Ten Thousand Names Essay Research Paper Ten

Ten Thousand Names Essay, Research Paper

Ten Thousand Name callings

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A 2nd issue & # 8230 ; is concerned with the inquiry of the na-ture of the classs or constructs cardinal to or appro-priate for Christian address about God. Should these be? personal, ? ? historical, ? and? ontic? in character, as they certainly are in Bible, or should they be ontological, metaphysical, and hence? impersonal? in character, as in about every bad philosophical system, even an ide-alistic or panpsychistic one?

This inquiry, as formulated by Langdon Gilkey, is an in-teresting re-framing of the ST2003 assignment:

Please produce a paper & # 8230 ; holding to make with God. Orient the paper around the inquiry, ? who is God? ? & # 8230 ; Subtopic # 2 God as a being with Attributes. What is meant by the properties of God? What is included in most lists? How do we cognize what God is like? & # 8230 ; Is the thought of godly properties outmoded?

The difference between Gilkey? s inquiry? what is appropri-ate address about God? and Peters? inquiry? who is God? ? is theologically meaningful. In this paper, I examine methods of a figure of divinities in qualifying God and ex-plore the deductions of these methods.

It is helpful in this treatment to split divinities into scriptural, premodern, reformation, modern, and postmodern signifiers.

The Bible and the Attributes of God

The scriptural stuffs do non show systematic theolo-gies. The scriptural writers seem to talk of God more as a verb than as a noun. The psalmist sings of God? s power, Exodus tells of God? s mighty Acts of the Apostless of liberating the people, Deutero-Isaiah promises an act of salvation, Paul tells of the Resurrection. None say? God is almighty. Here is the proof. ? The histories, narrations, vocals, and prophesies in the Bible control the divinities we may build but they are non in themselves expressed divinities. In other words, it is officially right to state? the scriptural writers systematically describe God in a manner that may be interpreted as omnipotent? but non? the Bible says that God is omnipotent. ? The scriptural stuffs therefore can function as norms on our divinities.

The scriptural mode of talking about God merely in histori-cal and relational footings is still a functional method. Thus one answer to Peters? and Gilkey? s inquiry is, ? Listen to this narrative. ?

Premodern Theologies

Premodern attacks assume that there is an nonsubjective ( ontologically existent, aseity ) , propositional set of truths about a? supreme being? that can be deduced from philosophi-cal rules.

Acquinas holds that although in statements about God the hu-man manner of meaning ( modus significandi ) does non corre-spond to anything in the Godhead being, the signified ( sig-ni-fi-catum ) does. Thus, for illustration, when we say that God is good, we do non confirm that any of our constructs of good-ness ( modi significandi ) use to him, but instead that there is a construct of goodness unavailable to us, viz. , God? s un-der-standing of his ain goodness, which does use. What we as-sert, in other words, is that? ? God is good? is meaningful and true, ? but without cognizing the significance of? God is good. ?

The really construct of? the properties of God? is grounded in this philosophical method, for properties are the cardinal charac-ter-istics in Aristotelean definitions. For God to hold at-tributes requires God to be a? being? or ( in modern footings ) an object. Premodern divinities, so, are rather happy to reply Peters? inquiry, ? God is the supreme being and has the fol-lowing properties & # 8230 ; ?

A Reformation Approach

Reformation theologists, particularly Luther, tended to talk of God chiefly relationally instead than abstractly.

Paul and Luther & # 8230 ; were concerned to asseverate & # 8230 ; that the lone manner to asseverate this truth is to make something about it, for example, to perpetrate oneself to a manner of life ; and this concern, it would look, is entirely congruous with the suggestion that it is merely through the performatory usage of spiritual vocalizations that they get prepositional force.

In contrast to the dominant metaphysical word picture of God & # 8230 ; [ The reformists ] conceived of God centrally through personal instead than metaphysical classs: as Godhead or autonomous power, as righteous or sanctum will, as gracious and accommodating love.

In their work the scriptural signifier appears once more. It can be said that for Luther God? s relationships and actions are of pri-mary involvement and God? s aseity is irrelevant or unknowable. A reformation reply to Peters? inquiry might run, ? This is who God is in relationship to me & # 8230 ; ?


Experiential theologists tend to see God as? being? as such instead than every bit? a being? . Macquarrie? s treatments are typical:

It follows that? God? has a double significance: an ontological significance, in so far as the word denotes being, and an exis-tential significance, in so far as it expresses an attitude of committedness to, or religion in, being & # 8230 ; .The averment? God ex-ists? may be expressed in another manner as significance that being? is? non foreign or impersonal over against us, but that it both demands and sustains, so that through religion in being, we can ourselves advance into comprehensiveness of being and carry through the po-tentialities of selfhood.

We conceived God as holy Being. We conceived Being, in bend, as both transcendent and immanent? ? transcendent because it is non itself a being or a belongings of existences but the anterior status that there may be any existences or belongingss, and immanent because it is present-and-manifest in every partic-ular being. We conceived it farther as both dynamic and sta-ble, and formulated this in footings of aboriginal Being, ex-pressive Being, and unitive Being. These constructs supply our basic frame of mention for an reading of the properties.

The basic stance, so is independent of disclosure. Mac-quarrie, nevertheless so goes on to take the pre-modern at-tri-butes as presumptions necessitating re-interpretation. He catego-rizes the properties under the subheadings enigma ( incom-pre-hen-si-bility ) , overwhelmingness ( via negativa, infi-nite, ageless, almighty, omniscience, ubiquity ) , dy-namism ( immuta-bil-ity, fidelity, consistence, flawlessness, goodness ) , holi-ness ( righteousness, justness, wrath, grace ) .

For Macquarrie, the properties do non asseverate anything about God a se beyond confirming facets of the antecedently philo-sophically established absolute distinctness of God.

These properties associated with overwhelmingness are, like the others, to be taken dialectically. They have been inter-preted here as indicating up the distinctness of God, his arrant contrastingness with adult male.

Methodologically, the modern attack depends on the indi-vidual? s experience as the primary beginning of authorization. Modern divinity is therefore basically subjective.

The evidences for the modern review of the thought of God have been basically three: ( 1 ) the new accent on experience as the exclusive relevant and reliable beginning for valued and meaningful constructs and the exclusive land for the testing of these constructs ; ( 2 ) the corresponding displacement to the topic as the exclusive place of legitimate authorization in all affairs per-taining to truth & # 8230 ; ( 3 ) the extremist inquiring of all exter-nal signifiers of authorization.

Therefore a modernist answers Peters? inquiry with? God is non a who, ? but can reply Gilkey? s inquiry? I experience God this manner and speak about God like this & # 8230 ; ?


James Cone, utilizing a method common to release divinities, begins with an existentialist place but restricts the lo-cus of relevant experience to a specific community:

I am more positive today than I was during the sixtiess that the God of the Christian Gospel can be known merely in the communities of the oppressed who are fighting for justness in a universe that has no topographic point of them. I still believe that? God is Black? in the sense that God? s individuality is found in the faces of those who are exploited and humiliated because of their colour. But I besides believe that? God is mother, ? ? rice, ? ? ruddy, ? and a host of other things that give life to those whom society condemns to decease.

This is to state that theologically meaningful brushs take topographic point merely in the experience of the oppressed. The laden, in these systems, are disclosures of God or are go-betweens be-tween God and the remainder of humanity:

White religionists are non capable of comprehending the black-ness of God, because their demonic whiteness is a denial of the very kernel of deity.

Those who wan

T to cognize who God is and what God is making must cognize who black individuals are and what they are do-ing….Knowing God means being on the side of the laden, going one with them, and take parting in the end of release. We must go black with God! …Blackness, or redemption ( the two are synonymous ) is the work of God, non a human work….To believe is to have the gift and absolutely to reorient one? s being on the footing of the gift.

Unlike the existential philosophers, Cone does non stress God? s transcendency. The construct of God as? beginning of being? serves Cone as a warrant to impute specific properties to God:

If creative activity? involves a delivery into being of something that did non be before, ? so to state that God is creator agencies that my being finds its beginning in God. I am black be-cause God is black! God as Godhead is the land of my inkiness ( being ) , the point of mention for significance and intent in the existence.

This is a alone method, reasoning that the nature of the animal reveals the nature of its Godhead.

Cone seems to reply Gilkey? s inquiry, ? It is what we say about God that matters the most. I say that God is black. ? He answers Peters? inquiry, ? To state you who God is, I have to state you what God does for the oppressed. ?

Postmodern? -A Social-Linguistic Approach

The Social-Linguistic attack developed by George Lindbeck is chiefly interested in covering with the ways in which we talk about God:

Therefore the linguistic-cultural theoretical account of faith is portion of an mentality that stresses the grade to which human experience is shaped, molded, and in a sense constituted by cultural and lingual signifiers. There are countless thoughts we can-not think, sentiments we can non hold, and realities we can-not perceive unless we learn to utilize the appropriate symbol systems. It seems, as the instances of Helen Keller and of sup-posed wolf kids vividly illustrate, that unless we ac-quire linguistic communication of some sort, we can non realize our specif-ically human capacities for idea, action, and feeling. Similarly, so the statement goes, to go spiritual in-volves going skilled in the linguistic communication, the symbol system of a given faith. To go a Christian involves larning the narrative of Israel and of Jesus good plenty to construe and see oneself and one? s universe in its footings.

This divinity openly considers the effects of theological constructs as relevant for measuring their truth:

Utterances are intrasystematically true when they cohere with the entire relevant context, which, in the instance of a re-ligion when viewed in cultural-linguistic footings, is non merely other vocalizations but besides the correlate signifiers of life. Thus for a Christian, ? God is Three and One, ? or? Christ is Lord? are true merely as parts of a entire form of speech production, believing, feeling, and moving. They are false when their usage in any given case is inconsistent with what the form as a whole affirms of God? s being and will. The reformer? s conflict call? Christus est Dominus, ? for illustration, is false when used to authorise spliting the skull of the heathen ( even though the same words in other contexts may be a true vocalization ) . When therefore employed, it contradicts the Christian apprehension of Lordship as embodying, for illustration, suffer-ing servanthood.

Gilkey? s inquiry expresses this method of divinity. Lindbeck would therefore reply by stating that the manner we talk about God both constitutes and is constituted by the manner we are in relationship with God:

The claim that God genuinely is good in himself is of extreme im-portance because it authorizes reacting as if he were good in the ways indicated by the narratives of creative activity, provi-dence, and salvation which form trusters? ideas and actions ; or, to set the same point in another manner, earnestly to perpetrate oneself to believing and moving as if God were good in relation to us ( quoad nos ) [ sic ] in the ways indicated by the narratives involves asseverating that he truly is good in himself ( in Se ) even though, as the canonical texts testify, the significance of this latter claim is utterly beyond human compre-hension.


I evaluate these methods in footings of explanatory power, naturalness of account, harmony with biblical wit-ness, and matter-of-fact effects.

Lindbeck? s method seems to hold great power in incorporating many positions in a natural manner. For illustration, the connec-tion between religion and pattern, the mediation of religion by community, the possibility of oecumenic conversation, the necessity to contextualize discourse about God, and the abil-ity of different divinities to show the? same? religion.

The premodern attack is chiefly an abstraction of the scriptural averments into classs. These can map like the grammar of the cultural-linguistic attack to command the experience with and conversation about God. The attack fails when it encounters other universe positions because of its as-sertion that it describes ontological worlds. The method is non flexible plenty to cover with new information.

The scriptural method and the method of the reformists seem to be tantamount in consequences to the cultural-linguistic method in that they deal with God in relationship to peculiar commu-nities. By declining to make logical systems, these methods respect God? s transcendance while the accent on God? s acts respects God? s immanency. Importantly, an attack that tells of God through narrative and action can talk to people who do non or can non believe in abstract classs.

Unlike the cultural-linguistic position, in which God is en-countered chiefly in community, exis-tentialist divinities concentrate on the interior brush of the stray indi-vidual with God. The existential philosopher attack feels emotion-ally empty with its faceless unknowable God. Existentialist divinities try to avoid this trap by asseverating the scriptural symbols, but so construe away all of the relational char-acter, the knowableness, ( the warm fuzzies or huggableness, if you will ) from the symbols. While the scriptural and cul-tural-linguistic signifiers begin with the exper-ience of brush with God as im-manent, the existen-tialist Begins with the en-counter with God as transcendent ( if non foreign ) .

Cone? s attack seems to be about an instantiation of the cultural-linguistic attack. It is non God? s? inkiness? a Se, that involvements Cone, but instead the effects on the commu-nity that speaks of God in that manner. What Cone? s method seems incapable of, nevertheless, is ecumenism. In other words, Cone does non go forth God free to associate to all of humanity for God is revealed in the? oppressed? in a privileged manner.

For me, so, the cultural-linguistic method best tantrums my standards as it seems scripturally consistent, has great ex-planatory power and naturalness, and pragmatically agreements with my experience. The method implies that one may necessitate to utilize different divinities when covering within different commu-nities of discourse. For illustration, an grownup category in a parish is a different community of discourse than a systematic the-ology category. It follows that committedness to the cul-tural-lin-guistic method requires developing installation with all these other methods in which conversation about God is to take topographic point.


Cone, James H. , ? God is Black? , in Lift Every Voice, Constructing Christian Theologies from the Underside, Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite and Mary Potter Engel, Editors, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990, 81-94.

Gilkey, Langdon, ? God? , in A New Handbook of Christian Theology, Donald W. Musser and Joseph L. Price, Editors, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992, 198-209.

Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship, Lutheran Book of Worship, Minister? s Desk Edition, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1978.

Lindbeck, George A. , The Nature of Doctrine, Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age, Philadelphia: Westminster Press 1984.

Macquarrie, John, Principles of Christian Theology, New York: Charles Scribner? s Sons, 1966.

Metzger, Bruce M, and Roland E. Murphy, editors, The New Oxford Annotated Bible, with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, New Revised Standard Version, New York: Oxford University Press, 1994

Peters, Ted, God, the World? s Future, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992

Peters, Ted, ? ST 2004: Systematic Theology? , course of study, ( Berkeley: PLTS 1995 ) .

Tillich, Paul, Love, Power, and Justice, Ontological Analyses and Ethical Applications, London: Oxford University Press, 1954