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Readings: God language

Everything we say about God represents our human efforts to create, recapture, and evoke experiences of God sustianed within linguistic and cultural frameworks that already colour our experience and interpretation. All our images have an "as if"; or "as it were"; in front of them to remind us they are not to be taken neither literally nor as final, but as an ongoing quest for language that can provide a framework for meaningful living and give expression to our experience.

In seeking metaphors to use for God, Jewish feminists never start from zero, but build on the Jewish concepts and symbols that have come down to us. But these symbols themselves are also human attempts to speak of the experience of God who stands at the centre of Jewish life.

(Judith Plaskow (1990), Standing Again at Sinai, San Francisco: Harper)


In so far as atheism is a protest against against the unreality and irrelevance of the traditional understanding of God, it may be called a relative atheism. A relative atheism which refuses to accept as true and ultimate that which is unreal, is not only not in conflict with with genuine Christianity, but is actually a logical connsequence of it. The faith of Israel, inherited later by Christianity, started off with a process against the gods of ancient man, and with a call to abandon them. When Bishop Robinson shocked the world in 1963 by the headline of his article entitled Our 'Image of God must go', he was reaffirming something which lies at the basis of Christianity, a passion to destroy idols. In the long run of the Judaeo-Christian faith many images of God have been shown up as inadequate, further allegiance to it is quite simply a form of idolatry.

If, in our contemporary world, certain inadequacies in the traditional understanding of God have been revealed, then they must be abandoned because Christianity itself demands it.

He later says.....

But it must be no more than a relative atheism. The moment atheism ceases to be simply a protest and pretends to become something more absolute, then it is in conflict not only with Christianity but itself.

(extracts from Lloyd Geering in God in the Twentieth Century)


In Holy week 1989, Lloyd Geering gave a series of lectures in New Zealand called About Time contrasting the past, present and future time from a modern religious perspective.

So the alternative is to conceive God as not transcending time but being involved with it. In this case, all living forces, including human existence, constitute the life of God, that is the world itself, including its dimensions of space and time, manifests the reality of God.....

In the current cultural transition with its apparant chaos in the ara of religious language many people believe we should be abandoning God-talk altogether. Perhaps we should.....

If we use God language, then for better or for worse, what we choose is what God chooses. Our hands are ultimately his hands We must bear the responsibility for choosing our future.

(Lloyd Geering (1989), About Time, 32)