Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Theology as Divine Possibility.

After reading about Radical Orthodoxy all evening, I found this respite:

"For Karl Barth, theology is, human speaking, an impossibility; where it nevertheless becomes possible, it does so only as a divine possibility. A theology which has truly understood this will be one which finds its basis - not once, but again and again - in the Realdialektik of the divine veiling and unveiling. It will be a theology which takes seriously the reality of divine action not only on the level of the theological epistemology it presupposes but also on the level of the theological method it employs. On the other hand, the employment of a method which could succeed in the tasks appointed for it by its human practitioners whether God exists or not - which, in fact, would not be altered in the least by a confession of the nonexistence of God - would reduce theology to something humanly achievable, manipulable, controllable. It would reduce theology to a regular, bourgeois science alongside all other sciences."

- Bruce McCormack, Orthodox and Modern, 112.

4 comments:

Matthew Frost said...

Bingo. Barth has no problem with theology being a science, but it cannot proceed etsi Deus non daretur. It cannot proceed as though it doesn't matter whether its object exists or not. No proper science can.

As with the whole kerfluffle with Adam a while back, you may trust this object or not, but to do theology you must know that the object has an external, independent existence. That it does not depend on you, whether or not you depend on it.

So much of the problem I see with RO and Milbank is the same problem I see with the complementarian Evangelicals. And your title sets up the alternative very well! I don't want to say that it's about "religion" -- because religion isn't a dirty word. But it is about culture, about theology as human possibility, built out of a specific ideal of human traditionalism.

Kait Dugan said...

"As with the whole kerfluffle with Adam a while back, you may trust this object or not, but to do theology you must know that the object has an external, independent existence. That it does not depend on you, whether or not you depend on it."

Did I give the impression that I thought otherwise?

Matthew Frost said...

Certainly not! I thought of your post on "The Freedom of Theology" as in many ways the proper response to his problem with "Theology and the Church." I see this in the same line. Whether or not we take faith to be necessary changes what kind of theology we do, and you asked the question properly. But whether or not we credit the object of theology with our trust, or deal with God according to any particular rubric, we must deal with God to be doing theology -- this seems like a common point.

thedescribe said...

Doesn't this quote actually apply to something called 'doxology' as opposed to theology? Or at the very least shouldn't there be some division like Rowan Williams critical, communicative, and celebratory theology (from what I remember). It seems to much is getting conflated into this singular term 'theology'.
- David CLD

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