The Grammar of God-Talk

Elsewhere in these writings we have asked whether it were not better for us to avoid theological language, at least when talking outside our own coterie of committed Christians. With those whom we would like to reach to make disciples, it is repugnant. Doctrine is not simply teaching, it is dogmatic; not authoritative but authoritarian. The talk that is expected of us, and we too often give, is counterproductive.

Yet surely there is a proper place for theological language, if it can be used judiciously, understanding its peculiar grammar. Richard Rorty understands and fails to understand this. In his terms there is nothing to be said about the nature of man, or the nature of God.[1] It is simply absurd to put predicates behind “God.” Yet we take very seriously a sentence like “God is love,” “God is good.” and “God is truth.” How can this be?

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What Faith Is Not – Part II

The Owl thanks the readers who have borne with us so far. Here we will continue to ex[and on the post, What the Owl Is Trying to Say, in which we offered our definitions of five key words: Faith, Love, Covenant, Freedom, and Obedience. Taking those five as our outline, we are still on Faith. Remember what the Owl said in that earlier post: “If only one thing is clear so far, let it be this: the initiative belongs to God.”

Belief Systems

Having reminded ourselves of that, it is safe to say faith is not is a belief system. It is not a body of knowledge about God, or how the world was made, or why evil exists, or anything else. Those things are beliefs, more or less cogent, that have arisen from people’s experiences; experiences worked over in thought and imagination. Some wag said opinions are like bellybuttons; everybody has one. Another says atheists are careful to honor God by keeping their backs turned to him. They have opinions about God, indeed very strong ones. They are very sure of what a god should be, and sure that God as people of faith know him doesn’t measure up. A person of faith might well answer them: I don’t believe in the god you don’t believe in, either. Debating along such lines leads nowhere. Once a person identifies with an opinion on any subject, not just God, then it seems like disloyalty to one’s very self to give it up.

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