Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language

By Sallie McFague | Go to book overview

Preface

The present essay is a sequel to my book Speaking in Parables: A Study in Metaphor and Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975). The earlier work focused on primary religious language: on the images, parables, metaphors, and stories that make up our most immediate expressions of religious reality. It also stressed some of the forms which emerged from these initial expressions in the Christian tradition—poetry, novels, and autobiographies. In part, the book attempted to suggest a variety of reflective forms other than constructive theology as genuine Christian literature in light of what appeared to me to be an improper primacy of theological reflection over other forms. The value of the book, in retrospect, was its recognition of the importance in religion of imagistic language as the base and funding for conceptual, theological language; however, I did not attend to the movement from the one language to the other. The present book attempts to make up for that lack.

The way in which I interpret what Robert Funk calls the tortuous route between the parables of Jesus and systematic theology is necessarily a limited, biased, and finally personal way. That is to say, it is but one way within a tradition that allows for other ways and it is a way influenced by my own tradition of Protestantism as well as by my own sensibility and personal faith. I believe it is a way, as I will try to show, that is both contemporary and Christian—but surely, not the only contemporary or Christian way. David Tracy, in his recent book The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism (New York: Crossroad, 1981), has done a great service by emphasizing the ecumenical, pluralistic character of theological reflection, not only within the Christian tradition, but also as that tradition enters into serious conversation with other major religious traditions. For too long, he says, theology has been done as if only one way were possible or right. The great theologians of whatever religious or theological persuasion know better; for one of the distinctive marks of their work is humility and a sense

-vii-

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Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Preface to the Second Printing x
  • 1- Toward a Metaphorical Theology 1
  • 2- Metaphor, Parable, and Scripture 31
  • 3- Models in Science 67
  • 4- Models in Theology 103
  • 5- God the Father- Model or Idoll 145
  • Conclusion 193
  • Notes 195
  • Index of Authors 223
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