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-2-

(Theological Limitations)

 

The problem then for theology, and us as human beings in general, is one of understanding and relating to this God in terms of our knowledge and experiences as a people. God in His transcendent existence cannot be understood, limited, or explained in the human intellect without the aid of faith and personal experience. God cannot be portrayed in scientific calculations, or measured in terms of tangibles, or described, or defined in factual ways. We need metaphors and analogies for our intellects to comprehend Her, but these tools need to be recognized as symbolic for the inspiration and ideas they are trying to convey. All this leads to a great deal of speculation interpretation and hypothesis at best. We cannot proclaim what God Is, Her holy will, His eternal plan, or Her transcendent nature as a matter of absolute truth or dogmatic decree. To do such is to declare oneself a spokesman for the Almighty.

Any theological argument, which asserts infallibility to any of its speculation or the manmade written word the speculation, is based upon (scriptures) or its interpretations of the Word: is flawed and somewhat irresponsible in its claims. Such ideals also serve to enslave their followers rather than gently guide us, which is what religion and theology should be doing. Theology should help us relate to God, not define Her for us. Theology should provide us the basis for having a personal relationship with God, not declare what such a relationship should be.

 

Theological concepts are based much more in our emotional understanding than in our intellectual capacity, as we shall demonstrate in a moment. They are much more like schools of philosophy, or, schools of psychology, where we realize that there is truth contained in these disciplines - but, it's truth mixed with a great deal of the personal bias of the writer. We study philosophy to improve our mind, we study psychology to help keep our minds healthy; and while there are those who might try to dogmatize their ideals, for the most part we pick and choose from these disciplines according to our individual needs. One may argue one philosophical ideal over another, or one might prefer one psychological school to another, but no credible scholar in these areas would dare declare themselves infallible.

Theology is no different. We should use theology to build religious beliefs, which help us achieve a spiritual well being. In this capacity such a system would not be used to declare absolute truths or arbitrary laws based upon its conclusions. Such a spiritual based theology would realize that the spiritual needs of individuals might vary from one person to the next. The theological speculations, if they are to be responsible, must guide rather than coerce. They must have latitude, rather than be binding (as the creation itself is a blend of rules and exceptions to that rule - especially at an emotional level). The danger of attempting absolutes in theology is that it tends to attract a following where individuals can manipulate the faithful, ultimately enslaving their minds. In the long run, when in control, such theologies tend to cause stagnation in the advancement of thought. We might cite the church of the middle ages as an example here. Today, the refusal of many of the literalistís theologies demonstrates their resistance to independent thought or ideals; especially when, they may offer challenge to their narrower belief concepts such as creation. We must always keep in mind that yesterday's heresy has often become today's truth only after overcoming the persecution of those who claim to know the Word of God. Whenever we set out to make assertions about God, we must constantly be aware of the dangers of men using our speculations to speak with the authority of God.

 

Modern theology, if it is to be responsible, must allow itself the wisdom to know its limitations. It is in fact, contradictory, for the theologian to assert absolute and binding dogmatic truths about the transcendent nature of God. At best, in relationship to this transcendent nature of God, a human being could only be inspired; and, even Divine inspiration can be flawed, misconstrued, or in error. To equate any theological argument or any words penned by the human band, as the Word of God could be considered blasphemous, as such statements imply: that a human being is capable of speaking for God.

The purer aim of theology, and of the religions, which follow it, should be to keep the Essence of God in the reality of our everyday world demonstrating the Divine participation in living. Far too often, we establish our faith and opinions based upon speculations about the consequences in a world to come. Yet, the scriptures and inspirations are trying to convey the relationship of God to our world of living. The Bible, nor other sacred works, are not about God, but deliver to us a guide to live in the reality we experience.

††††††††† The first rule of responsible theology should be RECOGNIZE AND ADMIT TO LIMITATIONS. No man has the right to speak with Absolute Divine authority. If approached properly, theology should be about helping people relate to God; helping people to find God's purpose in themselves; for this is all we can do. Human beings do not have the ability to understand God enough to speak with absolute authority in the interpretation of God's Will. Secondly, mankind is ever changing; therefore, God's inspiration to us must be relevant and interpretive according to those changes. In other words, God's revelation must be as evolutionary as the creation it is intended for.

 

NEXT CHAPTER-3-The Transcendent and the Real

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