Friday, 17 October 2014

Eclectic Orthodoxy: The God of Regret versus the God of the Bible

Eclectic Orthodoxy: The God of Regret versus the God of the Bible

'My question is this: Does the God of the Bible in fact regret decisions he has made? I immediately concede that in some of the biblical stories, the story of Noah being the most notable, the narrated God most certainly does second-guess himself. “I sure blundered making man. Time to reboot.” But do these stories authorize us to infer that the God of the Bible actually regrets decisions he has made? If we interpret these stories along such literalistic lines, how are we any different from the ancient pagans who told their stories of Zeus, Athena, and Ares? Are we not reducing God to a god?

Those of us who cut our theological eye-teeth on narrative theology (think Robert Jenson, Jürgen Moltmann, George Lindbeck, Hans Frei, Ronald Thiemann—just to name those who influenced the younger me) will immediately insist that the narrated God is the God of the Christian gospel. How could he not be? Don’t the stories about God precede all subsequent philosophical reflection? Isn’t the economic Trinity identical to the immanent Trinity? Let’s not confuse the Scriptural rendering of the living God with the static deity of Greek philosophy! Underlying all of this is the grand narrative that the Church Fathers corrupted the biblical understanding of divinity. Instead of the God of Greek philosophy getting Christianized, the God of the Bible got Hellenized.

But what if this grand narrative is wrong or at least in need of drastic qualification? The great Church historian Jaroslav Pelikan certainly thought it was. And what if the Church Fathers in fact Christianized not only Hellenistic divinity but also the naïve anthropomorphic understanding of the narrated God?'

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