmed Kahler's position 'In history as such there is nothing so far as the eye can see which can provide a basis for faith'

Biblical Basis Creation stories

The human 'one-flesh' union has far transcended its biological function and Christians believe such transcendence to be according to the purpose of God (ibid. 86-7). 'Be fruitful and multiply' is encouragement more than command. God's blessing on procreation belongs with the announcement that human beings are made in God's image and likeness they are fit to be granted a share in God's creativeness.

Creation and incarnation

Difficulties with Pannenberg's position from the perspective of our theme also emerge the conceptuality proposed is insufficiently detailed to offer an account of the relation between humanity and its habitat. The evidence for such a judgment emerges most forcefully on the occasion of Pannenberg's defence of dominion as a function of the imago Dei. He is careful to make clear that dominion must be understood absolutely as restricted. Yet what dominion presupposes - the transcendence of humanity over its natural conditions - is neither elucidated nor defended. Thus the radicality of Pannenberg's conceptuality is blunted.9 Noting the level of generality with which Pannenberg is content to operate in the domain of ecology is also to make ajudgment on the politics of Pannenberg's theological position.10 A different way is required to set out the relations between humanity and nature in order to speak, for theology, of their common origin and destiny. I return to this task in the following...

Metaphors of revelation

Being of the very essence of poetry' (Gillingham, 1994, pp.15f.). Keble may help us to see that figurative, imaginative language is the appropriate vehicle of divine revelation, preserving as it does, through its combination of disclosure and concealment, the transcendence and mystery of God.

Mysticism and Godtalk

God of deism, the projection of a self-satisfied bourgeois society, the first principle of philosophy. In that sense, their reluctance to use the word God can be viewed as a form of apophatic (negative) mysticism. They realized, in other words, the perils of naming the infinite, and their preference for terms such as the infinite, the absolute, and the universe was a way of acknowledging the divine transcendence. For Schlegel, the imagery was that of a suspension between the infinite and the finite. Only the rhetoric of irony could capture this. Irony, he explained, is the clear consciousness of eternal agility, of an infinitely teeming chaos. 52 Because of the eternal agility - because the elusiveness of the infinite marks its transcendence - only Socratic irony can really recognize it. According to Schlegel, In this sort of irony, everything should be playful and serious, guilelessly open and deeply hidden It contains and arouses a feeling of indissoluble antagonism between the...

Thomas on inference from creatures to

Before considering whether there is a case for the possibility of a causal argument, let us first consider what Thomas's view of the matter is in principle. There are at least two important texts in which Thomas explicitly raises the question of whether the transcendence of God - which entails God's being spoken of 'analogically' - rules out the possibility of inference being valid to God from creatures, and in both his answer is in an unambiguous negative such inference is not thereby ruled out. The first of these we have already considered 21 on the one hand, Thomas, we saw, maintains that the Christian, who believes in the one true God, and the idolater, who worships some creaturely object as if it were God, contradict each other, which they could not do unless there were something in common between the ways in which they think of God. For unless the idolater was affirming of the idol that it is 'God' in some sense related to that in which the Christian denies that it is God, it...

Signs of the Times

Another kind of experience of ecstatic self-transcendence is found through music. The place music holds in our lives is enormous. With the boost that mechanical - and now digital - reproduction has given to the production and circulation of music, every space, time, and human activity has become a market for music. Our ancestors heard music in churches, pubs and theaters, on occasions when musicians could be assembled. We listen to music virtually everywhere. And while the lyrics provide us with much of our education about life (as lyrics always have), our primary use for music is to tune and retune our moods. We use it to set the mood for romance, social gatherings, movies, studying, ballgames, parades, rites of passage, holidays, shopping, crowd control, strenuous exercise, airports, affairs of state, driving, remembering the dead, and worship. It has even begun to be used at meat packing plants to calm the animals before slaughter. Music's power is largely a matter of its...

The return to theology

In the closing arguments of both Atheism in Christianity and The Principle of Hope, Bloch returns to theology, albeit in his argument for the atheistic logic of the Bible. Yet this argument is, to my mind, the most symptomatic of all, for his theological turn raises all sorts of questions about the nature of his biblical criticism. Note carefully that the title of his most sustained engagement with the Bible is not Atheism in the Bible, but Atheism in Christianity, Atheismus im Christentum. And the questions Bloch covers in its closing pages are the theological ones of atheism, teleology, transcendence, sin and death. Transcendence As we have seen, Bloch takes the category of transcendence into new territories, human, non-human and temporal. Thus, while God's transcendence is but a code for human transcendence (deus absconditus actually means homo absconditus), it becomes a temporal transcendence, oriented to the future. But Bloch does not stop here, for even nature and matter have...

Further objections and answers

These things are simply a matter of the 'logic' of the incarnation, at any rate of a Chalcedonian Christology. It is, of course, possible for Christian theologians to abandon the logic, and some do explicitly, as we have seen Hick does though it is more common for Christian theologians thoughtlessly to dismiss the Chalcedonian Christology, unaware that in doing so they run the risk of abandoning the subtle and complex logic of transcendence on which it relies. As McCabe says, it is one thing to wish to construct a modern Christology in terms other than those of Chalcedon -and there is every reason for doing so, in view of the archaically esoteric character of the technical language of ousia, hypostasis and prosopon in which it is couched, the historical senses of which are so difficult to retrieve. But it is quite another thing to construct a modern Christology in such terms as entail the falsehood of Chalcedonian Christology.38 For quite apart from considerations of historical...

Biblical Views of Love

We mentioned above that biblical religion continually sought to separate (the root sense of the words ''elect'' and ''holy'') itself from the fertility and mystery religions of its context. In relation to love between persons the Hebrew Bible strips sexual relations of the numinous religious character that Israel's sexual-mythical environment attributed to them. In contrast to the Baal religious orientation, the Bible celebrates the joy of sex without supernatural baggage. Sexual relations are not means to self-transcendence and ascent to the divine or by sympathetic magic means to influence the fertility of crops and animals upon which agricultural peoples are so dependent. Sex is not a divine principle but simply part of the creation. Again, in contrast to the mythologies of the ancient world, the creation stories in Genesis 1-2 declare God made humans in two sexes to be companions. Woman is created as the fit partner with man, with human dignity, equally blessed by God (Gen. 1...

The construction of orthodoxy

This was not the only key controversy in which the Sunni mainstream liked to define itself as a middle position. Addressing the question of the status of sinners, Blankinship's chapter shows how the early community attempted to negotiate a middle path between the Khaarijites, who rejected sinners as apostates, and other groups, who held that sin has no effect on an individual's status as a believing Muslim, or that one should simply suspend judgement. Nader El-Bizri, in his chapter on the debate over God's attributes, shows how orthodoxy situated itself between the extremes of either negating the attributes, or concretising them in a way that might compromise the divine unity and transcendence. Similarly, on the free will versus determinism debate, Steffen Stelzer, David Burrell and others show that Muslims tended to favour a median position in the form of the doctrine of Acquisition (kasb), and the merits of the via media in this context were explicitly extolled by Ghazali.22...

Balthasar and Sexual Difference Introductory Notes

Self-contained completeness but continuing fruitfulness. In the Theo-Drama, the central work of his threefold theological project, Balthasar introduces sexual difference initially as one of the central polarities that determine human existence, and which are observable (in his view) prior to the determination of anthropology by Christology (Balthasar 1988-98 II, 365-82). To be human is, for Balthasar, to be sexually differentiated. Sexual difference indicates both our incompleteness and our possibility of self-transcendence.

The Byzantine Conceptual World View

The issue of the transcendence of God fuelled the debate between Gregory Palamas and Barlaam the Calabrian (c.1290-1348) in the mid-fourteenth century. The debate focused on a distinction between the knowable energies of God and his unfathomable divine essence. Barlaam had been Eastern Orthodox and a monastic, but joined the Catholic Church on his return to Italy in 1342. Palamas, who was Archbishop of Thessaloniki (1347-59), defended in his Triads the practice of Hesychast contemplative prayer as fostering the vision of the uncreated light. Rather than asserting the transcendence of God as forming a gulf between the divine and human, this perspective affirms the redemptive role of the Incarnation and the means to bridge the gap. He saw God as unknowable in his essence but comprehensible in his uncreated energies. The debate between Barlaam and Palamas highlights the conflict between the more philosophical and rationalist aspects of Christian belief, and the more intellectually...

Universal Religious Awakenings Versus A Christian Awakening

Unlike most people, then, Adler had been 'deeply moved' and 'shaken in his inmost being' by being 'fetched home by a higher power' and 'tossed out into extreme mortal danger' over '70,000 fathoms of water' (BA 104, 108, 112). As Kierkegaard sees it, however, to be deeply moved in this manner is not equivalent to having a Christian awakening, as pagans and Jews, for example, are also capable of being deeply moved by something higher or abstract such as the eternal or an idea. Thus 'not every outpouring of religious emotion is a Christian outpouring' nor does one 'become a Christian by being religiously moved by something higher' (113). In contrast to an immanent or more universal religious awakening, in which one's self-identity remains intact and one is shaken in such a way as merely to wake up and become oneself, a Christian awakening lies in the sphere of transcendence that is, it takes place via a relation to the eternal in time outside oneself through which one becomes a...

Non Chalcedonian churches and the Church of the East two Christologies in synopsis

At the beginning of the seventh century, the language of two qnome was promoted by Babaithe Great (d. 628) and subsequently adopted by the Church of the East as its official teaching. The term qnoma had an ancient history, but in the texts of the period under discussion it may be interpreted as concrete existence, that is, the individual instance of a particular nature. The Definition of the assembly of bishops of 612 (presumably held at Seleucia-Ctesiphon) contained the phrase Christ is two natures and two qnome and expressed two main concerns. Its theological concern, by distinguishing between divinity and humanity, intended to maintain the perfect transcendence of the former and avoid any idea of its suffering. The other concern was soteriological. By designating Christ's humanity, side by side with his divinity, as qnoma, the Church of the East intended to affirm its integral character, for Christ was the new Adam, the stem of new humankind (1 Cor. 15.45-49). Viewed from this...

The Christian Muslim Encounter

In coming decades, European Christians will have no alternative but to look closely at Islam, and they will find there much that is familiar, and that is inspiring. At the synod of European Catholic bishops in 1999, Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels praised the Islamic emphasis on the transcendence of God, prayer and fasting, and the impact of religion on social life. We might quote an essay authored by

Difference and hierarchy the pseudoDenys

But as to a fourth level of negation, that which the pseudo-Denys calls 'denial by transcendence', this is the 'negation of the negation', as when he says that the Cause of all 'falls neither within the predicate of nonbeing nor of being'. And it is clear that the pseudo-Denys' apophatic negations are of this last kind. For in the sense in which it is correctly said that 'God is not good', it is not now entailed that God is evil in the sense in which God is said, correctly, not to be 'a being', 'not-being' equally fails of God. What is being negated, therefore, is that any creaturely understanding of the difference between good and evil, between being and non-being, finally holds its grip on God. The 'negation of the negation' is ultimately the negation of that hierarchy which structures the oppositions of affirmation and negation which lead up to it. For that hierarchy is a structure of differentiation, an articulation of a scale of negations whereas the 'negation of the negation'...

Conclusion On Popular Culture

One of the most poignant objections to this view can be found in the movie FightClub. In a pep talk he delivers to the first cell of disenfranchised young men he has recruited for FightClub, Tyler tells his recruits, You're not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank, not the car you have, the contents of your wallet. You're not your f - - g khakis. But then, anticipating the opposite error that they might fancy themselves as subjects who transcend their experiences, he circles around to tell them You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else. With this, Tyler invites them to make the one unimpeachable connection with reality that is available to them to pound one another senseless with their fists this is the ritual action that allows them to have an experience of ecstatic transcendence. Undergoing such primal frenzy and the pain of a good beating is the one assurance they can have that...

Ivthe Problem Of Evil

The principle of this classification is quite simple. It lies in the fact that Being is the most universal of the Emanations or Forms, and that all things therefore exist only in so far as they possess Form. Hence the want of all form is non-entity and makes things which are without any form to be non-existent that want of proper form which we call evil is a tendency to non-entity and makes evil things to be so far non-existent the want of complete substantial or spiritual form makes merely existent things (i.e. lifeless things) to be un-existent and the transcendence of all Form makes the Super-Essence to be in a special sense Non-Existent.

Pharisaism And Hellenism

Feel, only because it is diffused throughout the whole body. Thus we have a strict parallelism between man and the universe, since there is in both a concentration of the divine element in the dominant part,* yet at the same time it is diffused everywhere. According to the Timaeus there should be beyond all this a transcendent creator but the Stoics vary. Sometimes they seem to have had simply a divine reason pervading the whole sometimes they seem to have followed the Timaeus more closely and to have retained a transcendent deity, a divine principle which was equated to the firmament, as well as the divine pattern of the universe, which is the reason pervading the universe. That is why in Philo the Logos is sometimes the divine pattern of the cosmos, and seems to have an independent existence of its own, while sometimes it appears to be simply the immanent divine reason which pervades it. I doubt whether the Stoics of the time had a consistent system Philo certainly has nothing of...

Hermeneutic Views of Theology and Social Theory

Secular social theory may fail to make explicit these visions and fail to advance any kind of ordered defense of them. Yet they influence and tilt the views of individual and social action nonetheless. John Milbank in his Theology and Social Theory (1990) analyzes the horizon and hidden assumptions of several kinds of social theory -Durkheim, Weber, Marx, Parsons as well as the entire field of postmodernism - and finds, not so much an implicit Christian vision or ontology, but an ancient pagan ontology of violence and power (Milbank 1990 278-325). In Religious Thought and the Modern Psychologies (1987), I made a similar analysis of the major schools of contemporary psychology - Freud, Skinner, Jung, the humanistic psychologies, Erikson, Kohut - and found that they all contained deep metaphors about the nature of the ultimate context of experience, metaphors that function analogously to religious visions (Browning 1987). Metaphors of life and death (Freud), of ultimate harmony (Jung...

The Problem Of Predication

Apt only if they are implicit comparisons and if they impute resemblances between the subject and exemplar which are found to hold. Many would question this account of metaphor as too crude. They would contend that the basic function of a metaphor is to make us think about one thing in terms of another and that this can be fruitful even though there are no literal similarities between exemplar and subject. By metaphorical descriptions of God, we set up associations between divine and mundane realities which help us in thinking about God (for example, by extending upon reflection our negative or relational knowledge of him), without imputing any literal resemblances between creature and creator. In this way the transcendence of God may be preserved (see Searle 1979 and Yob 1992 for the basis of this reply). This debate throws up the question, crucial also in discussions of analogy described above, as to what account of divine transcendence underlies our strategies for interpreting...

Restatements Of Answers Given In Volume I

Bccomc understandable the one reality which we encounter is experienced in different dimensions which point to one another. The finitude of the finite points to the infinity of the infinite. It goes beyond itself in order to return to itself in a new dimension. This is what self-transcendence means. In terms of immediate experience it is the encounter with the holy, an encounter which has an ecstatic character. The term ecstatic in the phrase ecstatic idea of God points to the experience of the holy as transcending ordinary experience without removing it. Ecstasy as a state of mind is the exact correlate to self-transcendence as the state of reality. Such an understanding of the idea of God is neither naturalistic nor supranaturalistic. It underlies the whole of the present theological system. If, on the basis of this idea of God, we ask What does it mean that God, the ground of everything that is, can stand against the world and for the world wc must refer to that quality of the...

The disgracing of nature

'We shall continue to have a worsening ecological crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man.' Thus Lynn White concludes on the contribution of Christianity to the ecological crisis.11 Briefly summarised, White's thesis is that modern science and technology, although now international, have their origins in the West. To this development, Christianity makes no small contribution particularly through its creation story which, according to White, decisively introduces the notion of historical development, stresses the transcendence of humanity over nature and, last, claims that nature has been created by God for the benefit of humanity. Thus Christianity makes an important contribution to the disgracing and subsequent mastery of nature.

Mysticism And Language

However, by negating the content of intelligible names and symbols, 'advancing through the negation and transcendence of all things towards that which is beyond all things' (Rolt 1957 152). So God can be truly (albeit inadequately) described although we must ultimately cease to 'see or know that we may learn to know that which is beyond all perception and understanding' (ibid. 194).

The ritual roots of rock

Rock and roll derives from these precursors. And while the connection to this legacy of sacred music becomes more obscure with rock than it was with soul, many of the basic stylistic elements and salvific themes persist. While it has been stretched nearly to the breaking point, there is a residual religion that still runs through the veins of rock and roll. To begin with, it is often performed in a venue that was in earlier eras the exclusive precinct of religion. A predecessor of the outdoor summer music festival (Lilith Fair, Woodstock, Ozzfest, Lollapalooza, Rolling Thunder Review, Burning Man Festival, Rainbow Festival) was the revival camp meeting and its successor, the Chautauqua.15 And like its predecessor, the music festival provides an occasion to shed one's routines, normal obligations and comforts in order to enter a liminal world designed to optimize the possibility for self-transcendence and to practice a different mode of community. It has clear Edenic and utopian...

Analogies And Associated Feelings

1 We are often prone to resort to this familiar feeling-content to fill out the negative concept' transcendent', explaining frankly God's 'transcendence' by His 'sublimity*. As a figurative analogical description this is perfectly allowable, but it would be an error if we meant it literally and in earnest. Religious feelings are not the same as aesthetic feelings, and ' the sublime' is as definitely an aesthetic term as ' the beautiful', however widely different may be the facts denoted by the words.

Sociology of Religion as an Intellectual Practice

It is remarkable that Weber failed to appreciate such ideas, which - aside from their theological significance - were to resonate so deeply in philosophical thought, especially in Germany in the nineteenth century in relation to ideas of immanence and transcendence, which Weber certainly was informed about.

Revelation as Religious Experience

Non-theistic religions like early Buddhism, has led him more and more to define revelation purely in experiential terms. Thus in a much later book, The Fifth Dimension, writing of the great spiritual figures behind the rise of world religions, Hick remarks that 'they were men who were exceptionally open to the Transcendent, experiencing it with extraordinary vividness in ways made possible by their existing religious contexts. Such immensely powerful moments of God-consciousness, or of Transcendence consciousness, are what we mean by revelation.'50

For us the sociality of nature and humanity

The theme of the relationship between the resurrected body and creation continues in the Christological debates of the early Church until it is established that the creativity associated with the return of Jesus from death is to be connected with the transcendence of God who creates ex nihilo 'So Jesus shares the creativity of God he is God as dependent - for whom the metaphors of Word, Image, Son are appropriate.'16

Kierkegaards Way of Contextualizing Reason

This conception, introduced by a definition which takes the form of a conceit but which formulates precisely the specificity of human beings by accentuating the gerundive form, relating, is opposed to that of a synthesis, by which he can distinguish himself from a favorite ploy of Hegel's. Yet he also implicitly targets Aristotle's definition of human beings as rational animals, thereby showing his own modernity while trenchantly criticizing its current icon. Indeed, this gesture reminds us of an aporia in Aristotle's work if living things, indeed human beings especially, and notably Socrates, serve as paradigms for his decisive category of substance, he nonetheless fails to bring out how humans transcend that very category in the very act of defining it. This, of course, is what Hegel showed so well, and in that sense Kierkegaard is building on him while rejecting the omnivorous instincts of his philosophical legacy. So we are not a relation but a relating, which accentuates how our...

Conclusion For Popular Culture Beauty

For this reason, they can serve as icons, thin boundaries between the sacred and profane, that transport viewers to a reality beyond their immediate surroundings. This can function as a means of escapism, or it can take on an eschatological dynamism that prompts one to adjust one's life in ways that conform more nearly to the vision displayed in the image.

Influence and Controversies

Indeed, Tillich's philosophical theology has in certain respects been surprisingly developed in a postmodernist direction, for example by Charles Winquist.24 I say surprising because looked at one way many themes in Tillich look like classic evidence of a modernist orientation. The notion of the depth of reason looks like the basis of a claim that human consciousness has immediate and indubitable cognitive access to transcendence that serves as the foundation of all other theological claims, which postmodern thought rejects in its non-foundationalist theories of knowledge. The construal of God as ground of being immediately present in the power of being exercised by every finite life looks like an instance of the intellectual tradition of onto-theology critiqued by postmodern thought. The story in Part V of God actualizing Godself in a process that culminates in an eschatological panentheism looks like an instance of the totalizing metanarratives that postmodernist thought critiques....

Method class conflict as a hermeneutical key

Bloch undertakes this kind of reading again and again throughout the book, reading with the assumptions and strategies of biblical historical criticism in one hand and the hermeneutics of class in the other. And it leads him to argue for two concepts of God, one 'which has the Futurum as its mode-of-being' and the other that 'has been institutionalized down from above'.49 The latter, with its radical transcendence, submission and atonement, is the one against which the rebellions are directed. Yet Bloch's own argument, let alone the Bible, has a distinct teleology. For he has an unflagging zeal for anything that values human beings, and it begins with the interpretive rule 'only critical attention to the veiled and (in the book of Exodus) ineradicable subversion can bring to light the organon of the non-theocratic axis in the Bible'.55 All that rails against theocracy and its attendant hierocracy, against transcendence and obedience, and against the diminution of human beings has a...

Concluding Unscientific Postscript

''The reality is more complicated than I supposed.'' It occurs to me now that another paradigm may also serve as a clue to the relationship of need and gift to love. Perhaps we could think of the interaction of the twin sources of our culture's views on love in terms of a tale of two banquets. The two banquets are Plato's Symposium and the biblical accounts of the Messianic banquet including Jesus's last supper. The former celebrates love as the means for transcendence, for ascent from this world of illusion, disappointment, and death to the world of ideas, the ''real'' world of beauty and the good. The consequent orientation to life is eudaemonism - the drive for happiness, for well-being. The latter celebrates love as imminent relationships in this world in the midst of failure and death. In Isaiah, God's ''everlasting covenant,'' his ''steadfast, sure love for David'' is the basis for inviting the poor to a joyful banquet. ''Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters and you that...

Kierkegaards Achievement

In Britain, it was the Scottish theologians H. R. Mackintosh and P. T. Forsyth who did more than anyone to introduce Kierkegaard to the British public. In Britain and America, however, Kierkegaard's influence remained insignificant until after the Second World War, when the translations undertaken by Alexander Dru, David F. Swenson, and Walter Lowrie made Kierkegaard known in the English-speaking world. It was above all in Germany, however, that Kierkegaard's influence was most keenly felt. Although the first German translations of Kierkegaard's works had begun to appear in the 1860s, the First World War and the subsequent disintegration of the optimism and historicism of prewar liberal theology lent a new significance to Kierkegaard's work and led to him becoming a significant figure on the German theological and philosophical landscape. Kierkegaard's exposition of the human condition, his emphasis on the transcendence of God, the paradoxical nature of the incarnation, and the leap...

Thinking Psychologically About Hereditary

Dogmatics represents the beginning of a 'new science' or 'second philosophy' (Christian theology) whose essence is transcendence or repetition, the recovery of existential truth through a relation to the eternal in time, which according to another Kierkegaardian pseudonym, Constantin Constantius, is the 'conditio sine qua non the indispensable condition for every issue of dogmatics' (R 149). Along with dogmatics a 'new ethics' (Christian ethics) also comes into existence, an ethics that does not ignore sin or make ideal demands like the 'first ethics' but explains sin indirectly through hereditary sin while projecting the ethical ideal as a task to be achieved through a 'penetrating consciousness' of the actuality of sin in the single individual (CA 20). Although dogmatics and second ethics have the merit of presupposing the actuality of sin and taking it seriously, Vigilius nevertheless continues to claim that 'the concept of sin does not properly belong in any science', including...

Godrelation Andor Human Work

Posthumously a book of the German sociologist Niclas Luhmann (1927-1998) was published Die Religion der Gesellschaft ( The Religion of Society).10 Here religion has the function to develop something like confidence in meaning ( Sinnvertrauen ). In every system we come to face the problem that we can observe things and act inside the own system, but that there remains the difference between what can be observed and what not. The observer cannot observe his own act of observing. The eye cannot see its act of seeing. For the system religion Luhmann solves the problem by making God the observer God, that is to say the one who suspends the difference between observing and being observed, so that he is beyond all distinctions or the transcendence of the tension of difference and unity. We leave aside the task of the theologians who then are confronted with the impossible task to observe and to legitimize the observing role of God. It suffices to recognize that making religion a function...

Character and the Durable Self

Writing in the early 1970s, Hauerwas sees two parallel tendencies in the theological and philosophical approaches that dominated midcentury English-speaking academic life. By his reading, much of Protestant thought has been preoccupied with the metaphor of command. An anxiety about righteousness through works leads to the presumption that an exaggerated emphasis on sanctification undermines the doctrine of justification.3 This theological outlook consistently blocks the development of a vocabulary to describe continuing human participation in divine purposes. Without continuing participation, the power of Christianity can easily seem occasional and ephemeral. It has to do with the vertical dimension of transcendence, not the horizontal dimension of everyday life. Furthermore, modern anxieties about scientific determinism have tempted modern moralists to secure a zone of indeterminate freedom as the realm of values. Free decisions are seen as the key moments of moral significance in...

Sexinggendering the common realm

Yet there remains the suspicion that theology seeks to simplify relations by generalisation and abstraction. Salleh captures this suspicion nicely 'in an attempt to bridge its experiential fracture from the life process and 'natural time', the alienative consciousness of men has invented compensatory 'principles of continuity' such as God, the State, History, now Science and Technology'.52 To the contrary, my argument, which reaches its full complexity only in part III, is that the theological principles of an ecosocial ontology are not compensatory obfuscations but instead reflective attempts to deny such continuity. By way of a Trinitarian interrogation and reconstruction, I am arguing, the concrete detail and intimate relations - the fine dependencies and modalities of transcendence - of humanity in nature are revealed. not in my view best described by the phrase 'teleological harmony'54), she is obliged to discount the descriptions of'natural' and 'antinatural' 'non-natural' of...

Scripts of the twiceborn

The astonishing revelation here is that these two long-suffering angels desire to go home at all, to return to bask in the divine presence of the One whose justice they doubt and whose judgment of them had been their undoing. After 4,000 years of stewing on God's wrath and their own rejection, they want back in. Behind the strange empyrean world of the film is the further revelation that Kevin Smith, a filmmaker who turned 30 the year the film was released, appears to agree with them, given the way he directs our sympathies on behalf of these two characters in his telling of the story. The story seems to concur with the idea that even a God whose exercise of justice is faulty is worthy of the longing of creatures who scramble to return to the divine presence. This is different from an earlier generation that, as William James observed, so objected to the image of a wrathful God that they either exorcised this attribute from God's countenance or abandoned their belief in God...

Music as the limit of reason

Into the 'sadness' of the second movement of Schubert's 'Death and the Maiden' quartet we do indeed experience that sadness directly, but not as being a sadness about anything, nor as being anybody's sadness - not yours, not mine, not even Schubert's. Of course, you may, as you experience it, contingently be caused to recollect the tragedy of Schubert's predicament as he wrote that movement, or you may, as it happens, be caused to recollect some sadness of your own. But such personal experiences of sadness are strictly irrelevant to the music's own character as sad. For what you experience is sadness as such, the pure form of the emotion, but as subjectless and as objectless.11 Hence, on the one hand, you do experience the sadness in its inner character as sadness - and not merely the skill of its expression - but on the other, you experience it not as yours nor yet as originating in any actual cause or as directed at any object in particular. This is not to say that the experience of...

Relation The Heart Of Trinitarian Theology

Set out in four stages, it shows that the personal relations are identical to the persons themselves, that they distinguish the persons, and, what goes deeper, that they constitute these persons in such a way that if we mentally abstract from the relations, we cease to be able to grasp the divine persons the person cannot be known independently of the relative property which constitutes it as such. To understand this thesis properly, one most observe that the investigation does not touch only on the reality of the three persons in themselves in their divine transcendence, but also bears on the persons in so far as these persons are apprehended by our minds, and designated by us in the language of faith.90 In the precise meaning of the term, this is a theological exercise. St Thomas finds this response unsatisfactory or that it goes too fast 'it cannot be held'.100 In the world as we know it, when two realities are distinct, they are distinguished not only by the respective processes...

The Resurrection World

The communal aspect of the end state of God's new creation was stressed by Hick in the final chapter of his book, Death and Eternal Life.41 He suggested there, with reference to eastern as well as western thought, that the overcoming of ego-centredness will lead to the transcendence of individuality and the transformation of personal existence into an interpersonal corporate life, reflecting the communal nature of the triune God. This latter point can be made all the stronger, the more we go along with the social analogy in trinitarian theology, as explained in chapter 5. Hick himself has grown less and less inclined to press this analogy, admittedly. But it is interesting to find him making the point in this relatively early work. There, he went on to illustrate the perfected community of mutually open centres of consciousness with a telling quotation from John Donne, in which the poet uses the metaphor of the book of life

Art And The Varieties Of Religious Experience

The plurality of Christian religious styles naturally goes well beyond anything suggested by the simple distinction between the arts of 'more' and 'less'. The wider spectrum of Christian aesthetic expression becomes visible if one observes that contrasting kinds of art potentially mediate a sense of divine transcendence, and do so in at least four different modes negative, radical, proximate, and immanent (see Brown 1989 115-30). As regards the first mode, it can be said that certain works of holocaust literature, for instance, raise the question of God's sustaining presence so painfully and powerfully that they convey to Jewish and Christian readers alike a sense of what Martin Buber terms the 'eclipse of God' a sense of terrifying yet holy absence (Buber 1952 23-4). For many listeners, overtones of negative transcendence are also produced by Arnold Schoenberg's opera Moses and Aaron, left unfinished at his death in 1951. This work, which demonstrates the full expressive range of...

From Spiritual theology to Spirituality

The emphasis on experience in contemporary spirituality does not in fact exclude specific reference to tradition. Even if there is some common ground between different faith traditions (e.g. Christianity and Hinduism) regarding the meaning of 'spirituality', that is, the development of our capacity for self-transcendence in relation to the Absolute, nevertheless Christian spirituality is increasingly related to explicitly theological themes. While spirituality, in Christian terms, concerns not some other life but simply human life at depth, our understanding of what this means arises from what Christian revelation and tradition suggest about God, human nature and the relationship between the two. Christian spirituality derives its specific characteristics from a fundamental belief that human beings are capable of entering into relationship with a God who is transcendent yet dwelling in all created reality. Further, this relationship is lived out within a community of believers that is...

The Plan Of The Trinitarian Treatise In The Summa Theologiae

St Thomas assembles the whole of Christian reflection around the mystery of God considered as he is in himself, and considered as the source and goal of creatures this is what theology is about, its 'subject'.12 Evidently, the concern is to bring out the theocentricity of Christian doctrine, while maintaining the transcendence of God. The treatise on God in the Summa Theologiae is a well-organized unity. The structure appears in the Prologues, enabling one to grasp the purpose of the treatise. Contrary to one widespread opinion (division of the treatise on God into a 'De Deo Uno' and a 'De Deo Trino'), this comprises not two but three parts

The Great Beast and the Final Conflict

The term new world order can prove somewhat deceptive in Gnostic teachings, however, because the divine order envisioned is not of this world. It represents an ascent beyond the material dimension int ) more subtle and sublime dimensions, thus a transcendence of the world. Yet. as is common among Gnostics, the idea of a new order that is tra - -scendent and not of this world is neither creed nor doctrine. There ai

Reason the central case

What does constitute the centrality of the demonstrability of the existence of God is simply that such demonstrability forms the point of convergence of an 'apophatic self-transcendence' which quite generally characterises every other form of rational activity in its widest sense. For it is true that every exercise of human reason in some way bears witness to a 'space' lying beyond its own powers to access and that every exercise of human reason is at least to that extent 'self-transcendent', that each may know in its own way that the conditions on which its own distinctive, particular, activities depend lie beyond its own scope. It is an everyday truth that music and poetry open up spaces beyond the power of music and poetry to gain entry indeed, we can say of music that it 'carnalises' the inexpressible, it is the flesh made apophatic but to the extent that such forms of human expression approximate to the condition of music as the limit case at one extreme, that space 'beyond' to...

Distinguish and Relate

Otherness of God consisted in his being unknown, unknowable, or unreachable. Human ignorance does not ground or serve God's transcendence. Barth insisted on the necessity of revelation, by which God simultaneously makes himself known and guards the mystery and freedom of his being. God asserts his transcendence by his presence and activity. The otherness of God is not to be conceded because human knowing or action proves unable to absorb God into itself, which would effect the humanizing of God. God's otherness is rather what God in his freedom speaks and realizes. By being God, God distinguishes himself from all that might be confused with God, whether nature, or powers usurping his place, or the pretensions of human beings. The freedom of God is not his non-humanity, let alone his antihumanity it is a freedom which is actualized in God's being for humanity. Thus the distinction can never be detached from the connection, as it would be if God's difference were his nonhumanity.

Vidionysius And Modern Philosophy

The doctrine of Unknowing must not be confounded with Herbert Spencer's doctrine of the Unknowable. The actual terms may be similar the meanings are at opposite poles. For Herbert Spencer could conceive only of an intellectual apprehension, which being gone, nothing remained Dionysius was familiar with a spiritual apprehension which soars beyond the intellect. Hence Herbert Spencer preaches ignorance concerning ultimate things Dionysius (like Bergson in modern times) 15 a transcendence of knowledge. The one means a state below the understanding and the other a state above it. The one teaches that Ultimate Reality is, and must always be, beyond our reach the other that the Ultimate Reality at last becomes so near as utterly to sweep away (in a sense) the distinction which separates us from It. That this is the meaning of Unknowing is plain from the whole trend of the Dionysian teaching, and is definitely stated, for instance, in the passage about the statue or in others which say that...

Refusing the question

Gets closer and closer to God, it gets deeper and deeper into, not further distanced from, the creature. In Thomas's proofs the intimacy (the inwardness of God to all things) and the transcendence of God (his total otherness) have the same source in the divine creative activity, and so for Thomas the more profoundly the creature is known the more clearly is it known to be intelligible only as mystery - the mysterion, or sacramen-tum, which is creation. Thus is the argument-strategy of the five ways not only not set in some way against the mystery of faith in a certain manner its shape - in the character of its determining question - anticipates, but in no way displaces, that shape and that 'interrogation' (as Barth would put it) of faith.

Creation Is Distinct From God Yet Always Dependent on

God is also very much involved in creation, for it is continually dependent on him for its existence and its functioning. The technical term used to speak of God's involvement in creation is the word immanent meaning remaining in creation. The God of the Bible is no abstract deity removed from, and uninterested in his creation. The Bible is the story of God's involvement with his creation, and particularly the people in it. Job affirms that even the animals and plants depend on God In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind (Job 12 10). In the New Testament, Paul affirms that God gives to all men life and breath and everything and that in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17 25, 28). Indeed, in Christ all things hold together (Col. 1 17), and he is continually upholding the universe by his word of power (Heb. 1 3). God's transcendence and immanence are both affirmed in a single verse when Paul speaks of one God and Father of us all, who is...

Beyond The Reformation

So in recent years many Christians have come to believe that the only way out of the present crisis of the Church in the West is by the transcendence of the conceptual limitations of Reformation theology, especially of its individualism. But they see that this cannot be accomplished by a return to medievalism or to the Catholicism of the European Counter-Reformation. The only hope for a Christian response to the contradictions and dilemmas of the contemporary world lies in a renewed spirituality which can respond to the spiritual hunger, the nihilism and despair, the need for community, and the quest for transcendence of modern men and women. Many people today speak of the need for a 'new reformation'.

Kristevas Kenotic Economy

We can legitimately develop Balthasar's work through Kristeva's because they share so much. Let me briefly point to four fundamental parallels. First, there is a common appeal to the primacy of love as an anthropological root. Balthasar develops this through his notion of the imago dei and divine eros, based upon his work on Gregory of Nyssa. Kristeva develops this from the attention given by psychoanalysis to sexual desire and, more specifically, Freud's discussion of narcissism and the Oedipal triangle. Secondly, for both of them the relationship of mother and child acts as the locus for a metaphysical analysis of living towards transcendence. Balthasar begins his exploration of the wonder of Being and the awareness of our radical contingency with relation to this transcendent horizon. Kristeva explores the nature of the unfathomable and the mystery of identity beginning with the mother child unity. Thirdly, they share an understanding of selfhood as caught up in and constituted by...

Are you both attracted and repelled by the internet at the very same time

Figure 4 The Internet is a nexus of knowledge, power and transcendence that evokes a classic sense of the holy, as boldly suggested in this ad from MCI WorldCom, Inc. (1999). Figure 4 The Internet is a nexus of knowledge, power and transcendence that evokes a classic sense of the holy, as boldly suggested in this ad from MCI WorldCom, Inc. (1999).

Arab Christianity under Islam

It calls him a word and spirit from God (4 171 quoted above, 3 45), a sign and a mercy from God (19 21), it details his miracles of healing and resuscitation (3 49, 5 110), and it says that he was supported by what it calls the Holy Spirit (2 87, 2 253). Thus he was an elect messenger of God to a particular community, bringing them the Gospel (InjTl) from God (3 48, 5 46), and calling disciples to help him (3 52). But it also insists that he was no more than human, created like Adam (3 59), eating human food (5 75), and a servant of God (19 30). And it also details (61 6) that he foretold the coming of a messenger after him, 'whose name is the Praised One' (ahmad, derived from the same trilateral root h-m-d as Muhammad), denied being divine (5 116-17) and, most devastatingly, was not crucified but was instead raised up to God out of the clutches of the Jews (4 157-8). In such remarks can be detected a revision of Christian claims about Jesus to bring them into line with the dominant...

Validity is as validity does

Besides, while it is possible to sympathise with Christian theologians who think that, in their proper concern to defend the divine 'transcendence', they should go in for maximising gaps between God and creatures to an infinite degree of difference, it is less than helpful to put it this way, and if they insist, they should be asked to consider how, consistently with such a strategy, they will accommodate Augustine's fine words 'But you, O Lord, were more intimate to me than I am to myself - tu autem eras interior intimo meo 31 for Augustine's sense of the divine 'otherness' is such as to place it, in point of transcendence, closer to my creaturehood than it is possible for any creatures to be to each other. For creatures are more distinct from each other than God can possibly be from any of them as Eckhart said, 'distinction belongs to creatures, indistinction to God'. The logic of transcendence is not best embodied in metaphors of 'gaps', even infinitely 'big' ones, and if we must...

Churches And The Left

It is often contended, by unsympathetic commentators, that the leading thinkers and officers of the Western Churches are actually committed in some sense to the political Left. The impression derives from their sympathy for Third World radical movements, from the undoubtedly socialist preferences of the World Council of Churches in the 1970s and 1980s, from the apparent preoccupation of Christian bodies with welfare issues which bring them into conflict with conservative political forces, and from the association of the Christian message of peace with actual peace movements under the ultimate direction of radical political influences. In fact Western theologians and church leaders have in recent decades demonstrated, not ideological commitment, but a suprising measure of ideological innocence. The 'Christian-Marxist Dialogue' of the 1960s and 1970s was perhaps the last occasion on which Christian thinkers seriously addressed the philosophical issues of historical materialism in a way...

Theories Which Virtually Deny

Lord Herbert of Cherbury was one of the first who formed deism into a system. His book De Veritate was published in 1624. He argues against the probability of God s revealing his will to only a portion of the earth. This he calls particular religion. Yet he sought and, according to his own account, he received, a revelation from heaven to encourage the publication of his work in disproof of revelation. He asked for a sign and was answered by a loud, though gentle noise from the heavens. He had the vanity to think his book, of such importance to the cause of truth as to extort a declaration of the divine will, when the interests of half of mankind could not secure any revelation at all. What God would not do for a nation, he would do for an individual. See Leslie and Leland, Method with the Deists. Deism is the exaggeration of the truth of God s transcendence. See Christlieb, Modern Doubt and Christian Belief, 190209. Melanchthon illustrates by the shipbuilder Ut faber discedit a navi...

Human freedom natural contingencies

Too has been displaced in the separation of humanity and nature. Such displacement is no small matter. At issue is whether or not some justification can be given of the circumstance in which humanity finds itself as free yet within a context that resists (to some extent) that same freedom. Philosophers influenced by the German idealist tradition gloss this problem in terms of freedom and necessity. So Dupre 'The search for an adequate conception of transcendence appears far from finished. How does the necessary allow genuine contingency. How does the contingent affect the nature of necessity '42

Modernity and the Representation of Subjects

The medieval clean, universal humanity, just as it reached down into the body, also reached up into transcendence. With St. Paul, after Christ, there was now a universal humanity and no longer just Greek and Jew, male and female, slave and free, because all human beings were no longer merely human, since God had entered humanity. Therefore, human beings became human beings only by elevation beyond humanity, just as to recognize the good (prior to Bonaventure and Scotus) was to advance toward God in one's substantive being. But, by contrast, within modernity, human beings could be human beings without transformation as simply thinking (representing) or willing (positing values). This new mode of formal recognition implied a shift in social ontology. No longer was society seen in terms of the liturgical body of Christ (Lubac 1949). Initially, it had been only by this mythos of divine descent ( the glory of God is humanity fully alive ) and theurgic ascent ( the life of a human being is

Karl rahner

And yet, even admitting the relativity of formulations, we have to maintain that the pronouncements of the Council of Chalcedon are normative points of orientation for the Christian churches and their theologies until today, so that we cannot convincingly talk about Jesus Christ, if we bypass them. Therefore, also the declaration Dominus Iesus lives from the memory of the teachings of this council (cf. nr. 6 and 10). It is the conviction of Christianity that God became man in Jesus of Nazareth and thus has become a member of humankind as it lives forth in history. What in the togetherness of God and man non-God, eternity and time, transcendence and immanence in a para

Theological rhetoric

There is therefore something almost frighteningly 'materialistic' about Eckhart's theology which, when looked at in this way, could with good reason be cause to revise some assumptions about Eckhart's dauntingly high-minded, and supposedly elitist, 'mysticism'. Eckhart's theology is in principle a demotic theology, and in his sermons it has taken on the character almost of a drama at any rate, theology has become an act, for it enacts in its performance what it is about as word. For when Eckhart looks for God, he looks for him in what is most 'material', even 'animal', within our rational nature in the materiality of the 'foregrounded signifier'. And if in this respect Eckhart's theology has, as Davies says, something of the character of the 'poetic', we can also say that it has something of the character of the sacramental its enactment says what it signifies. It is as true, therefore, of Eckhart as it is of Thomas that he wants to find God in the created order but he differs from...


Many disturbing questions of this kind in turn seemed to be generated by a tension implicit in the Qur'an itself. Some verses spoke of a God who seemed utterly transcendent, so that ''nothing is like him'' (Qur'an 42 11). Such a deity ''is not asked about what he does'' (21 23), and appears to expect only the unquestioning submission (islam) which seemed implicit in the very name of the new religion. But there were many other passages which implied a God who is indeed, in some sense that urgently needed definition, analogous to ourselves a God who is ethically coherent, and whose qualities are immanent in his creation, so that ''Where-sover you turn, there is God's face'' (2 115). This fundamental tension between transcendence and immanence, or, as Muslims put it, between ''affirming difference'' (tanzih) and ''affirming resemblance'' (tashbih), became intrinsic to the structuring of knowledge in the new civilisation. As one aspect of this it could be said, at the risk of very crude...


The decisive thesis which has been extensively developed over a period of more than twenty years is already introduced in the first chapter of What is Man The fundamental openness to the world which has been interpreted by modern philosophical anthropology as the key to the understanding of what it means to be human has to be interpreted as a fundamental openness for God. God is the infinite horizon which is implicitly presupposed in every act of human self-transcendence. This fundamental relatedness to God constitutes the irreducible dimension of human religiousness which, according to Pannenberg, underlies all structures of human culture.


Ibn 'ArabI had engaged in depth with Ibn Hazm's works, and a full list of the jurist's writings he studied is contained in his ijaza (scholastic licence).73 That he undertook the project of abridging the Zahirite thinker's vast, thirty-volume The Adorned (al-Muhalla) is surely sufficient evidence of dedication. In transmitting Ibn Hazm's Refutation of Analogy (Ibtal al-Qiyas), Ibn 'ArabI provided it with an introduction in which he even recounts a visionary dream of the author and the Prophet embracing in a village near Seville. Ibn 'ArabI says that the dream helped him understand the enormous value of hadith.74 Elsewhere, he explicitly mentions that people in his day identified him as a partisan of Ibn Hazm, and although it has recently been pointed out by more than one author that he is categorical that he did not conform to Ibn Hazm's positions,75 on scrutiny this seems only to have been a protest that he follows nothing but the Qur'an, Hadith and consensus. It can be argued that...

Concluding Questions

For some two centuries the trend in spirituality has been towards an immanent view of God. Schleiermacher linked God with the human sense of absolute dependence the Romantics sought God in nature psychological approaches (e.g. James) used the analysis of human emotions to give meaning to the concept of God postmodernism has led some to reject claims of absolute truth and to seek God in the pluriformity of insights suppressed by master discourses even some recent Catholic spirituality has proceeded from human experience to divine mystery. Much of the initial impetus in this trend came from the Kantian critique of ideas of transcendence, but history played its part too. J rgen Moltmann draws attention to how trust in human power to

Social protest

In pop-protest music, hope is envisioned in the wind, in the sky, in the flame, in nameless streets where human differences have been relinquished - in those poetic regions where an elusive transcendence is still allowed to be conceived. Protest music can serve as a kind of soundtrack to social reform, drawing on the combined force of its snarling or exhilarating sound and its semiotically rich lyrics. It does as spirituals and gospel music have always done it elicits powerful emotions and harnesses them simultaneously to a criticism of human sinfulness and to a source of hope, often symbolized, as it is in these examples, in perennial, if oblique and often unconscious, metaphors of the spirit and reign of God.

Kenotic reason

At this point, then, it becomes clear that the failure of radicalness which unites the 'parasitical' atheist and the counterpart Christian believer in a common bond of intellectual complacency consists in a failure of nerve in respect of reason - a failure to concede to reason either its rootedness in our animal nature or its power of self-transcendence, or both. And it will also be clear by now that at the heart of my argument in this book is a proposition about the nature of reason which I have extracted from the thought of Thomas Aquinas. And that proposition is that we are animals who know God and that reason is how animals know God. To recap I argued that for Thomas humans are 'essentially animals', and that our animality is essentially rational. We are not animals plus rationality. Rationality is the form of our animality, we are the sort of animals whose bodies are the bearers of significance. Bodiliness is the stuff of our intellectual being, as intellect is the form of our...

Figure 155 Deism

While deism does affirm God's transcendence in some ways, it denies almost the entire history of the Bible, which is the history of God's active involvement in the world. Many lukewarm or nominal Christians today are, in effect, practical deists, since they live lives almost totally devoid of genuine prayer, worship, fear of God, or moment-by-moment trust in God to care for needs that arise.


Ghazala's critique of Avicenna's metaphysics resulted in a dialectical integration of selected falsafa notions within the kalam tradition. For instance, the celebrated author of the Book of Religions and Sects (Kitab al-milal wa'l-nihal),30 Muhammad al-Shahrastam (d. 1153), was one of the enigmatic theologians who incorporated elements of falsafa in his deliberations in kalam. Some believe that he was an Ash'arite theologian, given that he was an eminent scholar at the Nizamiyya School in Baghdad, while others claim that he practised taqiyya (religious dissimulation), and that there are signs of Isma'ila influences in his writings, particularly in his Struggling with the Philosopher (Kitab al-musHra'a).31 In this text of theosophy, Shahrastam critically interrogated Avicenna's metaphysical conception of wajib al-wujud (Necessary Being), on the grounds that it entailed a compromising of the observance of absolute divine transcendence (tanzlh). Shahrastam affirmed the reality of the...


Third, your life process involves self-transcendence, a vertical movement in which one is driving toward the sublime. You engage in self-transcendence in religious activity. This function intersects and unites the other two. It is always moral and culturally creative lives that self-transcend. Hence, there is a religious dimension inherent in all moral and cultural acts. However, the ways in which the drive for self-transcendence expresses itself in ritual, myth, and institutional structures are inherently ambiguous. They are all finite things, functioning religiously to express the unconditioned, that toward which one transcends oneself. At the same time, they invite for themselves the ultimate concern appropriate only to the unconditioned. Thereby they become demonic, powerfully destructive of the life trying to transcend itself. Because our lives inherently drive toward self-transcendence, we ask whether there is any way to achieve self-transcendence through unambiguous religion....

The Moral Imperative

Human beings, then, are essentially servants of God. Accidentally, however, they may be the servants of any of the individual divine names, or of any cosmic or human reality that can be an ''object of worship'' (ma'bud), including the ideas and notions that establish goals and aspirations. This unlimited human capacity to serve anything at all helps explain the tremendous emphasis that the texts place upon ''sincerity'' purifying one's worship of everything but God. The magnitude of the task does not become obvious until one grasps the transcendence of God, the omnipresence of His signs and marks, the diversity and even contradictory nature of His names and attributes (the Exalter and the Abaser, the Forgiver and the Avenger), and the ease of falling into the worship and service of what is less than God.

Matthew Steenberg

This focus on encounter establishes the nature of the Church as intrinsically sacramental. The sacraments stand at the centre of the Church's life and mission, not because of a symbolic significance or merit of ritual, but because in each sacrament the person is drawn farther into the encounter with God which transforms and transfigures.3 These sacraments are more traditionally known as the 'mysteries', mysterion and sacramentum being two terms not quite identical in meaning, but both conveying the concept of the sacred and the depth of God's transcendence.

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