Thursday, June 22, 2006

'My Theology': I believe, therefore I think

I believe, therefore I think. Faith gives itself to be thought. One cannot believe in God without thinking about him. Faith is passionately concerned to understand itself and thereby understand God. Faith is essentially fides quaerens intellectum, faith seeking understanding. The extent to which faith is threatened by superstition, and the ease with which God is confused with an idol, are shown by the fact that God is talked about thoughtlessly, and, indeed, by the fact that human reason’s ideas of God, when reason does not let itself be led on to the path of thought by the God who comes to the world, pass God by. ...

The faith which gives itself to be thought attains its idea of God from the harshness of the death of Jesus Christ. It therefore demands that God be thought as the one whose creative omnipotence and freedom are something other than what is prompted by the axiom of divine absoluteness, and as the one whose eternity and activity is something other than what is demanded by the axioms of the timelessness and impassibility of the eternal. If God is love, then truly love is omnipotent, and love is the very core of all true power. And the truth-criterion of power is that it is able to have compassion, and in this way to overcome suffering. God’s being must then be thought as an existence which exposes itself to nothingness, whose richness of being realizes itself as a se in nihilum existere, existing out of itself into nothingness. And God’s creation must then be thought as an act of primordial beginning which implies an act of primordial self-limitation (which Jewish mystics called zimzum). The creator who affirms and calls his creation into being limits himself through the being of his creatures. Accordingly, the idea of God’s omnipresence will need to be re-thought as the concept of the coming of the creator which reaches all creatures and ‘lets be’. In the same sense, all traditional divine attributes will need to be examined critically and, if necessary, re-thought. One can no longer think of God as worldly necessity, or of contingency as inessential. God is more than necessary—as is all true freedom that is the opposite of arbitrariness. God is to be thought out of the event of his advent: as a being who is in coming, and who in himself is the eternal story of God’s richness of relation, God’s coming-to-himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Theological thought follows the coming of God; it is the discipleship of thinking which springs from faith.

—Eberhard Jüngel, Theological Essays II, 9, 10-11

2 comments:

Scott said...

"God is to be thought out of the event of his advent: as a being who is in coming, and who in himself is the eternal story of God’s richness of relation, God’s coming-to-himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

I ask this as a new reader of Jungel. Is he in favor of the Hegelian dialectic? Does God not know who God is until the end of history?

D.W. Congdon said...

Jüngel definitely employs Hegelian philosophy, and much of his theology follows some patterns in Hegel's dialectics. The most clear example of this is his definition of God as the "union of death and life for the sake of life," which he explicates in God as the Mystery of the World. I defend this as an interpretation of the biblical narrative of creation (life), fall (death), and new creation (for the sake of life). I am also not opposed to a careful, critical appropriation of Hegelian philosophy. Hegel is trinitarian in his philosophy, even if he goes too far in immanentizing God's being.

Sometime soon I hope to post on Jüngel's theological ontology in God as the Mystery of the World, in which he goes beyond the definition of God as being-in-becoming and makes the more Hegelian, more controversial statement that God's being is in coming.