Article excerpt

  Before the message, the vision; before the sermon, the
   hymn; before the prose, the poem. The discursive categories
  of theology as well as the traditional images of sermon
  and prayer require a theopoetic.
  Amos Niven Wilder Theopoetic

Before 1995, the term "theopoetic" was used freely by only a small circle of creative theologians to describe their work: Amos Niven Wilder, Stanley Romaine Hopper, David L. Miller, and Rubem Alves. However, today, simply Google "theopoetics," and you will get scores and scores of hits from Wikipedia to Amazon.com to Face book postings to the very engaging website, theopoetics.net. One of my young graduate students in a newly developed course, From Theology to Theopoetics, declared, "Theopoetics is the rage!"

Indeed, many theologians and religious writers now find the term, first coined by Stanley Hopper to imagine a kind of theological composition at the end of metaphysics and in face of the death of God, descriptive of their own projects. Merely surfing the Web on the theopoetics wave reveals that Peter Rollins is calling us from theo-logos to theopoetics. Catherine Keller is doing a passionate theopoetics in a revisionist style of process theology. Jack Caputo is writing about the poetics of Jesus as a theopoetics. Richard Kearney is doing it. Melanie May is doing it. This year, the Continental Theology conference at Louvain featured a paper on it, and Roland Faber is reminding us that "God is the poet of the world."

The Summer 2009 issue of Christianity and Literature has a very helpful article surveying the emergence and evolution of the genre of theopoetics by L. B. C. Keefe-Perry. This article notes that the reemergence of theopoetics after 1995 was featured in some pieces in CrossCurrents, which suggested a movement beyond theology as a metaphysics, systematics, or dogmatics to a poetics because, after all, "the Creator God of Genesis is not a moralist but a poet and a potter. …


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