The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps

The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps

The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps

The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps

Synopsis

The Insistence of God presents the provocative idea that God does not exist, God insists, while God's existence is a human responsibility, which may or may not happen. For John D. Caputo, God's existence is haunted by "perhaps," which does not signify indecisiveness but an openness to risk, to the unforeseeable. Perhaps constitutes a theology of what is to come and what we cannot see coming. Responding to current critics of continental philosophy, Caputo explores the materiality of perhaps and the promise of the world. He shows how perhaps can become a new theology of the gaps God opens.

Excerpt

God as a Highest Being—a steady hand at the wheel of the universe, ordering all things to good purpose, the spanning providential eye o’erseeing all—has had a good run. But in our postmodern condition we acknowledge the instability of traditional foundations, the ambiguities of the old absolutes, and the complexity of endlessly linking systems without closure. the “internet” is very postmodern. the world is neither a neat, divinely run cosmos nor pure chaos but what James Joyce called so prophetically “chaosmos,” a dance of probabilities sometimes producing improbable results. That fits with biblical creation: in the Beginning, at the time God was creating the world, the elements were already there, as old as God. the Bible begins with a B (bet, bereshit) not an a (aleph). the first is already invaded by the second (just as “deconstruction” would predict). the biblical elements were too feminine for the later ex nihilo theologians who preferred a show of divine testosterone. the biblical creator had to do the best he could with what he had to work with, then hope for the best, like the rest of us. Faith is not a safe harbor but risky business. God is not a warranty for a well-run world, but the name of a promise, an unkept promise, where every promise is also a risk, a flicker of hope on a suffering planet in a remote corner of the universe. I do not believe in the existence of God but in God’s insistence. I do not say God “exists,” but that God calls—God calls upon us, like an unwelcome interruption, a quiet but insistent solicitation. the truth of God may or may not come true. the work of theology is not to spell out the bells and whistles adorning a heavenly monarch but to meditate upon everything we are here called to, everything we are trying to recall, in and under the name (of) “God.” in a postmodern world, this monotheistic name does not have a monopoly. God emerges here and there, often under other names, not in the bound volumes of theology but in loose papers that describe a more underlying and insecure faith, a more restless hope, a more deep-set but unfulfilled promise or desire, a desire beyond desire that is never satisfied. I do not know what I desire when I desire God, where that non-knowing is not a lack but the open-ended venture in the human adventure, the promise/risk, the very structure of hope . . .

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