The Human Image of God

The Human Image of God

The Human Image of God

The Human Image of God

Synopsis

A new wave of religious energy is sweeping through the western nations. Although God is disappearing from religious discourse in western culture, both as a word and as a concept, there is a definite undercurrent of religious ardour, which is growing in strength. It focuses all the more attention on the issue: what or who is God in the modern era? This is the question examined through systematic studies, practical theology and empirical research, that are presented here through anthropologically relevant theology. Renowned international authors make it plain in this book: the question of God is exciting again!This book is published in honour of Johannes A. van der Ven on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

Excerpt

On this brink of a new century, it seems that a renewed interest and sense of urgency surrounds the question of God. On the one hand, God as word and as object threatens to disappear from the public discourse of our cultural sphere. This is not only predicted by classic secularisation theories, but is attested to by parents and educators who experience the reality of secularisation on a daily basis, in home life and in religious education classes. At the same time, a new wave of religion is rolling over the countries of Western Europe. In the Netherlands, there is talk of a religious renaissance. Secularisation theses are being qualified in all directions, for the need for God and religion is once again big news, even though the search for satisfaction of that need is often focussed outside of the traditional churches and the religious renaissance at times takes on exotic and questionable, even destructive, forms. God is not always conceived of as a person, and the classic signs of transcendence are called into question. God, then, is seen as manifesting not in ways typical of a human being, but rather as an immanent and at times anonymous force or power. Johannes A. van der Ven, the Nijmegen pastoral theologian to whom this book is dedicated, believes that we are even witnessing a return of polytheism. Where will this development lead in the long run?

There are indications, however, that the trend to an apersonal or suprapersonal God, an anonymous or manifold God, is balanced, for entirely valid reasons, by a second tendency: that of the human God. What does this expression mean? Is the human God a God that we cannot picture to ourselves or conceive of other than in the form of a human being, just as, according to Xenophanes, lions would conceive of their gods as having the heads of lions? Or is the human God human, with human traits and a human face, because that is His true nature? Can the theological anthropomorphisms be explained by psychology or epistemology, or has the Christian tradition with its belief in Christ produced a legitimate understanding of the divine? Perhaps, on the other hand, the expression refers simply to a God who is near to us human beings, who understands us and stands by us, who has at last put aside the features of the exalted, unapproachable and pitiless lord and master? Is it the end of the tyrannical God of theism (D. Sölle), whose . . .

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