My God and Your God

Do manus, of course. How could I not agree that my post last week (October 27) concerning the McGrath vs. Hitchens debate was “rather simplistic”? Do keep in mind, though, the limits of this medium. Any given entry is bound to cut corners. Over time, God willing, readers will be offered enough bits and pieces to begin assembling their own Summa Theologiae. My aim is to provoke, not propound. Nonetheless, a precision or two does seem in order.

As one of my commentators rightly pointed out, good theology cannot but include at least a modicum of metaphysics. The problem, however, is that most theologians—I’m tempted to say “all” but am prepared to keep the door slightly ajar for a possible exception or two—attempt to ground their intellections, which are the sine qua non of metaphysical validity, in the shifting sands of time. To put the point in Biblical terms, they get tangled up in the narrative flow of the Scriptures and end up thinking that I AM is “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”.

I can almost feel certain readers bristling, so let me add at once that, yes—of course!—the God of these undoubted Patriarchs is undoubtedly the I AM. But the proposition can’t be reversed. As the ineffable Name makes crystal clear, nothing—not even a covenantal relationship with a particular people—can be truly said of an X that is its own predicate: I AM THAT I AM. How many theologians know this, or if they know it act accordingly? How many truly see that the God whose revelation affords their data exists at the level of M?y? in divinis? “Do not cling to me…. I ascend to my God and your God” (John 20:17).

Keep in mind: for the metaphysician, it’s facts that are “abstract”. The purity of intellection, far from being “disembodied”, reveals the very body of bodies.

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