From: Robert Schneider (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Jun 26 2003 - 14:06:45 EDT
See my comments below:
----- Original Message -----
From: "Howard J. Van Till" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Terry M. Gray" <email@example.com>; <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, June 27, 2003 9:09 AM
Subject: Re: Concordist sequence--why be a concordist?
> >From: "Terry M. Gray" <email@example.com>
> > Howard Van Till wrote:
> >>While I know practically nothing about "the Enthusiasts" as a particular
> >>historical movement, I presume this can also refer to the claim of any
> >>individual (or closely knit community) to have had some privileged
> >>experience of the Sacred (God, if you prefer).
> > Howard,
> > Is "the Sacred" personal? Can a human being have a personal
> > relationship with "the Sacred"?
> > Just exploring your choice of words here.
> Yes, as I use the term here, "the Sacred" does indeed have a personal
> dimension. But "the Sacred" is much more than a person. One problem that I
> have observed in common usage of "God" is the way in which the name "God"
> functions as a personification of the Sacred, diminishing the Sacred to a
> divine Person, often an amplified version of a human person.
> Christian theology has also dealt with the same problem. I was taught that
> God was personal, but not just a divine Person. Nonetheless, the familiar
> label "God" allows people to forget that important distinction.
> So, Terry, I often find myself using "the Sacred" instead of God to avoid
> the problem of letting the personification "God" diminish or restrict the
> multidimensional character of the larger reality, "the Sacred."
> Howard Van Till
Terry and Howard,
Your exchange stirs further thoughts in my mind about the identification
of God as personal. I agree with Howard that "the Sacred" is much more than
personal. We have to keep in mind that all of our God language is
necessarily analogical when we use terms like "personal" to characterize
God, or when we use the common trinitarian language of "Persons" to
characterize Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are mystical traditions in
Christian thought that use impersonal models of God, though even these do
not reject the language of the personal. Impersonal terms (and models) of
God such as "the Source" or "the Ground of Being" are characteristics of
some modern theologies (e.g., Tillich'). Ian Barbour suggests that the use
of both personal and impersonal models/language of God might be seen as
complementary models, in a way analogous to wave/particle language regarding
light and electromagnetism.
The use of the English word "Person" from the Latin "persona" to
translate the Greek "hypostasis" in trinitarian theology, in my view, only
compounds the confusion arising over speaking of God as a "person."
Such discussions always bring to mind Holy Scripture's prohibition
against "graven images" (mental or physical, I believe). Hence the two
traditions that emerged in Christianity in speaking about God: one, the
"kataphatic," in which one attempts to say what God is, or is like; and the
"apophatic," that insists that one can only say what God is not, and in the
end fall into silence. I believe that silent adoration before the Sacred is
a worthy attainment for any Christian.
Grace and peace,
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